Week of November 1-7
1604—William Shakespeare’s great play “Othello” was first performed at Whitehall Palace in London. It is the earliest known European play with a Black lead character.
1866—America’s first Civil Rights Act is passed over the veto of President Andrew Johnson. In part, it was Johnson’s opposition to such pro-Black legislation that led a group called the “Radical Republicans” to seek his impeachment. Johnson had become president after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and adopted a wide-range of anti-Black policies.
1910—Scholar and political activist W.E.B. DuBois published the first issue of the NAACP’s monthly magazine “Crisis.” DuBois would later break with the NAACP charging that its approach to ending discrimination against Black was too “gradualist.”
1945—The first issue of Ebony Magazine was published in Chicago by founder John H. Johnson. Johnson died in September 2005. The magazine and its sister publication, Jet, are now facing financial difficulties and may be purchased by a group of non-Blacks.
1991—Clarence Thomas takes his seat on the United States Supreme Court after a prolonged controversy over his alleged sexual harassment of former co-worker Anita Hill. Thomas would go on to disappoint much of Black America by rendering votes on major issues, which many leading African-American felt were anti-Black.
1999—Chicago Bears running back great Walter Payton dies of cancer at the age of 45. His power and grace on the football field led to his nickname “Sweetness.”