For the week of July 8-14
1805—On this day in 1805, Bill Richmond becomes the first African-American to gain international fame as a boxer when he defeated Jack Holmes in a 26-round bout in England. The son of escaped slaves from Georgia, Richmond was born in New York City in 1763. He did most of his fighting in Europe. Near the end of his boxing career, he married a rich woman and retired. He died in London in December 1829.
1914—Jazz great Billy Eckstine is born in Pittsburgh, Pa. He was raised in Washington, D.C., where he began entering talent competitions at the age of 7. Eckstine would become one of the dominant Jazz singers during the era of the big bands. He has been described as “an exceptional singer who never failed to impress.” Eckstine died of a heart attack in 1993.
1863—Eight Black regiments play a major role as Union troops capture Port Hudson in Louisiana. They had laid siege to the Confederate fortress since May 23. The victory, along with the July 4 capture of Vicksburg, Miss., gave U.S. forces control of the Mississippi River, cut the Confederate army in half and laid the foundation for ending the Civil War. The Civil War would drag on for another two years but the Confederate troops fighting to maintain slavery were never able to recover from the loss of Port Hudson.