February 17th in Black History
1870 – Congress passes a resolution readmitting Mississippi to the
Union on the condition that it will never change its
constitution to disenfranchise African Americans.
1918 – Charles Hayes is born in Cairo, Illinois. He will be elected
to the House of Representatives succeeding Harold Washington
in 1983. He will join the ancestors on April 8, 1997.
1933 – Bobby Lewis is born in Indianapolis, Indiana. He will become a
Rhythm and Blues singer, who will be at his peak in the 1960’s,
and will be best-known for his recordings of “Tossin’ & Turnin’,”
and “One Track Mind.”
1936 – James Nathaniel (Jim) Brown is born in Saint Simons, Georgia. He
will become a professional football player and actor. He is best
known for his exceptional and record-setting nine year career as
a fullback for the Cleveland Browns of the National Football
League (NFL) from 1957 to 1965. In 2002, he will be named by
Sporting News as the greatest professional football player ever.
He is widely considered to be one of the greatest professional
athletes in the history of the United States. He will be selected
in the first round of the 1957 draft by the Cleveland Browns. He
will depart as the NFL record holder for both single-season (1,863
in 1963) and career rushing (12,312 yards), as well as the all-time
leader in rushing touchdowns (106), total touchdowns (126), and
all-purpose yards (15,549). He will be the first player ever to
reach the 100-rushing-touchdowns milestone, and only a few others
will do so to date, despite the league’s expansion to a 16-game
season in 1978. Note: His first four seasons were only 12 games,
and his last five were 14 games. His record of scoring 100
touchdowns in only 93 games will stand until LaDainian Tomlinson
did it in 89 games during the 2006 season. He will hold the record
for total seasons leading the NFL in all-purpose yards (five:
1958–1961, 1964), and will be the only rusher in NFL history to
average over 100 yards per game for a career. In addition to his
rushing, He will be a superb receiver out of the backfield, catching
262 passes for 2,499 yards and 20 touchdowns, while also adding
another 628 yards returning kickoffs. Every season he played, he
will be voted into the Pro Bowl, and he will leave the league in
style, by scoring three touchdowns in his final Pro Bowl game.
Perhaps the most amazing feat, is that he will accomplish these
records despite never playing past 29 years of age. His six games
with at least 4 touchdowns will remain an NFL record, to date.
LaDainian Tomlinson and Marshall Faulk will both have five games
with 4 touchdowns. He will lead the league in rushing a record eight
times. He will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.
The Sporting News will select him as the greatest football player of
all time. His football accomplishments at Syracuse will garner him a
berth in the College Football Hall of Fame. He will also earn a spot
in the Lacrosse Hall of Fame, giving him a rare triple crown of sorts,
as well as being one of the few athletes to become a Hall of Fame
member in more than one sport. After his football career, he will
become a movie star and will establish the Negro Industrial and
Economic Union, and work with African American youth with the
Amer-I-Can program, which he will establish.
1938 – Mary Frances Berry is born in Nashville, Tennessee. She will
be an influential force in education and civil rights, become
the first woman of any race to serve as chancellor of a major
research university (University of Colorado in 1976), and a
member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.
1941 – Joe Louis retains his world heavyweight boxing crown by
knocking out Gus Dorazio.
1942 – Huey Percy Newton is born in Monroe, Louisiana. He will become a
political and urban activist who, along with Bobby Seale, will co-
found the Black Panther Party in 1966. He will be the party’s Minister
of Defense. He will have a long series of confrontations with law
enforcement, including several convictions, while participating in
political activism. He will continue to pursue an education, eventually
earning a Ph.D. in Social Science from the University of California
Santas Cruz in 1980. He will spend time in prison for manslaughter, due
to his alleged involvement in a shooting that killed a police officer,
but was later acquitted. On August 22, 1989, he will join the ancestors.
after being shot and killed in Oakland, California, by Tyrone “Double R”
Robinson, a member of the Black Guerrilla Family.
1962 – Wilt Chamberlain, of the NBA Philadelphia Warriors, scores 67
points against St. Louis.
1963 – Michael Jeffrey Jordan, who will be a star basketball player
for the University of North Carolina, the 1984 Olympic gold
medal team and the Chicago Bulls, is born in Brooklyn, New
York. Jordan’s phenomenal style and scoring ability will earn
him universal acclaim and selection on more than eight all-
star NBA teams and NBA Most Valuable Player more than four
1982 – Thelonious Monk, jazz pianist and composer, joins the ancestors
at the age of 64.
1989 – The African countries of Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia
& Libya form an economic common market.
1997 – The Virginia House of Delegates votes unanimously to retire the
state song, “Carry me back to Old Virginny,” a tune which
glorifies the institution of slavery.