1863—One of the bloodiest race (or perhaps more appropriately “racist”) riots in America history begins. The event, known historically as New York City Draft Riots, was sparked by angry opposition to the congressionally passed Enrollment Act—a mandatory draft requiring White men to fight in the Civil War. Many Whites went on a rampage out of opposition to the draft and fear of freed Blacks competing with them for jobs. The rioting lasted from July 13 to July 16 before it was finally put down with the aid of Federal troops. But before it was over, an estimated 100 people had been killed and 300 wounded—most of them Blacks. The mandatory draft also reflected a fact commonly omitted from standard American history texts: the class nature of much legislation. In this instance, the draft only applied to poor and working class Whites. Wealthy Whites were officially exempted from the draft by paying a fee.
1868—Oscar J. Dunn, a former slave, is installed as Louisiana’s lieutenant governor. At the time, it was the highest elective state position ever achieved by any African-American. Another Black, Antoine Dubuclet, was installed as state treasurer. However, virtually all the Black political gains after the Civil War would be wiped out by the Hayes-Tilden Compromise of 1872 and the subsequent anti-Black Jim Crow laws. It would take nearly 100 years (during the 1960s) before Blacks would once again begin to match the political gains they had made during the post-Civil War period.
1891—Renowned Black inventor John Standard receives a patent for inventing what became the foundation for the modern refrigerator. Contrary to some history, Standard did not actually invent the first refrigerator. That appears to have been done in 1805 by American Oliver Evans. Standard once described his accomplishment this way: “This invention relates to improvements in refrigerators and consists of novel arrangements and combination of parts.” However, Standards’ “improvements” are generally credited with laying the foundation for the modern or “standard” refrigerator.
1941—The originator of the African-American holiday period known as Kwanzaa, Maulana Ron Karenga, is born Ron Everett in Parsonsburg, Md. Karenga also has the distinction of emerging from a prison sentence in the 1970s and earning two PhDs. He founded Kwanzaa in 1967. He had been imprisoned for the alleged abuse of two women who had been members of his United Slaves (US) organization.