This Week In Black History

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July 21

1864—Amazingly, what is now considered the first Black daily newspaper begins publishing on this day during slavery. The New Orleans Tribune was founded by wealthy Black Doctor Louis C. Roudanez and edited by a Belgium Jean-Charles Heuzean. The Tribune, however, actually followed the Daily Creole which began publication in 1856. But it was so pressured by Whites that it adopted pro-slavery positions. The Tribune, meanwhile, would begin as a tri-weekly and become a full-fledged daily in October.

 

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1896—The National Association of Colored Women is founded in Washington, D.C., and Mary Church Terrell is elected president. The association would establish nurseries, help orphans, and battle for a woman’s right to vote. Terrell became an activist and power broker in the nation’s capital fighting for desegregation of restaurants and helping build schools. She was born in 1863 and died in 1954.

2001—Blues legend John Lee Hooker dies. He was 83.

July 22

1861—President Abraham Lincoln submits the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet. The order freeing slaves, however, was not actually issued until Jan. 1, 1863. And even then it benefited very few slaves. The Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the rebellious Southern states. But the federal government at the time did not have control of the South so no slaves actually went free. In the so-called Border States where the federal government did have authority, the Proclamation did not apply. About the only slaves who benefited were those who had already escaped and fled to the Union side during the Civil War.

1939—Jane Matilda Bolin becomes the first Black female judge in America. New York City Mayor Fiorella LaGuadia appointed her a judge in the court of domestic relations.

1963—Floyd Patterson loses his heavyweight boxing title to Sonny Liston and Liston would later lose it to a young fighter by the name of Cassius Clay—later Muhammad Ali.

2001—Actor Whitman Mayo dies in Atlanta, Ga., of a heart attack. He was 71. Mayo is best known for his role as “Grady” in the popular 1970s television series “Sanford and Son.”

 

MARY CHURCH TERRELL

July 23

1900—The first Pan African conference takes place in London, England. Blacks from throughout the world gathered to plot strategies for bringing about rights for all people of African ancestry, independence from colonialism for African countries and international Black unity. This “conference” was the precursor of all the subsequent Pan African “Congresses.” Among the most prominent names present in 1900 were African-American activist and intellectual W.E.B. DuBois and West Indian lawyer H. Sylvester Williams. “Pan Africanism” became both a movement and a way of thinking.

1948—The Progressive Party Convention begins in Philadelphia. The convention nominates Henry Wallace for president and he makes the strongest showing of virtually any third party candidate in American history. Over 150 Blacks were at the convention and dozens ran for office on the Progressive Party ticket. They were attracted by the party’s call for an end to segregation, full voting rights for Blacks and universal government sponsored health insurance. The party was populated mainly by liberals and leftists. Wallace’s candidacy was even endorsed by the then relatively strong American Communist Party. The party came under vicious attack during the anti-Communist hysteria of the 1950s. But positions taken by the Progressive Party forced the Democratic Party to adopt meaningful changes in order to hold onto the Black vote.

1984—The first Black Miss America Vanessa Williams is forced to give up her crown as a result of the discovery of some sexually explicit photographs. She was replaced by the first runner-up (another African-American) Suzette Charles. Williams bounced back, however, and became a successful singer and actress.

 

 

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