1864 - One of the most decisive battles of the Civil War begins on this day with Black troops helping to crush one of the South’s finest armies at the Battle of Nashville. After two weeks of positioning and waiting for a break in the cold weather, the Union side finally decided to hurl the 13th United States Colored Troops (U.S.T.C.) at the Army of Tennessee. Although suffering massive casualties, the Black troops broke through the Confederate lines in a matter of hours.
1934 – Maggie Lena Walker dies on this day at age 69. She was the most powerful Black female businesswoman and social activist in America. She would help transform the Order and led it to become a premier black self-help group. At its height, the Order had 50,000 members, 1500 local chapters, and a multi-purpose financial complex.
1859 – The last known slave ship – The Clotilde – lands in Mobile, Alabama with a cargo of 110 to 160 Africans. The importation of Africans as slaves had been illegal in America since 1808. But the law was poorly enforced.
1663 – Queen Nzingha of Angola dies at the age of 82. Known as the Warrior Princess of Matamba, Queen Nzingha gained legendary fame for her resistance to Portuguese attempts to colonize the interior of Africa. She also battled the Dutch slave trade. Leading a tribal group known as the Jugas.
1975 – Pioneer Jazz lyricist Noble Sissle dies on this day in 1975. Sissle wrote the lyrics and sang the songs while Blake composed and played the music. Sissle died at his home in Tampa, Florida. He was 86.
1865 – Congress passes the 13th Amendment to the Constitution officially abolishing slavery in America. The actual ratification of the Amendment had been completed on December 6th.
1917 – Performer Ossie Davis is born Raiford Chatman Davis in Cogdell, Georgia. Davis was probably Black America’s best example of a combination entertainer and political activist. In addition to acting career, Davis and his wife Ruby Dee were deeply involved in the Civil Rights Movement. Davis delivered the eulogies of both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. He died February 4, 2005 of natural causes.
1996 – The Oakland, California school board shocks and angers many by recognizing “Ebonics” (Black English) as a separate language and not a dialect or slang.
1875 – The “Father of Black History,” Carter Godwin Woodson, is born on this day in Buckingham County, Virginia. Woodson founded the Washington, D.C.-based Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History. He wrote hundreds of articles about Black history and published several books with the most widely circulated being “The Negro in Our History”.
1891 – One of the pioneers of Black Catholicism, Charles Randolph Uncles, was ordained the first African American priest in America on this day in Baltimore, Maryland.
1860 – Believing the November election of Abraham Lincoln would bring the end of slavery on this day in 1860 South Carolina becomes the first Southern state to secede from the Union. Other states held conventions and by the time Lincoln takes office on March 4, 1861, seven Southern states had seceded to form the Confederacy.
1988 – Max Robinson, the first Black co-anchor of a nightly network news program (ABC’s World News Tonight), dies in Washington, D.C. of complications due to AIDS.
1956 – The Montgomery Bus Boycott ends. For over a year Blacks in Montgomery, Alabama boycotted city buses to demand an end to segregation and demeaning treatment of African Americans. The boycott ended when the United States Supreme Court ruled that public transportation segregation was unconstitutional.