*******  Today in Black History –  April 26, 2017  *******   

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1798 - James Pierson Beckwourth is born in Fredericksburg,

        Virginia. He will become a legendary American Western

        mountain man, trapper, warrior, Indian chief, and

        trailblazer.  He will maintain a lifelong friendship with

        the Crow Indian nation.  He will work as an Army scout

        during the third Seminole War and will be a rider for the

        Pony Express. In 1850, he will discover a pass through the

        Sierra Nevada mountains that will enable settlers to more

        easily reach California. The Beckwourth Pass is still in

        use today by the Union Pacific Railroad and the U.S.

        Interstate Highway System. He will join the ancestors on

        October 29, 1866.


1886 - William Levi Dawson is born in Albany, Georgia. A graduate

        of Fisk University, he will move to Chicago, serve in the

        365th Infantry in World War I, become an attorney and

        initially be involved in Republican politics upon his

        return to the city after the war. Elected to his first

        term in the United States Congress in 1942, he will serve

        27 years in the House, where he will become the first

        African American representative to chair a committee of

        Congress, the Committee on Expenditures in Executive

        Departments, in 1949. He will join the ancestors on

        November 9, 1970.


1886 - Gertrude Pritchett is born in Columbus, Georgia.  She will

        become a blues singer and vaudeville performer.  She will

        marry William "Pa" Rainey and will become the "Ma" half of

        "Rainey and Rainey: The Assassinators of the Blues."

        Between 1923 and 1928, she will record 93 songs, many of

        which were her own compositions. She will perform

        nationwide and will have a loyal fan base, even after her

        recording contract with Paramount is terminated. She will

        have a great impact on performers who will follow her and

        will be immortalized by being included in August Wilson's

        play, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," and the poem of Sterling

        Brown, "Ma Rainey." She will join the ancestors on

        December 22, 1939 and will be inducted into the Rock and

        Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.


1964 - The African nations of Tanganyika and Zanzibar merge to form

        Tanzania. The name is derived from the first syllable of

        each country's name.


1968 - Students seize the administration building at Ohio State.


1984 - Jazz musician great William "Count" Basie, joins the

        ancestors in Hollywood, Florida at the age of 77. NOTE: 

        Many sources will have 1904 for Count Basie's birth year. 

        Our source for his birth and death is the Kennedy Center

        Archives documenting "The Honors" bestowed on him in 1981.


1991 - Maryann Bishop Coffey is named the first woman and the first

        African American co-chair of the National Conference of

        Christians and Jews.


1992 - "Jelly's Last Jam" opens at Virginia theater on Broadway. 

        Gregory Hines will portray the great jazz composer Jelly

        Roll Morton and will receive a Tony award as best actor in

        a musical in that role.


1994 - Voting begins in South Africa's first all-race elections.




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

Black History - Afro-American Newspapers

National Civil Rights Museum - located in Memphis, Tennessee

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

Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture - located in Baltimore, Maryland

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


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Last Updated Wednesday, April 26, 2017