October 15

Clarence Thomas1859—White minister and mystic John Brown leads a violent uprising in Harper’s Ferry, Va., in a bid to spark a Black uprising against slavery. Dozens of Whites are killed, but the revolt is eventually put down. President Abraham Lincoln once referred to him as a “misguided fanatic,” but Brown actually had a fanatical hatred of slavery and wanted it ended at all costs.

1887—The U.S. Supreme Court declares the Civil Rights Act of 1885 unconstitutional. The decision was spurred by the end of Reconstruction and helped to usher in the Jim Crow period in the South whereby Black rights won during Reconstruction were taken away.

1991—Conservative Black judge Clarence Thomas is confirmed as the 106th associate justice of the U.S. Supreme. He remains on the court with a voting record, which continues to anger many Black leaders.


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