This Week In Black History

February 10

1854—Educator Joseph Charles Price is born on this day in Elizabeth City, N.C. Largely unknown today, Price was a world-renowned scholar who founded North Carolina’s Livingstone University. He was also a powerful preacher and orator who raised funds to advance African-American education throughout the nation. His basic educational theory was “educate the whole person”—hands, head and heart.


1927—Opera singer Leontyne Price is born Mary Violet Leontyne Price in Laurel, Miss. She first achieved international fame when she was selected to play “Bess” during the European tour of the George Gershwin Broadway production of “Porgy and Bess.” She became a sensation in Europe signing contracts to sign in just about every European language. She made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City in 1961.

1989—Ron Brown was elected chairman of the Democratic Party becoming the first African-American to head one of the two major political parties.


1992—Renowned author Alex Haley dies. He was also a biographer and scriptwriter. Haley is perhaps best known for the novel “Roots,” which became a major television series and for the “Autobiography of Malcolm X.” Haley was born Aug. 11, 1921 in Ithaca, N.Y.

1992—Heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson was convicted in Indianapolis of the rape of beauty pageant contestant Desiree Washington.

February 11


1644—Eleven Blacks confront the ruling Council of New Netherlands (later New York) with a petition demanding their freedom. This was probably the first legal protest action by Blacks in American history. The petition is granted and the Blacks are freed because they had worked off the terms of their indentured servant contracts which were usually for seven years. But these Blacks had worked for up to 18 years. Shortly after this victory, however, no more Blacks were allowed such contracts but were instead treated as slaves for life.

1990—Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is released from prison on Robben Island after 27 years. He had been jailed for his militant activities against the then White-ruled South African government and its system of rule known as Apartheid. Mandela would go on to become the first Black and first democratically elected president of South Africa (1994-1999). He enabled a peaceful transition to Black majority rule. Mandela was one of the most respected and admired men in the world. In South Africa, he was known as “Madiba”—an honorary title given to elders in his tribe.


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