1965—The extraordinarily talented author and dramatist Lorraine Hansberry dies. Deeply committed to the Black struggle, Hansberry’s brilliant career was cut short by cancer. She was only 35. Her primary works included “A Raisin In The Sun” and “To Be Young, Gifted and Black.” “A Raisin In The Sun” became the first play written by a young Black woman to be produced on Broadway.
1971—Popular R&B singer Mary J. Blige is born on this day in the Bronx, N.Y. She is said to be currently working on a movie about the legendary career of songstress Nina Simone.
1988—Scientists (paleo-anthropologists) announce the discovery of the “African Eve”—the mother of all humankind. Based on research in East African involving mitochondrial DNA, the researchers from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics in Oxford, England, conclude that the original woman evolved in East Africa approximately 200,000 years ago and that all of humanity can ultimately trace their ancestry to this woman. However, some more recent studies suggest that humankind first evolved in Southern Africa.
1890—Educator Mordecai Wyatt Johnson is born in Paris, Texas. Johnson became the first Black president of Howard University and presided over the prestigious Black institution for more than 30 years. He died in 1976.
1920—Civil rights leader James Farmer is born on this day in Marshal, Texas. During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s he was among the top three or four most prominent civil rights leaders. He helped organize the “Freedom Rides” to help desegregate public transportation and founded the Congress of Racial Equality. He died in 1999.
1944—Boxer Joe Frazier is born in Beauford, S.C. His fights with the legendary Muhammad Ali have become boxing classics.
1971—The Congressional Black Caucus is first organized on this day in 1971.