Today's Articles

People, Locations, Episodes

Sat, 10.17.1711

Jupiter Hammon, a poetic pioneer

Jupiter Hammonm a Black poet and the first published black writer in America, was born on this date in 1711.

Hammon served several generations of the Lloyd family on Long Island, New York. He had been a slave his entire life, allowed to attend school, and his formal education influenced his development as a poet. Like his masters, Hammon was a devout Christian, and was influenced by the religious revivals taking place in 18th century New England.

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Fri, 10.17.1817

Rev. Samuel R Ward, spiritual abolitionist

Rev. Samuel Ringgold Ward was born on this date in 1817. He was a Black abolitionist and minister.

Born a slave on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, he escaped with his parents in 1820. His father was descended from an African prince. He learned to read so that he could enjoy the priceless privilege of searching the Scriptures and supporting himself as a house painter. His mother was widowed in a previous marriage and bore three children, all boys; Samuel was the second. Ward grew up in New York, and was placed in a public school in Mulberry Street.

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Wed, 10.17.1888

Capital Savings Bank opens

On this date in 1888, one of the first banks for African-Americans was organized, Capital Savings Bank of Washington D.C.

The beginnings of black capitalism in America have a strong history. In spite of brutal racial segregation during the first 30 years of the 20th century, black capitalism began to thrive. Because economic empowerment was another vehicle for equality, a great entrepreneurial spirit showed in the escalation of the founding of black banks, insurance companies, newspapers, and other enterprises that served the black community.

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Sun, 10.17.1909

One of the best jazz drummers, “Cozy” Cole

On this date in 1909, African American jazz drummer William Randolph “Cozy” Cole was born in East Orange, New Jersey.

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Thu, 10.17.1918

Artist Eugene Grigsby born

*Eugene Grigsby Jr. was born on this date 1918. He was an African American artist, and educator.

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Fri, 10.17.1924

The Phyllis Wheatley House of Minneapolis opens

On this date in 1924, the Phyllis Wheatley settlement house was founded and began operation in Minneapolis, MN.

At the start of the 20th century, community centers known as “settlement houses” were begun in many urban areas of the United States. Most of them were established in poor neighborhoods with a predominantly immigrant population, and designed to help “Americanize” the communities, but others, like Phyllis Wheatley, were founded to continuously deliver services primarily to African Americans.

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Wed, 10.17.1928

Lerone Bennett Jr., a classical author

Lerone Bennett, Jr. was born on this date in 1928. He is an African American author, historian, and journalist.

He was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, the son of the Lerone and Alma (Reed) Bennett. He and his family moved to Jackson, Mississippi, where he attended public schools. Bennett graduated from Morehouse College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1949. That same year, Bennett attended Atlanta University for graduate study. Bennett became a journalist for the Atlanta Daily World in 1949, continuing until 1953 and he worked as city editor for JET magazine from 1952-53.

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Tue, 10.17.1950

A life short and bittersweet, Howard Rollins Jr.

Howard Rollins Jr. was born on this date in 1950. He was an African American actor.

Born in Baltimore, Howard Ellsworth Rollins, Jr., was the youngest of four children born to Howard E. Rollins, Sr., a steelworker, and Ruth R. Rollins, a domestic worker. After high school, he attended Towson State College, MD, where he studied theater. In his early years, Rollins vaguely considered becoming a teacher. At 17, a friend convinced him to attend a casting call at a local Baltimore theater, where he won a role in “Of Mice and Men.”

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Wed, 10.17.1956

Dr. Mae Jemison, astronaut, physician, promoter of science issues

Mae Carol Jemison was born on this date in 1956. She is an African American astronaut and physician.

She was born in Decatur, Alabama, but raised in Chicago, the youngest of three children. Her parents, Dorothy and Charlie Jemison, encouraged, stimulated, and supported the many interest of their children. Young Mae Carol Jemison loved to read and to dance. She enjoyed science fiction, pure science, and learning about the formation of the universe. She graduated from Morgan Park High School in 1973, and entered Stanford University as a scholarship student, all at age 16.

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Thu, 10.17.1985

Black Poetry Day is celebrated

This date is Black Poetry Day established in 1985. An unofficial holiday, it celebrates past and present poets like Langston Hughes, Phillis Wheatley, Frank X. Walker and Maya Angelou.

This day is not officially endorsed by an American city, state, or federal government, but it has gained fame and grown because of its importance in black heritage, in literacy, and in community meaning. Schools and the general public are asked to spend this day appreciating African-American authors and spreading the word of Black poets through friends, family members, and throughout the world.

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Fri, 10.17.1997

NAACP asks Merriam-Webster to revise the definition of “nigger”

On this date in 1997, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)called for a formal dictionary revision of the word “nigger.”

The NAACP publicly requested Merriam-Webster to revise its dictionary definition of the word. The Merriam-Webster dictionary’s 9th and 10th editions (as well as online) define the word as “a black person…

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New Poem Each Day

Poetry Corner

What happens when an old black man, Toothless and raggedy, Walks into a bank, catches Some young, white, middle-manager's ear With a slurred tale of coins Hoarded from his wife and kids (Who would only... THRIFT by Cornelius Eady
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