Today is Juneteenth, which commemorates the ending of slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, it was not enforced in the state of Texas due to a lack of Union troop presence and enforcement in the confederate state.


However on June 19, 1865, Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger and his regiment  entered Galveston, Texas to override the resistance to the law and to enforce the Executive Orders. Union Major-General Gordon Granger read General Orders, No.3 to the people of Galveston. It stated:

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

Since 1865 black Americans have regarded June 19th as the official emancipation day, and on January 1, 1980, the state of Texas proclaimed June 19 an official state holiday thanks to the African American state legislator Al Edwards.

Walter S. McAfee is the African American mathematician and physicist who first calculated the speed of the moon. McAfee participated in Project Diana in the 1940s - a U.S. Army program, created to determine whether a high frequency radio signal could penetrate the earth’s outer atmosphere. To test this, scientists wanted to bounce a radar signal off the moon and back to earth but the moon was a swiftly moving target, impossible to hit without knowing its exact speed. McAfee made the necessary calculations, and on January 10, 1946, the team sent a radar pulse through a special 40-feet square antenna towards the moon. Two and a half seconds later, they received a faint signal, proving that transmissions from earth could cross the vast distances of outer space. Official news of this scientific breakthrough did not include McAfee’s name, nor was there any recognition of the essential role he played. Americans could NOT have walked on the moon had it not been for Walter S. McAfee and his calculations. (Not a #TodayInBlackHistory post but we make history everyday). Respect #BlackExcellence #BlackAugust #BlackOurstory #BlackHistory

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August 22, 1989 - Black Panther Party Co-founder Huey P. Newton was gunned down by a member of the Black Guerila Family drug ring. Newton had a long series of confrontations with law enforcement, including several convictions, while he participated in political activism. He continued to pursue an education, eventually earning a Ph.D. in Social Science. Newton spent time in prison for manslaughter and was involved in a shooting that killed a police officer, for which he was later acquitted. #TodayInHistory #TodayInBlackHistory #BlackExcellence #BlackAugust #BlackHistory #BlackOurstory

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Today is the birthday of Ida B. Wells, an activist, journalist, anti-lynching advocate, feminist, and suffragist. Wells was born into slavery in Holly Springs, Mississippi in 1862, and she became an orphan at the age of 16  when her parents died due to a yellow fever epidemic. 

In order to take care of her five surviving brothers and sisters, and she became a teacher in a rural community in Mississippi. Wells was ahead of her time with her fierce and vocal advocacy for the anti-lynching crusade and her feminist views on women’s rights. 

To read more about her legacy visit this link:


Birthday of Maggie Lena Walker, the first woman and the first African American to become president of a bank. Her bank, St. Luke Penny Savings Bank, founded in 1903 was running in the 20th century, survived through the Depression and into the 21st century. Maggie Lena Walker’s legacy as an entrepreneurial spirit is highly commendable and serves as an example for all, that despite one’s humble beginning, a strong vision and drive can overcome adversity.


“I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth but a laundry basket practically on my head.” - Maggie Lena Walker 

On August 30, 1983, Dr. Guion Stewart “Guy” Bluford, Jr. became the first African American in space.

Bluford, pictured, had earned his M.S. and PhD in aerospace engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology. He flew the space shuttle, performed various experiments and aided in the launch of a $45 million weather and communications satellite for India. During this first mission with more to come, launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, Bluford received a call from Ronald Reagan in which he said, “You will serve as a role model for so many others and be so inspirational.”

“We prefer poverty in liberty than riches in slavery.”

- Ahmed Sekou Toure

On October 2, 1958, the Republic of Guinea, under Ahmed Sekou Toure, gained independence from France. Toure, pictured, became the Republic of Guinea’s first president. 

Read more about the Guinea independence here.

Image Source: Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library

Claude McKay, Jamaican-American writer and poet, was born on this day, September 15, 1889. Jamaican born McKay moved to Harlem, after studying the Tuskegee Institute and Kansas State College, when he published some of his first collections of poetry and became a prominent literary artist in the midst of the Harlem Renaissance. Amongst the four novels he authored, “Banjo” was a best seller and won the Harmon Gold Award for Literature. “Harlem Shadows,” a collection of poetry written in 1922, was one of the first books published during the Harlem Renaissance. McKay wrote about social and political issues from the black point of view in the United States. He also wrote about love, life in Jamaica and a wide range of subjects he felt were relevant to the time. 

Image: NYPL Digital Collections 


The Niagara Movement was a Civil Rights group, led by W. E. B. DuBois and William Monroe Trotter, and it aimed to counteract Washington’s influence over the black community with his policies of accommodation and conciliation. The Niagara Movement was named for its first meeting place at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side, because the hotel DuBois initially booked to host the meeting in the United States refused to serve People of Color.  The Niagara Movement’s principles asserted among many things suffrage, equality in education and civil rights. 


“We cannot afford the luxury of self pity. Our top priority now is to get on with the building process. My personal peace has come through helping boys and girls reach beyond the ordinary and strive for the extraordinary. We must teach our children to weather the hurricanes of life, pick up the pieces, and rebuild. We must impress upon our children that even when troubles rise to seven-point- one on life’s Richter scale, they must be anchored so deeply that, though they sway, they will not topple”

-Mamie Till Mobley mother of Emmett Louis Till

This quote is taken from her speech given at the dedication of the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama on November 5, 1989.

Remembering Emmett Till

Today we remember Emmett Till, a 14-year-old child who was brutally murdered in Mississippi for purportedly “flirting with a white female”.  Had Emmett Till lived he would have been 72 years old today. This high profile case was investigated by Medgar Evers whose life was also brutally shortened due to the fear and proliferation of racism in the Jim Crow south. On July 18, Willie Louis, a witness in the case of Emmett Till, passed away at the age of 76. Even with testimonies from witnesses, the murderers were acquitted of this heinous crime.  Emmett Till’s mother, Mamie Till Mobley, held an open casket funeral for her son so that the world could see the brutality faced by black Americans.

Emmett Till’s story was a spark for the Civil Rights Movement and it shook “the foundations of Mississippi, both black and white—with the white community because it had become nationally publicized, with us blacks, because it said not even a child was safe from racism and bigotry and death.”

                                           - Myrlie Evers, widow of Medgar Evers

Althea Gibson, tennis player and the first African American to compete in the U.S. Nationals, was born on this day, August 25, 1927. Gibson showed an appreciation for sports at a young age, playing basketball and paddle tennis. After joining the American Tennis Association, Gibson began her networking and career as a tennis player. At the age of 29, Gibson became the first black person to win the French championships.She was also the first African American to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals in 1957 and then won again in 1958. Gibson faced a lot of racism at first, some of which included not being allowed to compete despite her skill level and being denied rooms at hotels but eventually, she was allowed to take the world by storm. Gibson won 11 Grand Slam events which placed her in the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame. 

Mae C. Jemison, the first African American female in space, was born on this date, October 17, 1956 in Decatur, Alabama. She became the first African-American woman to be in the astronaut training program in 1987. On mission STS47, she flew into space with six other astronauts on the Endeavour. She was in space for eight days conducting experiments on weightlessness and motion sickness. Jemison has won many awards and doctorates. Some of the awards include the NASA Space Flight Medal, Essence Science and Technology Award, and the Ebony Black Achievement Award. She was also inducted in the International Space Hall of Fame. 

Booker T. Washington, black community leader, head of Tuskegee Institute, and political advisor died in Tuskegee of heart failure on November 14, 1915. Washington, placing an importance on education, supported himself with odd jobs from a young age. He graduated from Hampton in 1875 as a model student. In 1881, the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, now known as Tuskegee University, was founded. Under Washington’s leadership, it became one of the top schools in the nation. Washington, one of the principle African American leaders of the late 19th and early 20th century, often clashed in philosophies with W.E.B. Du Bois, who criticized Washington for his views that considered racial subservience “a necessary evil.” Washington also founded the National Negro Business League in 1900. His ideologies emphasized the importance of educational and economic advancement of the black community.

[Image Photo Credit: LOC PPOC]

Alain LeRoy Locke, philosopher, writer, and educator, was born on this date, September 13, 1886, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Locke went to Harvard and was the first African American to win the Rhodes Scholarship. He went to Oxford University for philosophy and received his doctorate from Harvard in 1918. Locke then became a professor of philosophy and literature at Howard University. Throughout his life, Locke encouraged African American artists and writers such as Zora Neale Hurston. Locke also wrote about the African and African American experience and identity, and the Harlem Renaissance. He published “The New Negro” in 1925, an anthology of poetry, essays and fiction on African and African American art and literature, which contains the portrait of Alain LeRoy Locke by Winold Reiss pictured. Locke is known as “The Father of the Harlem Renaissance.”

Image: NYPL Digital Collections