1917—“Dizzy” Gillespie, bandleader and pioneer of “B-bop Jazz,” is born John Birks Gillespie in Cheraw, S.C.
1945—Actor, singer, activist and socialist Paul Robeson receives the NAACP’s prestigious Spingarn Medal for his artistic achievements. Robeson would be hounded by the U.S. government because of his leftist leanings. He was labeled a communist, blocked from working in America and later denied a passport so he could not travel to Europe to work.
1951—Novelist Terry McMillan is born in Port Huron, Mich.
1859—Co-founder of West Virginia State College, Byrd Prillerman, is born. He became one of the state’s most prominent educators
1870—The first African-Americans elected to the U.S. House of Representatives came from South Carolina: Joseph H. Rainey, Robert C. Delarge, and Robert B. Elliott. Rainey was actually seated first and thus became the first African-American sworn in as a member of Congress. A portrait in his honor was finally placed in the U.S. Capitol Building in 2006.
1894—Henry Ossawa Tanner wins the Medal of Honor at the Paris Expositions for his paintings. He was the first African-American painter to gain international acclaim for his works. Tanner was born in Pittsburgh, Pa. In fact, he eventually moved to Paris because of opposition to a Black artist in the United States. His most famous painting is “The Banjo Player.”
1898—The North Carolina Mutual And Provident Insurance Co. is founded by a group led by John Merrick. The company grows into the largest Black-owned insurance firm in America.
1904—Enolia P. McMillan is born. She becomes first female president of the NAACP.