As you know, this month we’re challenging ourselves to learn something new about our history every day of Black History Month, and we’re hoping to share our findings with you, the UPTOWN readers.
Today In Black History: Feb. 16th
- 1826: Martin Freeman was born in Rutland, Vermont. In 1854, he would become professor at Allegheny Institute near Pittsburgh, with mathematics and science as his specialty. In 1856, he was appointed president of the school, making him the first Black man to hold the position of president at a college in America.
- 1852: William Sander Scarborough was born in Macon, Georgia. After he was emancipated, he studied at Atlanta University and Oberlin College, where he earned a master’s degree. He taught in the Jim Crow south, but moved on to teach Latin and Greek at Wilbeforce University, where he was appointed president in 1908. Pres. Warren G. Harding appointed him to a post in the Department of Agriculture.
- 1857: Frederick Douglass was elected president of Freedmen Bank and Trust.
- 1889: Lawyer and educator Hazel Mountain Walker was born.
- 1904: Actor James Baskett was born. He was a prolific actor and voice actor, and was the first live actor hired by Walt Disney. He earned an honorary Academy Award in 1948 for his Uncle Remus role, which many regard as extremely offensive and stereotypical to this day.
- 1923: Bessie Smith made her first recording, “Down Hearted Blues,” which sold 800,000 copies for Columbia Records.
- 1944: The “Golden Thirteen” made history as the first Black Naval officers in America. Twelve of the men were commissioned as ensigns, while the thirteenth was promoted to warrant officer. However, they weren’t afforded the respect white officers received in the Navy and were given menial assignments. Only one continued with the Navy after World War II.
- 1951: The New York City Council banned racial discrimination in city housing developments by passing a bill.
- 1957: LeVar Burton was born in Landstuhl, Germany.
- 1961: The DuSable Museum of African American History opened in Chicago. It was named for Haitian settler Jean Baptiste Point DuSable. In 1779, he established the trading post and settlement that would become Chicago.
- 1970: Joe Frazier knocked out Jimmy Ellis during the second round of their bout, becoming the world heavyweight champion.
- 1972: Hoops legend Wilt Chamberlain became the first player to score 30,000 as a Los Angeles Laker, during his 13th year in the NBA.
Did we leave a notable person or event off this list? Well, each one teach one. Let us know in the comments.
RELATED: Today In Black History: Feb. 15th