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On This Day:  African American History


  • 1.  President Abraham Lincoln issues Emancipation Proclamation (1863)
    First meeting of the Catholic Afro-American Lay Congress (1889) in WDC 
    Lincoln University was incorporated (1854) in PA
  • 2.  Martin Luther King, Jr. calls for non-violent protests if Alabama Blacks are not allowed to register and vote (1965)
  • 3.  William Tucker first African American child born in America (1624)
  • 4.  Congressional Black Caucus formed (1971)
  • 6.  First black Catholic bishop to serve in the United States in this century (1953) Joseph Oliver Bowers.  
    First black member of the Tennessee state house of representatives (1873) Samson W. Keeble.
  • 7.  Marian Anderson debuts as first black singer Metropolitan Opera House, (1955)
    First black Pennsylvania state supreme court justice (1984) Robert N.C. Nix Jr.
    William B. Purvis patents fountain pen (1890)
  • 8.  First woman ordained a priest in the Protestant Episcopal Church (1982) Sandra Antoinette Wilson
  • 10.  George Washington Carter, agricultural scientist, born (1864)
  • 11.  First black Supreme Court judge (Mississippi) 1981, Reuben Anderson
  • 13.  First black elected governor (Virginia) Doug Wilder (1986) 
  • 15.  Alpha Kappa Alpha, first African American sorority, is founded at Howard University (1908)
    Martin Luther King, Jr. born (1929)
  • 16.  First black sheriff in the South since Reconstruction (1967) Lucius D. Amerson
  • 18.  First black to head a congressional standing committee in recent times (1949) William Dawson - GA
    Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, pioneer heart surgeon, born (1856)
  • 20.  First black radio network (1972) KPOO-FM San Francisco "Poor People's Radio" Lorenzo Milam.  First black astronaut killed during a space mission Ron McNair (1986).  First black U.S. senator (1870) Hiram Rhodes Revels (Mississippi)
  • 22.  James Robert Gladden becomes first African American certified in orthopedic surgery (1949)
  • 23.  First black Baptist missionary to Africa (1821) Lott Carey (Liberia) 
  • 24.  Congress passes 13th Amendment which, on ratification, abolished slavery in America (1865)
  • 25.  First female priest of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the NYC Archdiocese (1982) Sandra Wilson
  • 26.  First black Protestant Episcopal bishop in the West (1991) Chester Lobelle
    The U.S. Government authorizes Massachusetts to recruit Black troops for Union Army (1863)
    Bessie Coleman born, first black woman aviator (1892)
  • 27.  Free Africa Society organized in Philadelphia (1787)
  • 29.  First black woman lawyer admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court (1920) Violette Anderson
  • 31.  First meeting of black Masonic lodge recognized by white Masonry (1871) Alpha Lodge of NJ


  • 1.  First black to speak in the House of Representatives as a congressman (1871) Jefferson Franklin Long
    Four North Carolina A & T students stage sit-in at dimestore, starting first of 1960's sit-ins in Greensboro (1960)
  • 2.  First black lawyer to argue a case before the Supreme Court (1880) Samuel Lowery
  • 3.  First black student admitted to the University of Alabama (1956) Autherine Juanita Lucy Foster
  • 4.  Rosa Parks born (1913)
    First black judge in Florida since Reconstruction (1964) Austin T. Walden
  • 7.  African American ragtime composer and performer Eubie Blake is born (1883)
  • 8.  First black reporter to attend White House press conference (1944) Harry S. McAlpin
  • 10.  Ron Brown is elected the first African American Chairperson for the Democratic Party. (1989)
  • 11.  ANC Leader and Human Rights Activist Nelson Mandela is released from South African prison after 27 years of confinement. (1990)
    First black secretary of the army (1977) Clifford Alexander Jr
  • 12.  NAACP Founded (1909)
    First black man to preach in the rotunda of the Capitol to Representatives (1843) Henry Highland Garnett.  
    First female Anglican bishop in the world (1989) Barbara Harris
  • 13.  First successful black professional baseball league organized (1920) Andrew "Rube" Foster
  • 14.  Abolitionist Leader Frederick Douglass is born. (1817)
  • Toni Morrison, the first African American to win Nobel Prize in Literature, is born (1931) 
  • 20.  Sidney Poitier, the first African American man to win an Academy Award, is born. (1927)
  • 21.  First black to receive an honorary degree from a white college (1804) Lemuel Haynes Middlebury College, VT
  • 23.  Civil Rights Leader William Edward Burghardt DuBois is born.  (1868)
  • 25.  Hiram Rhoades Revels is sworn in as the first African American United States Senator. (1870)
  • 26. The Fifteenth Amendment guaranteeing that the right to vote will not be denied on the basis of race is passed by Congress. (1869) 
  • 27.  First black to speak on the floor of the House (1868) John Willis Menard
  • 28.  African American inventor Richard Spikes is issued patent for automatic gear shift. (1932)
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  • 1.  First black minister appointed to Liberia (1871) James Milton Turner
    Ralph Waldo Ellison, author of "The Invisible Man" born (1914)
  • 3.  First black to receive a patent (1821) Thomas L. Jennings - dry cleaning process.  
    Freeman's Bureau established by federal government to aid newly freed slaves.
    First university open to all races (1868) University of SC (1865)
  • 4.  First black assistant secretary of labor (1954) James Ernest Wilkins Sr.  
    First black congressman elected from the state of Florida (1871) Josiah Thomas Walls
    Peace activist & suffragist Jeanette Rankin first woman elected to US House of Representatives (1917)
  • 5.  Black American Day - observes the day that Crispus Attucks died in the American Revolution, the first African American to do so
  • 6,  Dred Scott decision (1857)
  • 7.  Civil rights march, Selma to Montgomery, Alabama (1965)
  • 8.  First act passed forbidding the importation of black slaves (1774) Rhodes Island
    Harriet Tubman's born, this African American woman established the Underground Railroad to free slaves from the South, 1820
  • 12.  New York established a Fair Employment Practices Commission (1945)
  • 13.  Jean Baptiste Pointe Du Sable, black pioneer and explorer, founded Chicago (1773)
    First black daily newspaper in modern times (1932) The Atlanta Daily World
  • 14.  Montgomery bus boycott ends when municipal bus service is desegregated (1965)
  • 16.  First black paper, Freedom's Journal (1827)
  • 18.  The Phoenix Society, a literary and educational group, founded by Blacks in New York City (1822)
  • 20.  Patenting of the first successful shoe lasting machine (1883) Jan Matzeigler
    Carter Woodson receives doctorate from Harvard University (1912)
  • 21.  First black woman to complete the requirements for a Ph.D. (1921) Eva Beatrice Dykes
    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. leads march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., for voting rights (1865)
  • 24.  Canada gives African American citizens the right to vote (1837)
  • 29.  Railroad brake patent (1904) Granville T. Woods
  • 30.  Fifteenth Amendment ratified, guaranteeing voting
    rights to African Americans (1870)
  • 31.  First black cardinal in the Catholic church (1960) Laurian Rugambwa.  
    First black votes as a result of the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment (1870) Thomas Mundy Peterson


  • 3.  First black to patent an improved window ventilator for railroad cars (1883) Humpfrey H. Reynolds
    Poet-orator James Madison Bell, author of the Emancipation Day poem "The Day and the War", born (1826)
  • 4.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinated.
  • 5.  Birthday of Booker T. Washington - founded the Tuskegee Institute, the first school of higher learning for blacks, 1856 - 1915
    Washington, D.C. Municipal Court of Appeals outlawed segregation in restaurants (1951)
  • 6.  Explorer Matthew Henson leads party of 6 to North Pole (1909)
  • 7.  First black American depicted on U.S. postage stamp (1940) Booker Taliaferro Washington.  First major slave revolt in New York City (1712) 
  • 9.  First black AME bishop (1816) Richard Allen.  
    First black missionary associated with the AME church (1819) Daniel Coker.  
    Civil Rights Bill (1866) passed giving blacks the same rights enjoyed by white citizens.  
    African Orthodox Church was organized (1990) by George Augustus Stallings
  • 11.  First institution of higher education established to educate black women (1881) Spellman College, GA
    Civil Rights Act of 1968 anniversary
    Jackie Robinson becomes first black player in Major League Baseball (1947)
  • 12.  Free Africa Society organized in Philadelphia (1787)
    Harold Washington becomes first African American mayor of Chicago (1983)
  • 14.  First abolitionist society in U.S. is founded in Philadelphia (1775)
  • 15.  First black in major league baseball (1946) Jackie Robinson 
  • 22.  First black bishop consecrated in the United States (1966) Harold Robert Perry
  • 23.  First black woman admitted to practice before the D.C. Supreme Court (1872) Charlotte E. Ray
  • 24.  Oldest black medical association formed, Medico-Chirurgical Society (1884)
    United Negro College Fund established (1944) 
  • 25.  Patent on a paper bag manufacturing device (1882) W.B. Purvis
    Ella Fitzgerald, "First Lady of Song", born (1918)
    26.  First white church to give money in response to James Fornian's demand for reparations (1969)
  • 28.  First black nominated director of the Office of National Drug Policy (1993) Lee P. Brown
  • 29.  Duke Ellington, jazz musician and composer, born (1899)
  • 30.  Dr. Louis T. Wright honored by American Cancer Society for his contributions to cancer research (1952)
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  • 2.  First black student at Vanderbilt University (1953) Joseph A. Johnson
    Elijah McCoy, inventor of automated lubricating device for steam engines, born (1844),  This is where phrase "The Real McCoy" comes from.
    First black bishop in the state of Tennessee (1993) J. Terry Steib
  • 7.  J. R. Winters receives patent for fire escape ladder (1878)
  • 13.  African-American Catholic Church established (1990)
    First black mayor of Fayette, Mississippi (1971) James Charles Evers
  • 15.  Mt. Zion Baptist Church founded
  • 17.  First black blues musician on a postage stamp (1969) W.C. Handy
    First black moderator of the Presbyterian Church (1975) Lawrence Wendell Bottoms
    Brown vs. Board of EducationQanniversary of Supreme Court decision banning racial segregation in schools
  • 18.  First law passed regulating black servitude (General Court of Election, Rhode Island) (1652)
    Supreme Court decision in Plessy vs. Ferguson affirmed the doctrine of "separate but equal" (1896)
  • Malcolm Little (Malcolm X) born (1925)
  • 21.  First black moderator of the United Presbyterian Church (1976) Thelma Davidson Adair
    First black to be ordained by an American bishop (1836) George Paddington
  • 24.  First black to address a joint session of the (AL) legislature in this century (1960) Blanche Preston McSmith
  • 26.  First black to win a major tennis title (1956) Althea Gibson
  • 30.  First black student to graduate from the University of Alabama (1965) Vivian Malone Jones
    Vesey slave revolt in Charleston (1739) 


  • 3.  Dr. Charles Drew born, father of blood plasma banks (1904)
  • 6.  Dillard University chartered in New Orleans (1930)
  • 10.  First American black to be ordained in the Catholic church (1854) James Augstine Healy
    Race Unity Day - focuses attention on the principles of unity in diversity
  • 13.  Thourgood Marshall appointed, first black Supreme Court Justice (1967)
  • 14.  First black woman to receive a Ph.D. (1921) Eva Beatrice Dykes
  • 15.  First black American to receive a Ph.D. in economics (1921) Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander
  • 17.  First black elected bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (1758) John Wesley
    Patenting of the first cost-efficient method for producing carbon filaments (1882) Louis H. Latimer
  • 19.  Solidarity Day march of Poor People's Campaign (Poor People's March), Washington DC (1968)
  • 20.  Albert W. Dent of Dillard Universality elected president of the National Health Council (1953)
  • 21.  Col. Benjamin O. Davis Jr. becomes first African American to command a U.S. Army Air Corps base (1945)
  • 22. William Barry patents the postmarking and canceling (1897)
  • 25.  Franklin D. Roosevelt issues executive order establishing Fair Employment Practice Commission (1941)
  • 26.  Samuel Blanton Rosser becomes first African American certified in pediatric surgery (1975)
  • 27.  First black superintendent of schools in Atlanta, Georgia (1969) John W. Porter
    Patenting of lubricator for steam engines (1872) Elijah McCoy ("The Real McCoy")
    First state to abolish slavery in its constitution (Vermont) (1777)
    First permanent order of black Catholic nuns (1829) Oblate Sisters of Providence, MD
  • 28.  Fugitive slave laws repealed by Congress (1864)
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  • 2.  Birthday of Thurgood Marshall - first African American man to become a Supreme Court Justice (1908)
  • 3.  First black Protestant Episcopal church in New York City (1819) St. Phillips African Church
  • 6.  First state legislative body with a black majority (1868) South Carolina 
  • 7.  First widely known black priest to celebrate mass (1886) Augustus Tolton
  • 9.  World's first successful heart operation (1893) Daniel Hale Williams 
  • 12.  Patenting of a practical refrigeration system for trucks and railroad cars (1940) Frederick M. Jones
  • 13.  Continental Congress prohibited slavery in the Northwest Territories (1787)
  • 14.  First patent of the first known black woman inventor (1885) Sarah E. Goode
  • 16.  Ida B. Wells born (1862)
  • 17.  First black Protestant Episcopal church founded (1874) James T. Holly 
  • 18.  Coupling device for railroad cars patent (1897) Andrew Beard
  • 20.  First woman bishop of the United Methodist Church (1984) Leontine T.C. Kelly
  • 21.  New Orleans Tribune, first daily black newspaper published in French and English (1864)
  • 25.  Garrett Morgan, inventor of gas mask, rescues 6 people from gas-filled tunnel in Cleveland (1916)
  • 29.  First National Conference of Colored Women Convention is held in Boston (1895)
  • 30.  Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.  elected to congress from Harlem (1945)
    James Varick becomes first bishop of African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (1822)


  • 2.  Birthday of James Baldwin - black author and playwright, wrote Go Tell It on the Mountain, 1924 - 1987
  • 3.  First issue of Atlanta Daily World newspaper first black daily in modern times (1932)
  • 7.  First black permanent member of the delegation to the United Nations (1954) Charles Mahoney
  • 8.  Polar explorer Matthew Henson born (1865)
  • 11.  First African Methodist Episcopal Conference started (1822) James Varick
  • 15.  Granville T. Woods patents electromechanical brake (1888)
  • 20.  First 20 slaves arrive in Jamestown, Virginia (1619)
  • 22.  First black college founded in Tennessee, and still in existence (1867) Fisk University
  • 25.  A. Phillip Randolph organizes sleeping car porters union (1925)
    First black candidate certified to run for a U.S. Senate seat (1972) John LeFlore
    First meeting of the American National Baptist Convention (1895)
  • 26.  19th Amendment to the Constitution ratified, giving women the right to vote (1920)
  • 28.  Granville T. Woods patents railway telegraphy (1888)
    Largest single demonstration in US history, March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963)
  • 30. First black American astronaut to make a space flight (1983) Guy Bluford, Jr.
  • 31.  Henry Blair patents cotton planter (1836)
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  • 2.  Frederick M. Jones patents control device for internal combustion engine (1958)
  • 7.  Integration in public schools begins in Washington DC and Baltimore (1954)
  • 8.  First black to win a major United States national championship (1968) Arthur Ashe
  • 12.  Birthday of Jesse Owens - African American athlete, won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, 1913 - 1980
    Dr. Mae C. Jemison becomes first African American woman to travel in space (1992)
  • 15.  Four African American girls killed in Birmingham church bombing (1963)
  • 19.  Booker T. Washington opens Tuskegee Institute in Alabama (1881)
  • 24.  First black bishop of the Episcopal Church in the diocese of Washington (1977) John T. Walker
    Birthday of E. Franklin Frasier - African American scholar and writer, author of The Negro Family, 1894-1962
  • 24.  Integration of Central High School at Little Rock (1957)
  • 27.  First and only black Catholic college (1915) Xavier University
  • 28.  National Baptist Convention organized (1895)
  • 29.  The National Urban League founded in New York City (1910)
  • 30.  Under the protection of federal marshals, JamesMeredith enrolls as the first African American student at University (1962)


  • 3.  First black radio station, WERD, Atlanta Georgia (1949)
  • 6.  Political activist Fannie Lou Hamer born (1917)
  • 7.  Tony Morrison, first black American to receive Noble Prize in Literature (1993)
  • 10.  First exclusively black parish in the United States (1863) St. Francis Xavier Church, MD
  • 14.  Dr. Marin Luther King awarded Nobel Peace Prize (1964)
  • 16.  First black director of physical culture at Harvard University (1859) Abraham M. Hewlitt
    Bishop Desmond Tutu awarded Nobel Peace Prize (1984)
  • 17.  Black Poet Day - recognizes the contribution of African American poets to American life and culture
    Capital Savings Bank of Washington, D.C., first bank for blacks, organized (1888)
  • 20.  The first African American-owned insurance company, North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, founded (1898)
  • 21.  Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, pioneer of "bebop"jazz, born (1917)
  • 24.  Opening of first play by a black author to be a long-run Broadway hit (1935) Mulatto by Langston Hughes
  • 26.  Mahalia Jackson gospel singer, born (1911)
  • 28.  Levy Coffin, founder of Underground Railroad, born (1798)
  • 30.  Richard Arrington elected first African American mayor of Birmingham, Alabama.(1979)
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  • 1.  First free secular school in New York City (1787) African Free School
    John H. Johnson publishes first issue of Ebony (1945)
  • 3.  First black elected to the General Assembly Tennessee in this century (1964) A.W. Willis Jr.
  • 5.  Shirley Chisholm, first black woman elected to congress (1968)
  • 6. James Weldon Johnson and J. Rosamond Johnson compose "Lift Every Voice and Sing", widely regarded as the Black national anthem (1901) 
    First black mayors of Detroit and Los Angeles elected (1973) Coleman Young and Thomas Bradley
  • 7.  First black mayor of New York City elected (1989) David Dinkins
  • 8.  First black to win a statewide election since Reconstruction (1960) Otis M. Smith, MI
  • 9.  Mathematician, urban planner and inventor Benjamin Banneker born (1731)
  • 10.  First black presidential press secretary (1960) Andrew T. Hatcher
  • 11.  First black to patent an image converter for detecting electromagnetic radiation (1969) George R. Carruthers
  • 13.  Albert C. Richardson patents casket-lowering device (1894)
  • 18.  Birthday of Sojourner Truth - freed slave, courageous opponent of slavery, 1797 - 1883
  • 20. Garret Morgan, patent received for invention of traffic light (1923)
  • 22.  Elijah Muhammad establishes the Nation of Islam, Detroit (1930)
  • 23.  A.J. Beard patents the "Jenny Coupler", still in use today to connect railroad cars (1897)
    John L. Love patents pencil sharpener (1897)
  • 24.  Pianist Scott Joplin, the "Father of Ragtime", born (1868)
    Baptist Foreign Mission Convention of the United States of America formed (1880)
  • 26.  First black appointed to a sub-Cabinet post (1911) William Henry Louis 
  • 29.  First two known black converts (one being a woman) to the Methodism movement baptized (1758)
    Chicago Defender, the city's first black newspaper published (1905)


  • 1.  Rosa Parks ignites Montgomery Bus Boycott by refusing to give up her seat to a white man (1955)
  • 2.  Telephone transmitter patent (1884) Granville T. Woods 
  • 3.  First black Catholic association with preserved documentation (1843) Soc. Of Colored People of Baltimore
    Frederick Douglass publishes first issue of North Star (1847)
  • 5.  Martin Luther King, Jr. organizes Birmingham bus boycott, marking the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement (1955)
  • 6.  Richard B. Spikes patents automatic gearshift (1932)
    Richard Francis Jones becomes first African American certified in urology (1936)
  • 9.  First black state governor of Louisiana began his office (1872) Pinckney Benton Stuart Pinchback
  • 10.  Dr. Ralph J. Bunche becomes first Black awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1950)
  • 12.  First black elected to Congress to represent South Carolina (1870) Joseph Hayne Rainey
  • 16.  Andrew Young nominated by President Jimmy Carter to be U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (1976)
  • 22.  W.E. B. DuBois becomes the first African American elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1943)
  • 23.  Madam C.J. Walker, businesswoman and first African American woman millionaire, born (1867)
  • 25.  Jupiter Hammon becomes first published Black poet with his poem, "An Evening Thought" (1760)
  • 26.  Kwanzaa - African American harvest festival, lasts through January 1, is celebrated by African Americans to honor African ancestors and traditions
  • 27.  African Methodist Episcopal Zion church founded in New Bern, North Carolina (1862)
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