Black History Month

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Birmingham Black Rights Campaign

Birmingham, Alabama - The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) tired of racial segregation. So, protests were planned to stop it. These protests were led by Martin Luther King, James Bevel, and Fred Shuttlesworth.

As the protests continued, volunteers ran low. It was decided to include children. They came from high school, middle school, and elementary school.

The Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene 'Bull' Connor took action against the children. Connor attacked the children with high pressure water hoses and attack dogs. There were hundreds of arrests of children and adults.

40% of Birmingham's population was black. Yet, none worked for the Birmingham Police Department.

Images of this period showed the harsh brutality of segregation in the South. It resorted to attacks against defenseless and huddled children.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Condemned Vietnam War

New York, New York - Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech called 'Beyond Vietnam' at Riverside Church. King spoke as head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. It was before a crowd of 3,000 people.

King said, 'Stop all bombing of North and South Vietnam. Declare a unilateral truce. I hope it would lead to peace talks. Set a date for withdrawal of all troops from Vietnam. Give the National Liberation Front a role in negotiations.'

The speech was condemned by 168 newspapers across the country. Senator Barry Goldwater (Arizona) said it 'could border a bit on treason.' President Lyndon Baines Johnson immediately ended King's access to the White House.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Assassinated

Memphis, Tennessee - The recognized leader of the Black Rights (Civil Rights) movement of the 1960s was murdered at the Lorraine Hotel, on a Thursday, at 6:01 p.m.

Joseph Louw, a 28 year-old South African, took the photograph just before the murder. Some suspect Louw was there working with the FBI and CIA as surveillance of the Black Rights (civil rights) leader.

Abraham Lincoln Assassinated

Washington, D. C. - Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln was regarded as the greatest President in United States history. He helped win the American Slavery War (Civil War), ended chattel slavery, and united the nation.

Abraham Lincoln was murdered at Ford's Theater. He was shot in the back of the head, while watching a play. His murderer, Booth, was a pro-slavery supporter.

Booth was tracked and found. On April 26, 1865, Booth was shot dead.

2015 Baltimore Protests

Baltimore, Maryland - A local protest began Saturday, April 18th, over the Sunday, April 12th arrest of 25 year-old Freddie Gray, for possession of a knife. The protests began outside the Western district police station, in Baltimore.

The following day, Freddie Gray was murdered, while in police custody, on Sunday, April 19th. It was the day after the protests began. For the next 2 weeks, the protests intensified and became violent. Eventually, the Maryland National Guard would take the streets of Baltimore.

There were hundreds of injuries, arrests, fires, and some businesses were looted. The city of Baltimore imposed a curfew and some parts of Baltimore were effectively shutdown during this period.

6 employees of the Baltimore Police Department were arrested. 3 were tried and found not guilty. Charges were dropped against the other 3.

No one was held criminally responsible for the murder of Freddie Gray, while in the custody of the police of the City of Baltimore.

Oklahoma City Bombing

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma - Timothy McVeigh committed the greatest domestic terrorism act until the 9/11 event of 2001. McVeigh was responsble for the destruction of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. It resulted in the deaths of dozens of black people and a total of 168 dead and 680 injured.

Among the dead were more than a dozen children. Some were infants. It was suspected that McVeigh targeted the building specifically to murder black women and children. This event exposed the Michigan Militia as a domestic terrorist, white supremacist organization.

McVeigh enlisted in the military at age 20, in 1988. He served in Iraq. McVeigh bragged about decapitating an Iraqi soldier with cannon fire.

On June 11th, 2001, McVeigh was executed by lethal injection.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

New York City, New York - Gil Scott-Heron released the song, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. It was recorded at the RCA Studios. The song was sold on the Flying Dutchman label.

It was a popular phrase from the Black Power movement, of the 1960s.

Columbine High School Massacre

Columbine, Colorado - The greatest high school mass murder was committed by Eric Harris, and Dylan Klebold.

Harris and Klebold sought to murder all the black students at the school. They only found and murdered one, Isaiah Shoels, aged 18. The two murdered eleven (11) others.

At 12:08 p.m., the two killed themselves. This was the birthday of Adolf Hitler.

Derek Chauvin Convicted

Minneapolis, Minnesota - Derek Michael Chauvin was convicted on all charges for the murder of George Floyd. This culminated almost a year of protests that spread overseas over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Derek Chauvin.

George Floyd, a black American, had just left a convenience store. Someone inside the store called the police and alleged George Floyd may have passed a fake $20 bill. In response, Derek Chauvin, of the Minneapolis Police Department, appeared at the scene. As a result of the encounter, Derek Chauvin, placed his knee on the neck of George Floyd.

While 2 other Minneapolis police employees put pressure on Floyd's legs and torso, Derek Chauvin kept his knee on the neck of George Floyd for 7 minutes. During this time George Floyd repeatedly stated, 'I can't breathe.' Chauvin ignored his pleas and kept his knee on Floyd's neck, until Floyd died.

Chauvin was an Army Reservist from 1996-2004. After the encounter with George Floyd, Chauvin was fired the next day, May 26th, 2020, by the Minneapolis Police Department.

Black People Denied the Vote

Washington, D. C. - The United States Supreme Court decided States had the power to stop black people from voting.

In the case, Giles v. Harris, Alabama law blocked black people from voter registration. Alabama made a new constitution that required tests to be registered to vote.

The tests were given only by whites. The tests blocked all black people. Jackson W. Giles was a black man who wanted to vote. He joined 5,000 other black people who wanted the same. Giles sued in court.

The Federal District Court dismissed the case on procedure. The amount of damages was too small. The case was appealed. It reached the United States Supreme Court. The Court held the law was legal.

Jim Crow Upheld on Trains

Washington, D. C. - The United States Supreme Court upheld race based segregation of passengers on trains (Mitchell v. United States).

On the evening of April 20th, 1937, Mitchell traveled on a train in 1st class, from Chicago. Mitchell was a black United States Congressman. As the train passed through Arkansas, the conductor moved Mitchell to the colored car. Mitchell objected. The conductor threatened him with arrest, if he didn't move.

Mitchell moved to the colored car. He filed suit. The case went to the United States Supreme Court. The decision required interstate trains to provide the same segregated service to both black and white customers.

Muhammad Ali Refused Vietnam War

Houston, Texas - Muhammad Ali refused to be inducted to go to the Vietnam War. As a result, the United States government immediately attempted criminal action. The New York State Athletic Commission and the World Boxing Association stripped Ali of his titles, that day.

Rodney King Riots

Los Angeles, California - The Rodney King Uprisings (L. A. riots) began.

At 1 p.m. (PST), Monday, April 29th, Judge Stanley Weisberg announced the not guilty verdict, in the Rodney King case. Four white male police workers, of the Los Angeles Police Department had brutally beaten, Rodney King. The jury allowed them to escape punishment for beating an unarmed black man.

The verdict, by the all-white jury, outraged the black Los Angeles community. Many in Los Angeles felt the white police workers should have been tried in the city. But, they were allowed a trial in the white-friendly area of Simi Valley. Almost no black people lived there.

By 4. p.m., civil disturbances erupted in parts of Los Angeles. By 5 p.m., the disturbances exploded into what became known as the Rodney King Uprisings (L. A. riots).

This period of civil unrest lasted until May 4th, with 63 people killed.

.22 caliber killer Caught

Buffalo, New York - James Gerard Christopher (aka The Midtown Slasher) murdered up to thirteen (13) black men. Christopher was an Army enlistee. He was indicted (charges filed) for the murder of 3 black men.

Christopher was implicated in the murder of 8 black men. An additional 9 black men survived with injuries.

Christopher only targeted black men. He claimed to have murdered 5 more black men (for a total of 13). Christopher died in Attica Prison, New York, at age 37, March 1st, 1993.

Louisiana Purchase Agreement Signed

Paris, France - This agreement transferred all claims of Napoleon and the French government, for the Louisiana Territory, to the United States.

Napoleon lacked the force to hold the area. The United States wanted it to expand slavery. Napoleon tried one last time to stay in the Americas. He sent armies to Louisiana and Haiti.

The army sent to Haiti was defeated. So, Napoleon re-routed the Louisiana army to Haiti. It failed, too.

The United States sent a delegation to Paris, France. They were to make an offer for the Louisiana Territory. The delegation was surprised when the French offered it to them, first.

A deal was quickly arranged. The deal was signed and the document arrived in Washington, D. C. (July 14th, 1803).

From that deal, the Mississippi Valley area was opened to the United States. This territory doubled the size of the United States. It opened a vast new area to enslave black people.

The agreement never recognized the claims of non-whites that already lived in the area (tribal peoples). It greatly expanded the internal slave trade.

Cosby Show Ended

New York, New York - The Cosby Show ended after the 8th season. It ran from 1984-1992. The ground-breaking black cast was headed by Bill Cosby. The Cosby Show introduced affluence and middle-class aspirations to audiences across America.

In the 1970s, television (TV) showed black people with modest lives. The stories showed the daily financial struggles of black people. This was usually done in a comedic manner (Sanford and Son, Good Times, What's Happening). The Cosby Show represented a hard shift from the dynamic of economic struggles to one of economic affluence.

First, was The Jeffersons (1975-1985). It showed a solidly middle-class black family. The husband was self-made, with modest schooling. His hard work made his family upwardly mobile. He owned a retail service business. His wife stayed home. They employed a black maid.

The Cosby Show presented black people as high-earning, educated, professionals. The father, Cosby, was a doctor. The mother, Claire, was a lawyer. They owned a valuable home in a white neighborhood.

It was part of a wave of TV shows that flaunted wealth. Dallas (1978-1991), Dyansty (1981-1989), and Falcon Crest (1981-1990) were the white versions of this era.

During its time, The Cosby Show was a ratings powerhouse. It allowed NBC to create an entire night of highly rated television (TV) shows. From Cosby, white shows such as Cheers, Family Ties, Night Court, Seinfeld, and Frasier enjoyed tremendous success.

Before The Cosby Show, NBC did not have very many successful shows on Thursday night. For this reason, many say Cosby saved NBC's prime-time lineup.

Some criticized The Cosby Show for not showing black life properly. Cosby made no mention of the War on Drugs, AIDS, and street crime. These were raging issues during its run. The show ignored issues of poverty, police brutality, housing, and job discrimination.

Lisa Bonet got pregnant, while a part of the cast. She was unwed. It was an opportunity to show single motherhood. Instead, Lisa Bonet was fired from the cast and the issue was dropped.

Despite the criticisms, The Cosby Show gave black people a positive and uplifting image. Its impact shaped future TV shows that had black people, for decades.

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