September 15

1830—The First National Negro Convention takes place  in Philadelphia, Pa. Top on the agenda were the better organizing of anti-slave activities and whether or not free Blacks should return to Africa.

JanMatzeliger1881—Inventor Jan E. Matzeilger is born in Dutch Guyana. He came to the United States in 1878 and by 1880 had patented a shoe lacing machine.

1889—One of  Black America’s most outstanding poets, Claude McKay, is born. He would become a leading figure during the Black Cultural Revolution known as the Harlem Renaissance.

1963—In one of the most heartless terrorist attacks of the Civil Rights Movement, the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., is bombed by White supremacists and Ku Klux Klan members. Four little Black girls are killed. But instead of scaring African-Americans into backing away from their demands, the act actually inspired the Civil Rights Movement.
BBKINGSeptember 16

1848—The French abolish slavery in all their territories. It would take a Civil War and another 17 years before slavery is abolished in America.

1925—Blues great B.B. King is born on this day in Itta Benna, Mississippi.

1933—“Emperor Jones” is released on this day by United Artists. It starred social activist Paul Robeson as Brutus Jones. It was the first Hollywood film with a Black leading man and a White supporting cast.

September 17

1787—The United States Constitution is approved but it includes three clauses allowing for the continuation of slavery even though it was suppose to be a document of freedom.

1861—Hampton Institute (now university) is founded. It has now become one of the nation’s leading predominately Black educational institutions.

1973—Illinois becomes the first state to honor Civil Rights Movement icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a state holiday.


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