Black History Journal

12/22/2011, 5:24 p.m.

December 22

1898 - Historian and author Chancellor Williams is born on this day in Bennettsville, South Carolina. Williams authored the book, "Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of Race from 4500 BC to 2000 AD." The book is considered a must-read for any serious student of Black history. Williams died in 1992.

December 23:

1815 - Abolitionist Henry Highland Garnet is born in Kent County, Maryland. Garnet was a leading Black abolitionist of the 1800s and known for his tremendous oratory skills and being bold in expressing his opinions. Following the Civil War, however, he became frustrated with the slow pace of Black progress in America and favored the establishment of an independent Black nation in Africa.

1867 - Madame C.J. Walker is born Sarah Breedlove on a Delta Plantation in Louisiana. She launched a hair care products business, which is believed to have made her the first Black millionaire in America. She traveled for a year and a half promoting her products throughout the South and Southwest, Caribbean and South America.

December 24

1881 - With the Reconstruction period over and federal troops withdrawn from the former slave states, whites began to reassert their authority with segregationist and anti-Black laws. On this day, Tennessee led the way to modern segregation with a "Jim Crow" railroad car statute. Basically, "Jim Crow" meant segregation. Virtually all the other Southern states soon did the same, passing laws designed to segregate or keep Blacks and whites separated.

December 25

1760 - The first poem written by a black person and published in America is published on Christmas day 1760. Jupiter Hammon - a slave in Long Island, New York who was allowed to attend school, wrote it. The poem was entitled "An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries."

1838 - At the Battle of Okeechobee on Christmas Day 1838, a force of Seminole Indians soundly defeated U.S. government troops who were trying to force them off their lands. A black chief named John Horse led the Seminoles. The Seminoles were perhaps the most racially integrated of all the Indian tribes.

1951 - Mr. and Mrs. Harry T. Moore are murdered when a bomb explodes under their home in Mims, Florida. Both were teachers and courageous civil rights activists. It is believed the bomb was planted by a white terrorist organization such as the Ku Klux Klan.

December 26

1848 - In one of the most daring escapes from slavery in U.S. history, on this day in 1848, William and Ellen Craft began a 1,000-mile journey from a plantation in Macon, Georgia to freedom in Boston, Massachusetts. The light-complexioned Ellen disguised herself as an infirmed white man and the dark-complexioned William pretended to be the faithful slave.

1966 - The first Kwanzaa holiday celebrations take place. California Black nationalist Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga originated the alternative seven-day holiday period for African Americans. Kwanzaa and its principles, however, may be more widely respected than actually celebrated among American Blacks.

December 27

1873 - William A. Harper, one of the most gifted black artists of the 20th century, is born in Cayuga, Canada. He was a student at the Henry O. Tanner Art Institute in Chicago. Unfortunately, his brilliance was cut short by tuberculosis. He died in Mexico at the age of 36 in 1910.

December 28

1816 - The American Colonization Society is organized by Robert Finley with the aim of returning blacks to Africa. Ironically, it received support from two groups with opposing interests. Some abolitionists and philanthropists who wanted to end slavery supported the ACS with the hope of giving slaves a chance to start new, free lives in Africa.

The Black History Journal is compiled by Robert Taylor.