Week of May 10-16
1837—P.B.S. Pinchback was born in Macon, Ga., to a White plantation owner and a free Black woman. He became one of the leading Black politicians of the Reconstruction era, especially in Louisiana. After the Civil War, he became lieutenant governor of Louisiana and actually served as governor for 43 days. He was later elected to both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. He would also play a significant role in the establishment of Southern University and a major Black newspaper known as the Louisianan.
1994—After being released from 27 years of imprisonment for his battles against the racist system of apartheid, Nelson Mandela is elected the first Black president of South Africa. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through tackling institutionalised racism and fostering racial reconciliation. Politically an African nationalist and democratic socialist, he served as president of the African National Congress (ANC) party from 1991-97.
1933—Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan is born Eugene Walcott on this day in the Bronx, N.Y. He was raised by his St. Kitts-born mother in Roxbury, Mass. Prior to joining the Nation of Islam in 1955, Walcott had achieved celebrity status in the Boston area as a Calypso singer, dancer and violinist known as “The Charmer.”
1968—Nine caravans of protesters arrived in Washington, D.C., for the first phase of the Poor Peoples Campaign—an anti-poverty effort conceived by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The campaign aimed to united Black, white and Hispanic poor people in an effort to pressure the government to do more to eliminate poverty in America. King had been assassinated the previous April, so the campaign was led by his lieutenant, Rev. Ralph Abernathy. The campaign erected Resurrection City near the Lincoln Monument and held daily demonstrations in Washington from May 14 to June 24.