Richard Theodore Greener was born, (January 30, 1844) who became the first African American to graduate from Harvard University. His education also includes time at Oberlin College, but the key here is the time he spent at Harvard. His talents didn’t go to waste, and upon graduation he was appointed principal of the Male Department at Philadelphia’s Institute for Colored Youth, which would eventually become Cheyney University. Greener also earned a degree from the University of South Carolina where he entered Law School to get his LL.B degree. Respected by multiple governments, his work overseas as both an educator and advisor led to him being decorated by the Chinese Government for helping in the famine relief efforts in the wake of the Boxer Rebellion.
William Wells Brown publishes “Leap to Freedom,” (January 30, 1858) making him the first African American to have a play published, which would coincidentally be his only play. He is also known as the first African American writer to publish a novel, and the first to have a travel book published. Of the many books in this talented author’s portfolio, notable mentions include “Clotel,” “The Negro in the American Rebellion,” and “The Rising Son.” His final book is a chilling telltale titled “My Southern Home.”
John Parker passed on this day (January 30, 1900), and was best known as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. Both into slavery as the son of a white father and slave mother, he purchased his freedom after saving up money over two years of work for a price of $1800. After traveling about for a bit, his nose led him to the foundries near Cincinnati. At this point he began his career as a conductor, helping countless slaves gain freedom at the risk of his own. It’s estimated that he helped free 1000 slaves from their masters, a feat that should never be forgotten.