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The Registry

Wed, 05.24.1854 story

A Southern Slave Returns to Freedom, a story

On this date in 1854, fugitive slave Anthony Burns was returned to the South from Boston.

Born a slave in Virginia, Burns was 20 when he escaped to Boston. There, for a few short months, he lived and worked as a free man. But he was arrested and held without bail at the instigation of his former owner, Charles Suttle, who came north to bring back his slave. Suttle invoked the Fugitive Slave Act, a highly controversial federal law that allowed owners to reclaim escaped slaves by presenting proof of ownership. Suttle had every intention of taking his slave home.

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Sun, 05.24.1857 story

The Sugg/McDonald House, (California) is Built

*The Sugg/McDonald House is celebrated on this date in 1857. Located in Sonora, Tuolumne County, CA, it was built by a former Black slave, William Sugg. Sugg, a native of Raleigh, North Carolina, arrived in California, and it is not known how long he was enslaved in California. Francis Tate of Texas manumitted Sugg after […]

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Mon, 05.24.1909 story

Donella Brown Wilson, Voting Rights Advocate born

*Donella Brown Wilson was born on this date in 1909.  She was a Black educator and voting rights advocate.  Donella Roberta Brown Wilson on the Peterkin Plantation in Fort Motte, SC, her grandparents and great-grandparents had worked as slaves. She was the only child of the late Henry Brown and Minnie Bryant Brown Logan.  She […]

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Wed, 05.24.1916 story

The Lincoln Motion Picture Company is Formed

The Lincoln Motion Picture Company was founded on this date in 1916, the first movie company owned and controlled by Black filmmakers.

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Fri, 05.24.1918 story

Coleman Young, Politician born

On this date in 1918, Coleman Young, an African American politician, was born.

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Tue, 05.24.1921 story

The Bulhoek Massacre Occurs

*On this date, in 1921, the Bulhoek massacre occurred. This episode involved a white South African police force that killed 163 Xhosa civilians. The killings happened in the village of Ntabelanga in the Cape Province (today part of Eastern Cape). After a dispute over land in Ntabelanga, an 800-strong police force from the Union of South Africa […]

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Mon, 05.24.1926 story

Corrigan v. Buckley is decided

*On this date in 1926, Corrigan v. Buckley, 271 U.S. 323 (1926), was decided. This U.S. Supreme Court case ruled that the racially restrictive covenant of multiple residents on S Street N.W., between 18th Street and New Hampshire Avenue, in Washington, DC, was a legally binding document that made selling a house to a Black […]

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Sun, 05.24.1931 story

Otis Blackwell, Lyricist and Musician born

Otis Blackwell’s birth in 1931 is celebrated on this date. He was an African American songwriter and musician.

He was born in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up listening to cowboy songs, particularly those by Tex Ritter, and R&B songs by artists such as Chuck Willis. As a teenager he entered and won a contest at Harlem’s Apollo Theatre. He was introduced to songwriter Doc Pomus, who encouraged him and helped him early in his career. One of Blackwell’s early records titled Daddy Rollin’ Stone was released by Jay-Dee in 1953. It was revived later in a version recorded by The Who.

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Fri, 05.24.1935 story

Valerie Capers, Musician, and Educator born

*Valerie Capers was born on this date in 1935.  She is an African American musician and educator.

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Fri, 05.24.1935 story

The ‘Jitterbug’ (Dance) Goes Public

*On this date in 1935, the Jitterbug (dance) was introduced to the world.  Cab Calloway introduced it in his film Jitterbug Party.   In the film, he performed two songs at the Cotton Club, then took some friends to Harlem for a “Jitterbug Party.”  The Jitterbug is a dance popularized in the United States in the early 20th century and is associated […]

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