1870—Pioneering boxer George Dixon is born in Nova Scotia, Canada. Little is known today but Dixon had an absolutely amazing boxing career. He pioneered much of modern boxing including training techniques such as the suspended punching bag and shadow boxing. He was the first Black person to win a world boxing title. Dixon was known as “Little Chocolate” because he stood only 5’3” tall and weighed around 90 pounds. Despite his diminutive size he won 78 fights—30 by knock out. He was known for his lightning fast speed. Dixon died in New York in 1909. He is buried in Boston, Mass.
1863—President Abraham Lincoln issues his famous “eye-for-an-eye” order. The order was basically a threat aimed at stopping the Confederate practice of killing captured Black soldiers instead of imprisoning them. Lincoln threatened to kill one captured rebel soldier for every Black soldier killed by the Confederates. In addition, he pledged to condemn one captured rebel soldier to life in prison at hard labor for every captured Black soldier sold into slavery by the rebelling Southerners. The order did not stop the Confederate practice of killing captured Black soldiers, but it did have a restraining effect.
1945—Activist minister Adam Clayton Powell Jr. is elected to Congress from Harlem, N.Y., becoming one of only two Blacks in Congress. The other was William Dawson of Chicago. Powell, however, would become the first truly powerful Black political figure on Capitol Hill. By 1961, he headed the influential Education and Labor Committee in the House of Representatives. Powell would steer over 50 pieces of legislation through Congress. He also passed legislation making lynching a federal crime and bills to desegregate public schools and the military. In addition, he almost single handedly stopped Southern Congressmen from using the word “Nigger” during sessions of Congress. Despite his political influence, Powell constantly maintained that “Mass action is the most powerful force on earth.” He died on April 4, 1972.
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