*******  Today in Black History –  February 20, 2017  *******   

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1864 - Confederate troops defeat three African American and six white

        regiments at the Battle of Olustee, about fifty miles from

        Jacksonville, Florida.  The African American units are the

        8th U.S. Colored Troops, the 35th U.S. Colored Infantry, and

        the famous 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry.  It is the

        54th Massachusetts' fighting that allowed General Truman

        Seymour's Union forces to retreat.  One white veteran of the

        battle states: " The colored troops went in grandly, and they

        fought like devils."  A regrettable episode in the aftermath

        of the battle is the apparent mistreatment of Union African

        American soldiers by the Confederates.


1869 - Tennessee Governor William Gannaway Brownlow places nine counties

        under martial law, arguing it was necessary to quell rising Klan

        violence. He will also dispatch five state guard companies to

        occupy Pulaski, Tennessee where the Klan had been founded.


1895 - Frederick Douglass, famous African American abolitionist and

        diplomat, joins the ancestors in Washington, DC at the age of

        78.  His home in Washington will be later turned into a

        national monument under the auspices of the National Park



1911 - Frances Ellen Watkins Harper joins the ancestors in

        Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the age of 85. She had been a

        writer and antislavery, women's rights, and temperance



1925 - Alex La Guma is born in Cape Town, South Africa.  He will

        become a novelist whose writings reflect the lives of the

        ghetto dwellers in the 'Coloured' sections of Capetown,

        portrayed best in his novel, "A Walk in the Night."  The

        ghettos and shanties of the Cape were his milieu, and he will

        never depict the lives of the impoverished with either

        rancor or self-pity.  The powerful strokes of his pen will

        paint a picture of the starkness and reality of their lives. 

        He allowed the tin and hessian fabrics of the rat-infested,

        leaking hovels to spell it out.   He will become involved

        with the South African Coloured People's Organisation,

        playing a very active part in its affairs.   He will be

        exiled in 1966 and move with his family       to London.  At the

        time he joins the ancestors on October 11, 1985, he was the

        Chief Representative of the African National Congress in Cuba.


1927 - Sidney Poitier is born prematurely in Miami, Florida, weighing

        only three pounds. His parents are on a regular trip to the

        U.S. to sell tomatoes and other produce.  He will be raised

        in the Bahamas and return to the United States as a teenager

        to live with his older brother in Miami.  He will move to New

        York City in 1945 to study acting.  He will become one of the

        modern movies' leading men, making his screen debut in 1950

        and earning praise in such films as "Cry the Beloved Country," 

        "Blackboard Jungle," "Porgy and Bess," "A Raisin in the Sun,"

        "To Sir With Love," "In the Heat of the Night," and "Guess

        Who's Coming to Dinner."  His 1965 role in "Lilies of the

        Field" will earn him an Oscar, the first for an African

        American in a leading role.


1929 - Writer Wallace Thurman's play "Harlem" opens in New York City.

        It is the first successful play by an African American



1936 - John Hope, president of Atlanta University, joins the ancestors

        at the age of sixty seven.


1937 - Nancy Wilson is born in Chillicothe, Ohio.  She will become a

        well-known jazz and pop singer, singing with Cannonball

        Adderly, George Shearing, Art Farmer and Chick Corea, among

        others. She will make more than 50 albums, including "With My

        Lover Beside Me," featuring the lyrics of Johnny Mercer and

        the music of Barry Manilow.


1951 - Emmett L. Ashford, one of baseball's most popular figures,

        becomes the first African American umpire in organized

        baseball. Ashford is certified to be a substitute in the

        Southwestern International League.  He will later (1966)

        become the first African American major league umpire, working

        in the American League.


1963 - Baseball great, Willie "The Say Hey Kid" Mays, signs with the

        San Francisco Giants as baseball's highest paid player (at

        that time). He will earn $100,000 a year.


1963 - Charles Barkley is born in Leeds, Alabama.  He will forego his

        senior year at Auburn University to enter the NBA as a forward

        for the Philadelphia 76ers.  Barkley will post averages of 20

        or more points and at least 10 rebounds per game for 11

        seasons. His achievements during that span will be remarkable.

        He will be an All-NBA First Team selection in 1988, 1989,

        1990, 1991 and 1993, an All-NBA Second Team pick in 1986,

        1987, 1992, 1994 and 1995 and an All-NBA Third Team choice in

        1996.  He will be selected to 10 consecutive All-Star Games,

        and receive more All Star votes than any other player in 1994,

        and will be MVP in the 1991 All-Star classic. Short for a power

        forward, he will use his strength and aggressiveness to become

        one of the NBA's most dominant rebounders. He will be a versatile

        player who has the ability to score, create plays, and defend. In

        2000, he will retire as the fourth player in NBA history to

        achieve 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists. Since

        retiring as a player, he will have a successful career as a

        television NBA analyst. He will work with Turner Network Television

        (TNT) as a studio pundit for its coverage of NBA games and will be

        a spokesman for CDW. In addition, he will write several books. In

        recognition of his collegiate and NBA achievements, his number 34

        jersey was officially retired by Auburn University on March 3, 2001.

        In the same month, the Philadelphia 76ers also officially retired

        his jersey. On March 20, 2004, the Phoenix Suns will honor him as

        well by retiring his jersey and including him in the "Suns Ring of

        Honor". In recognition of his achievements as a player, he will be

        inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.


1968 - State troopers use tear gas to stop civil rights demonstrations

        at Alcorn A&M College in Mississippi.


1976 - Muhammad Ali knocks out Jan Pierre Coopman in 5 rounds for the

        heavyweight boxing title.


1991 - African Americans win Grammys including Mariah Carey for

        Best New Artist and female pop vocal, Anita Baker for female

        R&B vocal,  Luther Vandross for male R&B vocal, Living Colour

        for best hard rock performance, M.C. Hammer for best rap solo

        and best R&B song for "U Can't Touch This," and Chaka Khan and

        Ray Charles for best R&B vocal by a duo or group.  Quincy

        Jones becomes the all-time non-classical Grammy winner when he

        wins six awards at these 33rd annual Grammy Awards, including

        album of the year, "Back on the Block."


1997 - T. Uriah Butler joins the ancestors in Fyzabad, Trinidad at the

        age of 100. Born in Grenada, he had been a major labor

        organizer and politician in Trinidad. In 1975, he was awarded

        Trinidad's highest honor, The Trinity Cross.


1997 - San Francisco Giants Barry Bonds signs record $22.9M 2 year





The source for these facts are "Encyclopedia Britannica,

"Before the Mayflower", "Black Firsts" and independent

research by Mr. Rene’ A. Perry, Sr.




Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture - located in Harlem, New York City

Black History - Black History Links from the Information Man

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National Civil Rights Museum - located in Memphis, Tennessee

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History  - located in Detroit, Michigan

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National Museum of African American History and Culture - located in Washington, DC


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Last Updated Monday, February 20, 2017