1872—P.B.S. Pinchback begins serving as the first Black governor of Louisiana. He served for a little more than a month. Pinchback, son of a White plantation owner and a former Macon, Ga., slave, was a major force in Louisiana politics after the civil war and during Reconstruction. He was also instrumental in the 1879 establishment of Southern University.
1875—Carter G. Woodson is born in New Canton, Va. In 1926, Woodson started the first Negro History Week which grew to become Black History Month.
1846—Norbert Rillieux invents the “multiple effect pan evaporator” which revolutionizes the sugar industry and makes the work much less hazardous for the workers. Rillieux was born “quadroon libre” in New Orleans, La. His father was a wealthy French plantation owner and his mother a former slave. He was sent to Paris, France, to be educated in engineering. He also researched Egyptian hieroglyphics. There is no record that he ever returned to the U.S. after the 1850s. He died in Paris in 1894.
1854—Edwin C. Berry is born in Oberlin, Ohio. In Athens, Ohio, he co-founds the City Restaurant and builds the Hotel Berry which was to become one of the most elegant hotels in the entire state. By the time he retired in 1921, he was one of the most successful Black businessmen in America. He dies in 1931.
1950—Ralph Bunch becomes the first African-American awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Bunch was born in Detroit, Mich. But his family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and then Los Angeles, Calif., where he showed academic genius and won a scholarship to Harvard. His fame came when he worked out a temporary settlement between the Palestinians and the Jews after the state of Israel was established in 1948 on Palestinian lands. It was that work which won him the Nobel Peace Prize.