1922—Author and investigative reporter Louis E. Lomax is born in Valdosta, Ga. Little is known today, but in the 1960s Lomax was one of the most prominent Black journalists in America. He was renowned for his coverage of the Civil Rights Movement and his investigative reporting. He died mysteriously in an automobile accident near Santa Rosa, New Mexico, on July 30, 1970. One urban legend is that his car was forced off the road by persons working for the FBI because he was completing a book which would show that the assassination of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was part of a government plot. This urban legend is often repeated, but there has been little concrete evidence offered to support it. Lomax’ best known books are “Negro Revolt” and “To Kill a Black Man.”
1887—Black separatist and Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey is born on this day in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica. Garvey advocated Black pride and the building of Black institutions. He founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association in 1914 and with amazingly rapid speed built it into the largest independent Black organization in history with 1,100 branches in over 40 countries. He came to the U.S. in 1916 and the FBI began keeping a file on him in 1919. By 1923 he was indicted on what many considered trumped up mail fraud charges and eventually deported from his U.S. base in 1927. Garvey would die in England on June 10, 1940. But years before his death, he predicted his return, writing, “Look for me in the whirlwind or the storm, look for me all around you, with God’s grace, I shall come and bring with me countless millions…to aid you in the fight for liberty, freedom and life.”
1963—The first Black person admitted to the University of Mississippi, James Meredith, graduates on this day in 1963. His graduation was unmarred by the protests and violence which marked his federally forced entry into the once segregated institution.
1964—White-ruled South Africa is officially banned from competing in the Olympics because of its system of racial oppression known as Apartheid. The country’s Black majority would not achieve democratic rule, however, until May 1994 when the Nelson Mandela-led African National Congress won over two-thirds of the vote in the country’s first free elections.