Week of June 1-6
1835—The Fifth National Negro Convention convenes in Philadelphia, Pa. The gathering of free Blacks demonstrated how history can sometimes come full circle. One major focus of the convention was to urge Blacks to stop referring to themselves as “Africans,” “Blacks” or “Coloreds” and instead adopt the word “Negro” as the official racial designation. Gradually, the designation became popular even though all Blacks did not agree with it. Researcher Richard Benjamin Moore writes that at the time some Blacks felt word “Negro” was “a symptom of the degrading sickness of opportunism and the increasing acceptance of inferior social and political status.”
1864—Solomon George Washington Dill is murdered by angry Whites. Dill was one of those rarities in Southern society—a poor White man who supported an end to slavery and Black demands for social justice. Dill’s “crime” was giving what some Whites considered “an incendiary speech” to a group of South Carolina Blacks.
1973—Detroit’s WGPR becomes the nation’s first Black-owned television station. It was granted a license to operate on this day in 1973, but did not actually go on air until September 1975.
1863—Abolitionist and “Underground Railroad Conductor” Harriet Tubman leads a force of Union Army guerrilla soldiers into Maryland and frees over 700 slaves. Tubman was one of the most noteworthy women in the anti-slavery struggle prior to the Civil War and became a leading voice in the call for the federal government to allow Blacks to fight in the war.