1894—Congress repeals the Enforcement Act and thus made it easier for states, especially in the South, to take away Black voting rights. Originally passed in 1870, the Act had established criminal penalties for interfering with a person’s right to vote. After its repeal, Southern states passed a host of measures including poll taxes, literacy tests and so-called vouchers of “good character”—all designed to block or limit the number of Blacks who could vote.
1925—Marcus Mosiah Garvey, the “Black Moses,” enters federal prison in Atlanta, Ga., after being convicted of what many Blacks felt were trumped up mail fraud charges. Garvey, a master of grandeur and showmanship, had built the largest Black mass movement in African-American history by emphasizing racial pride, economic empowerment and the building of a Black empire in Africa. Born in Jamaica and having traveled throughout South America, Garvey had become distressed with the plights of Blacks throughout the world and organized the Universal Negro Improvement Association—UNIA—in 1914. He brought the UNIA to America in 1915 and its growth exploded. At its height, the UNIA had several hundred thousand members and owned businesses ranging from bakeries to shipping lines. Garvey’s rapid growth and increasing power on masses of Blacks are what attracted negative attention from the federal government. After his imprisonment, the organization never recovered. He died in London, England in 1940.
1968—In what became known as “The Orangeburg Massacre” police opened fire on protesting Black students on the campus of South Carolina State University. The officers responded to rock-throwing with a volley of shots, which left three students dead and 27 wounded. The students were protesting a segregated bowling alley near the school’s campus in Orangeburg, S.C. The students killed were Samuel Hammond, Delano Middleton and Henry Smith.
1978—Leon Spinks defeats Muhammad Ali and captures the heavyweight boxing championship. Ali regains the title in September of the same year becoming the first person to win the title three times.
1944—Award winning novelist Alice Walker is born in Eatonton, Ga. She is known for “telling the Black woman’s story.” Perhaps her most famous novel was “The Color Purple.”
1995—Dr. Bernard Harris becomes the first African-American to walk in space as part of a joint Russian and American mission. However, Harris was far from being the first Black person in space. That honor goes to a Black Cuban pilot who flew aboard the Soviet Soyuz 38 in 1980. His name was Arnaldo Tamayo-Mendez.