1539 – The first person of African descent to traverse the southern
portion of, what is now, the United States is Estevanico, or
Esteban, explorer from Azamov, Morocco. He discovers Arizona
and New Mexico. His journey lasted eight years. He was
leading an advance scouting party when he joins the ancestors
after being killed at Hawikuh Pueblo, New Mexico.
1870 – Governor William W. Holden of North Carolina, denounces Klan
violence and issues a proclamation declaring Alamance County
in a state of insurrection.
1917 – Janet Collins is born in New Orleans, Louisiana. She will
become a prima ballerina and the first African American
ballerina to perform on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera
House in New York City. She will be one of the few classically
trained African American dancers of her generation. In 1951
she will win the Donaldson Award for best dancer on Broadway
for her work in Cole Porter’s “Out of This World” (musical).
She also will perform in Aida and Carmen. She will join the
ancestors on May 28, 2003 in Fort Worth, Texas.
1927 – In Nixon v. Hearn, the United States Supreme Court strikes
down a Texas law prohibiting African Americans from voting in
a “white” primary.
1930 – “The New York Times” capitalizes the word Negro “in recognition
of racial self-respect for those who have been for generations
in the lowercase.”
1941 – British troops invade Abyssinia (Ethiopia). This invasion will
result in the liberation of Ethiopia from fascist Italian
occupation (1936 – 1941).
1942 – The first five cadets graduate from the Tuskegee Flying School:
Captain Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. and Second Lieutenants Mac Ross,
Charles DeBow, L.R. Curtis, and George S. Roberts. They will
become part of the famous 99th Pursuit Squadron.
1945 – Photographer Anthony Bonair is born in Trinidad. He will emigrate
to the United States in 1969. A photographer since the early 1970’s,
Bonair’s work will explore dance, Carnival, and the streets as
well as new directions utilizing multiple-exposure techniques.
He will join the ancestors on March 14, 2011.
1950 – Franco Harris is born in Fort Dix, New Jersey. He will become
a NFL fullback for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Seattle
Seahawks. In his career, he will be All-AFC three times, play
in eight Pro Bowls, MVP in Super Bowl IX, rush for 1,000 yards
for nine seasons, rush for 100 yards in 47 games, rush for
12,120 career yards, 91 touchdowns rushing, 9 TDs receiving,
14,622 combined net yards, and 1,556 yards rushing in 19 post-
season games. One of his most memorable plays will be “The
Immaculate Reception” in a Steeler win against the Oakland
Raiders. This play will be voted the play of the 20th Century
on Superbowl Sunday, January 30, 2000. He will be elected to
the Pro Football Hall of Fame on January 27, 1990 and enshrined
on August 8, 1990.
1951 – Ezzard Charles wins a 15-round heavyweight decision against
Jersey Joe Walcott.
1952 – Lynn Curtis Swann is born in Alcoa, Tennessee. He will become a
NFL wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He will be
elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993. Though
his professional career didn’t yield large statistics, he will
be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001. He will
also be selected to the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team by Hall of
Fame voters. After retiring from football, he will become a
1965 – John Lewis leads a group of civil rights marchers across the
Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where they are attacked
by Alabama state troopers and sheriff’s deputies with tear gas
and billy clubs. This violent confrontation will be known as
“Bloody Sunday,” and will spark the historic Selma-to-
Montgomery voting rights march led by Martin Luther King Jr.
1985 – The record “We Are the World” is released as a single. The
song, whose proceeds benefit African famine relief efforts, is
written by Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson and produced by
Quincy Jones, with the singing participants organized by Jones,
Harry Belafonte, and Ken Kragen. To insure that the all-night
recording session went off without a hitch and that the true
cause of the song was etched into the hearts and minds of the
wide array of internationally known talent performing, a hand-
written sign is placed outside the studio at A&M Records in
Hollywood which simply said, “Check Your Egos at the Door.”
1987 – World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight champ, “Iron Mike” Tyson
becomes the youngest heavyweight titlist ever as he beats James
“Bonecrusher” Smith in a decision during a 12-round bout in Las
2006 – Gordon Parks, renowned photographer, writer and director, joins
the ancestors at the age of 93.
Munirah Chronicle is edited by Mr. Rene’ A. Perry
“The TRUTH shall make you free”