Week of November 29-December 5, 2017
1780—After initial racist opposition, especially in the South, Blacks are welcomed into the Continental Army to help fight for American independence from Britain. The move was also prompted by British actions. The Americans were losing to the British, the British had launched their Southern campaign and were promising Blacks freedom if they joined the British side. Overall, an estimated 5,000 Blacks fought in America’s war for independence. However, some Blacks did fight for the British.
1908—Adam Clayton Powell Jr. is born in New Haven, Conn. He would follow his father as head of Harlem, New York’s, powerful Abyssinian Baptist Church. He was also elected to Congress in 1945 and was a major force in the Civil Rights Movement. Powell died on April 4, 1972.
1919—Legendary dancer Pearl Primus is born in Trinidad, but she is raised in New York City. She blended African and Caribbean dance and music with Black American traditions of Blues, Jazz and the jitterbug to form a new vibrant dance form. She formed a dance troupe and she personally appeared in such early Broadway hits as “Showboat” and “Emperor Jones.” In 1991, the first President Bush awarded her the National Medal of Arts. She died Oct. 29, 1994.
1961—Freedom Riders are attacked by a White mob in McComb, Miss. This was just one of numerous such attacks throughout the South. The Freedom Rides were part of a campaign against segregation in interstate travel following a 1960 Supreme Court decision declaring all such segregation on buses and in waiting rooms illegal.
1912—Legendary filmmaker and photographer Gordon Parks is born in Fort Scott, Kan. In addition to his pioneering work in film and photography, Parks wrote 12 books and authored a ballet entitled “Martin” in honor of civil rights legend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
1924—Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm is born in Brooklyn, N.Y. Chisholm became the leading Black female politician in America. She served in the New York State Assembly, the United States Congress and ran for the Democratic Party nomination for president in 1972. Chisholm died on Jan. 1, 2005.