1050 AD
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The Mossi State is founded by Ouedraogo, a warrior-king of the Mossi people.
The Mossi State was founded by Ouedraogo, who was a warrior-king of the Mossi people. The Mossi State was a powerful kingdom that existed in West Africa from the 11th century to the 19th century, in what is now Burkina Faso. The Mossi people were skilled farmers and fierce warriors who were able to establish a strong centralized state with a complex system of government and a well-organized army. Ouedraogo is credited with establishing the first Mossi kingdom and laying the foundations for the political and cultural traditions that would shape the Mossi State for centuries to come.
1050 AD
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The king of Manding is converted to Islam. He makes a pilgrimage to Mecca and enters into relations with neighboring states which are favorable to the growth of his power and to the development of his country.
The king of Manding, was converted to Islam by an Almoravid. He made a pilgrimage to Mecca and began to enter into relations with the neighboring states which were favorable to the growth of his power and to the development of his country. He also ceased considering himself a vassal of the Empire of Ghana. Until then, it was principally the Bambuk who furnished the gold that enriched Ghana. They undertook an active and continual exchange of the products between the Sudan and North Africa. After the Almoravides learned the road to Manding and taught it to the Moroccan caravans, the Boure became the principal source of production for gold. This contributed substantially to enriching the King of Manding and opened up new horizons for its people.
1047 AD
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The Badis of Granada takes over Malaga. An attempt to overthrow them fails.
Idris II, the leader of Malaga, had soldiers in his fortress that decided to support his cousin Mohammed. The people of Malaga wanted to fight, but Idris said it was too hard to win and he didn't want more violence. Days later, Badis of Granada took over Malaga and kept the African soldiers there. The Black soldiers were loyal to Badis, but the Arab people in Malaga didn't like him because he was a Berber. They worked with Mutadid of Seville, who sent his son Al Mutamid to help them. However, Al Mutamid was slow to act, and Badis was able to send more troops and defeat him.
1040 AD
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The Lamtuna and Godala Berbers form a federation, and from a monastery on a Senegal island, set out to preach Islam and wage war from the Sudan to Spain.
A movement arose among portions of the Lemtuna people, who inhabited principally the Tagant and the district of Howdaghost, and also Goddala or Jeddala. They led a nomadic life between the Mauritanian Adrar and the Atlantic. A federation was formed from a monastery situated on an island of the lower Senegal, the famous sect of the Almoravides. They set out to preach Islam and to wage war from the Sudan to Spain.
1038 AD (Aug)
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Slav prince, Zuhair, is convinced to make an expedition into Granadan territory. While there, he is abandoned by his troops.
Zuhair, of Almeria, was unpopular among his subjects because he was a so-called Slav prince--that is, a descendant of Northern mercenaries, such as the mamelukes of more recent times. Ibn Abbas, his vizier, convinced him to make an expedition into Granadan territory. In August he found himself surrounded. His Slav cavalry fled when their leader, Hudhail, was dismounted, and his Andalusian troops were dispirited and useless. His 500 African infantry seized the armory and went over to the enemy. It is possible that their desertion was prearranged, for Badis, king of Granada, was devoid of religious and racial prejudice and had a Jew, Samuel Ibn Nagdela, for vizier, and an African, Kodam, as provost marshall.
1035 AD
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Yahya Ibn Hammud is killed in battle. His troops refuse to surrender and are nearly annihilated.
Ismail, the son of the cadi, lured Yahya Ibn Hammud from his secure position within the city walls and slew him in battle. Nevertheless, the Africans who held the city gates and walls would not surrender to Ismail or Ibn Abdallah, the former ruler of Carmona, and they were nearly annihilated by their foes. At Algeciras, African soldiers played the role of king-makers and proclaimed Mohammed, a cousin of Yahya, caliph (the chief Muslim civil and religious ruler), but this venture was unsuccessful.
1023 AD (Feb - Oct)
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Kasim Ibn Hammud and his troops ransack Malaga but face fierce resistance and surrender once Kasim flees.
Kasim Ibn Hammud, joined by his faithful Africans, in February took advantage of his nephew Yahya's absence in Malaga to enter the city. In September, the Cordovans again expelled his forces, but with his African troops he beseiged them and cut off their supply of food. In October, the Cordovans, in a concentrated force, put the beseigers to flight, but the Africans made a desperate resistance and only surrendered once Kasim had fled. Kasim was later captured by Xeres. Yahya Ibn Hammud was impressed by the loyalty of the Africans to his uncle, so he employed them to garrison Carmona, a city he had captured from the cadi of Seville (a cadi is a minor Moslem magistrate or judge).
1902 (Feb 1)
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Famed writer Langston Hughes is born.
Langston Hughes was born to James Nathaniel and Carrie Mercer Langston Hughes in Joplin, Missouri. His grandfather, Charles Langston, was an abolitionist and a half-brother to educator and politician John Mercer Langston. Hughes received early schooling in Missouri and Ohio, and after spending a year in Mexico, he attended Columbia University and later Lincoln University. In 1926 Hughes published The Weary Blues, a collection of poems. He continued writing and published, among other works, Not Without Laughter (1930), Shakespeare in Harlem (1942), and his autobiography, I Wonder as I Wander (1956). He would go on to become a leader of the Harlem renaissance, as well as a famous poet, writer, and activist. In addition to poems, novels, and plays, Hughes wrote newspaper columns in which he had created the Harlem character Jesse B. Simple. Hughes died on May 22, 1967, in New York City.
1890
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The 1890 Land Grant Act requires states to provide educational training for Black youths.
The 1890 Land Grant Act required states to provide educational training for Black youths. The same year, Georgia State Industrial College for Colored Youth, later Savannah State College, was established in Savannah, Georgia, under the law. The school served as Georgia's land-grant school for Blacks until 1947. Savannah State awarded its first baccalaureate degree in 1898.
1820
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Boston opens an elementary school for Blacks.
Boston opened an elementary school for Blacks.
1820
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Minister and abolitionist Nathaniel Paul establishes the first church and school for Blacks in Albany, NY.
The Albany African Church Association was organized with the help of Nathaniel Paul, who, in 1822, became the first pastor of the African Baptist Church, the only Black church in Albany at the time. The Wilberforce School, the only school for Black youths in Albany at the time, was also formed by Paul and met in his church. In 1831 Paul went to England to seek financial backing for a college-level manual labor school for Blacks. He became involved with British abolitionists and decided to remain there to be a part of the worldwide abolitionist societies that were beginning to form there.
1818 (Apr 18)
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The first seminole war ends as a force of Indians and Blacks were defeated in the Battle of Suwanne, Florida.
A force of Indians and blacks were defeated in the Battle of Suwanne, Florida, ending the First Seminole War by U.S. troops under General Andrew Jackson. Jackson characterized the hostilities as a "savage and negro war."
1818
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Soldier William Flora dies.
William Flora, born a free man, served under Lord Dunmore, governor of Virginia, at the Battle of the Great Bridge during the winter of 1775-76. Flora was remembered by Captain Thomas Nash, who was wounded in the engagement, for his stamina and courage. After the Revolution, Flora returned to his hometown of Portsmouth, Virginia, and was one of the first Blacks to buy property there. Prospering, he bought the freedom of his wife and children. Shortly before his death, Flora applied for and was granted 100 acres of land in Virginia for his service during the war.
1793 (Mar 14)
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Eli Whitney of Massachusetts, a white inventor, obtained a patent for his cotton gin. The invention strengthened the institution of slavery, especially in the South.
Eli Whitney of Massachusetts, a white inventor, obtained a patent for his cotton gin. The invention strengthened the institution of slavery, especially in the South.
1787 (Sep)
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The “Three-fifths Compromise,” which allowed the South to count three-fifths of the enslaved population in determining representation in the House of Representatives was incorporated. It also prohibited any legislation that might close the slave trade before 1808.
The "Three-fifths Compromise," which allowed the South to count three-fifths of the enslaved population in determining representation in the House of Representatives was incorporated. The Constitution also prohibited any legislation that might close the slave trade before 1808, but allowed a tax of ten dollars per head on each enslaved person imported before that date and demanded that fugitive enslaved persons be returned to their owners.
1776 (Jul 4)
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The Declaration of Independence is signed. Thomas Jefferson condemns King George for his role in the slave trade and suppressing any legislative attempts to restrain it.
A section that alleged that King George III had forced the slave trade and slavery on the colonies was eliminated at the insistence of representatives from Georgia and South Carolina. Thomas Jefferson had charged King George with waging a "cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither." In the monarch's determination "to keep open a market where men should be bought and sold," Jefferson said he had suppressed "every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce." Historians agree that this was one example of the American exaggerations in the list of grievances against King George III.
1946 (May 1)
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Emma Clarissa Clement becomes the first Black woman to be named “American Mother of the Year” by the Golden Rule Foundation.
Emma Clarissa Clement, a Black woman and mother of Atlanta University president Rufus E. Clement, is named "American Mother of the Year” by the Golden Rule Foundation. She was the first Black woman to receive the honor.
1975 (Jan 2 - 26)
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Reports appear in national newspapers revealing a history of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) spying on Black individuals and organizations.
Several reports appeared in the nation's newspapers revealing a history of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) spying on Black individuals and organizations. The New York Times reported on January 2 that the CIA had been collecting data on singer Eartha Kitt since 1956. According to the CIA files, Kitt had danced, at the age of twenty, with a group whose leader allegedly had “served as a sponsor or endorser of a number of Communist-front activities”; she was involved in “escapades overseas and her loose morals were said to be the talk of Paris” in 1956; she had “a very nasty disposition" and was “a spoiled child, very crude,” with “a vile tongue”; and she “often bragged that she had very little Negro blood.” The CIA file also revealed that in 1960 Kitt signed an advertisement in support of the civil rights activities of the late Martin Luther King, Jr., which was also endorsed by "a number of persons identified in the past with the Communist party." However, the CIA report concluded that there was no evidence of any foreign intelligence connections on the part of Kitt. The detailed investigation of Kitt, according to the Times, was also possibly related to remarks that she made during a White House luncheon in January 1968. At that time, Kitt shouted that the nation's youth were in rebellion because they were being “snatched off to be shot in Vietnam.” Both President and Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson were reportedly upset by the singer's remarks. In response to the investigation of Kitt, the Atlanta Constitution, on January 6, 1975, published an editorial that stated that “nobody in today's world should deny our government the right to protect itself and us by keeping a close eye on potential threats, foreign or domestic. The question is, who should do it and under what kind of controls and guidelines? The pursuit of national security should not lead us to a place where we jettison the Bill of Rights.” Kitt responded, “I don't understand this at all. I think it's disgusting. ... I've always lived a very clean life and I have nothing to be afraid of and I have nothing to hide.” On January 25, the Washington Post reported that the FBI had wiretapped the conversations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights leaders during the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The reports from the wiretaps, according to the Post, were delivered to President Lyndon B. Johnson. These reports of government spying on Black Americans came in the wake of the Watergate scandals and newer accusations that governmental agencies had illegally invaded the privacy of American citizens.
1971 (Feb 10)
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A Gallup Poll reports that Black Americans disapprove of President Richard Nixon.
A Gallup Poll reported that American blacks continued to disapprove of the way President Richard Nixon was handling his job by a 2:1 ratio, the same ratio recorded in surveys the previous spring.
1970 (Aug 1)
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The U.S. Department of Defense reports that the percentage of Black soldiers killed in the vietnam war is declining.
The U.S. Department of Defense reported that the percentage of Black soldiers killed in Vietnam had declined substantially during the first three months in 1970. The Pentagon report said that, for the first time, the percentage of Black soldiers killed in action in Southeast Asia had fallen below the percentage of Blacks among the American forces there. The government's data showed that as of March 31, 1970, Blacks serving in Indo-China represented about 10 percent of the total American military presence in the area. During the same three months, black fatalities accounted for 8.5 percent of the combat deaths there. This was a drop from 9.5 percent in 1969. The Defense Department cited no specific effort in decreasing the casualty rates among Black servicemen in Vietnam.
1969 (Jan - Mar)
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President Richard Nixon takes office without substantial Black support and makes only three top-level appointments of Blacks.
President Richard Nixon, elected without substantial Black support, made only three top-level appointments of Blacks to the Washington bureaucracy. James Farmer was appointed assistant secretary of health, education and welfare; Arthur A. Fletcher was appointed assistant secretary of labor; and William H. Brown, III, was appointed chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Nixon retained Walter Washington as mayor of Washington, D.C.
1975 (Jan 16)
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Muhammad Ali, heavyweight boxing champion, is named the Associated Press’ Athlete of the Year for 1974.
Muhammad Ali, heavyweight boxing champion, was named the Associated Press’ Athlete of the Year for 1974. In winning the award, as a result of a nationwide poll of sportswriters and sportscasters, Ali edged out Black baseball player Hank Aaron, by a margin of 162 to 110. Ali became only the third fighter to win the AP award since it was initiated in 1931. Joe Louis, a Black American, won it in 1937 after he had knocked out heavyweight Jim Braddock for the title, and Ingemar Johansson of Sweden was selected in 1959 after he defeated Floyd Patterson for the heavyweight championship. The AP award signaled a new acceptance of Ali by Americans. The champion had incurred widespread disfavor and was forced to take a three and one half year retirement from the ring when he refused induction into the Armed Forces in 1968. Ali began his comeback in 1971 after the United States Supreme Court overturned his conviction for draft evasion. His comeback fight was a third round knockout over Jerry Quarry in Atlanta, Georgia.
1975 (Feb 15)
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Judge Lyle Cook orders the city of Berkeley, CA to promote eight white firemen who were passed over in favor of minority race candidates, claiming reverse discrimination.
Alameda County, California, Superior Court Judge Lyle Cook ordered the city of Berkeley to promote eight white firemen who were passed over in favor of minority race candidates. Judge Cook ruled that the city's affirmative action program, introduced in 1972, was unconstitutional because it amounted to discrimination in reverse. According to the 1972 act, persons of minority races should be represented in the fire department in proportion to their population in the city. Whites, however, complained that they were discriminated against because non-whites were hired and promoted ahead of them on the basis of quota rather than merit. Judge Cook agreed that ignoring competitive examinations to hire and promote minority persons violated the Berkeley Charter, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
1975 (Feb 13)
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Dr. Peter T. Singleton, Jr., is awarded the Commendation for Excellence in Clinical Medicine and Human Relations
Dr. Peter T. Singleton, Jr., of Atlanta, Georgia, was awarded the Commendation for Excellence in Clinical Medicine and Human Relations at the Walter Reed General Hospital and Medical Center in Washington, D.C. The young Black cardiologist graduated from Morehouse College and the Howard University Medical School.
1975 (Aug 8)
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Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, called a “prophet of contemporary jazz,” dies.
Julian "Cannonball” Adderley, called a "prophet of contemporary jazz," died in Gary, Indiana. Adderley was born in Tampa, Florida, in 1928, the son of a jazz cornetist. Known primarily as an alto saxophonist, Adderley also played tenor sax, trumpet, clarinet, and flute. He studied brass and reed instruments in a Tallahassee, Florida, high school from 1944 until 1948 and formed his first jazz group there with the school's band director as advisor. Because of his hearty appetite, fellow students nicknamed him "Cannibal," which later became "Cannonball." From 1948 until 1956, Adderley was music director at the Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. At the same time, he directed his own jazz group in southern Florida. He served for three years as a member of the 36th Army Dance Band and later studied at the Naval School of Music in Washington, D.C. Adderley's first big break came in New York in 1955 when he appeared with Oscar Pettiford. The next year he signed his first recording contract with EmArcy Records. Adderley later recorded for Capitol Records and other companies and became famous for such albums as Black Messiah, Country Preacher, Fiddler on the Roof, Walk Tall, and Quiet Nights. His last album was Phoenix. Until 1957, Adderley toured with his brother, Nat, a cornetist. In 1957, he joined the Miles Davis group. After a tour with George Shearing, he formed his own quintet, including his brother Nat, in 1959. Charles Suber, publisher of Down Beat magazine, which named Adderley New Alto Star of the Year in 1959, described the "Cannonball" as "a helluva musician. ... He was one of the best alto players in recent years." During his eulogy of Adderley before 2,000 mourners in Tallahassee, Florida, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, director of People United to Save Humanity (PUSH), said the "Cannonball” had "his greatness and his fame, but he did not use it, abuse it, or lose it. He expanded it. ... When he blew his saxophone you felt a little ease in the troubled world and the savage beast had to hold his peace."
1975 (Aug 6 - 15)
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Racial violence persists in Boston, MA over desegregation.
Racial violence continued in Boston, Massachusetts, the scene of sporadic incidents ever since busing to achieve school desegregation was ordered in the city in 1974. On August 6, racial fighting erupted at the Charles Street Jail and 150 police officers were called in to put down the disturbance involving seventy-five to one hundred inmates. Martin Whitkin of the Sheriff's Office said the trouble apparently started in the lunchroom with a fight between a white man and several Blacks, then escalated into a full-scale brawl throughout the jail. On August 10, Black and white swimmers threw rocks and bricks at one another on South Boston's Carson Beach. About five hundred Blacks were at the beach in the predominantly white section of the city in response to a request by Black leaders who urged them to "reassert the rights of all Boston residents to use all public facilities." There were no reports of injuries. On August 13, police patrols were increased in the predominantly Black Roxbury section of the city after young Blacks had made sporadic attacks on passing whites for three days. On August 15, three people were slightly injured during incidents of stone throwing in the city. A sixteen-year-old Black youth was arrested during the melee in the Roxbury section. Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Edward Brooke of Massachusetts joined local leaders in an attempt to ease racial tensions. Brooke said, “I think the polarization in the community is unfortunate, but it seems to be building."
1975 (Aug 16)
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Judge Robert DeMascio rejects the busing of students to achieve school desegregation in Detroit, Michigan.
United States District Court Judge Robert DeMascio rejected the busing of students to achieve school desegregation in Detroit, Michigan. He ordered the Detroit Board of Education to seek an alternate plan to better balance the races in the schools. C. L. Golightly, president of the city's school board, called the judge's decision "a victory for the school children of Detroit." Lawrence Washington of the Detroit branch of the NAACP expressed disappointment, commenting, "We're right back where we started five years ago."
1975 (Aug 15)
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Joann Little is acquitted of the 1974 murder of white guard Clarence Alligood, whom Little claimed she stabbed in self-defense.
A jury of six whites and six Blacks in Raleigh, North Carolina, acquitted Joann Little, a twenty-one-year-old black woman, of the August 27, 1974, murder of white guard Clarence Alligood. The murder case became a cause célèbre for feminist and civil rights groups after Little claimed she stabbed Alligood while defending herself against a sexual attack.
1975 (Aug 10)
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Emory O. Jackson, editor of the Birmingham World, dies.
Emory O. Jackson, editor of the Birmingham World, was laid to rest in Birmingham, Alabama. Jackson was born on September 8, 1908, in Buena Vista, Georgia. He moved with his parents to Birmingham in 1919. He graduated from Morehouse College in 1932, after which he taught school in Dothan and Jefferson counties, Alabama. After serving in World War II, Jackson became managing editor of the Birmingham World -a position he held from 1943 until his death. Jackson was one of the founders of the Alabama Conference of NAACP Branches and was a leader of several other political and civil rights organizations. In his eulogy of Jackson, the Reverend Samuel Pettagrue of the Sardis Baptist Church of Birmingham proclaimed that "the presses in heaven have stopped. A new edition was on the street and its headline read: "The paper's top foreign correspondent, Emory O. Jackson, after serving sixty-seven years away has returned home to serve out his assignment eternally." In another eulogy, Benjamin E. Mays, president of the Atlanta, Georgia, Board of Education and president-emeritus of Morehouse College, said the late editor was "born a free man. He walked like one; talked like one and looked like one."
1975 (Apr 9)
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The Georgia Supreme Court upheld the murder conviction and death sentence of Marcus Wayne Chenault for the slaying of Alberta King, mother of Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Georgia Supreme Court upheld the murder conviction and death sentence of Marcus Wayne Chenault for the slaying of Alberta King, mother of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Deacon Edward Boykin at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on June 30, 1974. Chenault was convicted by a Fulton County Court jury on September 12, 1974. Like the jury that convicted him, the state supreme court rejected Chenault's plea of insanity.
1975 (Apr 8)
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Lee Elder, a Black golfer, began competition in the famed Masters Tournament at Augusta, Georgia.
One of the last remaining barriers in professional sports fell as Lee Elder, a Black golfer, began competition in the famed Masters Tournament at Augusta, Georgia. Elder was invited to participate in the prestigious Masters after winning the Monsanto Open in 1974. The Black golfer was officially welcomed to Georgia by the state's governor, George Busbee. Elder was later disqualified in the preliminary rounds of the tournament.
1975 (Apr 2)
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Blacks demonstrators originally charged with juvenile delinquency, have their charges dropped without explanation by Judge Dennis Jones.
Judge Dennis Jones of the DeKalb County, Georgia, Juvenile Court dismissed charges against eighty Black students arrested during a demonstration in February 1975 at the Columbia High School in Decatur. Judge Jones did not specify his reasons for dismissing the charges. Assistant School Superintendent Joe Renfroe, who had brought charges against the Blacks, said he was shocked by the judge's ruling, contending that the demonstrating Blacks had disrupted the instructional and academic process at Columbia. Defense Attorney Roger Mills praised the judge's decision, calling it “amazing.” The Blacks were originally charged with juvenile delinquency by violation of public disturbance statutes during a series of protests aimed at what they called the racist administration of DeKalb County schools.
1975 (Apr 15)
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Bill McCullough is hired as Georgia Tech’s first assistant football coach.
The Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) announced that it had hired the first Black assistant football coach in its history. Bill McCullough of Atlanta, a graduate of Fort Valley State College and Georgia State University, resigned from his position as Education Program Coordinator with the Georgia Department of Public Safety to accept the position at Tech.
1975 (Apr 14)
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Preliminary legal motions are presented in the Beaufort County, North Carolina, Superior Court in the celebrated murder case of Joann Little.
Preliminary legal motions were presented in the Beaufort County, North Carolina, Superior Court in the celebrated murder case of Joann Little, a twenty-year-old Black woman charged with murder after a Beaufort County Jail guard, Clarence Alligood, was found dead in her cell on August 27, 1974. Little pleaded self-defense on the grounds that the seminude Alligood had attempted to rape her. In the preliminary legal skirmishes, Little's attorneys, Jerry Paul and Karen Galloway, sought a change of venue and a delay of the trial. They argued that racist feelings and pretrial publicity had made it impossible for Little to get a fair trial in Beaufort County. The Little case became a cause célèbre when civil rights groups and feminist organizations rallied to the young Black woman's defense, claiming that the case typified the abuses that the Southern criminal justice system had long heaped upon Blacks and women. By early April, thousands of dollars had been raised on behalf of the defense effort. Also, Representative Shirley Chisholm from New York asked U.S. Attorney General Edward Levy to intervene in the case on Little's behalf. Representative Chisholm said: “There are very few Black people of either sex called to serve on juries in these eastern North Carolina counties. So this can really hurt Joann, who lives in a region where many, many Caucasian people hold the worst sort of prejudices against Black women.”
1975 (Apr 1)
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Poppy Cannon White, widow of the late NAACP Executive Secretary Walter Francis White, dies by jumping off the terrace of her apartment in New York City.
Poppy Cannon White, widow of the late NAACP Executive Secretary Walter Francis White, died by jumping off the terrace of her apartment in New York City. Walter White, whose marriage to the white author in 1947 created a mild controversy within the ranks of the NAACP, died in 1955. The NAACP issued an official statement of sorrow, however, upon the death of White.
1975 (Apr 1)
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The Black Christian Nationalist Church opens its Third Biennial National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. The organization is praised for their mission.
The Black Christian Nationalist (BCN) Church opened its Third Biennial National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. The BCN was a movement dedicated to changing the condition of Black people by changing their lifestyles. According to the creed of the BCN, “Jesus, the Black Messiah, was a revolutionary leader, sent by God to rebuild the Black Nation, Israel, and to liberate Black people from powerlessness and from the oppression, brutality and exploitation of the white gentile world.” The national chairman of the BCN, Jaramazi Abebe Agyeman (formerly the Reverend Albert Cleage), was lauded by Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson as “a master teacher.” Coleman Young, mayor of Detroit, Michigan, where the BCN was founded, presented Agyeman with a certificate from his city council. Young said that the "BCN is a force to be reckoned with not only in Detroit but in the nation.”
1971 (Sep 26)
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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics release a study showing that 27.9 percent of the Blacks employed across the country held white collar jobs during 1970.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released a study which showed that 27.9 percent of the Blacks employed across the country held white collar jobs during 1970. In 1960, 16.1 percent of the white collar jobs were held by Blacks.
1974 (Sep 28)
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The Atlanta Inquirer reports that the South, the historic home of Black Americans, was going through a “whitening” process, as the Southern Black population was decreasing.
The Atlanta Inquirer reported a study by the Southern Regional Council (SRC) which showed that the South, the historic home of Black Americans, was going through a "whitening” process despite increasing Black concentrations in the urban areas of the region. All Southern states, except Texas, were losing more Blacks than were being replaced by the birthrate and the migration of young Blacks from the North. According to the study, the Black exodus from the South continued at such a steady pace that the region's Black population, as shown in the 1970 Census, was down to 20 percent—the same percentage recorded in 1790. The loss of Black populations was particularly acute in the rural areas. In Georgia, two-thirds of the state's 152 counties were losing Blacks; in Mississippi, 90 percent of the counties had declining Black populations. A similar story was told for Alabama, South Carolina, and Arkansas, all of which had 80 percent or more of their counties losing Blacks. Conversely, 51 percent of the population of Atlanta was Black. Augusta, Georgia, had a 50 percent Black population, and New Orleans, Charleston, and Savannah boasted Black populations of 45 percent or more. In sum, the study reported, there were ten metropolitan areas in the 11 southern states where the Black population was 40 percent or more. The SRC report's authors, Jack Tucker of Atlanta University and Everett S. Lee of the University of Georgia, concluded that the growth of the Black population lagged behind that of whites, such that year by year, "the South becomes increasingly white. Losses of Black population are frequent and heavy in rural counties, so Southern Blacks are increasingly concentrated in metropolitan areas. And within the metropolitan areas, Blacks are clustered in central cities with relatively few making their way into the more affluent suburbs.” “Generally,” the report says, “people move from one area to another for one of two reasons, either the attractiveness of destination outweighs that of origin or there are so many negative features at the point of origin that any place seems better.” Migration thus becomes a movement of the upper socioeconomic classes to seek better opportunities and of the lower economic classes to escape oppression that can no longer be endured.
1971 (Oct)
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Ralph David Abernathy, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), returns to the U.S. after going on a European tour which took him, among other places, to the Soviet Union and East Germany.
Ralph David Abernathy, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), returned to the country from a European tour which took him, among other places, to the Soviet Union and East Germany. Abernathy preached to approximately seven thousand people in the Russian Orthodox Cathedral. In East Germany, the veteran civil rights leader was awarded the Peace Medal of the German Democratic Republic.
1971 (Nov 2)
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In general elections across the country, Blacks are elected mayors in four additional American cities and are named to various other local and state offices.
In general elections across the country, Blacks were elected mayors in four additional American cities and were named to various other local and state offices. In Englewood, New Jersey, the Reverend Walter S. Taylor was elected the city's first Black mayor. Gilbert H. Bradley, Jr., was elected mayor of Kalamazoo, Michigan. In Benton Harbor, Michigan, Charles Joseph became the town's first Black mayor. Richard B. Hatcher was easily reelected to a four-year term as mayor of Gary, Indiana. Two Blacks, Henry Owens and Saundra Graham, were elected to the city council in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a third Black, Charles Pierce, was selected to the city's school board. In Mississippi, Fayette's Black mayor Charles Evers was defeated in his bid for governor, but state representative Robert Clark, the only Black legislator in Mississippi, was returned to his seat. Blacks also won seven county supervisor posts, one circuit court clerk's position, and about twenty other county offices. Almost three hundred Blacks campaigned for offices in Mississippi during the November elections. Also in the elections, former heavyweight boxing champion Jersey Joe Walcott was elected sheriff of Camden, New Jersey. Blacks were elected to city councils in Indianapolis, Indiana; Davenport, Iowa; Burlington, Iowa; Memphis, Tennessee; and Miami, Florida. In Memphis, black councilman Fred Davis was elected chairman of the thirteen-member city council. In Miami, the Reverend Edward Graham managed to retain his seat on the city council, although Black mayoral candidate Tom Washington was defeated. Defeated in the Mississippi state legislature race were veteran civil rights leaders Fanny Lou Hamer and Aaron Henry. Voters in Cleveland, Ohio, rejected a second Black mayor in Arnold R. Pinkney's candidacy. Although Thomas I. Atkins, a Black city councilman in Boston, was defeated in his bid for mayor, he was appointed secretary of the Department of Communications and Development, the highest position held by a Black American in Massachusetts state government.
1971 (Sep 23)
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Associate Supreme Court Justice John M. Harlan, citing reasons of health, retires after sixteen years.
Associate Supreme Court Justice John M. Harlan, citing reasons of health, retired from the bench after sixteen years of service. Harlan had participated in many historic decisions concerning civil rights and legal protections for minorities and the poor.
1971 (Nov 16)
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The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights again criticizes the administration of President Richard M. Nixon, charging that it failed to adequately enforce civil rights laws and regulations.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights again criticized the administration of President Richard M. Nixon, charging that it had failed to adequately enforce civil rights laws and regulations.
1971 (Sep 13)
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Approximately 45 percent of San Francisco, CA students protest desegregation.
Approximately 45 percent of the school children in San Francisco, California, refused to attend classes as a new school desegregation plan calling for the busing of 48,000 children was put into effect.
1972 (Aug 3-8)
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Senator James O. Patterson becomes the first Black to win a major party congressional nomination in Tennessee’s history.
In fall primary elections, state senator James O. Patterson, Jr., was nominated for a congressional seat in the new Fourth Congressional District (Memphis) of Tennessee. Patterson thus became the first Black to win a major party congressional nomination in the state's history. In Georgia, a former aide to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Hosea Williams of Dekalb County, placed a distant third in the Democratic race for U.S. senator and, in the same state, another former aide to King, Andrew Young of Atlanta, won the Democratic nomination from the Fifth Congressional District. Five Blacks were also elected to the ten-person city council in Selma, Alabama, the scene of violent voting rights demonstrations in the 1960s. This group, elected from predominantly Black wards rather than at-large, were the first of their race to win seats on the local council.
1972 (Nov 18)
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Fayette, Mississippi, Mayor Charles Evers calls for a federal investigation into problems faced by small Southern cotton farmers.
Fayette, Mississippi, Mayor Charles Evers called for a federal investigation into problems faced by small Southern cotton farmers. The Black mayor told Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz in a telegram that many farmers, Black and White, had come to him with their problems.
1976 (Sep 20)
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Matthew Simpson Davage, former president of Clark College in Georgia, dies.
Matthew Simpson Davage, former president of Clark College in Georgia, died in New Orleans, Louisiana, at age ninety-seven. Davage was born in 1879 in Shreveport, Louisiana. He earned a B.A. degree from New Orleans University (now Dillard University) in 1900 and immediately joined the faculty there as an instructor in mathematics. He remained on the faculty until 1905 and, at the same time, pursued graduate studies at the University of Chicago. Between 1905 and 1915, Davage was business manager of the Southwestern Christian Advocate, a Methodist publication. In 1915, he returned to education as president of the George R. Smith College at Sedalia, Missouri. After only one year at Sedalia, he assumed the presidency of the Haven Institute at Meridian, Mississippi, which he quickly left to assume the presidency of Samuel Huston College (now Huston-Tillotson College) in Austin, Texas. In the spring of 1920, Davage was elected president of Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi, where he became the first Black to head the fifty-four-year-old historically Black institution. In 1924, he became the sixteenth president of Clark University, as it was then called. Davage was the second Black person to head the institution, the first having been his predecessor, William Henry Crogman. During his seventeen-year tenure at Clark, Davage presided over the removal of the institution from southeast Atlanta to its present location near the city's other Black institutions of higher education, and he helped to provide new financial strength and vitality for the school, even during the Depression years. In 1939, Davage became one of the first Blacks to speak before the all-white Atlanta Rotary Club. Because of the Jim Crow laws and customs of the time, he could not eat lunch with the Rotarians and had to wait in an adjoining room until the meal was finished. Then he gave a speech entitled “The Negro's Place in Atlanta's Life." In it, he said, “Some day we may hope, the thinking people of both races will translate that mutual respect and trust into some concrete work. ... They may meet and work on the same critics trying to say they are seeking to tear down a social order."
1973 (Aug 15)
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The National Black Feminist Organization (NBFO) is founded in New York City with chapters in several other localities, including Chicago, Cleveland, and San Francisco.
The National Black Feminist Organization (NBFO) was founded in New York City with chapters in several other localities, including Chicago, Cleveland, and San Francisco. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a member of the New York City Human Rights Commission and a founder of the feminist group, accused the nation of expecting Black women to suppress their aspirations in deference to Black males. Another founder, Margaret Sloan, said the new group would remind "the Black liberation movement that there can't be liberation for half a race.”
1973 (Aug 15)
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Ralph David Abernathy announces that he will remain as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) after the civil rights group’s board of directors refused to accept his resignation during the SCLC’s sixteenth annual convention in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Ralph David Abernathy announced that he would remain as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) after the civil rights group's board of directors refused to accept his resignation during the SCLC's sixteenth annual convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. The board, however, agreed to try to remedy some of the complaints which led Abernathy, successor to Martin Luther King, Jr., to offer his resignation. These complaints included inadequate financing and insufficient staff. The board pledged increased fund-raising efforts, the hiring of more full-time staff, and the creation of five regional offices to assist in administrative functions.
1973 (Dec 2)
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Two U.S. District Court judges, in separate decisions, order the city of San Francisco to implement quota systems for the employment of minorities in its police and fire departments.
Two U.S. District Court judges, in separate decisions, ordered the city of San Francisco to implement quota systems for the employment of minorities in its police and fire departments. Judge Robert F. Peckham directed the police department to hire three minority persons (defined by Peckham as Black, Asian, and Hispanic Americans) for every two Whites at the patrolman's level until minority representation reached 30 percent. The department was also instructed to adopt a one-to-one ratio in appointments to the rank of sergeant until 30 percent of those officers were from minorities. The judge outlawed a hiring and promotion test which had been used by the city's Civil Service Commission. He found the test to be discriminatory and ordered that any future tests be submitted to him for approval. In the second decision, Judge William T. Sweigert ordered the San Francisco Fire Department to fill half of its more than two hundred vacancies with members of racial minorities.
1973 (Dec 19)
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U.S. District Court Judge Frank Gray, Jr., rules that the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare’s (HEW) refusal to consider applications for transportation aid had impeded a court-ordered busing plan for the public schools in Nashville, Tennessee.
U.S. District Court Judge Frank Gray, Jr., ruled that the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare's (HEW) refusal to consider applications for transportation aid had impeded a court-ordered busing plan for the public schools in Nashville, Tennessee. Gray called the action illegal and ordered HEW to review within thirty days its earlier refusal to grant the city of Nashville funds to purchase buses to transport about half of its 95,000 students.
1974 (Jan 11)
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U.S. Senator William Proxmire, a Wisconsin Democrat and chairman of the congressional appropriations subcommittee which oversees funds for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), orders the space agency to double the fiscal 1975 budget of its equal employment office and to report to his subcommittee every three months on progress in hiring minorities and women.
U.S. Senator William Proxmire, a Wisconsin Democrat and chairman of the congressional appropriations subcommittee which oversees funds for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), ordered the space agency to double the fiscal 1975 budget of its equal employment office and to report to his subcommittee every three months on progress in hiring minorities and women. Proxmire's action was prompted by reports that NASA, as of mid-1973, had the lowest percentage of minority and female employees of any federal agency, and that two-thirds of these workers were in lower-level jobs. NASA officials also admitted that the agency had failed to act against project contractors who had not met minority employment goals.
1974 (Jan 11)
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The Bureau of the Census reports that as of July 1, 1973, the Black population in the United States increased to 23.8 million, up 1.2 million from the 1970 census.
The Bureau of the Census reported that as of July 1, 1973, the Black population in the United States had increased to 23.8 million, up 1.2 million from the 1970 census. The Bureau also reported a continuing pattern of Black youthfulness, in comparison to the general population. According to the latest statistics, the median age of Blacks was 22.9 years; the median age for the total population was 28.4 years.
1976 (Jan 27)
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The National Urban League (NUL) issued a report stating that all of the gains of Black Americans had been wiped over the past decade.
The National Urban League (NUL), in its annual “The State of Black America" Report, contended that “many of the gains Blacks made over the past decade were either wiped out or badly eroded in 1975 and the portents for the future are not encouraging." The League warned that "the absence of overt discontent in the cities" did not mean that the problems did not continue to exist and that the future of the nation was "bound-up in how it deals with these problems." As examples of how Blacks lost ground in 1975, the NUL cited the following: 1. There was a further decline in middle-income Black families, continuing a trend from 1973–1974 that saw these families decrease from one-fourth to one-fifth of the total population for all Black families. 2. The average Black family income was only fifty-eight percent of that of average white family income, representing a decline from sixty-one percent in 1969. 3. The Black unemployment rate remained virtually unchanged at 14.1 percent for the first three quarters of 1975. 4. In 1975, Congress failed to enact any substantial legislation that would "foster full employment." 5. The outbreaks of racial violence in Boston, Massachusetts, a city "long regarded, if incorrectly as the fountainhead of liberalism in this country, served notice that racism has no geographical limits and continues to exist in the American body politic." In concluding the review, Vernon Jordan, executive director of the NUL, commented that "all across the board, Black people lost out in 1975." In order to alleviate the distress among Blacks that the League cited, it recommended "a full employment policy that assures decent jobs for all; an income maintenance system that alleviates economic hardship and replaces the present welfare system; and housing, health, and education programs that go beyond rhetoric to bring our nation closer to a prosperity that includes all of its citizens."
1974 (Jan 15)
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The U.S. Supreme Court, in a six to three decision, rule that a group of seventeen Blacks and two Whites from Cairo, Illinois, could not obtain injunctions against local judges and prosecutors who, the plaintiffs claimed, were engaged in a pattern of setting excessive bail and harsher punishments for Blacks than Whites.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in a six to three decision, ruled that a group of seventeen Blacks and two Whites from Cairo, Illinois, could not obtain injunctions against local judges and prosecutors who, the plaintiffs claimed, were engaged in a pattern of setting excessive bail and harsher punishments for Blacks than Whites. The Court held that the complaints did not constitute a real case of controversy, hence they did not meet the necessary test for receiving relief from the federal courts. Five members of the six-justice majority also ruled that the plaintiffs would not have been entitled to injunctions even if they had been able to prove discrimination, for such a procedure would be tantamount to “an on-going audit of state criminal proceedings” in violation of the principle of federalism-federal-state harmony. The majority opinion was supported by Justices Burger, White, Powell, Stewart, Rehnquist, and Blackmun. In a dissent, Justice William O. Douglas said that the record of the case demonstrated “a more pervasive scheme for suppression of Blacks and their civil rights than I have ever seen.” The majority's decision, Douglas added, “will please the White superstructure, but it does violence to the conception of even-handed justice envisioned by the Constitution.” Cairo had been the scene of angry clashes between Blacks and Whites since 1969.
1976 (Jan 23)
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Paul Robeson, athlete, actor, singer, and civil rights activist, dies.
Paul Robeson, athlete, actor, singer, and civil rights activist, died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at age seventy-seven. Robeson was born on April 9, 1898, in Princeton, New Jersey, to William, a minister, and Maria Louisa Bustill Robeson. William Robeson was formerly enslaved from North Carolina who worked his way through Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. In 1915, young Paul entered Rutgers University after earning an academic scholarship in a statewide competition. When he joined the football team, where he became an all-American, Robeson was once nearly mangled on the playing field by white bigots. The scholar-athlete graduated with Phi Beta Kappa honors in 1919. Robeson scorned his father's wishes that he follow him into the ministry, but after a brief career in law, he grudgingly accepted his wife Eslanda's urging to use his rich baritone voice in singing and acting. She helped persuade her husband to accept a role in Simon the Cyrenian at the Harlem YMCA in 1920. “Even then," Robeson later recalled, “I never meant to [become an actor]. I just said yes to get her to quit pestering me." The Harlem performance, however, launched the remarkable stage career of Robeson. In 1922, he made his first Broadway appearance as Jim in Taboo. He also made his debut in London in the same year in Taboo, which was retitled The Voodoo. Upon his return to New York in late 1922, Robeson joined the Provincetown Players, a Greenwich Village group that included dramatist Eugene O'Neill, and took the role of Jim Harris in O'Neill's "All God's Chillun Got Wings." This led to another successful appearance as Brutus Jones in The Emperor Jones, another play by O'Neill that had been especially revived for Robeson. The Provincetown Players also sponsored Robeson's first major concert in 1925, which consisted of a collection of spirituals. Between 1925 and 1928, he had a triumphant performance in The Emperor Jones and a heralded portrayal of Joe in Show Boat, in which he sang "Ol' Man River," both in London, England, as well as in an appearance as Crown in George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess on Broadway. Between 1928 and 1939, Robeson lived mostly abroad, particularly in London, where he found fewer color barriers than in the United States. One of his most spectacular successes in London occurred in 1930 when he played the lead in Shakespeare's Othello. To many, the New York Times stated, Robeson's performance was "an unforgettable experience.” Following these latest triumphs, Robeson toured the major cities of Europe both as a recitalist and an actor. Robeson's political consciousness was first jolted in 1928 when writer George Bernard Shaw asked him what he thought of socialism. Roberston later recalled, "I hadn't anthing to say. I'd never really thought about Socialism." In 1934, Robeson visited the Soviet Union where he was warmly received. He was also impressed by the absence of racial prejudice among Soviet citizens" (in Germany, Robeson was subjected to racial slurs by a Nazi soldier). Later, Robeson began to publicly express a belief "in the principles of scientific Socialism" and his “deep conviction that for all mankind a Socialist society represents an advance to a higher stage of life.” In the late 1930s, Robeson sang for the Republican troops and for members of the International Brigades who were fighting the fascist dictator Francisco Franco in Spain. That experience led him to see "the connection between the problems of all oppressed people and the necessity of the artist to participate fully" in the struggle for human rights. It also convinced him to return to the United States to continue his work. On October 19, 1943, Robeson became the first Black actor to play the title role of Othello (with a white supporting cast, including Jose Ferrer and Uta Hagen) before a Broadway audience. The next year, the NAACP bestowed upon him its highest award, the Spingarn Medal. Meanwhile, Robeson increased his political activity. He led a delegation to national baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis that urged him to remove the racial bias in baseball. Robeson called on President Harry S. Truman to extend civil rights to Blacks in the South. He was also a co-founder and chairman of the Progressive party, which nominated former Vice President Henry A. Wallace for President in 1948. Then, at a World Peace Conference in Paris in 1949, Robeson declared, “It is unthinkable that American Negroes will go to war on behalf of those who have oppressed us for generations against a country (the Soviet Union) which in one generation has raised our people to the full dignity of mankind." Although Robeson later asserted that this statement had been taken “slightly out of context," adding that he had really spoken for two thousand students "from the colonial world” who had requested him to express their desire for peace, his words stirred widespread opposition in the United States. In August 1949, veterans' groups and right wing extremists attacked crowds who were arriving for one of his concerts in Peekskill, New York. Subsequently, professional concert halls were closed to him and commercial bookings grew scarce. Robeson's income reportedly dropped from $100,000 in 1947 to $6,000 in 1952. Beginning in 1948, Robeson was called before Congressional committees on several occasions in which he was usually asked if he was a member of the Communist party. He always refused to answer, invoking his Fifth Amendment rights. The New York Times, however, reported that Robeson maintained "privately ... that he was not a member." Nevertheless, in 1950 the United States State Department canceled his passport on the ground that he had refused to sign the then required non-Communist oath" for traveling abroad. Robeson had contended that “the government had no right to base his freedom of travel on his political beliefs or a lack of them." He sued the State Department over the issue, and in 1958, the United States Supreme Court, in a related case, ruled that Congress "had not authorized the department to withhold passports because of applicants' 'beliefs and association[s]." Once Robeson received his passport, he departed immediately for Great Britain, declaring, "I don't want any overtones of suggestion that I am deserting the country of my birth. If I have a concert in New York, I will go there and return to London." He did return permanently to the United States in 1963, where he lived quietly, first in a Harlem apartment and then with his sister, Marian Forsythe, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Despite his difficulties with Congress, the State Department, and many American organizations and individuals, Robeson became a hero to much of Black America and to countless numbers of other peoples throughout the world. On his sixtieth birthday in 1958, he was given a thunderous ovation by a sold-out house at Carnegie Hall in New York City. It was his first New York recital in eleven years, and on the same day, birthday celebrations were held in many nations abroad, including India. There, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru called Robeson "one of the greatest artists of our generation (who) reminds us that art and human dignity are above differences of race, nationality, and color." In 1973, on his seventy-fifth birthday, another tribute in his honor was held at Carnegie Hall. Although the ailing actor-singer could not attend, he sent a recorded message to the crowd, which included many theatrical personalities. Upon the occasion of Robeson's death, the official Soviet news agency Tass commented: "The persistent struggle for Black civil rights and for stronger world peace won him recognition not only in the United States but also outside of it."
1974 (Jan 17)
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The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) reports that racial discrimination still exists in the Topeka, Kansas, school system.
The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) reported that racial discrimination still existed in the Topeka, Kansas, school system. The Board of Education of Topeka was a defendant in the landmark Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education, which outlawed school segregation in 1954. HEW said that it found a substantial number of schools which had disproportionate minority enrollments and that attendance zone transfers had impeded desegregation. Most of the Black junior high and elementary pupils, HEW discovered, attended schools where the facilities were generally inferior to those at predominantly white schools. The department began its investigation of Topeka's schools in December 1973 after being named a party in a new suit against the city. As a result of its inquiry, HEW ordered Topeka school officials to submit corrective plans.
1974 (Jan 20)
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Dr. Peggy Sandy, a University of Pennsylvania anthropologist, releases a study that indicates that whites score higher than non-whites on intelligence tests because of environmental factors rather than genetic differences between races.
Dr. Peggy Sandy, a University of Pennsylvania anthropologist, released a study that indicated that whites scored higher than non-whites on intelligence tests because of environmental factors rather than genetic differences between races. The study was conducted in the Pittsburgh public school system and financed by a grant from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). Sandy concluded that test score differences were a function, among other factors, of middle-class social integration and that her study, combined with data from other investigations, suggested that I.Q. differences between racial groups were exclusively a matter of environment while differences within racial groups were determined by both genetics and environment. These findings ran counter to the theories of Dr. William Shockley, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist at Stanford University who had held that intelligence was largely inherited and that the disadvantaged social position of American Blacks was caused more by heredity than environment. Shockley's views had become increasingly controversial by late 1973, when he was prevented from speaking on several college campuses by protesters who contended that giving him a public forum would lend dignity to racist theories.
1974 (Feb 4)
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The Voter Education Project (VEP) reports that 363 Blacks won elective offices in the South in the 1973 off-year elections.
The Voter Education Project (VEP) reported that 363 Blacks had won elective offices in the South in the 1973 off-year elections. Of these victories, 253 were in elections for local councils and commissions, sixty-three were for school boards, nineteen were new Black mayors, fourteen were election commissioners, and two were selected to state legislatures. The VEP, a privately funded political study group, reported from its headquarters in Atlanta.
1974 (Feb 15)
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The San Francisco Chronicle reports that two Black escaped convicts have been identified as leaders of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA).
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that two Black escaped convicts had been identified as leaders of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA). The head of the interracial group of radical revolutionaries, which received notoriety for their alleged kidnapping of newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst, was said to be Donald D. DeFreeze, age thirty. DeFreeze, who called himself Field Marshall Cinque on tapes sent to the Hearst family, was listed as an escapee from the minimum security area of the Soledad State Prison in California on March 5, 1973. The other Black SLA leader was identified as Thero M. Wheeler, age twenty-nine, an escapee from the medical facility at Vacaville State Prison in August 1973. The report traced Wheeler and DeFreeze's association with the SLA to their memberships in the Black Cultural Association (BCA) at Vacaville State Prison. The BCA was described as an inmate group which sponsored cultural activities, educational programs, and pre-release preparation projects for prisoners. Russell Little, Jo Ann Little, and William Wolfe, all White, reportedly gained control of the BCA while working as tutors at the prison. DeFreeze was listed as a teacher of a BCA course entitled "Insight” which was designed to increase the racial consciousness of Black inmates.
1974 (Sep 7)
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Owners of the National Black Network (NBN), the nation’s first all-Black radio network, announce plans to expand its coverage with a 24 hour a day Black news service.
Owners of the National Black Network (NBN), the nation's first all-Black radio network, announced plans to expand its coverage with a Black news service. The twenty-four-hour-a-day service was expected to be fully operational by March 1, 1975, employ twenty-five reporters, and use the resources of the networks' affiliates in sixty-eight major cities.
1974 (Sep 7)
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Public officials and spokesmen for civil rights groups criticize Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Casper Weinberger’s latest pronouncement on school desegregation.
Public officials and spokesmen for civil rights groups criticized Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Casper Weinberger's latest pronouncement on school desegregation. During an interview on September 6, Weinberger said that the cutoff of federal funds for education, which had been used in the past to coerce recalcitrant southern school districts into compliance, would serve to increase segregation in the North. Secretary Weinberger denied that his department was hesitating on the question of desegregation, but admitted that "we are dealing with a very fierce public opposition to desegregation.” Ruby Hurley, Southeastern Regional Director of the NAACP, disagreed with Weinberger's assessment that a cutoff of funds would be counterproductive and compared the conciliatory approach to northern school desegregation with the more forceful tactics in the South. According to Hurley, “Public school systems are often poor even without federal money. Officials who run segregated school systems will think twice if they are faced with a cutoff. ... If you wait for people to change their minds on a problem like this without leverage, you'll wait a long time. ... It's a lot easier to clean up somebody else's backyard than your own.” Atlanta School Superintendent Alonzo Crim responded to Weinberger's statement by declaring: “The law should be applied with equal force in all parts of the country ... quite often segregation is intensified by these delays.” Margie Hames, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union who had handled many desegregation cases, expressed the belief that “segregation in the South was more open and easy for us to deal with. I don't think the North has accepted the fact yet that they have more subtle forms of segregation.” In defense of Weinberger, Peter Holmes, director of HEW's office for civil rights enforcement, pointed out that the cutoff of funds and other legal actions are more complex in the North than in the South since segregation was not legalized in the North.
1974 (Sep 9-Oct 31)
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The city of Boston, Massachusetts, begins a program of busing to achieve school desegregation that sparked boycotts and demonstrations reminiscent of the early, vehement opposition to school integration in the South.
The city of Boston, Massachusetts, began a program of busing to achieve school desegregation which sparked boycotts and demonstrations reminiscent of the early, vehement opposition to school integration in the South. In June 1974, U.S. District Court Judge W. Arthur Garrity had ordered the busing of about 18,200 of the city's 94,000 public school pupils as part of a plan to dismantle Boston's dual school system. Opposition arose immediately. On September 9, 1974, Senator Edward M. Kennedy was heckled and splattered with a tomato as he tried to address an angry group of anti-busing demonstrators. The crowd, estimated at between eight and ten thousand, shouted insults, called for the impeachment of the senator, and sang “God Bless America" when Kennedy stepped to a microphone. After preventing Senator Kennedy from speaking at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Building, the demonstrators—most of them White women--marched to the federal building. They stopped in front of the office of Judge Garrity and shouted, “Garrity must go.” Kennedy, an advocate of peaceful school integration, said he was disappointed that he had not been able to speak but assessed this treatment as milder than that he received at the hands of anti-war demonstrators. On September 11, 1974, Boston school superintendent William Leary said that everything possible had been done in the time allowed to prepare for desegregation. Yet, he added, "I know there will be problems. I ask the public for patience.” Boston mayor Kevin White, on the eve of the scheduled desegregation, appealed for calm but warned that swift and sure punishment would be measured out to those who resorted to violence. When the desegregation began on September 12, many White and Black parents kept their children at home. Black children attending some of the schools, particularly in the White neighborhoods of South Boston, Hyde Park, and Dorchester, were subjected to jeers from angry White parents. On September 16, a crowd of White teenagers and mothers clashed with police officers at South Boston High School. Twenty-two people were arrested during the confrontation. Police ordered the closing of bars and liquor stores in the area for the next two days. Violence continued in Boston for the next several weeks. Four White students were injured in skirmishes with Black students at the Washington Irving Junior High School in Roslindale on September 18. None of them required hospitalization. After the incident, forty Black children walked out of the school. Police made no arrests. Eleven people, including three teachers, were injured on October 2 at the racially tense South Boston High School. A number of weapons were confiscated during the incident in which two Black girls who allegedly pulled a knife on a police officer were arrested. Fighting broke out during an assembly of ninth graders at the Hart Deah Annex of South Boston High School on October 21. After this incident thirty of the forty White pupils walked out of the school; most of the 130 Black pupils remained. On October 26, Matt Koehl, national commander of the American Nazi Party, demonstrated in front of the Boston federal building, protesting Judge Garrity's desegregation orders. He bore a sign reading, “White Power." Koehl was arrested and charged with impeding access to a federal building. Three days later, three other Nazi Party members were charged with attempting to incite a riot as they distributed anti-Black literature in south Boston. Those charges were later reduced to disorderly conduct. John W. Roberts, director of the Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, decried the arrests, saying that the state charges were a violation of the Nazis' constitutional rights. In a final decree, issued on October 30, 1974, Judge Garrity told the Boston school committee to complete the total desegregation of its schools by the fall of 1975. The final order authorized Boston school officials to use any known desegregation techniques, including busing (although this was to be minimized), changing school districts, and voluntary transfers. The judge promised a new order at a later date dealing with minority recruitment and hiring of school teachers and administrators. The traumatic experience of desegregating schools in Boston highlighted the growing manifestation of White opposition to massive school desegregation in the North. It also struck many observers as a sign of retrogression in American race relations.
1976 (Sep 28)
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Muhammad Ali defends his title by defeating Ken Norton. It is the highest gate paid in a heavyweight title fight to date.
Muhammad Ali won a hard-fought bout to retain his world heavyweight championship title in New York City. Forty-two thousand people paid a total of $3.5 million (a record for a title fight at that time) to see Ali defeat challenger Ken Norton in a unanimous fifteen-round decision. Ali employed his usual wiggling style, known as the "rope-a-dope," while Norton was only able to land several solid blows with both hands. The previous largest gate in a heavyweight title fight was $2.6 million, when Gene Tunney fought Jack Dempsey in Chicago in 1927.
1843 (Aug 22)
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National convention of Black men held in Buffalo, New York.
Black abolitionist and minister Henry Highland Garnet called for a slave revolt and a general strike to improve the lot of Blacks in the United States. Many of the delegates, including Frederick Douglass, denounced the speech. Garnet had served as pastor to Whites and Blacks in Troy, New York.
1976 (Jan 21 - May 31)
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School desegregation leads to violence in Boston, Massachusetts.
Racial violence erupted in Boston, Massachusetts, amid protests by whites against court-ordered school desegregation. On January 21, Black and white students at Hyde Park High School fought with fists and chairs. Across the city in East Boston, approximately three hundred whites tried to block a major Boston Harbor tunnel during the morning rush hour. Five people, including a Boston police officer and the mother of a student, received minor injuries at Hyde Park. Seventeen people were arrested in the two incidents. On February 15, about two thousand people fought the police near South Boston High School, “the focus of opposition to federal court ordered desegregation." Between forty and fifty police officers were injured in the mob attack. There "was no estimate of the number of civilians injured." Thirteen people, three of them juveniles, were arrested. Boston Police Commissioner Robert J. Di Grazia called the twenty-minute melee (during a so-called "Father's March") "an obvious conspiracy" by "an element of hoodlums." On May 30, a fire was set next to the replica of the Beaver, a two-masted sailing ship, which was moored at a bridge that led into South Boston. Although the ship was unharmed, $75,000 worth of damage was done to an adjoining gift shop and ticket office. The Fire Department said the blaze was "of suspicious origin." The next day United States Attorney General Edward H. Levi announced that the Department of Justice would not intervene in an appeal of the Boston desegregation orders to the Supreme Court. Some whites had urged the administration of President Gerald Ford to side with them in their anti-busing stance before the high court, while civil rights leaders had urged the federal government to stay out of the Boston desegregation controversy. At the time of this violence and controversy, Boston was in the second year of a school desegregation program ordered by U.S. District Court Judge W. Arthur Garrity. The program had been periodically marred by fighting in schools as well as scattered attacks on Blacks in white neighborhoods and of whites in black sections of the historic city.
1855
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Public opinion leads the Massachusetts legislature to overturn an 1849 ruling by the state Supreme Court that upheld separate schooling for Blacks, thus integrating public schools in Massachusetts.
Public opinion led the Massachusetts legislature to overturn an 1849 ruling by the state Supreme Court that upheld separate schooling for Blacks. Public schools were thus integrated in Massachusetts.
1989 (Aug 7)
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Black American congressman Mickey Leland is killed in an airplane crash that was en route to the Fugnido refugee camp in Ethiopia.
On August 7, an airplane with Black American congressman Mickey Leland aboard crashed en route to the Fugnido refugee camp in Ethiopia. Six days later, the bodies of Leland and fifteen others were discovered. Other Americans aboard the ill-fated aircraft included Hugh A. Johnson, Jr., a staff member of the U.S. House Select Committee on Hunger, Patrice Y. Johnson, Leland's chief of staff, and Joyce Williams, a member of the staff of California representative Ronald V. Dellums. Leland, age forty-four, represented Texas and served as chairman of the House Select Committee on Hunger at the time of his death. He had made six previous trips to Africa to investigate and underscore famine conditions, particularly in war-torn Ethiopia. After the congressman's body was discovered, Thomas S. Foley, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, said "there will be a determination on the part of members of the House to work for those goals that Mickey Leland sought to achieve, the alleviation of hunger and suffering here and in Africa and elsewhere in the world."
1976 (Jan 20)
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The U.S. government approves the creation of a bust of the late Martin Luther King, Jr., to install in the Capitol. At the time, none of the 681 works of art in the Capitol honored a Black person.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted by voice vote to authorize an appropriation of $25,000 for the creation of a bust of the late Martin Luther King, Jr., and to install it in the Capitol. King would be the first Black person ever so honored, if the bill was passed by the U.S. Senate. The House measure noted King's contribution to the civil rights movement and his winning of the Nobel Peace Prize. The House's Administration Committee had said that the tribute was appropriate “because of Dr. King's prominence in American history and because of all the Black Americans who have done so much to contribute to this country's greatness, [yet] not one is now honored among the 681 works of art in the Capitol."
1989 (Aug 8)
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Dexter Scott King, son of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., resigns as president of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Non-Violent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dexter Scott King, son of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., resigned as president of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Non-Violent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia. He had held the position for only four months. Sources for the Atlanta Constitution blamed a power struggle involving young King, his mother, Coretta Scott King, his aunt, Christine Farris King, and his top aide, Barbara Williams-Skinner for the resignation. The King Center itself had no comment at the time of King's resignation.
1989 (Aug 8)
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A. W. Wilson, minister and civil rights activist, dies in Montgomery, Alabama, at age eighty-seven.
A. W. Wilson, minister and civil rights activist, died in Montgomery, Alabama, at age eighty-seven. Wilson was the pastor of the Holt Street Baptist Church in Montgomery for fifty years. The church was the site of the first mass meeting of organizers of the famous Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. Many other rallies were also held at the church during the civil rights movement in Montgomery.
1989 (Aug 9)
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President George Bush tells delegates to the 79th Annual Convention of the National Urban League (NUL) in Washington, D.C., that his administration will not “tolerate discrimination, bigotry or bias of any kind—period.”
President George Bush told delegates to the 79th Annual Convention of the National Urban League (NUL) in Washington, D.C., that his administration would not "tolerate discrimination, bigotry or bias of any kind—period." He added, "Your problems are my problems. ... The 'great gulf' between Black and White America has narrowed, but it has not closed.” President Bush also said that “race hate” still existed and as long as bigotry persisted, "our work is not over." NUL president John E. Jacob said it was "significant" that Bush came to the meeting and made a vow to fight racial bias. It was, he thought, a first step in changing the “national atmosphere" of the preceding eight years. The previous administration of President Ronald Reagan was frequently criticized by the NUL and other civil rights groups for insensitivity to Black issues and actually trying to roll back progress in civil rights. Reagan never addressed a NUL Convention and rarely appeared before any civil rights group. Former president Jimmy Carter spoke to the NUL in 1977.
1989 (Aug 28)
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Forty businesses and twenty cars are damaged in Vineland, New Jersey, after two hundred Blacks riot in protest of the slaying of Samuel Williams, a twenty-six-year-old Black man, by police on August 27.
Forty businesses and twenty cars were damaged in Vineland, New Jersey, after two hundred Blacks rioted in protest of the slaying of Samuel Williams, a twenty-six-year-old Black man, by police on August 27. Twenty-three people were arrested in the city of 54,000, located forty miles southeast of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Williams, who was being sought by police on drug and weapon charges, allegedly attacked officers with a rod as they attempted to arrest him. No drugs or weapons were found on Williams' body. The state attorney general's office took over the investigation.
1989 (Aug 30)
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More than three hundred mourners attend funeral services for Yusef Hawkins, a Black American youth slain in New York City.
More than three hundred mourners attended funeral services for Yusef Hawkins, a Black American youth slain in New York City. Another one thousand persons who could not enter the church stood outside singing and listening to the eulogy. Hawkins had been shot to death on August 23 in the predominantly white Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn. The Reverend Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist who lead protests immediately following the killing, said in one of the eulogies, "We're not going to let you down. ... They're going to pay this time, Yusef. It's time for us to change our ways. We can run a man for the White House, but we can't walk a child through Bensonhurst." Another speaker, Minister Louis Farrakhan, a leader of the Nation of Islam, proclaimed: “We say, as the Jews say, never again, never again, never again... As long as White children can get away with killing Black children, and White law enforcement does not know how to make examples of its own...then justice is far off." The church's pastor, the Reverend Curtis Wells, exhorted, “Let freedom ring from Howard Beach, Mr. Mayor" (addressing New York mayor Edward Koch) ... "Let freedom ring from Bensonhurst. We're not going to take it anymore. We're going to walk where we want to walk." Mayor Koch, New York governor Mario M. Cuomo, and Republican mayoral candidate Rudolph W. Giuliani were heckled outside the church, and Koch left the ceremonies through a side door. Others attending the funeral included Black American mayoral candidate David Dinkins and Black filmmaker Spike Lee.
1989 (Aug 31)
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More than seven thousand people march through the downtown section of Brooklyn New York in further protests of the killing of sixteen-year-old Yusef Hawkins.
More than seven thousand people chanting "No more!" and "Whose street? Our street!" marched through the downtown section of Brooklyn New York in further protests of the killing of sixteen-year-old Yusef Hawkins. Hawkins, a Black youth, was shot and killed in Brooklyn on August 23. The march turned violent after reaching the Brooklyn Bridge, where police had set up barricades. The marchers ran through the barricade, shouting "Take the bridge, take the bridge!" Hand-to-hand battles erupted between demonstrators and police. The rioters also threw bottles and rocks at police officers, who freely wielded their nightsticks. At least twenty-three police officers were injured, only one seriously. There were no immediate reports of injuries to civilians.
1976 (Feb 5 - 26)
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Racial violence erupts in Pensacola, Florida, over the issue of whether athletic teams at a local high school would be called “Rebels” or “Raiders.”
Racial violence erupted in Pensacola, Florida, over the issue of whether athletic teams at a local high school would be called "Rebels" or "Raiders." On February 5, fifteen hundred people rioted at the Escambia High School. Four white students were wounded by gunfire, six others were also injured, and at least nine people were arrested. One of these was a twenty-three-year-old Black man who was suspected in the shootings. Subsequently, crosses were burned on the lawns of school board members, a bullet was fired through a window of a home owned by a Black school board member, and the homes of a human relations council member and a state legislator were burned by arsonists. Blacks began a boycott of the school. On February 9, one hundred of the six hundred Blacks enrolled in Escambia High School attended classes, but they were met with taunts from whites. Nearly one thousand white students also remained out of class “apparently in anticipation of violence.” The school had a total enrollment of 2,523 students. The only incident of the day, however, was the arrest of a fifteen-year-old white youth who was brandishing a foot-long chain "equipped with a bolt-type grip." On February 21, the home of Teresa Hunt, a member of the Pensacola-Escambia Human Relations Commission and the county school board Citizens Advisory Committee, was set afire with diesel fuel. Four nights later, the home of State Representative R. W. Peaden, a block away from Hunt's residence, was destroyed when a flammable liquid was poured on its floors and ignited. Both Hunt and Peaden had been involved in the controversy over the school name. The Escambia Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) continued to urge Black parents to keep their children away from the school, warning that they would be unsafe there. The chapter's president, F.L. Henderson, remarked, "We'd rather see a child held back in school than see them in the morgue." He asked Florida Governor Reuben Askew to provide "as much protection as within his power" for Black students. The controversy over the school's nickname first arose in 1973 when Black students, who had been attending the school since 1969, protested both the name and the flying of the Confederate flag at athletic events and other functions. They said both symbols were a direct insult to them. After several protests, some of which were accompanied by violence, a U.S. District Court, on July 24, 1973, permanently enjoined the use of the rebel name, the flag, "and related symbols on the grounds that they were 'racially irritating.'"Students then chose the name “Raiders” to represent the school. But after an appeal by a group of white students and school board members, a U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the injunction and returned the matter to the school board to make its own decision on the name." On February 4, 1976, an election was scheduled at Escambia High to allow students to choose between “Raiders" and "Rebels." The riot erupted the next day.
1989 (Dec 1)
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Alvin Ailey, Black American dancer and choreographer, dies of a blood disorder in New York City at age fifty-eight.
Alvin Ailey, Black American dancer and choreographer, died of a blood disorder in New York City at age fifty-eight. Ailey was born in the rural town of Rogers, Texas, where he faced discrimination at a very early age. Yet by the time of his death, Ailey had received New York's Handel Medallion and the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for lifetime contributions to modern dance. In 1988, he received Kennedy Center honors in Washington, DC., for lifetime achievement in the performing arts. He founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1958 and choreographed seventy-nine ballets. In 1961, Ailey created his best known work, "Revelations," which was based on his childhood experiences in Black Baptist churches. The dance became his company's rousing signature piece. Ailey also had a penchant for honoring the works of others whom he admired or with whose causes he sympathized. For example, he choreographed "For Bird with Love" as a tribute to jazz saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker, whose career was shortened by drug abuse. While Ailey refused to allow his company to perform in the Republic of South Africa, he choreographed, in collaboration with jazz drummer Max Roach, "Survivors," in honor of South African anti-apartheid activists Nelson and Winnie Mandela. Although Ailey retired from performing twenty years before his death, he created "a choreographic style distinctly his own—a combination of modern, ballet, jazz, and ethnic dance." Professor Richard Long, author of The Black Tradition in American Dance, called Ailey "the best-known American dancer in the world."
1989 (Dec 6)
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Nathan I. Huggins, a leading scholar of Black American culture, dies of cancer in Boston, Massachusetts, at the age of sixty-two.
Nathan I. Huggins, a leading scholar of Black American culture, died of cancer in Boston, Massachusetts, at the age of sixty-two. Huggins was the author of works on Black anti-slavery leader Frederick Douglass and on the Harlem Renaissance, the Black cultural movement of the 1920s. Since 1980, he had been professor of history and Afro-American Studies and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard University.
1989 (Dec 7)
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Percy Snow, Black American linebacker for the Michigan State University Spartans, is awarded the Vince Lombardi trophy in Houston, Texas.
Percy Snow, Black American linebacker for the Michigan State University Spartans, was awarded the Vince Lombardi trophy in Houston, Texas. The Lombardi trophy, named for the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, is awarded every year to the nation's top collegiate lineman. On December 5, Snow had also won a Dick Butkus Award for his outstanding feats as a linebacker. At the time, Snow held the Michigan State record of 164 tackles.
1989 (Dec 24)
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Ernest Nathan “Dutch” Morial, the first Black mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana, dies of an apparent heart attack in New Orleans at age sixty.
Emest Nathan "Dutch" Morial, the first Black mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana, died of an apparent heart attack in New Orleans at age sixty. Morial was born in New Orleans on October 9, 1929, to Walter and Leonie Morial. He became the first Black law school graduate of Louisiana State University in 1954. Morial's public service career began in 1960 when he was elected president of the NAACP chapter in New Orleans. He worked with civil rights activist A. P. Tureard in filing suits against segregation in public facilities and institutions in the city. In 1965, Morial became the first Black assistant U.S. attorney in Louisiana, and in 1967 the first Black legislator since the Reconstruction era. He also served as a member of the State House of Representatives from 1967 to 1970, and became the first Black elected to Louisiana's 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in 1973 In 1977, on the strength of a huge Black vote, Morial became New Orleans' first Black mayor. As mayor for two terms, he faced rampant floods in 1978, a police strike that crippled the city's annual Mardi Gras festival in 1979, and a financially plagued World's exposition in 1984. Morial left office in 1986 following an unsuccessful attempt to amend the city charter to allow the mayor to serve a third four-year term. Nationally, Morial had been a president of the National Conference of Mayors, a member of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and one of the key Black advisors to Democratic presidential candidate Michael S. Dukakis in 1988. After Morial's death, his predecessor, former mayor Moon Landrieu, remarked: "Dutch was the first Black individual to achieve high public office in this state....That alone I think is a very significant achievement."
1976 (Dec 8)
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The U.S. Supreme Court rules against a desegregation plan for the city of Austin, Texas.
The United States Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, ruled against a sweeping desegregation plan for the city of Austin, Texas. The Court sent the case back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth District to review in light of its decision last June that government acts are not unconstitutional simply because "they have [a] disproportionate effect on Blacks." The court also contended that "school desegregation plans should be tailored to correct only the amount of segregation caused intentionally by school officials.” They argued that the courts cannot impose "sweeping orders" designed to correct all school segregation that may result "from racial and ethnic housing patterns." The dissenting Justices, William J. Brennan and Thurgood Marshall, believed the appellate court had decided the case correctly.
1989 (Dec 9)
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Craig A. Washington, a Houston, Texas, attorney, is elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from the predominantly Black Eighteenth Congressional District.
Craig A. Washington, a Houston, Texas, attorney, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from the predominantly Black Eighteenth Congressional District. Washington defeated Houston city councilman Anthony Hall to take the seat formerly held by Mickey Leland, who died in a plane crash in Ethiopia on August 7, 1989.
1989 (Dec 11)
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A state appeals court in New York reverses the convictions of three White men who were found guilty in the 1986 death of Michael Griffith, a Black man, in the Howard Beach section of Queens, New York, due to errors in his charge to the jury.
A state appeals court in New York reversed the convictions of three White men who were found guilty in the 1986 death of Michael Griffith, a Black man, in the Howard Beach section of Queens, New York. The unanimous ruling found that Thomas A. Demakos, the trial judge, had made two errors in his charge to the jury. He had, the higher court said, supplied the jury with verdict sheets that contained the charges against the defendants (which improperly described some of the alleged crimes) and he had improperly refused to instruct the jury on disorderly conduct, a lesser offense than the ones with which the defendants were charged. The three defendants, William Bollander, Thomas Farino, and James Povinelli, all aged nineteen, were convicted in 1988 of second degree riot charges for their part in the racial attack on December 20, 1986.
1976 (Dec 23)
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Andrew Young and Patricia Harris are nominated for President-elect Jimmy Carter’s cabinet.
President-elect Jimmy Carter completed the nominations for his cabinet. The cabinet nominees included two blacks, Georgia Congressman Andrew Young as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Washington, D.C., attorney Patricia Roberts Harris as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
1976 (Apr 3)
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Samuel DuBois Cook is inaugurated as the sixth president of Dillard University, a historic Black institution.
Samuel DuBois Cook, former professor of political science at Duke University in North Carolina, was inaugurated as the sixth president of Dillard University, a historic Black institution located in New Orleans, Louisiana. Cook, a native of Griffin, Georgia, received a bachelor's degree from Morehouse College and master's and doctorate degrees from Ohio State University. He had previously taught political science at the Atlanta and Southern Universities, the University of Illinois, and the University of California at Los Angeles. At Duke University, Cook won an Outstanding Professor Award. He also received a Citation of Achievement from Duke University, a honorary Doctor of Laws degree from his alma mater, Morehouse College, and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
1989 (Dec 16-19)
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Mail bombs used in racial attacks on Robert S. Vance, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, in Birmingham, Alabama and Robert E. Robinson, an attorney in Savannah, Georgia, who had represented the NAACP and other clients in civil rights cases.
On December 16, a mail bomb exploded in the home of Robert S. Vance, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, in Birmingham, Alabama. The Eleventh Circuit had handled many civil rights cases, including some covering school desegregation, over the past decade. On December 18, a mail bomb exploded in the office of Robert E. Robinson, an attorney in Savannah, Georgia, who had represented the NAACP and other clients in civil rights cases. The bombs, which were sent to Vance and Robinson in parcels addressed to them, killed both men instantly. The FBI announced on December 18 that it suspected white supremacists in the mail bombings. Earl Shinhoster, southeast regional director of the NAACP, whose office was the target of an earlier mailed tear-gas bomb, called the attacks "a very serious situation."
1975 (Nov 21)
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John Calhoun is appointed special assistant to the president for minority affairs.
John Calhoun, age thirty eight and a former foreign service officer and deputy special assistant to President Gerald R. Ford, was appointed special assistant to the president for minority affairs. Calhoun succeeded Stanley Scott, another Black man, who resigned. Calhoun, at the time of his new appointment, had been a member of the White House staff since 1973.
1975 (Nov 19)
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Former Black Panther Party leader Eldridge Cleaver faces charges of attempted murder.
Former Black Panther Party leader Eldridge Cleaver arrived in California in federal custody to face charges of attempted murder. Cleaver, age forty, was to be charged in connection with a shootout with Oakland police on April 6, 1968, in which Panther Bobby Hutton, age seventeen, was killed and a police officer was wounded. Cleaver had earlier ended his seven years of exile abroad to have his day in court. After having lived in Cuba, Guinea, Algeria, North Korea, and France, Cleaver said his voluntary return was prompted by his belief that the United States had changed to the extent that he could now receive a fair trial. Cleaver's Soul on Ice, revealing intimate details of his life in the ghetto and imprisonment, had become a minor classic in revolutionary literature.
1975 (Nov 19)
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James B. Adams, associate deputy director of the FBI, tells the U.S. Senate’s Intelligence Committee that there was no legal justification for the attempts by the FBI in the 1960s to discredit the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
James B. Adams, associate deputy director of the FBI, told the United States Senate's Intelligence Committee that there was no legal justification for the twenty-five separate attempts by the Bureau in the 1960s to discredit the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as a civil rights leader. The FBI, he continued, was led to investigate King because of the possibility that Communist influences were being brought to bear on him and the civil rights movement. No such evidence, however, was ever uncovered. During its spying on King, the FBI installed a total of sixteen electronic bugs and eight wiretaps in an attempt to collect damaging evidence against the civil rights leader and even sent his wife an anonymous letter and tape recording that King reportedly interpreted as a suggestion for suicide.
1975 (May 1)
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Black poet Paul Laurence Dunbar is honored in the release of a ten-cent commemorative stamp.
A new ten-cent commemorative stamp honoring the Black poet Paul Laurence Dunbar went on sale. Dunbar, the son of ex-slaves, was born June 27, 1872, in Dayton, Ohio, and the first-day issue of the stamp was sold there. Dunbar, best known for his humorous poems in Black dialect, published several volumes of verse, three novels, and five collections of short stories. He died in 1906. Coincidental with the issuance of the Dunbar stamp, the United States Postal Service opened a special exhibit called “Black Americans on U.S. Postage Stamps" at the Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C. At the conclusion of the special showing in Washington, the exhibit toured various post offices throughout the nation.
1989 (Dec 18-20)
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The FBI investigates mail bombs found at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta, Georgia, and the headquarters of the Jacksonville, Florida, chapter of the NAACP.
On December 19, a mail bomb was found and defused at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta, Georgia. The Appeals Court had handled many of the South's civil rights suits over the past decade. That same day, a mail bomb found outside the headquarters of the Jacksonville, Florida, chapter of the NAACP did not explode. The FBI announced that the packages were mailed from Georgia, as were the bombs that killed federal judge Robert Vance and Savannah, Georgia, attorney Robert Robinson on December 16 and 18. The FBI also said it suspected the same person (or persons) was responsible for all of the incidents.
1975 (Mar 28)
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The Washington Star reports new evidence of governmental spying on Black individuals and organizations.
The Washington Star reported new evidence of governmental spying on Black individuals and organizations. These included investigations of Marion Barry, a former Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) activist and ex-president of the Board of Education of Washington, D.C.; Walter Fauntroy, Washington, D.C.'s delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives; the Reverend David Eaton, pastor of Washington's All Souls Unitarian Church; and Absalom Frederick Jordan, chairman of the Black United Front. According to the Star, Barry's file read, “subject referred ... by FBI due to activities in SNCC, active in civil rights movement. Dislikes police.”
1975 (Mar 24)
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Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali defends his title by defeating Chuck Wepner.
Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali defeated Chuck Wepner in the final round of a 15-round title fight to retain his crown. Wepner went down in the last round from a right to the head and referee Tony Perez stopped the fight at the count of eight.
1989 (Dec 21)
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A U.S. administrative law judge in Atlanta, Georgia, orders Gordon C. Blackwell, a real estate broker, to pay $75,000 to a Black couple whom he had discriminated against in the sale of a house.
A U.S. administrative law judge in Atlanta, Georgia, ordered Gordon C. Blackwell, a real estate broker, to pay $75,000 to a black couple whom he had discriminated against in the sale of a house, Judge Alan W. Heifetz also found that Blackwell, a sixty-six-year-old resident of Sandy Springs, Georgia, bad flouted the civil rights of Terryl and Janella Herron by refusing to close the sale of a Stone Mountain, Georgia, home. He also ordered the broker to complete the sale of the house. The case was the first in the nation under the recently enacted federal law, which "provides quicker and harsher penalties if bias is proved." Gordon H. Mansfield, assistant secretary for fair housing at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), said the case was "a landmark in civil rights enforcement... making housing discrimination expensive as well as unlawful."
1975 (Mar 20)
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Redbook magazine lists four Black women among the forty-four American women qualified for top governmental positions.
The April issue of Redbook magazine listed four Black women among the forty-four American women qualified for top governmental positions, including cabinet officers, in the United States. The Blacks included U.S. Representative Barbara Jordan of Texas, who was suggested as eminently qualified to be Attorney General of the United States; Coretta Scott King, listed as qualified to be chairperson of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; Eleanor Holmes Norton, Commissioner of Human Rights for New York City, listed as qualified to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; and C. Delores Tucker, Secretary of State of Pennsylvania, seen as qualified to be Ambassador to the United Nations. The list of qualified women was drawn up by Frances “Sissy” Farentold, chairperson of the National Women's Political Caucus, because she became convinced that women's abilities were underestimated when selections for high level jobs were made.
1975 (Mar 2)
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Arthur Ashe, the nation’s leading Black tennis player, wins the singles finals of the World Championship Tennis Green Group Tournament.
Arthur Ashe, the nation's leading Black tennis player, won the singles finals of the World Championship Tennis Green Group Tournament in Rotterdam. He defeated Tom Okker of the Netherlands 3–6, 6–2, 6–4, in a ninety-five minute match at the Ahoy Sports Palace.
1963 (Nov 22)
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Black Americans join the world in mourning the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, whom many Blacks believed had been killed because of his advocacy of civil rights.
Black Americans joined the world in mourning the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, whom many Blacks believed had been killed because of his advocacy of civil rights. Kennedy's civil rights measures were still being debated in Congress when he died.
1975 (Mar 17)
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Reverend Jesse Jackson, head of People United to Save Humanity (Operation PUSH) calls the NCAA racist and threatens a boycott of college football bowl games.
The Reverend Jesse Jackson of Chicago, Illinois, head of People United to Save Humanity (Operation PUSH), said during a press conference in New York City that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) was racist and warned that a Black boycott of the college football bowl games may be the next target of civil rights groups. Jackson remarked that “the NCAA is not fair. ... The colleges don't have Black head coaches. They will select an assistant grudgingly but they don't consider the Black man to be head coach or athletic director. ... We found that the selection committees for various bowl games are almost totally white. This is a situation we intend to change.” Earlier, Jackson had met with Michael Burke, president of Madison Square Garden in New York City, and Peter Carlesimo of Fordham University on the issue of giving Black colleges a role in the National Invitational Basketball Tournament (NIT). Jackson's organization had threatened to picket the NIT unless changes were made. Under an agreement reached with Burke and Carlesimo, two athletic directors from Black colleges would be elected to the NIT Selection Committee (Jackson suggested the names of Earl Banks of Morgan State University and Eddie Robinson of Grambling University), at least one Black institution would be invited to compete in future NIT events, and the New York branch of Operation PUSH would play a supportive role in the promotion of future tournaments. Jackson said that the pressure on the NIT was part of a national program to break down racial barriers that extended beyond the playing field.
1964
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Reports from civil rights groups indicated that three people were killed; three were wounded; eighty were physically assaulted; over one thousand were arrested; and thirty buildings were bombed in Mississippi during the course of the year’s civil rights activity.
Reports from civil rights groups indicated that three people were killed; three were wounded; eighty were physically assaulted; over one thousand were arrested; and thirty buildings were bombed in Mississippi during the course of the year's civil rights activity.
1975 (Mar 17)
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The ACLU releases documents indicating that the FBI had fabricated a threatening letter in order to persuade Black civil rights worker, Muhammad Kenyatta, to leave Mississippi in 1969.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released documents indicating that the FBI had fabricated a threatening letter in order to persuade a Black civil rights worker to leave Mississippi in 1969. A month after Muhammad Kenyatta received the letter, he returned with his family to Pennsylvania. The ACLU said that Kenyatta (formerly Donald W. Jackson) had come under the scrutiny of Cointelpro, the FBI's counter-intelligence unit, which the bureau operated between 1956 and 1971 in an effort to disrupt groups it considered subversive. The letter in question, allegedly written by a group of Tougaloo (Mississippi) college students, warned Kenyatta to leave Mississippi or "we shall consider contacting local authorities regarding some of your activities or take other measures available to us which would have a more direct effect and which would not be as cordial as this note.” The ACLU obtained the FBI documents in connection with a suit filed against the Bureau by Kenyatta, alleging a violation of his constitutional rights.
1985 (Jan 11)
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Reuben V. Anderson becomes the first Black person appointed to the Mississippi Supreme Court.
Reuben V. Anderson was appointed to the Mississippi Supreme Court, becoming the first Black person ever to sit on the bench of that state's highest court. Anderson, who was previously a state Circuit Court Judge, was named to the court by Mississippi Governor Bill Allain to fill the unexpired term of Justice Francis S. Bowling, who retired on January 1. Bowling's term ran to the fall of 1986. Anderson, an attorney practicing in Mississippi starting in 1967, recalled that he never thought of the possibility of sitting on Mississippi's highest court. “When I first started practicing law,” Anderson said, “I had to take my diploma with me wherever I went. Judges would not allow Black lawyers to practice in a lot of courts in this state....... Back then many courthouses had separate facilities for Blacks and whites..... it makes you proud, so proud that Mississippi has come so far."
1985
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Octavia E. Butler wins science fiction’s highest literary honors.
Octavia E. Butler, a graduate of Pasadena City College, won the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award, and the Locus Award for her novella, Bloodchild. Butler, a member of Science Fiction Writers of America, had served as a contributor for several science fiction journals and had attended numerous workshops. She was the 1995 recipient of the MacArthur Foundation's Genius Grant. Her writing focused on the impact of race and gender on future societies. Other works by the author include Patternmaster, Mind of My Soul, and Kindred.
1984 (Jan 2)
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W. Wilson Goode is inaugurated as mayor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, becoming the first Black to do so.
W. Wilson Goode, the forty-five-year-old son of North Carolina sharecroppers, was inaugurated as mayor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Goode became the first Black chief executive in the city's 301- year history. At the time of his inauguration, about 40 percent of Philadelphia's 1.6 million people were Black In an eight-minute inaugural address, Goode, who served in the cabinet of former mayor William Green, said that his election "might have been thought an impossible dream” for a Black person, “but in America dreams can come true."
1982 (Dec 28 - 29)
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Violence erupts in Miami, Florida, after a Hispanic police officer shoots and kills a suspected black looter.
A new wave of racial violence erupted in Miami, Florida, after a Hispanic police officer, Luis Alvarez, shot and killed twenty-one-year-old Nevell Johnson, a suspected Black looter. The altercations in the Overtown section of the city left two people dead and twenty-seven wounded. Dozens of businesses were destroyed or damaged. Forty three people were arrested in the area. During the melee, up to two hundred people participated in rampages throughout the Overtown section, but the disturbances did not reach the proportions of racial rioting in Miami's Liberty City area in 1980, when eighteen people died during three days of violence.
1980 (Oct 26)
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The ten Black Roman Catholic bishops in the United States issue a pastoral letter calling out Black issues within the Church.
The ten Black Roman Catholic bishops in the United States issued a pastoral letter proclaiming that "the Black Catholic community has come of age within the Church and must seize the initiative to 'share the gift of our Blackness with the church in the United States.'" The fifteen-thousand-word letter, entitled "What We Have Seen and Heard," was the first collaboration by the bishops, and it emphasized both the strengths Blacks brought to the church as well as the "stain" of racism that they claimed still existed in Catholic structures. At the time that the letter was written, there were an estimated one million Black Roman Catholics in the nation, less than 2 percent of the country's approximately fifty-two million Catholics. Within the church hierarchy, in addition to the ten Black bishops, there were approximately three hundred Black priests and seven hundred Black religious women.
1980 (May 18)
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Rioting erupts in Miami, FL, with at least 15 dead, after the announcement of guilty verdicts for all four white deputy sheriffs that beat a Black insurance executive to death, then attempted to cover it up and make it appear that he died in a motorcycle accident.
At least fifteen people died after two nights of racial rioting in Miami, Florida. The disturbances were the worst in the nation since the Black ghettos of Watts and Detroit erupted in the late 1960s. The Miami riot began in the wake of a controversial verdict in a case of alleged police brutality. The violence began on May 17 after the announcement that not guilty verdicts had been returned in Tampa, Florida, against four white deputy sheriffs from Dade County (of which Miami is the county scat). The four former deputies were charged with beating Arthur McDuffie, a Black insurance executive, to death and then covering up the beating to make it appear that McDuffie had died in a motorcycle accident. The all-male, all-white jury was empaneled in Tampa because Dade Circuit Court Judge Lenore Nesbitt had ruled that the case was "a racial time bomb" in Miami. In the wake of the rioting, U.S. Attorney Aticc Wampler III said that evidence already assembled by the FBI in the McDuffie case would be presented to a federal grand jury in Miami on May 20, 1980. During the riot, snipers shot at cars, civilians, and police. Three Miami police officers were wounded by gunfire on May 18. At least two of the rioters were shot dead by police. Florida Governor Bob Graham called up eleven hundred National Guardsmen, three hundred highway patrol officers, four helicopters, and an armored personnel carrier to assist local law enforcement authorities. At least 216 people were injured in the rioting and widespread looting and property damage were reported. The disturbances occurred in a section of northwest Miami known as "Liberty City." Black leaders in the area said they had seen the violence building for months and blamed the unrest on a long series of accusations of police brutality against Blacks, none of which resulted in significant action against the accused white officers; the conviction and suspension of leading Black officials on corruption charges; and a new wave of Cuban refugees, sharpening the economic competition that had left Blacks on the margin of the city's economy since the first Black workers went to Miami in the 1920s to work in the city's new resort hotels. As the riot progressed, Miami Mayor Maurice Feree received a set of eleven demands from a grassroots Black organization. Feree said he thought at least nine of the demands, including hiring and promoting Blacks, could be readily met. He also said he would consider granting amnesty to all of those accused of looting but could not agree with the demand to fire state attorney Janet Reno, the prosecutor in the McDuffie case.
1977 (Mar 15)
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B.L. Perry, Jr., resigns as president of Florida A & M University, one of the nation’s largest historically Black institutions of higher education.
B.L. Perry, Jr., resigned as president of Florida A & M University, one of the nation's largest historically Black institutions of higher education. Perry, who left because of personal reasons, was an alumnus of Florida A & M. Before departing, he told faculty and students that the university "must remain as an institution, changed of course by the social and legal evolutions it institutionalized, as a force for providing higher education to a discernible segment of the population, and providing hope and inspiration to thousands who look upon it as a model for pursuing pluralistic ideals in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and multi-racial society.” Perry had been president of Florida A & M since 1968.
1977 (Mar 14)
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Alex Haley, the author of Roots, is honored by the U.S. Senate for “his exceptional achievement.”
The United States Senate adopted a resolution praising Alex Haley, the author of Roots, for “his exceptional achievement." The unanimous resolution, sponsored by Senator John Glenn from Ohio, said the historical novel and its television adaptation had "contributed to the cause of a better racial understanding in the United States."
1977 (Jun 1)
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The oldest known identified photographs of African slaves in the United States are published in American Heritage Magazine.
The oldest known identified photographs of African slaves in the United States were published in the June issue of American Heritage Magazine. The photographs were discovered eighteen months previously in an otherwise empty cabinet in an attic of the Peabody Museum at Harvard University by Elinor Reichlin. The daguerreotypes were taken in Columbia, South Carolina, in 1850 "for scientific study," by J.T. Zealy, whom Reichlin traced as a photographer in Columbia until 1880. Professor Stephen Williams, director of the Peabody Museum, asserted that the photographs were "the oldest examples of rare pictures of American slaves born in Africa." At least four of the seven subjects shown in several poses were identified on the prints by first name, African nation or tribe of origin, and by slave owner. Among them was a man named Alfred, identified as a Foulah, a West African tribe, and owned by an I. Lomas of Columbia, South Carolina, and Jack and Renty from Guinea and the Congo, respectively, owned by a B.F. Taylor, also of Columbia. Nude photos of African women were not released by the Peabody Museum.
1977 (Jan 30)
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Andrew Jackson Young becomes United States Ambassador to the United Nations (UN), the highest diplomatic post ever held by a Black American.
Andrew Jackson Young, a Black congressman from Georgia, took the oath of office as United States Ambassador to the United Nations (UN), the highest diplomatic post ever held by a Black American. The appointment also carried cabinet rank in the administration of President Jimmy Carter. Young was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on March 12, 1932, the son of a dentist and a school teacher. He received a bachelor's degree from Howard University in 1951 and a Bachelor of Divinity degree at the Hartford Theological Seminary in Connecticut in 1951. Young was then ordained a minister in the United Church of Christ. His early pastorates were in Marion, Alabama, and Thomasville and Beachton, Georgia. After a brief period of service at the National Council of Churches, Young joined the staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). In 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. named Young executive director of the SCLC, and in 1967 he became its executive vice president. In these roles, Young was one of the principal negotiators "with recalcitrant white leaders” who were just "beginning to understand the moral and political power of nonviolent protest." Young entered national politics in 1970 when he ran unsuccessfully for Congress from Georgia's Fifth District. Two years later, the majority white district in the Atlanta area had undergone reapportionment. Young was then elected as the first Black Georgia congressman since the Reconstruction era. Although whites retained a slight voting edge in his district, Young was returned to Congress in 1974 and 1976. In commenting on the appointment of Young, President Carter said the congressman "did not want or ask for this job. It was only with the greatest reluctance on his part that he finally agreed to accept [it] for me and for our country.” Young himself remarked: “Through many dangers, toils and snares we have already come, the faith that brought us safe thus far will lead us safely on."
1977 (Jan 27)
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Drew Days is appointed assistant attorney general in charge of civil rights in the U.S. Department of Justice. He is the first Black person to hold this position.
U.S. Attorney General Griffin Bell selected Drew Days, a thirty-six-year-old Black lawyer, to be assistant attorney general in charge of civil rights in the U.S. Department of Justice. Days, a Florida native, graduated from the Yale University Law School in 1966. In 1970, he took a position as an attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF), which handles legal matters for the parent organization. The appointment made Days the first Black person ever to oversee civil rights enforcement and also the first Black assistant attorney general in American history.
1977 (Jan 26)
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The United States Supreme Court asks an Indiana court to reexamine its busing plan to achieve desegregation.
The United States Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, returned a plan involving the busing of Black students to surrounding predominantly white school districts in Indianapolis, Indiana, to a lower federal court for reexamination. The effect of the high court's ruling was to nullify the busing plan to achieve further desegregation, which the lower court had already ordered.
1977 (Jan 20)
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President Jimmy Carter, overwhelmingly supported by Black voters, is sworn in.
Jimmy Carter, former governor of Georgia, took the oath of office of the President of the United States at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. A Black woman from his native state was overheard in the crowd murmuring, "Yes, Lord!" Black voters had supported Carter overwhelmingly in his campaign for the nation's highest executive office.
1977 (Feb 3)
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The “Roots” miniseries airs, achieving the highest single ratings ever amassed by a television production.
The “Roots” miniseries, based on Alex Haley's novel of the same title in which he traced his ancestry to Africa and slavery, ended eight nights of presentations on the ABC television network. The Sunday night finale achieved the highest single ratings ever amassed by a television production. The previous top television presentation had been the epic Civil War drama, Gone with the Wind. During the eight nights of programming, "Roots” was watched by more than 130 million viewers.
1977 (Feb 17)
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Chicago public schools are accused of violating civil rights laws.
The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) announced that it was cutting off funds to the public schools of Chicago, Illinois, because of alleged violations of civil rights laws. The alleged violations included an "inadequate bilingual program and too many Black teachers in schools with overwhelming Black student populations." The order was to become final within twenty days unless the school district appealed or made "appropriate changes to comply with the law." It was estimated that $100 million of the district's annual budget of $600 million came from the federal government. HEW Secretary Joseph A. Califano, Jr., in his first formal statement on civil rights, stated: "We have no desire ever to cut off funds to any school district or other educational institutions. But the way to insure compliance with civil rights laws is to make clear that we will order funds cut off if we must."
1977 (Aug 1)
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Joseph N. Gayles, Jr., becomes the new president of Talladega College in Alabama.
Joseph N. Gayles, Jr., program director of the medical education program at Morehouse College, assumed the presidency of Talladega College in Alabama. Gayles succeeded Herman Long, who died in office in 1976. Gayles, a summa cum laude graduate of Louisiana's Dillard University, received a Ph.D. degree in chemical physics from Brown University in Rhode Island. He was previously a professor of chemistry at Morehouse College.
1977 (Aug 1)
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Ethel Waters, Black singer and actress, dies of apparent heart failure.
Ethel Waters, Black singer and actress, died of apparent heart failure in Chatsworth, California, at age seventy-six. Waters was born on October 31, 1900, in Chester, Pennsylvania. She first appeared on stage at age seventeen and later toured with jazz groups where she became "a leading theater and cafe personality." But after a religious conversion, Waters gave up singing in nightclubs and turned to spirituals. After her talents were more widely recognized, Waters made her Broadway debut in Plantation Revue of 1924. In this production, she scored one of the greatest song hits ever when she introduced the piece "Dinah." From Broadway she began making motion pictures and was cast in As Thousands Cheer, At Home Abroad, and Rhapsody in Black. In 1950, Waters was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in Pinky. Her last motion picture was The Sound and the Fury in 1958. By this time, however, Waters began appearing on such television programs as The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show, Daniel Boone, and Route 66. In her later life, Waters turned increasingly to singing, becoming noted particularly for blues renditions of Am I Blue and Stormy Weather as well as black spirituals. She was, according to an article in the Atlanta Constitution, "the first woman ever to sing St. Louis Blues" and thrilled millions around the world with her rendition of His Eye Is on the Sparrow with the Billy Graham Evangelical Crusade. She had been singing with the Crusade for fifteen years at the time her death. Waters's autobiography, also entitled His Eye Is on the Sparrow, was published in 1951 and became a best seller. In the 1960s, stricken with diabetes and heart problems, it was revealed that Waters had lost much of her wealth and was subsisting on social security. She admitted her financial difficulties but said "if half the people that owed me money paid it back, I'd be a rich woman." Yet she refused to make television commercials in order to earn more money. Instead, she exclaimed "I couldn't be happier because I'm at peace with the Lord." In an editorial published after Waters's death, the Atlanta Constitution commented that "few American entertainment figures have had careers as varied and memorable as Ethel Waters."
1977 (Aug 1)
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Elias Blake, Jr., becomes the new president of Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia.
Elias Blake, Jr., forty-seven-year-old president of the Institute for Services to Education (ISE), became the new president of Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia. Blake succeeded Vivian W. Henderson, who died during heart surgery on January 28, 1976. Blake, a native Georgian, received bachelor's and master's degrees from Paine College in Augusta, Georgia, in 1951, and Howard University in 1954 respectively, and a doctorate from the University of Illinois in 1960. He came to Clark College from the Institute for Services to Education in Washington, D.C., where he was a consultant to governmental and private educational agencies.
1977 (Apr 14)
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William H. Hastie, the first Black person appointed to a United States Court of Appeals, dies.
William H. Hastie, the first Black person appointed to a United States Court of Appeals, died after collapsing on a golf course in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the age of seventy-one. Hastie, the son of a federal clerk, was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. He graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College in 1925 and taught junior high school in New York before enrolling in Harvard Law School. He was admitted to the bar in 1930. Between 1939 and 1946, Hastie was dean of the law school of Howard University. While at Howard, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked him to join his “Black Cabinet" (a group of Black advisors) as a civilian aide to Secretary of War, Henry Stinson. In 1943 Hastie resigned from the War Department in protest against what he called the "reactionary policies and discriminatory practices" of the Air Force. At that time, he said "the simple fact is that the air command does not want Negro pilots flying in and out of various fields, eating, sleeping, and mingling with other personnel...." These and other actions led some persons to regard him "as one of the pioneers in the civil rights movement in the United States." After leaving the War Department, Hastie further served the federal government as the first Black on the District Court of the Virgin Islands and later governor of the United States possession from 1946 to 1949. In 1949, President Harry S. Truman elevated Hastie to a position of justice of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He retired from that court as chief judge in 1971 but retained the position of senior judge until his death. Upon learning of Justice Hastie's death, the U.S. Supreme Court's Chief Justice Warren Burger called it "a great loss to the judiciary and to the country."
1989 (Aug 26)
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About 30,000 people reenact the NAACP’s famous “Silent March” of 1917, in protest of lynching and racial segregation.
About 30,000 people-many of the men dressed in black, and women and children in white-staged a reenactment of the NAACP's famous “Silent March" of 1917 in Washington, D.C. The 1917 march down Fifth Avenue in New York City was held to protest lynching and racial segregation. The 1989 march sought to persuade the U.S. Congress to reverse recent decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, which civil rights groups and others believed had weakened affirmative action laws and minority “set aside" programs. Many of the demonstrators wore signs reading "What the court has torn asunder, let Congress set right." One of the speakers at a rally at the U.S. capitol, Joseph Lowery, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), told the crowd, "We declare here today in no uncertain terms that the path of progress has been filled with pain and suffering and sacrifice, and that we're fed up and fired up... We don't intend to sit by and watch the meager gains washed away by a flood tide of insidious insensitivity nor invidious individualism... In other words, we ain't going back."
1989 (Aug 23)
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Yusef Hawkins is shot to death in the predominantly white Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, New York. At least 30 weapon-carrying whites attack him after allegedly thinking he came to the area to visit a white girl.
Yusef Hawkins, a sixteen-year-old Black American youth, was shot to death in the predominantly white Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, New York. Hawkins and three friends had answered an advertisement for a used car when at least thirty whites wielding baseball bats, golf clubs, and at least one pistol attacked them. The whites allegedly thought that Hawkins and his companions had to come into the area to visit a white girl. Police quickly arrested six white youths in connection with the assault. Following the Bensonhurst incident, the Reverend Al Sharpton and other local civil rights activists led two days of confrontational demonstrations through the largely Italian American neighborhood. The furor was the largest and bitterest in New York since 1986, when a Black man was killed while fleeing a white mob in the Howard Beach section of Queens.
1989 (Aug 22)
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Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, is shot to death in Oakland, California.
Huey P. Newton, a cofounder of the Black Panther Party, was shot to death in Oakland, California. He was forty-seven years old. Since the demise of his racial activism in the 1960s, Newton continued to have numerous encounters with law enforcement and the criminal justice system. In 1974, he was charged with pistol-whipping his tailor, possession of a handgun, and murdering a seventeen-year-old prostitute. Before his murder trial, Newton fled to Cuba but returned to face the charges in 1977. He was tried twice on the murder charge, but both trials ended in mistrials with the juries deadlocked in favor of acquittal. The charges were later dismissed in 1979. In 1978, Newton was convicted of possession of a handgun, but was acquitted on the charge of assaulting his tailor after the alleged victim refused to testify against him. Newton served nine months in California's San Quentin Prison on the gun charge in 1987. In March of 1989, Newton was sentenced to six months in jail after pleading no contest to charges of misappropriating $15,000 in public monies which had been given for a school the Black Panther Party had operated in the early 1980s. At the time of his death, Newton, who had earned a Ph.D. degree in social philosophy from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1980, was attempting to rehabilitate himself from alcohol and drug abuse. After Newton's death, Charles Garry, his attorney, called Newton the founder of "the renaissance of the Black liberation movement." He said the Panther leader had a very sweet side, a humane side, a dignified side, a man who was theoretically in favor of a better world."
1989 (Aug 21)
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A bomb explodes in the NAACP’s Atlanta, GA, office.
Fifteen people, including a four-month-old baby girl, were injured when a parcel exploded in the offices of the Southeast regional NAACP in Atlanta, Georgia. The injuries, mostly eye irritations and congestion, resulted from a tear-gas bomb but were not considered serious. John Lewis, a Black congressman from Georgia who was giving a speech nearby when the incident occurred, called the attack "another form of harassment and intimidation that seeks to have a chilling effect on individuals and organizations who may want to do something about racism." He added, "I thought it was over."
1989 (Aug 10)
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Army General Colin L. Powell is named chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the country.
Army General Colin L. Powell was named chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the country. Powell, age fifty-two, became the first Black American to occupy the position and the youngest man to lead the Joint Chiefs. Powell, the son of West Indian immigrants, was born in the Harlem section of New York City on April 5, 1937. He received a bachelor's degree from the City College of New York in 1958 and an M.B.A. from George Washington University in 1971. In 1975-76, he attended the National War College. Powell was commissioned a second lieutenant in the army in 1958 and was promoted to full general in 1989. He was also a staff officer at the Pentagon (1974-75); brigade commander, 101st Airborne Division, (1976-77); senior military assistant to the deputy secretary of defense (1977-81); deputy commander of Fort Carson, Colorado (1981-82); deputy commander at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas (1982–83); senior military assistant to the secretary of defense (1983-86); commander, Fifth Corps U.S. Army, Europe (1986-87); and deputy assistant and assistant to the president for national security affairs (1987-89). Prior to being named chairman of the Joint Chiefs, he was commander in chief, Forces Command, Fort McPherson, Georgia. After the Iran-Contra diplomat scandal in 1987, Powell, then a lieutenant-general and national security advisor to President Ronald Reagan, restored order to the National Security Council (NSC). John Poindexter, a previous NSC advisor, had been implicated in the arms deal with Iran, with some of the profits allegedly illegally sent to rebels (Contras) in Nicaragua. After becoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Powell directed the American invasion of Panama, which led to the arrest of its leader, Manuel Antonio Noriega, on drug trafficking charges. Former secretary of defense Caspar Weinberger, under whom Powell served in the Pentagon, once described the general as "the quintessential soldier. He has a remarkable understanding of the great issues of our times, the problems in world affairs, and how our government operates."
1989 (Aug 1)
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The nomination of William Lucas for U.S. assistant attorney general is rejected.
The Judiciary Committee of the U.S. Senate voted 7-7 on whether to recommend the February 24, 1989, nomination of William Lucas, a Black American attorney, as U.S. assistant attorney general, to the full senate. The tie vote meant a rejection of the nomination. Had Lucas been confirmed, he would have headed the civil rights division of the U.S. Justice Department. Some legislators and civil rights leaders opposed the nomination, citing Lucas's "inexperience," his opposition to racial quotas in employment and contracts, and his support of recent Supreme Court decisions severely limiting affirmative action programs.
1987 (Jan 14)
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In its annual “The State of Black America” report, the NUL states that Black Americans are “besieged by a resurgence of violent racism, economic depression, and a national climate of selfishness marked by a retreat from civil rights” during 1986.
"The National Urban League (NUL) said that black Americans were “besieged by a resurgence of violent racism, economic depression, and a national climate of selfishness marked by a retreat from civil rights” during 1986. In its annual “The State of Black America” report, the NUL noted that 15 percent of the black work force was unemployed and that black family income ""over the past dozen years” had decreased by $1,500 ""while economic need increased."" In presenting the report, NUL president John Jacob said, ""we can't forget that for six years and more, Americans have been told that racism is a thing of the past. That poverty is caused by habits of the poor. ... The result is a national climate of selfishness and a failure of government to take a positive role in ending racism and disadvantage.” The League's recommendations for solving the maladies that it identified included a ""broad-based” attack on violent racism and a call for congressional action to toughen and tighten civil rights laws. Larry Speakes, spokesman for the administration of President Ronald Reagan (which was harshly criticized in the report), said although he had not read the document, 'certainly we would share a concern with the Urban League over any increase or, for that matter, a single incident of racial intolerance or racial violence that would occur in this country.”"
1986 (Dec 20 - 23)
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Violent white youths attack and kill Black men in the predominately white Howard Beach section of Queens, New York.
One Black man was killed and two others injured after a gang of white youths attacked them in the predominately white Howard Beach section of Queens, New York. Michael Griffith, a twenty-three-year-old construction worker from Brooklyn, was hit by a car and killed on a highway while attempting to escape his attackers. Another Black man, Cedric Sandeford, age thirty-seven, was beaten with a baseball bat. The three Blacks were attacked outside a pizza parlor after being taunted with racial slurs. The three Blacks, whose car had experienced mechanical problems, had gone into the pizza parlor to call for help when they were confronted by a gang of whites yelling racial epithets and asking "What are you doing in this neighborhood,” according to a statement by New York Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward. New York Mayor Edward Koch posted a $10,000 reward “for information leading to the arrests of the assailants." On December 23, three white teenagers were ordered held without bond on second-degree murder charges in connection with the attack. Meanwhile, a group of Blacks in the Jamaica section of Queens, chanting “Howard Beach! Howard Beach!” chased and beat a white teenager who was walking to a bus stop. Mayor Koch condemned the apparent retaliation. The Howard Beach incident was another in a series of ugly racial confrontations that had occurred in various parts of the country that year. The first major encounter took place in Raleigh, North Carolina, on the eve of the first national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
1986 (Dec 10)
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Judge R. Allan Edgar dismisses a school segregation suit against the board of education of Chattanooga, Tennessee, 26 years after it was originally filed.
United States District Court Judge R. Allan Edgar dismissed a school segregation suit against the board of education of Chattanooga, Tennessee, which was first filed in 1960. Edgar commented: “Based upon their conduct for many years, there is no indication that the defendants [the school board] will take any steps to reinstitute vestiges of segregation." He ruled that the board had finally met the court order to racially integrate students and faculty. At the time of Edgar's ruling, there were nearly 23,700 students, 51.26 percent of them Black, enrolled in Chattanooga's public schools. Most recently, the school board had reassigned 185 teachers in order that the faculty at each school in the system match approximately the 60-40 white-to-Black teacher ratio system wide. The desegregation suit, filed by Black real estate agent James Mapp, was "the longest to linger” in the federal court in Chattanooga. But Mapp, whose home was bombed in 1970, said, “I think the past effects of state-imposed racial discrimination and segregation have not been completely done away with.” He cited several local schools that were still either “almost 100 percent Black or white."
1985 (Jan 7)
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Lou Brock, Black American outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Lou Brock, Black American outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals of the National Baseball League, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, New York. Brock received 315 of the 395 ballots cast (79.5 percent) by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. He was only the fifteenth ballplayer to be elected in his first year of eligibility. Brock played in the major leagues from 1961 until 1975. He began his career with the Chicago Cubs, but spent most of it with the St. Louis Cardinals. At the time of his election to the Hall of Fame, Brock still lead all players in the number of bases stolen with 938; held the National League record of 118 bases stolen in one season (1974); and held the highest batting average for World Series games (.391) in 21 games.
1988 (Dec 19)
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An internal report on equal opportunity released by the U.S. Navy finds “widespread but subtle bias against Black and Hispanic sailors and other minorities in its ranks.”
An internal report on equal opportunity released by the U.S. Navy found "widespread but subtle bias against Black and Hispanic sailors and other minorities in its ranks." Among the shortcomings cited in the report were "failure to direct recruiting ads to minority-dominated areas; enlist highly qualified Blacks; instill a sense of racial and ethnic equality in training; and guide minorities equitably into technical fields." The study also found that Black and Hispanic sailors were promoted less quickly than Whites, though rates of promotion varied from grade to grade. In response to the report, Admiral Carlisle Trost, chief of naval operations, instructed naval officers "to maintain a climate in the Navy that provides the opportunity for our people to perform and achieve realistic goals."
1988 (Dec 20)
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Max Robinson, the first Black news anchorman on American network television, dies of complications relating to AIDS in Washington, D.C., at age forty-nine.
Max Robinson, the first Black news anchorman on American network television, died of complications relating to AIDS in Washington, D.C., at age forty-nine. Robinson, who had worked as a news anchor at WTPO-TV in Washington, became a co-anchor with Peter Jennings and Frank Reynolds on the ABC-TV Network's “Evening News” in 1978. Carl Bernstein, chief of the ABC News bureau in Chicago, said Robinson was "deliberately excluded from any decision-making related to the newscast." In a speech at Smith College in February 1981, Robinson accused ABC of racism. Two years later, after the death of Reynolds, Jennings was named sole anchor of the "Evening News" and Robinson was "relegated to weekend anchor stints and news briefs." The next year he left ABC and joined WMAQ-TV in Chicago, Illinois. In June 1985, Robinson entered a hospital suffering from "emotional and physical exhaustion." He never returned to full-time news reporting. In commenting on Robinson's death, Roone Arledge, president of ABC News, said, "he made an important contribution to ABC News for which we will always be grateful."
1988 (Dec 28)
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Widespread discussion begin in Black American communities throughout the United States over the proper ethnic designation for Americans of African origins.
Widespread discussion began in Black American communities throughout the United States over the proper ethnic designation for Americans of African origins. Former Democratic presidential candidate Jesse L. Jackson, leaders of the NAACP, and others had agreed during a conference in Chicago that “African American" was the preferable term and should replace "Black," which gained prominence during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Jackson said the term African American “places us in our proper historical context." The Reverend B. Herbert Martin, head of the Human Relations Commission in Chicago, and others disagreed. Martin said a change in nomenclature from "Black to African American amounted to little more than semantics."
1988 (Dec 28)
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The School Committee of Boston, Massachusetts, votes 10-1 to allow parents to choose a public school for their children closer to home.
The School Committee of Boston, Massachusetts, voted 10-1 to allow parents to choose a public school for their children closer to home. In 1974, U.S. District Court Judge W. Arthur Garrity, Jr., had imposed a desegregation plan on the city of Boston that gave parents "little choice as to which schools” their children would attend. Garrity's latest orders in the case, however, required "only that a racial balance be maintained,” which freed the School Committee to devise a plan of its own. The new plan, which was subject to final approval by the state board of education, divided the Boston public school system into three zones of 14,000 students each, and parents could choose any school within the zone, “provided it did not upset the school's racial balance." A lottery would determine assignments in "oversubscribed" schools.
1989 (Jan)
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Andrew F. Brimmer, former Black American governor of the Federal Reserve Board, is installed as president of the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History (ASALH).
Andrew F. Brimmer, former Black American governor of the Federal Reserve Board, was installed as president of the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History (ASALH). Brimmer, who had also served as president of the nation's oldest Black history organization in 1969, returned to the leadership of the group at a time when it was just beginning to recover from severe financial difficulties. Administrative problems and a declining membership had seriously curtailed the association's ability to provide programs and deliver services in the 1980s. These financial straits had led to suspension of its two principal publications, the Journal of Negro History and the Negro History Bulletin. Just prior to Brimmer's installation, the Journal of Negro History, the oldest and most prestigious of Black scholarly journals, was revived through the assistance of Morehouse College, the base of its editorial operations. Leroy Keith, Jr., the newly inaugurated president of the college, had made the pledge to resurrect the periodical soon after taking office. Upon assuming the leadership of ASALH anew, Brimmer pledged to make a similar effort on behalf of the entire association and those it served.
1989 (Jan 14)
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Coretta Scott King resigns as president of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia.
Coretta Scott King announced her resignation as president of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia, having been president of the Center since its founding in 1974. She also announced that her successor would be her twenty-seven-year-old son, Dexter Scott King, whom she described as "uniquely qualified to assume the civil rights mantle." Mrs. King, however, said that she would remain as chief executive officer and spokesperson for the center.
1989 (Jan 15)
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President Ronald Reagan criticizes civil rights leaders for allegedly exaggerating the degree of racism in America.
On the eve of his departure from office, President Ronald Reagan criticized civil rights leaders for allegedly exaggerating the degree of racism in America. The president suggested that Black leaders were striving "to keep their cause alive and to maintain their own prominence.” In an interview with the CBS television network news program "60 Minutes," Reagan specifically said: “Sometimes I wonder if they really want what they say they want... because some of those leaders are doing very well leading organizations based on keeping alive the feeling that they're victims of prejudice." During his eight years in office, Reagan had been constantly attacked by Black leaders for allegedly seeking to thwart progress in civil rights. But in the interview, Reagan defended his position on civil rights. He pointed out that as governor of California he had "appointed more Blacks to executive and policy-making positions in government than all the previous governors of California put together." Reagan regretted that he was seen as being "on the other side" of the struggle for civil rights.
1989 (Jan 16)
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President-elect George Bush praises the life and work of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and promises to make King’s “dream of racial equality” his mission in the White House.
President-elect George Bush praised the life and work of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and promised to make King's "dream of racial equality" his mission in the White House. In a speech to the American Bicentennial Presidential Inaugural Afro-American Committee in Washington, D.C., Bush said that King had "lived a hero's life. He dreamed a hero's dreams. And he left a hero's indelible mark on the mind and imagination of a great nation. ... So today we remember the man; we pay tribute to his achievements, and we pledge once more our nation's sacred honor in continuing pursuit of his dream." In his remarks, Bush characterized King as a "great gift from God to the nation," adding, "What becomes of Martin Luther King's dreams is up to us. We must not fail him. We must not fail ourselves. And we must not fail the nation he loved so much and gave his life for. I understand that five days before becoming president of the United States of America." Bush concluded his comments by vowing to pursue equality, freedom, justice, and peace so “that bigotry and indifference to the disadvantaged will find no safe home on our shores, in our public life, in our neighborhoods or in our home, and that Reverend King's dream for his children and for ours will be fulfilled... This must be our mission together. It will, I promise, be my mission as president of the United States." The administration of Bush's predecessor, Ronald Reagan, in which the president-elect served as vice president, had faced constant criticism from Black leaders for alleged insensitivity to civil rights issues. A few days before Bush's speech, one such leader, the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, had offered that Reagan “may be the worst civil rights president we've had in recent memory."
1989 (Jan 23)
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The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, rules a program in Richmond, Virginia, which required contractors in city construction projects to set aside at least 30 percent of the value of the project for companies at least half-minority owned, as unconstitutional.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, ruled unconstitutional a program in Richmond, Virginia, which required contractors in city construction projects to set aside at least 30 percent of the value of the project for companies at least half-minority owned. The high Court said the quota was "an unlawful form of reverse discrimination." Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said local and state government could no longer rest on the "amorphous claim" that quotas were necessary remedies for past racial discrimination, adding “it is sheer speculation" to claim that if past discrimination had not occurred, there would be more minority firms. Justice O'Connor further commented: "The dearth of minority firms might have a number of explanations. For example, Whites and Blacks may simply make different 'entrepreneurial choices.'" In any event, she wrote, if quotas were not "realistically tied to any injury suffered by anyone," they were not permitted by the equal protection clause of the Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment. Justice O'Connor concluded that it was "disingenuous” to include “Spanish-speaking, Oriental, Indian, Eskimo or Aleut persons" in the affirmative action program, because no member of that "random inclusion of racial groups” had ever suffered from discrimination in Richmond. The City of Richmond v. J. A. Coson Co. case stemmed from a 1983 ordinance that required the 30 percent "set asides." At the time, although 60 percent of the population of Richmond was Black, minority-owned business had received less than 0.6 percent of the $25 million awarded in city contracts over the preceding five years. The high Court's ruling was one of the most far-reaching attacks on the notion of affirmative action since the Regents of University of California v. Allan Bakke decision in 1978.
1989 (Jan 24)
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Barbara Harris, a fifty-eight-year-old Black American, elected as the first female bishop of the Episcopal Church.
The Episcopal Church approved the election of Barbara Harris, a fifty-eight-year-old Black American, as the first female bishop in the "two-thousand-year tradition of apostolic succession, a line of bishops dating from Jesus and his apostles.” Harris was assigned to the post of suffragan, or assistant bishop, in the Diocese of Boston. Harris was first ordained an Episcopal priest in 1980, four years after the Church first approved women as priests. She had studied theology through correspondence courses and with tutors. Prior to her elevation to the bishopric, Harris was also the head of the Episcopal Church Publishing Company.
1989 (Feb 1)
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The Bureau of the Census projects that the Black population of the United States will grow 50 percent by the year 2030.
The Bureau of the Census projected that the Black population of the United States would grow 50 percent by the year 2030, but the growth of the "other races" population (primarily Native Americans, Asians, and Pacific Islanders) was expected to "be the fastest of any of the racial groups." These groups had tripled in size in the past seventeen years, increasing from 2.6 million in 1970 to 7.9 million in 1987, and are expected to be 50 percent larger by the year 2000, "double the present size by 2015, and triple its size by the year 2040." By 2040, the "other races" population could reach almost 25 million larger than it was in 1987. On the other hand, the Black population, which was 29.9 million in 1987 (7 million more than in 1970), was expected to change relatively little after 2030.
1989 (Feb 10)
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Ronald H. Brown is elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee and becomes the first Black American to lead a major American political party.
With his election as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Ronald H. Brown became the first Black American to lead a major American political party.
1989 (Feb 24)
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William Lucas, a Black American attorney from Detroit, Michigan, is nominated assistant attorney general for civil rights by President George Bush.
William Lucas, a Black American attorney from Detroit, Michigan, was nominated assistant attorney general for civil rights by President George Bush. This appointment would also make him director of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. Lucas, a 1962 graduate of the Fordham University School of Law, first joined the Justice Department in 1963 and represented the government in efforts to desegregate the public schools of Tuskegee, Alabama. He also served on the New York Police Department, was sheriff and executive of Wayne County, Michigan (of which Detroit is the county seat), and lost as the Republican candidate for governor of Michigan in 1986. The nomination of Lucas was applauded by conservative groups. Patrick B. McGuigan, a leader of the Free Congress Foundation, "a conservative research organization" in Washington, D.C., called the selection "brilliant," adding that Lucas was “a fine, courageous man who, in his career, has been willing to put himself on the line." However, it also drew expressions of concern from national civil rights organizations, however, because Lucas had indicated "that he generally opposes quotas to advance the interests of minority groups" and because of his long absence from federal service. Elaine R. Jones, an attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., charged that "it doesn't appear at first glance that he has had any substantial experience in this area in 20 years."
1989 (Feb 25 )
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Mike Tyson retains his heavyweight boxing championship with a knockout of British fighter Frank Bruno in the fifth round of a scheduled 15-round bout.
Mike Tyson retained his heavyweight boxing championship with a knockout of British fighter Frank Bruno in the fifth round of a scheduled 15-round bout. Bruno had a record of 32-3 and was the number one contender for the title at the time of the fight. Tyson went into the contest with a record of 36-0, with 32 knockouts. The Black American champion collected $8 million for the Las Vegas, Nevada, appearance, bringing his total career earnings to approximately $48 million. Bruno was paid approximately $4 million.
1989 (Feb 28)
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Acting Chicago mayor Eugene Sawyer loses in the primaries due to issues that include a lack of charisma and alienating many Blacks.
Richard M. Daley, son of the legendary Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley, defeated acting mayor Eugene Sawyer for the Democratic nomination for that city's executive office. Daley, who is White, captured 57 percent of the vote, compared to 43 percent for Sawyer, who is Black. The vote was marked by a sharp split along racial lines, but voter turnout in the Black wards of the city was lower than usual. As a result of the primary, the general election scheduled for April 11, 1989, was to be decided among three candidates: Republican Alderman Edward R. Vrdolyak, Black independent Timothy C. Evans, and Daley. The winner of that election would serve the final two years of the late Harold Washington's term in office. Washington, Chicago's first Black mayor, died of a heart attack in November 1987. His death led to the election of Sawyer as acting mayor by the Chicago City Council. Political analysts quoted by the Atlanta Constitution attributed Sawyer's defeat to: 1) a lack of charisma; 2) his alienating many Blacks because of his support for the position of acting mayor by many of the same White aldermen who had opposed Mayor Washington's policies; 3) the looming candidacy of Evans, who was endorsed by the "Harold Washington slate"; 4) an antiquated campaign based largely on grass roots support; and 5) the political experience of Daley, who had served eight years as a state senator before becoming chief prosecutor of Cook County, of which Chicago is the county seat.
1989 (Apr 1)
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Bill White, a six-time All Star first baseman, was elected president of baseball’s National League, becoming the first Black American ever to head a major professional sports league in the United States.
Bill White, a six-time All Star first baseman, was elected president of baseball's National League, becoming the first Black American ever to head a major professional sports league in the United States. White played baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals, the Philadelphia Phillies, and the New York and San Francisco Giants between 1956 and 1969. At the time of his appointment, White was a television announcer for the New York Yankees of the American League and a broadcaster with CBS Radio. Atlanta Braves vice president Hank Aaron, who had been campaigning for more Blacks in executive positions in baseball, applauded White's selection. He characterized White as "a baseball man. He knows baseball. There will be nothing that will be a surprise for him." White himself commented, "You just do the job whether you're red, yellow, purple, or whatever."
1989 (Apr 3)
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Twenty students occupy and barricade the administration building at predominantly Black Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia, demanding better policies and services.
Twenty students occupied and barricaded the administration building at predominantly Black Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia. The demonstrators' demands included "a more lenient delinquent fees policy, a Pan-African studies program, better campus services [including a new cafeteria vendor] and [after a recent dormitory fire], an upgraded physical plant." The Morris Brown demonstration followed by one month a similar campus takeover at historically Black Howard University in Washington, D.C., and by a week a Black student takeover at predominantly White Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. The campus demonstrations were reminiscent of similar protests on both Black and White campuses during the 1960s, yet the young college students differed in both tone and manner from the radicals of earlier generations. For example, there was less damage to property in the current protests and little personal rage toward college administrators. At Morris Brown College, the students called their takeover "an act of love." The demonstrators did acknowledge, however, linkages to the 1960s through their quotations of both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, and their references to similar actions in the earlier period. Yet some observers saw the current demonstrators as having too much reverence for the radicalism of the 1960s "without a full understanding of the time in which the leaders worked." Werner Sollors, a professor of Afro-American Studies at Howard University and author of a biography of Black poet Amiri Baraka (one of the heroes of today's radicals), believed that the current campus protestors were "totally misreading the historical context of [the earlier movements], so what they're doing now seems pretty wacky."
1989 (Apr 6)
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The Bureau of the Census reports that Black Americans spent a larger share of their income on housing in 1985 than all other American ethnic groups.
The Bureau of the Census reported that Black Americans spent a larger share of their income on housing in 1985 than all other American ethnic groups. The median monthly housing cost for Black households was $311 compared with $355 for all households. Because their incomes were lower, Black households spent a median of 27 percent of their income for housing costs, compared with 21 percent for all U.S. households. Housing costs for homeowners include mortgage payments, real estate taxes, property insurance, utilities, fuel, and garbage collection. Renter costs were based on contract rent and the estimated cost of utilities and fuels, if these were paid in addition to rent. The Census Bureau also reported that: 1) Black householders occupied 9.9 million housing units in 1985; 44 percent were homeowners compared with 64 percent of all households; 2) 16 percent of Black householders lived in public or subsidized housing compared with 5 percent of all householders; and 3) there were five million Black householders in single, detached homes. The median size of their unit was 1,337 square feet, or 487 square feet per person. The national average was 633 square feet per person.
1989 (Apr 29)
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Bobby Doctor, a member of the staff of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (CCR), criticizes the commission for its “ineffectiveness” during the last decade.
Bobby Doctor, a member of the staff of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (CCR), told a state CCR meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, that "federal agencies have gone to sleep on the question of civil rights enforcement." He also "attributed the ineffectiveness" of the Commission on Civil Rights "during the last decade to the anti-civil rights posture" of the administration of President Ronald Reagan. The CCR, which was established in 1957, is responsible for monitoring such federal agencies as the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for possible discrimination in education, employment, housing, and other areas. According to Doctor, "for the past seven years we have not done that." He added that during the last decade, the budget of the CCR had been cut by at least 50 percent and seven of its ten regional offices were closed. "The agency has been teetering on the brink of annihilation," he added. By not strongly enforcing civil rights compliance in federal agencies, Doctor accused the CCR of contributing to a national climate that condoned "hate activity" against minorities and such discriminatory practices as redlining, and other improper mortgage lending activities.
1989 (Jul 10)
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Black American businessmen Bertram Lee and Peter Bynoe purchase the Denver Nuggets of the National Basketball Association for $65 million, making them the first Blacks to ever own a professional sports franchise.
Black American businessmen Bertram Lee of Boston, Massachusetts, and Peter Bynoe of Chicago, Illinois, purchased the Denver Nuggets of the National Basketball Association for $65 million. They became the first Blacks ever to own a professional sports franchise. After the purchase, Lee commented, “Do we overestimate the significance of a barrier coming down? A barrier that presumably had to do with other than people's abilities or their financial wherewithal? No, I don't think so. I think the analogy about Jackie Robinson is something that is very special to me. If breaking the color barrier in ownership is sort of put up there with that, I'm honored by it."
1988 (Jul 13)
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Jesse Jackson is passed over as a vice presidential running mate of his closest primary rival Michael Dukakis.
As the date for the 1988 Democratic National Convention approached, Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis had secured enough delegate votes to win his party's nomination over his closest rival, Black American candidate Jesse Jackson. However, there were serious concerns within the Democratic Party over whether Jackson and his forces would attempt to disrupt the convention and/or enthusiastically support the party nominees in the November general elections. One of the major disputes between the Jackson and Dukakis camps was over Dukakis' selection of Lloyd Bentsen, U.S. senator from Texas, as his choice as a vice-presidential running mate. Jackson complained earlier that Dukakis "had not engaged him in their private meetings on substantial issues, such as the platform," his role in the fall campaign, and the vice-presidency, yet indicated that he would not be adverse to a vice-presidential nomination. The Jackson campaign was most angered, however, by the fact that Jackson had learned from news reporters that Dukakis had chosen Bentsen as his running mate a full hour before the governor called with the information. Although the Dukakis campaign insisted that "the slight had not been deliberate" and apologized for having caused Jackson any embarrassment, Ronald Brown, Jackson's campaign manager, said he was shocked by his client's treatment. The Bentsen incident refueled speculation in the media and in the Democratic Party as to exactly what it would take to mollify or pacify Jackson and his supporters. In an article published in the Atlanta Constitution on July 13 entitled "A Letter to My Delegates on the Road to Atlanta," Jackson said it was "not what ... Jesse wants ... but a question of what we have built."
1988 (Jul 20)
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Michael Dukakis defeats Jesse Jackson for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States.
The quest of Jesse L. Jackson for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States ended in Atlanta, Georgia. Delegates at the Democratic National Convention there gave the party's nomination to Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis. Dukakis won the votes of 2,876.25 delegates; Jackson emerged second in the contest with 1,218.5 delegate votes. Five other candidates divided nine votes. The number needed for nomination was 2,082. Jackson began his second attempt to win the Democratic nomination shortly after he failed to capture the position in 1984. He remained a visible spokesman for the civil rights of Blacks, other minorities, and women, by using his organizations Operation PUSH and the Rainbow Coalition as bases and adding the causes of labor and depressed farmers to his agenda. Unlike his race in 1984, when several major Black leaders publicly opposed his candidacy, Jackson won their support or at least neutrality in his latest quest. He was also able to persuade more Whites to back his candidacy. He campaigned as a populist, championing the cause of the downtrodden, those in "the outhouse" who were not fully sharing in the nation's opportunities, political, social, and economic. In the primary elections and caucuses prior to the convention, Jackson won the votes of 92 percent of Blacks and 12 percent of Whites. Four years earlier he had captured 77 percent of the Black vote, but only 5 percent of the White vote. Jackson's achievements in the 1988 campaign established him as the most formidable Black candidate ever to seek the American presidency.
1988 (Jul 19)
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Jesse Jackson, Black American Democratic presidential candidate delivers “Keep Hope Alive” speech to 11,000 people at the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, on the eve of the balloting for the presidential nomination.
Using the theme "Keep Hope Alive," Jesse Jackson, Black American Democratic presidential candidate, addressed 11,000 people at the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, on the eve of the balloting for the presidential nomination. The speech, in which Jackson said "America must never surrender to a high moral challenge," electrified the audience.
1988 (Jul 31)
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Willie Stargell, a former Black American baseball star with the Pittsburgh Pirates of the National League, is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in ceremonies at Cooperstown, New York.
Willie Stargell, a former Black American baseball star with the Pittsburgh Pirates of the National League, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in ceremonies at Cooperstown, New York. Stargell got 82.4 percent of the vote by being named on 352 of 427 ballots cast by the Baseball Writers Association of America. (In order to be elected, a player must be named on 75 percent of the ballots). Stargell, age forty-seven, became the first player to be selected on his first attempt since Lou Brock, another Black American, accomplished the feat in 1985. Stargell's best seasons as a baseball player were in 1971, when he scored 48 home runs, batted in 125 runs, and had a total batting average of 295; and 1973, when he hit 44 home runs, batted in 119 runs, and ended with a batting average of .299. Stargell played in the 1971 and 1979 World Series and was named the Most Valuable Player in the 1979 Series.
1988 (Aug 2)
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Joseph “Big Lester” Hankerson, Black civil rights activist, dies of a heart attack in Atlanta, Georgia, at age sixty-three.
Joseph “Big Lester" Hankerson, Black civil rights activist, died of a heart attack in Atlanta, Georgia, at age sixty-three. Hankerson, a leader of the civil rights movement in Savannah, Georgia, often marched at the side of Martin Luther King, Jr., during the 1960s. Joseph E. Lowery, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), called Hankerson "one of the earliest among the valiant field workers who was a heart and soul of the civil rights movement. They did the harsh and dangerous groundwork that made it possible for the captains and generals to claim the victory." Another veteran civil rights activist, Hosea Williams, remarked, “Big Lester was a true unsung hero. ... He contributed as much to the street movement as Dr. King did in the suite movement. He didn't go to jail as many times as I, but no one took more beatings and no one shed more blood."
1988 (Aug 11)
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M. Carl Holman, president of the National Urban Coalition, dies of cancer in Washington, D.C., at age sixty-nine.
M. Carl Holman, president of the National Urban Coalition, died of cancer in Washington, D.C., at age sixty-nine. Holman was born June 27, 1919, in Minter, Mississippi. He grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and was a magna cum laude graduate of Lincoln University. He earned master's degrees at the University of Chicago in 1944 and Yale University in 1954. After receiving his Chicago degree, Holman taught English at Hampton Institute and his alma mater, Lincoln University. Beginning in 1949, he began a long career in Georgia as a professor of English at Clark College. While in Georgia, Holman was an advisor to the student sit-in movement in Atlanta and helped to escort and protect Charlayne Hunter and Hamilton Holmes, when the two Black students desegregated the University of Georgia in 1961. He was also editor of the Atlanta Inquirer, a Black weekly newspaper that was founded as a voice for civil rights demonstrators. In 1962, Holman left Clark College to become information officer and later deputy staff director of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission (CCR) from 1962 to 1968. He then became a vice-president of the National Urban Coalition, a study and advocacy group on urban issues and policies. Holman was named president of the Coalition in 1971.
1988 (Aug 14)
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Participants at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association in Atlanta, Georgia, concluded that “the increasing absence of Black men in the workforce, on college campuses and as heads of households” is a problem that threatens “the fabric of American society.”
Participants at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association in Atlanta, Georgia, concluded that "the increasing absence of Black men in the workforce, on college campuses and as heads of households” was a problem that threatened "the fabric of American society." Statistics quoted at the meeting to substantiate the point included: 1) the leading cause of death among Black males between the ages of 15 and 24 is homicide; 2) a Black man has a 1 in 21 chance of being murdered, 6 times greater than that of other Americans; 3) the average life expectancy of 65 years for Black men is less than what it was for White men more than 40 years ago; 4) Black men represent 6 percent of the country's population but more than 40 percent of the prison population; 5) a Black man is more than twice as likely to be unemployed as a White man; and 6) Black men are increasingly absent from the home, with almost 60 percent of all births to Black women occurring out of wedlock.
1988 (Aug 27)
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More than 55,000 Americans march in Washington, D.C., to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the historic March on Washington of 1963.
More than 55,000 Americans marched in Washington, D.C., to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the historic March on Washington of 1963. The original march had drawn 250,000 people to push for passage of the Civil Rights Bill of 1964. The leaders of the new march included Democratic presidential candidates Jesse Jackson and Michael Dukakis, Benjamin Hooks of the NAACP, Coretta Scott King, widow of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and Joseph E. Lowery, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). The themes of the gathering were a tribute to King, and his memorable "I Have a Dream" speech at the 1963 march, as well as a protest against the civil rights policies of the administration of President Ronald Reagan. In addressing the latter topic, the SCLC's Lowery told the crowd, "we fought too long, we prayed too hard, we wept too bitterly, we bled too profusely, we died too young to let anybody ever turn back the clock on racial justice. We ain't going back."
1988 (Sep 1)
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William S. Sessions, director of the FBI, announces that he approved a five-year affirmative action program to hire and promote more minority employees in the Bureau.
William S. Sessions, director of the FBI, announced that he had approved a five-year affirmative action program to hire and promote more minority employees in the Bureau. The program included the hiring of an advertising agency, assignment of some of the “most capable people" to serve as recruiters, improvements in career development and training programs, internal audits of promotion procedures, equal opportunity programs, and complaint processes. Sessions also said that "from the beginning, I have tried to make the FBI's policy against racism and discrimination crystal clear to every member of the FBI, both by policy statements ... and by personally addressing employees." As Sessions issued his declaration, there were only 417 Blacks and 439 Hispanics among the 9,597 agents in the FBI. Of the Hispanic agents, 311 had filed a class action suit contending that the FBI discriminated in the promotion, discipline, and assignment of Hispanics, while a Black agent, Donald Rochon of the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, office, had filed a racial harassment charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In July 1988, Gary Miller, a White agent in the Chicago, Illinois, office, acknowledged that he and some White colleagues had harassed Rochon. The EEOC also upheld many of Rochon's complaints of actions against him while he served in the FBI's Omaha, Nebraska, office in 1983-1984 and in Chicago from 1984 to 1986.
1988 (Sep 6)
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City officials in Yonkers, New York, pay a fine of $192,000 for contempt of court for refusing to carry out a federal judge’s order to desegregate the city’s housing.
City officials in Yonkers, New York, paid a fine of $192,000 for contempt of court for refusing to carry out a federal judge's order to desegregate the city's housing.
1988 (Sep 12)
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U.S. District Court judge William H. Barbour, Jr., rules in Jackson, Mississippi, that Mississippi judges were elected in a discriminatory manner.
U.S. District Court judge William H. Barbour, Jr., ruled in Jackson, Mississippi, that Mississippi judges were elected in a discriminatory manner. The order divided some of the state's judicial districts into subdistricts where the Black majority would be 60 percent to 65 percent. This division was designed to overcome what the judge said was the White majority's bloc votes, which usually defeat the minority's preferred candidate. As a result of the ruling, eight judicial sub-districts with large Black majorities were created. At the time of the ruling, there were only three Blacks among the 111 trial and appellate judges in Mississippi, although Blacks constituted 35 percent of the state's population. In 1985, the Fund for Modern Courts, a Washington, D.C., research group, had reported that there were only 238 Blacks among the 7,500 elected judges in the United States. At that time, Blacks constituted 12 percent of the American population.
1988 (Sep 13)
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President Ronald Reagan signs a bill strengthening enforcement of the open housing law Congress passed in the wake of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968.
President Ronald Reagan signed a bill strengthening enforcement of the open housing law Congress passed in the wake of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968. The law, which was passed overwhelmingly by both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, authorized the federal government, for the first time, to seek fines of up to $100,000 against individuals or organizations found to have engaged in a pattern of housing discrimination. Under the open housing provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, the government could only mediate housing discrimination disputes. The act also extended anti-discrimination protection in housing to the handicapped and families with children. President Reagan called the new housing law the most important civil rights legislation in twenty years. He said that discrimination was “particularly tragic when it means a family is refused housing near good schools, a good job, or simply in a better neighborhood to raise children."
1988 (Sep 26)
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The New York Times reports that a seven-month New York state grand jury investigation had concluded that Tawana Brawley, a sixteen-year-old Black American, had fabricated her story of abduction and sexual abuse by a gang of White men in Wappingers Falls, New York, on November 24, 1987.
The New York Times reported that a seven-month New York state grand jury investigation had concluded that Tawana Brawley, a sixteen-year-old Black American, had fabricated her story of abduction and sexual abuse by a gang of White men in Wappingers Falls, New York, on November 24, 1987. Brawley, who disappeared from her home four days earlier, was found nude in a garbage bag with feces and racial slurs covering her body. Within days of Brawley's disappearance, her case became a focal point of protests and racial tensions throughout the state. Leaders of the protest and advisors to Brawley included the Reverend Al Sharpton, a community activist, and New York lawyers C. Vernon Mason and Alton H. Maddox, Jr. The three counseled the Brawley family not to cooperate with law enforcement authorities, whom they accused of perpetrating a cover-up in the case. Furthermore, the group contended that law enforcement officials were involved in the alleged attack on Brawley. Nevertheless, the grand jury's final report found "no evidence of any abduction, racial or sexual attack, or any other crime against Miss Brawley."
1988 (Sep 26)
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The International Olympic Committee strips Canadian Ben Johnson’s gold medal in the 100-meter dash away after he tested positive for performance-enhancing anabolic steroids.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) took Canadian Ben Johnson's gold medal in the 100-meter dash away after he tested positive for performance-enhancing anabolic steroids. The medal, which he won in the Summer Olympic Games at Seoul, South Korea, on September 24, was then presented to the second place finisher in the 100-meter, Black American Carl Lewis.
1988 (Oct 3)
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Forbes Magazine reports that Michael Jackson, a thirty-year-old Black American, is the world’s highest paid entertainer, earning an estimated $60 million during 1988.
Forbes Magazine reported that Michael Jackson, a thirty-year-old Black American, had become the world's highest paid entertainer, earning an estimated $60 million during 1988. Jackson was ranked ninth in Forbes' Top 40 list of wealthiest celebrities in 1987. Jackson had made about $40 million from a recent worldwide tour. The rest of his earnings came from sales of his album Bad, his autobiography Moonwalk, music publishing, and endorsements and commercials he made for the Pepsi Cola Bottling company. In 1987, the wealthiest entertainer was another Black American, comedian Bill Cosby. Cosby had an income of $84 million in 1986-87. Other Black Americans on the 1988 list were actor-comedian Eddie Murphy, talk show host Oprah Winfrey, and professional boxers Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Michael Spinks.
1988 (Oct 26)
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S. B. Fuller, founder and president of Fuller Products Company and a “dean of Black entrepreneurs,” dies of kidney failure in Blue Island, Illinois, at age eighty-three.
S. B. Fuller, founder and president of Fuller Products Company and a "dean of Black entrepreneurs," died of kidney failure in Blue Island, Illinois, at age eighty-three. Fuller, a native of Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, left school after the sixth grade and lived in poverty until his mother, who died when he was seventeen, convinced him to become a door-to-door salesman. He sold cosmetics and built a national enterprise with more than five thousand salesmen. In the 1960s, Fuller expanded his company into newspapers, appliance and department stores, and farming and beef cattle production. He is credited with teaching business acumen to John H. Johnson, publisher of the highly successful Johnson Publishing Company, and George Johnson, one of the nation's leading cosmetic manufacturers, both of Chicago, Illinois.
1988 (Nov 4)
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Comedian and television star Bill Cosby announces his intention to donate $20 million to Spelman College, an institution for Black American women in Atlanta, Georgia.
Comedian and television star Bill Cosby announced his intention to donate $20 million to Spelman College, an institution for Black American women in Atlanta, Georgia. The contribution represented the largest individual gift in the 107-year history of the college and the largest such gift ever made by a Black American. In announcing the donation, Cosby told a group of two thousand people attending an inaugural reception for Spelman's new president, Johnnetta Cole, that "Mrs. Cosby and I wanted this woman to know how much we love this school." He also urged other Blacks to do more in supporting historically Black colleges. “I think we all understand that schools need money, but I think we accepted that White folks were going to keep them alive." College officials indicated that Cosby's money would be used to construct a new academic building, establish endowed academic chairs in the fine arts, humanities, and social sciences, and strengthen the school's $42 million endowment.
1988 (Nov 4)
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Dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Building was held in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Building was held in Atlanta, Georgia. U.S. Congressman John Lewis and members of the slain civil rights leader's family participated in the ceremonies. Lewis had sponsored the bill in Congress to rename the building for King, the first federal building in the nation to bear his name.
1988 (Nov 16)
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Toni Morrison, Black American novelist, wins a 1988 Elmer Holmes Bobst Award in Arts and Letters for her “powerful and haunting” book, Beloved.
Toni Morrison, Black American novelist, won a 1988 Elmer Holmes Bobst Award in Arts and Letters for her "powerful and haunting" book, Beloved. Like Morrison's other works, Beloved draws heavily on the Black oral tradition. The Bobst Awards, sponsored by New York University, include medals and $2,000 cash prizes. Previously Morrison had won a National Book Critics Award for Song of Solomon, and the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Beloved.
1988 (Nov 24)
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Two University of Chicago researchers reports that Blacks still encounter major barriers to integrated housing in the nation’s suburbs.
Two University of Chicago researchers reported that Blacks still encounter major barriers to integrated housing in the nation's suburbs. In a report entitled "Suburbanization and Segregation in U.S. Metropolitan Areas," Douglas S. Massey and Nancy A. Denton found that Asians and Hispanics had greater contact with other races as they moved out of larger American cities than did Blacks. They concluded that "two decades after the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which, in theory, banned racial discrimination in the sale and rental of housing, Blacks have still not achieved equal access to housing in American cities and suburbs." The study was published in the November 1988 issue of the American Journal of Sociology.
1974 (Sep 27)
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The American Tobacco Company and Local 182 of the Tobacco Workers’ International Union is ordered to allow Blacks and females to “bump” white employees with less seniority.
U.S. District Judge Albert V. Bryan, Jr., in Richmond, Virginia, ordered the American Tobacco Company and Local 182 of the Tobacco Workers' International Union to allow Blacks and females to "bump" white employees with less seniority. Having found Local 182 and the American Tobacco Company's two Richmond plants guilty of sexual and racial discrimination in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Judge Bryan directed the company to freeze hiring and promoting white male supervisors and adjust retirement and pension plans in order to halt discrimination. Any white employees who were displaced would be allowed to retain their present rates in the lower classifications. Litigation in the case began in March 1973. It is believed to be the first instance in which a court has sanctioned “bumping” in a civil rights case. At the time of the decision, the tobacco company employed more than 1,000 production workers at its two plants in Richmond. Of that number, 239 were Black and 441 were female.
1974 (Sep 21)
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A study shows that white voters are reluctant to vote for Black candidates for mayor in cities where Blacks constitute a majority of the population.
White voters are reluctant to vote for Black candidates for mayor in cities where Blacks constitute a majority of the population, according to a study appearing in the September issue of Psychology Today. In comparing recent mayoral elections in Los Angeles (a white majority city) with Detroit and Atlanta (Black majority cities), the article's author, Professor Howard Schuman. Research, found that Los Angeles was the only major city where close to a majority of whites voted for a Black candidate (Thomas Bradley) in preference to a white candidate (Sam Yorty). Los Angeles, Schuman said, apparently separated the question of the candidate's own race from the issue of which race would control the city. By contrast, in Atlanta and Detroit, where whites were becoming the minority population, the elections became “full scale battles over which race would run the city.” In a previous study, Schuman had found that about 60 percent of the whites surveyed in fifteen cities said they would be willing to vote for a qualified Black mayoral candidate of their own party. Yet, he pointed out, successful Black mayoral candidates like Maynard Jackson of Atlanta and Coleman Young of Detroit received far less than half of the white vote. Schuman concluded that while whites are becoming more liberal, they are still opposed to basic, structural changes in society. At the same time, he observed, Blacks are becoming more open in their criticism of whites and are more distrustful of whites than in the past. Schuman's study is entitled “Are Whites Really More Liberal?"
1974 (Sep 17)
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The U.S. Senate approved amendments to a $39.9 billion appropriations bill to prohibit the use of federal funds for busing to achieve school desegregation.
The U.S. Senate approved amendments to a $39.9 billion appropriations bill to prohibit the use of federal funds for busing to achieve school desegregation. According to the anti-busing amendment, which was approved by a vote of 45-42, federal funds could not be used for transporting students to achieve racial balance in schools. The practical effect of the bill, however, would be minimal, since very little federal money is used for such purposes.
1974 (Sep 12)
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Marcus Wayne Chenault is convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s mother, Alberta King.
Marcus Wayne Chenault of Dayton, Ohio, was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Alberta King, mother of the slain civil rights leader, and Deacon Edward Boykin during a worship service at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on June 30, 1974. Chenault was identified as the gunman who interrupted that service with bullets. The Fulton County Court jury rejected Chenault's plea of insanity in delivering their verdict.
1974 (May 8)
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Southern Democratic Congressmen, reportedly concerned about a major increase in Black registered voters, joined with Republicans to defeat a bill which would have allowed voters to register for federal elections by postcard.
Southern Democratic Congressmen, reportedly concerned about a major increase in Black registered voters, joined with Republicans to defeat a bill (by a vote of 204 to 197) which would have allowed voters to register for federal elections by postcard.
1974 (Jun 6)
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President Richard Nixon makes racial and ethnic slurs toward Black justice Thurgood Marshall and other minorities.
The Washington Star-News reported that President Richard Nixon called the U.S. Supreme Court's only Black justice, Thurgood Marshall, a “jackass” in a tape recording of a White House conference with then-counsel John W. Dean III on February 28, 1973. In the same conversation, the President reportedly made other racial and ethnic slurs, particularly against Jews. The tape recording was one of many released to the public during the Watergate scandal.
1974 (Jun 4)
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James Meredith is nominated for Congress.
James Meredith, the first officially recognized Black student to attend the University of Mississippi, led a field of five candidates for the Democratic congressional nomination in the Fourth District of Mississippi. Meredith, a forty-three-year-old businessman, had previously run for the U.S. Senate in 1972 and the Jackson City Council in 1973. Forty-four percent of the population of the fourth district was Black at the time of the election. Meredith assessed his primary victory as a milestone in the Black struggle for self-determination and full freedom, boasting that he had won the nomination without "white folks' money" and without "white folks' niggers, white folks' colored people, and white folks' Negroes.”
1974 (Jun 30)
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Alabama’s discriminatory hiring practices show progress two years after a federal court order mandates changes.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the state of Alabama was moving toward total compliance with a federal court order issued in 1972 which required that racial discrimination in hiring be eliminated. When the suit was filed in 1970, only a few Blacks were on the state's payroll, most of these in janitorial and other low-paying jobs. As of June 30, 3,000 of the state work force of 21,000 were Black. At that rate of hiring, the state was about four years away from reaching the court-assigned goal of a 25 percent Black workforce. At the upper levels, a Black executive assistant had been hired by the head of the Public Service Commission and the Attorney General had selected several Black assistants. Alabama Governor George C. Wallace, according to the report, had named several Blacks to positions on various governmental boards, commissions, and committees but had not hired a single Black to an administrative position. The report quoted an unidentified Black leader as saying that Alabama "will someday have the most model race relations program of any state in the Union.”
1974 (Jun 30)
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Mrs. Alberta King, mother of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., is killed by a Black man.
A young Black man interrupted the worship services at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta with gunfire, killing church deacon Edward Boykin and Alberta King, mother of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Another worshipper, Mrs. Jimmie Mitchel, was wounded. The alleged gunman, identified as Marcus Chenault of Dayton, Ohio, was subdued by other worshippers, including Derek King, grandson of the slain woman. Chenault told Atlanta police that he had orders from "his god” to go to Atlanta and kill the Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr., father of the Nobel Prize-winning civil rights leader. Instead, he allegedly fired upon Mrs. King and others as the sixty-nine-year-old matriarch of the King family played “The Lord's Prayer” on a church organ. The accused slayer was described as an Ohio State University dropout who became deeply involved in a small religious cult that claimed that Blacks were descendants of the original Jews. Chenault was said to have taken the name “Servant Jacob” and discarded his original name. The cult reportedly believed that Black Christian ministers deceived Black Americans and hence were the cause of many of the social and economic woes of Blacks. Mrs. Alberta Williams King was the daughter of the Reverend Adam Daniel Williams, one of the founders of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. Her husband, a powerful religious and political figure in Atlanta for more than twenty-five years, succeeded Williams as pastor of the church. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was serving as co-pastor of the church at the time of his assassination in April 1968. Another son, the Reverend A. D. Williams King, drowned in 1969. Reacting to the tragedy, Atlanta Mayor Maynard H. Jackson compared the deaths of the King family to those of the family of the late President John F. Kennedy, stating “Never have I seen a family suffer so much for so long and yet give such brilliant leadership.”
1974 (Jun 29)
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A conspiracy is suspected in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination.
Robert Livingston, the Memphis, Tennessee, attorney handling the legal appeals of James Earl Ray, the convicted assassin of Martin Luther King, Jr., told newsmen he was convinced that a conspiracy existed in the slaying of the civil rights leader. The attorney said he was contacted on March 22, 1974, by an intermediary for the gunmen actually hired to kill King. The intermediary and two other men were prepared to testify before a grand jury that they were hired to kill King by four prominent Black and white men, according to Livingston. The theory of a conspiracy in the assassination of the famed civil rights leader had been previously discounted by law enforcement officials. They continued to insist that James Earl Ray acted alone.
1974 (Jun 26)
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Black demonstrators in Atlanta, GA, protesting a police brutality incident, are broken up by police officers armed with clubs.
Atlanta police officers armed with clubs broke up a march of about 250 Blacks and arrested fourteen people, including the demonstration's leader, Hosea Williams, president of the local chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Seven people, including three police officers, were injured in the disturbance. The violent conflict, the first in Atlanta since the riots of the 1960s, came as the marchers sought to protest the killing by police of a seventeen-year-old Black youth the previous weekend and to continue their demand that the city's police chief, John Inman, be removed from office. The Blacks arrested were charged with parading without permits. The controversial police chief defended the force used against the marchers, but the city's Black mayor, Maynard Jackson, described it as excessive. The latest incident occurred as the Georgia Supreme Court was considering whether the city of Atlanta could legally fire Inman, who was viewed by many of the city's whites as a staunch defender of law and order, but by many Blacks as a racist.
1974 (Jul 6)
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The Atlanta Constitution reports that the United Methodist Church had abolished districts that were racially segregated.
The Atlanta Constitution reported that the United Methodist Church had abolished districts that were racially segregated. According to the report, the last all-Black districts, ones in Mississippi and South Carolina, were abolished in June 1974. At the same time, Methodist officials announced that 37 of its 530 districts in the United States were now headed by ethnic minority persons, including 34 Blacks.
1974 (Jul 5)
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200 Blacks in Georgia protest the shooting of Willie Gene Carraker by white Police Chief Doug Watson.
Approximately 200 Blacks marched about seven miles along Highway 41 in Talbot County, Georgia, to protest the shooting of a young Black man by the white police chief of Woodland. Willie Gene Carraker, a twenty-five year-old Black resident of Woodland, died from gunshot wounds on June 29, 1974. The Black man's family accused Police Chief Doug Watson of aggravated assault and murder in the slaying of Carraker. These charges were subsequently dismissed by a local Justice of the Peace. In the march on July 5th, Black protesters, led by SCLC field secretary Tyrone Brooks, demanded the prosecution and removal of the chief. During the demonstration Brooks told the crowd: “We are sick and tired of white folks shooting down our young men every weekend. We are sick and tired of being treated like second class citizens.” Woodland city attorney George R. Jacobs defended the dismissal of charges against Chief Watson and advised that the matter be considered by the county grand jury in November, or by a specially called grand jury.
1974 (Jul 4)
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Several thousand protesters march on the North Carolina state capitol in Raleigh to call for an end to the death penalty in the state.
Several thousand protesters, led by Black Communist Angela Davis and SCLC president Ralph David Abernathy, marched on the North Carolina state capitol in Raleigh to call for an end to the death penalty in that state. The march, which was organized by the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, was called by its organizers "a rebirth of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, but on a higher level.” During the march, twelve picketers representing the American Nazi Party, the Ku Klux Klan, and similar groups stood alongside the route holding signs urging segregation forever as well as support for Governor George Wallace of Alabama as president of the United States. Raleigh police kept the two groups apart amid jeering and shouting. There were no major incidents or arrests. The crowd of four to five thousand protesters were invited to the city by its Black mayor, Clarence Lightner.
1974 (Jul 3)
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The funeral service for Martin Luther King Jr.’s mother, Alberta King is held in Atlanta, GA.
More than six hundred mourners, including First Lady Betty Ford, Mrs. Nelson Rockefeller, Georgia governor Jimmy Carter, and Atlanta mayor Maynard H. Jackson, attended funeral services for Alberta King, mother of the slain civil rights leader, in Atlanta, Georgia. Mrs. King was murdered by a gunman on June 30, 1974.
1974 (Jul 1)
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The United Negro College Fund receives their largest ever donation by a Black organization.
The Atlanta University Center Digest reported that the largest single gift ever donated by a Black organization was received by the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). UNCF executive director Christopher F. Edley announced that the $132,000 gift came from the Links, Inc., a national Black women's social organization. At the time, the Links had more than 130 chapters in thirty-five states across the nation. Helen G. Edmonds, a North Carolina Central University history professor and president of the Links, said that her organization “recognized the absolute importance of higher education to Black people at this point in history and agreed wholeheartedly with the UNCF slogan, A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste.”
1974 (Jan 7)
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Maryland agrees to hire more Blacks and women for the state police in response to a suit filed by the Justice Department.
The Department of Justice announced that it had obtained a consent decree whereby the state of Maryland agreed to hire more Blacks and women for the state police and assign them on a nondiscriminatory basis. The state police stipulated that they would set a goal for the force to become 16 percent Black within a five-year period and that it would no longer use a pre-employment test that had been adjudged discriminatory to Blacks and women. The Maryland agreement was made in response to a suit filed by the Justice Department on January 4, 1974.
1974 (Jan 28)
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A Brooklyn, NY middle school is ordered to create a desegregation by U.S. District Court Judge Jack B. Weinstein.
U.S. District Court Judge Jack B. Weinstein of New York City ordered federal, state, and local housing authorities, along with the city departments of police, parks, and transportation, to cooperate with city school officials in formulating plans to desegregate a junior high school in Brooklyn. As of 1973, the school in question had an enrollment of 43 percent Black, 39 percent Hispanic, and only 18 percent white. In his order, Weinstein told housing officials to develop a joint plan to undo the racial imbalance in the public housing near the school. He said all levels of government had failed to take appropriate and available steps to counter trends toward segregation in both housing and education and ruled that "federal complicity in encouraging segregated schooling through its housing programs” was unconstitutional. In his order, Weinstein directed housing authorities to include in their plan advertisements and inducements directed at the white middle class so as to stabilize the district's population. He also directed the city's department of transportation to develop busing plans for the immediate balancing of the school's enrollment. The police department was ordered to submit plans for the adequate protection of children in the area and the parks department, whose facilities were used frequently by the school, was directed to develop a desegregation plan. Weinstein set a March 1, 1974, deadline for submission and a September deadline for implementation of the joint desegregation program. The ruling, said to be the first decision of its kind, resulted from a suit filed by attorneys for the NAACP.
1974 (Jan 24)
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The city of Boston is sued for discrimination in the hiring of Black and Hispanic applicants as firemen.
The U.S. Department of Justice filed a suit in the federal court in Boston accusing the city of Boston of discrimination in the hiring of Black and Hispanic applicants as firemen. The Justice Department cited that out of twenty-one hundred firemen in Boston, only sixteen were Black and three were Hispanic, although these minorities constituted 16 percent and 4 percent of the city's population, respectively. These facts demonstrated, the department said, that the city had failed or refused to hire minorities on an equal basis with whites and had employed tests and other qualifications that had “not been shown to be required by the needs of the fire department or predictive of successful job performance.” The suit asked the district court to order city officials to begin an active recruiting program and to hire enough Black and Spanish-surnamed firemen to compensate for individuals who had taken fire department examinations but had been unfairly denied positions. In a closely related matter, the Justice Department also reported that a job-bias suit against Montgomery, Alabama, was resolved by a consent decree filed on October 3, 1972. This action, the department said, substantially expanded job opportunities for Blacks in Montgomery's city government.
1974 (Jan 21)
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The U.S. Supreme Court upholds a lower court ruling approving a school desegregation plan for Knoxville, Tennessee.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling approving a school desegregation plan for Knoxville, Tennessee. Under the approved plan, 59 percent of the city's Black students would be placed in nine schools where the Black enrollment would be 64 percent or more. Justices Powell and White dissented. Justice Marshall did not participate.
1987 (Jan 31)
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About one thousand people rallied in Louisville, Kentucky, to protest the burning of a picture of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., by Ku Klux Klansmen.
About one thousand people rallied in Louisville, Kentucky, to protest the burning of a picture of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., by Ku Klux Klansmen and what they called a resurgence of racism and racist violence in the United States.
1987 (Feb 19-20)
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About two hundred Blacks ran through the streets throwing rocks and setting fires in Tampa, Florida, after a twenty-three-year old Black man died when police tried to subdue him by using a “choke hold,” which entails applying pressure to the carotid artery.
On February 19, about two hundred Blacks ran through the streets throwing rocks and setting fires in Tampa, Florida. The disturbances began one night after a twenty-three-year old Black man died after police had tried to subdue him by using a “choke hold," which entails applying pressure to the carotid artery. On February 20, isolated incidents involving rock and bottle throwing by Black youths continued, but there were no injuries. Two people were arrested. Meanwhile, Black leaders and other volunteers walked the streets urging residents to remain calm. Before the most recent incidents, another Black man had been killed by police, and other incidents involving Blacks and law enforcement officers had occurred in December 1986, including the arrest of the New York Mets' star pitcher Dwight Gooden. Gooden had been charged with “battering police officers.” A report released on February 19, 1987, by City Attorney Michael Fogarty, however, placed some of the blame for the Gooden incident on the police. The report also called on the city of Tampa to recruit more Black police officers. At the time of these latest altercations, only 65 members of Tampa's 790 member police force were Black, and the paucity of Black police officers had been a constant complaint of local Black leaders.
1987 (Feb 26)
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Edgar Daniel “E.D.” Nixon, “one of the fathers of the civil rights movement,” dies after prostate surgery in Montgomery, Alabama, at the age of eighty-seven.
Edgar Daniel "E.D.” Nixon, “one of the fathers of the civil rights movement,” died after prostate surgery in Montgomery, Alabama, at the age of eighty-seven. Nixon was born July 12, 1899, in Montgomery. He received only about sixteen months of formal education. Between 1923 and 1964, he worked as a Pullman porter on a Birmingham-to-Cincinnati train and was a long-time member of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. In 1949, Nixon was elected president of the Alabama state NAACP. At the time that a Montgomery seamstress, Rosa Parks, refused to give up her seat on a segregated Montgomery bus to a White man, Nixon was still active in the state and local NAACP and was, according to another local NAACP official, “the most militant man in town.” Parks was also secretary of the local NAACP at the time and a close acquaintance of Nixon's. After Parks's arrest, she called Nixon, but he was unable to learn more about the situation because Montgomery police told him he was an “unauthorized person." Following his rebuff by the Montgomery police, Nixon phoned Clifford Durr, a White Montgomery lawyer sympathetic to Blacks. Durr was able to obtain the specific charge against Parks, "failing to obey a bus driver,” and urged Nixon to seek the services of NAACP lawyer Fred D. Gray. Durr further advised that the defense should be based on the unconstitutionality of the state law requiring segregation on city buses, rather than the Montgomery city ordinance relating to retaining and giving up seats. Such a defense, he suggested, could best provide “a test case" for bus segregation laws. In addition to contacting Durr and Gray immediately after Parks's arrest, Nixon is also credited with posting bail for the seamstress; informing Martin Luther King, Jr., of the arrest; proposing the Montgomery bus boycott; and helping to choose King as president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, which directed the successful 381-day boycott. Nixon is quoted as once having told a friend, referring to King, "I don't know just how, but one day I'm going to hook him to the stars.” He made the remark after hearing King preach. Nixon is also credited with avoiding a potential major division at the beginning of the boycott by declining to aspire to the leadership of the movement. This move may also have helped keep one of his rivals, Rufus Lewis, a local funeral director, from seeking the presidency of the Improvement Association, opening the way for King, who had few partisan ties, to lead the boycott. Finally, it was also Nixon who publicly browbeated recalcitrant Blacks and chided fearful ones into action. After some Black ministers urged that the boycott be keep secret, Nixon asked, “What the heck you talking about? How you going to have a mass meeting, going to boycott a city bus line, without the White folk knowing it? You ought to make up your mind right now that you either admit you are a grown man or concede to the fact that you are a bunch of scared boys.” He also told a crowd at a mass meeting, “Before you brothers and sisters get comfortable in your seats, I want to say if anybody here is afraid, he better take his hat and go home. We've worn aprons long enough. It's time for us to take them off.” According to the Reverend Ralph David Abernathy, also one of the leaders of the Montgomery boycott, Nixon “wouldn't take any mess." Nixon's home, which had a bomb tossed in its driveway during the height of the protests, is now an Alabama state historical landmark. Nixon himself was feted at a testimonial dinner in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1985. At that time, he remarked: “Fifty thousand people rose up and rocked the cradle of the Confederacy until we could sit where we wanted to on a bus. ... A whole lot of things came about because we rocked the cradle."
1987 (Mar 19)
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Alice Bond, estranged wife of former Georgia senator and civil rights activist Julian Bond, tells police in Atlanta, Georgia, that her husband and other prominent Atlantans were either users or suppliers of cocaine.
Alice Bond, estranged wife of former Georgia senator and civil rights activist Julian Bond, told police in Atlanta, Georgia, that her husband and other prominent Atlantans were either users or suppliers of cocaine. Andrew Jackson Young, the Black mayor of Atlanta, was also drawn into the matter when his name appeared as one of those individuals allegedly named by Bond, and when he made a telephone call “to counsel” her after her allegations were revealed. The accusations led to investigations by the Atlanta police, the FBI, and the U.S. attorney for the northern district of Georgia. No formal charges, however, were lodged against Senator Bond, and after a lengthy federal grand jury investigation U.S. Attorney Robert Barr announced that there was "insufficient evidence” to prosecute Mayor Young for obstruction of justice.
1987 (Apr 16 )
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A U.S. District Court jury in New York City found the New York Daily News, considered the nation’s largest general newspaper, guilty of retaliation against copy editor Causewell Vaughan, reporters Steven Duncan and David Hardy, and editor Joan Shepard because they complained of unfair treatment.
A United States District Court jury in New York City found that the New York Daily News, considered the nation's largest general newspaper, was guilty of retaliation against copy editor Causewell Vaughan, reporters Steven Duncan and David Hardy, and editor Joan Shepard because they complained of unfair treatment. The four Black journalists had filed suit against the Daily News claiming they had been denied salaries comparable to their White colleagues and were given fewer promotions. At the time of the trial, only 6.5 percent of the nation's journalists were members of minority groups. In praising the jury's verdict in the Daily News case, Albert Fitzpatrick, president of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), commented that "Blacks are under-represented in all areas of the media.”
1987 (Aug 24)
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Bayard Rustin, the Black American civil rights activist who directed the 1963 March on Washington, dies in New York City at the age of seventy-seven.
Bayard Rustin, the Black American civil rights activist who directed the 1963 March on Washington, died in New York City at the age of seventy-seven. In addition to being chief organizer of the 1963 march, Rustin was also responsible for "many of the tactics and much of the strategy” used by Martin Luther King, Jr., and other leaders of the civil rights movement. During the 1960s and 1970s he was often criticized by “more radical Blacks” because he advocated better education as the best means for Blacks to gain racial equality and because he was an apostle of non-violent protest. Yet Rustin continued to oppose nationalist and separatist ideas among Black Americans. Rustin's pacifist ideology extended at least back to World War II when he spent more than two years in jail as a conscientious objector. In the 1960s, he became an early vocal opponent of American involvement in the war in Vietnam. At the time of his death, Rustin was co-chairman of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, a social-reform lobbying group and had recently traveled to Cambodia and Haiti investigating "violence and injustice.” In its tribute to Rustin published on August 26, 1987, the Atlanta Constitution said that he “devoted his life to the fight for human rights, freedom and justice, not just in [the United States], but around the world. ... His commitments to human rights and peace were neither trendy nor shallow. . . . America is indebted to Bayard Rustin. It is a better nation because of him.”
1987 (Sep 13)
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Thurgood Marshall states in a televised interview that President Ronald Reagan ranks at “the bottom” among presidents in “protecting and advancing civil rights.”
Thurgood Marshall, at that time the only Black American ever to sit on the United States Supreme Court, said in a televised interview that President Ronald Reagan ranked at "the bottom” among presidents in “protecting and advancing civil rights.” “Honestly," Marshall said, "I think he's down with [Herbert] Hoover and that group—[Woodrow] Wilson—when we [Blacks] really didn't have a chance." Marshall went on to say that Reagan, "as the 'gatekeeper' of fairness and justice in America, had neglected his job.... I don't care whether he's the president, the governor, the mayor, the sheriff, whoever calls the shots determines whether we have integration, segregation, or decency. ... That starts exactly with the president." Marshall's remarks were broadcast on television stations affiliated with the Ganett Broadcasting Company. Marshall's off-the-bench criticisms were rare both for him and for any justice of the United States Supreme Court. When excerpts were published in newspapers prior to the actual telecast, President Reagan's advisor for domestic affairs, Gary Bauer, called them "outrageous." He said President Reagan's policies had permitted Blacks and other minorities to “enter the economic mainstream of the country." He specifically cited the president's endorsement of the 1986 tax reform act, which he claimed removed the federal tax burden from millions of poor people, and the president's proposals to help low income families buy public housing and to receive cash vouchers to pay for their children's tuition at better schools. Justice Marshall's criticisms echoed those of other Black American leaders who had complained for several years that the president had "tried to undercut minority hiring programs, school busing to achieve integration, the Voting Rights Act, and other efforts to prevent discrimination and advance the social and economic conditions of minorities.” The Justice Department, for example, had joined several cases in federal courts to argue against affirmative action in employment, contending that employers should exercise total “color blindness" in hiring and promotions. The government also took the side of the Norfolk, Virginia, School Board in a case challenging the use of busing to achieve racial desegregation in public schools. While domestic advisor Bauer had defended “a colorblind approach,” saying "if people are looking for us to meet certain quotas all the time, they're going to be very disappointed,” B.J. Cooper, a White House deputy press secretary, countered that Reagan's critics overlooked “the administration's crackdown on cases of racial violence and its commitment to enforce fair employment and fair housing laws.” He claimed that the administration had prosecuted 55 cases of racial violence involving 137 defendants, including 75 Ku Klux Klansmen, since Reagan took office. “That compares,” Cooper added, "with 22 cases involving 52 defendants, of whom 35 were Klansmen, in the previous Democratic administration of President Jimmy Carter.”
1987 (Sep 24)
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Members attending the annual convention of the National Black Alcoholism Council, Inc. (NBAC) in Atlanta, Georgia, declared that alcoholism was a serious threat to the continued welfare of black America.
Members attending the annual convention of the National Black Alcoholism Council, Inc. (NBAC) in Atlanta, Georgia, declared that alcoholism was a serious threat to the continued welfare of Black America. Although figures varied, it was estimated that between ten million and twenty-four million Americans were alcoholics in 1987. However, a recent government study showed that Blacks were twice as likely to die from cirrhosis than Whites and that esophageal cancer among Blacks was ten times higher than among Whites. Maxine Womble, chairwoman of the nine-year-old NBAC, said that the impact of alcoholism among Blacks could be seen in "the large number of single-parent households, the prevalence of poverty, youth gangs, violence," high dropout rates from schools, teenage pregnancies, and "Black-on-Black crime.” Some studies, for example, suggested that alcohol and drugs were involved in between 50 percent and 70 percent of the Black homicides in the United States. "A lot of what we're doing is about images and education,” Mrs. Womble said. “People in these [Black] communities must realize only they can save themselves.”
1987 (Sep 24)
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The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) issued a report that charged that Black elected officials were “victims” of harassment by various prosecutorial branches of government and the White-controlled media in disproportionate numbers.
The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) issued a report that charged that Black elected officials were “victims” of harassment by various prosecutorial branches of government and the White-controlled media in disproportionate numbers. The report concluded that while the number of Black elected officials had almost doubled between 1977 and 1987 and "some of the names in the drama... changed... the circumstances remain[ed] essentially unchanged.” The CBC contended that while black officials were rightfully scrutinized, their “scrutiny... too often issue[d] from ignoble motives; it [was] designed not to protect the public interests but to prevent the public's interest from being represented by persons of the public's choosing." An appendix to the report listed seventy-eight cases of "harassment” against Black elected officials, but almost half of the cases occurred before 1977 and several did not involve investigations by government or the press. For example, Lloyd Edwards, who ran for president of the St. James Parish in Louisiana in 1983, and Katie Jackson Booker, who ran for mayor of Ditmoor, Illinois, in 1985, were not included because of cross-burnings on their lawns. The report included, however, at least a dozen cases of Black politicians who were either brought before grand juries and never indicted or who were indicted and later acquitted since 1977. These included Kenneth Gibson, the former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, whom the study said was indicted in 1982 on 146 counts of “conspiracy misuse of funds and misconduct” and was acquitted of all the charges; Mayor Marion Barry of Washington, D.C., who was the target of an investigation of cocaine use and whose administration was probed extensively by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office for alleged corruption in the letting of contracts to minority businesses; and that of Mayor Andrew Young of Atlanta, Georgia, who appeared before a federal grand jury investigating whether he "tampered” with a witness during a probe into allegations of drug abuse by several well-known Atlanta citizens. Of Young, the report said, "for him even to have become the subject of an investigation, was widely perceived as a totally inappropriate and abusive use of prosecutorial discretion by the U.S. Attorney." The CBC report also claimed that the harassment of Black officials occurred through audits and investigations by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS); electronic surveillance, burglaries, and covert disruptive activity by various intelligence agencies; and grand jury investigations and indictments by criminal justice agencies. However, John Russell, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice, labeled the CBC report “nonsense.” He said, “I don't think those allegations can be substantiated in any way." Jackie Greene, regional director for the National Association of Black Journalists and director of editorial services at USA Today in Washington declared, “I think that Black politicians should be held to the same scrutiny that any other politician faces by the media. . . . For the most part that is being done." The CBC report was written by Mary Sawyer, a professor of religion at Iowa State University, who wrote a similar report in 1977, and was published by Voter Registration Action Inc. in Washington, D.C.
1987 (Oct 27)
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John Oliver Killens, author and teacher, dies in New York City.
John Oliver Killens, author and teacher, died in New York City. Killens was born in Macon, Georgia, but left the South at age seventeen and lived most of his life in the North. Like many other Blacks who left the South in the first half of the twentieth century, Killens was “reluctant to return” to his native region. His first extended visit to his hometown occurred in 1986, when he spent two weeks as a lecturer and writer-in-residence Killens' major novels included Youngblood (1954), And Then We Heard the Thunder (1963), and The Cotillion, or One Good Bull Is Half the Herd (1971). Youngblood was a story of “powerful courage” among ordinary Black folks in a small Georgia town, while The Cotillion was a "hilarious satire [of] social-climbing" Black Northerners. Some critics contended that Killens's later works "lacked the power” of his first two novels, Youngblood and And Then We Heard the Thunder. But at least one reviewer, Tina McElroy Ansa, asserted that if literary historians are looking for the quality of "power.... they should also look to the man. There, they will find the power they seek. The power of his teaching, the power of his courage, the power of his generosity, the power of his gentleness, the power of his example, the power of his life.” Killens was known to have inspired a generation of young Black writers, including Wesley Brown, Nikki Giovanni, Richard Perry, Janet Tolliver, and Brenda Wilkinson. His own philosophy was that “the responsibility of the writer is to take the facts and deepen them into eternal truth. Every time I sit down to the typewriter, put pen to paper,” he once said, “I'm out to change the world.” Killens was an original member of the Harlem Writers Guild and worked on Paul Robeson's newspaper, Freedom. He held fundraisers during the civil rights movement for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and traveled to Africa, China, and the Soviet Union. During his tenure on the faculty of Columbia University, Killens achieved a reputation for opening his home at night to students “for talk, food, and sometimes, shelter."
1987 (Nov 3)
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Baltimore, Maryland, elects its first Black mayor; the Black mayor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is re-elected; and the Black mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, is defeated.
Baltimore, Maryland, elected its first Black mayor; the Black mayor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was re-elected; and the Black mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, was defeated. In Baltimore, Kurt Schmoke, an attorney, prosecutor, and Rhodes Scholar, gained 100,923 votes (78.5 percent) to defeat his Republican challenger Samuel Culotta, who had 27,636 votes. In Philadelphia, Mayor W. Wilson Goode, the city's first Black mayor, gained 331,659 votes (51.1 percent) to defeat former mayor Frank Rizzo who had 317,331 votes (48 percent) with 99.13 percent of the vote counted. Goode scored heavily among Blacks who made up 40 percent of the 1.6 million residents of the nation's fifth largest city, despite lingering opposition to his decision to bomb a house occupied by MOVE, a radical Black group in 1985. The sixty-seven-year-old Rizzo continued to labor under accusations that he was a racist and had permitted police brutality against Blacks while he served as police commissioner and later as mayor. In Charlotte, Sue Myrick, a White Republican and former city councilwoman, defeated mayor Harvey Gantt, the first Black mayor of the city, 47,311 to 46,296. Myrick had accused Gantt of failing to solve the city's traffic congestion problems. Her campaign was also aided by the support of North Carolina Governor Jim Martin. Sixty-four percent of the registered voters in Charlotte were white at the time of the election.
1987 (Nov 25)
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Harold Washington, the first Black American mayor of Chicago, Illinois, dies of an apparent heart attack at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Harold Washington, the first Black American mayor of Chicago, Illinois, died of an apparent heart attack at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Washington was six months into his second term as mayor when he collapsed while working in his City Hall office. Washington was first elected mayor of Chicago in 1983 after "a bitter, racially-charged election.” He had once said he wanted to serve the city for twenty years. Washington won re-election in April 1987 after campaigning on a theme of “uniting the city's diverse racial and ethnic groups.” His first term was marred by racial divisiveness among Black and White aldermen and by White, ethnic opposition to his policies on the city council. President Ronald Reagan led those expressing grief at Washington's death. The president observed that “Harold Washington will truly be missed, not only by the people of Chicago but also by many across the country for whom he provided leadership on urban issues." Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy called Washington's death “a tragedy for Chicago and for civil rights.... He was an outstanding congressman and an outstanding mayor, and the civil rights movement in America has lost one of its greatest and most respected leaders." Representative William Gray from Pennsylvania, the most powerful Black in Congress, said Washington's death was a real great tragedy." Finally, Richard Daley, Cook County state's attorney and the son of the legendary Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley remarked, “Mayor Washington had a deep love for his city, which has suffered a tremendous loss with his passing. His name will loom forever large in the history of Chicago, and rightfully so."
1988 (Jan 6)
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The city council of Jackson, Mississippi, vote unanimously to declare a local holiday in honor of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The city council of Jackson, Mississippi, voted unanimously to declare a local holiday in honor of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The vote in Jackson raised to seven the number of Mississippi localities commemorating the birth of the slain civil rights leader. The action of the Jackson City Council followed that of the governing body of Clarksdale, a Mississippi Delta town, by just one day and also followed “disparaging remarks” that New York City mayor Ed Koch had made about the South in general, only a few days earlier. Koch, in noting a recent racial attack in New York, said such an incident was "something he expected to see in the Deep South,” but not in his region. Several Mississippi mayors wrote Koch in protest. After the Jackson vote, Councilman Louis Armstrong declared, “I think this will send a clearer message to the Mayor Koches of the world that Mississippi has changed.” E. C. Foster, the Black president of the Jackson City Council who introduced the motion to honor King, added, “Dr. King had those values most Americans shared."
1988 (Jan 18)
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Political, civil rights, and religious leaders throughout the nation lead commemorations of the third national holiday in honor of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Political, civil rights, and religious leaders throughout the nation led commemorations of the third national holiday in honor of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They generally urged Americans to renew King's struggle against injustice and intolerance of any kind. In Phoenix, Arizona, thousands marched through the downtown area demanding that the King holiday be restored. In 1987, Governor Evan Meacham had repealed the state's observance of the holiday. This action was the first of many that led to an effort to remove him from office. During the demonstration, Phoenix Mayor Terry Goddard observed that "it is time to stop having the rest of the country think of us as the site of a three-ring circus." In Los Angeles, California, celebrities and politicians led a group of singers, marching bands, and floats down a boulevard named for King to Exposition Park. In Boston, Massachusetts, Senator Edward Kennedy,commented that it was a "national disgrace that social justice [was] in retreat.” He added, “bankrupt national policies have spawned a national environment that encourages discrimination and repudiates opportunity.” In Gretna, Florida, Governor Bob Martinez led 250 marchers in a driving rain through the streets of a poverty-ridden Black neighborhood. The Republican governor told the crowd that he had felt the efforts of King's work himself. Martinez recalled that he had been told years ago that he could never become mayor of Tampa because he was both Roman Catholic and Hispanic. At Yokota Air Base in Japan, 150 Black airmen and civilians gathered on a baseball field to re-enact King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech. Jackie Chambers, a secretary at the base, recited the oration. During the ceremony Chambers stated that King “gave me the opportunity to get an education, and he's always given me the opportunity to progress.” Sergeant Earl Richard, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, commented, “I think he made a difference in everybody's life, no matter who you are, if you are an American." In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Rosa Parks, whom King once called "the great fuse" of the civil rights movement for her role in the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott of 1955, was given a replica of the Liberty Bell during ceremonies honoring King in that city. Finally, in Memphis, Tennessee, a wreath was laid at the steps of the Lorraine Motel where King was mortally wounded in 1968. Blues musicians played “When the Saints Go Marching In," and Jacqueline Smith, a motel resident who refused to leave to make way for the construction of a civil rights museum on the site, was generously applauded when she simply said “Happy birthday, Dr. King."
1988 (Jan 18)
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Hundreds of Americans, Black and White, attend the 20th annual ecumenical services honoring the birthday of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.
Hundreds of Americans, Black and White, attended the 20th annual ecumenical services honoring the birthday of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. The services were held on the third observance of the national holiday in honor of King. Among those in attendance were two Democratic presidential candidates, the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson and Senator Paul Simon from Illinois; National Security Advisor Lieutenant General Colin Powell; Senators Lowell Weicker, Jr., from Connecticut and Sam Nunn from Georgia; Congressmen John Lewis and Newt Gingrich, both from Georgia; comedian Dick Gregory, and Martin Luther King III, a Fulton County, Georgia, commissioner, and son of the martyred civil rights leader. One of the speakers at the services, Ebenezer's pastor, Joseph L. Roberts, called King a visionary and “our general of peace," and urged the crowd to continue King's work. Senator Weicker told the congregation that King's death would not be in vain if Americans remembered the ideals for which King stood. Weicker asserted: “Martin Luther King, Jr., did not wait for the multitude. He talked and wrote and marched through the intimidation, through the violence. ... And in the end, even his death was an ally, and his example lives as powerfully as the man.” Another speaker, the Rev. Joseph Lowery, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), cautioned that “the holiday cannot lose sight of the holy day and close the curtain before the crowning victory is won. ... The holy day reminds us that the holiday honors an individual but also a struggle and a people who are on fire for justice and liberty." Later in the day, more than 200,000 people from throughout the United States and abroad stood in a drizzle in downtown Atlanta to watch the third annual Martin Luther King, Jr., National Holiday Parade. Floats and banners in the procession included “Free South Africa,” “Prejudice Is a Handicap,” “Civil Rights/ Gay Rights. Same Struggle, Same Fight," and “Stop the Death Penalty.” The Atlanta Constitution conducted an informal poll of children along the parade route, asking "Who was Martin Luther King, Jr.?" A third grader, Michael Paisant of Duluth, Georgia, responded typically, "he was a peacemaker."
1988 (Jan 23)
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Jon Lester, a White teenager, is sentenced in New York City to a prison term of ten to thirty years for his part in the beating death of a Black man in the Howard Beach section of Queens in December 1986.
Jon Lester, a White teenager, was sentenced in New York City to a prison term of ten to thirty years for his part in the beating death of a Black man in the Howard Beach section of Queens in December 1986. The assault of three Black men in the predominantly white neighborhood inflamed racial tensions in the city and led to several days of protest demonstrations. Lester was the first of three convicted White teenagers to be sentenced. Lester's attorney, Bryan Levinson, said after the sentencing that his client should not have been sentenced "so harshly because this was a reckless act, not an intentional act.” However, Justice Thomas Demakos, who sentenced the youth to the maximum term under the law, commented that Lester showed “no remorse, no suggestion of guilt," but instead demonstrated a "pretty close to craven indifference to life.” The judge also added that the three Black victims were attacked “just because they [were] Black. ... Make no mistake. ... There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it: This was racial violence.” The Reverend Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist who had led demonstrations against the assault, said “the stiff sentencing vindicated those who pressed for appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the case.” Sharpton also contended that Lester's sentence was "an affirmation that racism and racist violence will not have a place in our society."
1988 (Jan 31)
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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the results of a poll showing that 75 percent of Alabama’s white residents favored the continued flying of the Confederate flag over the state capitol at Montgomery.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the results of a poll showing that 75 percent of Alabama's white residents favored the continued flying of the Confederate flag over the state capitol at Montgomery. In December 1987, the Alabama NAACP announced a campaign to remove the flag from the statehouse, and the organization's state director, Thomas Reed, said he would climb the flagpole and tear it down. Yet Alabama governor Guy Hunt assured that the flag would remain unless a majority of Alabamians wanted it removed. The poll also revealed that 63 percent of the four hundred people queried believed that the Confederate flag should fly over state office buildings. But among Whites, 75 percent wanted the flag to continue to fly, while 53 percent of Blacks said the flag should be removed. In 1988, Alabama and South Carolina were the only two southern states that continued to officially fly the Confederate flag. Mississippi and Georgia incorporated the Confederate symbol into their state flags. Some Blacks in these states have periodically protested the use of the Confederate symbol by public agencies and institutions. They contended that its identification with the pro-slavery states in the American Civil War made it a racist emblem.
1988 (Jan 31)
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Doug Williams, the Black American quarterback of the Washington Redskins, was named the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XXII.
Doug Williams, the Black American quarterback of the Washington Redskins, was named the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XXII. Williams, the first Black quarterback ever to start in a Super Bowl, completed 18 of 29 passes totaling 340 yards and four touchdowns. The Redskins defeated the Denver Broncos of the American Football Conference, 42-10. Of Williams' achievements, Redskins coach Joe Gibbs commented: “I think it's a great success story.... He's had some tough experiences in life, and in football. He saw the downs, but he's the type of man who has overcome them.” Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke added, “this is a tribute not only to a Black quarterback, but to a very great quarterback.” Williams, a graduate of predominantly black Grambling University in Louisiana, remarked, “I didn't come here with the Washington Redskins as a Black quarterback. I came here as a quarterback with the Washington Redskins to play a football game."
1988 (Feb 11)
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Jason Ladone, age seventeen, is sentenced to serve five to fifteen years in prison for his part in the December 20, 1986, death of Michael Griffith, a twenty-three-year-old Black man, in the Howard Beach section of Queens, New York City.
New York State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Demakos sentenced Jason Ladone, age seventeen, to five to fifteen years in prison for his part in the December 20, 1986, death of Michael Griffith, a twenty-three-year-old Black man, in the Howard Beach section of Queens, New York City. In imposing the light sentence for manslaughter and assault, Demakos rejected the defense's appeal for mercy because of Ladone's age. The judge said that on the night of the incident, the otherwise exemplary Ladone had become a "violent person.” Ladone was the only defendant in the Howard Beach assaults to plead for mercy and the only one to apologize to the victim's mother, Jean Griffith. He told Mrs. Griffith, “I am sorry ... for your senseless loss."
1988 (Feb 19)
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Several hundred students at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst hold a demonstration against racism at the institution.
Several hundred students at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst held a demonstration against racism at the institution. Shouting “Hey, hey, ho, ho, racism has got to go," the students supported an agreement reached between minorities and the school's administration after a six-day takeover of a campus building. The demonstrators also called for a two-day moratorium, beginning March 22, on attending classes. The moratorium was aimed at denouncing racism, sexism, and an alleged attack against three Puerto Rican students on February 17. Racial tensions on the Amherst campus had increased after at least two hundred Black, American Indian, and Hispanic students took over the New Africa House on February 12 to protest alleged assaults and racial slurs by White students. The occupation of the building ended on February 17 after an agreement was reached that stipulated that Chancellor Joseph Duffey would expel students who repeatedly committed acts of racial violence and that he would also promote multicultural education. About 7 percent of the university's 18,000 undergraduates were Black Americans at the time of the incidents.
1988 (Feb 20)
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Alfred Jewett, the dean of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, warns students on his campus that anyone involved in racial incidents would be subject to expulsion and other disciplinary measures.
Alfred Jewett, the dean of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, warned students on his campus that anyone involved in racial incidents would be subject to expulsion and other disciplinary measures. Jewett's warning was published in the student newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, a week after a group of students took over a building at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, to protest campus racism.
1975 (Mar 14)
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School desegregation is enforced in 125 school districts in sixteen states where voluntary desegregation was in effect. The ruling came as a result of a suit filed by the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund in 1971.
United States District Court Judge John H. Pratt in Washington, D.C. ordered the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) to quickly enforce school desegregation laws in 125 school districts in sixteen states where voluntary desegregation was in effect. The judge told HEW to begin proceedings against the school systems within two months and said that in the future only seven months would be granted for systems to formulate voluntary school desegregation plans. HEW had found within the past fifteen months that the school districts included in the order were substantially disproportionate in their racial composition. The affected districts were located in Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. The ruling came as a result of a suit filed by the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund in 1971. Failure of any district to comply with HEW requirements could mean a cut off of federal funds.
1975 (Jun 6)
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Popular newspaper, the Atlanta Constitution, reports that the FBI had been spying on Black individuals and organizations.
News reports of the FBI spying on Black individuals and organizations appeared in the Atlanta Constitution. According to the newspaper, the FBI had spied on the Afro-American Patrolmen's League since its founding in Chicago in 1968. The report quoted the Patrolmen's League founder, Renault Robinson, as saying that the FBI shared its information with Army intelligence units and with the intelligence division of the Chicago Police Department. The Afro-American's Patrolmen's League was organized to voice the particular racial grievances of Black police officers in the United States.
1975 (Jun 5)
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Joann Little, accused of murdering a North Carolina jail guard, files a $1 million damage suit against the estate of Clarence Alligood, whom Little accused of attempting to rape her in a Beaufort County jail, where she stabbed him to death.
Attorneys for Joann Little, accused of murdering a North Carolina jail guard, announced that they were filing a $1 million damage suit against the estate of the man whom Little accused of attempting to rape her in a Beaufort County jail, where she stabbed him to death. The suit claimed that the deceased guard, Clarence Alligood, acting under the color of North Carolina law, inflicted cruel and unusual punishment on Little and invaded her privacy in the alleged sexual attack. Little was being held in the Beaufort County Jail on a charge of breaking and entering at the time of the alleged assault. The suit, sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, also asked the Federal District Court in New Bern, North Carolina, to protect all female inmates from sexual abuse by male attendants at the Beaufort County Jail. The class action portion of the suit claimed that women prisoners were largely supervised by males who could see them as they bathed, undressed, or used restroom facilities; that women inmates were "confined in such a manner that male trustees, jailers, and other male persons given free run of the jail expose(d) their genitalia ... and ma[d]e vulgar and obscene remarks and gestures against the will and beyond the control" of the female inmates; that bail bondsmen were allowed access to the women's cells to conduct bonding business and at times had "made lewd and vulgar sexual propositions" to the female prisoners, and that prior to the slaying of Alligood, the women inmates were under twenty-four-hour surveillance by closed-circuit television cameras that anyone in the jailer's office could watch. Little's suit was filed as she awaited trial for the murder of Alligood.
1975 (Jun 14)
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The voting rights of minorities are affected by Mississippi’s reapportionment plan. The United States Department of Justice asks the state to adopt a new plan.
The United States Department of Justice announced in Washington that it had asked a federal court in Mississippi to order that state to adopt a new reapportionment plan for its legislature that would meet federal standards prior to the 1975 elections. The justice department asked the court specifically to prohibit the use of a reapportionment plan drawn up by the Mississippi legislature during its 1975 session and to forbid the implementation of any plan that was not cleared in advance as having met federal standards. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 required that such advanced clearance be obtained either from the U.S. Attorney General or the U.S. District Court in Washington and that any political change in an affected Southern state must meet the test of whether it would have the intent or effect of diminishing the voting rights of minorities.
1975 (Jun 12)
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A mistrial is declared in the tax evasion trial of mayor Charles Evers after being accused of pocketing campaign contributions.
Judge Dan M. Russell of the United States District Court in Jackson, Mississippi, declared a mistrial in the tax evasion trial of Fayette, Mississippi, mayor Charles Evers after an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agent suggested from the witness stand that Evers might have pocketed campaign contributions. The questionable remarks were made by IRS agent William Jack Sykes when asked about possible sources of taxable income that Evers allegedly failed to report. Sykes said, “Well, he did run for Congress.” Defense attorney Michael Fawer objected to the agent's remarks on the ground that the government's attorneys had agreed not to bring up the 1968 campaign as a source of more than $161,000 in taxable income that Evers allegedly concealed between 1968 and 1970. Although he declared a mistrial, Judge Russell refused to agree to a defense motion to dismiss the indictment against Evers.
1975 (Jul 30)
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District Court Judge James F. Gordon orders the full desegregation of the Louisville, Kentucky, public schools.
United States District Court Judge James F. Gordon ordered the full desegregation of the Louisville, Kentucky, public schools. The judge's order called for the busing of 22,600 pupils to achieve the desegregation. Judge Gordon's ruling climaxed four years of litigation by civil rights groups. The order affected a city-county system of 140,000 pupils, including about 20,000 Blacks. Judge Gordon said that all of the Louisville-Jefferson County schools were to be desegregated and each should have a Black enrollment of at least 12 percent. No school could be more than 40 percent Black. Gordon also warned those "who would resort to public disorder and violence" to oppose the desegregation to "think twice.”
1975 (Jul 3 - Aug 25)
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The NAACP files suit to compel the federal government to require Northern and Western states to end school segregation or to face the termination of their school aid, as had been done in the South.
On July 3, attorneys for the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDEF), and the Center for National Policy Review (CNPR) filed a suit in the United States District Court in Washington, D.C., to compel the federal government to require Northern and Western states to end school segregation or to face the termination of their school aid, as had been done in the South. The suit was filed on behalf of the children of eighteen families in eight Northern and Western school districts and as a class action representing the interests of minority children in thirty-three states outside of the South. The suit charged that Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) Caspar W. Weinberger had not performed his legal obligation to be certain that no federally funded school system segregated students and teachers by race or national origin. The complaint also charged that HEW had failed to act even when evidence came to its attention suggesting segregation, and that protest proceedings tended to drag on indefinitely. The suit asked that HEW make findings of noncompliance, seek voluntary compliance on a prompt basis, and then cut off federal aid if all else failed. On August 13, 1975, officials at HEW responded to the suit by calling for a meeting in Cleveland, Ohio, to plan stepped-up enforcement of school desegregation in Northern districts.
1975 (Jul 24 - 28)
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The United States Senate votes to extend the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for an additional seven years.
The United States Senate voted 77-12 to extend the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for an additional seven years. On July 28, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 346-56 to approve the same measure. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 allowed federal registrars and the Department of Justice to enable thousands of Blacks to register and vote in the South. The new law was even supported by a few Southern senators and scores of representatives from the region. Some of the Southerners had failed earlier in an attempt to extend the coverage of the law from the South to the entire nation.
1975 (Jan 8)
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Students returned to school in South Boston, Massachusetts, with more than four hundred police officers on guard as racial tension escalates.
Students returned to school in South Boston, Massachusetts, for the first time in four weeks as more than four hundred police officers kept watch on the arrival and departure of school buses. Four schools in the South Boston area had been closed since December 11, 1974, when a white student was stabbed at South Boston High School. As the students returned to school, officials announced a first day attendance of 876 out of a total of 3,000 pupils enrolled in the four affected buildings. Meanwhile, the Boston School Committee appeared before U.S. District Court Judge W. Arthur Garrity, Jr., with a new desegregation plan. The new plan, which omitted busing, was the means by which the committee hoped to avoid punishment for contempt of court for three of its five members.
1975 (Jan 8)
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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) denies the Alabama Educational Television Commission renewals of licenses for all eight of its television stations because of racial discrimination.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) denied the Alabama Educational Television Commission renewals of licenses for all eight of its television stations because of racial discrimination. The FCC said that the Alabama Commission had, between 1967 and 1970, failed to meet the high standards it expected broadcast stations to maintain. It found that the Alabama Commission had followed a racially discriminatory policy in its overall programming practices and through its "pervasive neglect” of Alabama's Black population. Furthermore, it had failed to adequately meet the needs of the public it served. Still, the FCC said the commission could continue to operate the television stations on an interim basis pending a final determination of its future. The denial of license renewal was one of the FCC's most severe and most rarely used actions.
1975 (Jan 5)
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Professor Moses W. Vaughn of the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore receives a $175,000 federal grant for his two-year study on the nutritional value of soul food.
Professor Moses W. Vaughn of the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore announced that he was studying the nutritive value of some types of soul food—the popular name for a number of items, including chitterlings, pigs' ears, pig knuckles and feet, hog maws, neck bones and pigs' tails, said to be particularly favored by African Americans. Vaughn said the study was expected to fill a gap in nutritional knowledge, for even the official Department of Agriculture handbook contained no mention of soul food pork products. Yet, according to Vaughn, consumer research organizations and the Agriculture Department had received numerous requests for information about these foods. Vaughn received a $175,000 federal grant for his two-year study.
1975 (Jan 3)
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The Swope Parkway National Bank, the only Black-operated bank in Kansas City at the time, closes.
The Swope Parkway National Bank, the only Black-operated bank in Kansas City at the time, was declared insolvent by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Officials, however, said that the bank, with total assets of $10.6 million, would be reopened on January 4 as the Deposit Insurance National Bank under FDIC receivership. The Deposit Insurance Bank stood ready to assume all of Swope's “insured and fully secure deposits.” An FDIC spokesman said these moves were being taken “in recognition of both the practical and symbolic importance of the Swope Parkway National Bank to [Kansas City's] Black community.”
1975 (Jan 29)
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Former Georgia State Senator Leroy R. Johnson is convicted of IRS fraud.
Former Georgia State Senator Leroy R. Johnson was convicted in the United States District Court in Atlanta of submitting a false statement to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in connection with his 1969 and 1970 income tax returns. Johnson was acquitted of two other charges of willfully evading some $40,000 in taxes for 1969 and 1970. Johnson's lawyers announced that they would appeal the verdict. Johnson was the first Black American elected to a Southern state legislature since Reconstruction days when he won a seat in the Georgia legislature in 1962. During his twelve years in the state legislature, he became one of the most powerful Black politicians in Georgia and the South. Johnson was defeated for reelection in 1974, after an unsuccessful campaign for mayor of Atlanta, with the tax charges against him still pending.
1975 (Jan 29)
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Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson appoints Black leaders.
Atlanta Mayor Maynard H. Jackson appointed the first full-time Black municipal traffic judge and the first Black municipal court solicitor in the city's history. Edward L. Baety, a thirty-year-old attorney who graduated from Morris Brown College and Harvard University, was named judge. Mary Welcome, a thirty-one-year-old attorney who graduated from the Howard University Law School, was named municipal court solicitor.
1975 (Jan 25)
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Nannie Mitchell, founder of the St. Louis Argus and a veteran Black business and civic leader, dies in St. Louis, Missouri.
Nannie Mitchell, founder of the St. Louis Argus and a veteran Black business and civic leader, died in St. Louis, Missouri, at age eighty-eight. In 1905, Mitchell, along with her late husband William and her brother-in-law, J. E. Mitchell, founded the We Shall Rise Insurance Company in St. Louis and began publishing a newsletter to be distributed to Black churches in the area. This newsletter eventually became the Argus, a newspaper that was published weekly starting in 1915.
1975 (Jan 25 - Feb 15)
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George C. Wallace, white politician and perennial symbol of resistance to civil rights for Blacks, began his third term as governor of Alabama. His reelection was met with much controversy in Black communities nationwide.
George C. Wallace, a perennial symbol of resistance to civil rights for Blacks, began his third term as governor of Alabama. At this inauguration, Wallace observed that social changes had been effected so smoothly in Alabama that other states might want to emulate it. Fifteen Black state legislators and the state's first Black cabinet officer, Jesse Lewis, witnessed the ceremonies. Wallace had received more Black support than ever before in his recent successful reelection campaign and his subsequent recognition by Black organizations had been the source of considerable controversy in the Black communities of the nation. John Lewis, Director of the Voter Education Project (VEP), who was assaulted during the famous Selma to Montgomery March, is one of those who opposed Black support for Wallace. In an interview with Boyd Lewis of the Atlanta Inquirer, John Lewis said: “Black people giving Wallace an award is like the Anti-Defamation League giving a posthumous award to Hitler.” Lewis also observed that "George Wallace, in spite of his condition, remains a symbol of the most brutal forms of violence inflicted against poor and Black people in Alabama. . . . There is no way you can erase that from the psyche of Black people. . . . As we celebrate Black History Week, we must not forget.... I am troubled by this newly found admiration of a man like Governor Wallace."
1975 (Jan 24)
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J. Mason Brewer, possibly the best known writer of Black folklore in the United States, dies.
J. Mason Brewer, possibly the best known writer of Black folklore in the United States, died in Commerce, Texas, at age seventy eight. Brewer wrote some of his stories and poems in Black dialect so ancient that it was difficult for most people to read. Others were written in standard English. Prior to his death, Brewer had served as a vice president of the American Folklore Society and a member of the Texas Institute of Letters and the Texas Folklore Society. He was a lecturer at Yale University, the University of Southern California, and the University of Texas, and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at East Texas State University. The late J. Frank Dobie, himself a distinguished folklorist, once called Brewer "the best storyteller of Negro folklore anywhere in the world.”
1975 (Jan 22)
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The Voter Education Project (VEP) reports on the political progress of Blacks in the 1974 general elections. Executive Director John Lewis states that the progress is small, but important.
The Voter Education Project (VEP) rendered an assessment of the political progress of Blacks in the 1974 general elections. Georgia, according to the VEP, led the South in the number of Blacks elected and reelected to public office. In elections from coroner to congressman, Georgia had 101 Blacks elected out of the 525 successful Black candidates in the region. Among the new Black officeholders in Georgia were John White, the first Black American to represent Dougherty County in the state legislature, and Henry Dodson and J. O. Wyatt, the first Black commissioners of Fulton County (of which Atlanta is the county seat). Elsewhere, Harold Ford was elected to the U.S. Congress from Memphis, Tennessee; forty-six Blacks were elected to state legislatures in Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina; and Blacks were elected to 226 city councils and commissions. In the end, however, VEP Executive Director John Lewis said “the election of 525 Blacks in a single year is a small but important step in the long march toward equity of representation in Southern politics."
1975 (Jan 22)
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The United States Commission on Civil Rights takes a more aggressive stance on enforcement of civil rights, stating that more must be done after government agencies had failed to properly enforce the new laws.
In its latest report, the United States Commission on Civil Rights said that President Gerald Ford must exert leadership to insure "vigorous and effective enforcement” of school desegregation laws. The commission was also, as in the past, highly critical of the civil rights enforcement of several governmental agencies. Noting the continued resistance to school desegregation in Boston, Massachusetts, and elsewhere, the commission said: “We are at a dangerous crossroads in connection with school desegregation. ... We cannot afford—because of organized resistance in Boston or any other community—to turn back.” It called for “extraordinary actions, including appointment by the President of a federal official who would have the responsibility of making certain federal agencies fully enforce civil rights laws. In the new report, the commission charged that the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Veterans Administration (VA) had failed to use existing federal laws to guarantee equal educational opportunities for racial minorities, non-English speaking people, and women. The HEW, according to the commission, had “diminished its overall effectiveness and credibility” by interminable negotiations with segregated school districts, rather than cutting off their federal funds. It had also failed to tell school districts what they must do to comply with civil rights laws, including the degree of busing required to desegregate schools. The IRS, the commission contended, had taken little action to make sure that private schools that received exemptions from federal taxes were operated without racial bias. The VA, which was responsible for enforcing anti-bias laws regarding profit-making schools, apprenticeship programs, and on-the job training programs, remained deficient in several areas, according to the commission. The VA, for example, had refused to examine possible discrimination in the hiring of faculty at certain schools. The latest Civil Rights Commission document was the third in a series of reports assailing the degree of civil rights enforcement under the Nixon and Ford administrations.
1988 (Feb 20)
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Attorneys for Boston University ask a Suffolk Superior Court judge to order Coretta Scott King to release tapes of conversations between her late husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and others that were secretly recorded by federal investigators.
Attorneys for Boston University asked a Suffolk Superior Court judge to order Coretta Scott King to release tapes of conversations between her late husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and others that were secretly recorded by federal investigators. The motion also asked for release of correspondence between King and his colleagues. This action was the latest round in a legal battle between the school and Mrs. King over an estimated 83,000 documents relating to her husband that were held at Boston University. Mrs. King had filed suit earlier, contending that the documents belonged in the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Non-Violent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia. She further claimed that the university had “mishandled or lost some of the papers.” The tapes sought in the suit included those reportedly sent anonymously to Mrs. King in the 1970s, after the FBI had bugged hotel rooms where Martin Luther King, Jr., was staying. Some of these tapes implicating King in alleged extramarital sexual activities were made available also to President Lyndon Johnson, members of Congress, and news reporters.
1988 (Feb 25)
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Associate Judge Stuart Nudelman of the Cook County (Illinois) Circuit Court sentences James Kalafut, a twenty-one-year-old White man, to two hundred hours of community service for his role in an assault on three Blacks in the Gage Park neighborhood in 1987.
Associate Judge Stuart Nudelman of the Cook County (Illinois) Circuit Court sentenced James Kalafut, a twenty-one-year-old White man, to two hundred hours of community service for his role in an assault on three Blacks in the Gage Park neighborhood in 1987. Kalafut, who had stated that he had been "taught to hate Black people,” was also ordered to report to the judge's chambers once a month for a year. Edward McClellan, executive secretary of the NAACP's south side Chicago branch, responded to the sentencing by declaring that Judge Nudelman had “opened up a completely new approach to dealing with an old American problem: racism.” The sharp increase in the number of racist attacks on Blacks in the 1980s led many Black American leaders to link the civil rights policies of President Ronald Reagan to such incidents, contending that the Reagan administration was hostile to civil rights advances.
1988 (Feb 27)
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A U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., in a 2-1 decision, rules that “an affirmative action plan aimed at increasing the number of Black firefighters” in the District of Columbia is unconstitutional.
A U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., in a 2-1 decision, ruled that "an affirmative action plan aimed at increasing the number of Black firefighters” in the District of Columbia was unconstitutional. The court said that “preferential treatment" for Black firefighter applicants was not needed because Blacks had not been discriminated against. The Washington, D.C., city government had set aside six out of every ten new positions in the fire department for Black applicants. In 1984, when Blacks first complained about tests being used to “screen applicants for entry-level” firefighter jobs, only 38 percent of the members of the D.C. fire department were black. Only 26 percent of the higher ranking officers were Black at the time. The population of the city was 70 percent Black. Judge Kenneth Starr wrote in the majority opinion, however, that it was undisputed that the fire department [had] consistently hired from the entire Washington metropolitan area,” where the Black population was only 29.3 percent.
1988 (Mar 1)
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Experts on race and urban affairs, some of whom worked with the Kerner Commission in producing the 1968 Report of the President’s Commission on Civil Disorders, announce that the prediction of the Commission twenty years ago that the United States was moving toward two societies—one White and affluent, the other Black and impoverished—was becoming a reality.
Experts on race and urban affairs, some of whom worked with the Kerner Commission in producing the 1968 Report of the President's Commission on Civil Disorders, announced that the prediction of the Commission twenty years ago that the United States was moving toward two societies—one White and affluent, the other Black and impoverished—was becoming a reality. A new report, published after a seven-month study following widespread racial rioting in the summer of 1987, proclaimed that “segregation by race still sharply divides American cities in both housing and schools for Blacks, and especially in schools for Hispanics.” It also contended that the nation was being torn apart “by quiet riots”: unemployment, poverty, crime, and housing and school segregation. It claimed that “less than one percent of the federal budget is spent for education, down from two percent in 1980” and that "the gap between rich and poor has widened, and there is a growing underclass.” One of the former members of the original Kerner Commission, former senator Fred Harris of Oklahoma, and the co-chairman of the new panel, former Justice Department official Roger Wilkins, offered comments on the new report at a news conference in Washington, D.C., as the new study was presented. Harris said that “twenty years later, poverty is worse, more people are poor. ... It is harder to get out of poverty now.” Wilkins added that the "quiet riots” of 1987 were caused "by racism in American culture” and economic discrimination. The original fourteen-hundred-page Kerner Report had also said that “White racism” was largely responsible for the “explosive mixture” of “poverty and frustration" in the Black communities that erupted in violence. Both Harris and Wilkins blamed the administration of President Ronald Reagan for "cutting back funds on social programs and not taking a stronger stand for equal rights in employment and housing.” The new report concluded its findings with this statement: “We know what should be done. . . . Jobs are the greatest need. Full employment is the best anti-poverty program.”
1988 (Mar 5)
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Governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts moved closer to winning the Democratic nomination for president of the United States after a “decisive victory” over his Black American rival, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, in the Wisconsin primary.
Governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts moved closer to winning the Democratic nomination for president of the United States after a "decisive victory" over his Black American rival, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, in the Wisconsin primary. As a result of the balloting, Dukakis took 43 of the state's 81 Democratic delegates, while Jackson captured 27 and Senator Albert Gore from Tennessee won 11. Before the Wisconsin primary, Dukakis led Jackson in delegates only by a margin of 691 to 682. Although Wisconsin had a Black population of only 3 percent at the time of the balloting, Jackson was expected to run very well among White blue collar workers and White liberals in the state. Yet, in the end, while Jackson won nearly all of the Black vote, he lost the White blue collar vote to Dukakis and garnered only about 25 percent of the total White vote, according to exit polls conducted by the media.
1988 (Mar 12)
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The Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Black American candidate for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination, wins precinct caucuses in the state of South Carolina.
The Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Black American candidate for the Democratic party's presidential nomination, won precinct caucuses in the state of South Carolina. In the caucus election, Jackson acquired approximately 55 percent of the delegates; 20 percent were uncommitted, 17 percent went to Tennessee senator Albert Gore, 6 percent to Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis, and two other candidates shared the remaining 2 percent. Kevin Gray, Jackson's campaign manager in South Carolina, estimated that his candidate would eventually be awarded about 25 of the 44 national convention delegates at stake in the South Carolina balloting. Although Jackson was a resident of Chicago, Illinois, he was a native of Greenville, South Carolina, had "the status of a favorite son" as well as the almost solid support of the South's second largest Black population, and had a campaign organization that worked hard with the state's 4,000 Black churches to turn out the vote. Before the South Carolina caucuses, according to figures from the Associated Press, Jackson trailed Governor Dukakis in the delegate count 459.5 to 400.5.
1988 (Mar 15)
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Chevene Bowers “C. B.” King, the first Black person to run for governor of Georgia since the Reconstruction era, dies of cancer in San Diego, California, at age sixty-four.
Chevene Bowers "C. B." King, the first Black person to run for governor of Georgia since the Reconstruction era, died of cancer in San Diego, California, at age sixty-four. King, who was also an attorney and civil rights activist, represented Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, and other civil rights leaders as well as student sit-in demonstrators during the tumultuous civil rights movement in Albany, Georgia, in 1962. He was beaten on the steps of the Dougherty County courthouse (of which Albany is the county seat) during the demonstrations. Prior to running for governor in 1970, King had also ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1964. In the governor's race, he received 70,424 votes (8.82 percent) in the Democratic primary. The victorious candidate for governor was Democrat Jimmy Carter, who was later elected president of the United States. Reacting bitterly to his defeat, King blamed it on "little Black political puppets who have exploited politics for their own selfish ends" and on Blacks who still had "social and psychological hangups" about voting for a candidate of their own race.
1988 (Mar 15)
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Pope John Paul II appointed Eugene Antonio Marino, a Black Josephite priest, as the archbishop of Atlanta, Georgia, making it was the first time that a Black American was named an archbishop in the American Roman Catholic Church.
Pope John Paul II appointed Eugene Antonio Marino, a Black Josephite priest, as the archbishop of Atlanta, Georgia. It was the first time that a Black American was named an archbishop in the American Roman Catholic Church. Marino, age fifty-three and a native of Biloxi, Mississippi, studied at St. Joseph's Seminary in Washington, D.C., from 1956 to 1962 and earned a master's degree in religious education from Fordham University. From 1962 to 1968, he taught in and directed training activities in the archdiocese of Washington, D.C. On July 13, 1971, Marino was elected to a four year term as vicar general of the Josephite Fathers. Prior to being named archbishop of Atlanta, Marino was the auxiliary bishop of Washington, D.C., and secretary of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. He was one of only twelve Black bishops in the United States at the time of his appointment as archbishop In 1985, Marino was one of the ten Black bishops who called on the National Conference of Catholic Bishops to create "a preferential option for Black Americans" to help forestall “potential explosive racial strife in our country" which was "as immediate a threat as a nuclear holocaust." Marino's appointment made him the spiritual leader of 156,000 Roman Catholics in sixty-nine counties in north Georgia, comprising the Archdiocese of Atlanta, of which ten thousand are Blacks (most of whom were members of seven churches, including three predominantly Black ones, in the city of Atlanta). In the United States, 1.3 million of the Church's 52 million members were Black in 1988.
1988 (Mar 16)
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President Ronald Reagan vetoes a civil rights bill that was designed to reverse a 1984 U.S. Supreme Court decision and restore the impact of four federal laws that prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, age, handicap, or sex.
President Ronald Reagan vetoed a civil rights bill that was designed to reverse a 1984 U.S. Supreme Court decision and restore the impact of four federal laws that prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, age, handicap, or sex. The high Court's ruling had limited "the liability for discrimination only to offending programs or activities that receive federal funds, not to an entire institution or entity." Reagan objected to the bill, which passed 75-14 in the U.S. Senate and 315-98 in the House of Representatives, because he felt it "proposed unwarranted federal intervention in the affairs of corporations and institutions with religious affiliations." But supporters of the bill contended that its provisions adequately exempted small businesses, church institutions, and farmers. Nevertheless, Reagan said the bill failed "to eliminate invidious discrimination and to ensure equality of opportunity for all Americans while preserving their basic freedoms from governmental interference and control.” Instead, he offered an alternative—a slight expansion on a previous version that had been rejected in both houses of the Congress which he said would “protect civil rights and at the same time preserve the independence of state and local governments, the freedom of religion, and the right of America's citizens to order their lives and businesses without extensive federal intrusion." Massachusetts senator Edward M. Kennedy, one of the sponsors of the legislation, called Reagan's veto "shameful."
1988 (Mar 16)
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After finishing second in the Democratic presidential primary in Illinois on March 15, Black American presidential candidate Jesse Jackson has an estimated 460.5 delegates.
After finishing second in the Democratic presidential primary in Illinois on March 15, Black American presidential candidate Jesse Jackson had an estimated 460.5 delegates. Jackson's total placed him four delegates behind the Democratic frontrunner, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, who had 464.5 delegates at the time. A total of 2,082 votes were required to capture the Democratic nomination. With almost half of the Democratic delegates chosen by March 16, Jackson had obtained more popular votes than any other Democratic contender and had combined the largest number of first and second place finishes in the balloting held in thirty states thus far.
1988 (Mar 20)
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The U.S. House of Representatives house votes to overturn a U.S. Supreme Court civil rights ruling that limits four laws banning discrimination based on age, race, sex, or handicap.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted 315-98 to overturn a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that limited four laws banning discrimination based on age, race, sex, or handicap. The same measure had been approved by the U.S. Senate on January 28, by a vote of 75-14. The legislation, known as the Civil Rights Restoration Act, requires that any institution or entity receiving federal funds, including school systems, corporations, and health facilities, must comply with civil rights statutes. It allows limited exemptions for small businesses and for institutions controlled by religious organizations. The Supreme Court, in a 1984 case involving Grove City College in Pennsylvania, had ruled that only a program or activity receiving federal funds was subject to the federal anti-bias laws. Although the case focused on a 1972 law that prohibited sex discrimination in education, the Court's decision also applied to three other civil rights laws that contained the same language at issue in the Grove City College case. After the decision, federal agencies had dropped or limited hundreds of civil rights cases. In October 1987, a federal court of appeals rejected a lawsuit by a group in Alabama, which had been joined by the federal government against the state school system. That court held that only the "allegedly discriminatory program could be sued."
1988 (Mar 20)
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Mike Tyson knocks out challenger Tony Tubbs to retain the world heavyweight boxing championship in Tokyo, Japan.
Mike Tyson knocked out challenger Tony Tubbs to retain the world heavyweight boxing championship in Tokyo, Japan. The thirty-year-old Tubbs collapsed in the second round of the scheduled fifteen-round fight in the Tokyo Dome; his cornermen asked referee Arthur Mercante to stop the fight. Tyson improved his record to 34 wins (30 by knockout) with no losses. The twenty-one-year-old Tyson was guaranteed $5 million for defending his title.
1988 (Mar 22)
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The U.S. Congress overrides President Ronald Reagan’s veto of the Civil Rights Restoration Act.
The U.S. Congress overrode President Ronald Reagan's veto of the Civil Rights Restoration Act. The vote in the Senate was 73-24 and in the House of Representatives 292-133. The new law was designed to reverse a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1984 which had limited the enforcement of previous civil rights acts. In that decision, the Court, in a case involving Grove City College in Pennsylvania, had ruled that some earlier civil rights laws "did not cover entire school systems, businesses, local governments or other entities, but only the programs receiving federal aid." The new law specifically extended coverage to entire institutions, although exemptions were provided for small businesses, churches, farmers who received price supports, and welfare recipients. President Reagan had objected on the grounds that the exemptions were inadequate and that religious freedoms were being threatened. After the veto was overridden, Republican senator Lowell Weicker from Connecticut, one of the sponsors of the measure, exclaimed: "[This] is as important a day as any of us have ever experienced or will experience in the near future. It has the potential of being a restatement... of our national commitment to equal opportunity for all."
1988 (Mar 25)
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The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that a study by the American Council on Education and the Education Commission of the United States had concluded that America must renew its commitment to the advancement of minority groups or jeopardize the future prosperity of the nation.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that a study by the American Council on Education and the Education Commission of the United States had concluded that America must renew its commitment to the advancement of minority groups or jeopardize the future prosperity of the nation. The Council and Commission report stated that "America is moving backward—not forward—in its efforts to achieve the full participation of minority citizens in the life and prosperity of the nation." The report, entitled "One Third of a Nation," also documented that "in education, employment, income, health, longevity, and other basic measures of individual and social well-being, gaps persist—and in some cases are widening—between members of minority groups and the majority population. ... If we allow these disparities to continue, the United States inevitably will suffer a compromised quality of life and a lower standard of living.... In brief, we find ourselves unable to fulfill the promise of the American dream." "One Third of a Nation" emerged from a project established in 1987 by the American Council on Education and the Education Commission of the United States because of concern over a series of racial incidents on college and university campuses and the declining proportion of minority students in college. The report noted specifically that in 1986, 31.1 percent of the nation's Blacks and 27.3 percent of its Hispanics had incomes below the poverty level-nearly three times the rate for Whites. Also, in 1986, 20.1 percent of Whites over age twenty-five had completed at least four years of college. For Blacks, the completion rate was only 10.9 percent and for Hispanics, only 8.4 percent. In the same year, Blacks were twice as likely to be unemployed than were Whites. As a result of its findings, the report recommended, among other things, that colleges and universities, particularly: 1) recruit minority students more aggressively; 2) create an academic atmosphere that nourishes and encourages minority students to stay enrolled and to succeed; 3) create a campus culture that values the diversity minorities bring to institutional life—one that responds powerfully and forthrightly to the recrudescences of racism that have occurred too often on campus in recent years; 4) place special emphasis on inspiring and recruiting minority candidates for faculty and administrative positions; and 5) work with educators at the primary and secondary levels to improve the education, training, and preparation of minority students.
1988 (Mar 31)
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Black American novelist Toni Morrison wins a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her book Beloved, a novel that depicts the agonizing reminiscences of a former enslaved person in post-Civil War Ohio.
Black American novelist Toni Morrison won a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her book Beloved. The novel depicts the agonizing reminiscences of a former enslaved person in post-Civil War Ohio. Morrison's work had provoked a controversy in the fall of 1987 when it failed to win the prestigious National Book Award. In January 1988, forty-eight Black writers had written an open letter to the New York Times Book Review protesting that failure as well as the fact that Morrison had never won the even more prestigious Pulitzer. Responding to the announcement of the award, Morrison said, "I think I know what I feel. ... I had no doubt about the value of the book and that it was really worth serious recognition. But I had some dark thoughts about whether the book's merits would be allowed to be the only consideration of the Pulitzer committee. The book had begun to take on a responsibility, an extra-literary responsibility, that it was never designed for." An excerpt from a review of Beloved by author and critic Margaret Atwood in the New York Times, September 13, 1987, follows: "In Beloved, Ms. Morrison turns away from the contemporary scene that has been her concern of late. The new novel is set after the end of the Civil War, during the period of the so-called Reconstruction, when a great deal of random violence was let loose upon Blacks, both the slaves freed by emancipation and others who had been given or bought their freedom earlier. But there are flashbacks to a more distant period, when slavery was still a going concern in the South and the seeds for the bizarre and calamitous events of the novel were sown. The setting is similarly divided: the countryside near Cincinnati, where the central characters have ended up, and a slave-holding plantation in Kentucky, ironically named Sweet Home, from which they fled 18 years before the novel begins. ...Beloved is written in an anti-minimalist prose that is by turns rich, graceful, eccentric, rough, lyrical, sinuous, colloquial, and very much to the point."
1988 (May 11)
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Tabatha Foster, a three-year-old Black American child, dies after having been the longest survivor among American children who had received multiple organ transplants.
Tabatha Foster, a three-year-old Black American child, died after having been the longest survivor among American children who had received multiple organ transplants. Tabatha had survived nearly seven months after she received the organs of a baby killed in an automobile accident in October 1987. Other children who were recipients of multiple organ transplants had survived no longer than three days.
1988 (Jun 5)
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Clarence M. Pendleton, Jr., chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission (CCR), dies of an apparent heart attack in San Diego, California, at age fifty-seven.
Clarence M. Pendleton, Jr., chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission (CCR), died of an apparent heart attack in San Diego, California, at age fifty-seven. Pendleton was born on November 10, 1930, in Louisville, Kentucky, but grew up in Washington, D.C., where his father was the first swimming coach at Howard University and an assistant director of the District of Columbia's recreation department. He received a bachelor of science degree from Howard in 1954 and worked briefly for the D.C. recreation department before joining the U.S. Army. After his release from the Army in 1957, Pendleton returned to Howard and became an instructor of physical education. In 1970, Pendleton became a director of the urban affairs department of the National Recreation and Parks Association. Two years later he moved to San Diego to take a position as director of the Model Cities program there. By 1975, Pendleton had become head of the San Diego Urban League. He was the only one of more than 150 officers in the League to support the presidential candidacy of former California governor Ronald Reagan. By 1980, Pendleton had abandoned what he called his "bleeding-heart liberalism" and switched to the Republican party. On November 16, 1981, President Reagan appointed him chairman of the CCR. As CCR chairman, Pendleton followed Reagan's desires and led the commission toward a "color-blind" approach to matters of civil rights. He opposed busing to achieve school desegregation and called affirmative action a "bankrupt policy." Civil rights leaders, some political leaders, and even some members of the CCR itself expressed shock at the stances that the commission's first Black chairman took. Congress responded by cutting the CCR's budget from $11.6 million in 1985 to only $7.5 million in 1986. These cuts caused a considerable slowing of activity at the CCR. After Pendleton's death, William Bradford Reynolds, assistant attorney general for civil rights, called him "a man who felt very deeply that the individuals in America should deal with one another as brothers and sisters totally without regard to race and background."
1988 (Jun 17)
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Alabama state representative Thomas Reed, who also served as president of the state’s NAACP, is indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of accepting more than $15,000 in cash and restaurant equipment to secure the early release of a convicted murderer, Anthony Chesser.
Alabama state representative Thomas Reed, who also served as president of the state's NAACP, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of accepting more than $15,000 in cash and restaurant equipment to secure the early release of a convicted murderer, Anthony Chesser. According to the indictment, Chesser's family paid Reed to use his position as a member of the Legislature's Joint Prison Committee to get "the state Department of Corrections to place Chesser in a work release program and get the Board of Pardons and Paroles to move up his date for parole consideration by 51/2 years." At the time, Chesser was serving a 40-year sentence in a 1984 conviction for murdering his wife. Reed, age sixty, was one of fourteen Black state legislators arrested February 2, 1988, when they tried to remove the Confederate flag from the Alabama state capitol at Montgomery. Reed, who was also a member of the Board of Trustees of Tuskegee University, refused to comment on his indictment except to reiterate his innocence.
1988 (Jul 1)
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William H. Harris, a forty-four-year-old Black historian, is named President of Texas Southern University in Houston.
William H. Harris, a forty-four-year-old Black historian, assumed the presidency of Texas Southern University in Houston. Harris, a native of Fitzgerald, Georgia, had previously been president of Paine College in Georgia, and a professor of history and associate dean of the graduate school at Indiana University in Bloomington. At the time of his selection to the Texas Southern presidency, Harris was also completing a three-year term as president of the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History (ASALH). At his inaugural ceremonies, which were attended by the new president's ninety-eight-year-old grandmother, Mary Graham, Harris commented, "we now begin to speak in one voice, play by one score and the theme of that voice and score will be academic excellence."
1988 (Jul 11)
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The Atlanta Constitution reports results of a poll that revealed that if Black American presidential candidate Jesse Jackson was not offered the vice presidential nomination or did not signal his support for the presidential ticket, more than a third of the delegates to the Democratic National Convention indicated that they would be less likely to support the party in the 1988 presidential election.
The Atlanta Constitution reported results of a poll that revealed that if Black American presidential candidate Jesse Jackson was not offered the vice presidential nomination or did not signal his support for the presidential ticket, more than a third of the delegates to the Democratic National Convention indicated that they would be less likely to support the party in the 1988 presidential election. The poll showed a strong potential for disunity among Democratic party delegates as they headed to the National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, on July 18. Another important result of the poll was that 20 percent of the delegates polled thought Jackson was “pulling the party too far to the left." Among delegates pledged to Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis, 24 percent expressed that sentiment, compared with only 5 percent of the Jackson delegates. The poll was conducted from June 15 to July 7, 1988. It included interviews with 1,921 delegates and alternates pledged to Governor Dukakis, 935 pledged to the Reverend Jackson, and 447 who were “either uncommitted or technically committed" to other candidates who had dropped out of the presidential race.
1983 (Jan)
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Bryant Gumbel is named co-host of the “Today” show with Jane Pauley on NBC.
Bryant Gumbel began co-hosting the “Today" show with Jane Pauley on NBC. Gumbel was born Sept. 29, 1948, to Rhea and Richard Gumbel in New Orleans, Louisiana. Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, awarded him a liberal arts degree in 1970. He worked as a sports writer and editor-in-chief for Black Sports Magazine before entering broadcasting. In 1972 Gumbel became the weekend sportscaster for KNBC. Gumbel retired from the “Today” show January 3, 1997.
1983 (Jan 6)
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United States District Court Judge Milton Shadur upholds the constitutionality of a new desegregation plan for the public schools of Chicago, Illinois, that would have no school more than 70 percent white.
United States District Court Judge Milton Shadur upheld the constitutionality of a new desegregation plan for the public schools of Chicago, Illinois. The plan pledged that by September 1983, no school would be more than 70 percent white. It relied largely on “magnet schools” and voluntary transfers, with 180 programs from which students of all races and ethnic groups could choose. At the time of the ruling, only 16.3 percent of white students were in the public schools of Chicago and more than 100,000 of 435,000 students were in desegregated settings.
1983 (Jan 15)
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Martin Luther King, Sr., and Richard Attenborough, the British film maker who produced and directed the epic motion picture Gandhi, are named co-recipients of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Non-Violent Peace Prize.
Martin Luther King, Sr., and Richard Attenborough, the British film maker who produced and directed the epic motion picture Gandhi, were named co-recipients of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Non-Violent Peace Prize. The awards were presented by Coretta Scott King, president of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Non-Violent Social Change and widow of the slain civil rights leader, at ceremonies marking the 15th annual observance of King Jr.'s birthday in Atlanta, Georgia. Each man was given a medal inscribed with a quote from a King, Jr., speech: “Now the judgment of God is upon us, and we must all live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools.” They were also presented checks for $1,000. Upon receipt of his award, Attenborough recalled that in the Gandhi Museum in New Delhi there was one picture in the great hall,” the picture of Martin Luther King, Jr. “That is fitting,” he said, because “no one—and there are many who claim to-followed his teachings more closely than Dr. King.... I feel more touched now than I can ever remember on any occasion in my life.” King, Sr., thanked his family for helping him through the deaths of his two sons and his wife and thanked "God for what he left me."
1983 (Jan 19)
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In its annual report on the “State of Black America,” the National Urban League (NUL) claims that Blacks ended 1982 “in worse shape than in 1981″ and expressed concern that “an economic recovery would bypass many minority Americans.”
In its annual report on the “State of Black America,” the National Urban League (NUL) claimed that Blacks ended 1982 “in worse shape than in 1981" and expressed concern that “an economic recovery would bypass many minority Americans.” The League added that Blacks had continued to be hurt by the severity of the economic recession and by federal cutbacks in domestic social service programs. “Vital survival programs were slashed at the same time that the Black economy was plunged even deeper into depression. The result was to drive already disadvantaged people to the wall,” according to John Jacob, president of the NUL. Jacob also contended that many Black Americans would not benefit from an economic upturn. “We've never fully participated in post recession recoveries,” Jacob said. He also noted that Black employment was concentrated in automobile and other heavy industries that were hit hard by the recession, and he predicted that those industries would never employ as many people as in the past. “A major question facing the nation in 1983 is whether the inevitable restructuring of the American economy will include Black people,” Jacob asserted. Jacob also claimed that President Ronald Reagan didn't understand the effects his economic policies were "having on the nation's poor. ... He is looking at the world through rose-colored glasses, both of which are painted black." The NUL maintained that federal programs serving the poor had been cut by $10 billion in 1972. As a result, welfare rolls had fallen by one million people, the federal school lunch program was serving about one million fewer children, one million people weren't getting federal food stamps any longer, and 200,000 infants and pregnant women weren't receiving federal nutrition aid. The NUL recommended that Congress pass "a broad job-training and job creation program" and that it resist efforts by President Ronald Reagan to decrease money for several federal civil rights enforcement agencies. It also urged the Reagan administration not to reduce Social Security benefits in "an attempt to bolster the nation's financially beleaguered retirement system.” The League report concluded: "We are not recommending a 'welfare state,' but certainly some better way has to be found to take care of our people than we presently practice.” The administration of President Reagan continued to reject suggestions by the NUL and other civil rights groups and leaders that its policies were unfair or insensitive to the concerns of minorities. Yet criticisms continued from these as well as other sources. The Atlanta Constitution, in an editorial on December 15, 1982, had made sharp and specific attacks on the Reagan administration's civil rights policies.
1983 (Jan 25)
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The United States Supreme Court refuses to hear a challenge to a busing plan to achieve school desegregation in Nashville, Tennessee, that required elementary school pupils to be bused rather than attend neighborhood schools.
The United States Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to a busing plan to achieve school desegregation in Nashville, Tennessee. The plan required elementary school pupils to be bused rather than attend neighborhood schools. It had been opposed by the Department of Justice, which contended that "busing does not work.” After the Court's action, Assistant Attorney General William Bradford Reynolds remarked that the decision "in no way indicates that the legal issue of mandatory busing is closed. ... We see no reason for a change of this administration's position of advancing alternatives to mandatory transportation to remedy intentional school segregation.” But the decision pleased Avon N. Williams, Jr., a civil rights lawyer who had fought segregation in Nashville's schools for over twenty-five years. Williams stated: “I think all right-thinking people were or should have been shocked that the Justice Department, for the first time in several decades, intervened on the side of segregation and discrimination."
1983 (Feb 12)
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Eubie Blake, Black-American ragtime pianist composer, dies of natural causes in Brooklyn, New York, after having celebrated his one-hundredth birthday on February 7.
Eubie Blake, Black-American ragtime pianist composer, died of natural causes in Brooklyn, New York, after having celebrated his one-hundredth birthday on February 7. Blake, the son of former slaves, was born in Baltimore, Maryland. At the age of four, he wandered into a music store while his mother was shopping and began to play a pump organ. A salesman convinced his mother that the boy had "a God-given talent" and she purchased the $75 instrument. Blake learned about ragtime by tagging after Black funeral processions, where he heard melodies played as dirges on the way to the cemetery and "ragged” on the way back. In his biography, Eubie Blake by Al Rose, he recalled the processions and exclaimed, “Oh how they'd swing." Like most young Black musicians of his time, Blake began his career as a pianist playing in a local bordello. He was fifteen at the time and his mother, Emily Blake, a deeply religious woman, was mortified when she found out. His father, however, convinced her to allow him to continue to play, especially since he contributed a portion of his earnings to the family. Blake wrote his first composition, Charleston Rag, in 1899 (although it was not notated until 1915). Yet Blake observed in his memoirs that "it ain't until modern times that I ever really looked at it as a piece of music.” His biographer Rose also observed that Blake “considered most of what he composed a mere point of departure for his personal improvisations. The music on the paper wasn't designed to be played literally. In fact, it would change in each rendition.” After 1915, Blake collaborated with bandleader Noble Sissle, who served not only as a lyricist but also a business agent. Then, in 1921, Blake composed Shuffle Along, one of the first Black musicals to appear on Broadway. It played for 504 performances and helped launch the careers of Josephine Baker, Florence Mills, and Paul Robeson, among others. The song Love Will Find a Way made musical history depicting Blacks as people with a full range of emotions. Shuffle Along was such a success that police had to make 63rd Street in New York into a one-way thoroughfare in order to handle the crowds. After Broadway, the show toured the country in three companies. Another of Blake's shows, Blackbirds (with lyrics by Andy Razaf), became a big hit in 1930. It featured John Bubbles, Buck Washington, and Ethel Waters and such famous tunes as Memories of You and You're Lucky to Me. Blake's popularity began to wane during the Great Depression of the 1930s, and he himself fell into a state of dejection and depression following the death of his wife of twenty-eight years, Avis, in 1939. He emerged to play in USO camps and military hospitals during World War II. In 1945, Blake married Marion Tyler, a former showgirl and secretary, who helped him put his personal life and business affairs back in order. But it was not until the 1960s, with the increased awareness of Scott Joplin and ragtime (furthered by the emergence of the Black consciousness and Black studies movements), that Blake became known to new generations of music lovers. In 1969, Columbia Records signed him to a massive recording project. At the time, Blake was the oldest living exponent of ragtime, and scores of fans hummed I'm Just Wild About Harry, the hit tune from Shuffle Along, and the song that also became the theme song for Harry Truman's 1948 presidential campaign.
1983 (Feb 16)
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Luis Alvarez, a police officer in Miami, Florida, is indicted by the Dade County grand jury for manslaughter in the shooting death of Nevell Johnson, Jr., a twenty-one-year-old Black man, on December 28, 1982.
Luis Alvarez, a police officer in Miami, Florida, was indicted by the Dade County (of which Miami is the county seat) grand jury for manslaughter in the shooting death of Nevell Johnson, Jr., a twenty-one-year-old Black man, on December 28, 1982. The killing of Johnson had sparked two days of racial rioting in the Overtown section of Miami. Garth Reeves, editor of the Miami Times, a Black newspaper, said the indictment of Alvarez would probably satisfy "the Black communities, although he (Alvarez) had expected a harsher charge." He added: "For so long, police killings have gone unindicted. so this is a small victory of sorts."
1983 (Feb 23)
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Former Black American congressman Harold Washington wins the Democratic primary election for mayor of Chicago, Illinois.
Former Black American congressman Harold Washington won the Democratic primary election for mayor of Chicago, Illinois. Washington defeated incumbent Mayor Jane Byrne by 32,810 votes in a race that drew a record 1.2 million voters. Washington's election came after a bitter and racially divisive campaign. While the Black American candidate appealed to Whites for their votes, he built the foundation of his quest on turning out a solid block of Black voters. Washington repeatedly told them that “it's our turn. ... We don't need to apologize for it, and we're not going to waste a lot of time explaining it. ... It's our turn—that's all.” In the end, Washington garnered about 85 percent of the votes cast by Blacks. The new Democratic nominee was born in Chicago, the son of an attorney and a Democratic precinct captain. He attended Roosevelt College in Chicago and the Northwestern University Law School. Before his election to the U.S. Congress, Washington was a city prosecutor, an arbitrator for the Illinois Industrial Commission, a state legislator, and a Democratic precinct captain in Chicago. The sixty-year-old-nominee had also served in the Army Air Corps during World War II.
1983 (Feb 23)
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Herschel Walker, the Black American collegiate football player who received the Heisman Trophy in December 1982, signs the largest contract in football history with the New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League.
Herschel Walker, the Black American collegiate football player who received the Heisman Trophy in December 1982, signed the biggest contract in football history with the New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League. The value of the three-year contract was estimated at more than $8 million. Walker, a resident of Wrightsville, Georgia, passed up his senior year at the University of Georgia in order to join the Generals.
1983 (Apr 4)
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Twenty-two school districts in St. Louis County, Missouri, agree to a desegregation plan to begin the nation’s first widespread voluntary school busing between a major city and its suburbs.
Twenty-two school districts in St. Louis County, Missouri, agreed to a desegregation plan to begin the nation's first widespread voluntary school busing between a major city and its suburbs. The accord came just before a deadline imposed by United States District Judge William L.Hungate in an eleven-year-old desegregation suit. Under the plan, all transfers would be voluntary. Predominantly White suburban school districts agreed to accept Black students from the city of St. Louis until “their racial balance was at least 15 percent, but no more than 25 percent, Black.” In order to achieve the ratios, fifteen thousand Black students would have to be bused to suburban schools in the fall of 1983. White suburban students would be encouraged to attend “magnet schools” in the city and city schools would be improved. Teachers were also to be reassigned to achieve more racial balance.
1983 (Apr 7)
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Hodding Carter III, one of the nation’s leading journalists and a correspondent for the PBS network, gives a broad assessment of Dr. King’s meaning for America, then and now, in the April 7, 1983, edition of the Wall Street Journal.
As the nation marked the fifteenth anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with memorial services across the country, Hodding Carter III, one of the nation's leading journalists and a correspondent for the PBS network, gave a broad assessment of King's meaning for America, then and now, in the April 7, 1983, edition of the Wall Street Journal.
1983 (Apr 12)
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Former Black American congressman Harold Washington defeats Republican lawyer Bernard Epton to become the first Black mayor of Chicago, Illinois.
Former Black American congressman Harold Washington defeated Republican lawyer Bernard Epton to become the first Black mayor of Chicago, Illinois. Washington, a Democrat, captured 636,136 votes (51.5 percent) to 595,694 (48.2 percent) for Epton, totaling 96 percent of 2,914 precincts. Washington's victory was made possible by a very heavy turnout of Black voters, strong Hispanic support, and some support from middle class Whites, although the election had been marked by serious racial divisions. On March 27, for example, an angry white crowd forced Washington to curtail a campaign appearance at a Catholic church in a white area of the city. The group waved signs in support of candidate Epton, who later denounced the incident.
1983 (Apr 19-20)
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On April 19, about one hundred Black students prayed and sang in front of the administration building at the University of Mississippi at Oxford in a protest against the use of the Confederate flag as a symbol of the university.
On April 19, about one hundred Black students prayed and sang in front of the administration building at the University of Mississippi at Oxford in a protest against the use of the Confederate flag as a symbol of the university. During the previous night, several hundred White students had waved the flag and sang the Confederate battle song, “Dixie," in front of a Black fraternity house on the campus. Charles Griffin, a Black student, told reporters that the Whites also yelled "nigger night" and "save the flag." In the fall of 1982, some Black students at the university had called for the banning of the rebel flag, the display of the Colonel Reb cartoon mascot, and the singing of “Dixie" at athletic games. John Hawkins, the first Black varsity cheerleader at the university, refused to wave the flag as he lead cheers at football games. The protesting Blacks said the Confederate symbols were both racist and offensive. On April 20, Porter Fortune, chancellor of the University of Mississippi, announced that the Confederate flag would no longer be used as a school symbol. But Black students complained because the statement did not ban individuals from continuing to wave the flag on campus or at athletic contests, nor did it prohibit the use of the Colonel Reb mascot or the singing of “Dixie.” A group of White students cheered the chancellor's announcement and waved Confederate flags.
1983 (Jun 17)
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Nelson W. Trout is elected Bishop of the American Lutheran Church’s South Pacific District, becoming the first Black person ever elected to full-time office among North American Lutheran Church bodies.
Nelson W. Trout, the sixty-two-year-old professor and director of minority studies at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, was elected Bishop of the American Lutheran Church's South Pacific District (located in California), becoming the first Black person ever elected to full-time office among North American Lutheran Church bodies. The members of the Lutheran Church in the United States have been historically concentrated among Scandinavian and Germanic ethnic groups in the East and Midwest and had little success in attracting large members of Blacks to the denomination. Election of Blacks to positions of "prominence in predominantly-White denominations has been a way of returning the church's focus to Black concerns," according to the National Leader, a Black-oriented news digest. Trout himself said of his election, “It's the one exception that defies the rule. It does not mean that the rapture has come or anything like that. It means that at a certain time and place the Lord was in our midst and He blessed us."
1983 (Jun 22)
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The state senate of Louisiana repeals the last of the nation’s racial classification laws.
The state senate of Louisiana repealed the last of the nation's racial classification laws. The unanimous senate action followed a 90-4 vote for repeal in the Louisiana House of Representatives on June 9, 1983. The racial classification law had defined a Black person as anyone with one-thirty-secondth “Negro" blood. The repeal effort gained impetus after an unsuccessful effort was made by Susan Guilliory Phipps of Sulphur, Louisiana, to have the racial designation on her birth certificate changed from Black to White. A state court judge, however, had ruled that Phipps had not proved "beyond doubt" that she was not at least one-thirty-second Black.
1983 (Aug 13)
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President Ronald Reagan vetoes a bill that allocated $20 million to implement a school desegregation program in Chicago.
President Ronald Reagan vetoed a bill that allocated $20 million to implement a school desegregation program in Chicago. The desegregation had been ordered by United States District Court Judge Milton I. Shadur on June 30, 1983. In that order, the judge said that the federal government should allocate more than $14 million for desegregating Chicago's schools in 1983-1984 and set aside $250 million more for possible distribution in the next five years. Pending resolution of the case, Shadur also ordered that $55 million allocated for other education programs across the nation be frozen. But in July 1983, he freed $6.5 million of the amount. In his veto message, President Reagan said: "The Chicago court's ostensible purpose in issuing this order was to provide a source of funds for the implementation of its decree. . . . Congress hoped by the passage of this legislation to induce the court to release the funds that were impounded by the court. But I believe that the better course is to seek swift reversal of the district court's order.” The president added that the government would pay the money mandated by the court if the decision was upheld, but he claimed that it was "inappropriate . . . for a court to withhold millions of dollars worth of unrelated and necessary education programs to enforce its orders.”
1983 (Aug 20)
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A Chicago Sun Times survey revealed that more than 600,000 new Black voters were expected to register in nine southern states in time for the 1984 presidential election.
A Chicago Sun Times survey revealed that more than 600,000 new Black voters were expected to register in nine southern states—Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia—in time for the 1984 presidential election. The survey's projections were derived from interviews with election officials in six states, who based their estimates on "current and anticipated registration trends." In the other three states—Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee—the figures were provided by independent Black organizations. By August 1983, 190,000 new Black voters had already been added to voter rolls in the southern states. The new Black voters were expected to have a “potent” and “perhaps decisive" impact not only in the upcoming presidential contest, but also in many local elections. One potential presidential candidate, Jesse Jackson, a Black minister and civil rights leader, had set a goal of two million new Black voters in the South by 1984. The attainment of this goal was viewed as "a key to his decision" whether or not to pursue the Democratic presidential nomination.
1983 (Aug 21)
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The Bureau of the Census reports that the long standing trend of Blacks moving from the South to the North and West reversed in the 1970s.
The Bureau of the Census reported that "the traditional migration of Blacks from the South to the urban center of the North and West ended" in the 1970s. "Between 1975 and 1980, about 415,000 Black moved to the South, whereas (in the more recent period) only about 220,000 left, thereby reversing the longstanding Black exodus from the South.” In 1980, 53 percent of the nation's Blacks lived in the South—the same proportion as in 1970, yet approximately 60 percent of the nation's Black population lived in central cities—an increase of approximately 13 percent. The new demographic data was contained in a report entitled "America's Black Population: 1970 to 1982." It was based on data from the Census Bureau, the U.S. Labor Department, and other governmental agencies. The Census Bureau's report also noted that: 1) The number of Blacks in the civilian labor force increased by 2.7 million or 31 percent between 1972 and 1982, and the number of employed Blacks grew by 1.4 million, or 19 percent. However, the number of Blacks who were unemployed rose 140 percent, from 900,000 in 1972 to 2.1 million in 1982. The unemployment rate for Blacks continued at more than double the rate for Whites. In 1972, when the unemployment rate for Whites was 5 percent, the unemployment rate for Blacks was 10.3 percent. In 1982, the unemployment rates for both Blacks and Whites were the highest for any period since the second World War. 2) The median income for Black married couples increased 6.9 percent between 1971 and 1981. Such families, however, made up only 55 percent of all Black families in 1982, compared with 64 percent in 1972. 3) For all Black families, median income, after adjustment for inflation, declined by 8.3 percent since 1971, with a 5.2 percent drop occurring between 1980 and 1981. This decline was attributed to the increase in the number of single-parent Black families headed by females. In 1982, these families totaled 2.6 million—up 32 percent from 1972. Female-headed households made up 41 percent of all Black families and 70 percent of all poor Black families. 4) The poverty rate for Blacks remained steady at 34 percent, though there were one million more poor Blacks in 1980 than in 1970—nine million compared with eight million.
1983 (Aug 23)
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Clarence Thomas, the Black chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, expresses concerns for Black colleges over the effort to desegregate the nation’s colleges.
Clarence Thomas, the Black chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, told a group of faculty and staff at Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia, that Black colleges had become “the victim” in the effort to desegregate the nation's colleges. He added that the "threat” to Black colleges stemmed “from a misguided philosophy of desegregation that focuses on numbers rather than quality education for Blacks. ... If the goal of desegregation is to have every Black student sit next to a White student then there is no room in education for Black colleges,” he said. “If the goal is for quality education,” Thomas asserted, “then there is plenty of room.” Thomas also said that as the former assistant secretary for civil rights in the Department of Education, he became “terrified by the prospective effects of desegregation on Black colleges,” but added "they were not the ones doing the discriminating.”
1983 (Aug 24)
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The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) opens its twenty-sixth annual convention in Washington, D.C.
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) opened its twenty-sixth annual convention in Washington, D.C. In one of the opening addresses, the Reverend Joseph E. Lowery, president of the SCLC, asserted: "We are being told still that America cannot afford freedom and justice for all of our citizens.... Two decades of hard-fought progress are in danger of erosion through budget cuts.... Federal agencies have callously abdicated their mandated responsibility to enforce anti-discrimination laws. ... Those rights we fought for dearly are being eroded." The SCLC was founded in 1957 by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other southern civil rights leaders. The focus of the 1983 convention was “Jobs, Peace, and Freedom.”
1983 (Sep 1)
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Luther Burse, former interim president of Cheyney State college in Pennsylvania, assumes the presidency of Fort Valley State College in Georgia.
Luther Burse, former interim president of Cheyney State college in Pennsylvania, assumed the presidency of Fort Valley State College in Georgia. Burse was born June 3, 1937, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. He received a bachelor's degree from Kentucky State University in 1958 and a master's degree from the University of Maryland in 1969. He was also a research assistant at the University of Maryland from 1966 to 1969. Prior to accepting the presidency of Fort Valley State, Burse had also taught at Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina (1960-1966), served as coordinator of graduate studies in the division of Applied and Behavioral Sciences (1969–1981), and was interim president of Cheyney State from 1981 to 1982.
1983 (Sep 17)
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Vanessa Williams is crowned Miss America for 1984, making her the first Black woman to win the title.
Vanessa Williams, a twenty-year-old Black American woman from Millwood, New York, was crowned Miss America for 1984. It was the first time in the history of the sixty-year-old pageant that a Black woman had won the title. Indeed, for half of the pageant's history, Black females were barred from entering the competition. Williams, a junior at Syracuse University, entered the pageant as Miss New York. She cried as she walked down the runway after receiving the crown.
1980 (Dec 22)
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President-elect Ronald Reagan names Samuel Riley Pierce, Jr., a Black American lawyer, secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
President-elect Ronald Reagan named Samuel Riley Pierce, Jr., a Black American lawyer, secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). He was the only minority person selected to join the new president's cabinet. Pierce was born on September 6, 1922, in Glen Cove, Long Island, New York. He played football at Cornell University and graduated with Phi Beta Kappa honors. After service in World War II, Pierce obtained a law degree from Cornell and began working as an assistant district attorney in New York City. In later years, he was appointed, on two separate occasions, to court vacancies in Manhattan borough by then-Governor Nelson Rockefeller, yet in 1959 he was defeated in a bid for election to a Manhattan judgeship. Pierce entered governmental service at the federal level in 1955 when President Dwight Eisenhower named him an assistant to the undersecretary of labor. He was the first Black American appointed to this position. In 1970, President Richard M. Nixon made him the first Black to serve as a general counsel to the Treasury Department. At the time of his appointment to the Reagan cabinet, however, Pierce had left government and was serving as a partner in a prestigious New York law firm. Of Pierce's cabinet appointment, Barbara Penn Wright, Pierce's wife and a physician with the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, remarked, "He's never been adverse to accepting a challenge. And he's always been able to handle them."
1981 (Apr 15)
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Thomas (Tom) Bradley is re-elected to a third term as mayor of Los Angeles, California.
Thomas (Tom) Bradley was reelected to a third term as mayor of Los Angeles, California. Bradley, a sixty-three-year-old Black American, defeated his perennial opponent, former mayor Sam Yorty, by a margin of 64 to 32 percent to gain four more years as mayor of the nation's third largest city.
1981 (Aug 1)
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Benjamin F. Payton assumes the office of president of Tuskegee Institute.
Benjamin F. Payton assumed the office of president of Tuskegee Institute. Payton succeeded Luther H. Foster, who retired after twenty-eight years as president of the historic and predominantly Black university founded by Booker T. Washington in 1881. Payton was program officer for education and public policy at the Ford Foundation at the time of his appointment to Tuskegee. He had previously taught and directed the Community Service Project at Howard University, directed the Commission on Religion and Race and the Department of Social Justice at the National Council of Churches in the U.S.A., and was a president of Benedict College in South Carolina.
1987 (Dec 1)
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James Baldwin, Black writer and civil rights activist, dies of cancer in France.
James Baldwin, Black writer and civil rights activist, died of cancer in St. Paul de Venece, France, at age sixty-three. Baldwin had moved to France in 1948 to escape what he felt was “the stifling racial bigotry” of the United States. Baldwin, the son of “an autocratic preacher who hated his son,” was born in the Harlem section of New York City in 1924. He began writing while a student at the DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx and by his early twenties was publishing essays and reviews in such publications as the Nation, the New Leader, Commentary, and Partisan Review. Baldwin also began socializing with a circle of New York writers and intellectuals, including William Barrett, Irving Howe, and Lionel Trilling. A prolific author, Baldwin published his three most important collections of essays: Notes of a Native Son (1955), Nobody Knows My Name (1961), and The Fire Next Time (1963) during the height of the civil rights movement. Some critics, the New York Times reported, "said his language was sometimes too elliptical, his indictments sometimes too sweeping. But then [his] prose, with its apocalyptic tone-a legacy of his early exposure to religious fundamentalism-and its passionate yet distanced sense of advocacy, seemed perfect for a period in which Blacks in the South lived under continued threats of racial violence and in which civil rights workers faced brutal beatings and even death." Other important works by Baldwin included Go Tell it on the Mountain (1953), his first book and novel; Giovanni's Room (1956) and Another Country (1962), which contains a frank discussion of homosexuality; and the drama Blues for Mister Charlie (1964). In the preface to Blues for Mister Charlie, Baldwin noted that the work had been inspired “very distantly” by the murder of Emmett Till, a Black youth in Mississippi in 1955. He wrote: “What is ghastly and really almost hopeless in our racial situation now is that the crimes we have committed are so great and so unspeakable that the acceptance of this knowledge would lead, literally, to madness. The human being, then, in order to protect himself, closes his eyes, compulsively repeats his crimes, and enters a spiritual darkness which no one can describe.” During the civil rights movement, Baldwin not only wrote about the struggle, but helped raise money for it and organized protest marches. He was also an early opponent of the United State's involvement in the Vietnam War and a critic of discrimination against homosexuals. Baldwin's writings and activism were recognized by many groups both in this country and abroad. Perhaps the most distinguished of these was the Legion of Honor, France's highest national award, which was presented to him in 1986. Among those eulogizing Baldwin was a fellow African American novelist, Ralph Ellison, who commented, “America has lost one of its most gifted writers.” Henry Louis Gates Jr., a literary critic and professor at Cornell University, said Baldwin “educated an entire generation of Americans about the civil rights struggle and the sensibility of Afro-Americans as we faced and conquered the final barriers in our long quest for civil rights.”
1987 (Dec 15)
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Civil rights activist Septima Poinsetta Clark dies.
Septima Poinsetta Clark, Black American civil rights activist, died on John's Island, South Carolina, at age eighty-nine. Clark was born to a former slave in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1898. She received a bachelor's degree from Benedict College in her native state and a master's from Hampton Institute in Virginia. Clark began her teaching career in a public school on John's Island in 1916. In 1918, she transferred to Avery Institute in Charleston and in that same year Clark led a drive to collect 20,000 signatures on a petition to have Black teachers hired by the Charleston County School District. The law barring their employment was changed in 1920. When Clark moved to Columbia in 1927, she aided a campaign to equalize salaries for Black and white teachers. After returning to Charleston several years later, Clark was dismissed from her teaching job for being a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1955. In the late 1950s, Clark worked at the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, where she developed a program to teach illiterate Blacks so that they could pass literacy tests and qualify to vote. She later became a director of the school, a supervisor of teacher training for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and a national lecturer for voting and civil rights. In recognition of her contributions to the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. selected Clark to accompany him to Norway in 1964 when he was presented the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1974, she was elected to the Charleston County School Board. Five years later, President Jimmy Carter presented to Clark a Living Legacy Award. In 1982, she received the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina's highest civilian award. Clark told the story of much of her life in her autobiographies, Echo in My Soul (1962) and Ready from Within: Septima Clark and the Civil Rights Movement (1987). The latter won an American Book Award. Upon learning of Septima Clark's death, South Carolina Governor Carroll A. Campbell, Jr., said “the state has lost not only a leading civil rights activist but a legendary educator and humanitarian.”
1983 (Oct)
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Hundreds of scholars, teachers, and students attend a major conference on the Study and Teaching of Afro-American History at Purdue University.
Hundreds of scholars, teachers, and students attended a major conference on the Study and Teaching of Afro-American History at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. The meeting, which assessed the latest studies and trends in Black American life and history, was sponsored by the American Historical Association and directed by Darlene Clark Hine, a Purdue University history professor. In one of the keynote addresses at the conference, John Hope Franklin, professor of history at Duke University and one of the premiere scholars in Black American history, described a fourth generation of practitioners of Black American historical scholarship. He said the approaches of the recent generation of scholars, “the largest and perhaps the best trained [ever) were greatly stimulated by the drive for equality [during the 1950s and 1960s]." He also said that they had kept the subject "alive and vibrant.” Another keynote speaker, Black American labor historian William H. Harris (also the president of Paine College in Augusta, Georgia), suggested that scholars needed to do “more work” on the Black working class. He also indicated that “the quest for a change in perspective” by historians would "improve overall the range of history and the level of our understanding of the numerous Black experiences that have been lived in America."
1983 (Oct 27)
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Civil rights activist John Lewis receives the Martin Luther King, Jr., Award for his contributions to voter education and registration.
John Lewis, civil rights activist, was presented the Martin Luther King, Jr., Award for his contributions to voter education and registration by the Voter Education Project (VEP), at ceremonies commemorating the organization's twenty-first anniversary in Atlanta, Georgia. During its twenty-one year history, the VEP had helped register at least four million Black voters across the South. Lewis, who was beaten unconscious four times and arrested at least forty times during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, served as executive director of the Voter Education Project from 1970 to 1977. In accepting the VEP's highest honor Lewis said, “it means a great deal to me, but this isn't so much an honor for me as it is for the thousands of people who have worked in the voter registration movement. ... I think we're on the way to a biracial democracy in the South.”
1983 (Nov 24)
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An A.C. Nielson survey reports that Blacks spend more time watching television than whites, and that their tastes are different.
An A.C. Nielson survey reported that Blacks spent more time watching television (35 percent) than whites, and “that their prime-time choices” were different. The top ranked television program among whites was the CBS news program “60 Minutes,” which ranked eighteenth among Black viewers. The top rated program among Blacks was the drama “Dynasty,” which ranked sixth among whites. Television programs with largely Black casts, "The A Team,” “Gimme a Break,” and “The Jeffersons” ranked second, third, and fourth among Blacks; among white viewers they were 23rd, 64th, and 24th, respectively.
1983 (Nov 2)
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President Ronald Reagan signs a bill establishing a federal holiday in honour of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
President Ronald Reagan signed a bill at the White House establishing a federal holiday in honour of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. The president also paid personal tribute to King, saying his words and deeds had “stirred our nation to the very depths of its soul.” Reagan continued: “Dr. King made equality of rights his life's work. ... Often he was beaten, imprisoned, but he never stopped teaching nonviolence. ... If American history grows from two centuries to 20, Americans and others will still remember King's 'I Have a Dream' speech.” The president warned, however, that “traces of bigotry still mar America. . . . So each year on Martin Luther King Day, let us not only recall Dr. King, but rededicate ourselves to the commandments he believed in and sought to live every day. Thou shalt love thy God with all thy heart and thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself.” Many Americans, including soul singer Stevie Wonder (who composed and recorded a birthday song honoring King) and Coretta Scott King, the slain civil rights leader's widow, had lobbied for the holiday (which was to begin on the third Monday in January 1986) since King's assassination in 1968. At the White House ceremonies at which the president signed the holiday bill, Mrs. King remarked: “Thank God for the blessing of his [King's] life and his leadership and his commitment. What manner of man was this? May we make ourselves worthy to carry on his dream and create the [beloved] community.”
1983 (Nov 11)
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The United States Congress and the Reagan administration reach an agreement to extend the life of the United States Commission on Civil Rights (CCR) after previous controversy between Reagan and the commission.
Representatives from the United States Congress and the Reagan administration reached an agreement to extend the life of the United States Commission on Civil Rights (CCR). Under the new accord, the six-member body would be reorganized into an eight-member one. The president and Congress would each name four members to serve staggered six-year terms and can only be removed "for cause, thus eliminating the possibility of firings for political reasons." Earlier, President Reagan had tried to replace but eventually fired three Democratic members of the Commission "who did not share his administration's views in opposing busing to achieve school desegregation and broad affirmative action relief in job-discrimination cases." Many congressmen complained that Reagan was attempting to destroy "the commission's independence and integrity." Congress refused to appropriate funds for the extension of the Commission on September 30, 1983. Under the agreement of November 11, two Democratic commissioners, Mary Frances Berry (a Black American) and Blandina C. Ramirez (a Hispanic), were reappointed by Congress. The two women were among the three commissioners released by Reagan. The CCR, an advisory group, investigated reports of discrimination and recommended steps for Congress and the president to take in remedying it. It was established in 1957.
1983 (May 24)
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The United States Supreme Court rules that the federal government cannot grant tax exemptions to private schools that practice racial discrimination.
The United States Supreme Court, in an 8–1 decision, ruled that the federal government cannot grant tax exemptions to private schools that practice racial discrimination. Chief Justice Warren Burger, writing for the majority, stated that "it would be wholly incompatible with the concepts underlying tax exemption to grant the benefit of tax exempt status to racially discriminatory educational entities.” Justice William H. Rehnquist was the lone dissenter. The Court's ruling upheld a policy of non-exemption for discriminatory private schools that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had adopted in 1971, but which the administration of President Ronald Reagan had tried to abandon in 1982. Under the original policy, Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, lost its tax-exempt status in 1975 because it prohibited interracial dating or marriage among its students, and the Goldsboro Christian Schools of Goldsboro, North Carolina, which refused to admit Blacks, also lost its tax-exempt status for 1969 through 1972. Both schools subsequently sued the IRS, but lost in both federal district and appellate courts. Both cases reached the Supreme Court on appeal from a lower court.
1983 (May 12)
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Louis Gossett, Jr., wins an Oscar for his role in the film An Officer and a Gentleman. Blacks demonstrate outside the Hollywood Music Center calling the Academy Awards a racist affair.
Louis Gossett, Jr., won an Academy Award as best supporting actor for his role as a Marine Corps drill sergeant in the film An Officer and a Gentleman. He became the third Black actor or actress to win an Oscar in the fifty-five-year history of the awards. The first Black person to win the coveted honor was Hattie McDaniel, who was named best supporting actress for her work in Gone with the Wind in 1940. Sidney Poitier was named best actor for his lead role in the 1963 film Lillies of the Field. Gossett, age forty-four, had won an Emmy Award in 1977 for his role as Fiddler in the ABC miniseries "Roots.” As Gossett received his Oscar, Blacks demonstrated outside the Hollywood Music Center calling the Academy Awards a racist affair. In reaction to the protest, Gossett commented: “You shouldn't call anything racist if [it is] improving." He expressed the hope that his award would catch on like measles and "lead to the creation of more roles for Black actors and actresses in Hollywood."
1983 (Mar 4)
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The Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom Medal is awarded to Coretta Scott King.
Coretta Scott King, president of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Non-Violent Social Change, was awarded the Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom Medal at Hyde Park, New York. King was cited for epitomizing the late president's four freedoms: worship, speech, from want, and from fear.
1981 (Nov 16)
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President Ronald Reagan appoints Clarence Pendleton, Jr., a fifty-year-old Black Californian, as the chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights (CCR).
President Ronald Reagan fired Arthur S. Flemming, the seventy-six-year-old chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights (CCR). Sources told United Press International (UPI) that the White House was "angered by the Commission's and Flemming's strong advocacy of affirmative action, voting rights, and . . . busing to achieve school desegregation." This was the first time in the twenty-four-year history of the commission that "an incoming administration [had] changed [the CCR's] membership, a restraint underlining a bipartisan commitment to civil rights." Flemming, a former secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) in the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, was appointed to the commission in 1974 by President Richard M. Nixon. He had recently said that the Reagan administration's views on school desegregation were "in conflict with the Constitution." Reagan appointed Clarence Pendleton, Jr., a fifty-year-old Black Californian, to replace Flemming as chairman of the CCR. Pendleton, considered a conservative Republican, had supported Reagan in the 1980 elections. He had previously been chairman of the San Diego Transit Corporation and head of the San Diego Urban League. Pendleton became the first Black chairman of the Civil Rights Commission.
1982 (Feb 17)
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Pianist Thelonious Sphere Monk dies after suffering a massive stroke.
Pianist Thelonious Sphere Monk died after suffering a massive stroke. An important pioneer in the development of bop, Monk played a vital role in the jazz revolution of the early 1940s. At first, the pianist—a gifted technician and composer—was appreciated only by a small circle of New York's brightest. His angular melodies, harmonies marked by jarring surprises, unusual treatment of notes, and the absence of notes conspired to limit his initial appeal. Before his death in 1982, however, he was generally recognized as one of the founding fathers of modern jazz, and he is considered by some to be the most important jazz composer since Duke Ellington. Born October 10, 1917, in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Monk moved with his family to New York City in the early 1920s. At the age of eleven, weekly piano lessons supplemented Monk's rigorous gospel training, and he accompanied the Baptist choir in which his mother sang. Two years later, Monk was already playing in a trio at a local bar and grill, and he eventually won so many of the weekly Apollo Theater amateur contests that he was banned from entering any more. At age sixteen he left school to travel with an evangelical faith healer and preacher, and he returned the following year, well schooled in rhythm and blues accompaniment, to form his first group. With the exception of some brief work with the Lucky Millander Band and Coleman Hawkins, Monk was generally the leader of his own small groups. In the early 1940s, Monk found himself in the midst of a new wave of jazz music. Bebop, a faster and more complex style than its swing predecessor, was spontaneously generated late at night in jam sessions at jazz clubs, most notably at Minton's, where Monk reigned as house pianist. In fact, Keyboard claimed "Monk was at the eye of what would become the bebop hurricane." Monk's own music, however, was developing a unique style, and by the early 1950s the iconoclastic composer had penned the classics Blue Monk, Round Midnight, and Epistrophy. In 1951, Monk's career—already faltering—was dealt a serious blow as the result of questionable charges of narcotics possession that landed him in jail for sixty days and, more importantly, caused the New York State Liquor Authority to rescind his cabaret card. Without the card, Monk was prevented from playing local club dates and relied on the support of his patron and friend, the Baroness Nica de Koenigswarter. Within a few years his luck changed: Monk gave a series of concerts in Paris in 1954, cut Pure Monk, his first solo album, and signed with the Riverside label. An eight-month engagement at New York's Five Spot in 1957 established Monk as a cult icon and there he met jazz newcomer John Coltrane. In the following couple of years, the improvisational genius made several recordings for Riverside, including Brilliant Corners, Thelonious Himself, and Monk with Coltrane. These recordings were so successful that in 1962 Columbia Records offered Monk a lucrative contract, and in 1964 Time magazine featured his picture on its cover, a rare distinction for a jazz musician. In the following decade, living up to the New York Post's description of him as "one of jazz's great eccentrics," Monk retreated from the public eye, making only a few solo and trio recordings for Black Lion in London and giving occasional concerts. After suffering a massive stroke on February 17, 1982, Monk died. Monk's son, T.S. Monk, Jr., a drummer, recorded with blue note; his recording, Take One, was a tribute to his father and other bop composers.
1982 (Feb 21)
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United States District Court Judge Aubrey E. Robinson, Jr., of the District of Columbia, rules that the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) must give Black special agents preference in promotions and pay them for the period during which they suffered from a discriminatory promotions policy.
United States District Court Judge Aubrey E. Robinson, Jr., of the District of Columbia, ruled that the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) must give Black special agents preference in promotions and pay them for the period during which they suffered from a discriminatory promotions policy. The order required a payment of about $2 million to be shared among the hundreds of Black DEA agents, according to their attorney. The ruling also meant that one Black agent for every two whites would have to be promoted to the sixth highest pay grade, or a higher federal pay grade. Those ranks carried salaries of $33,586 to $47,500 at the time. Judge Robinson had ruled in 1981 that the drug agency discriminated against Black agents with respect to salary, entry grades, work assignments, evaluations, discipline, and promotion during the period 1972 to 1981. The new order set the amount of back pay and provided a remedy for "eliminating the effect of the discrimination in the future." The judge said the preferential promotions for Blacks must continue either for five years or "until the percentage of Blacks in the six highest pay grades reached 10 percent."
1982 (Feb 27)
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Wayne Williams, a twenty-three-year-old Black entertainment talent scout, is convicted of murder in the slaying of Jimmy Ray Payne, age twenty-one, and Nathaniel Cater, age twenty-seven, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Wayne Williams, a twenty-three-year-old Black entertainment talent scout, was convicted of murder in the slaying of Jimmy Ray Payne, age twenty-one, and Nathaniel Cater, age twenty-seven, in Atlanta, Georgia. Payne and Cater were two of the twenty-eight young Blacks, mostly males, who were slain in Atlanta in a twenty-two month period beginning in 1979. Most of the victims were strangled. The serial murders became known as the "Atlanta child murder cases," since most of the victims were under twenty-one years of age. The case began on July 27, 1979, when the first two bodies were found, but it was July 1980 before the police publicly linked the two cases. By that time, eleven Black children had disappeared or were found slain. The police action came after an organization of parents, the Committee to Stop Children's Murder (STOP), led by the mother of one of the victims, was formed in May 1980 to show linkages in the cases. During the twenty-two months when Black children's bodies were being found periodically in the metropolitan Atlanta area, President Ronald Reagan committed $1.5 million in federal funds and scores of FBI agents to the case. Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali pledged $400,000, and hundreds of thousands in additional dollars were donated by other athletes and celebrities or raised in benefit concerts. The state of Georgia and citizens throughout the nation gave thousands of dollars to help with the investigation or for a reward fund. Some of the donations went to STOP or directly to the mothers of the slain youths. The Guardian Angels, a group of New York City citizens who patrolled the subways of their city to deter crime, went to Atlanta to teach local youths how to defend themselves. A vigilante group of Blacks armed with baseball bats in the Techwood housing projects formed a "Bat Patrol" to protect Black children. In addition, psychics, writers, civil rights activists, and others offered theories on the motives and identities of the killer or killers. Many were convinced that Ku Klux Klansmen or other white supremacist groups were responsible for the murders. And since most of the victims were young Black males, the theory that a homosexual committed the crimes also emerged. On May 22, 1981, law enforcement officers on stake out along the Chattahoochee River in north Atlanta heard a loud splash. Shortly thereafter, other officers questioned and detained Wayne Williams after he was noticed driving slowly with his headlights dimmed across the James Jackson Parkway Bridge over the Chattahoochee. Two days later, the body of twenty-seven-year-old Nathaniel Cater was found floating in the river. On June 21, 1981, Williams was arrested and charged with the murders of Cater and Jimmy Ray Payne. Williams, who took the stand in his own defense during the trial, vigorously denied that he had committed the murders. He and his attorneys refuted suggestions of a homosexual motive and denied any acquaintance with most of the seven victims in whose company prosecution witnesses had placed him. The prosecution, however, had also presented fibers taken from clothing and other fabrics and bloodstains found in Williams's car as evidence. On February 27, 1982, after eleven hours of deliberations, a majority Black jury found Williams guilty of two counts of murder. The presiding judge, Clarence Cooper, also a Black American, sentenced Williams to two consecutive life terms in prison. The defense promised an immediate appeal. The "Atlanta child murder cases" involved one of the largest searches for a killer in the nation's history, and Wayne Williams was convicted as America's first Black major serial murderer.
1982 (Mar 17)
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Reuben M. Greenberg is named the first Black police chief of Charleston, South Carolina, by Mayor Joseph Riley.
Reuben M. Greenberg, a thirty-two-year-old deputy director of the Florida Division of Criminal Justice Standards and Training, was named the first Black police chief of Charleston, South Carolina, by Mayor Joseph Riley. The South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy also announced that Greenberg's appointment made him "the first Black police chief in modern South Carolina history."
1982 (Mar 20)
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Ernest “Dutch” Morial is re-elected mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana.
Ernest "Dutch" Morial was re-elected mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana. The city's first Black American chief executive defeated Ron Raucheux, a White legislator, 71,231 votes (56 percent) to 55,814 votes (44 percent) with 75 percent of the vote counted. Although New Orleans had a majority Black population at the time of the election, more Whites were registered to vote than Blacks. Morial was expected to need about fifteen percent of the White vote to win.
1982 (Mar 23)
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The City Council of Houston, Texas, confirms Lee P. Brown as the city’s first Black police commissioner.
The City Council of Houston, Texas, confirmed Lee P. Brown as the city's first Black police commissioner. Brown, age forty-four, had recently been the second Black police commissioner in Atlanta, Georgia. During his tenure in Atlanta, the city was the site of the murders of twenty-eight young Black people over a period of twenty-two months. The murders were linked in 1980 and in the following year, Wayne Williams, a young Black man, was accused of the serial slayings. He was convicted and sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison less than one month before Brown resigned from the police department. Although Brown was variously praised and criticized for his department's handling of the "Atlanta child murder cases," he denied that his resignation was connected with the infamous case. Brown, a former head of the police department in Portland, Oregon, said it was simply time for him to seek a new challenge. Brown was the first person chosen from outside the department to head Houston's police force. The department was frequently under criticism by some of the city's Blacks for alleged brutality.
1982 (May 6)
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Loretta Glickman is elected mayor of Pasadena, California, by the city’s board of directors, making her the first Black woman to become mayor of a major city in the United States.
Loretta Glickman, a thirty-six-year-old Black American investment counselor, was elected mayor of Pasadena, California, by the city's board of directors. Glickman, who had also been a teacher and singer, was the first Black woman to become mayor of a major city in the United States. In response to her election, Glickman said that Pasadena was a place "where dreams can and do come true."
1982 (Jun 23)
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Coleman Young, the first Black American mayor of Detroit, Michigan, is elected president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors at its fiftieth annual meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Coleman Young, the first Black American mayor of Detroit, Michigan, was elected president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors at its fiftieth annual meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota, succeeding Helen Booalis of Lincoln, Nebraska. Young announced immediately after his selection that he would ask mayors to return soon for a special meeting to recommend ways to strengthen their local economies.
1982 (Jun 30)
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The United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, overturns an initiative from the state of Washington that prohibited the voluntary assignment of students to schools beyond their neighborhoods.
The United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, overturned an initiative from the state of Washington that prohibited the voluntary assignment of students to schools beyond their neighborhoods. In an opinion written by Justice Harry Blackmun, the Court said the statewide vote in the state of Washington violated the equal protection guarantee of the U.S. Constitution because it imposed an "unfair burden" on minority groups, who were to "be dealt with at the state level, which is more remote than the local school board." The high Court also said the initiative burdened "all future attempts to integrate Washington schools in districts throughout the state by lodging decision-making authority over the question at a new and remote level of government." Justices Lewis F. Powell, Jr., William H. Rehnquist, Sandra Day O'Connor, and Chief Justice Warren Burger dissented. Justice Powell considered the ruling an "unprecedented intrusion into the structure of a state government" by depriving "the state of Washington of all opportunity to address the unsolved questions resulting from extensive mandatory busing." The case stemmed from a voluntary plan that the Seattle school board adopted in 1977. It involved the busing of some seven thousand students. In 1978, the state's voters approved Initiative 350 to end the busing. A lower federal court, in a suit filed by the school board, upheld the plan and declared the referendum unconstitutional. Thus, the case reached the Supreme Court on further appeal by opponents of busing.
1982 (Jul 5)
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The United States Supreme Court rule that “nonviolent boycotts, organized to achieve constitutional rights goals,” are protected by the First Amendment guarantees of free speech.
The United States Supreme Court ruled that "nonviolent boycotts, organized to achieve constitutional rights goals," are protected by the First Amendment guarantees of free speech. The decision reversed a ruling by the supreme court of Mississippi that held that the NAACP and ninety-one Black citizens were liable for business losses caused by a boycott of local merchants in Port Gibson, Mississippi, which began in 1966. The Port Gibson boycott was launched by Blacks to achieve desegregation in schools and public facilities, to encourage the hiring of Black police officers, and to improve lighting, sewers, and the paving of streets in Black neighborhoods. The Mississippi court, however, citing evidence of coercion and violence during the boycott, declared the protest "an illegal conspiracy" and ordered its end. Yet the U.S. Supreme Court, in an opinion written by Justice John Paul Stevens, ruled that "the presence of some illegal threats and violence" did not mean that all of the business losses, in the seven-year period, were attributable to the "illegal" aspects of the boycotts.
1982 (Aug 21)
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Calvin Simmons, the thirty-two-year-old Black American conductor of the Oakland (California) Symphony Orchestra, drowns in Lake Placid, New York.
Calvin Simmons, the thirty-two-year-old Black American conductor of the Oakland (California) Symphony Orchestra, was presumed drowned in Lake Placid, New York. Witnesses said he never surfaced after his boat capsized in about twenty-three feet of water on Connery Pond. Simmons was considered one of the nation's most promising young Black Conductors.
1982 (Oct 27)
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Richard T. Rives, senior judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit who rendered the historic decision in 1955 that declared discrimination on Montgomery, Alabama, buses unconstitutional, dies of an apparent heart attack in Montgomery, Alabama, at age eighty-seven.
Richard T. Rives, senior judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, died of an apparent heart attack in Montgomery, Alabama, at age eighty-seven. Rives had served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit since 1951 and served as that court's chief judge from 1959 to 1966. He became senior judge of the eleventh circuit court after it was split from the fifth circuit at the time of his death. Rives and Judge Frank M. Johnson rendered the historic decision in 1955 that declared discrimination on Montgomery, Alabama, buses unconstitutional. The ruling was later upheld by the United States Supreme Court.
1982 (Nov 5)
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Bernice King, daughter of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., accepts a posthumous award for her father from the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.
Bernice King, daughter of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., accepted a posthumous award for her father from the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. The award recognized the late civil rights leader's work against apartheid in South Africa. In 1965, King had called for an international boycott against South Africa. He predicted that "the day is fast approaching when people of good will all over the world will rise up in nonviolent solidarity with freedom fighters in Africa."
1982 (Dec 4)
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Herschel Walker, Black American running back for the University of Georgia, wins the Heisman Trophy.
Herschel Walker, Black American running back for the University of Georgia, won the Heisman Trophy, football's highest collegiate award, in New York City. Walker, a native of Wrightsville, Georgia, became the seventh person to capture the Heisman in his junior year. He had previously been named to the football writers All-America team on three occasions. In the balloting for the Heisman, Walker received 525 first place votes, followed by Stanford University (California) quarterback John Elway with 139 first place votes, and Southern Methodist University (Texas) running back Eric Dickerson with 31 first place votes.
1982 (Dec 16)
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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit orders approval of a system of promotions on the New Orleans police force that would make it half Black at every level.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ordered approval of a system of promotions on the New Orleans police force that would make it half Black at every level. Under the ruling, Blacks would be promoted to forty-four new positions immediately, then Blacks and Whites would be promoted on a one-to-one ratio. In addition, the police department was ordered to recruit more Blacks, make it more difficult for a Black police cadet to fail, set up $300,000 as a back-pay fund, and pay the fees of the plaintiffs' lawyers. The suit that resulted in this ruling was filed by thirteen Black New Orleans police officers in 1973. They claimed that the city, its Civil Service Commission, and various officials discriminated against them. The suit was dismissed for failure to prosecute in 1978, but was later reopened.
1982 (Dec 16)
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James C. White is appointed commissioner of the Department of Revenue for the state of Alabama by Governor George C. Wallace who was formerly a devoted segregationist.
James C. White, a thirty-four-year-old accountant, was named commissioner of the Department of Revenue for the state of Alabama. White, a resident of Birmingham, was appointed to the position by Governor George C. Wallace, formerly a staunch segregationist. White, a native of Montgomery, Alabama, earned a Bachelor's degree in accounting from Dillard University in Louisiana. In May 1973, he co-founded Banks, Finley, White, and Company Certified Public Accountants, "the largest minority CPA firm in the nation." White's appointment as revenue commissioner made him the highest-ranking Black in the executive branch of Alabama government and one of the few Blacks to hold such a position in the nation.
1974 (Jan 31)
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The Georgia Power Company is ordered to pay retroactive wages and pension benefits to Black employees who had been denied equal job rights.
A federal court in Atlanta ordered the Georgia Power Company, the state's largest utility corporation, to pay retroactive wages and pension benefits amounting to almost $2.1 million to Black employees who had been denied equal job rights. The ruling also required the company to increase Black employment to 17 percent of the total work force within five years. At the time of the court's decision, 9.3 percent of the company's 8,278 workers were Black. The ruling resulted from a suit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice in 1969.
1994 (Mar 10)
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The CDC reports that between 1992 – 1993, AIDS cases rose by 111 percent, and half of all new heterosexual cases involved Blacks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta reported that from 1992 to 1993 AIDS cases rose by 111 percent. Half of all new heterosexual cases involved Black Americans.
1994 (Dec 16)
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Gwendolyn Brooks receives the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters for her poetry collection, Annie Allen.
Gwendolyn Brooks received the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters for her poetry collection, Annie Allen. This same collection brought Brooks fame back in 1950, when she became the first Black American to win a Pulitzer Prize for poetry. After the book's publication she became established as a major American poet, and in 1976 she was the first Black woman to obtain membership in the National Institute of Arts and Letters. A sensitive interpreter of Northern ghetto life, Brooks began to write poetry at age seven. From 1969 on she has promoted the idea that Black Americans must develop their own culture. She was poet laureate of Illinois for sixteen years and is poetry consultant to the Library of Congress.
1994 (Aug 9)
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The Justice Department is called to investigate Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy in connection with gifts he had allegedly accepted from Tyson Foods, Inc.
Attorney General Janet Reno called for the Justice Department to investigate Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy in connection with gifts he had allegedly accepted from Tyson Foods, Inc. Espy announced his resignation two months later, while the investigation was still in progress.
1994 (Aug 8)
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Barbara Jordan and Dorothy Height are awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
In a ceremony held in Washington, D.C., President Bill Clinton awarded the nation's highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom, to nine people. Included in the group were Barbara Jordan, former representative from Texas, and civil rights activist Dorothy Height.
1993 (May 6)
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A race riot erupts at a Boston, MA high school.
Outside South Boston High School in Massachusetts, racial violence arose between Black and white students. The problem began earlier in the day when about one hundred Black and white students walked out of class to protest what they felt were inadequate security measures at the school. Classes were dismissed due to the peaceful demonstration. As Black students got on buses to ride home, a crowd of white students began throwing rocks and bottles at them. The two groups exchanged racial slurs, and several people—including Boston's mayor, who had come to the school to talk to the students about security—received minor injuries. During the mid-1970s, South Boston High School was the scene of the nation's most brutal battles against court-ordered busing to achieve desegregation.
1993 (May 24)
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The second African American Summit is held Libreville, Gabon. Many Black Americans and African heads of state attend to establish ties between Blacks from all nations.
In the African city of Libreville, Gabon, the second African American Summit opened. In attendance were more than one thousand Black Americans (including prominent politicians, civil rights activists, religious leaders, corporate officials, and entertainers) and three thousand Africans, including twenty heads of state. Organized by African American human rights activist Leon Howard Sullivan, the summit was intended to establish ties between Blacks from all nations. Attendees were also scheduled to discuss ways of promoting economic development and improving health care and farming techniques in Africa.
1993 (May 22)
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Heavyweight boxing champion Riddick Bowe retains his title by defeating challenger Jesse Ferguson.
In Washington, D.C., heavyweight boxing champion Riddick Bowe retained his title by defeating challenger Jesse Ferguson just seventeen seconds into the second round of their fight.
1993 (May 18)
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Black poet Rita Dove becomes the first Black U.S. poet laureate.
Librarian of Congress James Billington named forty-year-old Black poet Rita Dove as U.S. poet laureate. She was the first Black woman to serve in the ceremonial post. (Author Gwendolyn Brooks was a consultant on poetry to the Library of Congress before the poet laureate position was created.) The job of U.S. poet laureate—a term borrowed from the British—is to promote poetry through the library's literature programs and advise the library on literary matters.
1993 (May 16)
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Singer Marv Johnson, co-creator with Berry Gordy of the famous Motown sound, dies.
Singer Marv Johnson, co-creator with Berry Gordy of the famous Motown sound, died two days after suffering a stroke during a concert in South Carolina. He was fifty-four. Johnson was the first singer that Gordy recorded and managed. The two of them combined Johnson's background in gospel music with a churchy-sounding female chorus and a male bass to create a uniquely Black American product that appealed to Black as well as white audiences. The new sound debuted in 1959 with a song entitled "Come to Me" that Johnson recorded on the United Artists label. He had his first big hit a year later with "You Got 'What It Takes." Several other hits followed over the next few years, but by the 1970s, Johnson's popularity declined. He continued to tour throughout the United States and Europe, however, often appearing with various Motown artists.
1993 (May 12)
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Blacks in Miami, Florida, call off their tourism boycott that start three years prior when the local government snubbed South African anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela during his visit there.
After nearly three years, Blacks in Miami, Florida, called off a tourism boycott that had cost the city an estimated $50 million. The boycott had begun shortly after local government officials snubbed South African anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela during his visit in June 1990. It ended when Blacks in the Miami area felt they had finally convinced Hispanic and white business and government leaders to give them more economic and political power.
1993 (Jun 26)
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Former Brooklyn Dodgers catcher Roy “Campy” Campanella dies.
Former Brooklyn Dodgers catcher Roy "Campy" Campanella, who spent the last thirty-five years of his life in a wheelchair following a car accident that ended his career, died in Los Angeles, California, of a heart attack. He was seventy-one.
1993 (Jun 25)
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The U.S. Supreme Court rules that workers who file job discrimination suits must prove that accusations are rooted in racial discrimination and not for other reasons.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case involving job discrimination that workers do not automatically win bias suits by proving that their employers gave false reasons for firing them. According to legal experts, the new ruling meant that workers who suspected they were fired because of racial discrimination must prove the cause of the firing was really rooted in racial bias and not just the result of personal conflicts or other reasons.
1993 (Jun 24)
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Virginia’s L. Douglas Wilder, the country’s first Black elected governor, announces his Senate seat plans.
Virginia's L. Douglas Wilder, the country's first Black elected governor, revealed that he intended to challenge fellow Democrat Charles Robb for Robb's seat in the U.S. Senate in the 1994 elections.
1993 (Jun 24)
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Longtime mayor of Detroit, Michigan, Coleman Young, announces that he would not seek re-election to a fifth term.
Saying he lacked the energy to continue leading the city, the longtime mayor of Detroit, Michigan, Coleman Young, announced that he would not seek re-election to a fifth term. He had served as mayor since 1973.
1993 (Jun 22)
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The U.S. Post Office unveils a stamp honoring the late Black American boxer Joe Louis.
In Detroit, Michigan, the U.S. Post Office unveiled a stamp honoring the late Black American boxer Joe Louis on the fifty-fifth anniversary of his stunning defeat over Germany's Max Schmeling. Louis was the first fighter to be honored with a stamp.
1993 (Jun 19)
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James B. Parsons, the country’s first Black federal judge, dies.
James B. Parsons, who became the country's first Black federal judge when President John F. Kennedy appointed him in 1961, died in Chicago, Illinois, at the age of eighty-one. A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Parsons worked as a teacher during the 1930s and 1940s before earning his law degree at the University of Chicago in 1949. He then taught briefly at John Marshall Law School and was a lawyer for the city of Chicago. From 1951 until 1960, Parsons was an assistant U.S. attorney He served with the old Superior Court of Cook County (Illinois) for a year before taking the federal judgeship. He remained in the position and was active in trial work until 1992, when he retired due to illness.
1993 (Jun 18)
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The trial of three white police officers charged in the 1992 death of Black motorist Malice Green begins.
In Detroit, Michigan, opening arguments began in the trial of three white police officers charged in the 1992 death of Black motorist Malice Green. According to witnesses who testified for the prosecution, officers Walter Budzyn and Larry Nevers approached Green while he was in his car, which was parked in front of a suspected drug house. They became angry when he refused to obey their orders to open up his clenched right fist, and began beating him with their heavy police flashlights. A third officer, Robert Lessnau, arrived while the beating was underway. He pulled Green from his car, threw him on the ground, and kicked him. The beating continued until the officers finally allowed a waiting ambulance crew to treat Green, who died on the way to the hospital. An autopsy later showed he had received at least fourteen blows to the head. Budzyn and Nevers were charged with second-degree murder in Green's death, and Lessnau faced charges of assault with intent to do great bodily harm. All three men were fired from the police force after being charged. Attorneys for the former officers based their defense on doubts about the true cause of Green's death. They did not deny that the policemen had beaten the Black man, but they depicted Green as high on drugs and ready for a fight when the officers approached him. The defense attorneys claimed that he had alcohol and cocaine in his system when he died and that he had a diseased heart. They argued that those conditions played a bigger role in his death than the beating did. On August 23, 1993, two separate juries found Budzyn and Nevers guilty of second-degree murder. They both faced up to life in prison but were allowed to go free on bond while waiting to be sentenced. Meanwhile, their attorneys vowed to appeal the convictions. Former officer Lessnau, who had allowed the judge rather than a jury to decide his case, was found not guilty of assault. Most Black Detroiters praised the verdicts but were angry that Budzyn and Nevers would remain free until their sentencing on October 12.
1993 (Jul 19)
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Lawyer Gaynelle Griffin Jones is nominated to be the first black U.S. attorney in Texas.
President Bill Clinton nominated Houston lawyer Gaynelle Griffin Jones to be the first black U.S. attorney in Texas.
1993 (Jan 30)
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Thomas A. Dorsey, “the father of gospel music,” dies of Alzheimer’s disease.
Thomas A. Dorsey, "the father of gospel music," died of Alzheimer's disease at his home in Chicago, Illinois. He was ninety-three.
1993 (Jan 26)
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The FBI and Black agents settle a racial discrimination dispute. White agents who opposed the settlement challenged it in federal court.
After nearly two years of negotiations, a spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department announced that an agreement had been reached in a racial discrimination dispute between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and its Black agents. Under the terms of the agreement, more than one hundred Black special agents were scheduled for promotions, transfers, or new training that had been denied to them as a result of racial bias in the overwhelmingly white federal agency. (At the time of the settlement, about ninety percent of FBI agents were white males; only about five percent were Black) The FBI also agreed to let a federal judge supervise its personnel practices for five years. In addition, the agency planned to hire outside consultants to study its procedures for promoting, evaluating, and disciplining special agents, and it pledged to change the way in which it chooses agents for assignments and training programs. White agents opposed to the settlement later took steps to challenge it in federal court. They felt it was a "race conscious" agreement that violated the equal employee rights of non-Black agents.
1993 (Jan 25)
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Bert Andrews, a photographer whose work chronicled the history of Black theater, dies of cancer.
Bert Andrews, a photographer whose work chronicled the history of Black theater, died of cancer in New York City. He was sixty-three. Andrews photographed many of Broadway's biggest stars, including James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson, Denzel Washington, Billy Dee Williams, Lou Gossett Jr., Morgan Freeman, Phylicia Rashad, Raymond St. Jacques, and Diana Sands. He also took pictures of memorable scenes from the shows Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, A Soldier's Play, and Bubbling Brown Sugar, to name a few. Much of his work is on display at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, New York, and in the 1990 book In the Shadow of the Great White Way: Images from the Black Theater.
1993 (Jan 24)
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Retired Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall dies of a heart attack.
Just days after illness forced him to cancel plans to swear in new vice-president Al Gore, retired Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall died of a heart attack in Bethesda, Maryland. An outspoken opponent of the conservative direction the country had taken since 1980, the eighty-four-year-old jurist had once vowed that he would not die until the Democrats were in the White House again. On the Wednesday after Marshall's death, nearly twenty thousand people filed past his coffin in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court. There they paid their respects to the man known as "Mr. Civil Rights" in recognition of his lifelong commitment to achieving justice for all, especially the poor and minorities. The next day, four thousand civil rights leaders, members of Congress, and others (including the president and the vice-president and their wives) gathered at Washington's National Cathedral for a memorial service. Marshall was buried on Friday at a private ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
1993 (Jan 21)
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Michael Espy is appointed secretary of agriculture. He later resigned.
President Bill Clinton appointed Michael Espy as secretary of agriculture. Espy had served as a congressman from Mississippi in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1986, working on committees such as the House Agricultural Committee, the Sub-Committee on Cotton, Rice, and Sugar, and the Sub-Committee on Conservation, Credit, and Rural Development. Espy resigned as secretary in December of 1994 because of a federal ethics investigation of accusations that he had accepted gifts from companies regulated by the Department of Agriculture.
1993 (Feb 6)
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Heavy-weight boxing champion Riddick Bowe defends his title by defeating challenger Michael Dokes.
In New York City, heavy-weight boxing champion Riddick Bowe retained his title by taking only a little more than two minutes to defeat challenger Michael Dokes.
1993 (Feb 3)
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Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott is fined $25,000 and suspended from Major League Baseball games for one year for her alleged use of racial slurs. Many people were dissatisfied with this seemingly mild punishment.
Major League Baseball owners fined Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott $25,000 and suspended her from the game for one year for her alleged use of racial slurs. Under the terms of the suspension, Schott was banned from watching games in the owner's box. She was also forbidden from running the team's day-to-day business but was allowed to be involved in major decisions. Her fellow owners also agreed to cut her suspension to only eight months if she behaved herself and if she attended a multicultural training program. Many people, including Atlanta Braves vice-president Hank Aaron, were dissatisfied with this punishment. They felt it amounted to little more than a slap on the wrist for Schott. It was hoped that the other team owners would remove her from the game permanently.
1993 (Dec 5)
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Pearl Stewart, the first Black woman editor of a major daily newspaper, resigns her position with the Oakland Tribune after the formerly Black-owned Tribune was sold to the Alameda Newspaper Group the previous year.
Pearl Stewart, the first Black woman editor of a major daily newspaper, resigned her position with the Oakland Tribune due to differences with the new management. A longtime symbol of racial pride, the formerly Black-owned Tribune was sold to the Alameda Newspaper Group the previous year.
1993 (Aug 14)
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Jacqueline Mofokeng becomes the first Black woman to be crowned Miss South Africa.
In Johannesburg, 21 year-old Jacqueline Mofokeng became the first Black woman to be crowned Miss South Africa.
1993 (Apr 30)
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President Bill Clinton nominates University of Pennsylvania law professor Lani Guinier as assistant attorney general for civil rights, but later withdraws the nomination.
President Bill Clinton nominated University of Pennsylvania law professor Lani Guinier as assistant attorney general for civil rights, one of the most important posts in the Justice Department. On June 4, 1993, he withdrew her nomination.
1993 (Apr 30)
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The first National Urban Peace and Justice Summit begins, bringing together over one hundred current and former gang members, community organizers, and religious leaders.
In Kansas City, Missouri, the first National Urban Peace and Justice Summit began in an inner-city Baptist church. The unusual three-day meeting was deliberately scheduled to coincide with the first anniversary of the Los Angeles riots. It brought together over one hundred current and former gang members, community organizers, and religious leaders from twenty-six cities across the country. (About half the participants were Black, and the other half were Hispanic.) They discussed how to stop the violence in America's urban areas (including ways to expand the gang truce in Los Angeles that began after the riots), fostering neighborhood economic development, dealing with police brutality, and gaining political power.
1993 (Apr 28)
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President Bill Clinton nominates Lee Brown as head of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy.
President Bill Clinton nominated fifty-five-year-old Lee Brown as "drug czar"—the head of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, a cabinet-level position. With a background in law enforcement, Brown had formerly served as head of the police departments in Atlanta, Georgia (1978-82), Houston, Texas (1982-90), and New York City (1990-92). He was the first Black and the first police officer ever chosen to lead the country's war on drugs.
1990 (Jan 9)
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The National Urban League recommends a $50 billion aid program to help close the economic gap.
The National Urban League (NUL) said that in order to close the economic gap between black and white Americans, a $50 billion aid program, similar to the one that rebuilt Europe after World War II (the Marshall Plan) was needed. In the 15th Annual "The State of Black America" Report, the NUL contended that the fiscal and social policies of the administration of former president Ronald Reagan had helped "stall the efforts of blacks to achieve greater economic parity" with whites in the 1980s. The report added, however, that "the greater openness" of the administration of President George Bush had "inspired new confidence in the federal government's ability to complete our unfinished revolution for democracy and human rights."
1990 (Jan 13)
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Lawrence Douglas Wilder is inaugurated as governor of Virginia, making him the first Black American elected chief executive of a state in American history.
Lawrence Douglas Wilder was inaugurated as governor of Virginia, making him the first Black American elected chief executive of a state in American history. The only other Black to have occupied a governor's office was P. B. S. Pinchback, who served as acting governor of Louisiana for a month at the end of 1872. Wilder, the grandson of slaves, was born in Richmond, Virginia, in 1931, the seventh of eight children of Robert and Beulah Wilder. He received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Virginia Union University in 1951 and a law degree from the Howard University School of Law in 1959. Returning immediately to his Church Hill neighborhood in Richmond to open a law practice, Wilder "soon developed a reputation for flamboyance, driving convertibles and breezing into court, all smiles and trendy clothes, to take on difficult criminal cases." Wilder's political career began in 1970, when he was elected to the Virginia state senate. There he spearheaded a campaign to make the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., a state holiday. The best he could achieve, however, was the addition of King's name to a holiday for Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. Although he had not been an active participant in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, Wilder began his tenure in the senate with "a blistering attack" on the state song "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny." He and other Blacks objected to "the sentimental [melody] about a slave pining for the plantation," which included such lyrics as "There's where this old darky's heart am long'd to go" and ""There's where I labor'd so hard for old massa." Although the song was not removed, its playing at public functions was greatly diminished. Wilder remained in the state senate until 1986, when he was lieutenant-governor. At the time, he was the only Black serving in that position in the country, but gained increasing popularity in the state for his opposition to a sales tax increase. When Wilder began his campaign for governor, he changed his position against the expansion of the death penalty to support for its more frequent use. He also went from a vague position on a woman's right to an abortion to an enthusiastic supporter of that right, after polls showed that some two-thirds of Virginians supported a woman's right to choose. Following his election, several analysts credited Wilder's strong pro-choice position for providing him the margin of his slim victory. When Wilder took the oath of office as governor, he declared, "I am a son of Virginia. ... We mark today not a victory of party or the accomplishments of an individual but the triumph of an idea, an idea as old as America, as old as the God who looks out for us all. It is the idea expressed so eloquently from this great commonwealth by those who gave shape to the greatest nation ever known. ... The idea that all men and women are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights: the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness...."
1990 (Jan 10)
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The Bureau of the Census reports that the Black population is increasing in the southern U.S.
The Bureau of the Census reported that the proportion of Blacks living in the Southern region of the United States increased from 1980 to 1988, the first such rise in this century. Fifty-six percent of all Blacks resided in the South in 1988, compared with 52 percent in 1980. The proportion had been declining since the beginning of the century when it was at 90 percent. The Northeast was the only region in the 1980s to show a significant decline in the proportion of its Black population, dropping from 19 percent to 17 percent. The proportion for the Midwest (19 percent) and West (8 percent), according to the Bureau, did not change significantly. The number of Blacks living in the South in 1988 totaled 16.4 million, an increase of 2.8 million since 1980.
1990 (Jan 10)
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Marcelite J. Harris is named brigadier general in the U.S. Air Force, becoming the first Black woman to hold this rank in that branch of the Armed Services.
Marcelite J. Harris, a forty-six-year-old native of Houston, Texas, was named brigadier general in the U.S. Air Force. She was the first Black woman to hold this rank in that branch of the Armed Services. Harris earned a bachelor's degree in business management from the University of Maryland. She was the Air Force's first female aircraft maintenance officer. In 1975 Harris was named personnel staff officer at Air Force Headquarters in Washington, D.C., where she also served as a White House aide to former president Jimmy Carter.
1990 (Feb 4 - 7)
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Four Black demonstrators protesting the dismissal of Norward Roussell as the first Black superintendent of Selma, Alabama’s schools, are arrested after a melee in the mayor’s office.
Four Black protesters were arrested after a melee in the mayor's office in Selma, Alabama, on February 4. The Blacks were protesting the earlier dismissal of Norward Roussell as the first Black superintendent of the city's schools. The Selma Board of Education had said that Roussell's managerial skills were questionable. Among those arrested on February 4 were, Rose Sanders and Carlos Williams, local attorneys, and Perry Varner, a Dallas County commissioner. On February 6, the Selma Board of Education offered to rehire Superintendent Roussell at least temporarily and asked the five Black members of the board to return to their posts. The five Blacks had resigned in December 1989 after a racially divided school board voted against extending Roussell's contract. F. D. Reese, the Black high school principal who had been named interim school superintendent on February 4, said he would relinquish the job to Roussell. On February 7, despite the temporary reinstatement of Roussell as superintendent of Selma's schools, hundreds of demonstrators protested at City Hall. They demanded a permanent reinstatement for Roussell and charged that Rose Sanders, an attorney arrested in a previous protest on February 4, had been brutalized by police. Meanwhile, the town's schools, which were 70 percent Black, remained closed. Since December 1989, when the six white school board members rebuffed the five Black ones and voted to oust Roussell as superintendent, Black students had also boycotted several of the city's schools.
1990 (Feb 3)
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Professor and activist Angela Davis addresses a crowd at Spelman College, stating that activism is intensifying.
Angela Davis, professor of ethnic and women's studies at San Francisco State University, told a crowd of 1,500 people at Spelman College in Atlanta that "we're moving to an era of intense activism, something that is going to make the '60s look like a tea party." Davis was a controversial figure in the 1960s and 1970s as an activist who took more radical stances on issues than did leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, like Martin Luther King, Jr., and Roy Wilkins, of SCLC and the NAACP, respectively. In 1972, at the age of twenty-eight, Davis was tried and later acquitted of aiding three Black men who killed a judge during a shootout at the Marin County, California, courthouse. In 1980, she was the vice presidential candidate of the American Communist Party. In the 1980s, Davis, the late Malcolm X, and other Black "radicals" of the 1960s and 1970s had a resurgence of influence among young Black Americans, particularly on college campuses, as folk heroines and heroes. Their calls for "liberation by any means necessary" seemed to have new relevance to the problems of Blacks in the current decades, in the eyes of the students.
1990 (Feb 23)
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Arthur A. Fletcher is named chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
President George Bush named Black businessman Arthur A. Fletcher chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (CCR). Fletcher, age sixty-five, had served with Bush when the president was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in 1971. Fletcher was an assistant secretary of labor in the administration of President Richard M. Nixon and deputy assistant for urban affairs for President Gerald R. Ford. In 1978, he lost a contest for mayor of Washington, D.C., to Democrat Marion Barry. Fletcher succeeded William Barclay Allen, who, as chairman of the CCR, had been embroiled in several controversies, even with fellow commissioners. After he delivered a speech in 1989 titled "Blacks? Animals? Homosexuals? What is a Minority?" the commission, by vote of 6-1, condemned Allen's speech as thoughtless, disgusting and unnecessarily inflammatory." Allen and his predecessor, the late Clarence Pendleton, had also drawn the ire of some congresspersons and civil rights leaders for failing to aggressively champion civil rights enforcement. But the appointment of Fletcher drew praises. Benjamin Hooks, Executive director of the NAACP, for example, described Fletcher as a fair-minded, down-the-middle-of-the-road kind of person."
1990 (Feb 21 - 24)
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Students at historically Black Tennessee State University stage sit-ins and marches protesting poor conditions at the school.
Students at historically Black Tennessee State University in Nashville staged sit-ins and marches protesting poor conditions at the school. Targets of the protest were university president Otis Floyd and the state Board of Regents, the governing body for Tennessee's institutions of higher education. Several students were arrested for violating school rules or criminal laws during the demonstrations. Some of them, including Jeff Carr, the student body president, rejected offers of amnesty.
1990 (Feb 11)
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James “Buster” Douglas defeats Mike Tyson in a major upset, becoming the world’s heavyweight boxing champion.
James "Buster" Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson in the tenth round of the Tokyo, Japan, match to take the world's heavyweight boxing championship in a major upset. Douglas, a twenty-four-year-old Black American from Columbus, Ohio, went into the contest against the champion with a 18-2-1 record, including fourteen knockouts.
1990 (Feb 11)
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Nelson R. Mandela, the major symbol of the struggle for human rights in the Republic of South Africa, is released from prison after serving twenty-seven years.
Nelson R. Mandela, the major symbol of the struggle for human rights in the Republic of South Africa, was released from prison after serving twenty-seven years. Mandela's release was ordered by Frederick W. de Klerk, the new president of South Africa. It was applauded by political and human rights leaders around the world, including the United States. In 1986, the U.S. Congress had passed the Anti-Apartheid Act, which imposed economic sanctions on the white minority government of South Africa. (President Ronald Reagan had vetoed the measure earlier.) The act stipulated that the sanctions could only be lifted after South Africa had freed all political prisoners (of which Mandela was considered the principal one); legalized the African National Congress (ANC) and other anti-apartheid groups, engaged in good faith negotiations on the nation's political future; lifted the state of emergency, and made substantial progress on dismantling apartheid, South Africa's system of racial segregation. President de Klerk lifted a thirty-year-old ban on the ANC on February 2, 1990. Randall Robinson, executive director of Trans-Africa, the leading anti-apartheid group in the United States, expressed the great delight of most Black Americans upon the news of Mandela's release, but he warned that sanctions must remain in place and that "it would be a mistake... at this juncture for President Bush to invite President de Klerk to visit the U.S."
1989 (Sep 8)
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Justice Thurgood Marshall criticizes a series of Supreme Court rulings for putting the civil rights of all citizens at risk.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall told a group of federal judges meeting at Bolton Landing, New York, that a recent series of high Court decisions had "put at risk not only the civil rights of minorities but the civil rights of all citizens." The Supreme Court's only Black justice was referring to several rulings during the 1989 term of the Court that struck severe blows to the notions of affirmative action programs and minority "set aside" laws. In a rare criticism of colleagues on the high bench, Marshall also said "it is difficult to characterize last term's decisions as the product of anything other than a deliberate retrenching of the civil rights agenda." But he warned, "We forget at our peril [that] civil rights and liberty rights (are] inexorably intertwined."
1989 (Sep 3)
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A confrontation between police and Black college students in Virginia Beach, Virginia ends in violence.
Four people were injured (two by gunfire) and at least 160 were arrested during a confrontation between police and Black college students in Virginia Beach, Virginia. An estimated ten thousand people, mostly Black collegians from Eastern colleges and universities, had gone to the resort city for Labor Day frolicking. The police department said that more than one hundred businesses were looted in the riot. Some students who witnessed the melee said law enforcement authorities overreacted to their activities.
1989 (Sep 24)
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Thomas W. Cole, Jr., is inaugurated as the first president of Clark-Atlanta University.
Thomas W. Cole, Jr., former president of West Virginia State College, was inaugurated as the first president of Clark-Atlanta University. The new institution resulted from a merger of historically Black Clark College and Atlanta University on June 26, 1989. Cole had formerly been a professor of chemistry and served as provost at Atlanta University.
1989 (Sep 20)
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Two new national magazines, Sazz and Emerge, targets Black readers.
The Atlanta Constitution reported that two new national magazines targeted for Black audiences were beginning publication. Sazz, a women's fashion magazine, was founded by Mary Anne Holley, and Emerge, a national news monthly, was founded by Wilmer Ames. The New York City-based magazines were the first national Black-oriented periodicals to surface since the mid-1980s, according to Samir Husni, a journalism professor at the University of Mississippi who specialized in new magazines. Both publications arose at a time, however, when the magazine industry in general was facing declining circulations, and Black magazines in particular were "facing a tough battle for advertising dollars." Both were aimed at "upscale black readers," i.e., higher income and college-educated Blacks. Prior to the appearances of Sazz and Emerge, several other recent attempts at publishing national Black magazines had failed. These included Elan, Elancee, Excell, Modern Black Man (MBM), Spice, and Black Teen. The most successful Black magazines continued to be Ebony. Jet, Ebony Man, and Essence, geared toward women, and Black Enterprise, aimed at the Black entrepreneur. All of these have been produced by Chicago's Johnson Publishing Co. Ebony was founded in 1945 and had a circulation of 1.8 million in 1989; Jet, a news weekly, was founded in 1951 and reported a circulation of 892,000 in 1989. Both Essence and Black Enterprise were founded in 1970, and had circulations of 850,000 and 230,000, respectively, in 1989, and Ebony Man, which first appeared in 1985, had gained a circulation of 205,000 by 1989.
1989 (Sep 20)
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Colin Powell is nominated chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, becoming the first Black American to lead the joint military forces of the United States.
The Armed Services Committee of the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to approve the nomination of General Colin L. Powell as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The vote cleared the way for Powell to become the first Black American to lead the joint military forces of the United States.
1989 (Sep 20)
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The House of Representatives votes to subpoena HUD Secretary Samuel R. Pierce, Jr.
The employment and housing subcommittee of the Government Operations Committee of the House of Representatives voted unanimously to subpoena former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary Samuel R. Pierce, Jr., to testify about alleged influence-peddling and mismanagement at the department he headed for eight years during the administration of President Ronald Reagan. The subpoena was issued after Pierce demanded a third delay on the eve of his scheduled voluntary testimony on September 15. Pierce's attorney, Paul L. Perito, said the former secretary--who had appeared voluntarily before the subcommittee in May was willing to testify but needed two additional weeks for preparation. But Representative Ted Weiss from New York, a member of the subcommittee, charged that "rather than coming forth and clearing the record ... he is toying with the subcommittee in order to evade or avoid his responsibility." The subcommittee ordered Pierce to make his first appearance on September 26. The former HUD secretary, who served from 1981 to 1989, was the only Black American appointed to the cabinet of former President Reagan.
1989 (Sep 19)
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The chancellor of the University of Mississippi, apologizes to officials at predominantly Black Rust College after members of a fraternity at his university dumped two naked white pledges, whose bodies were painted with racial slurs, on the Rust campus.
Gerald Turner, chancellor of the University of Mississippi, apologized to officials at predominantly Black Rust College after members of a fraternity at his university dumped two naked white pledges, whose bodies were painted with racial slurs, on the Rust campus. The two naked pledges of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity with "KKK" and "We Hate Niggers" painted on their chests ran into the Rust College security office while escaping pursuing students. In addition to his own apology, Chancellor Turner had directed officers of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity to also extend an apology to Rust College. The Black private school is located about twenty-five miles from the University of Mississippi campus at Oxford.
1989 (Oct 11)
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The U.S. Court of Appeals rules in favor of desegregating the Dekalb County, Georgia, school system.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that the Dekalb County, Georgia, school board must dismantle its segregated neighborhood school system and consider "forced busing of students to achieve greater desegregation." The Court of Appeals also declared that Dekalb County must consider "drastic gerrymandering" or redrawing of school attendance zones and "dramatically expanded magnet schools" to expand its desegregation. The court overturned a June 1988 decision by U.S. District Court judge William C. O'Kelley, that ruled the Dekalb school board had done all that it could to desegregate its schools. O'Kelley agreed with the board's argument that housing patterns were the primary cause of any remaining school segregation. The appeals court disagreed and ruled that the Dekalb school system "may not shirk its constitutional duties by pointing to demographic shifts.... [The] system has a continuing constitutional duty to achieve the greatest possible degree of desegregation and to prevent segregation."
1989 (Oct 11 - 12)
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Violence erupts at an Alabama high school as racial tension escalates.
The principal and a student of Minor High School in Adamsville, Alabama, were stabbed during a fight between Black and white students. Principal Judson Jones, who received a two-inch knife wound to his stomach in the altercation, said tensions had escalated for several days, with several fights between Blacks and whites in the previous week. In an effort to bring peace, he had called for additional police officers to patrol the grounds of the school and ordered all Black students into the cafeteria and all whites into the gymnasium as they entered the school on October 11. But when Jones took a group of white students to the cafeteria to meet with the Blacks, a fight erupted that quickly spread to other areas of the building. Seven students were arrested at the school on October 11 on charges ranging from disorderly conduct to attempted murder. On October 12, two additional students were incarcerated on charges of possessing alcohol and weapons. William James, a Black senior at Minor High School, told newspaper reporters that the school's problems were not new. "There's always been racial trouble here.... They didn't want us here anyway." These racial disturbances in Alabama were a part of the growing number of such encounters on high school and college campuses throughout the year.
1989 (Jun 12)
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The U.S. Supreme Court rules that workers “adversely affected” by affirmative action plans may file lawsuits alleging discrimination.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled that workers "who are adversely affected by court-approved affirmative action plans may file lawsuits alleging discrimination." The high Court's ruling came in a case from Birmingham, Alabama, which had adopted an affirmative action plan, with federal court approval, in 1981 after Blacks had filed suit "charging that the city had engaged in discriminatory hiring and promotions." However, white fire fighters challenged the plan, claiming that it denied them promotions because of their race. The Supreme Court agreed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit that, contrary to previous appellate court findings that prohibited "secondary attacks on court-approved affirmative action plans," the white fire fighters did have a right to sue. Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote, “A voluntary settlement... between one group of employees and their employer cannot possibly settle, voluntarily or otherwise, the conflicting claims of another group of employees who do not join in the agreement." Justices Harry Blackmun, William Brennan, Thurgood Marshall, and John Paul Stevens dissented. Justice Stevens called the majority opinion ""unfathomable” and said it would “subject large employers who seek to comply with the law by remedying past discrimination to a never-ending stream of litigation and potential liability."
1989 (Jul 21)
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Boxing Champion Mike Tyson retains the heavyweight title by knocking out Carl “The Truth” Williams less than two minutes into the first round.
Black heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson knocked out Carl "The Truth" Williams in the first minute and a half of the first round to retain his world title. It was the fifth fastest title bout in boxing history. Although Williams was on his feet at the count of seven (knockouts are usually declared at the count of ten), referee Randy Neumann declared him out in the Atlantic City, New Jersey, contest.
1985 (Jan 23)
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The National Urban League assesses 1984 in their eleventh annual State of Black America report.
The National Urban League (NUL) said that 1984 was a year of “survival and hope" for Black Americans, despite attempts by the administration of President Ronald Reagan “to be a Rambo-like destroyer of civil rights gains.” In 1984, the NUL reported that most Black children lived in poverty, Black unemployment had declined to 15 percent but was still three points above the Black average since 1975 and more than double the White rate; and although Black family incomes rose, the gap between Black and White incomes had “grown wider for every type of family except those with two earners.” The statistics and observations were included in the NUL's eleventh annual “State of Black America” report. In commenting on the report, John Jacob, president of the NUL, said that President Ronald Reagan's citation of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, call for “a colorblind society” in 1963 was “obscene” and used “as a justification for trimming 'measures like affirmative action [that] move us toward a racially neutral society by opening opportunities that help Black people enter the mainstream.'"
1985 (Feb 26)
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Several Black American entertainers receive awards during the presentations of the 1984 Grammys, the highest honors for recording artists.
Several Black American entertainers received awards during the presentations of the 1984 Grammys, the highest honors for recording artists. Tina Turner, the "Queen of Rhythm and Blues,” won three Grammys, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year for "What's Love Got to Do With It?” Three Grammys also went to Prince for Best Rock Performance by a Group and Best Original Film Score for Purple Rain. For his songwriting efforts, Prince won Best New Rhythm and Blues Song for "I Feel for You.” Lionel Richie's "Can't Slow Down” was named Album of the Year. Jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, the Pointer Sisters, and Shirley Caesar also won two Grammys each. Marsalis won in the jazz and classical categories, the Pointer Sisters in pop, and Caesar in gospel. Michael Jackson won an award for his video Making Michael Jackson's 'Thriller,' and the late Count Basie was awarded a Grammy for his orchestra's 88 Basie Street.
1985 (Mar 21)
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The Joint Center for Political Studies reports that the 1984 elections increased the number of Black mayors serving in the United States to 286.
The Joint Center for Political Studies (JCPS), a Washington, D.C., research firm, reported that the 1984 elections increased the number of Black mayors serving in the United States to 286. Thirty-one new Black mayors were elected in 1984 in such cities as Battle Creek, Michigan; Gainesville, Georgia; Union Springs, Alabama; Pasco, Washington; Peekskill, New York; and Portsmouth and South Boston, Virginia. The increases in Black mayors during 1984 was the largest "one-year increase yet recorded." Since 1975, the number of Black mayors in the country had more than doubled from 135 to 286.
1985 (May 5)
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The historic Apollo Theater in the Harlem section of New York City reopens to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
The historic Apollo Theater in the Harlem section of New York City reopened to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary. The theater, which was once the premiere showplace for America's Black entertainers, had been closed for fifteen months and had undergone more than $10 million in refurbishments. More than fifteen hundred people attended the reopening celebrations while another two thousand stood outside. The Apollo opened on 125th street in Harlem in 1916 as an unnamed storefront and began offering showcase talent in 1935. Its earliest performers included comedians Jackie "Moms” Mabley and “Pigmeat" Markham. At the reopening ceremonies, many of the biggest names in Black entertainment returned for an appearance, including comedian Bill Cosby, and singers and dancers Patti LaBelle, Gregory Hines, Wilson Pickett, Little Richard, Stevie Wonder, and the Four Tops. During the ceremonies, Percy Sutton, the chairman of the Inner City Broadcasting Company who was “the prime mover behind the renovation,” said, “this theater is legendary to the thousands of performers who appeared on its stage, to the millions of people who attended its shows, and to the entertainment industry, which has been influenced by the innovations that occurred on the stage for five decades."
1985 (Jul 30)
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The U.S. General Accounting Office agrees to pay $3.5 million in back pay to about three hundred present and former Black employees who were denied promotions because of racial discrimination.
The United States General Accounting Office (GAO) agreed to pay $3.5 million in back pay to about three hundred present and former Black employees who were denied promotions because of racial discrimination. Under the terms of the arrangement, thirty-two Black evaluators would be promoted immediately and the GAO would then change its "competitive selection programs, including the preparation of an affirmative action plan to increase the percentage of minority people in upper-level positions.” The settlement resulted from class action suits filed by two GAO employees from Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, California, in 1980 and 1983, respectively, which claimed that Whites were favored over Blacks in promotion to supervisory positions from 1976 through 1983. In 1984 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found that the GAO's use of two different promotion systems had, indeed, “resulted in racial discrimination against many of its Black employees.”
1985 (Nov 7)
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The Bureau of the Census reports that the number of Black-owned businesses in the United States had increased forty-seven percent over a five year period.
The Bureau of the Census reported that the number of Black-owned businesses in the United States had increased forty-seven percent over a five year period. In 1982, there were 339,231 Black-owned firms, compared to 231,203 in 1977. The majority of Black-owned companies were service and retail businesses with gross receipts totaling $12.4 billion in 1982. That was an increase of nearly forty-four percent from $8.6 billion five years earlier. The largest segment of Black firms were “miscellaneous retail businesses,” 53,981, with total receipts in 1982 of $993 million. Black automotive dealers and service stations accounted for the largest dollar volume, however, $1.3 billion for 3,448 firms in 1982. Small, sole proprietorships firms totaling 322,975 accounted for more than ninety-five percent of all black businesses in 1982, while corporations made up only 1.8 percent."
1985 (Nov 19)
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Veteran Black American actor Lincoln Theodore Andrew Perry, better known as Stepin Fetchit, dies of pneumonia and congestive heart failure in Woodland Hills, California.
Veteran Black American actor Lincoln Theodore Andrew Perry, better known as Stepin Fetchit, died of pneumonia and congestive heart failure in Woodland Hills, California. He was eighty-three years old. Perry, a native of Key West, Florida, began his acting career in the 1930s, appearing in such films as Steamboat Round the Bend, and was best known for his roles as “a shuffling, head-scratching” servant. He took his stage name from a race horse on which he had won some money in Oklahoma before leaving for Hollywood in the 1920s. Perry was the first Black performer to appear on film with such movie stars as Will Rogers and Shirley Temple. Perry's film characters were viewed by many Blacks as negative stereotypes of their race, but Perry himself often bristled at such criticism and defended his “contributions." He once said that “when I came into motion picture, it was as an individual. ... I had no manager, and no one had the idea of making a Negro a star. ... I became the first Negro entertainer to become a millionaire. ... All the things that Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier have done wouldn't be possible if I hadn't broken that law (the race barrier). I set up thrones for them to come and sit on.” After the CBS television documentary entitled “Of Black America" characterized him as a “stupid, lazy, eye-rolling stereotype” in the 1960s, Perry sued the network for $3 million, alleging that he had been held “up to hatred, contempt, and ridicule.” A federal judge dismissed the suit in 1974.
1986 (Jan 16)
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A bronze bust of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is placed in the United States Capitol building, becoming the first of any Black American to stand in the halls of Congress.
A bronze bust of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was placed in the United States Capitol building. The statue was the first of any Black American to stand in the halls of Congress. The bust, which depicts King in a meditative mood with a slightly bowed head, was created by John Wilson, a Black artist at Boston University. After being displayed in the rotunda of the Capitol building for six months, the bust was to be moved to Statuary Hall to stand beside the statues of other famous Americans on display there. The bust was unveiled by King's widow, Coretta Scott King. Among those who spoke at the ceremonies were Senator Charles Mathias from Maryland who said, “today, Martin Luther King, Jr., takes his rightful place among the heroes of this nation." Representative Mary Rose Oakar from Ohio added: “No other American of my generation affected the course of American history more than Dr. King."
1986 (Jan 18)
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A group of whites march in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, to honor the birthday of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and to protest the first federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
A group of whites marched in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, to honor the birthday of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and to protest the first federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Glenn Miller, leader of the White Patriots Party and a former Ku Klux Klansman, said that he was “nauseated and sickened” by the national tribute to King. Miller added, "we're down here to tell the world that we will never accept a birthday honoring a Black communist. Never!" The Raleigh demonstration was one of several protests and acts of vandalism directed at the first annual King holiday. During the week, vandals in Buffalo, New York, painted a bust of King displayed in a city park white, while several municipalities and states refused to recognize the holiday altogether.
1986 (Jan 20)
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The nation celebrates the first national holiday in honor of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The nation celebrated the first national holiday in honor of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In Atlanta, Georgia (King's birthplace), Vice President George Bush attended a wreath laying ceremony at King's crypt and an ecumenical service at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King pastored at the time of his death. Other political leaders attending the services were Senators Bill Bradley from New Jersey, Bob Dole from Kansas, and Mack Mattingly and Sam Nunn, both from Georgia. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Samuel Pierce, Representative Newt Gingrich from Georgia, and Georgia Governor Joe Frank Harris were also in the audience, as was Rosa Parks, whose refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man sparked the famous Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott in 1955. The celebrations also included the first national Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday Parade held in Atlanta. Atlanta Police Chief Morris Redding stated that the parade yielded "probably the largest turnout we've ever had” for such an event in the city. The Martin Luther King, Jr., national holiday was the first such honor ever extended to a Black American in United States history.
1986 (Jan 20)
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Bishop Desmond Tutu is awarded the 1986 Martin Luther King, Jr., Non-Violent Peace Prize for his leadership in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.
The 1986 Martin Luther King, Jr., Non-Violent Peace Prize was awarded to Bishop Desmond Tutu, a leader in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. The award was presented on behalf of the King Center for Non-Violent Social Change by its president and King's widow, Coretta Scott King. She said that Tutu, like King, possessed “faith that dissipates despair.” Also, like King, Tutu repeatedly encouraged those "who are denied fundamental human, civil, and political rights never to doubt that they will one day be free.” In his acceptance speech, Tutu, winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize, said he trembled as he stood "in the shadow of so great a person” as King. He added, “I receive the award on behalf of those languishing in jail, sentenced to terms of life imprisonment because they have the audacity to say, 'All we want for ourselves is what white people want for themselves.'"
1986 (Jan 28)
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Ronald McNair, a Black American astronaut, dies aboard the Challenger space shuttle shortly after its lift-off from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Ronald McNair, a Black American astronaut, died aboard the Challenger space shuttle shortly after its lift-off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. McNair, a thirty-five-year-old physicist, was the nation's second Black astronaut. He was one of a crew of seven aboard the Challenger when it exploded in the skies. In one of the eulogies for McNair, actress Cicely Tyson remarked, “Ron and his crewmates touched ... us. ... They touched the other side of the sky for us."
1986 (Feb 8)
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Lorimer Douglas Milton, one of the nation’s leading Black bankers, dies in Atlanta, Georgia, at age eighty-seven.
Lorimer Douglas Milton, one of the nation's leading Black bankers, died in Atlanta, Georgia, at age eighty-seven. Milton was born on September 3, 1898, in Prince William County, Virginia, to Samuel Douglas and Samuella Anderson Milton. He was raised in Washington, D.C., and attended Brown University in Massachusetts on an ROTC scholarship. After receiving bachelor's and master's degrees in business from Brown in the 1920s, he began a long teaching career at Morehouse College and Atlanta University in Georgia. He retired as director of the Graduate School of Business Administration at Atlanta University in 1955. In 1921 Milton began working in the Citizens Trust Bank of Atlanta, one of the nation's oldest and largest Black financial institutions. He was elected president of the bank in 1930 and served in that position until 1971. At the time of Milton's retirement, Citizens Trust Bank had assets totaling $30 million and had established “a reputation for having opened the doors of the credit market to Blacks.” Milton had served on a number of federal banking committees, including the advisory board of the Commodity Credit Corporation, which had responsibility for financing the government's farm price-support program. He also served on the president's Committee for the White House Conference on Education in 1955; the Federal Advisory Council's Social Security Board; and the National Commission of Economic Development in 1963. In addition, Milton was a former chairman of the board of trustees of Howard University.
1986 (Mar 2)
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City Councilman Sidney Barthelemy defeats state senator William Jefferson to become the second Black mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana.
City Councilman Sidney Barthelemy defeated state senator William Jefferson to become the second Black mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana. Barthelemy garnered 93,054 votes (58 percent) to Jefferson's 67,668 (42 percent) votes to succeed Ernest “Dutch” Morial, New Orleans's first Black mayor. Barthelemy, age forty-three, told his supporters after his victory, “this is like a dream! ... Let us close ranks and fight the real problems." In the New Orleans municipal elections held on March 2, two Black Americans were also elected to the city council, giving Blacks a majority on the seven-member body for the first time in that city's history.
1986 (Jun 30)
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A U.S. Department of Defense survey reveals that more than 400,000 Black Americans were serving in the armed services during 1986.
A U.S. Department of Defense survey revealed that more than 400,000 Black Americans were serving in the armed services during 1986.
1986 (Jul 2)
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The United States Supreme Court, in two separate rulings, upholds affirmative action programs in hiring and promotions.
The United States Supreme Court, in two separate rulings, upheld affirmative action programs in hiring and promotions. In one case, the justices approved by a vote of 6– 3 a plan from Cleveland, Ohio, that reserved about half of the promotions in its fire department for "qualified minority candidates." In the other ruling, the Court declared by a margin of 5-4 that a union representing sheet metal workers in New York state and New Jersey must double its non-white membership. In the majority opinion, Justice William Brennan wrote, “We... hold that [federal law] does not prohibit a court from ordering in appropriate circumstances, affirmative race-conscious relief as a remedy for past discrimination.”
1986 (Sep 30)
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Edward Perkins, a veteran diplomat, is named United States Ambassador to the Republic of South Africa, becoming the first Black American ever to serve in that position.
Edward Perkins, a veteran diplomat, was named United States Ambassador to the Republic of South Africa, becoming the first Black American ever to serve in that position. At the time of the appointment, the U.S. Senate was considering whether or not to override President Ronald Reagan's veto of "harsh" economic sanctions against the white-minority government of South Africa. However, a "senior White House official" told news reporters that the "nomination was not made with the expectation of winning any converts in the Senate.” Perkins was currently serving as United States Ambassador to Liberia when President Reagan appointed him to the South African post.
1986 (Oct 15)
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President Ronald Reagan’s approval rating among Blacks triples between 1984 and 1986.
A special Gallup Poll commissioned by the Joint Center for Political Studies in Washington, D.C., revealed that President Ronald Reagan's approval rating among Blacks tripled between 1984 and 1986. The approval rate climbed from only eight percent in 1984 to 25 percent in 1986. In 1984, 82 percent of Black Americans polled disapproved of the president's performance. By 1986, however, the negative rating had dropped to 66 percent. The highest approval rates for Reagan (30 percent or better) came from Blacks who were male, blue-collar workers, political independents, urban southerners, and individuals younger than thirty years of age. The poll was based on a national survey of 868 Blacks.
1986 (Oct 18)
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The NAACP, one of the oldest and most prominent of the nation’s civil rights organizations, dedicates its new national headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland.
The NAACP, one of the oldest and most prominent of the nation's civil rights organizations, dedicated its new national headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland. The group, which was founded in 1909 “to fight discrimination and injustice," moved to Baltimore from its original headquarters in New York City, partially because "it could not afford the high rent and taxes.” Baltimore was chosen for the new headquarters largely because of “its majority Black population and long history in promoting civil rights."
1986 (Oct 23)
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White students dressed in Ku Klux Klan-type attire broke into the room of Kevin Nesmith, a Black cadet at The Citadel in South Carolina, leaving a charred paper cross in his room.
Five white students dressed in Ku Klux Klan-type attire broke into the room of Kevin Nesmith, a Black cadet at The Citadel in South Carolina. The five students taunted Nesmith and left a charred paper cross in his room. Nesmith said that he slept through most of the incident. On November 14, Nesmith resigned from the South Carolina military college because he felt he had been "made the [villain]” in the hazing incident, but added “the [villains] remain at Citadel.” Nesmith also said that "anger and frustration built up, and I felt mentally drained and no longer wanted to subject myself to this humiliation." The five white cadets who cursed Nesmith in the October incident were suspended from the college, but the suspensions were “stayed on the condition they not get into any more serious trouble during the school year.” They were also restricted to campus for the remainder of the school year and “given additional marching tours.” But some Black leaders in the state contended that the five should have been expelled. The NAACP filed an $800,000 lawsuit against The Citadel, alleging that Nesmith's civil rights had been violated and that the school historically had “tolerated and sanctioned” racial bigotry. On November 17, civil rights leader Jessie Jackson met with Nesmith and later requested a congressional investigation of race relations at the college. On November 16, the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission issued a report stating that a “minimal Black representation” on the campus created “an environment lacking in ethnic diversity and cultural sensitivity.” They recommended, among other things, that the school increase its Black enrollment from 6 percent to 10 percent in two years and incorporate "mandatory human relations and cultural sensitivity classes” into the leadership training curriculum.
1977 (Sep 1)
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Cleveland L. Dennard, president of the Washington Technical Institute in Washington, D.C., assumed the presidency of historically Black Atlanta University in Georgia.
Cleveland L. Dennard, president of the Washington Technical Institute in Washington, D.C., assumed the presidency of historically Black Atlanta University in Georgia. Dennard, a native of Sebring, Florida, was educated at Florida A&M University, the University of Colorado, and the University of Tennessee, from which he earned a Ed.D. degree. Prior to becoming president of the Washington Technical Institute in 1967 he had been principal of the George Washington Carver Vocational School in Atlanta (1960-1965), and Deputy Commissioner for Manpower and Program Management in the New York City Human Resource Administration (1965-1967). Dennard had also lectured in sixteen foreign countries under the auspices of the United States Information Agency (USIA).
1977 (Sep 6)
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Governor Mills E. Godwin announces that the state of Virginia would not comply with federal racial quotas to desegregate its colleges and universities.
Governor Mills E. Godwin announced that the state of Virginia would not comply with federal racial quotas ordered by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) to desegregate its colleges and universities. In a letter to HEW, Governor Godwin stated: “All our accomplishments to date signal one thing—Virginia's intention to provide access, for all of its citizens regardless of race, to higher education which is as diverse and as excellent as it can possibly be." But he said the state would not surrender its "administrative responsibilities to the federal government." Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Virginia were under orders to submit revised desegregation plans to HEW by the week of September 5. Louisiana had previously refused to submit any plan to HEW and Mississippi had submitted an unacceptable one. Both states were still in federal courts for their actions. Virginia, which did not fully comply with the HEW desegregation guidelines, faced the possible loss of an estimated $40 million in federal funds.
1977 (Oct 3)
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Ten members of the United States House of Representatives sign a resolution calling for the impeachment of Andrew J. Young, the first Black American ambassador to the United Nations.
Ten members of the United States House of Representatives signed a resolution calling for the impeachment of Andrew J. Young, the first Black American ambassador to the United Nations (UN). Most of the charges stemmed from public statements made by Young before and since his appointment to this position. The document cited twenty actions by Young that warranted his impeachment, including his depiction of Great Britain and Sweden as racist nations. The resolution also accused Young of failing to oppose the admission of Vietnam to the United Nations and of "seeking to transfer the governing power in the anti-communist nation of Rhodesia to the pro-Marxist guerilla coalition."
1977 (Oct 29)
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Muhammad Ali retains the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship with a unanimous decision in fifteen rounds, over challenger Earnie Shavers.
Muhammad Ali retained the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship with a unanimous decision in fifteen rounds, over challenger Earnie Shavers. The pattern of the fight was "one of Shavers stalking and looking to throw the big right hand that had enabled him to knock out fifty-two of his first sixty opponents, while Ali looked for ways to nullify the challenger's power." Ali, using "jabs, hooks and flurries of punches with both hands to the head," was the most successful. At the end of the New York City fight, Shavers cried, "they robbed me! They robbed me!"
1977 (Nov 18)
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Robert Edward Chambliss, a seventy-three-year-old former Ku Klux Klansman, is convicted of first degree murder in the 1963 dynamite bombing of the Sixteenth Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.
Robert Edward Chambliss, a seventy-three-year-old former Ku Klux Klansman, was convicted of first degree murder in the 1963 dynamite bombing of the Sixteenth Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The blast killed four young Black girls who were attending Sunday school. Chambliss was convicted specifically for the death of eleven-year-old Carol Denise McNair. He was immediately sentenced to a term of life imprisonment.
1977 (Nov 30)
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The Atlanta Constitution reports increased enrollments in many of the nation’s historically Black colleges and universities.
The Atlanta Constitution reported increased enrollments in many of the nation's historically Black colleges and universities. The ten Black colleges with the largest enrollments in 1977 were: 1) Howard University, Washington, D.C. (9,752); 2) Texas Southern University, Houston (9,552); 3) Southern University, Baton Rouge (9,002); 4) Jackson State University, Mississippi (7,844); 5) Norfolk State College, Virginia (7,263); 6) Morgan State College, Baltimore (6,424); 7) Florida A&M, Tallahassee (5,837); 8) North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro (5,515); 9) Tennessee State University, Nashville (5,348); 10) Prairie View A&M University, Texas (5,146).
1977 (Dec 10)
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Barbara Jordan, Black American congresswoman from Texas, announces that she would not seek reelection.
Barbara Jordan, Black American congresswoman from Texas, announced that she would not seek reelection. She denied rumors of poor health and said she would not seek a seat on the federal bench. She did say "the longer you stay in Congress, the harder it is to leave. ... I didn't want to wake up one fine sunny morning and say there is nothing else to do." Jordan had gone to Congress from Houston's eighteenth district in 1972 after serving in the Texas State Senate, where she became president pro tempore (the first Black American to preside over that body). During the impeachment hearings for President Richard Nixon in 1974, Jordan caught the attention of the nation with an eloquent condemnation of the president's involvement in the Watergate burglary scandal and an equally eloquent defense of the Constitution of the United States. At the 1976 Democratic National Convention held in New York City, she "electrified what had previously been a dull gathering, speaking with a precise, clipped delivery."
1978 (Jan 13)
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Hubert Horatio Humphrey, a key leader in the fight for passage of civil rights legislation, dies of cancer in Waverly, Minnesota, at age sixty-one.
Hubert Horatio Humphrey, who served as senator from Minnesota, vice president of the United States under Lyndon Johnson, and a key leader in the fight for passage of civil rights legislation in the 1960s, died of cancer in Waverly, Minnesota, at age sixty-one. Commenting on Humphrey's death, African American civil rights activist John Lewis said, "in this century, we lost two great Americans. ... One was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the other was Hubert Humphrey, who was the champion for the rights of all people. His life should be an inspiration to us all."
1978 (Jan 17)
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The National Urban League releases its third State of Black America report.
In its third "State of Black America" report, the National Urban League (NUL) stated that 1977 was "a year of continued depression, with unacceptably high unemployment and a widening income gap" for Black Americans. In remarks accompanying the presentation of the report, NUL director Vernon Jordan said the group was "disappointed” in President Jimmy Carter. He added, "the administration must face up to two basic realities. Firstmore, much more, is needed by way of federal actions to assist poor people and the cities. .. Second, it must recognize that the priority of balancing the budget by 1981 cannot be reconciled with more pressing priorities."
1978 (Feb 25)
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Daniel “Chappie” James, the only four-star Black general in the U.S. Armed Forces, dies of a heart attack in Colorado Springs, Colorado, at age fifty-eight.
Daniel "Chappie" James, the only four-star Black general in the U.S. Armed Forces, died of a heart attack in Colorado Springs, Colorado, at age fifty-eight. James, a graduate of Tuskegee Institute, grew up in Pensacola, Florida, during a period of rigid racial segregation. His mother, Lillie A. James, who founded her own school for Black youths, encouraged him to dream of higher things. James emerged from pushing a coal dolly in a Pensacola gas plant to one of the nation's most influential military leaders. Of his mother's influence, James once stated: “My mother used to say, 'Don't stand there banging on the door of opportunity, then, when someone opens it, you say, 'Wait a minute, I got to get my bags.' You be prepared with your bags of knowledge, your patriotism, your honor, and when somebody opens that door, you charge in." James, who served in three wars with the Air Force, retired on January 26, 1978. He wrote on a portrait of himself that now hangs in the Pentagon: “I fought three wars and three more wouldn't be too many to defend my country. ... I love America and as she has weaknesses or ills, I'll hold her hand."
1978 (Feb 27)
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The United States Supreme Court rules that the federal government does not have to help pay the costs of court-ordered busing to achieve racially desegregated public schools.
The United States Supreme Court ruled that the federal government does not have to help pay the costs of court-ordered busing to achieve racially desegregated public schools. The justices rejected without comment an appeal by Kentucky Governor Julian M. Carroll, who sought permission to ask for federal help in paying for the busing of school children in Louisville and surrounding Jefferson County, Kentucky. A school desegregation plan, which was in effect in the area, required the busing of approximately 23,000 students daily. In his appeal, Governor Carroll had said that "the drain on state and local funds [was] quite real and devastating." Thus, he challenged the constitutionality of three federal laws that prohibited federal funding of busing to achieve desegregation.
1978 (Mar 3)
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Cleveland Leon Dennard was inaugurated as the eighth president of historically Black Atlanta University.
Cleveland Leon Dennard was inaugurated as the eighth president of historically Black Atlanta University. The new president of the 112-year old institution formerly served as president of the Washington Technical Institute in the District of Columbia
1978 (Mar 14)
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The National Catholic Educational Association reported that while the overall attendance in Roman Catholic parochial schools dropped in 1977, the percentage of minority students increased sharply.
The National Catholic Educational Association reported that while the overall attendance in Roman Catholic parochial schools dropped in 1977, the percentage of minority students increased sharply. The exact percentage of minority students enrolled in both Catholic elementary and secondary schools over the six year period, 1971 to 1977, increased from 10.8 percent to 16 percent. Among Black students in elementary schools alone, the increase was from 5.1 to 7.6 percent. The figures were contained in the Catholic Educational Association's 1978 edition of "Catholic Schools in America."
1978 (Mar 17)
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The Atlanta Constitution reports that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recruited Black Americans to spy on members of the Black Panther Party in the United States and Africa in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The Atlanta Constitution, quoting from the New York Times, reported that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recruited Black Americans to spy on members of the Black Panther Party in the United States and Africa in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Times based its information on "sources with firsthand knowledge of the operation." The activities of the Black agents included "following and photographing" suspected Black Panther Party members in the United States and infiltration of Panther groups in Africa. One agent even “managed to gain access to the personal overseas living quarters of Eldridge Cleaver, the exiled Panther leader who set up a headquarters in Algeria in the late 1960s." The CIA had said "repeatedly that the goal of the agency's domestic spying program was to determine whether anti-war activists and Black extremists were being financed and directed by Communist governments," but "one longtime operative with direct knowledge of the spying said ... that there was an additional goal in the case of the Black Panthers living abroad: to 'neutralize' them; to try and get them in trouble with local authorities wherever they could.” The Times sources further revealed that the CIA conducted at least two major operations or programs involving the use of Black Americans at the time that the Black Panther Party was "attracting wide public attention" in the 1960s and 1970s. One of the programs, directed by the CIA Office of Security, was operated in the Washington, D.C., area with the code name "Merrimac.” In this operation, Black agents attended rallies and even funerals, "in hopes of identifying members of the Black Panther Party." In the second program, centered in North and East Africa, "carefully recruited" Black American agents were sent to Algeria, Kenya, and Tanzania, "among other places, to keep close watch on American Black radicals." Details of the clandestine activities against the Panthers were considered among the CIA's “most sensitive and closest held information," according to the Times sources, “because of fears that disclosures about the program would arouse a public backlash."
1978 (Mar 22)
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Federal funds are withheld for public universities in North Carolina after their plan to desegregate its universities is deemed unacceptable.
Joseph A. Califano, Jr., secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), announced that he would withhold some federal funds for public universities in North Carolina because that state had “failed to submit an acceptable plan to eliminate the vestiges of segregation." At the same time, the HEW secretary "initiated formal administrative action" that could result in a withdrawal of all federal funds for the sixteen universities in North Carolina, which were once legally segregated. At the time of this action, eleven of the schools were still predominantly White (91.2 percent) and five predominantly Black (91.6 percent). On February 3, 1978, HEW had rejected North Carolina's plan to desegregate its universities but accepted a proposal for its 57 community colleges. North Carolina was one of six Southern states under a federal court order to submit an acceptable plan to HEW by February 3. It was the only one of the six states that did not fully comply.
1978 (Mar 24)
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Bill Kenny, of the Ink Spots, dies of a respiratory ailment in New Westminster, British Columbia, at age sixty-three.
Bill Kenny, "whose tenor voice helped make the original Ink Spots one of the world's best known singing groups in the 1940s," died of a respiratory ailment in New Westminster, British Columbia, at age sixty-three. Kenny, together with Charles Fuqua, Orville Jones, and Ivory Watson, formed the Ink Spots in 1939. He was the last survivor of the group and continued performing almost up to his death.
1978 (Apr 15)
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Horace T. Ward, the first Black person to sit on the Fulton County (Georgia) Superior Court, is presented the 1978 Northwestern University Alumni Merit Award.
Horace T. Ward, the first Black person to sit on the Fulton County (Georgia) Superior Court, was presented the 1978 Northwestern University Alumni Merit Award for "outstanding contributions to his profession" in Evanston, Illinois. After receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees from Morehouse College and Atlanta University and serving a three year stint in the United States Army, Ward earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Northwestern in 1959. He enrolled at Northwestern only after having been denied admission, possibly because of his race, to the School of Law at the University of Georgia. In 1964, Ward became one of the first Blacks elected to the Georgia State Senate since Reconstruction. He was reelected to the Senate four times, ending his service there in 1974. He also served as a deputy city attorney for Atlanta (1969–1970) and assistant attorney for Fulton County (of which Atlanta is the county seat). In 1974, Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter appointed Ward to the Civil Court of Fulton County and three years later Governor George Busbee elevated him to the Fulton Superior Court, where he became one of eleven the Atlanta circuit. Ward was an active civil rights attorney during the height of the civil rights movement in Georgia. He participated in bus desegregation cases in Augusta; the Martin Luther King, Jr., case in Dekalb County; and the desegregation of the University of Georgia at Athens.
1978 (Sep 15)
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Muhammad Ali regains the World Boxing Association’s (WBA) heavyweight boxing championship in a unanimous decision over Leon Spinks in New Orleans.
Muhammad Ali regained the World Boxing Association's (WBA) heavyweight boxing championship in a unanimous decision over Leon Spinks, age twenty-five, in New Orleans. The thirty-six-year-old Ali thus became the first heavyweight boxer to win the championship three times. A crowd of seventy thousand witnessed the match in the Louisiana superdome.
1964 (Dec)
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The Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits discrimination in public accommodations is upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibited discrimination in public accommodations.
1985 (Jan 7)
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The United States Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, upholds the use of affirmative action plans by states that grant special employment preferences to minorities.
The United States Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, upheld the use of affirmative action plans by states that grant special employment preferences to minorities. The Court rejected arguments by fifteen prison guards in New York who contended that their chances of being promoted to captain were unlawfully diminished when state officials added points to promotion test scores of Blacks and Hispanics. The guards sued the New York Civil Service Commission in 1982 after eight minority guards, whose promotion test scores had been upgraded, were added to a list of candidates for the rank of captain. At the time, there were no minority officers holding permanent positions as captain in any prison in the state of New York.
1984 (Jan 4)
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Robert O. Goodman, Jr., a Black Navy lieutenant, is welcomed by President Ronald Reagan and others at the White House after having been freed from captivity in Syria.
Robert O. Goodman, Jr., a Black Navy lieutenant, was welcomed by President Ronald Reagan and others at the White House after having been freed from captivity in Syria. The release was negotiated by the Black American Democratic presidential candidate Jesse L. Jackson. At the White House, Reagan declared, “this is a homecoming, and a very happy and welcomed one.... We are very proud of him.” Goodman had served a month as a prisoner in Syria after an A-6E Intruder jet, on which he was serving as bombardier-navigator, was shot down during an American air strike against Syrian anti-aircraft positions in Lebanon on December 4, 1983. The pilot of the plane, Mark Lange, was killed in the attack. Goodman's release was made possible by "a moral appeal” that candidate Jackson, also a national civil rights leader, made to Syrian President Hafez Assad. Jackson's intervention into the realms of American foreign policy had been the subject of both praise and criticism, yet President Reagan said following Goodman's release, "you don't quarrel with success.”
1984 (Jan 6)
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Robert N. C. Nix, Jr., is inaugurated as chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, becoming the first Black American to sit on a state supreme court bench since the Reconstruction era.
Robert N. C. Nix, Jr., was inaugurated as chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, becoming the first Black American to sit on a state supreme court bench since the Reconstruction era. Nix was born on July 13, 1928, the grandson of a college dean and the son of Robert N. C. Nix, Sr., Pennsylvania's first Black democratic congressman. He received a bachelor's degree from Villanova University in Pennsylvania and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania. After serving as deputy attorney general of Pennsylvania in 1956–1957, Nix spent ten years in private practice. In 1968, he returned to public life to serve on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. He was elected to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 1971. Nix hoped that his appointment as chief justice would “inspire confidence in the legal system,” and saw it as a reaffirmation of those principles upon which “American democracy was founded."
1984 (Jan 6)
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Benjamin E. Mays, former president of Morehouse College and the Atlanta, Georgia, school board, is inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame.
Benjamin E. Mays, former president of Morehouse College and the Atlanta, Georgia, school board, was inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame. Mays, age eighty-nine, a native of South Carolina and the son of former slaves, was cited for his long career in education and civil rights. Since Mays was hospitalized with pneumonia, the plaque recognizing his induction was presented to him in Atlanta by former president Jimmy Carter, a longtime friend. Carter called Mays “a credit to Georgia and South Carolina, he's a credit to the Southland and he's a credit to the United States of America and to the world.” In his response, Mays commented: “I was born a little stubborn on the race issue. . . . I felt that no man had a right to look down on another man. Every man, whether he's on the right of you, the left of you, certainly in back of you—it makes no difference—is still a man.”
1984 (Jan 16)
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Michael Jackson is honored at the eleventh annual American Music Awards with the Award of Merit.
The American Music Awards presented the Award of Merit to Black American pop singer Michael Jackson at its eleventh annual ceremonies. The award recognized Jackson's "outstanding contributions over a long period of time to the musical entertainment of the American public." Previous Black American winners of the award included Berry Gordy, Jr., founder of Motown Records, and singers Ella Fitzgerald and Stevie Wonder.
1984 (Jan 22)
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Marcus Allen, Black American running back for the Los Angeles Raiders, is named Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the twenty-eighth annual Super Bowl in Tampa, Florida.
Marcus Allen, Black American running back for the Los Angeles Raiders, was named Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the twenty-eighth annual Super Bowl in Tampa, Florida. Allen gained a record 191 yards rushing on 20 carries and scored two touchdowns, one on a five-yard run, the other on a seventy-four-yard run. The Raiders defeated the Washington Redskins 38
1984 (Feb 2)
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Ku Klux Klansman Henry Hays is sentenced to death for the 1981 strangulation murder of Michael Donald, a nineteen-year-old Black youth.
Mobile County Circuit Court Judge Braxton Kittrell sentenced Ku Klux Klansman Henry Hays to death for the 1981 strangulation murder of Michael Donald, a nineteen-year-old Black youth whose body was found hanging from a tree in downtown Mobile, Alabama. Hays, age twenty-nine, was convicted of capital murder by a jury of eleven Whites and one Black on December 10, 1983. In sentencing Hays to death by electric chair, Judge Kittrell ignored the recommendation of the jury for a life sentence in prison. But Mobile County District Attorney Chris Galanos said there was only “one chance in a million” that the death penalty would stand up on appeal since Donald (who was beaten, slashed across the throat, and found hanging across the street from Hays's house) had been killed four months before Alabama law permitted judges to give a stiffer penalty than that recommended by jurors.
1984 (Feb 7)
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Walter Bergman, an eighty-four-year-old former Freedom Rider who was beaten by Ku Klux Klansmen at an Alabama bus station in 1961, is awarded $50,000 by a U.S. District court judgement.
United States District Court Judge Richard Enslen in Kalamazoo, Michigan, awarded a judgement of $50,000 to Walter Bergman, an eighty-four-year-old former Freedom Rider who was beaten by Ku Klux Klansmen at an Alabama bus station in 1961. On May 31, 1983, Judge Enslen had decided that there was a “preponderance of evidence" to indicate that the FBI knew the Klan planned to attack Bergman and other Freedom Riders as they rode through Anniston and Birmingham, Alabama, during the height of the civil rights movement. The Bureau, he added, "had specific information” that the Klan "would be given free reign” by police in the two cities "to attack the Freedom Riders." Thus, he ruled, it could be sued for damages. At the time of Judge Enslen's decision, Bergman, a former Wayne State University professor from Grand Rapids, was confined to a wheelchair from injuries suffered in the 1961 attack. He had asked for $2 million from the FBI for himself and the estate of his late wife, Frances.
1984 (Feb 28)
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The United States Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, rules that federal law prohibiting racial or sexual discrimination by schools and colleges extends only to the affected program or unit, not to the entire institution.
The United States Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, ruled that federal law prohibiting racial or sexual discrimination by schools and colleges extends only to the affected program or unit, not to the entire institution. The case came to the high Court from Grove College in Pennsylvania, which had refused to sign a required “assurance of compliance” with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The federal government then began proceedings to disqualify the college from receiving federal scholarship aid. The college and four of its students brought suit in a U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania, challenging the government's actions. Although the district court sided with the college, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that despite the limited nature of the federal assistance received by Grove College, the law applied to the entire institution. The Supreme Court's majority disagreed. Justices Lewis Powell and Sandra Day O'Connor wrote that the case presented "an unedifying example of overzealousness on the part of the federal government" in its previous interpretation of Title IX. While the administration of President Ronald Reagan applauded the decision, many congressmen and women's rights and civil rights groups reacted with alarm. For a while the issue presented by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 focused on sex discrimination, the broader provisions of the landmark Title VI of the omnibus Civil Rights Act of 1964 contained almost identical language. Thus, these groups feared its application too might be restricted by the Supreme Court's decision in the Grove College case.
1993 (May 11)
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A grand jury in Tennessee decides not to charge any white police officers in the choking death of Black motorist Larry Powell, even after a medical examiner confirmed that the choke hold caused his death.
In Chattanooga, Tennessee, a grand jury decided not to charge any white police officers in the choking death of a Black motorist. The incident occurred on February 5, 1993, when thirty-nine-year-old Larry Powell was pulled over by two police officers who suspected him of driving while drunk. Powell allegedly resisted arrest, and five other officers responded to a call for help from the two officers on the scene. In the scuffle that followed, the officers handcuffed Powell, put him face down on the ground, then gripped his neck with their hands and batons. A medical examiner testified that this choke hold caused Powell's death but that there was no evidence of abuse. Outraged Black leaders in Chattanooga, as well as Powell's widow, strongly condemned the grand jury's decision.
1993 (Jun 9)
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Black managers at Ford Motor Company file a class-action lawsuit charging that they practiced racial discrimination in promoting and paying Blacks.
In Minneapolis, Minnesota, twelve Black managers employed by Ford Motor Company in eight different states filed a class-action lawsuit charging racial discrimination in promoting and paying Blacks. The suit also claimed that supervisors had used racial slurs in front of several Black managers. The company had no immediate comment other than to say that it had aggressive anti-discrimination policies. The case was not expected to go to trial until 1995.
1984 (Mar 15)
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The College Board, promoters of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), reports that the average SAT scores for Blacks has risen twenty-two points since 1976.
The College Board, promoters of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), reported that the average SAT scores for Blacks had risen twenty-two points since 1976. While the national SAT verbal average decreased six points between 1976 and 1983, the average for Blacks increased by seven points verbally and fifteen points in mathematics during the period. The report said that the Black SAT score increases had occurred "in all regions of the country.” But among Blacks students who took the SAT in 1983, those enrolled in private schools had average scores forty-three points higher in verbal and twentyfour points higher in mathematics than those in public schools. The new results of Black SAT scores, overall, represented a reversal of a trend of falling test performances. The new statistics on Black SAT performances were included in a report entitled, "Profiles, College Bound Seniors,” published by the College Board in New York City.
1993 (Jun 9)
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Mayor Maynard Jackson of Atlanta, Georgia, announces he will not seek re-election to a fourth term.
Citing personal reasons that were believed to be related to his health, Mayor Maynard Jackson of Atlanta, Georgia, announced he would not seek reelection to a fourth term.
1993 (Jun 8)
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Scott Barrie, one of the first Black designers to gain fame in the world of fashion, dies.
Scott Barrie, one of the first Black designers to gain fame in the world of fashion, died of brain cancer in Italy. He was fifty-two. A native of Florida, Barrie—born Nelson Clyde—began creating clothes at the age of ten. He later studied at the Philadelphia Museum College of Art. After working for twenty years in New York City, he moved to Milan, Italy, in 1982. There, Barrie worked for the fashion houses of Krizia and then Kinshido. He opened his own showroom in 1988. He specialized in a soft, fluid style of clothing, using jerseys and chiffon in designs that appealed mostly to young people.
1984 (Mar 28)
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Benjamin Elijah Mays, educator and civil rights spokesperson, dies of heart failure in Atlanta, Georgia, at age eighty-nine.
Benjamin Elijah Mays, educator and civil rights spokesperson, died of heart failure in Atlanta, Georgia, at age eighty-nine. Mays was born August 1, 1894, in Epworth, South Carolina, the youngest of eight children of Hezekiah and Louvenia Carter Mays, former slaves and tenant farmers. After graduating as valedictorian from the high school department of South Carolina State College in Orangeburg, he entered virginia union College in Richmond, where he earned an “A” average. A year later Mays transferred to Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, from which he graduated with honors in 1920. While a graduate student at the University of Chicago, Mays taught mathematics at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. He completed a doctorate degree at Chicago in 1935. In the interval, Mays had also pastored the Shiloh Baptist Church in Atlanta (1921-1924), taught English at South Carolina State College (1925), served as executive secretary of the Tampa, Florida, Urban League (1926–1928), served as national student secretary of the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) (1928–1930), directed a study of Black churches under the auspices of the Institute of Social and Religious Research (1930–1932), and began a career as dean of the School of Religion at Howard University in Washington, D.C. (1934–1940). In 1940, Mays was elected president of Morehouse College (a prestigious all-Black, all-male institution), which was faltering in a weakened Depression economy and which had lost much of its student body to war-time employment. One of his earliest students was young Martin Luther King, Jr., who came to the school in 1944 from the eleventh grade of high school. King soon became a protégé of the college president. Through his skills as an orator and a fund-raiser, Mays restored the viability and prestige of Morehouse College and when he retired in 1967, the school had just been awarded a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the country's oldest and most prestigious academic honors society. Only two other Black institutions of higher education in the nation, Fisk and Howard Universities, had previously earned such a distinction. Following his retirement as president of Morehouse, Mays won a seat on the Atlanta Board of Education in 1969. The next year he was elected the first Black president of the city's school board and was subsequently re-elected six times over the next twelve years. During May's tenure as head of the school board, a group of Black and White leaders adopted the so-called Atlanta Compromise Plan for school desegregation. With the approval of federal court judges, the Blacks agreed to abandon pressures for cross-town and cross-jurisdictional busing to achieve further school desegregation, while Whites consented to Black administrative control of the school system. As a result of the pact, Alonzo Crim became the first Black superintendent of the Atlanta Public Schools in 1973. Mays began his civil rights activities as early as 1942 when he filed a successful suit challenging separate Black and White dining cars on railroads. Between 1950 and 1970, he wrote hundreds of essays in magazines and newspapers (including a column in the Pittsburgh Courier), scholarly articles, and books denouncing segregation and discrimination and pleading for racial justice and racial harmony. Among these were A Gospel for the Social Awakening (1950), Seeking to Be Christian in Race Relations (1957), Disturbed About Man (1969), and his autobiography, Born to Rebel (1971). He gave an invocation and remarks at the historic March on Washington in 1963 and preached the principal eulogy at the funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968. During that sermon Mays said, “God called the grandson of slaves and said to him, 'Martin Luther, speak to America about war and peace, speak to America about social justice, speak to America about racial discrimination, about its obligation to the poor.'" In commenting on Mays' death, Charlie Moreland, president of the Morehouse College Alumni Association, remembered one of Mays's favorite quotations: “It must be born in mind that not reaching your goal is not tragic. The tragedy lies in not having a goal to reach."
1993 (Jun 8)
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A Judge orders the U.S. government to release the Haitian refugees it held at a naval base for as long as 20 months after testing positive for AIDS.
A district court judge ordered the U.S. government to release more than 150 Haitian refugees who had been held at an American naval base in Cuba for as long as twenty months after testing positive for the AIDS virus. Many Black Americans had closely followed the problems of the Haitian men, women, and children ever since the Bush administration forbade them from entering the country. Prominent figures such as Jesse Jackson and, before his death, Arthur Ashe, had repeatedly condemned the government's actions as racist and inhumane. They described the crowded and dirty conditions at the naval base where the Haitians lived as little more than an "HIV prison camp."
1984 (Apr 2)
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John Robert Thompson, Jr., head basketball coach at Georgetown University, becomes first Black coach to win a NCAA basketball title.
John Robert Thompson, Jr., head basketball coach at Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.), became the first Black American to coach a team to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball title.
1984 (Apr 26)
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William “Count” Basie, Black American band leader, dies of cancer in Hollywood, Florida, at the age of seventy-nine.
William "Count" Basie, Black American band leader, died of cancer in Hollywood, Florida, at the age of seventy-nine. Basie grew up in Red Bank, New Jersey, and began taking twenty-five-cent music lessons at age eight. Despite his protests, Basie's mother insisted that he was "going to learn how to play the piano if it kills you." Basie began playing professionally with Walter Page's Blue Devils group in Kansas City, Missouri, in the late 1920s and later joined Benny Moten's band in 1929. When Moten died six years later, Basie took over and began the Count Basie Band. The group was not really “discovered" until 1935 when John Hammond, a jazz impresario who had brought Billie Holiday to prominence, saw Basie's ten-piece band in Kansas City. He was so impressed that he urged Basie to increase the size of his ensemble and booked its first national tour. It was also in Kansas City that Basie acquired the famous nickname "Count.” A radio announcer discussing the “royal family" of jazz, which included “Duke of Ellington” and “King of Oliver,” struck upon the idea of a "Count of Basie,” yet Basie never really liked the title. He said in 1982, “I wanted to be called Buck or Hoot or even Arkansas Fats," all silent-film heroes. By 1936, Basie and his band had garnered a reputation far beyond Kansas City and it traveled widely throughout the country, with its residency at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City. It "delivered several seminal improvisers to the world of jazz." Most notable were Buck Clayton, Herschel Evans, and Lester Young, “whose logical flow of melody became the standard for horn players of subsequent generations." The Basie band began recording in 1937 and such tunes as “One O'Clock Jump” became "studies in call-and-response phrasing in which the saxophones often trade simple blues riffs with the brass.” The group's early albums included Basie's Back in Town, Blues by Basie, and Super Chief. The Basie band began to pare down in the 1950s, collaborating with blues singer “Big” Joe Williams in what “was widely considered a creative peak” for both Basie and Williams. The demeanor of Basie, who was influenced by the legendary “Fats” Waller, was perhaps best described by Whitney Balliett, a jazz critic, in his book Night Creature (1980). Balliett said the band leader “pilots his ship from the keyboard with an occasional raised finger, an almost imperceptible nod, a sudden widely opened eye, a left-hand chord, a lifted chin, a smile, and plays background and solo piano that is the quintessence of swinging and taste and good cheer, even when almost nothing happens around it.” Basie's last performance was on March 19, 1984, at the Hollywood Palladium in California. He was completing more than fifty years as a jazz artist. In commenting on Basie's death, blues singer Joe Williams said "we have just lost a national treasure but the happiness that his music gave us will live.”
1993 (Jun 8)
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Black teenager Ronald Ray is found guilty of killing a state trooper in 1992. He confessed to the murder but blamed it on years of listening to violent, anti-police “gangsta rap” that made him hate and fear law enforcement authorities.
In Austin, Texas, a nineteen-year-old Black teenager named Ronald Ray was found guilty of killing a state trooper in 1992. The case was unusual in that Ray and his attorneys claimed that rap music had driven him to commit the crime and that he should not have to pay for it with his own life. (Since killing the trooper was a capital crime, Ray faced the possibility of receiving a death sentence). Ray confessed to the murder but blamed it on years of listening to violent, anti-police "gangsta rap" that made him hate and fear law enforcement authorities. On the night of the incident, he had driven for about 120 miles while the music of California gangsta rapper Tupac Shakur played. He said he was very angry by the time Trooper Bill Davidson "pulled [him] over for nothing." (Actually, Davidson had pulled over Ray because he had a missing headlight.) The power of gangsta rap to influence behavior also promised to be an issue in a related case. Davidson's widow filed a product liability lawsuit against Shakur and his record company, Time Warner, charging both of them with contributing to her husband's death.
1984 (Jul 17)
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The Center for the Study of Social Policy, a Washington, D.C., research group, released a study that reveals that “the gap between the average incomes of Whites and Blacks” is as wide in 1984 as it was in 1960.
The Center for the Study of Social Policy, a Washington, D.C., research group, released a study that revealed that "the gap between the average incomes of Whites and Blacks” was as wide in 1984 as it was in 1960. The group blamed the disparity on the increase in the proportion of Black families headed by females, from one-fifth to nearly one-half, and a sharp drop in the number of jobs held by Black men. In 1984, 14 percent of White families with children were headed by women, whereas 47 percent of Black families fell in that category, an increase of 8 percent since 1950 and 21 percent since 1960. In 1984, only 55 percent of Black men over the age of sixteen were employed, compared to 74 percent in 1960. As a consequence, the Center's study disclosed the median income of Black families in 1981 was 56 percent of the Whites' median, compared to 51 percent in 1960, but “the difference of one percentage point is statistically insignificant." The report concluded: “Despite the fact that Black Americans have made some gains since the civil rights movement, the economic gap between Blacks and Whites remains wide and is not diminishing. On measures of income, poverty, and unemployment, wide disparities between Blacks and Whites have not lessened or have even worsened since 1960.”
1984 (Jul 27)
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C.L. Franklin, minister and civil rights leader, dies in Detroit, Michigan, at the age of sixty-nine.
C.L. Franklin, minister and civil rights leader, died in Detroit, Michigan, at the age of sixty-nine. Franklin, who was the father of soul singer Aretha Franklin, had been in a coma for five years after having been shot by robbers in his home. Franklin was pastor of the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit for thirty-eight years and recorded more than twenty albums of his sermons, including The Eagle Stirred Its Nest. On some of his recordings, he was joined by the New Bethel Baptist Church Choir and his daughter Aretha. Just months before the famous March on Washington in 1963, Franklin led a civil rights march in Detroit that attracted thousands of people. Jesse Jackson, one of the nation's most prominent civil rights leaders and also a minister, eulogized Franklin as “the high priest of soul preaching."
1984 (Aug 4-11)
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At the Summer Olympic Games held in Los Angeles, California, several Black American athletes win gold medals, indicating first-place finishes.
At the Summer Olympic Games held in Los Angeles, California, several Black American athletes captured the coveted gold medal, indicating first-place finishes. On August 4, Carl Lewis won the finals of the prestigious 100-meter dash in track and field. Lewis defeated Sam Graddy by finishing in 9.99 seconds. Graddy won the silver medal for his second place finish in 10.19 seconds. Lewis' winning margin of two-tenths of a second was the largest in Olympic history for the event. It was also the first gold medal in track and field for the United States in the 1984 Olympics and the first for the United States in the 100-meter since 1968, when Jim Hines set a world record of 9.95 in the high altitude of Mexico City. Still, Lewis' 9.99 represented the fastest 100 meters ever run at sea level in the Olympics. On August 5, Evelyn Ashford set an Olympic record of 10.97 seconds while winning the women's 100-meter finals, and Edwin Moses won the 400-meter intermediate hurdles in 49.75 seconds. On August 11, Carl Lewis completed his sweep of four gold medals by running the last leg of the U.S. 400-meter relay team. He went 100 meters in 8.94 seconds, enabling the Americans to set the first track and field record of the 1984 Games, 37.83 seconds. Earlier, Lewis had won gold medals in the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash, and the long jump. Lewis' feats in the 1984 Olympics equaled those of Jesse Owens, the Black American who won four gold medals in the same events in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany. Of his achievements, Lewis told news reporters, “it is an honor. Two years ago, everyone in the world said it couldn't be done. Even a year ago, I said I couldn't do it.” He added, “I was looking for Ruth Owens [Jesse Owens' widow]. Jesse has been such an inspiration to me. I wanted to dedicate one medal to her."
1984 (Nov 6)
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Ronald Reagan is re-elected as president of the United States after alleged insensitivity toward Black issues during his first term and only receiving 20 percent of the Black American vote.
Ronald Reagan was re-elected president of the United States by the biggest margin in recent history. Reagan captured at least 58 percent of the more than fifty million votes cast, while his Democratic challenger, former vice president Walter Mondale, received approximately 41 percent. Reagan's landslide victory was comparable to that of Franklin D. Roosevelt's over Alf Landon in 1936; Lyndon B. Johnson's defeat of Barry Goldwater in 1964; and Richard Nixon's defeat of George McGovern in 1972. Regan, who was frequently attacked by civil rights leaders during his first term for alleged insensitivity toward Black issues, received only 20 percent of the Black American vote by most estimates, including media exit polls.
1993 (Jun 7)
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Heavyweight boxer George Foreman’s comeback attempt ends in defeat as he loses to Tommy Morrison.
In Las Vegas, Nevada, forty-four-year-old heavyweight boxer George Foreman's comeback attempt ended in defeat as he lost to twenty-four-year-old Tommy Morrison in a twelve-round unanimous decision. Foreman had originally retired from the ring in 1977 and then began a comeback in 1987. In 1991, he became the oldest fighter ever to challenge for the heavyweight title when he took on Evander Holyfield.
1993 (Jun 30)
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In California, Tom Bradley steps down from office after serving as mayor of Los Angeles for twenty years.
In California, 75 year old Tom Bradley stepped down from office after serving as mayor of Los Angeles for twenty years. He had decided earlier not to run for re-election in the face of the city's serious financial problems, rising crime rate, and strained race relations. A liberal Black Democrat, Bradley had been in public service for fifty years at the time of his retirement, first as a policeman, then as a councilman, and finally as mayor. Taking his place was a conservative white Republican businessman, Richard Riordan.
1993 (Jun 28)
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The U.S. Supreme Court declares that states may be violating white voters’ rights by creating congressional districts that appear to be based only on race.
The U.S. Supreme Court declared that states may be violating white voters' rights by creating congressional districts that appear to be based only on race. The ruling—which many legal experts called one of the most significant in a decade, casted doubt on key parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. This landmark civil rights law made it possible for Blacks to gain more seats in the U.S. Congress as well as in state legislatures. It protected minority voters against discrimination and underrepresentation at the hands of whites who divided up voting districts in such a way that Blacks never would be in the majority, a process known as "gerrymandering." The new Supreme Court decision also cleared the way for white voters to sue states that go to extremes to create voting districts where Black and/or Hispanic voters end up in the majority.
1993 (Jun 26)
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Thousands of people assemble to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the freedom walk led by Martin Luther King, Jr.
In Detroit, Michigan, thousands of people assembled to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of a freedom walk led by Martin Luther King, Jr. They celebrated the occasion with another march and a downtown rally calling for a renewed commitment to political activism, economic justice, and closer ties between people of African descent all over the world. With a new generation of leaders in attendance including NAACP executive director Ben Chavis and Martin Luther King III, marchers retraced the same route the slain civil rights leader took on June 23, 1963, along with 125,000 of his supporters. At the end of that historic march, King delivered for the first time a version of his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. The rest of the country heard the final version later that same summer in Washington, D.C.
1994 (Aug 30)
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Rosa Parks is attacked and robbed in her home.
Eighty-one-year-old Rosa Parks, who helped launch the civil rights movement, was assaulted in her Detroit home and robbed of $50. The following day a suspect was arrested.
1994 (Aug 29)
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Tennessee civil rights leader Avon Williams dies.
Avon Williams, a former Tennessee state senator, civil rights leader, and attorney, died in Nashville, Tennessee, at age seventy-two. In 1950, four years before the historic Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation decision, Williams sued to desegregate schools in Anderson County, Tennessee. He subsequently appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court seven times arguing public accommodations, school segregation, and teacher dismissal cases. He was also active in other efforts to desegregate golf courses, lunch counters, and other public facilities in Tennessee.
1994 (Aug 28)
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Tiger Woods wins the U.S. Amateur Golf Championship.
Eighteen-year-old Eldrick "Tiger" Woods became the first Black player, and the youngest player ever, to win the U.S. Amateur Golf Championship. A year later, Woods won his second amateur golf title.
1984 (Nov 11)
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Martin Luther King, Sr., minister, civil rights activist, and father of slain civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr., dies following a heart attack in Atlanta, Georgia, at age eighty-four.
Martin Luther King, Sr., minister, civil rights activist, and father of slain civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr., died following a heart attack in Atlanta, Georgia, at age eighty-four. King, Sr., was born Michael Luther King to a sharecropper and cleaning woman in Stockbridge, Georgia, on December 19, 1899. He changed his name "to honor” the famous German theologian Martin Luther in 1934. King moved to Atlanta and became a minister at age seventeen. He also attended Morehouse College, from which he graduated in 1930. A year later King succeeded his deceased father-in-law, the Reverend Adam Daniel Williams, as pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, one of Atlanta's largest Black congregations. He remained as pastor or co-pastor of the church until 1975. Even before King assumed the pastorate at Ebenezer Baptist Church, he had become active in political and racial affairs in Atlanta. He was one of the Black leaders who "successfully lobbied” for the construction of the Booker T. Washington High School, the first secondary school for Blacks in the city, in 1924. In 1936, King was a leader in a voting rights march to Atlanta's City Hall and participated in protests against segregated cafeterias in the city and helped negotiate an agreement for their desegregation in 1961. The elder King accumulated considerable wealth as well as political and social influence. He was a director of Citizens Trust Company, the city's Black bank, and a member of the board of directors or trustees of SCLC, Morehouse College, the Morehouse School of Religion, and the Carrie Steele-Pitts Orphans Home. In 1972, he was named “Clergyman of the Year” by the Atlanta Chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. A year before his death, King was awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr., Non-Violent Peace Prize. Although King lost his famous son to an assassin's bullet in 1968 and his wife to another assassin in 1974, he continued to insist: "I don't hate. ... There is no time for that, and no reason either. Nothing that a man does takes him lower than when he allows himself to fall so low as to hate anyone.” In commenting on King's death, Marvin Arrington, the Black president of the Atlanta City Council, remarked, “we've lost one of our patriarchs.”
1994 (Aug 22)
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Chevy Chase Federal Savings Bank settles their discrimination suit in which the Justice Department claimed the bank had violated the Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Acts by engaging in “redlining.” The bank denies the allegations but opts to settle to avoid litigation that could prove to be more costly.
The U.S. Justice Department announced that an $11-million-dollar settlement had been reached with Chevy Chase Federal Savings Bank. A discrimination suit contended that the bank had used bias in its lending practices against minorities and low-income people. The Justice Department claimed that the bank had violated the Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Acts by engaging in "redlining," the practice of not providing services in known low-income areas. In addition to the $11-million-dollar settlement, Chevy Chase Bank agreed to open three mortgage offices and one new branch office in areas of Washington, D.C., with majority Black populations. The settlement also included recruitment of minorities for staffing, advertisement of mortgage services to agents representing minority areas, and the retraining of current staff on fair lending practices. While the bank denied the Justice Department allegations, it opted to settle to avoid litigation that could prove to be more costly.
1984 (Nov 14)
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The Wonder Woman Foundation presented its first “Eleanor Roosevelt Woman of Courage Award” to Rosa Parks, the Black woman who sparked the famous Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott in 1955.
The Wonder Woman Foundation presented its first "Eleanor Roosevelt Woman of Courage Award" to Rosa Parks, the Black woman who sparked the famous Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott in 1955. Parks, age seventy-one, recalled her experience in accepting the award in New York. She said, “I am not going to move," when a bus driver told her to give up her seat to a white man. Parks added, “I stand before you full of new courage and determination not to retire, as long as I feel I can be of some assistance to troubled people...." The Wonder Woman Awards were established in 1981 to highlight the fortieth anniversary of “Wonder Woman," the comic book heroine created by William Moulton Marston.
1994 (Aug 20)
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Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., is fired as the head of the NAACP after accusations of mishandling funds to aid his sexual discrimination charges.
Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., was fired by the board of the NAACP following allegations that he, acting as head of the organization, approved payments in excess of $300,000 in order to silence sexual discrimination charges against him.
1984 (Dec 15)
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Miles Davis, Black American jazz trumpeter, is awarded the Sonning prize for musical excellence in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Miles Davis, the fifty-eight-year-old Black American jazz trumpeter, was awarded the Sonning prize for musical excellence in Copenhagen, Denmark. He was also presented with $9,000 in cash. Davis has played a major role in the transition from the hard, aggressive stance of bop to a softer, more subtle sound in jazz. In 1956 success came to the performer with the release of his first record, Miles Ahead. Other landmark recordings included Porgy and Bess and Sketches of Spain. By the late 1960s Davis's musical explorations took him into the realm of electronic instruments, a sound that can be heard in the album Bitches Brew. In decades to follow, Davis' rhythmic and harmonic experimentation served to diversify the musician's audience and increase his popularity.
1984 (Dec 31)
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The United Negro College Fund raises more than $14 million in pledges during a national telethon.
The United Negro College Fund (UNCF), a coordinating fund-raising organization for most of the nation's private Black colleges and universities, announced that it had raised more than $14.1 million in pledges during a national telethon. The event, the first of its kind carried on national television, was hosted by singer Lou Rawls and had a goal of $15 million.
1994 (Apr 26)
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The Supreme Court rules that the Civil Rights Act of 1991 cannot be applied retroactively.
The Supreme Court ruled twice by an 8-1 margin that the Civil Rights Act of 1991 could not be applied retroactively. Landgraf v. USI Film Products and River v. Roadway Express were the two cases the court considered in rendering its decisions. The 1991 Civil Rights Act allowed victims of workplace discrimination to file for compensatory and punitive damages in addition to back pay and lost benefits. It also allowed the right to a trial by jury. Then-president George Bush had signed the act into law.
1994 (Apr 26 - 29)
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South African Blacks vote for the first time in the history of the Republic of South Africa. This promised to end nearly 350 years of minority rule by whites, made possible by changes stemming from Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990.
South African Blacks, for the first time in the history of the Republic of South Africa, participated in the election process. The milestone event, which promised to end nearly 350 years of minority rule by whites, was made possible following the momentous changes that began with Nelson Mandela's release from prison in 1990 by then-president Frederik Willem de Klerk. On May 10, African National Congress leader Mandela, following a landslide victory, was inaugurated as the first Black president of South Africa.
1994 (Apr 16)
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Award-winning novelist Ralph Waldo Ellison dies.
Ralph Waldo Ellison died in New York at the age of eighty. Ellison won the National Book Award for his only published novel, Invisible Man, in 1952. He was the first Black writer to win this award and his novel, about the alienation of Blacks in a white society, has been hailed as an American masterpiece. Ellison was also honored during his lifetime by election to the National Institute of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1969 he received the Medal of Freedom from President Richard M. Nixon.
1993 (Jun 20)
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Track star Florence Griffith Joyner is appointed co-chair of the President’s Council on Fitness and Sports.
President Bill Clinton appointed track star Florence Griffith Joyner co-chair of the President's Council on Fitness and Sports. She was scheduled to share the job with former basketball player and congressman Tom McMillen. Together, they replaced bodybuilder and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had been appointed by President George Bush. Griffith Joyner was a standout at the 1988 U.S. Olympic Trials, where she set a world record in the 100 meters. Later that year at the Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, she won three gold medals and set a world record in the 200 meters.
1993 (Oct 7)
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Novelist Toni Morrison is awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize in literature.
Novelist Toni Morrison was named the winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature. She was the first Black American to receive this highest of all literary honors.
1993 (Oct 22)
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White racists Mark Kohut and Charles Rourk are sentenced to life in prison for setting fire to Jamaican immigrant Christopher Wilson.
In Tampa, Florida, white racists Mark Kohut and Charles Rourk were sentenced to life in prison for setting fire to Jamaican immigrant Christopher Wilson. Seventeen-year-old Jeff Ray Pellett, charged as an accessory in the hate crime, received a twenty-two-month jail sentence.
1993 (Oct 21 - 25)
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Civil rights leaders and gangs hold a Peace Summit in Chicago.
Thousands of gang members and dozens of Black civil rights leaders attended a United in/and for Peace gang summit in Chicago.
1993 (Nov 9)
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Deputy Secretary Clifton R. Wharton, Jr., the highest-ranking Black in the State Department, resigns his position.
Deputy Secretary Clifton R. Wharton, Jr., the highest-ranking Black in the State Department, resigned his position after a series of unfavorable press reports on his performance.
1993 (Nov 24)
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Grammy award winning guitarist Albert Collins dies.
Guitarist Albert Collins, a Grammy award winner and a member of the Blues Hall of Fame, died in Las Vegas at the age of 61.
1993 (Nov 21)
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The heavily black-populated District of Columbia is denied statehood.
By a margin of more than one hundred votes, the U.S. House of Representatives defeated a bill proposing that the heavily Black-populated District of Columbia (Also known as Washington D.C.) become the nation's fifty-first state.
1993 (Nov 2)
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Sharon Sayles Belton is elected the first Black and female mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Sharon Sayles Belton was elected the first Black and the first female mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
1993 (May 6)
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After a long running dispute, the jury rules in favor of Boston University over the ownership of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s personal papers. The ruling disappoints his widow, Coretta Scott King, who says she will consider filing an appeal.
In a Boston courtroom, a jury ruled in favor of Boston University in a long-running dispute between the school and the family of Martin Luther King, Jr., over ownership of about one-third of the slain civil rights leader's personal papers. On July 16, 1964, King had sent a letter to officials at Boston University (where he had received his doctorate degree) saying that he wanted to give his correspondence, manuscripts, and other papers and items of historical interest to the school's library. Later that year and the next, he did indeed hand over about 83,000 documents. Most dated back before 1961 and covered the birth of the civil rights movement. In her lawsuit, King's widow, Coretta Scott King, claimed that her husband had changed his mind about the donation before his death but that he had never let the university know. She said that he had only sent his papers up north temporarily because he thought they would be safer there than anywhere in the South. (At the time, his home and office were often the targets of fire bombings.) According to Mrs. King, he really intended for them to be returned to him at some future date. Describing herself and her family as deeply disappointed about the verdict, Coretta Scott King said she would consider filing an appeal. She had hoped to bring all of her husband's papers together in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change.
1994 (May 24)
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Hugh B. Price is named president of the National Urban League.
The National Urban League selected Hugh B. Price as its new president and chief executive officer. Price succeeded John E. Jacob, who had served the organization for the past twelve years.
1994 (May 24)
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Denny’s, the popular restaurant chain, settles its discrimination lawsuit.
Flagstar Cos., the parent company of Denny's restaurants, agreed to pay a settlement of more than $54 million to Black customers who had filed a class-action discrimination lawsuit.
1994 (May 2)
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Damian Williams is convicted of beating white trucker Reginald Denny during the 1992 Los Angeles Riot.
Damian Williams received a maximum ten-year sentence for his involvement in the beating of white trucker Reginald Denny during the 1992 Los Angeles Riot. Four other Black men were acquitted of felony weapons charges stemming from the incident.
1994 (May 14)
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The Auburn Avenue Research Library opens, becoming the second public library in the nation to open with a focus exclusively on Black history and culture.
The Auburn Avenue Research Library, part of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library in Atlanta, Georgia, became the second public library in the nation to open with a focus exclusively on Black history and culture (the first was New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture). Opened at a cost of $10 million, the 50,000-square-foot library houses three buildings in one: a library research area containing general reference books and materials, a public section housing exhibit cases and a main reading room, and an archive that includes a core of library stacks running through the center of the building, The library's core collection is the Negro History Collection, established at the original Auburn Avenue branch in 1934. The library's reference collection included 23,000 books, 2,000 periodical titles, 181 African American-related newsletters, and 1,600 vertical files augmenting these primary materials.
1994 (Mar 5)
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White supremacist Byron de la Beckwith is sentenced to life in prison for the 1963 assassination of NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers.
In Jackson, Mississippi, white supremacist Byron de la Beckwith was sentenced to life in prison for the 1963 assassination of NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers. In two previous trials, all-white juries were unable to reach a verdict. The case was reopened in 1989 following the discovery of new evidence and in February 1994, a jury of eight Blacks and four whites found Beckwith guilty.
1994 (Mar 1)
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Leonard Coleman is elected the new National Baseball League president, becoming the highest ranking Black executive in professional sports.
Leonard Coleman was elected president of the National Baseball League, replacing fellow Black American Bill White. A former marketing development director of Major League Baseball, Coleman now held the rank of the highest Black executive in professional sports.
1994 (Jun 17)
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Former professional football Hall-of-Famer Orenthal James “O.J.” Simpson leads police on a low-speed chase before giving himself up for arrest for the June 12th murders of his ex-wife and her friend.
The nation watched with a mixture of fascination and horror as former professional football Hall-of-Famer Orenthal James "O.J." Simpson led police on a low-speed chase through Anaheim, California, before giving himself up for arrest for the June 12th murders of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Lyle Goldman. The media reported that Simpson had earlier left what appeared to be a suicide note and that he now carried a gun. Until Simpson reached his Brentwood estate, accompanied by friend Al Cowlings, it remained unclear whether the country would be witness to a televised suicide. A possible motive for the crime remained clear from the beginning: Simpson, despite his until now largely untarnished public image, was known to be a jealous husband and wife-beater. Whether Simpson had the means to commit the murders remained to be seen. But on June 27, Time magazine featured an artificially darkened police mugshot of the football star, bringing home the fact that no other suspect existed and that race would, however unfortunately, play a key role in the trial and the minds of Americans. A Heisman Trophy winner, Simpson began his professional football career with the Buffalo Bills in 1969. Three years later he won his first rushing title, after gaining over 1,200 yards in a single season. Then, in 1973, "The Juice" accelerated to superstar status. On opening day he rushed for 250 yards, becoming the first Black to do so in a single game. Throughout the season, he chalked up 10 additional games in which he ran for more than 100 yards, an NFL record. Simpson concluded this remarkable season by amassing a total of 2,003 yards and eclipsing the record of 1,863 yards set earlier by Jim Brown. In 1979 Simpson was named the NFL Player of the Decade. Later honors included his entry into the College Football Hall of Fame (1983) and the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1985). Following the conclusion of his pro football career, Simpson continued to make a name for himself as a sports commentator, actor, and TV commercial spokesman.
1994 (Jun 12 - 14)
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NAACP leader Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., hosts the first African American Leadership Summit.
NAACP Executive Director Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., hosted the first African American Leadership Summit. Chavis received criticism for inviting controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to the Baltimore conference.
1994 (Jan 25)
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Michael Jackson settles his child molestation suit out-of-court despite maintaining his innocence.
In an out-of-court settlement, singer Michael Jackson reportedly paid millions of dollars following charges of child sexual molestation, despite maintaining his innocence.
1994 (Feb 3)
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Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan suspends national spokesman Khalid Abdul Muhammad after his controversial remarks.
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan suspended national spokesman Khalid Abdul Muhammad following a speech in which Muhammad referred to Jews as "bloodsuckers" of the Black community, labeled Pope John Paul II a "cracker" and Nelson Mandela "a fool." In May 1994 the spokesman was shot and wounded by another Nation of Islam member while delivering a speech at Riverside, California.
1994 (Feb 2)
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Commerce Secretary Ron Brown is cleared of bribery charges.
Commerce Secretary Ron Brown was cleared of charges that he accepted a $700,000 bribe in exchange for the lifting of a Vietnam trade embargo.
1994 (Dec 9)
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President Bill Clinton asks Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders to resign after remarks about sex education in schools.
President Bill Clinton requested that Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders resign following remarks in which she implied that students should be taught how to masturbate as part of their sex education in the schools.
1994 (Dec 4)
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Singer Aretha Franklin is honored for her achievement in the performing arts.
At the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C., singer Aretha Franklin was honored for lifetime achievement in the performing arts. The "Queen of Soul" was the first Black woman selected for induction into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. As a child she sang gospel in the church pastored by her father, a noted evangelist and singer, and later joined the quartet directed by James Cleveland. She turned to blues in the 1960s, and in 1967 two of her albums sold more than 1 million copies each. Franklin won four Grammy awards between 1967 and 1969.
1994 (Dec 28)
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The King family bars the U.S. Park Service from continuing its visitor’s tours through Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, birthplace and tomb.
In opposition to the U.S. Park Service plan to build a visitor center across from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, birthplace and tomb, the King family barred the agency from continuing its visitor's tours through the historic site. The King family wanted to create a multimedia museum instead of the planned visitor center. King's birthplace and tomb are owned by the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change.
1976 (Sep 10)
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Mordecai Wyatt Johnson, former president of historically Black Howard University, dies in Washington, D.C., at age eighty-six.
Mordecai Wyatt Johnson, former president of historically Black Howard University, died in Washington, D.C., at age eighty-six. Johnson was born on January 12, 1890, the son of a Baptist minister. He received undergraduate degrees from both Atlanta Baptist College (now Morehouse College) in 1911 and the University of Chicago in 1913, a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Rochester (New York) Theological Seminary in 1920, and a Master of Sacred Theology degree from Howard University in 1932. After serving nine years as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Charleston, West Virginia, Johnson assumed the presidency of Howard University in 1926 and held the position until 1960. Under his leadership Howard grew from a mostly Black school to an international university in its student body, faculty, and scope of its academic programs. During this period, the student population increased by 250 percent, seventeen new buildings were constructed, and the annual budget increased from $700,000 to $6 million. Johnson also gained a reputation as a champion of human rights and a spellbinding orator. After addressing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in June 1959, the French newspaper Le Monde reported that the "650 delegates heard the most courageous exposé that one might be able to hear at such a meeting," and the New York Post remarked that “many were moved (by the address), some with annoyance, but at its end, the applause lasted for five minutes." In commenting on Johnson's death, the current president of Howard University, James Cheek, said that "love and dedication to Howard University will long be remembered by thousands of persons whose lives he touched throughout the world."
1976 (Sep 19)
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William “Bill” Lucas, a former professional baseball player, is named Director of Player Personnel by the Atlanta Braves club. It is the highest position ever held by a Black American in professional baseball.
William "Bill” Lucas, a former baseball player for the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves of the National Baseball League, was named director of player personnel by the Atlanta Braves club. The position is the highest ever held by a Black American in professional baseball. After leaving the playing field in 1964, Lucas joined the Braves' executive staff in sales and promotions. The following year he worked in public relations, and then, in 1962, was named assistant farm director and director of player development. Of his new appointment, Lucas said that it held no special meaning. Wayne Embry, also an Black American, held a similar position for the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association. Another prominent Black baseball figure, Hank Aaron, also formerly of the Atlanta Braves, led a campaign to get more Blacks into "front office” jobs in baseball and other professional sports.
1976 (Oct 25)
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Clarence “Willie” Norris, the last of the “Scottsboro Boys,” was pardoned for a 1931 rape conviction by Governor George C. Wallace.
Clarence "Willie" Norris, the last of the "Scottsboro Boys," was pardoned for a 1931 rape conviction. The order was signed in Montgomery, Alabama, by Governor George C. Wallace. Norris, age sixty-four, was among eight Black men convicted of raping two white women near Scottsboro, Alabama, and sentenced to death in 1931. The original conviction was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, and a subsequent guilty verdict was set aside after one of the alleged victims recanted her previous testimony. Although the eight were also convicted at a third trial, all but Norris, who escaped while on parole in 1946, had already been pardoned. The NAACP, along with the Communist Party and other organizations, had waged celebrated protests as well as legal actions on behalf of the Scottsboro Boys over the years and announced after the pardon that it was interpreting it "as a total absolution for Norris.... (He) has been absolved of any wrongdoing. We will interpret this as applying to the others." All of the other Scottsboro Boys were, however presumed to be dead at the time of Norris's release.
1976 (Nov 15)
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Blacks are accepted by the all-white Plains Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia, which previously held a racially exclusionary policy.
The congregation of all-white Plains Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia, voted 120-66 to admit Black worshipers as members. The church's racially exclusionary policy had been under attack since October of that year when Clennon King, a fifty-six-year-old Black minister from Albany, Georgia, announced that he would seek to join the congregation. The Plains Baptist Church had at various times included among its membership President-elect Jimmy Carter, his wife, Rosalyn, and his mother, Lillian. After the motion to admit Blacks was approved, Carter admitted being "proud of my church, God's church."
1976 (Jun 25)
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The United States Supreme Court rules that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was “not limited to discrimination against members of any particular race,” after two white employees accuse their employer of discrimination against them.
The United States Supreme Court ruled unanimously that victims of so-called reverse discrimination have the same rights as Blacks to sue in federal courts if they have been terminated from their jobs. The high Court said that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was "not limited to discrimination against members of any particular race." The Court ruled in a case from Houston, Texas, where two white employees of the Santa Fe Trail Transportation Company had been fired because they allegedly misappropriated ten cases of antifreeze. A Black employee who was also charged in the incident was not terminated. The whites charged that their employer had discriminated against them on the basis of race and that their labor union had acquiesced in the bias by failing to represent one of them properly. The Supreme Court agreed with the petitioners and returned the matter to a lower court.
1976 (Jun 16)
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Reverend Richard Allen Chapelle is elected general conference secretary of the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church.
The Reverend Richard Allen Chapelle of Jacksonville, Florida, was elected general conference secretary of the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church during the Fortieth Quadrennial General Conference of the Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Chapelle succeeded the Reverend Russell S. Brown of Chicago who at seventy-eight was at the age of retirement. More than thirty thousand participants, representing more than one million members of the denomination from eighteen districts in the United States, Africa, Central America, and the Caribbean, attended the meeting.
1976 (Jul 26)
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Dayton, Ohio, public schools are ordered to reflect roughly the same Black-white population as the entire state school system. The Dayton Board of Education said it would appeal the ruling to the United States Supreme Court.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that each of the sixty-eight public schools of Dayton, Ohio, "must reflect roughly the same Black-white population as the entire state school system." The order would require a Black-white student population in each school that "reflects within 15 percent" - the racial composition of each school district. The Dayton Board of Education said it would appeal the ruling to the United States Supreme Court.
1976 (Jul 15)
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Jimmy Carter accepts nomination for president. Martin Luther King, Sr., a strong supporter of Carter, provides the benediction.
Jimmy Carter, former governor of Georgia, accepted the Democratic nomination for president of the United States at the close of his party's national convention in New York City. The convention ended with the singing of the anthem of the Civil Rights Movement, "We Shall Overcome," and a benediction by Martin Luther King, Sr., father of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and one of Carter's strongest supporters during the presidential primary campaigns.
1976 (Jan 31)
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The Detroit, Michigan, school system initiates a school desegregation plan. The NAACP opposes it on the grounds that it did not go far enough.
A plan that involved a limited amount of busing to achieve school desegregation was initiated in the Detroit, Michigan, school system—the nation's fifth largest. The implementation of the desegregation plan climaxed a court battle that began in 1970. The NAACP filed suit against the Detroit system in 1970 after the Michigan legislature overruled the city's first desegregation plan. In 1972, a federal district court ordered the integration of the primarily Black schools of Detroit with those of surrounding predominantly white suburbs. But in an important decision in July 1974, the United States Supreme Court struck down the provision relating to suburbs and ordered the district court to draw up a plan relating to Detroit only. The Detroit plan, which was ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Robert De Mascio, permitted a total of 21,800 pupils in kindergarten through the eighth grade to be bused. Another 4,700 were transferred to schools within walking distance. In addition, 1,500 ninth and tenth graders were transferred to other schools, but they had to provide their own transportation. In sum, approximately 160 schools exchanged pupils in order to achieve enrollments of about half Black and half white. The city's remaining 140 schools remained all Black. The NAACP opposed the Detroit plan on the grounds that it did not go far enough, but urged compliance with the court order.
1976 (Jan 28)
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Vivian W. Henderson, president of Clark College in Georgia, dies during heart surgery in Atlanta.
Vivian W. Henderson, president of Clark College in Georgia, died during heart surgery in Atlanta, at age fifty-two. Henderson, a native of Bristol, Virginia, was born on February 10, 1923. He received a bachelor's degree from North Carolina College in Durham (later North Carolina Central University), and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in economics from the University of Iowa. In 1948, Henderson began his teaching career in Texas at Prairie View A&M College, but returned to his alma mater, North Carolina College, the following year as a professor of economics. In 1952, Henderson moved to a similar position at Fisk University in Tennessee where he eventually became chairman of the Department of Economics. Henderson was named president of Clark College in 1965. In addition to his roles as a teacher and an administrator, Henderson achieved distinction as one of the nation's most foremost Black scholars in economics. He was the author of The Economic Status of Negroes (1963), co-author of The Advancing South: Manpower Prospects and Problems (1959), and contributing author of Principles of Economics (1959). He also contributed to "Race, Regions and Jobs," edited by Arthur Ross and Herbert Hill in 1967. His work, according to the Atlanta Journal, “is considered to have had an important impact in convincing industry and business of the buying power of the Black American community." Outside the academic world, Henderson was a member of the boards of directors of the Atlanta Community Chest (later the United Way), the Atlanta chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Atlanta Urban League, the Ford Foundation, the National Sharecroppers Fund, the Institute for Services to Education, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change, and the Voter Education Project (VEP), among others. He was also chairman of the board of the Southern Regional Council (SRC) and chairman of the Georgia advisory committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (CCR). Henderson's governmental activities included serving as a member of the advisory committee of the Atlanta Charter Commission, co-chairman for education of the Georgia Goals Commission, advisor to former President Lyndon Johnson, and member of the Manpower Advisory Committee of the U.S. Department of Labor. Former Atlanta mayor Ivan Allen, Jr., called Henderson's death “a great loss to the city. ... He left a vital and lasting impact. ..." Atlanta mayor Maynard H. Jackson added that the educator was a man "never too busy to accept the call to service."
1975 (Jan 12 - 15)
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Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life is celebrated throughout the nation.
Celebrations were held throughout the nation commemorating the forty-sixth birthday of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Much of the activity was focused in King's hometown, Atlanta, Georgia. On January 12, King's widow, Coretta Scott King, gave a major new assessment of the current civil rights struggle. Excerpts from her statement follow: “What we are seeing in the South is a transformation. ... You don't have the tension in the South that you had 10-15 years ago. The battleground is definitely in the North now... Detroit, Chicago, New York-most of these cities are sitting on a powder keg because of neglect. Urban America is where it is going to happen in the 70's and 80's. The problems in the major cities across the country are the problems of America in miniature. Every city is beset by problems of poverty, crime and housing. ... Blacks always suffer more than any other group..... “[The Nixon administration was] totally unresponsive to the basic human needs of Blacks and whites. ... [In the Ford administration] the only thing is the climate is a little less oppressive.... I think that the people were so relieved to get rid of Nixon that they set Ford up as a kind of savior. I don't think that he's really a leader.... "In some instances we still have to march but not as much as we once did. . . . I think the movement has reached a more sophisticated state. Marches, picketing and boycotting are part of it, but we are at the stage now where we have some political power. We are the balance of power in many areas.... “We do have a lot to work on but I do believe Martin Luther King left us a great legacy and told us how we can achieve the American dream-a just and peaceful society.” King made her remarks during an interview with Walt Smith of United Press International. Also in connection with the birthday celebration, a summit meeting of national civil rights and political leaders was held in Atlanta on January 13. The meeting, called to discuss the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and its possible extension or renewal, was sponsored by the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Social Change. Participants included United States Senators Hugh Scott, a Michigan Republican, and Birch Bayh, an Indiana Democrat; U.S. Representatives Ronald Dellums of California and Andrew Young of Georgia (both Black Americans); former U.S. Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach; National Urban League director Vernon E. Jordan; veteran civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, executive director of the A. Philip Randolph Institute; John Lewis, executive director of the Voter Education Project; Georgia State Senator Julian Bond; and Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson. In his remarks at the conference, Senator Bayh said that other minorities needed the extension of the Voting Rights Act to foster their causes, because there was substantial evidence that the protections provided by the act could aid Mexican Americans especially. The Nixon administration, according to Bayh, tried to "gut" the Voting Rights extension bill in 1970, but he didn't anticipate that the Ford administration would try to do the same. Former Attorney General Katzenbach expressed the opinion that the Voting Rights Act freed Southern white politicians from campaigns of “race, race, race" and enabled them to seek office without reference to race. It also enabled Blacks to seek national office for the first time in forty years, he said. In his remarks, Rustin said that the issues of the turbulent 1960s were Black issues—equality under the law and the end of segregation. But today the issues were broader and included Blacks, other minorities, and women and were economic and political in nature. The agenda, he said, had now changed from getting the rights whites had to the things whites wanted—“a job, a house, a decent education.” On January 15, an ecumenical service was held at the Ebenezer Baptist Church where King pastored, with the Reverend Theodore Hesburgh, president of Notre Dame University and former chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, as the principal speaker. Other activities in King's hometown during the day included the dedication of the civil rights leader's birthplace as a national historic site and a "people's march” in the downtown area of the city.
1975 (Jan 15)
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John Lewis is awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr., Non-violent Peace Prize. It is the highest prize of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Social Change.
John Lewis, executive director of the Voter Education Project (VEP), was awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr., Non-violent Peace Prize for 1975. The award is the highest prize of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Social Change. The presentation was made by Coretta Scott King, widow of the slain civil rights leader, who said of Lewis: "We feel that this man exemplifies the life, the teachings, and the contributions of Martin Luther King, Jr., and certainly has brought about in his efforts the kind of non-violent social changes in our society that have moved us forward and will continue to move us toward the dream. ... This young man is a very humble man, a deeply committed man, and a man whom I respect, admire, and love very deeply." Lewis began his civil rights career as a member, and later executive secretary, of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He participated in the first Freedom Rides in 1961 and was a principal speaker at the March on Washington in 1963. He was a leader of the Selma-to-Montgomery Voting Rights Marches. It was during the first of these marches in 1965 that Lewis received a fractured skull after Alabama law enforcement officers charged the crowd of peaceful demonstrators. As head of the VEP, Lewis directed programs to advance, through nonpartisan action, minority political participation. In receiving the award, Lewis said, “I am deeply moved and I hope that in the days, months, and years to come I will be worthy of this honor. As Dr. King said so many times, We've come a distance, but we still have a distance to go.”
1975 (Jan 11)
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The Governor’s Minority Affairs Council of Mississippi begins investigating reports of police brutality by the state’s highway patrol officers.
A committee of the Governor's Minority Affairs Council of Mississippi reported that it was investigating reports that highway patrol officers had beaten African Americans. The council, composed of fifteen African American citizens, met with Governor Bill Waller to inform him of its plan for the investigation.
1975 (Jan 10)
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A crowd of three thousand, mostly young Black people, rush the doors at the Atlanta Civic Center Auditorium to apply for 225 new public-service jobs. The incident spotlighted the Black unemployment challenge of the current recession.
A crowd of three thousand people, most of them young Black Americans, crashed into the glass doors at the Atlanta Civic Center Auditorium in their rush to apply for 225 new public-service jobs. The job seekers had gathered in the pre-dawn hours in search of employment. In December 1974, the unemployment rate in Atlanta had been 7.5 percent, but the jobless rate among Blacks was 9.2 percent. The spectacle at the Civic Center Auditorium pointed out again the growing economic desperation of Blacks during the current recession.
1975 (Jan 1)
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Samuel DuBois Cook assumes the presidency of Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Samuel DuBois Cook assumed the presidency of Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana. Cook earned his bachelor's degree from Morehouse College and his master's and doctorate degrees from Ohio State University. Previously, he had taught at Atlanta University and Duke University and served as a consultant to the U.S. Office of Education and the Ford Foundation. Cook was also a former president of the Southern Political Science Association and, at the time of his appointment, was serving as a trustee of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Social Change. Cook succeeded Broadus Butler as president of the 105-year-old predominantly Black college.
1975 (Feb)
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The Free Southern Theater, a group that dramatized the concept of Black liberation, embarks on its first tour. Many viewed it as the beginning of a modern renaissance of Black culture.
The Free Southern Theater presented the play "If the Opportunity Scratches, Itch It," in Eutau, Alabama. It was the first time ever that live theater, other than high school plays, was performed in this predominantly Black farm community in central Alabama. The occasion also marked the first time since 1969 that the Free Southern Theater had taken a show on tour, although this was its original purpose when it was established in 1962 as a cultural arm of the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The Free Southern Theater was viewed by some as the beginning of a modern renaissance of Black culture that grew out of the civil rights and Black consciousness movements of the 1960s and 1970s. The idea of a theater to dramatize the concept of Black liberation had spread rapidly across the country, and most cities with a sizeable Black population had some form of organized cultural activity. They included: The Fire Company in Birmingham, Alabama; the New African Company, the National Center of Afro-American Artists and the Museum of Afro-American History in Boston, Massachusetts; the Ku Mba Workshop in Chicago, Illinois; the Karamu House Theater in Cleveland, Ohio; the Rapa House in Detroit, Michigan; Opera South in Jackson, Mississippi; Bodaciouis Buggerilla; the Mafandi Institute and the Performing Arts Society in Los Angeles, California; the Black Theater Troupe and Umba Ujaama in Phoenix, Arizona; and the Kahero Cultural Gallery of Richmond, Virginia. The aim of all of this activity was to allow Blacks, who felt that they had been generally left out or misrepresented in America's cultural media, to interpret their own history, thought, ideas, strengths, weaknesses, and aspirations. In addition to theater, Blacks were engaged in community writing, dancing, directing, designing, sculpturing, singing, and photography. In interviews with the New York Times in February 1975, Kenneth E. Snipes, executive director of the Karamu House Theater, and Gilbert Moses, one of the founders of the New Orleans-based Free Southern Theater, assessed the new movement. According to Snipes: “Blacks have more needs for certain kinds of programs to provide them with a sense of self-worth, more of the things that are appreciative of Black people. There is a need to appreciate Black people, to appreciate the role of Blacks in the history of this country, to appreciate the work of the Black playwright or what the Black dancer is doing today to eventually attain self-worth and self-esteem.” Moses added that “it was more important that we develop our own artists, our own image. It had to happen.”
1975 (Feb 3)
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Demonstrators are arrested in Atlanta after demanding to see president Gerald Ford to ask for jobs for the poor.
Georgia State Representative Hosea Williams, head of the Atlanta chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and three other men, including Socialist Workers Party presidential candidate Peter Camejo, were arrested during a demonstration in Atlanta outside of a hotel where President Gerald Ford was speaking. Williams and fifty other demonstrators demanded to see the president to ask for jobs for the poor. A presidential aide told them that Ford's schedule did not permit such a meeting. Amid jeering from hotel guests, the demonstrators were arrested and charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct.
1975 (Feb 28)
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James Earl Ray’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea and face a new trial for the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is denied.
United States District Court Judge Robert M. McRae, Jr., in Memphis, Tennessee, denied James Earl Ray's motion to withdraw his guilty plea and face a new trial on the charge that he murdered Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968. McRae said Ray's original plea of guilty was “cooly and deliberately” submitted and that he found no violation of Ray's constitutional rights that would warrant a reversal of the plea and a full trial in state court. McRae rejected Ray's contention that he came to believe he had no choice but to plead guilty because of his former attorney's actions and rejected Ray's allegations that famed criminal lawyer Percy Foreman of Houston, Texas, and attorney Arthur Hanes, Sr., of Birmingham, Alabama, failed to take adequate steps to prepare a defense because they were more interested in promoting their royalties on the Ray story under contracts with Alabama author William Bradford Huie. McRae ruled groundless Ray's argument that Foreman, specifically, coerced him into the guilty plea. The judge said there was no impermissible pressure from the attorney. “On the contrary, the matter was discussed on numerous separate occasions over almost one month, at the least." Ray “carefully considered and partially amended the lengthy stipulation of facts that formed the basis for accepting his guilty plea ... and entered the plea in an open court where he spoke to correct the record as he thought appropriate,” according to Judge McRae. Robert I. Livingston, one of Ray's new attorneys, announced an immediate appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
1975 (Feb 25)
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Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam, dies.
Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Black Muslims, also known as the Nation of Islam (NOI), died in Chicago at age seventy-seven. Muhammad was born Elijah Poole near Sandersville, Georgia, in 1897. He moved to Detroit in the 1930s and met W. D. Fard, founder of the Temple of Islam (Black Muslims). Muhammad himself erected a temple in Detroit, then, in 1934, moved to Chicago. Subsequently, seventy-nine temples were erected in seventy cities. Jesse Jackson eulogized Muhammad as “the single most powerful Black man in this country. ..His leadership extended far beyond his membership. He was the father of Black self-consciousness during our ‘colored' and Negro days.” Muhammad was succeeded by his son, Wallace D. Muhammad. During the height of the civil rights movement, Muhammad and his followers provoked the ire of white and Black leadership alike for their preaching of racial separatism, racial pride, and self-defense. The increasing popularity of those teachings among Blacks, however, was demonstrated in the scope of philosophies represented in the eulogies for Muhammad. Civil rights leaders, including Jackson and Tyrone Brooks of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), joined Julian Bond of Georgia and traditional Black Baptist ministers in extolling the virtues of the Black Muslim patriarch.
1975 (Feb 2)
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Black-owned companies are showing progress according to Sam Beard, head of the the non-profit, Development Council.
Sam Beard, head of the Development Council, announced in New York that minority-owned companies were moving into the economic mainstream and doing business with the industrial giants of the nation. According to Beard, “There was almost no history of minority business ownership prior to the Sixties,” but in the last three years, his nonprofit organization had arranged 1,003 contracts totaling $141 million between minority-owned businesses and major corporations. Included among the Council projects were the financing of a health center in South Jamaica, a section of Queens, New York, where thirty Black doctors had tried unsuccessfully for eighteen months to raise money for a medical facility to treat the community of 150,000; the funding of Soul City, the multi-racial town under construction in North Carolina; assistance to the Black Feet Indian Writing Company in Montana, which supplied pens to Atlantic-Richfield Company; and assistance to the Black-owned Baldwin Ice Cream Company of Chicago, which sold food to United Airlines. The Council, according to Director Beard, was not a charity organization. Instead, he said, “We're building long-lasting business relationships that will feed hundreds of thousands of dollars back into minority communities and create jobs.”
1820 (Mar 3)
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The Missouri Compromise is approved by Congress, prohibiting enslavement north and west of the 36-30 parallel line within the Louisiana territory.
The famous Missouri Compromise was approved by Congress. Slavery was prohibited north and west of the 36-30 parallel line within the Louisiana territory. Missouri itself entered the Union as a slave state, while Maine entered as a free state.
1821
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Black Americans are encouraged to emigrate to the Black Republic of Liberia, a West African country, as a means of alleviating the race problem.
The Black Republic of Liberia was founded under the auspices of the American Colonization Society. Black Americans were encouraged to emigrate to the West African country as a means of alleviating the race problem. In the end, only about 20,000 did so. The capital city, Monrovia, was named for President James Monroe.
1822 (May 30)
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An enslaved conspiracy led by Denmark Vesey in Charleston, South Carolina, is betrayed.
An enslaved conspiracy led by Denmark Vesey in Charleston, South Carolina, was betrayed. Vesey, a former enslaved person, had been free since 1800 and had worked as a carpenter in Charleston. He plotted his enslaved uprising for several years, during which he carefully chose his associates, collected weapons, and sought assistance from Santo Domingo. Vesey's revolt, in which as many as 5,000 Blacks were prepared to participate, was first set for the second Sunday in July 1822, but the authorities were alerted and thwarted their efforts. As a result of the plot, South Carolina and other states tightened their control of slaves and free Blacks.
1823
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Birth of Mary Smith Kelsick Peake, teacher and founder of the Daughters of Zion, where children and adults received education in her home.
Mary Peake was born in Norfolk County, Virginia. In September of 1861, she opened the first school sponsored by the American Missionary Association. It was housed in a cottage on the Chesapeake Female College campus where she had arrived only one month before. Chesapeake had become her home after she fled Hampton as Confederates set the city aflame on August 7. In Hampton, Peake had founded the Daughters of Zion through which children and adults received education in Peake's home. Her motivation to teach others may have stemmed from her own opportunity as a free-born woman to receive a good education in Alexandria before the city was retroceded to Virginia in 1846 and its schools closed to Blacks.
1823
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Alexander Lucius Twilight receives his B.A. degree from Vermont’s Middlebury College in 1823, making him the first known Black American to graduate from college.
Alexander Lucius Twilight received his B.A. degree from Vermont's Middlebury College in 1823, making him the first known Black American to graduate from college. He then turned to educating Black Americans, teaching in New York and Vermont. In 1829, Twilight became principal of the Orleans County Grammar School in Brownington, Vermont, where he also ministered to the congregation that worshiped in the same building. Under Twilight's administration, the school's expanding enrollment led to the construction of an additional three-story building. He left the school in 1847 to educate Blacks in villages, but he returned as headmaster in 1852. During Twilight's tenure in Brownington, he also became one of the first Black Americans to be elected to a state legislature, serving in the Vermont congress from 1836 to 1837. Twilight was one of six children born to free Blacks, Mary and Ichabod Twilight, in Bradford, Vermont. He was indentured to a neighboring farmer but purchased his freedom in 1815. Mary Ladd Merrill married him in 1826. Twilight died in June 1857.
1824
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African Free Schools gain support of the New York Common Council.
African Free Schools succeeded in gaining the support of the New York Common Council.
1824 (Nov)
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Democratization of American politics becomes a reality with the elimination of the caucus system for choosing presidential candidates which also included the removal of property qualifications for voting.
American politics was becoming democratized as the elimination of the caucus system for choosing presidential candidates was accompanied by the removal of property qualifications for voting. The way was being paved for virtual universal male suffrage in the United States. At the same time, the Northern and Western states adopted measures denying Black Americans the right to vote.
1827 (Mar 16)
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John Russwurm and Samuel Cornish, debut Freedom’s Journal, the nation’s first Black American newspaper, in New York City.
Two Black Americans, John Russwurm and Samuel Cornish, began publication of Freedom's Journal, the nation's pioneer Black American newspaper, in New York City. The paper was not very successful, and two years later Cornish began a second publication, the militant Rights of All, which also was short-lived. In 1836, Cornish published Weekly Advocate and the following year co-edited the Colored American. Most of the Black American newspapers founded before the Civil War were principally abolitionist propaganda sheets, with Frederick Douglass' North Star being the most successful.
1830 (Sep 20-24)
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The first National Negro Convention meets at Bethel A.M.E. Church in Philadelphia with delegates from Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia in attendance.
The initial National Negro Convention met at Bethel A.M.E. Church in Philadelphia. Delegates from Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia attended. The convention, under the leadership of Richard Allen (other prominent Black American leaders present included abolitionist and shipmaker James Porten and journalist Samuel Cornish), adopted resolutions calling for improvements in the social status of Black Americans. The delegates considered projects to establish a Black college and to encourage Blacks to emigrate to Canada. Neither of these proposals was adopted. Opposition even arose to the mere idea of an Black American convention. Yet these ad-hoc conventions continued to convene and occasionally were attended by White abolitionists and reformers. In the ten years before the Civil War, there was a rash of such conventions held in Cleveland, Rochester, and New York City as well as in Philadelphia. One of the most important meetings was in Rochester in 1853, when the National Council of Colored People was formed. This group issued a statement that both denounced racial oppression in America and cited instances of Black progress. These conventions were in the American tradition of assembling for redress of grievances and increased solidarity among Black Americans.
1830 (Apr 6)
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Birth of first Black Catholic Bishop, James Augustine Healy, in America.
James Augustine Healy was the son of an Irish immigrant and an enslaved mulatto. His father sent he and his brothers to the North for their education, but after being rejected by several academies, the Healys entered a Quaker school on Long Island, New York. Later, they transferred to the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where James was the most outstanding pupil. In 1852, he entered the Sulpician Seminary in Paris, and on June 10, 1854, he was ordained a priest in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Healy's first assignment as a priest was in a white parish in Boston. He became secretary to the bishop of Boston, then became pastor of the New St. James Church. Healy's stature in the New England Catholic hierarchy continued to rise; in 1874, he was appointed bishop of Maine and was consecrated in the Cathedral at Portland on June 2, 1875. Healy proved to be energetic and devoted to duty. He ministered to an all-white following, but only occasionally was subjected to racial abuse. Shortly before his death on August 5, 1890, Healy was promoted to the rank of assistant at the Papal Throne.
1828
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Theodore Sedgwick Wright graduates from the Princeton Theological Seminary, making him the first Black to graduate from an American theological seminary.
Theodore Sedgwick Wright graduated from the Princeton Theological Seminary, making him the first Black to graduate from an American theological seminary. He then took his lifelong post as pastor of the First Colored Presbyterian Church, also called the Shiloh Presbyterian Church. Wright constantly organized and promoted civil rights efforts. Throughout the 1830s, he lectured for active abolitionist movements and, in 1833, helped found the American Anti-Slavery Society. After withdrawing from the organization in 1840 over the growing trend toward Garrisonian radicalism, he helped form the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. In addition to fighting for freedom, Wright pushed for jury trials in fugitive enslaved people cases and Black franchisement, including an 1840 push for suspension of the property requirement for Black voters. Wright was also active in the temperance movement and missions to evangelize African peoples. Wright was born to R. P. G. Wright in 1797. He received his early education at the New York African Free School. Wright died in 1847.
1829 (Mar 4)
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Black Americans attend the inaugural reception for President Andrew Jackson at the White House.
Black Americans attended the inaugural reception for President Andrew Jackson at the White House.
1838
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The Caulkers’ Association is founded as one of the first Black American labor unions.
The Caulkers' Association formed as one of the first Black American labor unions.
1840
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Delaware allows Blacks to attend schools with Whites.
Blacks in Wilmington, Delaware, were permitted to attend schools with Whites.
1700
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William Penn and the Quakers establish a monthly meetings for Blacks.
A monthly meeting for Blacks was established with the help of William Penn and the Quakers.
1715
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The census records 2,000 Blacks in New England.
According to the census there were 2,000 Blacks in New England.
1715
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Virginia enslaved population rises from less than 5 percent to 24 percent in a 44 year period.
The Black enslaved population in the Virginia colony rose to 24 percent, up from less than five percent in 1671.
1717
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Cotton Mather, a White minister, opens an evening school for Indians and Blacks in Boston, Massachusetts.
Cotton Mather, a White minister, began an evening school for Indians and Blacks in Boston, Massachusetts.
1718-1727
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More than 11,000 Blacks were brought to Virginia aboard British vessels.
More than 11,000 Blacks were brought to Virginia aboard British vessels.
1720
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The enslaved population of the Pennsylvania colony is estimated at 2,000.
The enslaved population of the Pennsylvania colony was estimated at 2,000.
1727
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Blacks receive instruction in New Orleans, Louisiana, from the Roman Catholic Ursuline Nuns.
Blacks received instruction in New Orleans, Louisiana, from the Roman Catholic Ursuline Nuns.
1728
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Nathaniel Pigott founds a school for the instruction of Blacks in reading, catechizing, and writing.
Nathaniel Pigott announced his plans to begin a school for the "instruction of Negroes in reading, catechizing, and writing."
1763
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The slave trade increases as 13 New England vessels bring 869 enslaved people to Virginia.
Between 1753 and 1763, thirteen New England vessels brought 869 enslaved people to Virginia.
1800 (Aug 30)
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Gabriel Prosser attempts a well planned insurrection with about 1000 enslaved people in Richmond, Virginia but his plot is uncovered after two slaves inform their master.
About 1000 enslaved people, organized by Gabriel Prosser, attempted an insurrection in Richmond, Virginia. The band made weapons in preparation and designed a plan to arrive in Richmond, seize an arsenal and a powder house, close off bridges, and kill countless whites. The attack might have succeeded were it not for two slaves who told their master of the plot. Governor James Monroe sent troops to counter the movement. Gabriel escaped that night but was found and tried within a month. Gabriel and forty other men were hanged for involvement in the revolt.
1804 (May 14)
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The enslaved man known as York embarks on Lewis and Clark expedition.
The enslaved man known as York set out as part of the Lewis and Clark expedition, officially as Clark's valet. York was the son of Old York and his wife, Rose, who were house slaves of the Clark family. During the two-year journey, however, York also served as a diplomat of sorts: he apparently acted as a French-Canadian interpreter for Clark and built friendships with Native Americans by dancing for them. According to some accounts, York returned to Kentucky with Clark and served as his valet until his death. Clark, however, claimed to have set York free in 1813 when he went to St. Louis as governor of the Missouri Territory.
1974 (Feb 13)
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American colleges are criticized for preventing research and debate on race-intelligence.
The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) issued a statement condemning both students and faculties at American colleges who prevented research and debate on the race-intelligence issue that recently had been brought into focus by Stanford University's William Shockley. The AAUP accused some of its own members of "undermining the integrity of the academic community by attempting to suppress unpopular opinions.” Nevertheless, on February 18 the student-controlled Political Union at Yale University cancelled a scheduled debate between Shockley and Roy Innis, national director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), after protest from various student groups.
1974 (Dec 8)
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Claims of discrimination in Grand Rapids, Michigan, schools are rejected by the U.S. Court of Appeals.
The Sixth U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld a lower court ruling that the Grand Rapids, Michigan, schools were not segregated. The appealate court said that “a review of the evidence and statistics in this case makes it clear not only that Grand Rapids was not guilty of acts of intentional segregation, but that much progress has been made toward elimination of the de facto segregation resulting from housing patterns.” The court rejected the contentions of Black plaintiffs that discriminatory acts of other individuals and governmental agencies were sufficient to support a finding of de jure segregation.
1974 (Dec 21)
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Five Black women are named among the forty most highly respected women in the US.
Five Black women were named among the forty most highly respected women in the United States, according to a poll appearing in the January 1975 edition of Good Housekeeping magazine. Those honored were California Congresswoman Yvonne Braithwaite Burke, New York Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, Texas Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, civil rights activist Coretta Scott King, and actress Cicely Tyson. The Black women were selected from a slate of forty-seven prominent women presented to the readers of Good Housekeeping in the sixth annual Most Admired Women's Poll. In the poll, King, whose name has been among the winners since 1970, ranked 19th, the highest position among the five Black women selected. The total number of Black women named for 1974 was three more than in 1973.
1974 (Aug)
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Beverly Johnson becomes the first Black model to adorn the cover of Vogue magazine.
Beverly Johnson became the first black model to adorn the cover of Vogue magazine. Johnson had won a full academic scholarship to Boston's Northeastern University but left after her freshman year to pursue modeling as a career. She became one of the world's top high fashion models as well as an outspoken and career-minded woman. When a radio host commented that she was the biggest Black model in the business, she replied: “No, I'm not. I'm the biggest model-period.”
1974 (Aug 29)
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The U.S. Department of Labor reports on Black unemployment and poverty statistics.
The U.S. Department of Labor announced that in 1973 the unemployment rate in poverty areas of metropolitan centers was almost twice that in the non-metropolitan poverty areas, 9 percent as opposed to 4.7 percent. The report also revealed that 70 percent of the Black people living in poverty areas were in metropolitan centers. The total unemployment for Blacks in all poverty areas was 10.8 percent as opposed to 4.6 percent for whites. The labor department defined a poverty area as a census tract in which at least one-fifth of the residents had income at or below $4,540 (based upon a non-rural family of four).
1974 (Aug 25)
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Former HUD secretary Robert C. Weaver criticizes federal policies on equal opportunity housing during a news conference.
Robert C. Weaver, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the first Black to serve in a presidential cabinet, said during a news conference in Atlanta that the federal government had a laissez-faire attitude that threatened efforts for equal opportunity in housing. Weaver said the attitude was based on the revenue-sharing policy of allowing federal funds to be allocated at the local level and the lack of responsibility for social issues on the federal level. He said: “Federal funds (for housing) without strings attached are used for other things. ... Sophisticated and concerned people must be watchful and vigilant to see that there is equitable participation and involvement in access to housing. ... The federal government can make an impact.” Weaver, president of the National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing (NCADH), made his remarks as he prepared to address the Southern Regional Conference of the NCADH.
1974 (Aug 23)
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Franklin W. Morton becomes the first Black person to hold a national leadership position for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
Franklin W. Morton was elected chief legal advisor for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). He was the first Black person to hold a national leadership position in the organization.
1974 (Aug 19)
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Congressional hiring practices are investigated after the Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that it had proof that hiring requests for members of Congress were explicitly discriminatory.
The Joint Committee on Congressional Operations, which handles hiring requests for members of Congress, began an investigation to determine whether one senator and nineteen congressmen were duped or actually had been practicing racial or religious discrimination in seeking staff personnel. The Fort Worth Star Telegram reported on August 18, 1974, that it had obtained copies of the hiring forms with varying discriminatory requests from Senator William Scott from Virginia and members of the House of Representatives. Senator Lee Metcalf from Montana, chairman of the Joint Committee, said that some of the request forms contained such notations as “no minorities," "white only,” “no Catholics,” or “no Blacks.” While most of the congressmen disclaimed responsibility for the biased forms, Senator Metcalf said it was “possible that (discriminatory) limitations expressed were those of the staff persons placing the request or a misunderstanding by the office staff.”
1974 (Apr)
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The Virginia school board is ordered to rehire Black teachers that were discriminated against in the administration of a national teaching test.
The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fourth District ordered the Nansemond County, Virginia School Board to rehire 56 Black teachers who the court said were arbitrarily discriminated against in the administration of a national teaching test. The appellate court directed the U.S. District Court in Norfolk to reexamine the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of the teachers, a practice which was begun in 1971. The court also enjoined the school board from any further discrimination.
1974 (Apr 8)
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Reverend C. Shelby Rooks is named the first Black president of the Chicago Theological Seminary.
The Reverend C. Shelby Rooks was named the first Black president of the predominantly white Chicago Theological Seminary, an affiliate of the United Church of Christ. Rooks, age forty-nine, was executive director of the Fund for Theological Education in Princeton, New Jersey, at the time of his new appointment.
1974 (Apr 8)
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Denver, CO, public schools are ordered to desegregate.
U.S. Circuit Court Judge William E. Doyle ordered the desegregation of 70,000 students in the Denver public school system during the 1974–75 school year. The desegregation was to be accomplished mostly through the redrawing of attendance boundaries or zones and the pairing of Black, white, and Mexican-American pupils so that they might share classrooms on a half-day basis. The order further provided that elementary schools would have between 40 percent and 70 percent white enrollment and that white enrollment in high schools would be between 50 and 60 percent. Judge Doyle rejected the school board's plan to close twelve of the public schools. He saw his move as a tactic to avoid adoption of a desegregation plan. He also ordered the merger of two high schools and the introduction of bilingual programs in schools with large numbers of Mexican-American pupils. The U.S. Supreme Court had first ordered a desegregation plan to be drawn up by Denver in 1973.
1974 (Apr 8)
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Hank Aaron breaks Babe Ruth’s record, becoming the all-time leading home run slugger in professional baseball.
Atlanta Braves baseball star Henry (Hank) Aaron hit his 715th career home run, thus becoming the all-time leading home run slugger. Aaron broke the record, previously held by the immortal Babe Ruth, at Atlanta Stadium. The Braves star had tied Ruth's record on April 4, 1974, in Cincinnati. The record-breaking pitch was thrown by a Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher, Al Downing.
1974 (Apr 26)
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The U.S. Department of Justice rejects a Mississippi voting act that is viewed as discriminatory.
The U.S. Department of Justice rejected a Mississippi act eliminating party primaries and replacing them by a single open primary in which no candidate could be elected with less than a majority vote. The Justice Department said that such a system would discriminate against independent candidates, and thus against blacks, since most of the successful black candidates in recent general elections had run as independents. The Mississippi legislature was seeking to repeal current statutes which required a majority vote to win the separate party primaries but which allowed independents to run in the general election and win with only a plurality. Under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, states like Mississippi, where a pattern of voter discrimination had been found, were required to submit changes affecting the suffrage to the justice department for approval.
1974 (Apr 25)
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U.S. District Court Judge Alfonso J. Zirpoli rules that the San Francisco police violated the constitutional rights of six hundred Black men in their investigation of the “Zebra” killings.
U.S. District Court Judge Alfonso J. Zirpoli in San Francisco ruled that the San Francisco police had violated the constitutional rights of six hundred Black men they had stopped for questioning in their investigation of the so-called “Zebra” killings (“Operation Zebra” was the police code used in the dragnet officers conducted in their probe of the random slayings of twelve whites). Zirpoli issued an injunction prohibiting their profile of the Zebra killer, a slim-built young Black man, as the sole basis for stopping men for questioning. The suit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
1974 (Apr 22)
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The Joint Center for Political Studies, a privately funded research organization, reports on statistics of elected Black officials.
The Joint Center for Political Studies, a privately funded research organization, reported from Washington that 2,991 Blacks held political office in forty-five states and the District of Columbia, a gain of more than 300 between 1972 and 1973 and a jump of more than 1,000 from 1969. The center noted that most of the gains during 1973 had resulted from municipal elections. For example, 1,080 out of the latest total were city councilmen, and 108 were mayors. Michigan led in the number of Black elected officials with 194, followed by Mississippi with 191. Other states with 150 or more Black officeholders included New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Alabama, Arkansas, and Louisiana.
1974 (Apr 20)
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The New York Times reports an assessment of Black studies in predominantly white colleges and universities. The findings receive mixed reviews.
The New York Times reported a sixth anniversary assessment of Black studies in predominantly white colleges and universities. Since the student protests in the 1960s, which helped to give impetus to Black studies as a legitimate academic enterprise, 1,272 institutions of higher learning had offered at least one course in the area. Although the tumult that surrounded the initiation of Black studies movement had ceased, the controversy over the validity, viability, and aims of the programs continued. One of the more vocal critics of the programs was Professor Martin Kilson, a black political scientist at Harvard University who called them "distinctly anti-intellectual and anti-achievement in orientation." Others saw them differently. Professor Barbara A. Wheeler of the City University of New York supported Black studies as different from traditional studies in that they are organized around the Black experience rather than around the subject matter, allowing the Black student to see the impact of the event on his own life. Professors Elias Blake, head of the Institute for Services to Education; Henry Cobb, dean of Southern University at Baton Rouge; and Tobe Johnson, director of undergraduate African American studies programs for the Atlanta University Center, completed an analysis of twenty-nine Black studies programs for the U.S. Office of Education just prior to the Times report. Blake told the Times that the ideological questions had been settled, saying, "God knows we need more study on Black Americans. The issue is how do you build a good program." The Blake-Cobb-Johnson team found that only carefully structured programs were likely to survive in an era when colleges were undergoing financial retrenchment.
1974 (Apr 18)
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Peter Holmes, civil rights director of the HEW, reviews the progress of school desegregation in the nation.
Peter Holmes, civil rights director of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), reviewed the progress of school desegregation in the nation on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision and the 10th anniversary of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Holmes told a group of Washington journalists that there were virtually no Blacks in school with white students in the eleven southern states in 1964. By 1968, he noted, a total of 18.4 percent of the Black pupils in the South were in majority white schools. This rose to 39.1 percent in 1970 and 44.4 percent in 1972. Perhaps of greater significance, Holmes said, was the fact that the Black pupils in all-Black schools decreased in the South from 68 percent in 1968 to 14.1 percent in 1970, and to 9.2 percent in 1972. On the other hand, Holmes noted that while current school year figures were not available, there was likely to be an increase in segregation in northern metropolitan school districts.
1974 (Apr 15)
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Nine major steel companies agree to a five-year plan for ending job discrimination against women and minorities.
The U.S. Department of Labor and Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) announced that nine major steel companies had agreed to a five-year plan for ending job discrimination against women and minorities, and would grant back pay of more than $30 million to the victims of such bias. The companies directly involved were the Allegheny Ludlum Industries, Inc., Amco Steel Corporation, Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation, National Steel Corporation, Republic Steel Corporation, United States Steel Corporation, Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corporation, and Youngstown Sheet and Steel Company. Together, they employed 347,000 employees in 249 plants at the time of the agreement. The steel companies vowed to restore more than $30 million in back pay to 34,000 Black and Spanish-surnamed male employees and to 5,599 women who were adjudged to be victims of job bias. The back pay settlements ranged from $250 to $3,000 per person, depending upon length of service.
1973 (Sep)
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Henry C. Ponder becomes president of Benedict College and W. Clyde Williams becomes president of Miles College.
Henry C. Ponder, vice president of academic affairs at Alabama A&M College, assumed the presidency of Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina. W. Clyde Williams, acting president of Miles College in Birmingham, Alabama, since 1971, was inaugurated as the tenth president of the historically Black institution.
1973 (Nov 9)
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Georgia governor Jimmy Carter requests the portraits of three outstanding Black Georgians to be displayed at the Georgia State Capitol.
An eight-member biracial committee which included Georgia's Secretary of State Ben Fortson and Clarence A. Bacote, veteran professor of history at Atlanta University, met at the request of Georgia governor Jimmy Carter to select the portraits of three outstanding Black Georgians to be displayed in the rotunda of the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta. It was agreed almost immediately that the portrait of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., would be one of those selected. Tennessee had previously honored Blacks by placing the portraits of blues musician W.C. Handy and Memphis political leader and writer George Washington Lee in its capitol building at Nashville.
1973 (Nov 26)
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The U.S. Department of Justice files fifteen civil rights suits to desegregate establishments in seven Southern states.
The U.S. Department of Justice filed fifteen civil rights suits to desegregate twenty-four bars, liquor stores, and pool halls in seven Southern states-Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. The civil suits charged the owners and operators of the establishments with violating the public accommodations section of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. A Justice Department representative said it was the largest number of civil rights suits filed in one day within memory.
1973 (May 29)
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Thomas Bradley is elected mayor of Los Angeles, CA.
Thomas Bradley, a veteran Los Angeles city councilman, was elected mayor of the city of Los Angeles, California. Bradley defeated incumbent mayor Sam Yorty, who was seeking a fourth four-year term. The new Black mayor, who lost to Yorty in 1969, won about 56 percent of the votes cast. Yorty's campaign rhetoric had pictured Bradley as a left-wing radical. Bradley assessed his victory as a rejection of racism in the election.
1973 (Jul 29)
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The Bureau of the Census released a report showing that southern-born Black males in the north were more likely to be employed and living with their wives than northern-born Blacks living in the same areas.
The Bureau of the Census released a report of six northern urban areas that showed that southern-born Black males living in those areas were more likely to be employed and living with their wives than northern-born Blacks living in the same areas. The study, which was based upon data from the 1970 Census, reported that about 65 percent of the Black men born in New York City were employed. The figure rose to 78 percent for southern-born Blacks who migrated north before 1965 and to 85 percent for those who moved north since 1965. The study also revealed that 70 percent of southern-born Black men were living with their wives as compared with 51 percent of the Blacks born in Illinois. Robert Hill, the National Urban League's research director, said the report refuted the widely held view that southern Blacks migrated to the North to obtain higher welfare benefits.
1973 (Jul 2)
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The nation’s first Black-owned radio news network, The National Black Network, begins operations.
The National Black Network (NBN), the nation's first radio news network owned and operated by Black Americans, began operations with hourly newscasts to forty affiliated stations. Although based in New York City, the NBN planned to provide news stories of interest to Blacks everywhere.
1973 (Jul 1)
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Alonzo A. Crim becomes the first Black superintendent of the public schools in Atlanta, Georgia, as a result of a controversial agreement.
Alonzo A. Crim, former superintendent of schools in Compton, California, assumed his duties as the first Black superintendent of the public schools in Atlanta, Georgia, one of the Deep South's largest predominantly Black school systems. Crim's selection resulted from a compromise desegregation plan worked out between local Black and white business and political leaders in which the Blacks agreed to desist from further pressures for busing to achieve desegregation and the whites agreed to the hiring of a Black superintendent and other Black school administrators. The plan, reminiscent of the famous Atlanta Compromise of 1895, in which Booker T. Washington urged Blacks to shun social equality for economic advancement, was denounced by the national NAACP leadership in New York. They felt the agreement set a bad precedent and would hamper future efforts to achieve massive desegregation of the nation's schools. Although local NAACP leaders who assented to the pact argued that massive desegregation was impossible in Atlanta, a city with a 55 percent Black population and an 80 percent Black school-age population, they were suspended and eventually expelled from office for their support of the desegregation agreement.
1973 (Jan 4)
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An FBI report on the killings of two Black students in Louisiana is under suspicion.
U.S. Attorney General Richard Kleindienst announced that the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department would have to conduct a careful examination of an FBI report on the killings of two students at Black Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, before deciding whether to call a federal grand jury into the case. The two Black youths were slain by law enforcement officers on the Southern campus during student protests on November 16, 1972.
1973 (Dec 4)
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The U.S. Court of Appeals upholds a desegregation plan for the Memphis, Tennessee, school system.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld a desegregation plan for the Memphis, Tennessee, school system. Although the plan involved some crosstown busing, the NAACP opposed it because it allowed too many all-Black schools. In rejecting the NAACP's contentions, the court said there was a “necessity of tolerating some one-race schools because minority groups concentrate in urban areas.” The Appeals Court also agreed with a lower court that the city of Memphis had acted improperly by cutting its transportation budget in an attempt to circumvent an order for busing to achieve desegregation.
1973 (Dec 3)
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The Supreme Court maintains conviction of a group of Black people who violated a city ordinance while protesting local police hiring practices in Columbus, GA.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to overturn the contempt conviction of eighty-one Columbus, Georgia, Black people who were convicted of violating a city ordinance prohibiting the gathering of more than twelve people in a group. The group was part of a larger movement formed to protest local police hiring practices in June 1971.
1973 (Dec 20)
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The Department of Labor presents a plan to increase the employment of minorities on federally aided construction projects in the Chicago area after voluntary efforts to end bias failed.
The Department of Labor announced that it had prepared and presented a plan to increase the employment of minorities on federally aided construction projects in the Chicago area. The plan set goals and timetables and provided penalties, including contract cancellations and ineligibility for future contracts, if companies failed to demonstrate good faith efforts to comply. The labor department imposed its plan in Chicago after voluntary efforts to end bias failed.
1990 (Mar 2)
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The Bureau of the Census estimates the Black American population at 30.6 million as of January 1, 1989, an increase of 462,000 from a year earlier.
The Bureau of the Census estimated the Black American population at 30.6 million as of January 1, 1989, an increase of 462,000 from a year earlier. The total represented a growth of 1.5 percent during the year for Blacks, which doubled the White increase of 0.8 percent. The annual growth rate of Blacks had exceeded that of Whites since 1950, according to the Bureau. Most of the gain for both groups came from "natural increase." At the beginning of 1989, Blacks made up 12.3 percent of the nation's population of 247.6 million. Whites comprised 84 percent of the total and other races (including Asians, Native Americans Aleuts, Eskimos, and Pacific Islanders) made up three percent. The number of Hispanics rose by 3.4 percent and totaled 20.2 million or eight percent of the national total
1990 (Mar 3)
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Walter H. Annenberg, former publisher of TV Guide, makes a fifty million dollar pledge to the United Negro College Fund, making it the largest single donation ever offered to the group.
Walter H. Annenberg, former publisher of TV Guide, made a fifty million dollar pledge to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). His gift was the largest single donation ever offered to the group, which serves as a coordinating fundraising agency for more than forty private Black colleges in the United States. Annenberg called Black colleges "major force for positive change... As a society we cannot afford to waste our most valuable resources our citizens... Unless young Blacks are brought into the mainstream of economic life, they will continue to be on the curbstone. The key to this problem is education." President George Bush applauded the gesture, remarking, "I think that generosity is a challenge.. that will bring on well-deserved support from others. It's most generous and one of the most brilliant points of light I can think of." In 1989, the UNCF had raised a total of $45.8 million for distribution to its member institutions.
1990 (Mar 3)
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Carole Gist, twenty year-old Black American from Detroit, Michigan, is crowned Miss USA in Wichita, Kansas.
Carole Gist, twenty year-old Black American from Detroit, Michigan, was crowned Miss USA in Wichita, Kansas. Gist, a student at Northwood Institute, became the first Black American to gain the beauty title. Three Blacks have held the older title of Miss America. Of her selection, Gist said "there is so much more to me than my Blackness, the color of my skin. Never give up on your dreams. The new Miss USA received prizes totalling about $220,000, including $88,000 in cash
1990 (Mar 12)
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Black American leaders meet with the Secretary of State to lobby for a significant increase in economic aid for African nations.
A group of Black American leaders met with Secretary of State James A. Baker III in Washington, D.C., for discussions involving the redistribution of foreign aid "from emerging East European democracies to needy African nations struggling for freedom." The group specifically requested an increase in aid to Namibia, from $7.8 million budgeted for 1991 to $25 million in 1990 and 1991, and a grant of $25 million to the African National Congress (ANC) "for its struggle to end apartheid in South Africa." One of the Blacks present at the meeting, Randall Robinson, head of TransAfrica, a lobbying group for U.S. foreign policy towards Africa, said there were "sharp disagreements" with Baker over increased aid to Namibia, as well as "continued covert aid" to rebels in Angola. Other Blacks who attended the meeting included civil rights leader Jesse Jackson and Coretta Scott King, widow of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
1990 (Mar 19)
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Harold Irwin Bearden, minister and civil leader, dies after suffering a stroke in Atlanta, Georgia, at age seventy-nine.
Harold Irwin Bearden, minister and civil leader, died after suffering a stroke in Atlanta, Georgia, at age seventy-nine. Bearden was born in Atlanta on May 8, 1910, to Lloyd and Mary Da Costa Bearden. He obtained an A.B. degree at Morris Brown College and a B.D. degree from Turner Theological Seminary (both in Georgia). Bearden was ordained a deacon in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in 1930 and an elder in 1931. He pastored the Big Bethel AME Church, one of the oldest and largest congregations in Atlanta, from 1951 to 1964. From 1960 to 1962, Bearden was an acting presiding elder of the A.M.E. Church and in 1964, he was consecrated a bishop in Cincinnati, Ohio. Bearden's first assignments upon elevation to the bishopric were in Central and West Africa. While there, he was elected president of the board of Trustees of Monrovia College in Liberia Upon his return to the United States, Bearden had church district assignments in Ohio and Texas before being named bishop of the Sixth Episcopal District in his native Georgia in 1976. He was president of the A.M.E. Council of Bishops in 1973-74. Bearden served as bishop in the Sixth Episcopal District of Georgia until 1980 and continued to serve on special assignments for his church until his retirement in 1984. While Bearden was president of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP in 1958-59, a suit was filed to desegregate the Atlanta public schools and a federal court ordered desegregation on the city's buses. Bearden was one of several Black ministers who were arrested in 1957 for defying Georgia's bus segregation laws. He continuously used his Sunday radio broadcasts to chide both segregationists and Black accommodationists about Jim Crow practices in Atlanta and the nation, and he supported student sit-in demonstrations in the city in the 1960s. Bearden served as a director of the Atlanta University Center consortium of Black colleges and was a chairman of the boards of trustees at both of his alma maters, Morris Brown College and Turner Theological Seminary. The state senate of Georgia named him an outstanding citizen in 1978. In one of the eulogies for Bearden, Jesse Hill, president of the Atlanta Life Insurance Company and a trustee of the Big Bethel Church, said, "When the history of the turbulent '60s and the bi-racial progress of Atlanta is written, the name of bishop Harold I. Bearden then the dynamic, fearless pastor of Big Bethel A.M.E. Church, has to be placed up front." John Hurst Adams, the current senior bishop of the A.M.E.'s Sixth Episcopal district, remembers Bearden as a major influence in the life of the community. He was active in community development, the civil rights movement, and all aspects in the advancement of the community and especially aspects of Black American community unity."
1990 (Mar 30)
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Thea Bowman, Catholic educator and only Black American member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, dies of cancer in Jackson, Mississippi, at the age fifty-two.
Thea Bowman, Catholic educator died of cancer in Jackson, Mississippi, at age fifty-two. Bowman was the only Black American member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. She served as director of intercultural awareness for its Jackson diocese and was a member of the faculty of the Institute of Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1988, Bowman recorded an album, Sister Thea: Songs of My People, which consisted of fifteen Black spirituals. The recording made the nun a popular figure at conventions and on college campuses across the nation. In that same year, she was featured on the CBS-TV news program "60 Minutes," which led to plans for a movie about her life and work. She was widely honored for her educational work as well as her pioneering efforts to encourage Black Catholics "to express their cultural roots inside the church." In 1989, she received the U.S. Catholic Award from US Catholic Magazine "for furthering the cause of women in the Roman Catholic Church." In addition, the Sister Thea Bowman Black Catholic Educational Foundation was established in 1989 "to provide financial support for Black students in Catholic primary and elementary schools and Catholic colleges and universities." Upon her death, Joseph Houck, bishop of the Diocese of Jackson, said, "She was an outstanding woman. She was proud of her heritage and totally dedicated to the vision of Jesus Christ for love and growth of all people."
1990 (Apr 4)
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Sarah Vaughan, Black American jazz singer known affectionately as “the Divine One,” dies of cancer in San Fernando Valley, California, at age sixty-six.
Sarah Vaughan, Black American jazz singer known affectionately as "the Divine One," died of cancer in San Fernando Valley, California, at age sixty-six. Vaughan was born on March 27, 1924 in Newark, New Jersey, to Asbury, a carpenter and amateur guitarist, and Ada Vaughan, a laundry worker and choir singer. Sarah joined a Baptist church choir as a child and the gospel influence remained with her throughout her career. She occasionally included a version of "The Lord's Prayer" in her performances. Ada Vaughan had wanted her daughter to pursue a career in classical music, and sent her to weekly organ and piano lessons, but young Sarah soon turned to a different path. At age eighteen, she won a talent contest at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York, with a rendition of "Body and Soul." She was soon singing and playing piano with the Earl Hines Band and later toured with Billy Eckstine. Vaughan began a solo career in the 1940s. Between 1940 and her death, she performed before jazz audiences throughout the nation and recorded at least three Top 10 pop singles, including "Broken-Hearted Melody," which sold more than a million records. Other notable recordings included "Misty, The Divine Sarah Vaughan, Gerson Live and Lover. Although Vaughan "did not swing as effortlessly as Ella Fitzgerald," according to Bo Emerson, music critic of the Atlanta Constitution, "nor bring to bear Billie Holiday's intensity, the physical pleasure of her voice set her apart from most vocalists in any discipline." "She had the kind of voice that comes along once in a hundred years, once in a lifetime, maybe once in a thousand years," remarked jazz saxophonist and "elder statesman" Benny Carter. At the 1989 Grammy Award ceremonies, Vaughan received a Lifetime Achievement Award.
1990 (Apr 12)
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A New York Times/CBS Network News Poll revealed that Black Americans had given George Bush “the highest level of sustained approval” of any Republican president in thirty years.
A New York Times/CBS Network News Poll revealed that Black Americans had given George Bush "the highest level of sustained approval" of any Republican president in thirty years. Fifty-six percent of Black Americans in the poll supported the way the president was doing his job. The survey was conducted by telephone from March 30 to April 2, 1990, and involved 403 Blacks.
1990 (Apr 17)
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Ralph David Abernathy, minister and civil rights leader, dies of heart problems in Atlanta, Georgia, at age sixty-four.
Ralph David Abernathy, minister and civil rights leader, died of heart problems in Atlanta, Georgia, at age sixty-four. Abernathy was born on March 11, 1926, in Linden, Alabama, to William L., a farmer and deacon, and Louiverney Valentine Abernathy. He was the tenth of twelve children. After his discharge from the U.S. Army in 1945, Abernathy enrolled in the Alabama State College in Montgomery, where he became both student body and class president. Abernathy led successful student protests against poor food in the cafeteria and inadequate living conditions for male students. He received a bachelor's degree from Alabama State in 1950. While attending graduate school at Atlanta University, Abernathy heard Martin Luther King Jr., speak at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta and developed an acquaintance with the young minister. Prior to his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, Abernathy was a dean at Alabama State College and part-time pastor of a church in Demopolis, Alabama. In 1948, he was named pastor of Montgomery's Black First Baptist Church When King went to Montgomery in 1954 to assume the pastorate of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, he received a warm welcome from Abernathy and their friendship was strengthened. King planned to spend two or three years getting himself established in the city before becoming active in civic affairs, while Abernathy wanted to return to his graduate studies in order to obtain, in his words, the same kind of academic credibility that his friend King had. Their plans were disrupted by the arrest of Rosa Parks and the subsequent Montgomery bus boycott of 1955-1956. Both men were thrust into the leadership of the protest—King as the major figure and Abernathy as his number one lieutenant. For thirteen years, Abernathy remained King's closest aide, confidante, and supporter as they engaged in the civil rights struggles of Montgomery, Albany, Birmingham, Selma, Chicago, Memphis, and dozens of other cities, towns, and hamlets. After an assassin's bullet struck King on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel on the evening of April 4, 1968, Abernathy cradled his fallen comrade in his arms and remained with him through his death and autopsy. He gave one of the principal eulogies at King's funeral ceremonies, on what he called "one of the darkest days in American history." Abernathy the succeeded King as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). In his own right, Abernathy also led the "Poor People's Campaign" for jobs and freedom in Washington after King's death in 1968. He ran for Congress from Georgia's Fifth District in 1978 but received only 3,614 votes. Abernathy addressed the United Nations in 1971 and was a president of the World Peace Council. In 1980, he was one of the few national Black leaders to endorse the Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan over President Jimmy Carter. Abernathy considered Carter's presidency ineffectual and felt that Reagan would revive the economy and develop jobs for Blacks. In 1984, he broke with some of his colleagues in the Civil Rights Movement, including former United Nations ambassador Andrew Young, and endorsed another civil rights veteran, Jesse L. Jackson, for president.
1990 (Apr 27)
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Jury announces that it is unable to reach a verdict in the trial of Harold Ford, Black U.S. representative, who had been charged with bank fraud and conspiracy.
A federal court jury in Memphis, Tennessee, announced that it was unable to reach a verdict in the two-and-one-half month trial of Harold Ford, Black U.S. representative. The forty-four-year-old Tennessee Democrat had been charged with nineteen counts of bank fraud, mail fraud, and conspiracy. He was specifically accused of taking more than one million dollars in "political payoffs disguised as loans" from bankers C. H. and Jake Butcher of Knoxville, Tennessee. Ford had consistently maintained his innocence and suggested that the charges against him were racially motivated.
1990 (May 4)
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Andrew J. Young, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, addresses the annual convention of the Rainbow Coalition in Atlanta.
Andrew J. Young, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, addressed the annual convention of the Rainbow Coalition in Atlanta. The coalition was founded by former Black American Democratic presidential candidate Jesse L. Jackson. In the 1984 Democratic presidential contest, Young publicly opposed Jackson's candidacy and supported his rival former vice-president Walter Mondale. In 1988 Young, citing his role as mayor of the host city of the Democratic National Convention remained neutral. He once called Jackson's presidential ambitions "dangerous." But at the Rainbow Coalition Convention on May 4. 1990, Young drew applause when he described Jackson as the "only person in the Democratic Party who has dared to challenge" the administration of President George Bush. He also said that Jackson had "had the fire in his belly, the dream in his heart. He had the gleam and vision in his eyes." For his part, Jackson said, "Young can win and deserves to win" his current quest for the Democratic nomination as governor of Georgia.
1990 (May 12)
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Joseph E. Lowery, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), holds a workshop on race relations with four Ku Klux Klansmen in Birmingham, Alabama.
Joseph E. Lowery, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), held a workshop on race relations with four Ku Klux Klansmen in Birmingham, Alabama. The four were among group of five Klansmen who had been sentenced to participate in the two-hour meeting for their participation in a racial melee in Decatur, Alabama, in 1979. Four people were wounded in an exchange of gunfire between Blacks and Whites after more than one hundred Klansmen tried to block a civil rights match. After the workshop, Roger Handley, a former grand dragon of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan, called the affair "a waste of two hours." Lowery, who preached patriotism, love, and brotherhood to the white supremacists, however, called it "heartwarming."
1990 (May 12)
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Virginia governor L. Douglas Wilder orders state agencies to divest themselves of business investments in companies not “substantively free” of economic activity in South Africa.
Virginia governor L. Douglas Wilder ordered all of his state's agencies and institutions to divest themselves of business investments in companies not "substantively free" of economic activity in South Africa. Virginia officials estimated that such holdings amounted to more than $750 million. A large amount of this money was invested by the agency, which paid pensions to retired state employees. In announcing his actions, Governor Wilder said that Virginians should support the efforts of South African Blacks to break the chains of apartheid with the same vigor and enthusiasm that greeted the aspirations to freedom by people in China and Eastern Europe. He added: "If we are to participate in the extension to all peoples of the freedoms and liberties which we hold dear, we must take concrete actions which reflect our support." Wilder made his declarations in a commencement address at the predominantly Black Norfolk State University.
1990 (May 13)
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George Augustus Stallings is ordained the first bishop of the African American Catholic Church.
George Augustus Stallings was ordained the first bishop of the African American Catholic Church. The forty-one-year-old Black priest broke away from the Roman Catholic Church in June 1989 after declaring that the Church failed to meet the needs of its Black American parishioners. On July 4, 1989, he was suspended for "founding an independent Black congregation." At the ordination of Bishop Stallings, African dancers and gospel singers performed before an audience of 1,000 people. Stallings "knelt on a decorated stage filled with elaborate banners, drummers, and icons as six White bishops from the Independent Old Catholic Churches of California (which broke away from Rome in the 1870s) declared him "suitable candidate for the office of bishop in the Church of God." At the time of Stallings' assumption of his new post, his African American Catholic Congregation had expanded from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore, Maryland, Norfolk, Virginia, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
1990 (May 16)
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Sammy Davis, Jr., Black American entertainer and America’s “Ambassador of Goodwill,” dies of cancer in Beverly Hills, California, at age sixty-four.
Sammy Davis, Jr., Black American entertainer and America's "Ambassador of Goodwill," died of cancer in Beverly Hills, California, at age sixty-four. He was born on December 8, 1925, in the Harlem section of New York City. Davis was the consummate star, the epitome of versatility. He began performing at age three with his father, Sam, Sr., and his uncle, Will Mastin, in vaudeville. In his adult years, Davis' talents as a dancer, singer, and actor were revered on the stage, film, television, and in nightclubs. He made his Broadway debut in 1956 in the musical Mr. Wonderful and won a Tony nomination for his starring role as a cosmopolitan boxer in Golden Boy. Davis's major recordings included "The Way You Look Tonight" (1946); "Hey There" (1954); "That Old Black Magic" (1955); "The Shelter of Your Arms" (1964); "I've Got to Be Me" (1969); and "The Candy Man" (1972). In his recordings, as in his films, Davis often worked with his friends Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. His first movie role was as a child in Rufus Jones for President (1933) with singer Ethel Waters Davis also had major roles in Anna Lucasta (1958); Porgy and Bess (1959); Oceans Eleven (1960); Robin and the Seven Hoods (1964); and Sweet Charity (1969). Davis' last film appearance was in 1989 with dancer Gregory Hines in Tap. Between 1956 and 1980, Davis appeared on almost every variety show and comedy series on network television; in 1966, he starred in his own television series, one of the first ever hosted by a Black person. Davis supported the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s by singing at fundraisers, especially for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and was with King at the end of the famous Selma to Montgomery voting rights march in Alabama. He also helped raise money for the defense of Angela Davis, who was imprisoned for conspiracy to commit murder in the late 1960s. The entertainer was also the target of controversy, after being invited to an inaugural activity for President John F. Kennedy in 1961, he was later asked not to attend the affair because of fear that his presence there with his then-wife, Swedish actress Mai Britt, would "inflame Southerners." Davis also made headlines in 1972 at a function for President Richard M. Nixon during the Republican National Convention. He started the president and many Black Americans, particularly, when he came up behind Nixon and gave him a big hug while flashing a wide, "cattish" grin. The rise of Davis from demeaning, stereotypical roles in vaudeville and his early films to the highest place in the annals of American entertainment is documented in his autobiographies Yes I Can (1965) and Why Me (1989). At the time of his death, Davis had become, in the words of NAACP executive director Benjamin Hooks, "an American treasure that the whole world loved."
1990 (May 18)
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Joseph Fama, a nineteen-year-old New York City youth, is convicted of second degree murder in the 1989 slaying of Yusuf Hawkins, a sixteen-year old Black youth, in the Bensonhurst section of the city.
Joseph Fama, a nineteen-year-old New York City youth, was convicted of second degree murder in the 1989 slaying of Yusuf Hawkins, a sixteen-year old Black youth, in the Bensonhurst section of the city. The mob attack that led to Hawkins's death in an all-White neighborhood had been the focus of racial tension in the nation's largest city for more than six months. It was also frequently cited by some Blacks as evidence of a resurgent racism in the United States.
1990 (May 18)
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Consolidated Bank and Trust Company, the nation’s oldest Black owned commercial bank, expands, in a move that allows it to purchase the assets of two failed Virginia lending institutions.
Consolidated Bank and Trust Company, the nation's oldest Black owned commercial bank, expanded, in a move that allowed it to purchase the assets of two failed Virginia lending institutions. In an agreement with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Richmond-based Consolidated paid a $315,000 premium to add the assets of the Black-owned People's Savings and Loan Association and Community Federal Savings & Loan Association to its portfolio. It also assumed all loans and deposits of the two S&L's The 107-year-old People's of Hampton and Community Federal, a 23-year-old Newport News, Virginia, financial institution, had combined assets of $30 million. The transaction boosted Consolidated's total assets to $93.5 million--up from $62 million. The bank was the 12th largest on listing of Black-owned banks by Black Enterprise magazine.
1990 (May 25)
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Judge rules that a thirty nine-year-old law that prohibits members of the Ku Klux Klan from wearing hooded masks in public is unconstitutional.
A Gwinnett County, Georgia, state court judge ruled that a thirty nine-year-old law that prohibited members of the Ku Klux Klan from wearing hooded masks in public was unconstitutional. Judge Howard E. Cook said that the state law was "overly broad" and violated the rights to "free speech, association, and equal protection" of the Klansmen. Although the Klan may "represent .....hateful ideas, such ideas are still entitled to protection," Judge Cook declared. Georgia state officials and civil rights leaders said they were "shocked" by the judge's decision and filed notice of appeal to the state Supreme Court "20 minutes after the decision was filed."
1990 (Jun 3)
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Bobby Rush, former leader of the militant Black Panther Party in Chicago, becomes deputy chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party.
Bobby Rush, former leader of the militant Black Panther Party in Chicago, became deputy chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party. A South Side alderman since 1983, Rush had quietly gained political clout in the city where he once decreed, "The power structure has genocide in their minds," and noted that the solution was revolution. Rush rode into city council in 1983 on the coattails of the popular Harold Washington, the first Black mayor of the Windy City. He made an unsuccessful bid for alderman in 1974 shortly after leaving the Panther Party. Born in Albany, Georgia, he moved to Chicago with his family in 1954 when he was seven years old.
1990 (Jun 6)
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Harvey Gantt, the former Black American mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, wins his state’s Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate.
Harvey Gantt, the former Black American mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, won his state's Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate. Gantt gained 272,576 votes (57 percent) to defeat Michael Easley, a county district attorney. Easley received 206,397 votes (43 percent) with 99 percent of the state's precincts reporting. Gantt, a forty-seven-year-old architect, was the first Black in North Carolina to receive the Democratic nomination for U.S. senator. In 1963, he became the first Black student to enroll in Clemson University in South Carolina and was the first Black mayor of Charlotte Of his nomination Gantt remarked, "There's a new day in North Carolina. This is a day where people are judged by what they can do and not by the color of their skin."
1990 (Jun 11)
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Judge Thaddeus Owens sentences two nineteen-year-old White youths to prison for the shooting death of Yusuf K. Hawkins, a sixteen-year-old Black youth, in New York City.
Judge Thaddeus Owens sentenced two nineteen-year-old White youths to prison for the August 23, 1989, shooting death of Yusuf K. Hawkins, a sixteen-year-old Black youth, in New York City. Joseph Fama, who prosecutors and police authorities said actually shot Hawkins, was sentenced to thirty two-and-two-thirds years to life in prison. He had been convicted of second-degree murder, inciting a riot, unlawful imprisonment, weapons possessions, and other crimes. Keith Mondello received a sentence of five-and-one-third to sixteen years in prison and a two-thousand dollar fine. He was acquitted of murder and manslaughter, but convicted of inciting a riot, unlawful imprisonment, and discrimination Mondello was identified as the ringleader of the mob that attacked Hawkins and three other Blacks in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of New York City in 1989. The family of the slain Hawkins and other Blacks applauded Fama's sentence, but some threw rocks and bottles in Brooklyn when they heard that Mondello had been acquitted of the more serious charges.
1990 (Jun 12)
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Theo Mitchell, a Black state senator, wins the Democratic primary contest for governor of South Carolina.
Theo Mitchell, a Black state senator, won the Democratic primary contest for governor of South Carolina. Mitchell gained 107,473 votes (61 percent) to 69,766 votes (39 percent) for Ernest Parsailaigue, a freshman senator (with 92 percent of precincts reporting).
1990 (Jun 13)
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Marion S. Barry, Jr., mayor of Washington, D.C., announces he will run again after previously saying he would not.
Marion S. Barry, Jr., mayor of Washington, D.C., announced he would not seek a fourth term. At that time, Barry, former civil rights activist, was on trial in a federal district court in Washington. He was arrested on January 18, 1990, in a drug sting at a local hotel. The mayor had pleaded innocent to three felony counts of lying to a grand jury about his alleged drug use, ten misdemeanor cocaine possession charges, and one misdemeanor cocaine conspiracy charge.
1990 (Jun 17)
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The National Collegiate Black Caucus sponsors march and rally in Washington, D.C.
About 850 people, mostly students, attended a march and rally sponsored by the National Collegiate Black Caucus (NCBC) in Washington, DC. The organizers had expected a crowd of more than 5,000. The demonstration was organized to coordinate the concerns of Black collegians throughout the nation. In the past decade, Black college students on both predominantly Black and predominantly White campuses had demonstrated against racism and for a greater infusion of African and Black American studies into college and university curricula. The students at the Washington rally were also concerned about inadequate housing on their campuses and insufficient financial aid.
1990 (Jun 18)
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Kenny Leon, a thirty-four-year-old actor, is named artistic director of the Alliance Theater Company in Atlanta, Georgia.
Kenny Leon, a thirty-four-year-old actor, was named artistic director of the Alliance Theater Company in Atlanta, Georgia. The appointment made him the second Black artistic director of major American theater. (Yale Repertory Theatre's, Lloyd Richards, who was the first.) Leon was associate artistic director at the Alliance Theater, where he gained popularity for his direction of such productions as Fences, Gal Baby, and joy Turner's Come and Gone.
1990 (Jun 20)
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The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that the percentage of Black high school graduates increased between 1978 and 1988 and now approaches the percentage rate for Whites.
The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that the percentage of Black high school graduates increased between 1978 and 1988 and now approaches the percentage rate for Whites. The report, based on national census data, indicated that in 1988, 75 percent of Blacks and 82 percent of Whites, aged eighteen to twenty-four, graduated from high school, compared with 68 percent for Blacks and 83 percent for Whites in 1978. There was apparently no change in the graduation or dropout rate for Hispanics during the same period.
1990 (Jun 20-30)
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Nelson Mandela conducts a 10-day tour of the U.S. to convince Americans to maintain sanctions against the white-minority government in South Africa until its racial apartheid system is dismantled.
Nelson Mandela, deputy president of the African National Congress (ANC) and the major symbol of the struggle for freedom in the Republic of South Africa, conducted a major tour of the United States. The ten-day foray was designed to convince Americans to maintain sanctions against the white-minority government in South Africa until its racial apartheid system was dismantled, and to raise money to assist the ANC's campaign for majority rule. On June 20, Mandela was feted to a ticker tape parade in downtown New York City, where approximately 750,000 people lined the parade routes to greet him. He told crowds that apartheid in his country was "doomed," and that with the aid of supporters in the United States, “we have made the government listen, and we have broken the walls of the South African jails.” On June 22, the South African freedom fighter addressed the United Nations (UN). He cautioned that “nothing which has happened in South Africa calls for a revision of the position that this organization has taken in the struggle against apartheid.” During the almost three decades that Mandela was in prison, the UN consistently adopted resolutions opposing South African apartheid and the many speeches by delegates and others against the system usually ended in the refrain, "Free Mandela." Mandela was in Boston, Massachusetts, on June 23, where his hosts included Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, widow of slain president John F. Kennedy, and the late president's brother, Massachusetts senator Edward "Ted” Kennedy. Mandela told audiences, “We lower our banners in memory of Crispus Attucks [a Black American), the first victim to fall in your Revolutionary War," and "given the illustrious history of this city, it is only natural that we consider ourselves as visiting our second home.” He also looked forward to a South Africa that was "free from all forms of racism and sexism. We do not seek to dominate whites in our country. We intend to live true to this principal to the end of our day." On June 25, Mandela arrived in Washington, D.C., where he was greeted by, among others, Randall Robinson, head of TransAfrica, the principal anti-apartheid organization in the United States. The South African leader met President George Bush on June 26. While Bush hailed Mandela's freedom and again denounced the apartheid system, he asked that “all elements in South African society ... renounce the use of violence in armed struggle, break free from the cycle of repression and violent reaction that breeds nothing but more fear and suffering.” In making his plea, Bush quoted slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” In his response, Mandela said Bush's remarks resulted from him not getting “a proper briefing from us." He added that when a government prohibits free political activity, “the people have no alternative but to resort to violence.” The two met for three hours, after which Mandela said they had reached substantial agreement on most issues. Before leaving the capital, Mandela addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress on June 26. He invoked the names of Frederick Douglass, Thomas Jefferson, Joe Louis, and other American heroes, and repeated his plea for a continuation of sanctions against the white-minority government in South Africa. He received several thunderous standing ovations. On June 27, Mandela visited Atlanta, Georgia, “the capital of the Civil Rights Movement,” where he laid a wreath at King's tomb, received honorary degrees from about a third of the nation's historically Black colleges, and addressed a rally of more than 50,000 people. In his brief remarks to the mostly Black crowd, Mandela made frequent references to King, and said, “We are ... conscious that here in the southern part of the country, you have experienced the degradation of racial segregation. We continue to be inspired by the knowledge that in the face of your own difficulties, you are in the forefront of the anti-apartheid movement in this country.” Then, drawing upon King's famous "I Have a Dream” oration, Mandela declared, “Let Freedom ring. Let us all acclaim now, 'Let freedom ring in South Africa. Let freedom ring wherever people's rights are trampled upon.'" On June 28, Mandela made brief visits to Miami Beach, Florida, where he spoke to the annual convention of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and to Detroit, Michigan, where he addressed a rally of 50,000 people. In Miami, he repeated his call for continued sanctions against South Africa and thanked the American labor unions which had refused to handle materials destined for South Africa and lent financial support to his struggle. About 250 anti-Castro Cubans and Cuban Americans protested Mandela's visit, however, because he had expressed gratitude for the Cuban dictator's support of the anti-apartheid movement and refused to denounce him during an appearance on an ABC-TV “Nightline” segment. A crowd of 2,000 demonstrators, mostly Black, chanted to the beat of an African drum and waved colorful flags in support of Mandela. There were only a few minor clashes between the two groups. In Detroit, Mandela met Rosa Parks, the Alabama seamstress who sparked the famed Montgomery bus boycott. While visiting the Ford Rouge plant, one of the oldest automobile factories in the country, he told members of the United Auto Workers, another anti-apartheid union, that he was their "comrade ... your flesh and blood." Later that evening, Mandela and his entourage were honored at a rally held at Tiger Stadium. June 29–30, Mandela ended his American tour in California, with stops in Los Angeles and Oakland. He spoke to 80,000 people at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, after declaring that he was on the “last leg of an exhausting but exhilarating tour.” He also said, “Our masses in action are like a raging torrent. We are on freedom road, and nothing is going to stop us from reaching our destination.” As he prepared to leave the United States, Mandela indicated that he would probably return in October 1990 to receive a $100,000 award from the Gandhi Memorial International Foundation in New York and to meet with several Native American leaders. He declared that he was 'very disturbed” about the condition of the Native American. While some Americans either expressed grave concern or opposition to Mandela's views, particularly his refusal to denounce Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi, Libya's “pro-terrorist” leader, Yassar Arafat, leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, and his unwillingness to abandon the use of violence in his struggle, the South African leader was very warmly received by most Americans on his tour. In New York, eighteen-year-old Tanera Ford remarked, “I'm glad to see so many Black people here. ... To have all these people together for something positive, it just makes me feel great." In Atlanta, Joseph E. Lowery, president of the SCLC, told Mandela, “We reject the constant nagging that you have experienced about denouncing violence." Finally, in Detroit, Quirita Quates, a young dancer, said the South African anti-apartheid leader was "just the greatest man in the world."
1990 (Jun 27)
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Oscar L. Prater, vice president for administrative services at Hampton University in Virginia, is named president of Fort Valley State College in Georgia.
Oscar L. Prater, vice president for administrative services at Hampton University in Virginia, was named president of Fort Valley State College in Georgia. Prater, a fifty-one-year-old Black American, succeeded Luther Burse, who left office in August 1988. The Sylacauga, Alabama, native did his undergraduate work at Talladega College (Alabama) and received a doctoral degree from the College of William and Mary in Virginia. At Hampton University, he had been a professor of mathematics and an administrator for eleven years. Prater was also active in community affairs in both Hampton and Williamsburg, Virginia, particularly in the Head Start program for disadvantaged youth.
1990 (Aug 17)
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Pearl Bailey, a renowned cabaret singer and actress, dies of an apparent heart attack in Philadelphia.
Pearl Bailey, a renowned cabaret singer and actress, died of an apparent heart attack in Philadelphia, where she was recovering from knee surgery. She was seventy-two. Bailey, who had a history of heart ailments, collapsed in her home and was rushed to Thomas Jefferson Hospital where she died. She was buried in Rolling Meadow, in suburban West Chester, Pennsylvania. Bailey was born on March 29, 1918, in Newport News, Virginia, of Black and Creek Indian ancestry. She began her professional career in vaudeville. Her greatest triumph came when she starred with Cab Calloway in the all Black version of the Broadway hit "Hello Dolly.” Bailey's success came partly because she adeptly used her talent to transcend the racial stereotypes that hindered many other Black performers of her time. She went on to become a legend known as the “Ambassador of Love." An entertainer noted for her distinctive style, she often punctuated her performances with mischievous witticisms. "If I just sang a song, it would mean nothing,” she once said.
1990 (Jun 25)
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Mollie Lewis Moon, the founder of the National Urban League Guild (NULG), dies from an apparent heart attack at age eighty-two.
Mollie Lewis Moon, the founder of the National Urban League Guild (NULG), died from an apparent heart attack in Long Island City, Queens, New York, at age eighty-two. Moon founded the NULG in 1942 to raise money for Urban League programs "for racial equality and amity.” Under her leadership, the guild grew to eighty units, with thirty thousand volunteers in the United States. A major guild event, over which Moon presided for almost half a century, was the annual Beaux Arts Ball. It began at the old Savoy Ballroom in the Harlem section of New York City in 1942, but moved downtown in 1948. In that year, Winthrop Rockefeller, a New York financier and philanthropist, arranged for the ball to be held in the Rainbow Room atop Rockefeller Center. Moon later recalled that the invitations for the event were sent out in both her name and that of Rockefeller. “Nobody was going to buck the landlord,” she said, “that's how we broke the color barrier." On April 23, 1990, which marked the beginning of National Volunteer Week, David Dinkins, the new Black mayor of New York City, presented an award for "dedicated and innovative volunteerism” to Moon on behalf of President George Bush.
1989 (Oct 11)
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Study shows that Blacks were much more likely to be committed to psychiatric hospitals than whites.
The Institute for Southern Study released a report that stated that Black Americans are nearly three times as likely as whites to be committed against their will to the seventy-two public psychiatric hospitals in nine southern states. The survey found that commitment rates for Blacks and whites differed most in Florida, where Blacks were 4.8 times as likely as whites to be committed. In Georgia, Blacks were twice as likely as whites to be committed. Blacks in Mississippi and South Carolina were committed 1.8 times as often as whites. Eric Bates, who supervised the study for the institute's Southern Exposure magazine, said there was "no simple answer why Blacks are committed more than whites, but racism clearly plays a part."