· September 14, 1921 Constance Baker Motley, civil rights activist, lawyer and judge, was born in New Haven, Connecticut. Motley earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from New York University in 1943 and her law degree from Columbia Law School in 1946. She began her career as a law clerk at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, eventually becoming associate counsel and the LDF’s first female attorney. In 1950, she wrote the original complaint in the case of Brown v. Board of Education. In 1962, Motley became the first African American woman to argue a case before the United States Supreme Court in Meredith v. Fair. Motley was successful in winning James Meredith’s case to be the first African American student admitted to the University of Mississippi. Motley was successful in nine out of the ten cases that she argued before the U. S. Supreme Court. She had a succession of firsts for an African American woman, including in 1964 being the first elected to the New York State Senate, in 1965 the first chosen Manhattan Borough President, and in 1966 the first appointed a federal court judge. In 1993, Motley was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. In 2001, President William Clinton awarded her the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second highest civilian award in the United States, and in 2003 the NAACP awarded her the Spingarn Medal. Motley died September 28, 2005. Her name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.
· September 14, 1924 Benjamin William Quarteyquaye Quartey-Papafio, the first African educated to practice medicine in the Gold Coast, died. Quartey-Papafio was born June 25, 1859 or 1863 in Accra, Gold Coast (now Kenya). He was educated at Fourah Bay College in Freetown, Sierra Leone before earning his Bachelor of Arts degree from Durham University in Britain in 1882. In 1886, he earned his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degrees from Edinburgh University and became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons. After returning to the Gold Coast, he served as a medical officer with the Gold Coast Government Service from 1888 to 1905 while also in private practice. From 1909 to 1912, Quartey-Papafio was a member of the Accra Town Council and from 1919 to his death he was an unofficial member of the legislative council.
· September 14, 1924 Abioseh Davidson Nicol, academic, diplomat and writer, was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Nicol graduated from Christ’s College, Cambridge University in 1946 and earned his Ph.D. in 1958. From 1960 to 1966, Nicol was the first native principal of Fourah Bay College in Freetown. He served as chairman and vice chancellor at the University of Sierra Leone from 1966 to 1969. Nicol left academia in 1969 to become Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone to the United Nations where he served until 1971. From 1972 to 1982, he served as Under-Secretary General of the United Nations. Nicol returned to academia and served as a visiting professor of international studies at the University of California from 1987 to1988 and University of South Carolina from 1990 to this retirement in 1991. Nicol was a published author of short stories, poetry, music, academic literature, and a biography of Africanus Horton, an early Sierra Leonean author and one of the founders of African Nationalism. His last published work was “Creative Women” in 1982. Nicol died September 20, 1994.
· September 14, 1980 Dorothy Celeste Boulding Ferebee, physician, educator, and social activist, died. Ferebee was born October 10, 1898 in Norfolk, Virginia. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Simmons College in 1920 and her medical degree with top honors from Tufts University Medical School in 1924. Not allowed to intern at white hospitals in Boston, Ferebee did her internship at the Black owned Freedmen’s Hospital in Washington, D. C. In the late 1920s, Ferebee opened the Southeast Neighborhood House to provide medical care and other community services to poor African Americans in D. C. From 1935 to 1942, she served as medical director for the Mississippi Health Project which deployed mobile medical units throughout impoverished regions of the deep South. In 1949, Ferebee was named director of health services at Howard University Medical School, a position she held until her retirement in 1968. Ferebee served as the international president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority from 1939 to 1941, president of the National Council of Negro Women from 1949 to 1953, and vice president of Girl Scouts of the United States from 1969 to 1972. In 1959, Ferebee was the first recipient of Simmons College’s Alumnae Achievement Award. The college awards several scholarships in her name each year.
· September 14, 2000 Beau Richards, stage, film, and television actress died. Richards was born Beulah Richardson on July 12, 1920 in Vicksburg, Mississippi, She graduated from Dillard University in 1948 and two years later moved to New York City. Her career started to take off in 1955 with her appearance in the off-Broadway production of “Take a Giant Step.” Broadway productions in which Richards appeared include “The Miracle Worker” (1957) and “A Raisin in the Sun” (1959). In 1965, she was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her stage performance in “The Amen Corner.” In 1967, Richards was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” Other notable movie performances include “Hurry Sundown” (1967), “In the Heat of the Night” (1967), and “Beloved” (1998). Richards made numerous television appearances and won two Prime Time Emmy Awards for Outstanding Guest Actress. In 2003, Richards was the subject of the documentary “Beau: A Black Woman Speaks.”