1924—A man who would grow up to become one of the most prolific and complex Black writers of the 20th Century is born on this day in New York City. James A. Baldwin was a novelist, short story writer and poet. His works frequently had racial and sexual themes. In addition, he penned powerful essays on the Civil Rights Movement. Baldwin’s homosexuality is believed by many to have been a result of being raised by a “hard and often brutal father” and a submissive mother. Among his best known works are “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” “Giovanni’s Room,” and “The Fire Next Time.” In that last book, he predicted major upheavals in America if profound efforts were not taken to resolve the nation’s racial problems. He wrote, “If we do not now dare everything, the fulfillment of that prophecy, recreated from the Bible in song by a slave, is upon us. God gave Noah the Rainbow sign, no more water, the fire next time.” Baldwin died in France on Nov. 30, 1987.
1966—The Charles R. Drew Post Graduate Medical School (now Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science) is chartered in Los Angeles, Calif. The school was named in honor of the foremost Black doctor and research scientist of the first half of the 20th Century. Drew did pioneering work in blood transfusions and in the development of blood plasma. Drew’s life was cut short on April 1, 1950 as a result of an automobile accident in North Carolina.
1980—Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns wins the WBA welterweight title. It was one of the titles he won in five different weight classes. Hearns was the first Black boxer to achieve that feat.
1928—The Atlanta Daily World begins publication as the first Black daily newspaper in modern times. It was founded by William A. Scott III. Amazingly, the first Black daily newspaper in history—the New Orleans Tribune—was founded one year before the end of slavery in 1864.