Today in Black History – April 1 *
1867 – African Americans vote in a municipal election in Tuscumbia,
Alabama. Military officials set aside the election pending
clarification on electoral procedures.
1868 – Hampton Institute is founded in Hampton, Virginia, by General
Samuel Chapman Armstrong.
1895 – Alberta Hunter is born in Memphis, Tennessee. She will run
away from home at the age of twelve and go to Chicago,
Illinois to become a Blues singer. She will work in a
variety of clubs until the violence in the Chicago club
scene prompts her to move to New York City. There she will
record for a variety of blues labels. She will write a lot
of her own songs and songs for other performers. Her song
“Down Hearted Blues,” will become Bessie Smith’s first
record in 1923. She will perform in Europe and America
until 1956, when she will retire from performing. She will
work for more than twenty years as a nurse in a New York
hospital and in 1977, at the age of 82, surprisingly return
to the stage. She will perform until she joins the
ancestors in 1984.
1905 – The British East African Protectorate becomes the colony of
1917 – Scott Joplin joins the ancestors in New York City. One of
the early developers of ragtime and the author of “Maple
Leaf Rag,” Joplin also created several rag-time and grand
operas, the most noteworthy of which, “Treemonisha,”
consumed his later years in an attempt to have it published
1924 – The British Crown takes over Northern Rhodesia from the
British South Africa Company.
1929 – Morehouse College, Spelman College and Atlanta University
are merged, creating a ‘new’ Atlanta University. Dr. John
Hope of Morehouse College, is named president.
1930 – Zawditu, the first reigning female monarch of Ethiopia, joins
the ancestors. She was the second daughter of Emperor
Menelik II. She had been Empress of Ethiopia since 1916.
1939 – Rudolph Bernard Isley is born in Cincinnati, Ohio. He will
become a singer at the age of six with his brothers O’Kelly,
Ronald and Vernon Isley and form the group, The Isley
Brothers. They will leave Cincinnati in 1956 and go to New
York City to pursue their musical career. Rudolph and his
brothers will obtain fame and success nationally and
internationally earning numerous platinum and gold albums
which contain such classic hits as “Shout,” “Twist and
Shout,” “It’s Your Thing,” “Who’s That Lady,” “Fight the
Power,” “For the Love of You,” “Harvest For The World,”
“Live It Up,” “Footsteps in the Dark,” “Work to Do,” “Don’t
Say Good Night” and many others.
1950 – Charles R. Drew, surgeon and developer of the blood bank
concept, joins the ancestors after an automobile accident
near Burlington, North Carolina at the age of 45.
1951 – Oscar Micheaux joins the ancestors in Charlotte, North
Carolina. Micheaux formed his own film production company,
Oscar Micheaux Corporation, to produce his novel “The
Homesteader” and over 30 other movies, notably “Birthright,”
which was adapted from a novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning
author T.S. Stribling, and “Body and Soul,” which marked the
film debut of Paul Robeson.
1966 – The first World Festival of Negro Arts opens in Dakar,
Senegal, with the U.S. African American delegation having
one of the largest number of representatives. First prizes
are won by poet Robert Hayden, engraver William Majors,
actors Ivan Dixon and Abbey Lincoln, gospel singer Mahalia
Jackson, jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong, and sociologist
1984 – Marvin Gaye joins the ancestors after being shot to death by
his father, Marvin Gaye, Sr. in Los Angeles, California,
one day before his forty-fifth birthday. The elder Gaye
will plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter, and receive
probation. Marvin Gaye was one of the most talented soul
singers of all time. Unlike most soul greats, Gaye’s
artistic inclinations evolved over the course of three
decades, moving from hard-driving soul-pop to funk and