Fact A Day
Black Civil War soldiers
What had become known as Memorial Day began as “Decoration Day” in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. Civil War. It was a tradition initiated by former slaves to celebrate emancipation and commemorate those who died for that cause. Memorial Day is to reflect a day “without politics”—a general patriotic celebration of all soldiers and veterans, regardless of the nature of the wars in which they participated. This is the opposite of how the day emerged, with explicitly partisan motivations, to celebrate those who fought for justice and liberation.
Over time the emphasis to remember the sacrifice of U.S. Service members and not so much the wars evolved. It came about in the Jim Crow period as the Northern and Southern ruling classes sought to reunite the country around apolitical mourning, which required erasing the “divisive” issues of slavery and Black citizenship. These issues had been at the heart of the struggles of the Civil War and Reconstruction.
To truly honor Memorial Day means putting the politics back in. It means reviving the visions of emancipation and liberation that animated the first Decoration Days. It means celebrating those who have fought for justice, while exposing the cruel manipulation of hundreds of thousands of U.S. service members who have been sent to fight and die in wars for conquest and empire.
As the U.S. Civil War came to a close in April 1865, Union troops entered the city of Charleston, S.C., where four years prior the war had begun. While white residents had largely fled the city, Black residents of Charleston remained to celebrate and welcome the troops, who included the TwentyFirst Colored Infantry. Their celebration on May 1, 1865, the first “Decoration Day,” later became Memorial Day.
1. The former prison for which Nelson Mandela was held in captivity alone with many other South Africans is transformed into a museum at Robbins Island, 1997.
2. Kofi Annan of Ghana becomes the first Black Secretary of United Nations
3. Isaiah Milligan Terrell, educator, was born on January 3, 1859, near the city of Anderson, Grimes County, Texas. Terrell was the son of Alexander, a blacksmith, and Nancy (Oneil) Terrell. Terrell received a private education taught by two missionaries. He was a graduate of Straight University in New Orleans in 1881 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He also received his Master of Arts degree at Straight University. In 1881 Terrell was hired as a private school teacher in Anderson, Texas. After teaching one year in Grimes County, he was selected by Fort Worth’s Superintendent of Schools, Alexander Hogg, to head the first free public school for African-Americans, called the East Ninth Street Colored School. On February 7, 1883, Terrell married Marcelite Landry, an accomplished music teacher whom he met while both were attending Straight University. They had two sons.
4. 1996 – He becomes the first Black selected to respond to a state of the union. Julius Caesar “J C” Watts, Jr. is an American politician who represented Oklahoma. He was a college football quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooner’s and later played professionally in the Canadian Football League.
5. Thaddeus Stevens was an advocate for the poor. He grew up poor put his self through college, and passed the Bar. He became a successful lawyer and invested his money in real estate and iron foundries. Stevens spent much of his life championing the cause of poor people and slaveHe was elected to congress yet, traduced legislation to curtail secret societies, for more funds for the state colleges and for a constitutional limit on state debt, and, he refused to sign the new state constitution of 1838 because it prevented Blacks from voting. On this date in 1866, Congressman Stevens sponsored an amendment to the Freedmen’s Bureau bill authorizing the disbursement of 40 acres of land to Slaves and Refuges.
6. Maria W. Miller was an African-American journalist, lecturer, abolitionist, and women’s rights activist. An African American journalist, lecturer, abolitionist and women’s rights activist, Maria W. Miller was born free on this date in 1803. A few years after her birth she became an orphan and was raised in the family of a minister, she was deprived of an education, and yet when she turned twenty her life took on a new meaning and she became interested in religion which influenced her life. She attended the Sabbath School where she worked as a domestic servant.At twenty-three she had meet James W. Stewart, a self employed shipping agent, they exchanged vowed in Boston, Massachusetts officiated by Reverend Thomas Paul, pastor of the African Meeting House. James Stewart a veteran of the War of 1812, died 3 years later, 1829, they had no children and the inheritance from his military pension was suspended by the executors of his estate, later this was overturned by a law passed granting military pension to the widows of War of 1812 Veterans.
7. Allen Bernard West, born 1961, into a military family, he served nearly 20 years in the United States Army including several combat deployments in Iraq. He became a Lieutenant colonel before retiring and moving to Florida. On West’s second bid for political office he won the seat for U.S. Representative for Florida’s 22nd Congressional District becoming the first Black Republican to represent Florida in Congress since Reconstruction, when Representative Josiah T. Walls left office in 1876. West took office in 2010 and has become a nationally recognized member of the Tea Party Caucus, and is seen as a rising star in the movement.
8.1840: The Amistad civil trial begins in New Haven.
Alcorn State University was established in the former site of a school for whites operated by the Presbyterian Church until the American Civil War, then renamed after the Mississippi state governor, James L. Alcorn, 1871. Senator Hiram R. Revels resigned his United States Senate seat to become the first President of Alcorn State University. When the school opened it was more a vocational school exclusively for black males, some twenty years later women were admitted. In 1878 the University was renamed to Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College. In its beginning, there were 8 faculty members, and early graduates had limited educational options, today there are successful Doctors, Lawyers, Pharmacists, Dentists, Educators, Administrators, Managers, Sports figures’ and Entrepreneurs.
9. 1971 – Leroy “Satchel” Paige inducted to Baseball Hall of Fame
1935 – Earl G. Graves, publisher of Black Enterprise, media conglomerate.
10. The Democratic Party elected Ron Brown National Chairman in 1989 making him the first African American to hold this office. Brown came from a middle class family he was a member of the Jack and Jill of America Organization, he went to preparatory schools, became the first African American member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon. After his military tour, Brown became a lawyer and was hired by the Washington, D.C., law firm Patton, Boggs & Blow. Brown became a Democratic Party insider, he ran Jesse L. Jackson’s 1988 Presidential Campaign, the following year, he was elected Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. This put in him in a central role to organize a successful 1992 Democratic National Convention and one and equally so in the 1992 Presidential Campaign for President elect Bill Clinton. Brown was appointed Secretary of Commerce in the Clinton administration in 1994, he was serving in this position when he and 32 other people died when their plane hit the side of a mountain while attempting an emergency landing.
After a 12 day debate and voting on 125 amendments, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by a vote of 290 – 130.
11.1990 – Nelson Mandela’s greatest pleasure, his most private moment, is watching the sun set with the music of Handel or Tchaikovsky playing. Locked up in his cell during daylight hours, deprived of music, both these simple pleasures were denied him for decades. With his fellow prisoners, concerts were organized when possible.
12. Former heavyweight boxing champion Joseph “Smoking Joe” Frazier was born in Beaufort, South Carolina. “Smoking Joe” was an Olympic Gold medalist in 1964 who won the heavyweight cham.pionship in 1968
13. In 1953, Don Barksdale becomes the first African American to play in an NBA All-Star Game.
14. James Todd Smith, better known as LL Cool J an abbreviation for Ladies Love Cool James, is an American rapper, entrepreneur, and actor from Bay Shore, New York. He is known for romantic ballads such as “I Need Love”, “Around the Way Girl” and “Hey Lover” as well as pioneering hip-hop such as “I Can’t Live Without My Radio”, “I’m Bad”, “The Boomin’ System”, and “Mama Said Knock You Out”. He has also appeared in numerous films, and currently stars as NCIS Special Agent Sam Hanna on the CBS crime drama television series NCIS: Los Angeles.
15. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born Michael Luther King, Jr., but later had his name changed to Martin. His grandfather began the family’s long tenure as pastors of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, serving from 1914 to 1931; his father has served, and from 1960 until his death Martin Luther acted as co-pastor. Martin Luther attended segregated public schools in Georgia, graduating from high school at the age of fifteen; he received the B. A. degree in 1948 from Morehouse College, a distinguished Negro institution of Atlanta from which both his father and grandfather had graduated. After three years of theological study at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania where he was elected president of a predominantly white senior class, he was awarded the B.D. in 1951. With a fellowship won at Crozer, he enrolled in graduate studies at Boston University, completing his residence for the doctorate in 1953 and receiving the degree in 1955. In Boston he met and married Coretta Scott, a young woman of uncommon intellectual and artistic attainments. Two sons and two daughters were born into the family.
16. The 99th Pursuit Squadron, known as the Tuskegee Airmen, was formed as the Army Air Force’s first all African American flying unit in 1941. This flying unit was established during World War II and served with distinction in the European Theatre of Operations in its first year they are credited with over 500 missions and nearly 3,800 raids. Lt. Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. led this Squadron which flew tactical support missions and later attached to the 332nd Fighter Group.
17. Paul Cuffe, born a free man who later became a ship captain, developed farm land, an entrepreneur, an abolitionist and became one of the wealthiest African Americans’ of his era. His father was brought to the America’s as a slave, purchased by a Quaker family, yet Cuffe pursued his freedom and it was later granted. Free Blacks and Native Americans established relationships and this is what lead Cuffe met Paul’s mother, Ruth Moses, of the American Wampanoag Tribe. While a teenager Paul sort to be a sailor on whaling and cargo ships where his skills led him to become Captain and later owning his own fleet of ships where he hired Blacks to operate his successful businesses. Cuffe, a Quaker and an advocate for equal treatment of African Americans he was a major force in concerns of slavery, abolition and the education of African Americans
18. John H Johnson, publisher of “Ebony Magazine” and “Jet” was born, 1918. A man who has dream burning so strong that he borrowed $500 on his mothers furniture and started what has become an empire, Johnson Publishing Company. Johnson became the first Black man to own a company included in the Forbes 400 list. Johnson is the grandson of a former slave, and went on the build his empire from the idea of Readers’ Digest being a Negro Digest. His company went on to become a major international media and cosmetics conglomerate including EBONY, JET magazines, Fashion Fair Cosmetics, Fashion Fair and Radio Stations
20. Barack Obama becomes 44th U.S. president, 2008. One of the most historic days in America, Barack Obama becomes the 44th president of the United States of America. He is the first African American to hold this coveted office. Obama worked for several years as a community organizer on the streets of Chicago’s largely Black South Side. He graduated from Harvard Law School and practiced constitutional law in Chicago, and in 1996 he launched a political career leading him to be elected to the Illinois State Senate. In 2004 he delivered a galvanizing keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention, drawing national attention with a fervent call for unity and cooperation across party lines. Within three years and shortly after becoming only the third African American elected to the U.S. Senate since reconstruction, Barack Obama declares his candidacy for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.
21. 1971 – Twelve Black Congressman boycotted Richard Nixon’s State of the Union message because of his “consistent refusal” to respond to the petitions of Black Americans.
Pioneer aviator, Willam Brown-Chappell was born, 1906
22. George Foreman, two-time heavyweight boxing champion, was born in Marshall, TX. In a 1973 Kingston, Jamaica bout, he defeated Joe Frazier to receive the heavyweight championship. Foreman kept the title for 22 months until losing it to Muhammad Ali.
1931 – Sam Cooke, born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, one of eight children, his father a Baptist preacher moved to Chicago when Sam was 3 years old. He begin his singing career in a gospel group and went on to become a international gospel singer, R&B, Soul and Pop singer. His distinctive vocal abilities and influence has lead to him become a pioneer and founder of what has become known as Soul Music. Cooke had nearly 30 hits between 1957 and his untimely death in 1964.
23. Monday, In 1941, Richard Wright wins the Spingarn Medal for “Native Son.”
The 24th Amendment to the US Constitution is ratified. It abolishes poll tax, which was used as a means of preventing African Americans from voting, 1964
1891 -Pioneer in surgery, Dr Daniel Hale Williams, founds Provident Hospital in Chicago, IL . At the same time, he founded Provident Hospital School of Nursing because Emma Reynolds, African America, had been denied admission to every school of nursing in Chicago.
24. Georgia’s first African American congressman and the first African American to speak on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Jefferson Franklin Long was born into slavery on March 3, 1836, in Alabama to a slave mother and a white father.
25. Robert L. Johnson decided to launch his own Cable Television Network in 1980. He took his own savings and leveled a half-million dollar investment to start the Network. The Network initially broadcast for only two hours a week of block programming on the Nickelodeon, it took about three years before BET started broadcasting a full fledged channel. The channel began with music videos and reruns of popular black sitcoms. In 1988, after nearly five years of broadcasting videos and reruns, BET News, debuted this later provided way for other programming and specials affecting its targeted audience; African Americans.The Network was a success and in 1991, it became the first African American controlled company on the New York Stock Exchange. In 2003, the network was no longer a black owned business when it was bought by media conglomerate Viacom for $3 billion. In 2005, Johnson retired from the network, turning over his titles as President and Chief Executive Officer to Debra L. Lee, a former Vice President.
26. It has taken a long time, and finally Elaine Weddington becomes the first African American female to become the assistant general manager of a professional sports team, there are no women general managers, nor are there any women empires, or broadcasters, this is America’s favorite pastime. Elaine grew up loving baseball and is a native New Yorker she had worked alongside Lou Gorman and Dan Duquette earlier. She was promoted to assistant General Manager of the Boston Red Sox in 1991.
27. By DOUGLAS C. McGILL
Published: January 27, 1989
After more than three years of pressure from shareholders, religious groups and blacks, the Colgate-Palmolive Company announced yesterday that it would rename Darkie, a popular toothpaste that it sells in Asia, and redesign its logotype, a minstrel in blackface.
The company had faced increasing criticism for promoting racial stereotypes through its marketing of the toothpaste, which is a best-selling brand in several Asian countries, after it paid $50 million in 1985 for half-ownership of the Hong Kong company that manufactures it.
”It’s just plain wrong,” Reuben Mark, chairman and chief executive of Colgate-Palmolive, said about the toothpaste’s name and logotype. ”It’s just offensive. The morally right thing dictated that we must change. What we have to do is find a way to change that is least damaging to the economic interests of our partners.”
The company said it would change the name of the toothpaste to Darlie and make the logotype a portrait of a man of ambiguous race wearing a silk top hat, tuxedo and bow tie. Two-Year Changeover Planned.
28. Richmond Barthé, American sculptor. Born: Jan. 28, 1901. Birthplace: Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Barthé showed great promise as an artist at a young age. As an African American, however, he was barred from entering art schools in New Orleans, near his home. In 1924, however, he gained admission to the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago. Originally interested in painting, Barthé turned to sculpture in his senior year at the Institute. In 1929, Barthé moved to Harlem, and in 1934, he had his first solo show at the Caz Delbo Galleries in New York City. His representational sculptures, primarily of African Americans, were received with enormous critical success.
Some of his major public works included his Toussaint L’Ouverture Monument and General Dessalines Monument, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Green Pastures: Walls of Jericho for the Harlem River Housing Project, and a sculpture of Rose McClendon, the African American actress, for Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater House. His pieces are in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Museum of Art, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, among others. After a period in New York, Barthé moved to Jamaica, then Europe, and returned to the U.S. in his final years, residing in California.
29. Oprah Winfrey was born poor and black in Mississippi in 1954, when poor and black meant no flush toilets, no shoes, and no real chance to get ahead in the world. She was supposed to be “Orpah” Winfrey, named for the Biblical Ruth’s sister-in-law (see Ruth, chapter 1), but the name was spelled wrong on her birth certificate, and soon everyone was calling her Oprah. She learned to read at home, and skipped kindergarten to go straight into first grade. She skipped second grade, too. At 17 she was working as a reporter for a local radio station. She was a bright kid.
And beautiful — at 18, Winfrey won the Miss Black Tennessee beauty pageant. At 19, she was anchoring a newscast on Nashville’s WTVF-TV. She later co-anchored the nightly newscast at WJZ-TV in Baltimore, and co-hosted a local talk show called People Are Talking, before jumping to Chicago’s WLS-TV. Her morning talk show there debuted in 1984, and rose to number one in the ratings within a month. Outside of local telecasts, Oprah first drew national attention in her film debut, The Color Purple, for which she snagged an Oscar-nomination as best supporting actress. She’s acted in other films since, but never nearly so well.
Winfrey’s talk show went national in 1986, and as it had in Chicago, Oprah took the top spot almost immediately. It’s been the top-rated daytime talk show ever since. Winfrey’s interview style is intimate, emotional, and seemingly sincere. It’s been described as televised therapy, and diehard fans say she does more than merely entertain and interview, she helps her viewers deal with life. Others are immune to Winfrey’s powers, but the pro-Winfrey crowd can point to her dozens of Emmy awards.
Winfrey has spoken of being sexually abused as a child, and stated publicly that she’ll never have children of her own. She testified before Congress in support of “The Oprah Bill”, establishing a national database of convicted child abusers.
Born: 1827 Died: January 30, 1900 Birthplace: Norfolk, Virginia John P. Parker was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of a white father and a slave mother. He was sold to a slave agent from Richmond, Virginia at age eight. Parker worker for two years at a foundry and the New Orleans docks as a staved.
31. 1988 – Washington Redskins quarterback Doug Williams, the first African American quarterback to play in a Super Bowl game, is named MVP in Super Bowl XXII.
Passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified on December 6, 1865, the 13th amendment abolished slavery in the United States and provides that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted,
1. Charles Remond was a privileged man he was born free in 1810. His parents owned their own businesses, a hair salon and a catering business in Salem, Massachusetts. Remond would strike out on his own, during the Civil War he helped recruit black soldiers in the Union Army from Massachusetts for the famed 54th and 55th Massachusetts Infantry. In his twenties he began to speak out about the treatment of Blacks and slavery, he spoke at gatherings and conferences in neighboring states. His activism was recognized and he later travelled with William Lloyd Garrison to London as a delegate from the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1840. In 1842 Remond stated, “When the World shall learn that mind makes the man; that goodness, moral worth, and integrity of soul, are the true tests of Character, then prejudice against caste and color, will cease.”
2. 1962 – Eleven People Arrested After Sit-In Seven whites and four Blacks arrested after all-night sit-in at Englewood, N.J., city hall. Four Black mothers arrested after sit-in at Chicago elementary school. Mothers later received suspended $50 fines. These protests, picketing and demonstrations continued for several weeks against segregation for all intents and purposes
3. In 1956, It was on this date, 1956, the University of Alabama admitted its first Black student. Autherine Juanitas Lucy college friend asked her to join with her to enroll in her to integrate this University. They approached the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to assist in enrolling in the University. Thurgood Marshall, Constance Baker Motley and Arthur Shores became their attorneys and begin court actions in 1953. A court order was secured preventing the University from not admitting the applications based on color, the decision went before the Supreme Court later that year and was upheld. By this time the university found grounds to reject Autherine friend, Pollie Ann Myers, hoping this would discourage Autherine from enrolling, it didn’t. She was admitted for graduate work in Library Science, the University’s administration refuse her housing and access to the University’s cafeteria. Even though she only attended 3 days a hostile White mob assembled on campus, the police was called, and the University later determined Autherine’s presence was inciting the campus’ safety and suspended her. In 1980 the University overturned the expulsion, and in 1992 Autherine received her Master’s degree almost 34 years after becoming the first African American to enroll in a white University in Alabama.
4. Rosa Parks, b. 1913, recognized as “The Mother of Civil Rights” unknowingly jump-starts the historical bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. She was born today, 1913, in Tuskegee, Alabama and her refusal to get up from a seat on public transportation for a white passenger spurred a city – wide boycott. The city went on to resend the law requiring segregation on city buses. This famed civil rights activist Rosa Parks was born Rosa Louise McCauley in Tuskegee, Alabama.
5. Thaddeus Stevens was an advocate for the poor. He grew up poor put his self through college, and passed the Bar. He became a successful lawyer and invested his money in real estate and iron foundries. Stevens spent much of his life championing the cause of poor people and slaves. He was elected to congress yet, traduced legislation to curtail secret societies, for more funds for the state colleges and for a constitutional limit on state debt, and, he refused to sign the new state constitution of 1838 because it prevented Blacks from voting. On this date in 1866, Congressman Stevens sponsored an amendment to the Freedmen’s Bureau bill authorizing the disbursement of 40 acres of land to Slaves and Refuges.
6. Bob Marley, b. 1945, Internationally famed Reggae Artist. The Bob Marley biography provides testament to the unparalleled influence of his artistry upon global culture. Since his passing on May 11, 1981, Bob Marley’s legend looms larger than ever, as evidenced by an ever-lengthening list of accomplishments attributable to his music, which identified oppressors and agitated for social change while simultaneously allowing listeners to forget their troubles and dance.
Bob Marley was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994; in December 1999, his 1977 album “Exodus” was named Album of the Century by Time Magazine and his song “One Love” was designated Song of the Millennium by the BBC. Since its release in 1984, Marley’s “Legend” compilation has annually sold over 250,000 copies according to Nielsen Sound Scan, and it is only the 17th album to exceed sales of 10 million copies since SoundScan began its tabulations in 1991.
7. James Hubert Blake, b. 1887, an American composer, lyricist, and pianist of ragtime, jazz, and popular music. In 1921, Blake and long-time collaborator Noble Sissle wrote the Broadway musical Shuffle Along, one of the first Broadway musicals to be written and directed by African Americans. He was one of the most famous composers of 20th century musicals, known for hits like “I’m Just Wild About Harry.” Born in Maryland, Blake went on to become a revered ragtime pianist and composer for American musicals.
8. Debi Thomas, b. 1967, became the first African American to win the Women’s Singles of the U.S. National Figure Skating,1986, a pre-med student at Stanford University, She became the first African American to win the Women’s Singles of the U.S. National Figure Skating Championship competition and in 1988 she was the first black athlete to earn a medal at the Winter Olympics.
9. Leroy Robert “Satchel” Paige was an American Negro league baseball and Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher who became a legend in his own lifetime by being known as perhaps the best pitcher in baseball history, by his longevity in the game, and by attracting record crowds wherever he pitched. He was a right-handed pitcher, and in 1948, he was the oldest major league rookie while playing for the Cleveland Indians. He played with the St. Louis Browns until age 47, and represented them in the All-Star Game in 1952 and 1953. He was the first player who had played in the Negro leagues to pitch in the World Series, in 1948, and was the first elected by the Committee from Negro Baseball Leagues to be inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, in 1971.
10. James Varick, b. 1750, was a religious leader, a social reformer, minister, founder and first bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Varick was born near Newburgh, New York. His mother was possibly a slave of the Varicks, or Van Varicks and his father, Richard Varick, was born in Hackensack, New Jersey, where he was baptized in the Dutch Church. He went on to establish an independent local church for members of his race. The church soon formed into a denomination, which has grown to be one of the great religious bodies of the world. Soon branches of the church were established in other east coast cities. The church was often known as the “Freedom Church” because of its insistence on emancipation from spiritual, economic and social chains. From its early beginnings, the A.M.E. Zion Church has been known for its spirit of reform and activism. In the 19th century, the church was in the forefront of the antislavery movement. About 1790, he married Aurelia Jones. The couple had four sons and three daughters.
11. Daniel “Chappie” James Jr. was a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force, who in 1975 became the first African American to reach the rank of four-star general. He was the third person of Sub-Saharan origin to become highest-ranking officer in the Western world after Thomas-Alexandre Dumas (1793) and Toussaint Louverture (1797).
12. Henry Highland Garnet was an African-American abolitionist born circa December 23, 1815, in Kent County, Maryland. Born as a slave, Garnet and his family escaped to New York when he was about 9 years old. In the 1840s, he became an abolitionist. His “Call to Rebellion” speech in 1843 encouraged slaves to free themselves by rising up against owners. Seen as a radical, he became a controversial figure within the abolitionist movement. In 1865, Garnet became the first black speaker to preach a sermon in the House of Representatives. In 1881, he was appointed United States Minister and Counsel General (a position equivalent to ambassador today) in Liberia, and died there a few months later, on February 13, 1882.
13. 1919 Edward Gay Robinson, hall of fame football coach, was born in Jackson, Louisiana. Robinson earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at Leland College in 1941 and in 1954 earned his Master of Arts degree from the University of Iowa. He began coaching at the historically black Grambling State University in 1941 and over the next 56 years compiled a record of 408 wins, 165 losses, and 15 ties.
14. In 1867, two years after the Civil War ended, Augusta Theological Institute was established in the basement of Springfield Baptist Church in Augusta, Georgia. The Founder, Rev. William Jefferson White, in 1787, and Springfield Baptist is the oldest independent African American church in the United States. The school’s primary purpose was to prepare black men for ministry and teaching. Today, Augusta Theological Institute is Morehouse College, which is located on a 66-acre campus in Atlanta and enjoys an international reputation for producing leaders who have influenced national and world history.
15. Ernest E. Just, recipient of 1st NAACP’s Spingard Medal, 1915, was a pioneering African-American biologist, academic and science writer. Just’s primary legacy is his recognition of the fundamental role of the cell surface in the development of organisms. In his work within marine biology, cytology and parthenogenesis, he advocated the study of whole cells under normal conditions, rather than simply breaking them apart in a laboratory setting.
16 1904 James Baskett, actor and the first male performer of African descent to receive an Oscar, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. Baskett appeared on Broadway in the all-black musical revue “Hot Chocolate” in 1929. In 1947, Baskett received an honorary Academy Award for his performance as Uncle Remus for his “able and heartwarming characterization of Uncle Remus, friend and storyteller to the children of the world.”
17. Jim Brown is a record-holding, former NFL fullback who’s been elected to the Sport’s Hall of Fame and who’s also worked as a model and film actor. b. 1936, on St. Simons Island in Georgia, Brown was an All-American athlete who went on to play for the Cleveland Browns as a star running back, setting records and being elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He retired in 1967 to focus on acting, with roles in films like The Dirty Dozen, Ice Station Zebra and Kenner. He’s later focused on black business empowerment.
18. Jimmie Lee Jackson, b. 1938, was a civil rights protestor who was shot and killed by Alabama State Trooper James Bonard Fowler in 1965. Jackson was unarmed and on the night in February 1965, around 500 people left Zion United Methodist Church in Marion and attempted a peaceful walk to the Perry County Jail, about half a block away, where a Civil Rights worker was being held. The marchers planned to sing hymns and return to the church however, his death inspired the Selma to Montgomery marches, an important event in the American Civil Rights movement. He was 26 years old.
19. Benjamin Brown, b. 1859, was a Buffalo Soldier in the United States Army and a recipient of America’s highest military decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Indian Wars of the Western United States. On May 11, 1889, Brown was serving as a Sergeant in Company C of the 24th Infantry Regiment when his unit was involved in an engagement with robbers during the Wham Paymaster Robbery. For his actions during the engagement, Brown was awarded the Medal of Honor a year later, on February 19, 1890. He was forced to retire in 1904 after being disabled by a stroke.
20. Sir Sidney Poitier, b. 1927, is a Bahamian-American actor, film director, author and diplomat.
In 1964, Poitier became the first Bahamian and first African-American to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Lilies of the Field. The significance of these achievements was bolstered in 1967, when he starred in three successful films, all of which dealt with issues involving race and race relations: To Sir, with Love; In the Heat of the Night; and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, making him the top box-office star of that year In 1999, The American Film Institute named Poitier among the Greatest Male Stars of classic Hollywood cinema, ranking 22nd on the list of 25.
21. Barbara Jordan, in full Barbara Charline Jordan, b.1936, in Houston, Texas. An American lawyer, educator, and politician who served as U.S. congressional representative from Texas (1973–79). She was the first African American congresswoman to come from the South. Jordan was an effective campaigner for the Democrats during the 1960 presidential election, and this experience propelled her into politics. In 1966 she was elected to the Texas Senate, the first African American member since 1883 and the first woman ever elected to that legislative body. She captured the attention of Pres. Lyndon Johnson, who invited her to the White House for a preview of his 1967 civil rights message. Jordan remained in the Texas Senate until 1972, when she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas’s 18th district. In the House, Jordan advocated legislation to improve the lives of minorities, the poor, and the disenfranchised and sponsored bills that expanded workers’ compensation and strengthened the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to cover Mexican Americans in the Southwest.
22. Ralph Johnson Bunche, b. 1904 was born in Detroit, Michigan. When Bunche was ten years old, the family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the hope that the poor health of his parents would improve in the dry climate. Both, however, died two years later. His grandmother, an indomitable woman who appeared Caucasian, but was black fervor took Ralph and his two sisters to live in Los Angeles. Here Ralph contributed to the family’s hard pressed finances by selling newspapers, serving as house boy for a movie actor, working for a carpet-laying firm, and doing what odd jobs he could find. His intellectual brilliance appeared early, he won a prize in history early on and another upon competition of his elementary school work and was the valedictorian of his graduating class at Jefferson High School in Los Angeles. At the University of California at Los Angeles he supported himself with an athletic scholarship, which paid for his collegiate expenses, and with a janitorial job, which paid for his personal expenses. He played varsity basketball on championship teams, was active in debate and campus journalism, and was graduated in 1927, summa cum laude, valedictorian of his class, with a major in international relations.
23. Scholar and activist W.E.B. Du Bois, b. 1868, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. In 1895, he became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University. Du Bois wrote extensively and was the best known spokesperson for African-American rights during the first half of the 20th century. He co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1909. Du Bois died in Ghana in 1963. While growing up in a mostly European American town, W.E.B. Du Bois identified himself as “mulatto,” but freely attended school with whites and was enthusiastically supported in his academic studies by his white teachers. In 1885, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to attend Fisk University. It was there that he first encountered Jim Crow laws. For the first time, he began analyzing the deep troubles of American racism. ,After completing his master’s degree, he was selected for a study-abroad program at the University of Berlin. While a pupil in Germany, he studied with some of the most prominent social scientists of his day and was exposed to political perspectives that he touted for the remainder of his life.
25. Hiram Revels: A large number of black political leaders came from the church, having worked as ministers during slavery or in the early years of Reconstruction, when the church served as the center of the black community. Hiram Revels, the first African American elected to the U.S. Senate (he took the Senate seat from Mississippi that had been vacated by Jefferson Davis in 1861) was born free in North Carolina and attended college in Illinois. He worked as a preacher in the Midwest in the 1850s and as a chaplain to a black regiment in the Union Army before going to Mississippi in 1865 to work for the Freedman’s Bureau.
26. Fats Domino, b. 1928, Antoine Domino, in New Orleans, learned to play piano as a child, making his first public performance at age 10. After quitting school, he worked in a factory and sang and played at nightclubs. This was the time he met trumpeter Dave Bartholomew, who became his longtime songwriting partner. By the fifties Domino was producing records and climbing the R & B charts. In 1955, he had his first huge hit, “Ain’t That A Shame.” The song was covered Boone’s, and Boone’s version became a number one hit. Fats Domino’s version made it to number 10 at the same time. An early rock ‘n’ roll pioneer, Domino blended R&B, country, Cajun blues, zydeco and other styles, creating an inimical sound that greatly influenced a wide range of rock musicians.
27. Marian Anderson, b. 1897, was an American contralto and one of the most celebrated singers of the twentieth century. Music critic Alan Blyth said: “Her voice was a rich, vibrant contralto of intrinsic beauty.” Most of her singing career was spent performing in concert and recital in major music venues and with famous orchestras throughout the United States and Europe between 1925 and 1965. Although offered roles with many important European opera companies, Anderson declined, as she had no training in acting. She preferred to perform in concert and recital only. She did, however, perform opera arias within her concerts and recitals. She made many recordings that reflected her broad performance repertoire of everything from concert literature to lieder to opera to traditional American songs and spirituals. Between 1940 and 1965 the German-American pianist Franz Rupp was her permanent accompanist.
Anderson became an important figure in the struggle for black artists to overcome racial prejudice in the United States during the mid-twentieth century. In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused permission for Anderson to sing to an integrated audience in Constitution Hall. Anderson continued to break barriers for black artists in the United States, becoming the first black person, American or otherwise, to perform at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City on January 7, 1955. Her performance as Ulrica in Giuseppe Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera at the Met was the only time she sang an opera role on stage.