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This date commemorates the birth of Ira Frederick Aldridge in 1807. He was a Black actor, considered one of the greatest interpreters of his day.
His place of birth has been listed as Africa, and Bel Air, Maryland. Some accounts of his life in the United States are inconsistent. Because of the lack of schools for African Americans in Maryland, Aldridge moved to New York and attended the African Free School and Schenectady College. The great British-American actor James William Wallack is believed to have hired him as a personal attendant while visiting the United States.learn more
*Thomas Dartmouth Rice was born on this date in1808. He was a White entertainer and playwright who popularized the Jim Crow character in minstrel shows.learn more
*David Bowser was born on this date in 1820. He was a Black ornamental artist and portraitist. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, David Bustill Bowser was a grandson of Cyrus Bustill, a former slave who purchased his freedom and went on to become a founding member of Philadelphia’s Free African Society, and a son of oyster house proprietor Jeremiah Bowser, whose freedom […]learn more
*The origin of the African Grove Theater in 1821 is celebrated on this date.
Based in Manhattan, in its seven years of existence the venue played host to Black productions of ballets, plays, and ballad operas that were enhanced by musical performances. These included Shakespeare and original plays (including The Drama of King Shotoway, which called for a slave rebellion) in 1823.learn more
The birth of Robert S. Duncanson in 1821 is celebrated on this date. He was a Black artist.learn more
*Alexandre Dumas fils was born on this date in 1824. He was a Black French author and playwright. Dumas fils was born in Paris, France, the illegitimate quarteron child of Marie-Laure-Catherine Labay, a dressmaker, and novelist Alexandre Dumas. In 1831 his father legally recognized him and ensured that the young Dumas received the best education possible at the Institution Goubaux and the Collège […]learn more
*The birth of Master Juba is celebrated on this date in 1825. He was a Black stage entertainer specializing in dance and one of America’s first publicly recognized black performers. Born William Henry Lane in Providence, RI, he began his career in the saloons and dance halls of the Five Points neighborhood of Manhattan in […]learn more
This date celebrates the birth of Edward Bannister, a Black artist born in 1826.
Edward Mitchell Bannister was the first of two sons born to Edward and Hannah Alexander Bannister in St Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada. He moved to New England in the late 1840s, where he remained for the rest of his life.learn more
*George L. White was born on this date in 1838. He was a white-American soldier, missionary, and choral administrator. Born in Cadiz, New York George Leonard White was the son of a blacksmith who played in a local band. He attended public school until age fourteen and moved to Ohio when he was twenty. Although […]learn more
*The birth of Mary E. Webb is celebrated on this date in 1828. She was a Black actress and orator known for her dramatic readings of poetry and literature. Mary Espartero Webb was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, three weeks after her mother succeeded in escaping therefrom slavery in Virginia. Her father, who was described […]learn more
The birth of Edmund Dédé in 1829 is celebrated on this date. He was an African American violinist and composer.
The son of free Black West Indian parents, Dédé first studied the violin in New Orleans then in Mexico. In 1850, he left for Paris, completing his musical education and beginning a career that lasted for nearly fifty years. As a violinist, musical director and composer, Dédé developed a considerable reputation abroad.learn more
*Frederic Bartholdi was born on this date in 1834. He was a white-French artist and sculptor who designed the Statue of Liberty for France as a gift to the United States of America. Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was born in Colmar, France, to a family of Italian and German Protestant heritage. Bartholdi was the youngest of […]learn more
On this date, we recall the birth of Adah Menkens in 1835. She was a Black actress and poet of international renown in the mid-19th century.learn more
*José Silvestre White Lafitte was born on this date in 1836. Also known as Joseph White, he was an Afro Cuban, French violinist and composer. Born in Matanzas, Cuba, his father, Don Carlos White, was Spanish, and his mother was Afro Cuban. After receiving early musical training from his father, an amateur violinist, White gave […]learn more
Harriet Powers was born on this date in 1837. She was a Black artist who worked in textile needlework.learn more