BESSIE SMITH

Week of September 20-26

September 20

RichardAllen

RICHARD ALLEN

1664—Maryland enacts the nation’s first “Anti-Amalgamation Law.” It specifically outlawed marriages between Black men and White women. Soon, several other colonies followed the Maryland example. It would not be until the 1960s that U.S. Supreme Court in the famous Loving v. Virginia case declared all such laws un-Constitutional. And even though it was not being enforced, it was not until 2000 that Alabama officially became the last state to strike from the books its law banning interracial marriages.

1830—The first National Negro Convention of Free Men meets in Philadelphia, Pa. Among a wide range of items on the agenda was a resolution encouraging free Blacks to boycott the purchase of items produced by slave labor. African Methodist Episcopal  Church founder Richard Allen was elected president of the convention. Despite the fact that Allen had founded the AME Church, the name of the convention also reflected an attempt by free Blacks to reduce identification with Africa. At the time, most slaves and many free Blacks tended to refer to themselves as “Africans.”

CAST OF “THE COSBY SHOW”

1958—A deranged woman stabs then-rapidly emerging civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. during a book signing ceremony at a Harlem, N.Y., department store. Rumors circulated that the stabbing was part of a government conspiracy against King but no evidence was ever produced to support the theory.

1984—“The Cosby Show,” starring comedian and activist Bill Cosby, debuts on NBC Television. It becomes one of the nation’s highest rated television series and was widely praised by civil rights activists because of its generally positive portrayal of a Black middle-class family.

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