This Black History month we salute African American who made American history.

Archibald J. Motley Jr.-Youtube
On this day in black history in 1928, "One-Man Show of Art by Negro, First of Kind Here, Opens Today," read the headline of a front-page article in 'The New York Times' on this day. The article announced the opening of Archibald J. Motley, Jr's show at the New Gallery on Madison Avenue. This was the first time in History that an artist, much less a black one, had made the front page of 'The New York Times'.
Archibald J. Motley Jr.-youtube
Archibald J. Motley Jr.-Youtube

Motley was an African-American painter and studied painting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago during the 1910s.  He is most famous for his colorful images of the African-American experience during the 20s and 30s.  Motley is considered one of the major contributors to the Harlem Renaissance, a time in which African American art reached new heights not just in New York but across America. He specialized in the black experience and saw it “as a means of affirming racial respect and race pride.”


On this day in 1948, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was ordained as a Baptist minister.  King spent his early years in the family home at 501 Auburn Avenue, about a block from Ebenezer Baptist Church.  His maternal grandfather, A. D. Williams, was pastor at Ebenezer from 1894 until 1931. After his grandfathers death, the elder King succeeded his father-in-law at the pulpit.

Martin Luther King Jr. first considered studying medicine or law, but decided to major in sociology.  He ultimately found the call to the ministry irresistible and served as assistant to his father at Ebenezer while studying at Morehouse.  In February 1948 King Sr. ordained his son as a Baptist minister.

On this day Nat King Cole, the singer with the "Golden Voice", died of lung cancer.  Nathaniel Adams Coles was his real name and he was born in Montgomery, Alabama, on March 17, 1919.   Inspired by the performances of Earl Hines, Cole began his career in the mid-30s while still a teenager, adopting the name "Nat Cole".  His older brother, Eddie, a bass player, soon joined his band, and they made their first recording in 1936 under Eddie's name. They also were regular performers at clubs. and it was at a jazz club that he acquired his nickname, "King".  The rest is history.

It was on this day in black history in 1964, that Muhammad Ali defeated Sonny Liston for world heavyweight boxing championship.

On this day in 1971, President Nixon met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and appointed a White House panel to study a list of recommendations made by the group.  Upset with President Nixon’s refusal to meet with the group, African-American Members made national headlines when they boycotted the January 1971 State of the Union address.  Member  William (Bill) Clay, Sr  told the President in a letter on behalf of caucus, "We now refuse to be part of your audience."  The caucus felt the President’s persistent refusal to grant them a White House meeting as symptomatic of the administration’s abandonment of African-American interests.

1971 Congressional Black Caucus-youtube

The group won a public relations victory when Nixon agreed to a March 1971 meeting.  Member Charles C. Diggs, Jr. said in a statement, "'Our people are no longer asking for equality as a rhetorical promise.  We are demanding from the national Administration, and from elected officials without regard to party affiliation, the only kind of equality that ultimately has any real meaning—equality of results.”

General Daniel "Chappie" James Jr.-wikimedia



On this day in 1978 the first black four-star Air Force General, Daniel "Chappie" James Jr. died at the age of 58.  He was another of the great Tuskegee Airmen, but didn't see action until the Korean War.  General James' career spanned three wars and 30 years.  He was a recognized civil rights pioneer and eloquent speaker for the Air Force, of which he was known for his thoughts on Americanism and patriotism.





On February 25, 1989, boxer Mike Tyson became the undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World after defeating challenger Frank Bruno of England.

Finally, on this day in 1999, white supremacist John King, one of three white men accused of chaining James Byrd to a pickup and dragging him along a Texas road until he was decapitated, was sentenced to death by lethal injection. He was be the first white Texan executed for killing a black since slavery ended.