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This Week in Black History - Week of July 9 to July 15

7/6/2011, 10:56 a.m.

July 9

1893 - Dr. Daniel Hale Williams performs the first successful open heart surgery in American history. Williams established himself as one of the foremost African American surgeons in the history of this nation. In addition to the surgery, he taught at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, Chicago's Cook County Hospital, and he founded Provident Hospital in Chicago where he trained many of the nation's early Black doctors and nurses.

July 10

1927 - David Dinkins, the first Black man elected mayor of New York City, is born on this day in 1927. He was born in Trenton, New Jersey and served as New York City mayor from 1989 to 1993.

1972 - The Democratic Party holds its presidential convention in Miami, Florida. New York Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the first Black person to actively seek the party's presidential nomination, received 151.95 votes on the first ballot. Chisholm's signature phrase was "Un-bought and un-bossed." She died in January 2005.

July 11

1905 - The Niagara Movement (forerunner of the NAACP) is founded during a meeting near Niagara Falls, New York. Among the most prominent Blacks at the meeting were intellectual and activist W.E.B. DuBois and newspaper publishers William Monroe Trotter and Ida B. Wells Barnett.

1915 - Mifflin Wistar Gibbs dies. Gibbs had worked on the Underground Railroad helping Blacks escape from slavery along with Frederick Douglas. He would later become publisher of Mirror of the Times - the first Black newspaper in California. He was also the first African American elected to a municipal judgeship in the state.

July 12

1887 - The all-Black town Mound Bayou, Mississippi is founded by ex-slave Isaiah Montgomery and his cousin Benjamin T. Green. It was built as a sanctuary for former slaves during a period when Jim Crow racism and terrorism by groups such as the Ku Klux Klan were on the rise. It is considered the oldest surviving all-Black town in America. According to the 2000 Census, the town had 2,100 residents.

1937 - Actor, comedian and political activist William "Bill" Cosby is born on this day in Philadelphia. Cosby would rise from nightclub comedian to actor and star of the hit NBC television series The Cosby Show from 1984 to 1992.

June 13

1868 - Oscar J. Dunn, a former slave, is installed as Louisiana's lieutenant governor. At the time, it was the highest elective state position ever achieved by any African American. Another Black, Antoine Dubuclet, was installed as state treasurer. However, the Hayes-Tilden Compromise of 1872 and the subsequent Jim Crow laws would wipe out virtually all Black political gains after the Civil War. It would take nearly 100 years (during the 1960s) before Blacks would once again begin to match the political gains they had made during the post-Civil War period.

July 14

1891 - Renowned Black inventor John Standard receives a patent for inventing what became the foundation for the modern refrigerator. Standards "improvements" are generally credited with laying the foundation for the modern or "standard" refrigerator.

July 15

1779 - Noted Black spy Pompey Lamb supplies the American revolutionary forces with information which enables them to win the Battle of Stony Point - the last major battle of the Revolutionary War in New York State. Lamb had worked as a fruit and vegetable deliveryman for the British Army.

1822 - Philadelphia becomes one of the first major cities to open its public schools to Blacks. The first school was a segregated one just for Black boys. One for girls was opened four years later in 1826. The city's public schools would remain segregated until the 1930s.

[Robert Taylor is editor of "This Week in Black History." Receive a free copy of his bi-weekly "Black History Journal" by writing him at "Robert N. Taylor," P.O. Box 58097, Washington, DC 20037. Include $3.00 check payable to Robert N. Taylor to help defray mailing costs.]