Today in Black History, 06/05/2015 | The American Negro Theater - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History, 06/05/2015 | The American Negro Theater

  • June 5, 1889 Ernest Charles Tanner, labor leader, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana but raised in Tacoma, Washington. Tanner briefly attended Whitworth College and was the first African American to play collegiate football in the Pacific Northwest. He also played in the local Negro league. He joined the Tacoma chapter of the International Brotherhood of Longshoreman in 1918 and over time rose to become a member of the executive board. Tanner insisted that African American dockworkers be paid the same wages and work under the same conditions as White dockworkers. Tanner died in 1956. The Ernest C. Tanner Labor and Ethnic Studies Center on the campus of the University of Washington is named in his honor.

  • June 5, 1893 Mary Ann Camberton Shadd, educator and publisher, died. Shadd was born October 9, 1823 in Wilmington, Delaware. She moved to West Chester, Pennsylvania in 1840 and established a school for Black children. When the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 threatened to return free northern Black people to bondage, Shadd moved to Windsor, Ontario, Canada where she founded a racially integrated school. Shadd founded The Provincial Freeman newspaper which promoted temperance, moral reform, civil rights, and Black self-help in 1853. Published until 1859, it was one of the longest published Black newspapers before the Civil War. Shadd published “Voice From Harper’s Ferry” in 1861, a tribute to John Brown’s unsuccessful raid. That same year, she returned to the United States and during the Civil War served as a recruiting officer to enlist Black volunteers for the Union Army. After the war, she moved to Washington, D. C. where she taught school and attended Howard University Law School. She graduated in 1883, the second Black woman to earn a law degree in the U. S. Shadd’s former residence in Washington, D. C. was designated a National Historic Landmark December 8, 1976. Her biographies include “Shadd: The Life and Times of Mary Shadd Cary” (1977) and “Mary Ann Shadd Cary: The Black Press and Protest in the Nineteenth Century” (1998).

  • June 5, 1894 George Washington Murray of Sumter, South Carolina received patent numbers 520,887, 520,888, and 520,889 for a planter, cotton-chopper, and fertilizer distributer, respectively. The planter was designed to drop crop seeds at predetermined distances apart and cover the seeds after dropping. The cotton-chopper was a cheap and simple machine designed to chop rows of cotton. And the fertilizer distributer was a strong and durable machine able to evenly drill any fertilizing agent into the ground and then cover them. Murray later received patent numbers 644,032 February 20, 1900 for a grain drill and 887,495 May 12, 1908 for a portable hoisting device. Murray was born enslaved September 22, 1853 in Sumter County. After being freed, he attended the University of South Carolina for two years and taught school for 15 years. He served as chairman of the Sumter County Republican Party and was known as the “Republican Black Eagle.” Murray served as inspector of customs at the Port of Charleston from 1890 to 1892. He was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1893 and served until 1897. During his time in Congress, Murray fought for Black rights, spoke in favor of retaining Reconstruction Period laws, and highlighted Black achievement by reading into the congressional record a list of 92 patents granted to African Americans. He was the last Black Republican to serve in Congress from South Carolina until 2010. Murray moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1905 and sold life insurance and real estate until his death April 21, 1926. His biography, “A Black Congressman in the Age of Jim Crow: South Carolina’s George Washington Murray,” was published in 2006.
  • June 5, 1920 Marion Motley, hall of fame football player, was born in Leesburg, Georgia but raised in Canton, Ohio. After playing college football at South Carolina State University and the University of Nevada, Motley joined the United States Navy and played for the Great Lakes Naval Training Station team. He started his professional football career in 1946 with the Cleveland Browns in the All-American Football Conference. Led by Motley, Cleveland won every championship in the four year existence of the AAFC. When the AAFC shut down in 1949, he was the league’s career rushing leader. The Browns joined the National Football League in 1950 and Motley led the league in rushing that year. He retired in 1954 and wanted to coach, however due to his race was not able to do that. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968, the second African American to be inducted. Motley died June 27, 1999. Many people refer to him as “The Jackie Robinson of football.”
  • June 5, 1945 John Wesley Carlos, hall of fame track and field athlete, was born in Harlem, New York. After one year at East Texas State University, Carlos transferred to San Jose State University where he was a co-founder of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, an organization formed to boycott the 1968 Mexico City Summer Olympic Games to highlight human rights violations by the United States. The boycott did not occur and Carlos went on to win the Bronze medal in the 200-meter race. At the medal award ceremony, he and Tommie Smith raised their black-gloved fist in a black power salute. They also wore black socks and no shoes to represent African American poverty in the U.S. For these actions, they were suspended from the U.S. team, banned from the Olympic Village, and they and their families were subject to death threats. Carlos led San Jose State to its first National Collegiate Athletic Association Track Championship in 1969. Following his track career, he played professional football but his career was cut short due to injuries. Carlos was inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame in 2003. He and Smith received the 2008 Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the ESPY Awards. “The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World” was published in 2011. Carlos was inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame in 2014.
  • June 5, 1950 The United States Supreme Court in the case of Henderson v. United States abolished segregation in railroad dining cars and in the case of McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents ruled that a public institution of higher learning could not provide different treatment to a student solely because of his/her race. In the Henderson case, the court did not rule on the “separate but equal” doctrine but found that the railroad failed to provide Henderson with the same level of service provided to a White passenger with the same class of ticket. In the McLaurin case, they ruled that the University of Oklahoma providing him with separate facilities deprived him of his Fourteenth Amendment rights of Equal Protection.
  • June 5, 1952 Wendell Phillips Dabney, newspaper editor and author, died. Dabney was born November 4, 1865 in Richmond, Virginia. In his senior year of high school, he led a protest of the separation of Black and White students for graduation. The successful protest resulted in the first integrated graduation at the school. Dabney spent 1883 at Oberlin College where he was first violinist at the Oberlin Opera House and a member of the Cademian Literary Club. Dabney taught at a Virginia elementary school from 1884 to 1890. He moved to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1894 and became Cincinnati’s first African American license clerk in 1895. From 1898 to 1923, he served as assistant, then head paymaster in the Cincinnati Department of Treasury. In 1907, Dabney founded The Union newspaper in 1907 with the motto “For no people can become great without being united, for in union there is strength.” Dabney edited the paper from its founding until his death and the paper was influential in shaping the political and social opinions of Cincinnati’s African American citizens. Dabney also served as the first president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Cincinnati chapter when it was established in 1915. He compiled and published “Cincinnati’s Colored Citizens” in 1926 and wrote “Maggie L. Walker: The Woman and Her Work” in 1927. The National Convention of Negro Publishers honored Dabney as a pioneer and leader in African American journalism in 1950.
  • June 5, 1977 Sleepy John Estes, hall of fame blues singer, songwriter and guitarist, died. Estes was born John Adam Estes January 25, 1899 in Ripley, Tennessee. While a young man, he lost the sight in one eye when he was hit with a rock. He began to perform professionally at 19, playing at parties and picnics. He made his recording debut in 1929 with “The Girl I Love She Got Long Curly Hair” and “Street Car Blues.” Estes wrote songs about his own life and that of his friends and neighbors. He recorded “Floating Bridge” (1937) after being swept off a bridge and “Fire Department Blues” (1938) after a neighbor’s house burned down. By 1940, Estes’ kind of country blues had lost favor and he disappeared from the music scene from 1941 to 1962 when he was found completely blind and living in poverty. He was re-introduced to the public and played a number of folk and country festivals in the United States and Europe. He also recorded several albums, including “The Legend of Sleepy John Estes” (1962), “Broke and Hungry” (1964), and “Brownsville Blues” (1965). He was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1991.
  • June 5, 1991 The Group Areas Act (Act No. 41) was repealed in South Africa. The act was created April 27, 1950 by the apartheid government of South Africa.  It assigned racial groups to different residential and business sections in urban areas of the country. The act led to many non-White people being forcibly removed for living in the “wrong” area and it caused many to commute long distances from their homes to work.
Today in Black History, 06/04/2015 | Roland Fryer
Today in Black History, 06/06/2015 | Tommie Smith
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