I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.3 John 1:4

African-American Heritage

Upcoming Events/Announcements

Registration is Open:  Genealogy Classes for beginners and advanced starting January 14, 2019 on Mondays from 6:30pm – 8:00pm.  Session include 5 weeks of classes including time in the computer lab.  The sessions will conclude with a symposium featuring a keynote speaker, Renate Saunders and a genealogy showcase on Saturday, February 23, 2019 beginning at 9:00am.  Donations are $30 which includes coffee, lunch and course materials.

Please click here to register.

Suggested Reading List

Edwin Blum and Paul Harvey:   “The Color of Christ:  The Son of God sand Saga of Race in America”

James Baldwin: “Collected Essays: Note of the Native Son /Nobody Knows My Name/The Fire Next Time/ No Name in the Street/ The Devil Finds Work”

Colson Whitehead: “The Underground Railroad”

Jesmym Ward: “The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race”

Ralph Ellison: “Invisible Race”

Michelle Alexander: “The New Jim Crow”

Ta-Nehisi Coates: “Between the World and Me”

Bryan Stevenson: “Just Mercy”

Carter G. Woodson: “The Mis-Education of the Negro”

W.E.B. Dubois: “The Souls of Black Folks”

Ta-Nejisa Coates: “The Beautiful Struggle”

Laila Ibrahim: “Yellow Moore”

Cynthia Bond: “Ruby”

Henry Hampton and Steve Fayeer: “Voices of Freedom” (Companion to the acclaimed TV series “Eye on the Prize”)

James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Hilton: “Slavery and the Making of America”

November 30, 1875
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Alexander P. Ashborne and African American grocery store owner patents the biscuit cutter.

November 29, 1790
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Lemuel Haynes, Revolutionary war Veteran, licensed to preaching to the Congregational Church. After the winter of Valley Forge, black slaves and free men were welcomed into the American Army. There were Black soldiers in the Revolutionary army from all of the original colonies. Most of the estimated 5,000 black soldiers fought in integrated units.

November 28, 1901
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Professor William Hooper Council, the founder and first President of the Huntsville Normal School which today is Alabama A& M University outlined his views regarding the recently passed Alabama Constitution which effectively denied the vote to its African American Citizens. Alabama A & M was founded in 1875, six years before Booker T. Washington established Tuskegee Institute in South Central Alabama.

November 27, 1997
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Buck Leonard, by name of Walter Fenner Leonard died. Leonard was born In Rocky Mount, North Carolina on September 8, 1907. He was an American baseball player who was considered one of the best first basemen in the Negro Leagues. He was among the first Negro Leaguers to receive election into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

November 26, 1883
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Death of abolitionist and orator, Sojourner Truth, Battle Creek, Michigan, Truth was born into slavery in Ulster County, New York but escaped with her infant daughter.

November 25, 1996
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Charles Morehead Stokes died on this date. One of three sons of Reverend Norris Jefferson Stokes and Myrtle Garner Stokes was born on February 1, 1903 in Pratt, Kansas. During his three year term in the state legislature of Washington State he was named outstanding freshman GOP House member from King County.

November 24, 1865
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Mississippi passed the so called “Black Codes” that barred blacks for jury service, testifying against whites in trials, bearing arms and attending white schools.

November 23, 1897
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Andrew J. Beard puts patents on the Jerry coupler, still used today to connect railroad cards, He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio.

November 22, 1986
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George Brannaham is the first black to ever win a Professional Bowlers (PBA) title.

November 21, 1964
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Yvette Diane Clarke was born in Brooklyn, New York. She won her first political office when she was elected a member of the New York City Council representing part of Brooklyn in 2001. Clarke succeeded her mother, former City Councilmember, Dr. Una Clarke, making them the first mother-daughter succession in the history of New York City Council, in 2006, Clarke was elected to the U.S. Congress to represent NY’s 11th Congressional District.

November 20, 1962
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President Kennedy issued an executive order barring racial discrimination in federally financed housing.

November 19, 1921
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Roy Campanella was born. In 1951, he was named Most Valuable Player of the National Baseball League for the second time.

November 18, 1954
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Michael B. Coleman is born. He is the first African American Mayor of Columbus, Ohio. Coleman was born in Indianapolis, IN to John Coleman, a medical doctor, and Joan Coleman a local civil rights activist, In 1999, he ran for mayor of Columbus, beating his former boss, Ben Espy in the Democratic Primary, he the out polled Republican opponent Dorothy Teater, a Franklin County Commissioner, winning over 60% of the 82,000 votes cast.

November 17, 1972
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Sixteen blacks were elected to Congress. Andrew Young of Atlanta was the first black elected to Congress to win the Deep South since the Reconstruction era. Also elected for the first time were Barbara Jordan (Texas) and Yvonne Brathwaite Bure (California) Republican Senator Edward W. Brooke of Massachusetts was overwhelmingly re-elected for a second term.

November 16, 2011
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Stanley Robertson passes away. He was a pioneering black network TV program executive who broke color barriers at NBC in the 60’s and 70’s and later was a movie studio production executive

November 15, 1898
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Lyda D. Newman of New York City patented a new and improved hairbrush with synthetic bristle and ventilation, the hairbrush could be taken apart easily for cleaning.

November 14, 1915
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Mabel Fairbanks was born, she was a skater, coach and the first African American inducted into the U. S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame She passed away in 2001 at age 85.

November 13, 1951
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Ballerina Janet Collins became the first black dancer to appear with the Metropolitan Opera Company in New York City. She was the recipient of the Donaldson Award in 1950 for best Broadway Dancer for her appearance in Cole Porter’s “Out of this World”.

November 12, 1874
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Entertainer Bert Williams was born. He was the first black to take a lead role on Broadway stage and helped break down racial barriers. In 1910, he was hired by Florence Ziegfeld be one of the stars of the Ziegfeld Follies.

November 11, 1975
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Floyd Allen received a patent for a low cost Telemeter for monitoring a Battery & DC Voltage Converter Power Supply.

November 10, 1898
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“The Washington insurrection of 1898” In two days of racial violence, a mob of whites, led by some of Wilmington, North Carolina’s most respected and influential citizens destroyed the state’s only African American newspaper The Wilmington Daily Record.

November 9, 1923
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Alice Coachman is born in Albany, Georgia. She specialized in the high jump and was the first black woman to win an Olympic Gold Medal. Coachman made history at the 1948 Olympics in London when she leapt to a record breaking height of 5 feet 6 and ½ inches.

November 7, 1955
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The Supreme Court ruled against Atlanta, Georgia’s “Separate but equal” except in public golf courses.

November 6, 1747
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Absalom Jones was born into slavery in Sussex County, Delaware. He was the first African American ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church in the United States. He passed away at his home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on February 13, 1818.

November 5, 1917
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Emmett Jay Scott, journalist, founding newspaper editor, government officer and former secretary to Booker T. Washington was appointed special adviser of Black Affairs to Secretary of War, Newton D. Balker.

November 4, 1882
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Robert L. Douglas was born. He was the founder of the N.Y. Renaissance B-ball team. Nicknamed the father of Black Professional Basketball, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor in 1972. The first African American enshrined. Douglas owned and coached the Rens from 1923-1948 guiding them to a 2,318-381 record.

November 3, 1882
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John Baxter Taylor, Jr. was born, He was a Track & Field athlete and the first African American to win an Olympic Gold medal. He died of typhoid pneumonia in 1908 at 26.

November 2, 1787
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First free school in New York City, the African free school opened in lower Manhattan by the New York Manumission Society and founding fathers Alexander Hamilton and John Jay. It was the very first school for blacks in America.

October 31, 1950
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Earl Francis Lloyd “Big Cat” played for the Washington Capitols against the Rochester Royals becoming the first African American to play in the National Basketball League. The speedy defensive-minded Lloyd, at 6’7” led West Virginia State University to two CIAA Conference and Tournament Championships in 1948 and 1949.

October 30, 1930
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Jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown a.k.a. “Brownie” was born in Wilmington, Delaware. He is widely considered as one of the greatest trumpet players of all time. He died at the age of 25 in a car accident, leaving behind only four years worth of recordings.

October 29, 1969
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U.S. Supreme Court said school system must end segregation “at once” and “operate now and hereafter only unitary schools”.

October 28, 1948
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Actress Telma Louise Hopkins born in Louisville, Kentucky. She is most well known for her roles on television shows such as “Family Matters” and “Half and Half”. She was also a member of the singing group Tony Orlando and Dawn which had several number one songs.

October 27, 1979
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St. Vincent and the Grenadines gains independence from the United Kingdom.

October 26, 1911
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Grammy Award winning gospel singer, civil rights activist, Mahalia Jackson born in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is most well known for her rendition of “Amazing Grace”, “Go Tell It On The Mountain” and “Nobody Knows.” Possessing a powerful contralto voice she was referred to as “The Queen of Gospel”.

October 25, 1997
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After a brief civil war which has driven President Pascal Lissouba out of Brazzaville, Denis Sassou-Nguesso proclaims himself the President of the Republic of the Congo.

October 24, 1964
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Zambia gains independence from the United Kingdom.

October 23, 1940
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R&B singer Barbara Anne Hawkins of the group the Dixie Cups born in New Orleans, Louisiana. The trio consisting of Barbara, her sister Rosa Lee Hawkins and their cousin Joan Johnson were responsible for a string of hits including “Chapel of Love”, “People Say”, and “Iko Iko.”

October 22, 1953
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Dr. Clarence S. Green becomes the first African American certified in neurological surgery. He received his M.D. from the Howard University College of Medicine with distinction in 1936 and after seven years of general surgery residency and four years as a professor of surgery at Howard University, he was granted the opportunity by the legendary Wilder G. Penfield to train in neurosurgery at the world-renowned Montreal Neurological Institute from 1947-1949.

October 21, 1917
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John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie born in Cheraw, South Carolina. Together with Charles Parker, he was a major figure in the development of Bebop and modern jazz. In addition to following in these epochal moments in bebop, he was instrumental in founding Afro-Cuban jazz. Among Gillespie’s most well known compositions are “A Night in Tunisia”, “Groovin High” and “ Salt Peanuts.”

October 20, 1904
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Enolia Pettigen McMillan, the first female president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) born in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. She played a key role in persuading the NAACP to move the national headquarters from New York to Maryland.

October 19, 1960
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Harriet Ida Pikens and Francis Wills are sworn in as the first African American females in the Navy. They graduated from the Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School (Women’s Reserve) at Northampton, Massachusetts.

October 18, 1961
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Jazz trumpeter, composer and bandleader Wynton Marsalis is born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He has created and performed an expansive range of music from quartets to big bands, chamber music ensembles to symphony orchestras, tap-dance and ballet. He is among the most prominent jazz musicians of the modern era and is also a well-known instrumentalist in classical music. Wynton has produced over 80 records which have sold over seven million copies worldwide including three Gold Records.

October 17, 1956

Dr. Mae Carol Jemison, American engineer, physician and NASA astronaut is born in Decatur, Alabama. On June 4, 1987, she became the first African American woman to be admitted into the astronaut training program. Dr. Jemison became the first African American woman in space aboard the Endeavour Space Shuttle on September 12, 1992.

October 16, 1901

President Roosevelt invites Booker T. Washington to dine with him at the White House as his guest making the esteemed educator the first African American to dine at the White House as the negro guest of the President.

October 15, 1949
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William Henry Hastie, Jr. is nominated to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals and becomes the first African American judge to sit on the court. He was also one of the first African American members of the Franklin Roosevelt Administration and appointed the President’s race relations advisor.

October 14, 1834
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Henry Blair of Greenosa, Maryland successfully patents his corn-planting machine. The planter resembled a wheelbarrow, with a compartment to hold the seed and rakes dragging behind to cover them. The patent is one of the first filed by a black person in America.

October 13, 1898
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Edith Spurlock Sampson born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She was the First African American delegate to the United Kingdom.

October 12, 1932
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Comedian, activist, Dick Gregory born Richard “Dick” Claxton Gregory in St. Louis, Missouri. He used his performance skills to convey to both white and black audiences his political messages on civil rights. He became a figure in the health food industry, becoming better known as a nutrition guru during the 1980’s advocating for a raw fruit and vegetable diet.

October 11, 1988
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The Murant Bay Rebellion began when Paul Boyle led more than 200 black men and women into the town of Morant Bay, Jamaica in protest of an arrest. The group was fired on at the court house and the blacks then rioted killing 18 people and seizing the town. Troops were sent after Boyle and his men and in the end over 800 blacks were killed by troops and executed. The rebellion became a major turning point in Jamaican history.

October 10, 1917
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Jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. He is widely considered one of the most important men of Jazz, if not only Bebop and was one of only 3 jazz musicians to be featured on the cover of Time. He is the second-most recorded jazz composer of all time and composed over 70 songs. Many of his compositions are considered as jazz standards, including “Round Midnight” and “Blue Monk” Monk was honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993, after his death, and in 2006 he was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation.

October 9, 1962
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Uganda declared independence from the United Kingdom.

October 8, 2004
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Kenyan ecologist Dr. Wangari Muta Maathai becomes the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace”.

October 7, 1897
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The Honorable Elijah Mohammed born Elijah Poole in Sandersville, Georgia. One of thirteen children, his schooling only lasted until he was nine; then he had to work in the fields and on the railroad. He left home at age sixteen to travel and work at odd jobs. Poole became an early follower of W.D. Fard, the founder of the Nation of Islam. Mohammed is noted for his leading Black Muslims and the Nation of Islam from 1934 until his death in 1975. He was a mentor of Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan and Muhammad Ali and was a major promoter of independent, black-operated businesses, institutions and religion.

October 6, 1923
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Jack Trice, the first African American athlete at Iowa State is assaulted by players from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis in an apparently racially motivated attack. The second play of the game, Trice’s collarbone was broken. Trice insisted he was alright and returned to the game. In the third quarter, Trice was trampled by three Minnesota players. Although, he claimed to be fine, Trice was removed from the game and sent to a Minneapolis hospital. The doctors declared him fit for travel and he returned by train to Ames with his teammates. On October 8, 1923, Trice died from hemorrhaged lungs and internal bleeding as a result of the injuries sustained during the game.

October 5, 1972
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Seven-time NBA All-Star great athlete Grant Henry Hill born in Dallas, Texas. He is also an Olympic gold medalist, helping the USA national team to win in the 1996 Atlanta games. Now retired from basketball, he continues to excel off the court as a sports broadcaster and the co-host of NBA Inside Stuff. He is also an analyst for TNT, NBA TV and works in real estate and in the community.

October 4, 1966
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Kingdom of Lesotho declares independence from Britain.

October 3, 1954
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American civil rights activist, author, Baptist minister, television/radio show host and former White House adviser Alfred “Al” Charles Sharpton, Jr. is born in Brooklyn, New York. In 1991, he founded the National Action Network. NAN works within the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to promote a modern civil rights agenda that includes the fight for one standard of justice, decency and equal opportunities for all people regardless of race, religion, nationality or gender. In 2004, Reverend Sharpton was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Presidential election.

October 2, 1800
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Freedom Fighter Nat Turner was born. He was an enslaved African American who led a rebellion of slaves and free blacks in Southampton County, Virginia on August 21, 1831.Led by Nat Turner, rebel slaves killed from 55 to 65 people, the largest and deadliest slave uprising in U.S. history. This rebellion struck fear throughout the slaveholding south, which sought to squash his legacy.

October 1, 1952
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Joseph “Joe” Black was an American right-handed pitcher in Negro League and Major League Baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Cincinnati Red legs and the Washington Senators. He was the first black pitcher to win a World Series Game in 1952.

September 30, 1962
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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black orders James Meredith admitted to Ole Miss.; he enrolls and a white riot ensues.

September 29, 1933
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Emperor Jones, starring Paul Robeson as Brutus Jones is released by United Artists. It is Robeson's first starring movie role and the first major Hollywood production starring an African American with whites in supporting roles

September 28, 1868
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White Mob in Opelousas, Louisiana killed nearly 300 Blacks Over The Right To Vote.The event is also referred to as The Opelousas Riot by some historians. There is debate as to how many people were killed.

September 26, 1962
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A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., becomes the first African American member of the Federal Trade Commission. He was also appointed a federal district judge and U.S. Circuit Judge of the Third Circuit.

September 25, 1961
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Voter registration activist and NAACP member Herbert Lee is shot and killed by a white state legislator in McComb, Mississippi.

September 20, 1962
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James Meredith is barred from becoming the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi.

September 20, 1829
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The first National Negro Convention met in Philadelphia.

September 18, 1895
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Booker T. Washington delivered the "Atlanta Compromise" speech at the Cotton States International Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia.

September 17, 1883
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Vanessa L. Williams was crowned Miss America 1984 on September 17, 1983, becoming the first African American to win the title.

September 13, 1886
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Alain Leroy Locke. Locke was the first black Rhodes Scholar in 1907, first black Harvard graduate in philosophy in 1918, was born.

September 12, 1973
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A commemorative stamp is issued by the U.S. Postal Service to honor Henry Ossawa Tanner, the first African American artist elected to the National Academy of Design.

September 10, 1847
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John Roy Lynch, congressman, soldier, and author was born in Concordia Parish, Louisiana on September 10, 1847 to Patrick Lynch, an Irishimmigrant and Catherine White, a slave. Lynch’s father died soon after his birth. Lynch and his mother were then traded to a plantation in Natchez, Mississippi. During the Civil War, Lynch became free when he fled the plantation and to serve as a cook for the 49th Illinois Volunteer Regiment.

September 9, 1957
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The Civil Rights Act of 1957, Pub.L. 85–315, 71 Stat. 634, enacted September 9, 1957, primarily a voting rights bill, was the first federal civil rights legislation passed by the United States Congress since the Civil Rights Act of 1875. The Civil Rights Act of 1957 was also Congress's show of support for the Supreme Court's Brown decisions, the Brown v. Board of Education, which had eventually led to the integration, also called desegregation, of public schools.

September 8, 1857
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Tennis champion, Althea Gibson, becomes the first Black athlete to win a US national tennis championship.

September 7, 1957
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On this day, Ghana becomes a free self-governing nation. This country will be the first of the British Commonwealth of Nations to be self-governing.

September 6, 1826
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John Brown Russwurn, as an abolitionist, newspaper publisher, and colonizer of Liberia where he moved from the United States. He was born in Jamaica to an English father and enslaved mother. As a child he traveled to the United States with his father and received a formal education, becoming the first African American to graduate from Bowdoin College on September 6, 1826.

September 5, 1895
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George Washington Murray (September 22, 1853 – April 21, 1926),born into slavery in South Carolina, became educated and worked as a teacher, farmer and politician. After serving as chairman of the Sumter County Republican Party, he was elected in the 1890s as a United States congressman from South Carolina on September 5, 1895.

September 4, 1981
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Beyonce Knowles is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, she performed in various singing and dancing competitions as a child, and rose to fame in the late 1990s as lead singer of R&B girl-group Destiny's Child.

September 3, 1970
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As 3,000 black people met in Atlanta, Georgia, on Labor Day weekend in 1970 to found the September 3, 1970 Congress of African People, both black self-determination and Pan-Africanism were central themes.

September 2, 1766
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James Forten was an African American abolitionist and wealthy businessman in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Born free in the city, he became a sailmaker after the American Revolutionary War. Following an apprenticeship, he became the foreman and bought the sail loft when his boss retired. Based on equipment he himself had developed, he established a highly profitable business. It was located on the busy waterfront of the Delaware River, in an area now called Penn's Landing.

September 1, 1977
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She was African-American singer and actress, born in Chester, Pa. As a singer, she is noted for her sultry, sophisticated, and dramatic version of the blues. After beginning in black vaudeville, she appeared in Harlem night clubs in the 1920s, sang with several bands, and made her Broadway debut (1927) in the all-black revue- Africana. In 1950 Waters became the first African-American woman to star in a television sitcom, the popular Beulah. In later years she toured with the Billy Graham crusade.