Today in Black History, 11/11/2015 | Daniel McCree - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History, 11/11/2015 | Daniel McCree

November 11, 1890 Daniel McCree of Chicago, Illinois received patent number 440,322 for the portable fire escape. McCree's fire escape was designed for the interior of homes and could be attached to the windowsill and lowered to the ground, allowing people within to escape from second and third story levels during a fire. Not much else is known of McCree's life. • November 11, 1910 Edwin C. "Bill" Berry, civil rights activist, was born in Oberlin, Ohio. Berry earned his bachelor's degree in education from Duquesne University in 1938 and began his career with the Pittsburgh Urban League. He moved to Portland, Oregon in 1945 to establish the Portland Urban League. There, he led the effort to pass the 1949 Fair Employment Practices law, which banned employment discrimination, and the 1953 Public Accommodations law. Berry became executive director of the Chicago Urban League in 1956 and over the next 13 years helped to pass the Fair Employment Practices Commission Act in Illinois and fought housing discrimination. After his retirement in 1969, he served as a television talk show host and assistant to the president of Johnson Products Company. Berry died March 14, 1987. Edwin C. Berry Playground in Chicago is named in his honor.

November 11, 1831 Nathaniel "Nat" Turner, rebellion leader, was executed by hanging in Jerusalem, Virginia after initiating a rebellion of enslaved and free Black people. Turner was born enslaved October 2, 1800 in Southampton County, Virginia. He learned to read and write at a young age and was deeply religious. By early 1828, he was convinced that he "was ordained for some great purpose in the hands of the Almighty" and that God had given him the task of "slaying my enemies with their own weapons." There was a solar eclipse August 13, 1831 and Turner took that as his signal. He began the rebellion August 21 with a few trusted enslaved Black men that grew into more than 50 enslaved and free Black men. The rebels traveled from house to house, freeing enslaved people and killing their White owners. The rebellion was suppressed within 48 hours with approximately 55 White men, women, and children killed. Turner was captured October 30 and was convicted and sentenced to death November 5. The state executed 56 other Black men suspected of being involved in the uprising and another 200 Black people, most of whom had nothing to do with the uprising, were beaten, tortured, and murdered by angry White mobs. Also, the Virginia General Assembly passed new laws making it unlawful to teach enslaved or free Black and Mulatto people to read or write and restricting Black people from holding religious meetings without the presence of a licensed White minister. Numerous books have been written about the rebellion, including "Nat Turner's Slave Rebellion" (1966), "The Confessions of Nat Turner" (1993), and "The Rebellious Slave: Nat Turner in American Memory" (2004). His name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan. 

November 11, 1850 George Washington Henderson, the first Black person inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, was born enslaved in Clark County, Vermont. Henderson was freed after the Civil War and learned to read and write. He graduated from the University of Vermont, first in his class, in 1877 and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. He was actually the second Black person to be nominated for the society but the first to be inducted. Henderson went on to earn his Master of Arts degree from the University of Vermont in 1880 and his Bachelor of Divinity degree from Yale University in 1883. He moved to New Orleans, Louisiana in 1888 and was ordained a Congregational minister. He served as chair of the theology department at Straight University (now Dillard University) from 1890 to 1904, as dean of theology at Fisk University from 1904 to 1909, and as professor of Latin, Greek, and ancient literature at Wilberforce University from 1909 to his retirement in 1932. Henderson died February 3, 1936. The George Washington Henderson Fellowship at the University of Vermont sponsors pre and post-doctorate scholars. 

November 11, 1865 H. Ford Douglas, antislavery advocate for emigration, died. Douglas was born enslaved in Virginia in 1831. He escaped to Cleveland, Ohio around 1846. Douglas was self-taught and worked as a barber. He also was active in the free Black community, arguing that African Americans would never gain equality in the United States. He also believed that the U. S. Constitution was a proslavery document because it did not specifically prohibit slavery. He moved to Canada in 1854 and worked for the Provincial Freeman, a Canadian newspaper promoting antislavery principles. Douglas returned to the U. S. in 1858 and delivered a speech July 4, 1860 to approximately 2,000 people in Framingham, Massachusetts attacking Abraham Lincoln's, the Republican presidential nominee, views on race and slavery. He viewed Lincoln as an advocate of White supremacy and an opponent of equality for African Americans. After the start of the Civil War, Douglas joined the Union Army and was one of the few Black commissioned officers and the only African American permitted to raise and command his own company. Douglas was forced to leave the army in 1865 after contracting malaria. 

November 11, 1914 Daisy Lee Gatson Bates, journalist and civil rights leader, was born in Huttig, Arkansas. Bates and her husband started a local Black newspaper, The Arkansas State Press, in 1941 which was an avid voice for civil rights. She was elected president of the Arkansas State Conference of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People branches in 1952. Bates guided and advised the nine students, known as the Little Rock Nine, when they attempted to enroll at Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Her involvement in that resulted in the loss of most advertising revenue for their newspaper and it was forced to close in 1959. Bates and the Little Rock Nine were the recipients of the 1958 NAACP Spingarn Medal. Bates moved to New York City in 1960 and wrote her memoir, "The Long Shadow of Little Rock," which won a 1988 National Book Award. Bates died November 4, 1999. The Daisy Bates Elementary School in Little Rock is named in her honor and the 3rd Monday of February is designated Daisy Gatson Bates Day, an official Arkansas state holiday. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in her honor in 2009. 

November 11, 1929 Delores LaVern Baker, hall of fame rhythm and blues singer, was born in Chicago, Illinois. Baker began performing around Chicago under various names before settling on LaVern Baker in 1952. Her first hit recording came in 1955 with "Tweedlee Dee" which reached number 4 on the R&B charts. Baker had a succession of hits over the next several years, including "Play It Fair" (1955), "Jim Dandy" (1956), "I Cried a Tear" (1958), and "See See Rider" (1962). Baker began a 22 year stint as entertainment director at a Marine Corps night club at the Subic Bay Naval Base in the Philippines in 1966. She returned to the United States in 1988 and worked on movie soundtracks, including "Shag" (1989), "Dick Tracy" (1990), and "A Rage in Harlem" (1991). She made her Broadway debut in 1990, starring in the hit musical "Black and Blue." She made her last recording, "Jump into the Fire," in 1995. She received the 1990 Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. Baker died March 10, 1997. 

November 11, 1954 John Rosamond Johnson, composer, singer and editor, died. Johnson was born August 11, 1873 in Jacksonville, Florida. He is best known for composing The Black National Anthem, "Lift Every Voice and Sing." His brother, the poet James Weldon Johnson, wrote the lyrics. Johnson began his career as a public school teacher in his hometown. He trained at the New England Conservatory and then studied in London, England. With his brother and Bob Cole, he produced two successful Broadway operettas with casts of Black actors, "Shoo-Fly Regiment of 1906" and "The Red Moon of 1908." He also served as director of New York's Music School Settlement for Colored from 1914 to 1919. With his own ensembles, The Harlem Rounders and The Inimitable Five, Johnson toured and performed in Negro spiritual concerts. He also served as musical director for "Blackbirds of 1936." Johnson edited "The Book of American Negro Spirituals" (1925), "The Second Book of Negro Spirituals" (1926), "Shoutsongs" (1936), and "Rolling Along in Song" (1937). 

November 11, 1965 The Republic of Zimbabwe declared its independence from the United Kingdom. Zimbabwe is located in southern Africa and is bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the southwest, Zambia to the northwest, and Mozambique to the east. It is approximately 150,870 square miles in size and the capital and largest city is Harare. Zimbabwe has a population of approximately 12,973,800 people with 85% Christian. There is no officially recognized language. 

November 11, 1969 George Robert Carruthers was awarded patent number 3,478,216 for his Image Converter for Detecting Electromagnetic Radiation. His machine was flown to the moon on the 1972 Apollo 16 mission to obtain images of earth and outer space. Carruthers was born October 1, 1939 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1961, Master of Science degree in 1962, and his Ph.D. in 1964 from the University of Illinois. Carruthers has spent his career in the Space Science Division of the Naval Research Laboratory developing space telescopes and other photometric instruments. He is also active with Science, Mathematics, Aerospace, Research and Technology which encourages Black teachers and students to pursue science and technology. Carruthers received an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from Michigan Technology University in 1973, was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2003, and was honored as a Distinguished Lecturer at the Office of Naval Research in 2009 for his achievements in the field of space science. Carruthers has chaired the Editing and Review Committee and served as editor of the Journal of the National Technical Association since 1983 and has taught a course in earth and space science at Howard University since 2002. Carruthers was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest honor the nation bestows on an individual for achievements related to technological progress, by President Barack H. Obama February 1, 2013. 

November 11, 1975 The Republic of Angola gained its independence from Portugal. Angola is in southern Africa and is bordered by Namibia to the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Zambia to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Luanda is the capital and largest city. The country is approximately 481,350 square miles in size and has a population of approximately 18,498,000 people. Christianity is practiced by most of the population with more than half Catholics. Portuguese is the official language but most natives speak the indigenous language of their ethnic group. 

November 11, 1975 Floyd Allen of Washington, D. C. received patent number 3,919,642 for a Low Cost Telemeter for Monitoring a Battery and DC Voltage Converter Power Supply. His system was inexpensive to produce and economical to use in the field testing of fuze battery power supplies on a large scale. It obtained its output information from a frequency modulated transmitter whose modulation signal was alternatively obtained from two data channels on a periodic basis, thus eliminating the need for continuous operation of the data channels. 

November 11, 1987 Channing E. Phillips, minister, social activist and the first African American placed in nomination for President of the United States by a major party, died. Phillips was born March 23, 1928 in Brooklyn, New York. He was a founding member of the Coalition of Conscience, a conglomeration of local organizations working to alleviate social problems in Washington, D. C. Phillips led the D. C. delegation to the 1968 Democratic National Convention and after the death of Robert F. Kennedy Phillips was nominated as a favorite son candidate August 28, 1968 and received 68 votes. Phillips said that his candidacy was meant to show that "the Negro vote must not be taken for granted." Phillips was also the president of the Housing Development Corporation, a government backed housing venture in the capital. 

November 11, 1989 The Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama was dedicated. The memorial is sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center and is dedicated to 40 people who died in the struggle for equal rights between 1954 and 1968. The memorial represents the aspirations of the American Civil Rights Movement against racism. 

November 11, 1997 Rodney Milburn, Jr., hall of fame track and field athlete, died. Milburn was born May 18, 1950 in Opelousas, Louisiana. He attended Southern University and dominated the 110 meter hurdles during the early 1970s, tying the world record three times. He was unbeaten in 28 races in 1971 and was named the Track and Field News Athlete of the Year. At the 1972 Munich Summer Olympic Games, Milburn won the Gold medal in the 110 meter hurdles and following the Olympics was the first African American to win the Corbett Award given annually to Louisiana's top amateur athlete. Milburn earned his bachelor's degree from Southern in 1972. After the Olympics, he turned professional but regained his amateur status in 1980. He remained a world ranked hurdler until his retirement in 1983. He coached track at Southern from 1983 to 1987. Milburn was inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame in 1993. 

November 11, 2010 A statue depicting Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Clarence Eugene Sasser was unveiled in front of the Brazoria County, Texas courthouse. Sasser was born September 12, 1947 in Chenango, Texas. He was drafted into the United States Army in 1967 and by January 10, 1968 was serving as a private first class combat medic in Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division during the Vietnam War. His actions on that date earned him the medal, America's highest military decoration. His citation partially reads, "His company was making an air assault when suddenly it was taken under heavy small arms, recoilless rifle, machine gun and rocket fire from well-fortified enemy positions on three sides of the landing zone. During the first few minutes, over 30 casualties were sustained. Without hesitation, Sp5c. Sasser ran across an open rice paddy through a hail of fire to assist the wounded. After helping one man to safety, was painfully wounded in the left shoulder by fragments of an exploding rocket. Refusing medical attention, he ran through a barrage of rocket and automatic weapons fire to aid casualties of the initial attack and, after giving them urgently needed treatment, continued to search for other wounded. Despite two additional wounds immobilizing his legs, he dragged himself through the mud toward another soldier 100 meters away. Although in agonizing pain and faint from loss of blood, Sp5c. Sasser reached the man, treated him, and proceeded on to encourage another group of soldiers to crawl 200 meters to relative safety. There he attended their wounds for five hours until they were evacuated." The medal was presented to Sasser by President Richard M. Nixon March 7, 1969. After leaving the army, Sasser returned to college as a chemistry student. He then worked for an oil refinery for more than five years before being employed by the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Declared independence from Portugal. 

Declared independence from Britain. 

The first African American inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.

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