Today in Black History, 07/20/2015 | The first National Conference on Black Power - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History, 07/20/2015 | The first National Conference on Black Power

  • July 20, 1874 William Henry Ferris, minister, author and one of the founding fathers of African studies, was born in New Haven, Connecticut. Ferris earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University in 1895. He then studied for the ministry at Harvard Divinity School and earned his Master of Arts degree in journalism from Harvard University in 1900. He then taught school for a number of years before being ordained a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1910. Ferris was an active defender of civil rights for African Americans and was a member of the Niagara Movement and the American Negro Academy which promoted higher education for African Americans. In 1913, Ferris published “The African Abroad, or His Evolution in Western Civilization, Tracing His Development under Caucasian Milieu” which challenged societal norms in history, theology, and philosophy as they pertained to African Americans. He became assistant president general of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and literary editor of the Negro World newspaper in 1919. Ferris died in 1941.
  • July 20, 1925 Frantz Fanon, psychiatrist, revolutionary and writer, was born on the Caribbean island of Martinique. Fanon served in the French army during World War II. His experiences on Martinique and his service in the army fueled his first book, “Black Skin, White Mask” (1952), which analyzed the effects of colonial subjugation on humanity. He wrote “The Wretched of the Earth,” which discussed the effects on Algerians of torture by the French forces during the Algerian revolution, in 1961. Fanon died December 6, 1961. Many of his shorter writings were posthumously published in the book “Toward the African Revolution.” Several biographies have been published on Fanon, including “Fanon” (1971) and “Frantz Fanon: A Life” (2001).
  • July 20, 1938 Ronald G. Walters, scholar, author and political consultant, was born in Wichita, Kansas. As president of the Youth Council of the Wichita chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Walters organized the Dockum Drug Store sit-in in 1958 which led to the desegregation of drugstores in Wichita. Walters earned his Bachelor of Arts degree, with honors, in history and government from Fisk University in 1963. He earned his Master of Arts degree in African studies in 1966 and Ph.D. in international studies in 1971 from American University. Walters served as professor and chair of the political science department at Howard University for 25 years and was director of the African American Leadership Institute at the University of Maryland for 13 years until his retirement in 2009. Walters also served as campaign manager for Jesse Jackson during his 1984 and 1988 presidential bids. Walters published a number of books, including “Black Presidential Politics in America: A Strategic Approach” (1988) which won the Bunche Prize. Other books by Walters include “Standing Up in America’s Heartlands: Sitting in Before Greensboro” (1993) and “White Nationalism, Black Interests: Conservative Public Policy and the Black Community” (2003). Walters died September 10, 2010. 
  • July 20, 1944 Melvin Joe Daniels, hall of fame basketball player, was born in Detroit, Michigan. Daniels played college basketball at the University of New Mexico where he was an All-American in 1967. He was selected in the 1967 American Basketball Association Draft by the Minnesota Muskies and was the ABA Rookie of the Year in his first season. The next year, Daniels was traded to the Indiana Pacers where he was a seven-time All-Star, ABA Most Valuable Player in 1969 and 1971, and led them to three ABA Championships. Daniels retired in 1977 and joined the coaching staff at Indiana State University. He was Director of Player Personnel for the Pacers from 1986 to 2009. Daniels’ jersey number 34 was retired by the Pacers and in 2012 he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
  • July 20, 1954 Freeman R. Bosley, Jr., the first African American Mayor of St. Louis, Missouri, was born in St. Louis. Bosley earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in urban affairs and political science from Saint Louis University in 1976 and his Juris Doctor degree from Saint Louis University School of Law in 1979. He was appointed the first African American St. Louis Circuit Clerk for the 22nd Judicial Circuit in 1982, a position he held for ten years. He also served as the first African American chairman of the St. Louis Democratic Party from 1991 to 1993. Bosley was elected Mayor of St. Louis in 1993 and served until he was defeated for re-election in 1997. During his tenure, he led the successful effort to relocate the Los Angeles Rams professional football team to St. Louis and he orchestrated the bailout of Trans World Airlines. He also served as chair of the Hunger and Homeless Task Force of the United States Conference of Mayors.
  • July 20, 1964 Violet Palmer, the first woman to officiate a National Basketball Association game, was born in Compton, California. Palmer played college basketball at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and led them to National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II Championships in 1985 and 1986. After earning her bachelor’s degree in 1987, she worked as a recreation director for the City of Los Angeles. While continuing at that job, she began officiating basketball games, working her way through the ranks of high school, college, and the NCAA Women’s Final Four. Palmer became the first woman to officiate a National Basketball Association game October 31, 1997 and the first woman to officiate an NBA playoff game April 25, 2006. She established Violet Palmer’s Official Camp in 2001 to train young people in refereeing. Palmer became coordinator of women basketball officials for the West Coast Conference in 2009 while continuing to referee in the NBA and Women’s National Basketball Association.
  • July 20, 1982 Okot p’Bitek, internationally recognized Ugandan poet, died. Okot was born June 7, 1931 in Gulu, Uganda. He was educated at King’s College, Budo and later studied education at the University of Bristol and then law at the University of Wales. He earned his Bachelor of Letters degree in social anthropology at the University of Oxford in 1963. In 1953, he wrote the novel “Lak Tar Miyo Kinyero Wi Lobo” which was later translated into English as “White Teeth.” He achieved wide international recognition with the publication of his long poem “Song of Lawino: A Lament” in 1966. The poem has been described as one of the most important works of African literature. Other works by Okot include “Song of Ocol” (1970), “Horn of My Love” (1974), and “Acholi Proverbs” (1985). The East African Song School or Okot School poetry is an academic identification of dramatic verse monologue rooted in traditional song and phraseology. A number of books have been published about Okot and his poetry, including “The Poetry of Okot p’Bitek” (1976) and “Tradition As Philosophy: Okot p’Bitek’s Legacy for African Philosophy” (2002).
  • July 20, 1994 Everett Frederick Morrow, businessman and the first African American to hold an executive position at the White House, died. Morrow was born April 20, 1906 in Hackensack, New Jersey. He graduated from Bowdoin College in 1930 and was employed by the National Urban League and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as field secretary before entering the United States Army in 1942. Morrow graduated from Officers Candidate School in 1943 and was discharged as a major of artillery in 1946. He earned his Juris Doctor degree from Rutgers University in 1948. Morrow joined President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s staff as administrative officer for special projects in 1955 and served until 1961. He published his account of the experience in his autobiography, “Black Man in the White House,” in 1963. Morrow became the first Black corporate executive at Bank of America in 1964. He retired in 1975 and later was an executive with the Education Testing Service. Morrow received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Bowdoin in 1970.


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