November 16, 1967—Lisa Bonet is born to a Jewish mother and a Black father in San Francisco, Calif. She becomes a major actress, but is perhaps best known for her role in the 1980s television series “The Cosby Show.” Her given name was Liliquois Moon.
Week of November 13-19
1839—The Liberty Party—the nation’s first anti-slavery political party—is formed in Warsaw, N.Y. Among the founders were legendary abolitionists Samuel Ringgold Ward and Henry Highland Garnet. At this point in history the two major political parties—the Whigs and the Democrats—were both pro-slavery.
1913—Pioneering Black surgeon Daniel Hale Williams becomes a member of the American College of Surgeons. Williams is generally credited with being the first American doctor to perform open heart surgery. The history-making event took place in Chicago on July 9, 1893.
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON
1922—Many Black historians have selected this as the date which marks the beginning of the Harlem Renaissance—perhaps the greatest period of artistic achievement by African-Americans in U.S. history. From poetry to plays and from paintings to sculptures, Black art reached a pinnacle. In a broader sense, the Harlem Renaissance ran from the early 1920s to the mid 1930s.
1951—Ballerina Janet Collins becomes the first Black woman to dance with the Metropolitan Opera Co. in New York City. Prior to that achievement she performed with the world-renowned Black dance troupe directed by the legendary Katherine Dunham.
1955—Whoopi Goldberg, given name Caryn Johnson, is born in New York City. She graduates from a stand-up comedy routine to become a major Hollywood actress and is currently one of the principal hosts of the television talk show “The View.”
1956—The United States Supreme Court upholds a lower court ruling which banned segregation on public buses in Montgomery, Ala. The decision was forced in major measure by a year-long Black bus boycott sparked by the refusal of Rosa Parks to give up her seat to a White man. Leadership of the boycott also launched the civil rights career of Martin Luther King Jr. and his status as the national Black leader.
1967—Carl Stokes wins the race for mayor in Cleveland, Ohio. In doing so, he becomes the first Black mayor of a major American city.
1985—New York Met Dwight Gooden becomes the youngest pitcher ever to win the Cy Young award.
1915—Booker T. Washington dies in Tuskegee, Ala. Washington was easily one of the top five most influential Black leaders in African-American history. Some considered him too accommodating to Whites, but his influence was still significant. Among the educator’s lasting accomplishments was the founding of Tuskegee Institute. He was only 59 when he died.
1934—William Levi Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony (Symphony Number One) is performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra. This marked the first time a classical symphony composed by an African-American was performed by a major White orchestra. Dawson also gained renown as the choral director at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He died in 1990 at the age of 91.
1884—The Berlin Conference begins. This stands as one of the most significant events in all of African and Black history. Basically, seven European powers sat down and divided Africa for their benefit. They created countries which divided tribes and were often unworkable economically. The divisions and exploitations, resulting from the Berlin Conference, plague Africa to this day. The conference was completed in Berlin, Germany, in
1897—John Mercer Langston dies. Today, Langston is an unsung hero, but in the 1800s he was one of the nation’s most dedicated fighters for Black freedom and betterment. Born to a White slave owner and an emancipated Black woman, Langston became an accomplished lawyer. He helped organize the National Black Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1848; organized Blacks to fight in the Civil War; worked in the Freedman’s Bureau; organized Howard University’s law department; became president of the Virginia Normal & Collegiate Institute; and became the first Black elected to Congress from Virginia. The town of Langston, Okla.—home of Langston University—is named after him.