*Today in Black History – May 20 *
1746 – Francois-Dominique Toussaint L’Ouverture is born into
slavery in Haiti. He will lead the revolution in his
country against French and English forces to free the
slaves. Although he will nominally rule in the name of
France, he will in actuality become political and
military dictator of the country. His success in freeing
the slaves in Haiti caused his name to become the biggest
influence in the slave cabins of the Americas. His name
will be whispered in Brazil, in the Caribbean, and the
United States. He will join the ancestors on April 7, 1803.
1868 – The Republican National Convention, meeting in Chicago,
nominates U.S. Grant for the presidency. The convention
marks the national debut of African American politicians.
P.B.S. Pinchback of Louisiana and James J. Harris were
delegates to the convention. Harris will be named to the
committee which informed Grant of his nomination. African
Americans also serve for the first time as presidential
electors. Robert Meacham will be a presidential elector
in Florida. The South Carolina electoral ticket will
include three African American Republican leaders, B.F.
Randolph, Stephen A. Swails, and Alonzo J. Ransier.
1951 – The New York branch of the NAACP honors Josephine Baker for
her work to combat racism. Baker, the American chanteuse
who was acclaimed in Europe, had led a personal crusade to
force integration of clubs where she appeared in Miami and
Las Vegas. She also campaigned against segregated railroad
facilities in Chicago and buses in Oakland.
1961 – A mob attacks freedom riders in Montgomery, Alabama.
Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy dispatches four hundred
U.S. marshals to Montgomery to keep order in the freedom
1964 – Buster Mathis defeats Joe Frazier to qualify for the U.S.
1971 – A Pentagon report states that African Americans constituted
11 per cent of U.S. soldiers in Southeast Asia. The
report also states that 12.5 per cent of all soldiers
killed in Vietnam since 1961 were African American.
1985 – Larry Holmes retains the heavyweight boxing title of the
International Boxing Federation in Reno, Nevada — by
defeating Carl Wilson in 15 rounds. The fight marks the
first heavyweight title fight in Reno since Jack Johnson
and Jim Jeffries fought there in 1910.
2003 – Howard Sims, tap dancer, joins the ancestors at age 86. He
was known as “Sandman” and taught Gregory Hines, Ben Vereen