1760—Several sources list this at the birthday of Richard Allen—founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Other sources give his birth date as Feb. 14, 1760. Regardless, the AME church was the first African-American organized and incorporated church in America. Allen, Absalom Jones and a group of free Blacks in Philadelphia founded the church in 1794. Allen and his group were initially members of the city’s predominantly White St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church. But when several Blacks were ejected from the church for attempting to pray along-side Whites, Allen led a walkout, which resulted in the forming of the AME church.
1898—Hattie McDaniel, the first African-American to win an Oscar, is born on this day in Wichita, Kan. She won her Academy Award in 1940 for Best Supporting Actress for the role of Mammy in the classic film “Gone With The Wind.” Once criticized for playing stereotypical and sometimes demeaning “Black roles,” she responded, “I’d rather play a maid than be one.” McDaniel died in 1952.
1941—The “Black Moses,” Marcus Garvey dies in London, England. Starting around 1916, Garvey built his United Negro Improvement Association into the largest mass organization of Blacks in history, with the slogan “Up You Mighty Race.” The UNIA owned businesses ranging from bakeries to shipping companies. Garvey preached Black pride and self-reliance, while steering away from the more integrationist thrust of most prominent Black leaders of his day. He was eventually jailed on what are now viewed as trumped up mail fraud charges. Presidential intervention got Garvey freed. But in exchange for his early release from prison, the Jamaican native had to agree to leave the United States and not return. Separated from his U.S. base, Garvey was never able to rebuild the UNIA.