March 31st – Black History Today

* Today in Black History – March 31 *

1850 – The Massachusetts Supreme Court rejects the argument of Charles Sumner in the Boston school integration suit and established the “separate but equal” precedent.

1853 – At concert singer Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield’s New York debut in Metropolitan Hall, African Americans are not allowed to attend. Angered and embarrassed at the exclusion of her race, Greenfield will perform in a separate concert at the Broadway Tabernacle for five African American congregations.

1871 – John Arthur “Jack” Johnson is born in Galveston, Texas. He will become a professional boxer and will become the first African American to be crowned world heavyweight boxing champion. His championship reign will last from 1908 to 1915. He will join the ancestors on June 10, 1946 after succumbing to injuries from an automobile accident. He will be inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1954, and is on the roster of both the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the World Boxing Hall of Fame. In 2005, the United States National Film Preservation Board deemed the film of the 1910 Johnson- Jeffries fight “historically significant” and will place it in the National Film Registry.

1930 – President Hoover nominates Judge John J. Parker of North Carolina for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. The NAACP launches a national campaign against the appointment. Parker is not confirmed by the Senate.

1948 – A. Phillip Randolph tells the Senate Armed Services Committee that unless segregation and discrimination were banned in draft programs he would urge African American youths to resist induction by civil disobedience.

1949 – William Grant Still’s opera, “Troubled Island” receives its world premiere at the New York City Opera. In addition to marking Robert McFerrin’s debut as the first African American male to sing with the company, the opera is the first ever written by an African American to be produced by a major opera company.

1967 – Jimi Hendrix begins the tradition of burning his guitar in London, England.

1968 – The provisional government of the Republic of New Africa is founded in Detroit, Michigan.

1973 – Ken Norton defeats Muhammad Ali in a 12 round split decision in San Diego, California. Norton will break Ali’s jaw during the bout.

1980 – Jesse Owens joins the ancestors in Tucson, Arizona at the age of 66, and President Jimmy Carter adds his voice to the tributes that pour in from around the world. Jesse won four gold medals in track at the Berlin Olympics in 1936.

1980 – Larry Holmes wins the vacant world heavyweight title by knocking out Leroy Jones in the eighth round.

1988 – Toni Morrison wins the Pulitzer Prize for “Beloved,” a powerful novel of a runaway slave who murders her daughter rather than see her raised in slavery.

1995 – President Bill Clinton briefly visits Haiti, where he declares the U.S. mission to restore democracy there a “remarkable success.”

1999 – Four New York City police officers are charged with murder for killing Amadou Diallo, an unarmed African immigrant, in a hail of bullets. They shot at him 41 times, hitting him with 19 shots. The officers will later be acquitted of all charges, even involuntary manslaughter.

February 18th in Black History

1688 – The first formal protest against slavery by an organized white
body in the English American colonies is made by Germantown,
Pennsylvania Quakers and Mennonites at a monthly meeting. When
some members of the Quaker community began to buy slaves,
Francis Daniel Pastorius, the founder of Germantown, was
outraged.  On this day, Pastorius will meet with three other
Germantown Quaker men to draft a denunciation of slavery.
Known as “The Germantown Protest,” it is regarded as the first
protest against slavery by whites in the American colonies.
The reasoning of the denunciation was based on the Golden
Rule: since white people did not want to be slaves themselves,
they had no right to enslave black African men and women.
Despite the Germantown Protest, some Quaker families continued
to keep slaves.  Nonetheless, by the 19th century Quakers were
prominent in the movement to abolish slavery in the United

1865 – Confederate Troops abandon Charleston, South Carolina.   The
first Union troops to enter the city include the Twenty-first
U.S. Colored Troops, followed by two companies of the Fifty-
fourth Massachusetts Volunteers.

1867 – The Augusta Institute is founded in Georgia. It is established
as an institution of higher learning for African American
students, and moves to Atlanta in 1879. In 1913, the name is
changed to Morehouse College.

1894 – Paul Revere Williams is born in Los Angeles, California. He will
become a certified architect in 1921, and the first certified
African American architect west of the Mississippi.  He will
also become the first African American member of the American
Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1923. In 1939, he will win the
AIA Award of Merit for his design of the MCA Building in Los
Angeles. He will become one of the most famous African American
architects, designer of private  residences in Los Angeles, the
Hollywood YMCA, the Beverly-Wiltshire Hotel, UCLA’s Botany
Building and many others. Among his many awards will be the
NAACP’s Spingarn Medal in 1953. He will join the ancestors on
January 23, 1980.

1931 – Toni Morrison is born in Lorain, Ohio.  She will become one of
the most celebrated modern novelists of the 20th century,
winning the National Book Critics Award in 1978 for “Song of
Solomon” and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 for
“Beloved.”  In 1993, she will become the first African
American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

1965 – The Gambia gains its independence from Great Britain.

1973 – Palmer Hayden joins the ancestors in New York City.  One of the
principal artists of the Harlem Renaissance who, like Henry 0.
Tanner and others, studied in Paris, his most enduring work
often depicted everyday scenes of African American life.

1979 – The miniseries “Roots: The Next Generations” premiers on ABC

1995 – The NAACP replaces veteran chairman William Gibson with Myrlie
Evers-Williams, the widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar
Evers, after the rank-and-file declared no confidence in
Gibson’s leadership.

2006 – Shani Davis, from Chicago’s South Side, becomes the first Black
athlete to claim an individual gold medal in Winter Olympic
history, winning the 1,000-meter speedskating race in 1 min.,
8.89 seconds.

2013 – Damon Harris, former member of the Motown group The Temptations,
joins the ancestors at the age of 62 after succumbing to prostate
cancer. Harris joined the Temptations at age 20 in 1971 and
replaced Eddie Kendricks, one of the group’s original lead
singers. He was with the group until 1975, and was best known for
singing tenor on the band’s hit, “Papa was a Rolling Stone.”