As governor, Brownlow adopted the stance of Radical Republicans (politicians who strongly opposed slavery) and spent much of his term opposing the policies of his longtime political foe Andrew Johnson. He was responsible for Tennessee becoming the first former Confederate state to be readmitted to the Union after the war. Brownlow’s forward thinking also single handedly fueled the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in the late 1860s because he wanted to disenfranchise (take away the right to vote) ex-Confederates and enfranchise (give the right to vote to) former slaves.
On this day, during his final term Brownlow placed nine counties under martial law, to suppress rising Klan violence. He also dispatched five state guard companies to occupy the birthplace of the Klan Pulaski, Tennessee. After Brownlow left office, ironically General Nathan B. Forrest (first Klan Grand Dragon) ordered the Klan to destroy its costumes and cease all activities.
1895 – Frederick Douglas died.
1927- Legendary actor Sidney Poitier was born.
1929- Writer Wallace Thurman’s play ‘Harlem’ opens in New York at the Apollo.
author and playwright, Wallace Thurman, is best known for his Harlem Renaissance novels:The Blacker the BerryA Novel of Negro Life (1929) which explored discrimination within the black community where lighter skin has historically been favored and Infants of the Spring (1932). Some welcomed Thurman’s bold insight, while others disliked him and viewed him as a racial traitor. Because of this he never wrote about African-American subjects.
To mixed reviews, Thurman’s play, Harlem, debuted on Broadway on this day in 1929. The same year his first novel The Blacker the Berry: A Novel of Negro Life (1929) was published.
John Hope was an important African American educator and civil right leader. In 1906 he became the first black president of Morehouse College and thenTwenty-three years later, in 1929 become the first African American president of Atlanta University (laterClark Atlanta University).
Under his leadership, Atlanta University became the first college in the nation to focus exclusively on graduate education for African American students. Hope was a firm believer of public education, adequate housing, health care, job opportunities, and recreational facilities for African Americans.
1963- NBA great Charles Wade Barkley was born.
1968 – State troopers tear gas students at Alcorn A&M College.
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