Today In Black History February 20

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Today In Black History February 20

1895 – Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, later known as Frederick Douglass dies in Washington, D.C.

Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, later known as Frederick Douglass.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 20–Frederick Douglass dropped dead in the hallway of his residence on Anacostia Heights this evening at 7 o’clock. He had been in the highest spirits, and apparently in the best of health, despite his seventy-eight years, when death overtook him.

This morning he was driven to Washington, accompanied by his wife. She left him at the Congressional Library, and he continued to Metzerott Hall, where he attended the sessions of the Women’s Council in the forenoon and the afternoon, returning to Cedar Hill, his residence, between 5 and 6 o’clock. After dining, he had a chat in the hallway with his wife about the doings of the council. He grew very enthusiastic in his explanation of one of the events of the day, when he fell upon his knees, with hands clasped. (source: NY Times)

1900 – J.F. Bickering patents airship invention

1924 – Sidney Poitier is born

Sidney Poitier was born February 20, 1927, in Miami, Florida. After a delinquency-filled youth and a short stint in the U.S. army, Poitier moved to New York to pursue an acting career. He joined the American Negro Theater and later began finding roles in Hollywood. In 1963, he became the first black actor to win an Academy Award. He also directed several films, including Stir Crazyand Ghost Dad. (source:

1936 – President of Atlanta University, John Hope dies

Hope died of pneumonia in 1936 at the age of sixty-seven.

John Hope was an important African American educator and race leader of the early twentieth century. In 1906 he became the first black president

From A Clashing of the Soul, by L. Davis
John Hope

of Morehouse College—the alma mater of Martin Luther King Jr.—in Atlanta. Twenty-three years later, in 1929, Hope went on to become the first African American president of Atlanta University (later Clark Atlanta University). Under his leadership, Atlanta University became the first college in the nation to focus exclusively on graduate education for African American students. As a race leader, Hope was steadfast in his support of public education, adequate housing, health care, job opportunities, and recreational facilities for blacks in Atlanta and across the nation. He also supported full civil rights in the South during an era when African Americans were expected to accommodate a system of inequality.


1937 – Jazz Singer Nancy Wilson is born

Nancy Wilson was born on February 20, 197 in Chillicothe, OH, Nancy grew up in Columbus where her father provided early exposure to many vocalists.  These included male singers Billy Eckstine and Louis Jordan, and the rhythm and blues of Ruth Brown and LaVerne Baker.  Nat King Cole was influential as well.  She also heard big band vocalists Jimmy Rushing with Count Basie’s Orchestra, and Lionel Hampton’s Little Jimmy Scott.  As a child she took an active part in church music as well as school choirs and dance bands.

Nancy’s professional singing career began at the age of 15. She had her own television show, Skyline Melody, on a local station.  Soon after, she began performing in clubs in the Columbus area.  After graduating high school, still undecided about a music career, she enrolled in the teacher training program at Central State College.  But in 1956, Nancy’s desire outweighed the uncertainty of a vocal career, so she left college to join The Rusty Bryant Band.  That same year she met Julian “Cannonball” Adderley when she accompanied Bryant’s band to New York City for a recording session.  Adderley, impressed with her talent and determination, took an immediate interest in her career and the two kept in touch. (source:

1963 – Charles Barkley is born

Born February 20, 1963 in Leeds, Alabama. With an outspoken personality and unstoppable talent, Barkley has made his mark on the NBA, winning its most valuable player award during the 1992-1993 season. An avid basketball player in high school, Barkley got his break when he won the attention of college scouts who had come to watch his cousin play. He attended Auburn University where the mega-sized player concentrated more on rebounding than scoring, earning the nickname “Round Mound of Rebound.” (source:

There are four players in NBA history who have compiled at least 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists: Kareem Abdul-JabbarWilt ChamberlainKarl Malone and Charles Barkley. But when the conversation turns to the exploits of Barkley, many people think first of the always entertaining, sometimes outrageous running commentary on basketball and life he provided throughout his celebrated 16-year NBA career. (source:

1971 – Idi Amin Dada becomes president and ruler of Uganda

On this date in 1971, Idi Amin Dada became president and ruler of Uganda. He was the deputy commander of Uganda’s armed forces ousted President Obote to get control of the country.

The one-time heavyweight-boxing champion’s erratic and brutal rule of eight years left the country in disarray. A year after becoming president, he expelled non-Africans, mostly Asians, some 40 to 50 thousand people, from the country. He nationalized foreign companies and killed as many as 300,000 Ugandans who opposed his policies. The Ugandan economy collapsed.

In 1979, an invasion force from Tanzania, assisted by Ugandan rebels, succeeded in overthrowing the tyrannical ruler. (source: African American Registry)

1968 – State troopers tear gas demonstrators at Alcorn A&M

1987 – Founder of Chicago Jean Baptist Pointe Du Sable commemorated on U.S. postage stamp

1991 – African Americans win 8 Grammys

1996 – Kweisi Mfume name executive director of the NAACP

In 1996 the NAACP National Board of Directors changed the executive director/CEO title to president and CEO when it selected Kweisi Mfume, a former congressman and head of the Congressional Black Caucus, to lead the body. The elected office of president was eliminated. (source: NAACP)

1988 – Robyn Rihanna Fenty is born

Rihanna established her dance-pop credentials in summer 2005 with her debut smash hit, “Pon de Replay,” and continued to demonstrate hit potential in subsequent years (e.g., “S.O.S.” in 2006; “Umbrella” in 2007; “Disturbia” in 2008). However, it was the singer’s third album, Good Girl Gone Bad, that made her a full-fledged international pop star with a regular presence atop the charts. BornRobyn Rihanna Fenty on February 20, 1988, in Saint Michael, Barbados, she exhibited a certain star quality as a young child, often winning beauty and talent contests. Because she lived on the fairly remote island of Barbados in the West Indies, however, she never foresaw the sort of stardom that would later befall …  » Read more

4 Responses to Today In Black History February 20

  1. Stephen Young February 20, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    Very nice. I am still learning.

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