September – This Month In Black American History

By Guest Blogger Yahtzeebutterfly


September 2, 1766 – Businessman and abolitionist James Forten was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Author Julie Winch discusses her book on the life of James Forten at this link.

September 3, 1895 – Lawyer Charles Hamilton Houston in Washington, D.C.


September 4, 1908 – Writer Richard Wright in Natchez, Mississippi


September 5, 1939 – Claudette Colvin, the first person arrested for not giving up her bus seat to a White woman in Montgomery, Alabama.

Interview by Democracy Now with Claudette Colvin:


September 12, 1913 – Track and field Olympic champion Jesse Owens in Oakville, Alabama


September 12, 1992 – Dr. Mae Jamison became the first African American woman to travel in space.


September 15, 1852 – Edward Alexander Bouchet was an African American physicist and educator and was the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. from any American university, completing his dissertation in physics at Yale in 1876.  Bouchet was among the first 20 Americans (of any race) to receive a Ph.D.

September 16, 1925 – Riley B. King was born and is professionally known as B.B. King.   He is considered the most influential blues musicians of all time, earning the nickname “The King of the Blues.”

September 19, 1941 – Singer Otis Redding


September 22, 1862 – Announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln


September 23, 1926 – Saxophonist John Coltrane in Hamlet, North Carolina.


September 23, 1863 – Birth of civil rights and suffrage activist Mary Church Terrell in Memphis, Tennessee


September 27, 1827 – First Black U.S. senator Hiram Rhodes Revels was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1870 to represent the state of Mississippi.  The lecture at this link is a tribute to Senator Hiram Rhodes Revels.



September 3, 1838 – Abolitionist, writer, orator, and statesman Frederick Douglas escaped from a plantation in Tuckahoe, Maryland where he had been born a slave.


September 9, 1915 – Founding of The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History by the “Father of Black history” Dr. Carter G. Woodson who published the first issue of the Association’s “Journal of Negro History” in 1915. In 1926 Carter Woodson launched Negro History Week which later expanded into Black History Month.


September 17, 1787 – “U.S. Constitution is approved with three clauses protecting slavery.”  The Box Houston has the story.

September 19, 1881 – Booker T. Washington taught the first classes at Tuskegee Institute.


September 24, 2016 – National Museum of African American History and Culture will open in Washington, D.C. !


September 29, 1910 – The founding of the Urban League.  PBS has the story.

September 30, 1962 – James Meredith, with an escort of U.S. Marshals, enrolled at the University of Mississippi.  Angered over Meredith’s enrollment, a mob of 3000 Whites rioted and fought state and federal units.


Throughout the month, Yahtzeebutterfly posts other historical moments in the comment section.  Please feel free to add to this month’s history by posting to the comment section.

Posted on 09/05/2016, in Black History Month and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 80 Comments.

  1. yahtzeebutterfly

    For the kids in your family, you may wish to check the children’s section of your local library for this book on Claudette Colvin who was arrested for not giving up her bus seat to a White woman:

    (She was born on this day in 1939.)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. yahtzeebutterfly

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “I would rather die on my feet than on my knees” Charles Hamilton Houston. Thanks for this Yahtzeebutterfly

    Liked by 2 people

    • yahtzeebutterfly

      Yvw, Mindy.

      I’m glad you had a chance to watch that video on Charles Hamilton Houston. As Thurgood Marshall said, referring Brown v. The Board of Education decision, “We owe it all to Charlie.”

      Liked by 2 people

  4. A bit more on James Meredith

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  5. yahtzeebutterfly

    Rather than simply posting in my article above about the September 15, 1963 evil church bombing in Birmingham that ripped the lives of four precious girls from their loved ones and from all of us, I felt I should have a separate comment here to give us a better moment of pause and reflection.

    The following song The Ballad of Birmingham impacts my heart deeply as I still grieve over the horrific bombing murders of Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Carol Denise McNair.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. These were very informative!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dear Yahtzeebutterfly. You did an amazing job. This is packed with a lot of information that I did not know. Thanks, Gronda

    Liked by 3 people

    • yahtzeebutterfly

      Thank you for your kind words. We are Sooo fortunate that so many people have created Youtube history accounts that further our knowledge.

      I am always learning, too. What is exciting is that historians in the last 20 years have been authoring books on the local people and events of the civil rights movement. (I just finished reading one on the St. Augustine, Florida and the summer of 1964 there.)

      Liked by 3 people

  8. These are all great, I really enjoyed the stories of Carter G Woodson and Claudette Colvin. Am still following links to learn more.

    Liked by 2 people

    • yahtzeebutterfly

      Mindy, your words are encouraging and inspire me “to keep at it.” I appreciate what you posted about James Meredith’s march.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. yahtzeebutterfly

    With students being back to school in September, this is a month to reflect back on efforts to integrate schools across the country.

    We often thinks of the South as the only place of resistance to school integration, but even Boston, Massachusetts had strife.

    This video gives some Boston school history:

    Liked by 3 people

    • It is extremely disappointing to know that folks in the North behaved this way. I never knew Boston experienced this ugliness too. 😦

      Liked by 2 people

  10. yahtzeebutterfly

    September 6, 1957 – Nashville public schools ordered by federal judge to integrate immediately.

    Excellent background article:
    “Walking into History: The Beginning of Desegregation in Nashville”
    Excerpt (introduction to article):

    “In September 1957, three years after the US Supreme Court declared school segregation laws unconstitutional, the public schools of Nashville, Tennessee, implemented a “stairstep plan” that began with a select group of first-graders and added one grade a year until all twelve grades were desegregated. Nineteen black first-graders enrolled in eight previously all-white schools.

    Organized white protesters, led by John Kasper, appeared at most of the schools, but there was no violence. The night after desegregation began, a dynamite explosion destroyed a wing of Hattie Cotton Elementary School, where one black child had enrolled. The violent incident broke the back of the protest movement, and no further demonstrations marked the ensuing days as desegregation proceeded.”

    Beverly Watts briefly discusses the desegregation of Tennessee schools in this one minute video:

    Liked by 2 people

  11. yahtzeebutterfly

    Having just posted a comment about Nashville, TN desegregation, I would like to now post two outstanding videos on school desegregation and the resistance to it in Clinton, Tennessee:

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Phenomenal, the story of the Clinton 12, the 2nd Video. I’ll listen to the 1st one through the day. Until a white man was beaten, nothing changed. Like the story of Viola Luizzo, the only white woman killed in the civil rights movement. It took the death of a white woman to finally designate the KKK as a terrorist organization and for the government to begin to prosecute their crimes. 😦

    Liked by 2 people

  13. yahtzeebutterfly

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  14. yahtzeebutterfly

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  15. yahtzeebutterfly

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  16. yahtzeebutterfly

    Artist Jacob Lawrence, born on September 7, 1917, painted his Migration Series at the age of 23. In the manner of a storyteller, he depicted the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to the North.


  17. yahtzeebutterfly

    September 7, 1930 Happy Birthday Sonny Rollins! 🎈🎂🎈

    In 1997:



  18. yahtzeebutterfly

    September 7, 1914 Librarian and curator of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Jean Blackwell Hutson was born in Sommerfield, Florida.

    From Wikipedia:

    “During her tenure as curator and then chief of the Schomburg Collection for Research in Black Culture, from 1948 to 1980, Hutson oversaw the growth of the collection’s holdings and fought to secure funds to move the collection from its inadequate building at 103 West 135th Street to a new building, which opened in 1981.”


  19. yahtzeebutterfly

    September 7, 1949 Happy Birthday Gloria Gaynor! 🎈🎂🎈


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  21. yahtzeebutterfly

    On September 8, 1925 physician Ossian Sweet moved his family into his newly purchased house in a Detroit White neighborhood. The next night, he and his friends defended his house against a White mob which formed outside his house.

    This short video tells the story of what ensued:


  22. yahtzeebutterfly

    First baseman Buck Leonard was born on September 8, 1907 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.

    From Wikipedia:

    “After growing up in North Carolina, he played for the Homestead Grays between 1934 and 1950, batting fourth behind Josh Gibson for many years. The Grays teams of the 1930s and 1940s were considered some of the best teams in Negro league history.

    “Leonard never played in Major League Baseball (MLB); he declined a 1952 offer of an MLB contract because he felt he was too old. Late in life, Leonard worked as a physical education instructor and was the vice-president of a minor league baseball team. He and Gibson were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. In 1999, he was ranked number 47 on the 100 Greatest Baseball Players list by The Sporting News.”


  23. yahtzeebutterfly

    Tennis champion Althea Gibson won the U.S. Open on September 8, 1957.


  24. yahtzeebutterfly


  25. yahtzeebutterfly

    September 8, 1954 Happy Birthday Ruby Bridges! 🎈🎂🎈


  26. Yahtzee,
    Words cannot express my appreciation for your commitment in during the monthly Black History. Your dedication to researching history, and taking the time to do an excellent job, are special skills, and I am grateful that you use them here on We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident.


  27. yahtzeebutterfly

    September 9, 1968– Arthur Ashe won the U.S. Open Tennis Championship


  28. yahtzeebutterfly

    September 9, 1941 Singer and songwriter Otis Redding was born in Dawson, Georgia.


  29. yahtzeebutterfly

    Poet Sonia Sanchez was born in Birmingham, Alabama on September 9, 1934.

    From Wikipedia:

    “Sanchez is also known for her innovative melding of musical formats—such as the blues—and traditional poetic formats like haiku and tanka. She also tends to use incorrect spelling to celebrate the unique sound of black English, for which she gives credit to poets such as Langston Hughes and Sterling Brown.”


  30. yahtzeebutterfly

    Ballet dancer Misty Copeland was born on September 10, 1982.


  31. yahtzeebutterfly

    September 10, 1880 – Birth of poet and activist Georgia Douglas Johnson.

    Ms. Johnson’s desire for women’s liberation:

    The Heart of a Woman
    by Georgia Douglas Johnson

    The heart of a woman goes forth with the dawn,
    As a lone bird, soft winging, so restlessly on,
    Afar o’er life’s turrets and vales does it roam
    In the wake of those echoes the heart calls home.

    The heart of a woman falls back with the night,
    And enters some alien cage in its plight,
    And tries to forget it has dreamed of the stars
    While it breaks, breaks, breaks on the sheltering bars.


  32. yahtzeebutterfly

    September 11, 1942 Happy Birthday, singer and dancer Lola Falana! 🎈🎂🎈
    You have inspired so many by your trust in the Lord and His healing power as you have had to deal with episodes of multiple sclerosis. Although you no longer perform on stage, you are giving much to the world through your church speeches. (And, this morning, I enjoyed seeing videos of your past singing performances and shows.)

    “Muhammad Ali on Lola Falana Show” :


  33. yahtzeebutterfly


  34. Wow thanks for this wonderful history

    Liked by 1 person

  35. yahtzeebutterfly

    September 13, 1885 Birth of educator, writer, and philosopher Alain Locke in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A graduate in English and philosophy from Harvard University in 1907, he was an inspirational leader of the Harlem Renaissance.

    “Ossie Davis: Dr. Alain Leroy Locke’s Influence” :


  36. yahtzeebutterfly

    September 13, 1931 Birth of playwright Adrienne Kennedy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

    Adrienne Kennedy interview:


  37. yahtzeebutterfly

    On September 13, 1881 Inventor Lewis Latimer patented a carbon filament for the electric light.


  38. yahtzeebutterfly

    September 14, 1921Birth of state senator, judge, and civil rights activist Constance Baker Motley.


  39. yahtzeebutterfly

    September 14, 1950 Birth of John Steptoe, author and illustrator of children’s books


  40. yahtzeebutterfly

    On September 15, 1963 the horrific bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama killed Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Carol Denise McNair. It was an evil act of terrorism that took their precious, treasured lives. The memory of the news I heard that day still shakes my heart and makes me tremble for them and their loved ones.

    The following video of the “Ballad of Birmingham” brings me to tears.


  41. yahtzeebutterfly


  42. yahtzeebutterfly


  43. yahtzeebutterfly

    September 16, 1925 Birth of blues singer and guitarist B.B. King.


  44. yahtzeebutterfly

    September 16, 1953 Birth of acoustic jazz guitarist and composer Earl Klugh.


  45. yahtzeebutterfly

    “Michael Hill on James Alan McPherson”


  46. yahtzeebutterfly

    On September 17, 1984 Vanessa Williams became the first African American to be crowned Miss America.


  47. yahtzeebutterfly

    September 17, 1889 Claude Barnett, the founder of the Associated Negro Press, was born in Sanford, Florida.

    Excerpt from :

    “The ANP was the oldest and largest Black press service in the United States. Founded in Chicago in 1919 by Claude A. Barnett, a young Black entrepreneur who remained its director for the next four and a half decades, the ANP supplied news stories, opinion columns, feature essays, and reviews of books and movies to black newspapers throughout the country. The ANP’s service enabled its membership, which included nearly all of the major Black newspapers in the United States as well as many of the smaller ones, to offer their readers detailed coverage of activities within Black communities across the country.

    “The service also included the latest news about national trends and events concerning Black Americans. With an effective mixture of reforming zeal and business insight, Barnett built the ANP into an important newsgathering network that helped to heighten black self-esteem long before the civil rights revolution of the 1960s. The Claude A. Barnett Papers, publishers at the ANP headquarters office on Chicago’s South Side, sifted information from such sources as reciprocal reports by member Black newspapers, announcements from foundations and organizations, and reports from ANP correspondents.”


  48. yahtzeebutterfly

    Here is some additional information on Hampton University:


  49. yahtzeebutterfly


  50. yahtzeebutterfly

    “The Fugitive Slave Law or Fugitive Slave Act was passed by the United States Congress on September 18, 1850, as part of the Compromise of 1850 between Southern slave-holding interests and Northern Free-Soilers.

    “This was one of the most controversial elements of the 1850 compromise and heightened Northern fears of a “slave power conspiracy”. It required that all escaped slaves were, upon capture, to be returned to their masters and that officials and citizens of free states had to cooperate in this law. Abolitionists nicknamed it the “Bloodhound Law” for the dogs that were used to track down runaway slaves.”
    ~from Wikipedia.


  51. yahtzeebutterfly

    September 18, 1895 – Booker T. Washington delivered his “Atlanta Compromise” speech at the Cotton States Exposition in Atlanta.


  52. yahtzeebutterfly

    On September 18, 1919Fritz Pollard became the first African American to play for a major professional football team.

    Excerpt from article at

    Pollard preceded Jackie Robinson as a pioneer in the integration of team sports in the United States. Pollard was the first Black man to play in the Rose Bowl in 1916 as a player for Brown University.

    Fritz would later become the first Black quarterback and head coach calling signals and plays for the Akron Pros in the American Professional Football League (Later becoming the NFL) Pollard played in the NFL until 1926, when the league imposed an unwritten rule to segregate the league for the “safety” of Black players. Pollard was an advocate for the advancement of Blacks in the NFL until his passing in 1986. He was enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame in August, 2005.


  53. yahtzeebutterfly

    Here is a short video on Jack L. Cooper :


  54. yahtzeebutterfly

    September 19, 1887 Blues singer and bandleader Lovie Austin was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee.


  55. yahtzeebutterfly


  56. yahtzeebutterfly

    September 20, 1885 – Birth of ragtime and jazz pianist Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton in New Orleans, Louisiana. (From Wikipedia: “Morton was born into a creole of color family in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood of downtown New Orleans, Louisiana. Sources differ as to his birth date: a baptismal certificate issued in 1894 lists his date of birth as October 20, 1890; Morton and his half-sisters claimed he was born on September 20, 1885.)


  57. yahtzeebutterfly

    On September 21,1872 John H. Conyers became the first Black American to be accepted at Annapolis Naval Academy.

    Excerpt from article at

    “Conyers was nominated by South Carolina congressman Robert B. Elliott. After his arrival, he was shunned and constantly and brutally harassed. This included severe, ongoing hazing, including verbal torment, and beatings. His classmates even attempted to drown him. In the fall of 1872, Conyers was marching when he was kicked and punched by several other Cadets, among them the Academy’s boxing champion George Goodfellow.

    News of the incident and the constant hazing experienced by Conyers leaked to the newspapers, and a three-man board was convened to investigate the attacks. Goodfellow denied any wrong doing and Conyers claimed he could not identify any of his attackers. The board nonetheless concluded that “His persecutors are left then without any excuse or palliation except the inadmissible one of prejudice.”


  58. yahtzeebutterfly


  59. yahtzeebutterfly

    September 23, 1863


  60. yahtzeebutterfly

    You can watch the opening ceremonies of the National Museum of African American History and Culture at this link now:


  61. yahtzeebutterfly


    • yahtzeebutterfly

      Excerpts from Rep. John Lewis’ speech at the dedication of the Museum of African American History and Culture:

      This museum is a testament to the dignity of the dispossessed in every corner of the globe who yearn for freedom. It is a song to the scholars and scribes, scientists and teachers, to the revolutionaries and voices of protest, to the ministers and the authors of peace. It is the story of life, the story of our lives, wrapped up in a beautiful golden crown of grace.

      I can hear the distant voice of our ancestors whispering by the night fire, “Steal away, Steal away home. We ain’t got time to stay here”. Or a big, bold choir shouting, “I woke up this morning with my mind stayed on freedom.” All their voices–roaming for centuries–have finally found their home here, in this great monument to our pain, our suffering, and our victory…

      As these doors open, it is my hope that each and every person who visits this beautiful museum will walk away deeply inspired–filled with a greater respect for the dignity and worth of every human being and a stronger commitment to the ideals of justice, equality and a true democracy.


  62. yahtzeebutterfly


  63. yahtzeebutterfly


  64. yahtzeebutterfly

    President Obama talked about the slave block exhibited in the National Museum of African American History and culture:

    “Below us, this building reaches down seventy feet, its roots spreading far wider and deeper than any tree on this Mall.  And on its lowest level, after you walk past remnants of a slave ship, after you reflect on the immortal declaration that “all men are created equal,” you can see a block of stone.  On top of this stone sits a historical marker, weathered by the ages.  That marker reads:  “General Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay spoke from this slave block during the year 1830.” 

    I want you to think about this.  Consider what this artifact tells us about history, about how it’s told, and about what can be cast aside.  On a stone where day after day for years men and women were torn from their spouse or their child, shackled and bound, and bought and sold and bid like cattle on a stone worn down by the tragedy of over a thousand bare feet. For a long time the only thing we considered important, the singular thing we once chose to commemorate as “history” with a plaque, were the unmemorable speeches of two powerful men. 

    And that block, I think, explains why this museum is so necessary.  Because that same object, reframed, put in context, tells us so much more.  As Americans we rightfully passed on the tales of the giants who built this country, who led armies into battle, who waged seminal debates in the halls of Congress and the corridors of power.  But too often, we ignored or forgot the stories of millions upon millions of others, who built this nation just as surely, whose humble eloquence, whose calloused hands, whose steady drive helped to create cities, erect industries, build the arsenals of democracy.

    Here is a photo of that slave block:


  65. yahtzeebutterfly

    Highlights of Obama’s speech at the ceremony dedicating the National Museum of African American History and Culture:

    “I, too, am America. The great historian John Hope Franklin, who helped to get this museum started, once said, “Good history is a good foundation for a better present and future.”  He understood the best history doesn’t just sit behind a glass case; it helps us to understand what’s outside the case.  The best history helps us recognize the mistakes that we’ve made and the dark corners of the human spirit that we need to guard against.  And, yes, a clear-eyed view of history can make us uncomfortable. It’ll shake us out of familiar narratives.  But it is precisely because of that discomfort that we learn and grow and harness our collective power to make this nation more perfect. 

    “That’s the American story that this museum tells: one of suffering and delight, one of fear but also of hope, of wandering in the wilderness and then seeing out on the horizon a glimmer of the Promised Land.”

    – – – – –

    “Yes, African Americans have felt the cold weight of shackles and the stinging lash of the field whip. But we’ve also dared to run north, and sing songs from Harriet Tubman’s hymnal. We’ve buttoned up our Union Blues to join the fight for our freedom. We’ve railed against injustice for decade upon decade, a lifetime of struggle, and progress, and enlightenment that we see etched in Frederick Douglass’s mighty, leonine gaze.
    “Yes, this museum tells a story of people who felt the indignity, the small and large humiliations of a “whites only” sign, or wept at the side of Emmett Till’s coffin, or fell to their knees on shards of stained glass outside a church where four little girls died.  But it also tells the story of the black youth and white youth sitting alongside each other – straight-backed, so full of dignity on those lunch counter stools – the story of a six-year-old Ruby Bridges, pigtails, fresh-pressed dress, walking that gauntlet to get to school – Tuskegee airmen soaring the skies not just to beat a dictator, but to reaffirm the promise of our democracy but remind us that all of us are created equal.”

    – – – – –

    “This is the place to understand how protest and love of country don’t merely coexist but inform each other; how men can proudly win the gold for their country but still insist on raising a black-gloved fist; how we can wear “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirt and still grieve for fallen police officers.  Here’s the America where the razor-sharp uniform of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff belongs alongside the cape of the Godfather of Soul. We have shown the world that we can float like butterflies and sting like bees; that we can rocket into space like Mae Jemison; steal home like Jackie; rock like Jimi, stir the pot like Richard Pryor; or we can be sick and tired of being sick and tired, like Fannie Lou Hamer; and still Rock Steady like Aretha Franklin.”

    – – – – –

    “We are large, Walt Whitman told us, containing multitudes.  We are large, containing multitudes.  Full of contradictions.  That’s America.  That’s what makes us grow.  That’s what makes us extraordinary.  And as is true for America, so is true for African American experience.  We’re not a burden on America, or a stain on America, or an object of pity or charity for America.  We’re America.”



  66. yahtzeebutterfly

    September 30, 1919 to October 1, 1919 – Elaine Race Riot (Also called the Elaine Massacre) in rural Phillips County, Arkansas.


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