Grafton Tyler Brown-wikimedia

In black history, Grafton Tyler Brown was born on this day in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 1841.  He was an American painter, lithographer and cartographer and the first African American artist to create works depicting the Pacific Northwest and California.  Brown worked for a printer in Philadelphia when he was fourteen and this is where he learned the skill of lithography.

In 1867 he opened his own firm and in 1878 he created The Illustrated History of San Francisco, which consisted of 72 topographical images of the city. Brown's work in the Bay Area and in the Nevada Territory included documentation of settlements, property sales, claims and city boundaries.


The following year he sold his company and moved to Victoria, British Columbia.  While there, he participated in the Amos Bowman Geological Survey, where he served as draftsman and documented the Cascade Mountains.  In 1884 he moved back to the U.S. and traveled throughout the country painting sites like Mt. Rainier, Yosemite and Yellowstone National Park .  His works are held in the collections of the Oakland Museum of California, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Horace Pippin-youtube

On this day in February 22, 1888, world renowned African American painter Horace Pippin was born in West Chester. Pennsylvania. Pippin is considered one of the major American painters of his period.  One of his more significant works, "John Brown Going to His Hanging," is owned by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

On this day in 1898, the murder of postmaster Baker and his family took place.  The murders galvanized the anti-lynching movement to seek federal intervention.  In April 1898, the Cleveland Gazette, a black newspaper, reported the horrific crime as follows:

Lake City, South Carolina—George Washington’s birthday was ushered in in this section on Tuesday morning, at 1 o’clock with the most revolting crime ever perpetrated . . . Postmaster Baker, an Afro-American of this little town, and his family at the time stated above were burned out of their home, the postmaster and a babe in arms killed, his wife and three daughters shot and maimed for life, and his son wounded.

Mr. Baker was appointed postmaster three months ago. Lake City is a town of 500 inhabitants, and the Afro-American population in the vicinity is large. There was the usual prejudiced protest at his appointment. Three months ago as the postmaster was leaving the office at night in company with several men of our class, he was fired on from ambush. Since then he moved his family into a house in which he also established the post office.

Last week Tuesday night a body of scoundrels (white) who were concealed behind buildings and fences in the neighborhood, riddled the building with shot and rifle bullets. They shot high and no one was hurt. It was simply an effort to intimidate him. A short time before Senators Tillman and McLauren and Congressman Horton had asked the postmaster general to remove Mr. Baker because of his color and the request had been refused. The refusal was wired here. Mr. Baker did not remove his family and gave no evidence of being frightened. Being a government official he felt confident of protection from Washington.

At 1 o’clock Tuesday morning a torch was applied to the post office and house. Back, just within the line of light, were over a hundred white brutes—murderers—armed with pistols and shotguns. By the time the fire aroused the sleeping family, consisting of the postmaster, his wife, four daughters, a son and an infant at the breast, the crowd began firing into the building. A hundred bullet holes were made through the thin boarding and many found lodgment in members of the family within.

The postmaster was the first to reach the door and he fell dead just within the threshold, being shot in several places. The mother had the baby in her arms and reached the door over her husband’s body, when a bullet crashed through its skull, and it fell to the floor. She was shot in several places. Two of the girls had their arms broken close to the shoulders and will probably lose them. Another of the girls is fatally wounded. The boy was also shot.

Only two of the seven occupants of the house escaped with slight injuries. The bodies of Mr. Baker and the infant were cremated in the building. All mail matter was destroyed. A coroner’s jury was impaneled Tuesday evening. It visited the charred remains and adjourned until today. Nothing will be done to apprehend the infernal brutes and murderers. The whelps that shot almost to death some time ago Isaac H. Loftin, the Afro-American postmaster of Hogansville, Ga, are still at liberty—walking the streets of that town, with more freedom than the man they all but murdered. No effort to arrest and punish them has ever been or ever will be made by local, state or federal authorities. The same will be true in this case. This is a great country, a great government! Not even Spain respects it.

Source: Cleveland Gazette, 26 February 1898. Reprinted in Herbert Aptheker, ed., A Documentary History of the Negro People in the United States, 2, (The Citadel Press: New York, 1970), 796–797.

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper-youtube

In 1911 on this day, the woman known as the "Bronze Muse" died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Frances Ellen Watkins Harper wrote more than a dozen books, including 'Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects'(1854); 'Moses, a Story of the Nile'(1869);and 'Sketches of Southern Life'(1872).

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Harper was the most famous female poet of her day and the most famous African-American poet of the 19th century.  Also a well-known orator, she spoke frequently in public promoting equal rights for women and African-Americans.  She worker for the Underground Railroad, and in 1896 she helped establish the National Association of Colored Women.

Also on this day in 1938 poet Ishmael Reed was born.
Julius Dr. J Erving-Facebook

In 1950 on this day, Julius Winfield  "Dr.J" Erving was born in Roosevelt, New York.

DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince-youtube

In 1989, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince win the first rap Grammy for the hit single "Parents Just Don't Understand