For the week of June 12-18
1840—The world’s first anti-slavery convention took place in London, England. The aim of the gathering was to unite abolitionists worldwide. However, the effectiveness of the convention was harmed by a decision to exclude female delegates.
1886—The Georgia Supreme Court upholds the will of former slave owner David Dickson who had left over $300,000 to a child he fathered by raping a 12-year-old Black girl. The ruling made Amanda America Eubanks the wealthiest Black person in America. She would later marry one of her White first cousins.
1963—Medgar Evers, Mississippi field secretary for the NAACP, was assassinated in front of his home by White supremacist Byron de la Beckwith. All-White juries twice refused to find De la Beckwith guilty although the evidence was overwhelming. Finally, in 1995, Beckwith was convicted of killing the civil rights activist. Beckwith died in prison in 2001.
1967—The United States Supreme Court ruled in Loving v. Virginia that Virginia’s law banning interracial marriages was unconstitutional. The decision was a death blow to similar laws throughout the South. However, Alabama did not officially remove its “anti-miscegenation” law from the books until 2000.
1967—President Lyndon B. Johnson nominates former NAACP Chief Counsel Thurgood Marshall to be the first Black justice on the United States Supreme Court. He said of his decision, it “was the right thing to do, the right time to do it.” Marshall had been a towering figure in the legal battles against segregation including lead counsel in the historic Brown v. Board of Education case. The Senate would confirm the nomination Aug. 30. An aside: Marshall’s original name was Thoroughgood but he shortened it to Thurgood.
1811—White anti-slavery activist Harriet Beecher Stowe is born. Stowe was the author of one of the best selling books of 1852—“Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” The book addressed the brutality of slavery and featured the character of “Uncle Tom”—a slave who, perhaps unfairly, came to symbolize the accommodating Black person who showed complete deference to Whites. The book was such an indictment of slavery that when President Abraham Lincoln met Stowe he remarked, “You’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great [civil] war.”
1970—Cheryl Adrienne Brown wins the Miss Iowa pageant and becomes the first African-American to compete in the Miss America beauty pageant.
1864—Gen. Ulysses S. Grant outfoxed Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee by switching an attack strategy from Cold Harbor to Petersburg, Va. The assault, spearheaded by Gen. Charles Paine, knocked a mile-wide hole in Lee’s defenses and resulted in the capture of hundreds of rebel soldiers and helped speed up the end of the Civil War. Several Black regiments were involved in the assault and siege. Grant would later become the 18th president of the United States and use his office to deal a series of crushing blows to the rapidly growing forces of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1870s.
1877—Henry O. Flippea becomes the first Black graduate of the U.S. military academy at West Point.