* Today in Black History – April 3 *
1865 – The Fifth Massachusetts Colored Cavalry and units of the
Twenty-fifth Corps are in the vanguard of Union troops
entering Richmond. The Second Division of the Twenty-Fifth
Corps help to chase Robert E. Lee’s army from Petersburg to
Appomattox Court House, April 3-10. The African American
division and white Union soldiers are advancing on General
Lee’s trapped army with fixed bayonets when the Confederate
1889 – The Savings Bank of the Order of True Reformers opens in
1934 – Richard Mayhew is born in Amityville, New York. A student
at the Art Students League, Brooklyn Museum Art School, and
Columbia University, as well as the Academia in Florence,
Italy, Mayhew will be one of the most respected and
revolutionary landscape artists of the 20th century. He
will also form “Spiral,” a forum for artistic innovation
and exploration of African American artists’ relationships
to the civil rights movement, with fellow artists Romare
Bearden, Charles Alston, Hale Woodruff, and others.
1936 – James Harrell McGriff is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
He will be surrounded by music as a child, with both parents
playing piano and cousins Benny Golson and Harold Melvin,
who were pursuing their own musical talents. He will be
influenced to play the organ by neighbor Richard “Groove”
Holmes, with whom he will study privately. He will also
study organ at Philadelphia’s Combe College of Music and at
Julliard. In addition, he will study with Milt Buckner and
with classical organist Sonny Gatewood. His first hit will
be with his arrangement of “I Got A Woman”, on the Sue
label, which made it to the top five on both Billboard’s
Rhythm and Blues and Pop charts. There will be close to 100
albums with Jimmy McGriff’s name at the top as leader. He
will record for Sue, Solid State, United Artists, Blue Note,
Groove Merchant, Milestone, Headfirst and Telarc. Over his
prolific career, he will record with George Benson, Kenny
Burrell, Frank Foster, J.J. Johnson and a two-organ jam
affair with the late “Groove” Holmes.
1944 – The U.S. Supreme Court (Smith v. Allwright) said that “white
primaries” that exclude African Americans are
1950 – Carter G. Woodson, “the father of black history,” joins the
ancestors in Washington, DC at the age of 74.
1961 – Edward “Eddie” Regan Murphy is born in Brooklyn, New York. A
stand-up comedian and star of “Saturday Night Live” before
pursuing a movie career, Murphy will become one of the
largest African American box office draws. Among his most
successful movies will be “48 Hours,” “Trading Places,”
“Beverly Hills Cop,” “Coming to America,” and “Harlem
1963 – Led by Martin Luther King, Jr., the Birmingham anti-
segregation campaign begins. Before it is over, more than
2,000 demonstrators, including King, will be arrested. The
Birmingham Manifesto, issued by Fred Shuttlesworth of the
Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights the morning of
the campaign, summarizes the frustration and hopes of the
protesters: “The patience of an oppressed people cannot
endure forever…. This is Birmingham’s moment of truth in
which every citizen can play his part in her larger
1964 – Malcolm X speaks at a CORE-sponsored meeting on “The Negro
Revolt What Comes Next?” In his speech “The Ballot or
Bullet,” Malcolm warns of a growing black nationalism that
will no longer tolerate patronizing white political action.
1968 – Less than 24 hours before he is assassinated in Memphis,
Tennessee, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
delivers his famous “mountaintop” speech to a rally of
striking sanitation workers.
1990 – Jazz singer Sarah Vaughan joins the ancestors in suburban
Los Angeles, California, at the age of 66.
1996 – An Air Force jetliner carrying Commerce Secretary Ron Brown
and American business executives crashes in Croatia,
killing all 35 people aboard.
2007 – Eddie Robinson, the longtime Grambling University coach who
transformed a small, Black college into a football power
that sent hundreds of players to the NFL, joins the
ancestors at the age of 88. The soft-spoken coach spent 57
years at Grambling State University, where he set a
standard for victories with 408 and nearly every season
relished seeing his top players drafted by NFL teams.