Today in Black History – November 18 *
1797 – Abolitionist and orator, Sojourner Truth, is born a
New York slave on the plantation of Johannes
Hardenbergh. Her given name is Isabelle VanWagener
(some references use the name Isabelle Baumfree).
She will walk away from her last owner one year
prior to being freed by a New York law in 1827, which
proclaimed that all slaves twenty-eight years of age
and over were to be freed. Several years later, in
response to what she describes as a command from God,
she becomes an itinerant preacher and takes the name
Sojourner Truth. Among her most memorable appearances
will be at an 1851 women’s rights conference in Akron,
Ohio. In her famous “Ain’t I a woman?” speech she
forcefully attacks the hypocrisies of organized
religion, white privilege and everything in between.
1900 – Howard Thurman is born in Daytona Beach, Florida. A
theologian who studied at Morehouse with Martin L.
King, Sr., he will found the interracial Church of
Fellowship of All Peoples. The first African American
to hold a full-time faculty position at Boston
University (in 1953), Dr. Thurman will write 22 books
and become widely regarded as one of the greatest
spiritual leaders of the 20th century. He will join the
ancestors on April 10, 1981.
1936 – John Henry Kendricks is born in Detroit, Michigan. He will
become a prolific songwriter as well as a major rhythm
and blues singer better known as Hank Ballard. He will
perform with his group, The Midnighters, and make the
following songs popular: “There’s A Thrill Upon The Hill”
(Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Let’s Go), “The Twist”(made famous
later by Chubby Checker), “Finger Poppin’ Time”, “Work with
Me Annie”, “Sexy Ways”, and “Annie Had a Baby”. He will be
enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. He
will join the ancestors on March 2, 2003.
1949 – Jackie Robinson, of the Brooklyn Dodgers, is named the
National League’s Most Valuable Player.
1956 – Harold Warren Moon, professional football player
(Minnesota Vikings, Houston Oilers, and Seattle Seahawks
quarterback), is born in Los Angeles, California. He will
be the first undrafted quarterback and first African
American quarterback to be elected to the Football Hall
of Fame in 2006.
1964 – The head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, J. Edgar
Hoover, describes Martin Luther King as a “most
notorious liar”. This statement is indicative of the
agency head’s dislike of the civil rights leader.
1969 – The National Association of Health Services Executives is
incorporated. NAHSE’s goal is to elevate the quality of
health-care services rendered to poor and disadvantaged
1975 – Calvin Murphy of the Houston Rockets, ends the NBA free
throw streak at 58 games.
1977 – Robert Edward Chambliss, a former KKK member, is
convicted of first-degree murder in connection with the
1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in
Birmingham, Alabama, that killed four African American
1978 – The NAACP’s Spingarn Medal is presented to Ambassador
Andrew J. Young “in recognition of the deftness with
which he has handled relations between this nation and
other countries” and “for his major role in raising the
consciousness of American citizens to the significance
in world affairs of the massive African continent.”
1980 – Wally “Famous” Amos’ signature Panama hat and embroidered
shirt are donated to the National Museum of American
History’s Business Americana collection. It is the
first memorabilia added to the collection by an African
American entrepreneur and recognizes the achievement of
Amos, who built his company from a mom-and-pop
enterprise to a $250 million cookie manufacturing
1983 – “Sweet Honey in the Rock,” a capella singers, perform
their 10th anniversary reunion concert in Washington, DC.
1994 – Bandleader Cab Calloway joins the ancestors in Hockessin,
Delaware, at age 86.