Week of July 10-16
1775—Shortly after taking command of the troops fighting for American independence from Britain, Gen. George Washington (the nation’s first president) has his adjutant general issue an order barring any further Blacks from joining the Continental Army. The decision would be confirmed by the Continental Congress in November of 1775. The fear was that Blacks who fought for America’s independence would be justified in demanding an end to slavery. And slave owners, including Washington, did not want that.
1927—David Dinkins, the first Black man elected mayor of New York City, is born on this day in 1927. He was born in Trenton, N.J., and served as New York City mayor from 1989 to 1993.
1943—Tennis sensation Arthur Ashe was born on this day in Richmond, Va. He would become the first Black male to win the Wimbledon men’s singles championship by defeating Jimmy Connors in 1975. Ashe would receive a contaminated blood transfusion and die of AIDS in February 1993.
1972—The Democratic Party holds its presidential convention in Miami, Fla. New York Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the first Black person to actively seek the party’s presidential nomination, received 151.95 votes on the first ballot. Senator George McGovern would eventually be nominated. Chisholm had been the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress, achieving the distinction in 1968. She was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., to a Barbadian mother and a Guyanese father. Chisholm’s signature phrase was “Un-bought and un-bossed.” She died in January 2005.
1905—The Niagara Movement (forerunner of the NAACP) is founded during a meeting near Niagara Falls, N.Y. Among the most prominent Blacks at the meeting were intellectual and activist W.E.B. DuBois and newspaper publishers William Monroe Trotter and Ida B. Wells Barnett.
1915—Mifflin Wistar Gibbs dies. Gibbs had worked on the Underground Railroad helping Blacks escape from slavery along with Frederick Douglas. He would later become publisher of Mirror of the Times—the first Black newspaper in California. He was also the first African-American elected to a municipal judgeship in the state.
2010—Gospel legend Bishop Walter Hawkins dies. The Grammy award-winning Hawkins died at his home in Ripon, Calif. Hawkins was part of the influential Hawkins family. His brother was Edwin Hawkins and for a while he was married to gospel great Tramaine Hawkins.