For the Week of September 11-17
1740—Was he America’s first Black doctor and or dentist? It is unclear but on this day in 1740 the Philadelphia Gazette carries a report of a “Negro” named Simon who was skilled in the abilities to “bleed and draw teeth.” During the colonial period, such a phrase was normally used in reference to doctors and dentists.
1851—In a fairly unusual development, a group of Blacks on this day in 1851 rout a group of slave catchers who had come to Christiana, Pa., to re-capture run-away slaves. One White was killed and a second one was seriously wounded.
1913—Track and field athletic legend Jesse Owens is born on this day in Oakville, Ala. Owens would achieve international fame when he won four gold medals at the 1936 summer Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany. His feat helped undermine Adolph Hitler’s myth of Aryan or White superiority.
1977—One of the greatest unsung heroes of the struggle against then White-ruled South Africa’s system of racial suppression known as apartheid is murdered on this day by South African law enforcement officials. Steve Biko was a leader of the country’s Black Consciousness Movement. He believed that one of the most destructive attitudes undermining Black progress throughout the world was that Blacks were not truly proud to be Black.
1992—Dr. Mae Jemison becomes the first African-American woman in space when she was launched from the Kennedy Space Center on this day as part of a joint U.S.-Japanese mission. Since resigning from NASA, the multi-talented Jemison has started a company which aims to improve health care in Africa. In addition to her native English, Jemison speaks Russian, Japanese and the East African language of Swahili.