October 27

JohnFKennedy1891—Inventor P.B. Downing patents the street letter mailbox whose basic design remains in use today. Not much is known about Downing.

1960—President John F. Kennedy intervenes to get Martin Luther King Jr. released from the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, where he had been imprisoned because of his civil rights activities. The Kennedy action endeared him to Black voters.
1981—Former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young is elected mayor of Atlanta, Ga., becoming the city’s second Black mayor.

October 28

1798—Levi Coffin, who is White, is born in the slave state of North Carolina but becomes a strong opponent of slavery. He and his wife, Catherine, are credited with being among the original founders of the “Underground Railroad”—the system of transports and safe houses that enabled Blacks to escape slavery in the South to freedom in the North.

October 29

PearlPrimus1929—The Stock Market collapses, ushering in the Great Depression and bringing about Black unemployment rates ranging from 25 to 40 percent. The effects of the Great Depression would last until the start of World War II, which created massive war industry jobs and a second mass migration of Blacks from the South to the industrial North.

1994—Famed dancer Pearl Primus dies. She blended African and Caribbean dance and music with Black American traditions of blues, jazz and the jitterbug to form a new vibrant dance form. She formed a dance troupe and she personally appeared in such early Broadway hits as “Showboat” and “Emperor Jones.” Primus was known for her amazingly high leaps. In 1991, the first President Bush awarded her the National Medal of Arts.

2009—A report is published suggesting that the old self-hate mantra of “I am Black enough; I don’t need any sunshine” could be shortening the lives of African-Americans. Dr. Jonathan Mansbach’s report found, among other things, that American Blacks are not getting enough sunshine or more specifically vitamin D—the sunshine vitamin. Mansbach discovered, for example, that an astonishing 90 percent of Black children were vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D deficiency can contribute to various cancers, diabetes and weak bones. Mansbach is with the Children’s Hospital of Boston.


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