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This Week In Black History Oct. 25 – Oct. 31, 2023

Andrew Young

  • October 25

1940—The Black newspaper owners group—the NNPA (National Newspaper Publishers Association) is founded.


1940—Benjamin O. Davis Sr. becomes the first Black general in the U.S. Army.

1958—An estimated 10,000 students led by Jackie Robinson, Harry Belafonte, and labor leader A. Phillip Randolph, participate in a youth march for integrated schools in Washington, D.C.

1976—One-time racist Gov. George Wallace grants a full pardon to Clarence “Willie” Norris—the last known survivor of the nine “Scottsboro Boys.” The group had been framed in a 1931 conviction for allegedly raping two White women.

1994—Apparently believing it would be easy to frame a Black man for the crime, Susan Smith—a White woman from Union, S.C.—claims that a Black carjacker had driven off with her two sons. Her story became a national sensation but it later fell apart. She eventually confessed to drowning the children and was convicted of murder.

  • October 26

1749—The British parliament legalizes slavery in the American colony, which would become known as Georgia.

1806—Benjamin Banneker dies at 74. He had become a recognized inventor and scientist. He also completed the design and layout of Washington, D.C. after Pierre Charles L’Enfant returned to France.

1868—B.F. Randolph, a prominent Black politician in South Carolina after the Civil War, is assassinated. He was believed to have been killed by former Confederate soldiers seeking to re-establish White racist rule in the state via terrorist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan.

1872—Inventor T. Marshal patents the fire extinguisher.


1911—Famed gospel singer Mahalia Jackson is born (1911-1972) in New Orleans, La. She is generally considered to be the greatest gospel singer who ever lived.


  • October 27

1891—Inventor P.B. Downing patents the street letter mailbox whose basic design remains in use today. Not much is known about Downing.

1960—President John F. Kennedy intervenes to get Martin Luther King Jr. released from the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville where he had been imprisoned because of his civil rights activities. The Kennedy action endeared him to Black voters.

1981—Former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young is elected mayor of Atlanta, Ga. becoming city’s second Black mayor.


  • October 28

1798—Levi Coffin (White) is born in the slave state of North Carolina but becomes a strong opponent of slavery. He and his wife Catherine are credited with being among the original founders of the “Underground Railroad”—the system of transports and safe houses that enabled Blacks to escape slavery in the South to freedom in the North.


  • October 29

1929—The Stock Market collapses ushering in the Great Depression bringing about Black unemployment rates ranging from 25 to 40 percent. The effects of the Great Depression would last until the start of World War II which created massive war industry jobs and a second mass migration of Blacks from the South to the industrial North.

1994—Famed dancer Pearl Primus dies. She blended African and Caribbean dance and music with Black American traditions of blues, jazz and the jitterbug to form a new vibrant dance form. She formed a dance troupe and she personally appeared in such early Broadway hits as “Showboat” and “Emperor Jones.” Primus was known for her amazingly high leaps. In 1991, the first President Bush awarded her the National Medal of Arts.

2009—A report is published suggesting that the old self-hate mantra of “I am Black enough; I don’t need any sunshine” could be shortening the lives of African Americans. Dr. Jonathan Mansbach’s report found, among other things, that American Blacks are not getting enough sunshine or more specifically, vitamin D—the sunshine vitamin. Mansbach discovered, for example, that an astonishing 90 percent of Black children were vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D deficiency can contribute to various cancers, diabetes and weak bones.


  • October 30

1831—Minister and mystic Nat Turner, leader of the bloodiest slave revolt in U.S. history, is captured in South Hampton County, Va. The uprising took place Aug. 21 and 22 of the same year and left 55 Whites dead. Turner was hanged and then skinned on Nov. 11.

1954—The U.S. Department of Defense announces the official end of all segregated military regiments in the armed forces.

1966—The Black Panther Party is founded in California by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. The full name was the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. It was formed in major measure to bring attention to and combat brutality against Blacks by the Los Angeles Police Department.



1974—Muhammad Ali defeats George Foreman for the heavyweight boxing title. The fight took place in Zaire (now the Congo) and was billed as the “Rumble in the Jungle.”

1991—BET Holdings, Inc. sells 4.2 million shares of stock in an initial public offering becoming the first Black company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Founder Bob Johnson has since sold the company to the media giant Viacom.

2002—One of the original founders of modern rap music Jam Master Jay of the group Run-DMC was killed in a shooting at his New York recording studio. He was 37. His group, Run-DMC, was a major force attracting young Whites to rap music.


  • October 31

1517—Revolutionary Christian leader Martin Luther posted his famed 95 Theses on the door of Wittenberg Palace in Germany setting off the Protestant Reformation against the Catholic Church. It is believed the parents of American Civil Rights Movement icon Martin Luther King Jr. named him after Martin Luther. However, King’s original name was “Michael” and was later changed to “Martin.”

1820—(circa) Irish Catholics bring Halloween to America where it first gains popularity among the lower classes and becomes heavily influenced by both American Indian and Black American (slave) superstitions.


1896 (or 1900)—Actress and singer Ethel Waters is born in Chester, Pa. She became one of the nation’s best known jazz and gospel singers. Waters was born to a 12-year-old Black girl who had been raped by a White man.


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