This Week In Black History – June 5 -11, 2024

  • JUNE 5

1872—The Republican Party National Convention takes place in Philadel­phia with substantial representation from former Black slaves. At least three Blacks addressed the national political gathering. At this point in history, the Republicans were the nation’s most progressive party and attracted the allegiance of African Americans. Blacks would remain loyal to the Republicans until the 1930s. But by 1945 with the Republicans becoming increasingly conservative and attracted to the New Deal programs of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the vast majority of Blacks had switched to the Democrats.

1894—Black inventor G.W. Murray patents a fertilizer distributor, cotton chopper and a seed planter all on this day in 1894.


1945—Track star John Carlos is born in Harlem, N.Y. Carlos and fellow sprinter Tommie Smith created an international sensation when they protested Ameri­can racism by giving the “Black Power” clinched fist salute when accepting their medals at the 1968 Olympics.

1956—Although the actual decision may have been reached the previous day, a federal district court hands down a ruling declaring that Alabama laws requiring racial segregation in public transportation were unconstitutional. The decision, which was later confirmed by the United States Supreme Court, was the first major legal victory for the Civil Rights Movement. It grew out of the historic Montgomery Bus Boycott sparked when Rosa Parks defied the law and custom by refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a White man. Although actually organized by Rev. E.D. Nixon, the Boycott would result in Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. becoming the na­tion’s most prominent civil rights leader.

  • JUNE 6

1790—Jean Baptist Pointe Du Sable establishes a settlement which would eventually grow into the city of Chica­go. The settlement would make the French-speaking, Santo Domingo-born Du Sable a wealthy man.

1966—Although there is some debate as to who first coined and used the phrase, this is generally recognized as the day in 1966 that Student Non-Vio­lent Coordinating Committee President Stokely Carmichael began to popularize the term “Black Power” as a demand for greater African American control over their political and economic destiny in America.


1987—Dr. Mae Jemison is selected by NASA as the first Black woman to begin training as a space shuttle astronaut. Jemison actually become the first Afri­can American woman to travel in space on Sept. 12, 1992 aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor.

  • JUNE 7

1958—Singer, musician and composer Prince was born on this day in Minneapo­lis, Minn. His full name was Prince Rogers Nelson. He was a musical innovator and known for his eclectic work, flamboyant stage presence, extravagant dress and makeup, and wide vocal range. Prince died at his Paisley Park recording stu­dio and home in Chanhassen, Minn., on April 21, 2016, at the age of 57.

Marie Laveau

1868—This is generally recognized as the day Marie Laveau retired (or was forced out) as the most powerful Voodoo priestess in the world. The New Or­leans native had become powerful and wealthy catering to the superstitious be­liefs of both Blacks and Whites through­out the South. The daughter of a slave and a French plantation owner, Laveau was raised as a Catholic but became in­trigued by stories of the city’s first Voodoo priestess Sanite De De and by 1830 had built her own Voodoo religious em­pire. She was replaced by one of her daughters, but she would live until 1881 dying at the age of 98.


1917—One of the greatest poets of the 20th century Gwendolyn Brooks is born in Topeka, Kan. Pushed by her mother and father, Brooks began writing poetry at a young age and was even introduced to some of the best known Black poets and writers of the Harlem Renaissance while still a child. She won the coveted Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1950 for a col­lection entitled “Annie Allen.” She died on Dec. 3, 2000.

1930—Under pressure from early civil rights activists, the New York Times be­gins using the word “Negro” as the of­ficial designation for African Americans. It also agreed to capitalize the “N.” The decision by the Times gradually led to “Negro” becoming the official designa­tion for Blacks nationwide and it would remain so until it was dethroned by “Black” in the 1960s. Positively, the rights advocates were attempting to build greater respect for African Americans but negatively, the selection of “Negro” also reflected a desire not to be referred to as “Blacks.”


1953—Educator and activist Mary Church Terrell wins a legal battle to end segregation in Washington, D.C., restau­rants.

  • JUNE 8

1886—Homer A. Plessy, a light-com­plexioned Black man, refuses to leave the “White” section of a New Orleans railroad car and move to the “colored” section. His Rosa Parks type refusal sets in motion a legal case, which eventual­ly reached the United States Supreme Court. In its May 1896 ruling, the Court decided against Plessy and thus con­firmed the segregationist doctrine of “separate but equal.” The ruling also had the effect of treating anyone with any “Black blood” as Black. The court never actually ruled on Plessy’s claim that he was 7/8 White and only 1/8 Black and thus should not be treated as “colored” under the laws of that day.


1968—James Earl Ray, the man con­victed of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is captured at an airport in London using a false Canadian passport. Ray would spend the rest of his life trying to withdraw his guilty plea charging that his brother and a mysterious man he met in Montreal, Canada, named Raoul were actually involved in the killing of King. He claimed he “did not personally shoot Dr. King” but suggested he knew before­hand about the conspiracy to assassi­nate him. Ray died in prison in April 1998.

1982—One of the greatest athletes to ever play the game of baseball, Satch­ell Paige, dies in Kansas City, Mo. Paige had played in the old Negro Baseball Leagues and went unrecognized by Major League Baseball and the general public for decades. He was finally voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971.

  • JUNE 9

1948—Oliver W. Hill becomes the first African American elected to the Rich­mond, Va., city council. He is best known for his work as a civil rights attorney helping bring down the segregationist doctrine of “separate but equal.” Hill was born in 1907.


1989—One of the “founding fathers” of the Congressional Black Caucus, Michi­gan Rep. John Conyers issues the first call for a Congressional investigation into paying African Americans reparations for the enslavement of their ancestors.

  • JUNE 10

1760—Several sources list this at the birthday of Richard Allen—founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Other sources give his birth date as Feb. 14, 1760. Regardless, the AME church was the first African-American orga­nized and incorporated church in Amer­ica. Allen, Absalom Jones and a group of free Blacks in Philadelphia founded the church in 1794. Allen and his group were initially members of the city’s pre­dominantly White St. George’s Method­ist Episcopal Church. But when several Blacks were ejected from the church for attempting to pray alongside Whites, Al­len led a walkout, which resulted in the forming of the AME church.


1898—Hattie McDaniel, the first Afri­can American to win an Oscar, is born on this day in Wichita, Kan. She won her Academy Award in 1940 for Best Sup­porting Actress for the role of Mammy in the classic film “Gone With The Wind.” Once criticized for playing stereotypical and sometimes demeaning “Black roles,” she responded, “I’d rather play a maid than be one.” McDaniel died in 1952.

1941—The “Black Moses,” Marcus Garvey dies in London, England. Start­ing around 1916, Garvey built his United Negro Improvement Association into the largest mass organization of Blacks in history, with the slogan “Up You Mighty Race.” The UNIA owned businesses ranging from bakeries to shipping com­panies. Garvey preached Black pride and self-reliance, while steering away from the more integrationist thrust of most prominent Black leaders of his day. He was eventually jailed on what are now viewed as trumped up mail fraud charges. Presidential intervention got Garvey freed. But in exchange for his early release from prison, the Jamaican native had to agree to leave the United States and not return. Separated from his U.S. base, Garvey was never able to re­build the UNIA.

  • JUNE 11


1963—President John F. Kennedy de­clares during a nationwide radio and television address that segregation was “morally wrong” and told the U.S. Congress it was “time to act” (pass leg­islation) to end all segregation of the races. That statement and similar ones endeared Kennedy to millions of African Americans. However, a few months after making the declaration, Kennedy was as­sassinated in Dallas, Texas. But most of his legislative ideas would be implement­ed by his successor, President Lyndon B. Johnson.


1963—Displaying the tenacity of the segregationist mentality dominant in the South in the 1960s, Alabama Gov. George Wallace, with the aid of state troopers, stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama to block two Black students from integrating the school. But when the Deputy U.S. Attorney General returned later in the day with a force of National Guardsmen, Wallace stepped aside, and Vivian Malone and James Hood were allowed to register.

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