This Week In Black History

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May 3

1845—Macon B. Allen passes the Massachusetts bar thus becoming the first African-American lawyer to pass a state bar and the first Black person permitted to practice law in the United States.  Allen was born in Indiana but after the Civil War he moved to South Carolina where he was elected a judge in 1873.

May 4

1891—Dr. Daniel Hale Williams founds the Provident Hospital and Training Center in Chicago, Ill. It becomes a major training center for Black doctors and nurses.  Williams is best known, however, for performing the nation’s first open heart surgery on July 9, 1893. He operated on a man injured in a knife fight. The man would live for another 20 years after the surgery.

abbott

ROBERT SENGSTACKE ABBOTT

1961—Thirteen Freedom Riders began bus trips through the South to test Southern compliance with a 1960 U.S. Supreme Court ruling outlawing segregation in interstate transportation facilities. They were soon joined by hundreds of other “Freedom Riders” of all ages and races. Despite the Court decision, dozens of Freedom Riders were arrested as the South attempted to hang onto its segregationist ways.

May 5

1905—Robert Sengstacke Abbott founds the Chicago Defender newspaper calling it “the world’s greatest weekly.” Indeed, he would build the Defender into the largest circulation and most influential Black newspaper of its day. The Defender, which became the most widely circulated Black newspaper in the country, came to be known as “America’s Black Newspaper” and made Abbott one of the first self-made millionaires of African-American descent. In 1919, Illinois Gov. Frank Lowden appointed Abbott to the Race Relations Commission. Abbott died of Bright’s disease in 1940 in Chicago, Ill.

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