Feb. 28, 1708 - Slave revolt in Long Island, N.Y.
In one of the first recorded slave revolts in America, seven white people were killed in Newton, Long Island. Following the rebellion, two black male slaves and an Indian slave were hanged, and a black woman was burned alive.
Feb. 27, 1923 - Jazz musician Dexter Gordon is born
Gordon was born in Los Angeles. A musician from childhood, he played tenor saxophone and performed with such greats as Bud Powell, Ben Webster and Freddie Hubbard. In 1986 he starred in the film “Round Midnight” and was nominated for an Academy Award as best actor.
Feb. 26, 1928 - Fats Domino is born
Antoine Dominique “Fats” Domino was born in New Orleans. The singer-piano player had nine No. 1 hits on the R&B charts between 1952 and 1959, including “Ain’t That a Shame,” “I’m Walking” and “Blueberry Hill.” With more than 65 million record sales to his credit, Domino is among the pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll.
Feb. 25, 1870 - Hiram R. Revels becomes first black U.S. senator
Revels, who represented Mississippi, took the oath of office on this day after being elected by the state legislature to finish the term of one of the state's two Senate seats left vacant since the Civil War. Revels went on to serve as the first president of Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College in Mississippi (now Alcorn State University) and as the secretary of state for Mississippi.
Feb. 24, 1811 - Bishop Daniel A. Payne is born
Payne became a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and was among the founders of Wilberforce University. In 1863 he became its first president and the first black president of a college in the United States.
Feb. 23, 1868 - Civil-rights leader W.E.B. DuBois is born
DuBois, an important civil rights leader and co-founder of the NAACP, was born in Great Barrington, Mass. He was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard, and in 1903 he published his most influential book, “The Souls of Black Folk.” At age 91 he moved to Ghana where he became a naturalized citizen. He died there in 1963.
Feb. 22, 1950 - Julius Erving, aka Dr. J, is born
Erving grew up in a housing project on Long Island and saw basketball as a ticket to a better life. He began his pro career in 1971 with the Virginia Squires of the now-defunct American Basketball Association, ushering in a new, high-flying style of play punctuated by gravity-defying leaps and acrobatic dunks. Dr. J moved over to the NBA in the late '70s and retired in 1987. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993 and is regarded as one of the best basketball players ever.
Feb. 21, 1965 - Malcolm X is assassinated
Born Malcolm Little, Malcolm X was shot to death by rival black Muslims while speaking in the Audubon Ballroom in New York City. Less than a year earlier, he had broken with the Nation of Islam and it leader, Elijah Muhammad. In death, Malcolm X became a martyr for the cause of black liberation.
Feb. 20, 1865 - Abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass dies
Douglass was one of the foremost leaders of the abolitionist movement, which sought to do away with slavery in the decades prior to the Civil War. He was a gifted speaker and spoke against slavery across the country before serving as an adviser to President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, which ultimately led to the emancipation of slaves.
Feb. 19, 1871 - Social reformer Lugenia Burns Hope is born
First in Nashville and then later in Atlanta, Hope organized community services and worked for civil rights. She was a founding member of the Atlanta Branch of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs. Through her club work, she challenged racial discrimination, including the practices of segregation within the national YWCA.
Feb. 18, 1688 - First formal Quaker protest against slavery
The first public protest by Quakers against slavery took place in Germantown, Pa. It what became known as the “Germantown Protest,” a group of German Quakers of Pietist origins drew up a declaration against the notion that one person can own another.
Feb. 17, 1942 - Huey Newton, co-founder of Black Panthers, is born
Newton and Bobbie Seale started the controversial group in 1966 in Oakland, Calif., to promote black power and self-defense through acts of social agitation. By 1968, the party had expanded to cities across the country, including Philadelphia, Seattle and Baltimore. Newton was fatally shot in Oakland in 1989.
Feb. 16, 1972 - Basketball great Wilt Chamberlain surpasses 30,000-point mark
Playing for the Los Angeles Lakers at the time, Wilt “the Stilt” became the first NBA player to reach the plateau (he finished with 31,419 points). Widely regarded as one of the most dominant players in NBA history, the 7-foot-1 Chamberlain still holds the record for number of points in a single game (100, against NY Knicks in 1962).
Feb. 15, 1978 - Muhammad Ali loses heavyweight title
After successfully defending the heavyweight title six times, Ali, the legendary boxer known for his speed and style, lost in a split decision to Leon Spinks. Seven months later, Ali fought Spinks again and won the rematch. Ali retired in 1981.
Feb. 14, 1867 - Morehouse College is founded
The only all-male historically black institution of higher learning in the United States was founded as the Augusta Institute in the basement of a church in Augusta, Ga. The school's original mission was to teach freed slaves to read and write. It took its current name Morehouse College in 1913. Famous graduates include Martin Luther King Jr., Edwin Moses and Spike Lee.
Feb. 13, 1920 - Negro National League baseball is organized
Andrew "Rube" Foster, pitcher and owner of the Chicago American Giants, called Midwestern team owners to Kansas City for talks on establishing an organized and stable league for black baseball players. The result was the formation of the Negro National League, initially composed of eight teams. Foster was named league president and reportedly took a cut of all gate receipts.
Feb. 12, 1909 - NAACP is founded
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, originally called the National Negro Committee, was founded by a group of multiracial activists in New York. It is one of the oldest and most influential civil-rights organizations in America. It marks its 100th anniversary this year.
Feb. 11, 1990 - Nelson Mandela released from prison after 27 years
Mandela, the leader of the movement to end South African apartheid, was imprisoned for more than a quarter century for sabotage and other alleged crimes. His release followed the relaxation of apartheid laws - including lifting the ban on the African National Congress party - by South African President F.W. de Klerk. Four years later, Mandela was elected president of South Africa.
Feb. 10, 1992 - Alex Haley, author of “Roots,” dies
Haley's earlier famous work, "The Autobiography of Malcolm X," was published in 1965. His novel "Roots: The Saga of an American Family," was published in 1976 and earned him a Pulitzer Prize the following year. The novel, a fictionalized version of Haley's search for his ancestral past, spawned two television miniseries, "Roots" and "Roots II." Haley died in Seattle in 1992.
Feb. 9, 1995 - Bernard Harris becomes first black astronaut to take space walk
Harris, a medical doctor, became a NASA astronaut in 1991. In February 1995, he was the payload commander on STS-63, the first flight of the new joint Russian-American Space Program; his space walk made him the first African American to perform an extravehicular activity.
Feb. 8, 1944 - First black journalist admitted to a White House press conference
Harry S. McAlpin was working for the National Negro Press Association and the Atlanta Daily World at the time. He covered Presidents Roosevelt and Truman for 51 black newspapers. He was also a Navy war correspondent and spokesman for the Department of Agriculture. Later McAlpin practiced law in Louisville, Ky.
Feb. 7, 1883 - Ragtime pianist and composer Eubie Blake is born
James Hubert "Eubie" Blake was one of very few successful African American composers of Broadway musicals in the first half of the 20th century. He collaborated with Noble Sissle to write "Shuffle Along" in 1921, one of the first Broadway musicals ever to be written and directed by African Americans. His most famous songs include "Memories of You" and "I'm Just Wild about Harry." He died in 1983, five days after his 100th birthday.
Feb. 6, 1993 - Tennis great Arthur Ashe dies
Ashe became the first black man to win the Wimbledon singles' championship in 1975 when he defeated defending champion Jimmy Connors. Ashe, an active civil-rights supporter, retired in 1980 after suffering heart complications. He was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985.
Feb. 5, 1994 - White supremacist finally convicted of murder of Medgar Evers
Evers, the Mississippi field secretary for the NAACP, was shot and killed in front of his home on June 12, 1963. Byron De La Beckwith was charged with the murder, but he was set free in 1964 after two trials resulted in hung juries. Thirty years after the crime, he was convicted in a third trial in 1994 and sentenced to life in prison. He died in 2001 at age 80.
Feb. 4, 1913 - Civil-rights activist Rosa Parks is born
Parks was born in Tuskegee, Ala. On Dec. 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Ala., she refused to give up her seat on the bus to make room for a white passenger. The act of defiance led to a boycott of the Montgomery bus system and became an important symbol of the modern civil-rights movement. Parks died Oct. 24, 2005.
Feb. 3, 1870 - Congress ratifies 15th Amendment
The Amendment granted black men the right to vote, declaring that such right "shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." The Amendment’s promise, though, would not be fully realized for almost a century. It wasn’t until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 before the majority of African Americans in the South were registered to vote.
Feb. 2, 1990 - South Africa lifts 30-year ban on the African National Congress
The ANC was the country's main anti-apartheid group and had been banned since 1960. In a speech at the opening of Parliament, South Africa President F. W. de Klerk also announced that black nationalist leader Nelson Mandela, who had been imprisoned for nearly 28 years, would be freed soon.
Feb. 1, 1960 - Black students stage sit-in at segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter
When four black college students were refused service at a lunch counter at a Woolworth’s in Greensboro, N.C., they stayed in their seats in protest. The peaceful sit-in helped spark other demonstrations against racial inequality throughout the South. Six months later, Woolworth's desegregated the counter. An 8-foot section of the counter and four stools were donated to the Smithsonian in 1993.