Week of July 3-9
1775—Prince Hall founds African Lodge Number One—the first Black lodge of Free Masons in the United States. Hall would become the pioneer builder of Black Masons in America. He was also a leading voice against slavery and for Black rights in the North.
1962—The first Black man permitted to play Major League Baseball, Jackie Robinson, is named to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
1776—The United States formally becomes a nation with the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. The document was largely written by later President Thomas Jefferson. Amazingly, although he was a slave owner himself, Jefferson originally included a section in the Declaration denouncing slave traders and slave owners. But it was later deleted by Congress. The section said of the slave trader: “He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him.”
1792—Thaddeus Stevens is born. Stevens would become one of the great White heroes of Black history. He was a leader of a group known as the “Radical Republicans” which fought tirelessly in Congress against slavery. It was Stevens who introduced the 14th Amendment to the Constitution which, in effect, made the former slaves full citizens of the United States. It also contains the due process and equal protection clauses of the Constitution. These clauses are now considered two of the most fundamental underpinnings of American law and were used extensively during the Civil Rights Movement to outlaw discrimination against Blacks.
1881—Booker T. Washington opens Tuskegee Institute (now university) in Alabama. It would become a leading center for the education of Blacks.