Week of March 29-April 4
1981—Dr. Eric Williams, prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, dies in Port of Spain at the age of 79. Williams was a historian and his classic work was “Capitalism and Slavery.”
1870—The 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified giving Blacks the right to vote. Actually, it gave Black males the right to vote. It would take the Suffrage Movement and another 50 years before women (Black and White) had full voting rights. But even in the case of Black males, the “right” to vote only lasted briefly. With the end of Reconstruction, “Jim Crow” laws were passed throughout the South, which in effect took away the right of Blacks to vote despite the Constitutional guarantee. African Americans did not achieve full voting rights in this country until the mid-1960s.
1741—Black rebellion hysteria grips New York. A series of mysterious fires and reports of slaves plotting rebellion sweep New York. The hysteria lasts through April. Thirty-one alleged slave plotters and five White sympathizers were hanged.
1931—Cab Calloway recorded “Minnie the Moocher”—the first jazz album to sell more than one million copies.
1948—Labor leader A. Phillip Randolph issues a threat before the Senate Armed Services Committee. He declares that unless more is done to end segregation and discrimination in the military, he would launch a campaign encouraging Black youth to employ civil disobedience to resist the draft. His threat helps to bring an end to a host of discriminatory practices in the U.S. armed forces.
1980—Olympic legend Jesse Owens dies at 66 in Tucson, Ariz. Owens won four track and field gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany, embarrassing German leader Adolph Hitler and undermining his ideology of White Aryan superiority.