* Today in Black History – April 11 *
1865 – President Lincoln recommends suffrage for African American veterans
and African Americans who are “very intelligent.”
1881 – Spelman College is founded with $100 and eleven former slaves
determined to learn to read and write. It is opened as the Atlanta
Baptist Female Seminary. The two female founders, Sophia B. Packard
and Harriet E. Giles are appalled by the lack of educational
opportunities for African American women at the time. They will
return to Boston determined to get support to change that and earned
what will prove to be the lifelong support of John D. Rockefeller,
who considers Spelman to be one of his family’s finest investments.
The name Spelman is adopted later in honor of Mrs. Rockefeller’s
1933 – William Anthony “Tony” Brown is born in Charleston, West Virginia.
He will become well known as executive producer, host, and moderator
of the Emmy-winning television series “Black Journal.” In 1971 he
will establish and become the first dean of Howard University’s School
of Communications, a post he will hold until 1974. In 2002, he will
be inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and
Sciences’ Silver Circle. He will become the dean of Hampton
University’s Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications
in 2004 and hold that position until 2009, when he will step down.
1955 – Roy Wilkins is elected the NAACP’s executive secretary following
the ancestral ascension of Walter White.
1956 – Singer Nat “King” Cole is attacked on the stage of a Birmingham
theater by white supremacists.
1966 – Emmett Ashford becomes the first African American major league
umpire, working in the American League. He had been the first
African American professional umpire in the minor leagues in
1967 – Harlem voters defy Congress and re-elect Congressman Adam Clayton
Powell Jr. after he had been expelled by the legislative body.
1968 – President Lyndon B. Johnson signs what will become known as the
1968 Housing Act, which outlaws discrimination in the sale,
rental, or leasing of 80% of the housing in the United States.
Passed by the Senate and submitted by the House to Johnson in
the aftermath of the King assassination, the bill also protects
civil rights workers and makes it a federal crime to cross state
lines for the purpose of inciting a riot.
1972 – Benjamin L. Hooks, a Memphis lawyer and Baptist minister, becomes
the first African American to be named to the Federal Communications
1979 – Idi Amin is deposed as president of Uganda. A combined force of
Tanzanian and Ugandan soldiers overthrew the dictator. Amin, who
attained power in 1971 after a coup against socialist-leaning
President Milton Obote, oversaw the killing of at least 100,000
people. It is believed that Idi Amin left Uganda to live in Saudi
1988 – Willie D. Burton becomes the first African American to win the
Oscar for sound when he receives the award for the movie “Bird.”
1997 – The Museum of African American History opens in Detroit. It will
become the largest of its kind in the world.