For the Week of December 27, 2017-January 2, 2018
1873—William A. Harper, one of the most gifted Black artists of the 20th century, is born in Cayuga, Canada. He was a student at the Henry O. Tanner Art Institute in Chicago. Unfortunately, his brilliance was cut short by tuberculosis. He died in Mexico at the age of 36 in 1910.
1956—Segregation is outlawed on public buses in Tallahassee, Fla. The decision followed a six-month long boycott by the city’s African-American population. The boycott was patterned after the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott sparked by Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat to a White man.
1816—The American Colonization Society is organized by Robert Finley with the aim of returning Blacks to Africa. Ironically, it received support from two groups with opposing interests. Some abolitionists and philanthropists who wanted to end slavery supported the ACS with the hope of giving slaves a chance to start new, free lives in Africa. Meanwhile, some slave owners supported the ACS because they saw it as a way of ridding the country of free Blacks who they saw as stirring up trouble among Blacks who were still enslaved. It is estimated that at this time, there were 2 million enslaved Blacks and 200,000 free Blacks in America. In 10 years, the ACS returned nearly 3,000 Blacks to Africa. They helped to form what are today the West African nations of Liberia and Sierra Leone. Indeed, the first president of Liberia was an American Black who had returned to Africa.
1905—Legendary Jazz great and pianist Earl “Fatha” Hines is born on this day in Duquesne, Pa., near Pittsburgh. He was in a class by himself and a major influence not only in Jazz but also upon the Swing and Bebop eras of American popular music. He collaborated with such greats as Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughn and Dizzy Gillespie. He died in 1983. Among his best known hits were “Stormy Monday Blues” and “Second Balcony Jump.”
1954—Movie star Denzel Washington is born on this day in Mt. Vernon, N.Y.