There’s something unsurprising about 19th century and early 20th century boxers who pass away or spend their final days in bars. Bill Richmond could be said to be one such pugilist. Born August 1763 in Staten Island, New York, he spent his early years as a slave in Richmondtown before arriving in England in 1777. […]

June 10, 1946: Jack Johnson died in a car crash on U.S. Highway 1 near Franklinton, North Carolina, a small town near Raleigh, after racing angrily from a diner that refused to serve him. He was taken to the closest black hospital, Saint Agnes Hospital in Raleigh. He was 68 years old at the time […]

June 10, 1997: After 27 years in prison (8 in solitary confinement), Geronimo Pratt was released on $25,000 bail. His murder conviction would be vacated, on the grounds that the prosecution had concealed evidence that might have influenced the jury’s verdict. The prosecution had not disclosed the extent to which a key witness against Pratt, […]

Born April 11, 1908 in Poughkeepsie, New York, Jane Bolin always knew she wanted to be a lawyer. Her father, Gaius Bolin, the first African American graduate of Williams College, practiced law in Poughkeepsie. Jane remembered hanging around his office after school. “Those leather-bound books just intrigued me,” she said. Bolin graduated from Wellesley College […]

BY WALTER OPINDE On this day, 9th June, 1978, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints desegregated its priesthood, so that anybody chosen by God could ascend to priesthood regardless of the color of his/her skin. African-Americans could finally become priests or ascend to higher posts of the priesthood in the church. From the […]

Natalie Cole, the Grammy-winning entertainer whose hits include “This Will Be,” “Our Love,” and “Inseparable,” died on December 31 at a Los Angeles hospital. She was 65. “Natalie fought a fierce, courageous battle, dying how she lived… with dignity, strength and honour. Our beloved mother and sister will be greatly missed and remain unforgettable in […]

arney Ford was born a slave in Virginia. At the age of twenty-fire, he escaped and began a successful career in a variety of entrepreneurial ventures. In the hope of discovering gold in California, Ford purchased ship passage for himself and his wife, Julia, by way of Nicaragua. Central America proved lucrative and Ford decided […]

BY WALTER OPINDE  On this day, 9th June, 1929, a great African-American rhythm and blues singer, Johnny Ace (John Marshall Alexander), was born, in Memphis, Tennessee. Alexander, a.k.a. Johnny Ace was a black musician, born in Memphis, Tennessee, the son of a preacher, who grew up near LeMoyne-Owen College. After serving in the U.S. Navy during the Korean […]

Clara Olivia Byrd Baker was an educator who devoted her life to encouraging her students to further their education and pursue professional careers. Byrd was born on June 22, 1886, in Williamsburg, Virginia. She was the daughter of Charles and Malvina Carey Byrd. In 1905, she married William Baker, Sexton of Bruton Parish Church.  Together, […]

Dr. Elizabeth Coles was a founding member of the National Association of Ministers’ Wives. Coles parents were both missionaries in Liberia and in 1893, they returned to Virginia. After high school, Coles wanted to be a missionary, but there was no support for unmarried female missionaries. She began her studies at the Armstrong Normal School […]

In March 1955, nine months before Rosa Parks, in Montgomery, Alabama, high school student Claudette Colvin was arrested when she refused to give up her seat to a white person on a bus. Before this, other Black women had refused to give up their seats, but they usually did not make a fuss, they just […]

John Merrick was a professional businessman who founded North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company; at his death, this organization was the largest black-owned insurance company in the U.S. He was also instrumental in the founding of Lincoln Hospital, Mechanics and Farmers Bank, and North Carolina Central University. Merrick was born in 1859 in a rural area […]

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