* Today in Black History – May 12 *
1896 – Juan Morel Campos joins the ancestors in Ponce, Puerto
Rico. He was a musician and composer who was one of the
first to integrate Afro-Caribbean styles and folk rhythms
into the classical European musical model. He was
considered the father of the “danza.”
1898 – Louisiana adopts a new constitution with a “grandfather
clause” designed to eliminate African American voters.
1902 – Joe Gans (born Joseph Gaines) becomes the first native-
born African American to win a world boxing championship,
when he defeats Frank Erne in one round for the World
Lightweight Crown. He will be elected to the Boxing Hall
of Fame in 1954.
1910 – The Second NAACP conference opens in New York City. The
three day conference will create a permanent national
structure for the organization.
1916 – Albert L. Murray is born in Nokomis, Alabama. He will
become an author of several works of nonfiction, among
them the influential collection of essays, “The Omni
Americans: New Perspectives on Black Experience and
American Culture.” His other works will include “South
to a Very Old Place,” “The Hero and The Blues,” “Train
Whistle Guitar,” “The Spyglass Tree,” “Stomping The
Blues,” “Good Morning Blues,” and “The Blue Devils of
Nada.” He will join the ancestors on August 18, 2013.
1926 – Paulette Poujol-Oriol is born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
She will become a well-known literary personality in
Haiti. She will be best known for her innovative creative
expression. Her works will include “Prayers for Two
Vanished Angels” and “The Crucible.” She will join the
ancestors on March 12, 2011, after succumbing to a
1926 – Mervyn Malcom Dymally is born in Cedros, Trinidad. He will
become the first African American elected as lieutenant
governor of California and will be elected to Congress in
1980, where he will serve for 12 years. He will join the
ancestors on October 7, 2012.
1929 – Samuel Daniel Shafiishuna Nujoma is born in Etunda, South
West Africa (now Namibia). He will become a nationalist
politician and the first president of Namibia. He will
remain in exile for thirty years from 1959 to 1989 when he
will return to Namibia and win a seat in the National
Assembly. He will vacate this seat in 1990 when he is
elected the first president of Namibia. He will serve in
this office from March 21, 1990 until March 21, 2005.
1933 – Henry Hugh Proctor joins the ancestors in Brooklyn, New
York at the age of 64. He had been the pastor of Nazarene
Congregational Church for thirteen years. Prior to coming
to New York, he had been pastor of the First Congregational
Church in Atlanta, Georgia for twenty four years, where he
had been instrumental in working with local whites in order
to reduce racial conflicts in the city.
1934 – Elechi Amadi is born in Aluu, Nigeria. He will become a
novelist whose works will illustrate the tradition and
inner feelings of traditional tribal life of his people.
He will be known for his works “The Concubine,” “Sunset
in Biafra: A Civil War Diary,” “The Great Ponds,” “The
Slave,” “Estrangement,” “Isiburu,” “Peppersoup,” “The
Road to Ibadan,” “Dancer of Johannesburg,” and “Ethics
in Nigerian Culture.” His writings will reflect his
upbringing as a member of the Igbo ethnic group in
1951 – Former U.S. Congressman Oscar Stanton DePriest joins the
ancestors at the age of 80 in Chicago, Illinois. He had
been the first African American elected to the U.S.
Congress since Reconstruction and the first-ever African
American congressman from the North.
1955 – Samuel (“Toothpick Sam”) Jones, of the Chicago Cubs,
becomes the first African American to pitch a major
league no-hitter, against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
1958 – At a summit meeting of national African American leaders,
President Dwight D. Eisenhower is sharply criticized for
a speech which, in effect, urges them to “be patient” in
their demands for full civil and voting rights.
1967 – H. Rap Brown replaces Stokely Carmichael as chairman of
the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.
1969 – Kim Victoria Fields (later Freeman) is born in Los Angeles,
California. She will become an actress as a child,
starring in the sit-com, “The Facts of Life” (1979-1988).
She will continue her television career on the “Living
Single” show, which will premier in 1993.
1970 – Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs hits his 500th home run.
1970 – A racially motivated civil disturbance occurs in Augusta,
Georgia. Six African Americans are killed. Authorities
say five of the victims were shot by police.
1976 – Wynona Carr joins the ancestors. She had been a gospel
singer who was best known for her rendition of “The Ball
Game.” Her other recordings were “Each Day,” “Lord
Jesus,” “Dragnet for Jesus,” “Fifteen Rounds for Jesus,”
“Operator, Operator,” “Should I Ever Love Again,” and
1991 – Hampton University students stage a silent protest against
President George Bush’s commencement address to highlight
their opposition to his civil rights policies.