Know Your History!
Up to the early 20th century, most American knowledge of Black history was limited to the African American struggle through slavery and emancipation. The significance of Black history is recognition of the advancements and accomplishments of a group of people once defined by the Constitution as three-fifths of a person. While slavery in America hosts the background of Black history, the African American impact on history reaches beyond the country’s early history, as African Americans have made significant contributions.
African-American Facts for Week of: June 12
June 12, 1463
1963 – Medgar W. Evers Assassinated
Medgar W. Evers (37), NAACP field secretary in Mississippi, assassinated in front of his Jackson home by a segregationist.
June 12, 1876
1876 – The first known Monument Erected by African
The first known monument erected by African Americans to honor one of our heroes is dedicated to Richard Allen in Philadelphia’s Fairmont park.
June 13, 1937
1937 – Eleanor Holmes
Eleanor Holmes (later Eleanor Norton) is born in Washington, DC. A graduate of the Yale University School of Law, Norton will become chairperson of the New York City Commission on Human Rights, and a Georgetown University law professor before being elected a non-voting delegate to Congress representing the District of Columbia.
June 13, 1967
1967 – 1st Black Supreme Court Justice
Thurgood Marshall, U.S. solicitor general, named to the Supreme Court by President Johnson. He was confirmed by the Senate on August 30 and became the first Black Supreme Court justice.
Thurgood Marshall (July 2, 1908 – January 24, 1993) was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, serving from October 1967 until October 1991. Marshall was the Court’s 96th justice and its first African-American justice.
June 14, 1939
1939 – The Ethel Waters Show
The Ethel Waters Show, a variety special appears on NBC. It is the first time an African American appears on television.
June 14, 1970
1970 – Cheryl Adrienne Brown
Cheryl Adrienne Brown wins the Miss Iowa pageant and becomes the first African American to compete in the Miss America beauty pageant.
June 15, 1921
1921 – Bessie Coleman receives Pilot’s License
Bessie Coleman attended the “…Ecole d’Aviation des Freres Caudron at Le Crotoy in Somme for a 10 month flight training course. Flying a French Nieuport Type 82, Bessie finished the course three months early and obtained her Federation Aeronautique International (FAI) license on June 15, 1921– the first U.S. woman of any race to do so directly.
June 16, 1812
War of 1812
War of 1812: Although the U.S. Army did not enlist African Americans after the Revolutionary War, the U.S. Navy continued to use African Americans as seamen because of the perennial shortage of white sailors. The African American presence in the navy placed them at the center of the naval incident that led to the War of 1812. In 1807 the British frigate Leopard shelled the USS Chesapeake to locate four escaped British sailors. When the Chesapeake yielded and the British boarded the American ship, they took into custody four sailors, three of whom are William Ware, Daniel Martin, and John Strachan were African Americans previously impressed by the British. Although it was obvious that these men were Americans, the British refused to return them for four years, inciting American public opinion and leading President Thomas Jefferson to close American harbors to British ship. The U.S. could not go to war then because it lacked a serious navy, but the seeds of resentment were sown, and in June 1812 the United States declared war on Britain, citing the impressments of American citizens as a principal reason for going to war.
June 17, 1775 –
1775 – Blacks soldiers fought in battles
Blacks soldiers fought at Battle of Bunker Hill and Breed’s Hill. Among the heroes of the battle were Peter Salem.
Peter Salem: A free slave, Peter Salem, a private in Captain Simon Edgel’s company at the battle of Bunker Hill, was the first military hero of the War of Independence against British rule. On June 17, 1775, at a crucial moment in the battle, when British major John Pitcairn, had rallied the disorganized British troops and prepared a counterattack, Salem, shot the major through the head just after he yelled “The day is Ours.” Peter Salem, a former slave who had gained his freedom upon enlisted in the militia, had battled Pitcairn, and his forces earlier at Lexington and was glad to have dispatched the hated major as he did. Now leaderless, the British lost their nerve and the battle. Afterward, Salem’s fellow soldiers took up a collection for him. He was also honored by a visit to meet George Washington and by a monument placed over his grave in Framingham, Massachusetts in 1882.
June 17, 1871
1871 – James Weldon Johnson, born
Author, lyricist, poet and educator James Weldon Johnson, also the first Black executive of the NAACP, is born in Jacksonville, Florida.
June 18, 1966
1966 – Samuel Nabrit
Samuel Nabrit is the first African American to serve on the Atomic Energy Commission.
June 18, 1968
1968 – Housing discrimination banned
Supreme Court banned racial discrimination in sale and rental of housing.
Too often America revels in its greatness but often fails to confront or come to grips with the darker moments of American history. Exploring African American history could allow America to lance the boil of the past and move towards healing.
To me, the omission of any group from history teachings results in a limited understanding of history’s relationship with the present and future. Know your history.
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