Blog : On This Day

On this day: February 25, 1870

On this day: February 25, 1870

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On this day: February 25, 1870

Hiram Rhodes Revels, a Republican from Natchez, Mississippi was sworn into office as a U.S. senator, becoming the first African-American to sit in Congress.

Revels was sworn in two days after Congress readmitted Mississippi to the Union (February 23, 1870) on condition that it would never change its constitution to Mississippi’s remittance was nine years after the state had seceded to join the Confederacy leading up to the Civil War.

On February 25, 1870, Revels, on a strict party-line vote of 48 to 8, with only Republicans voting in favor and only Democrats voting against, became the first African American to be seated in the United States Senate. Everyone in the galleries stood to see him sworn in.

Revels resigned two months before his term expired to accept appointment as the first president of Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Alcorn State University), a historically black college located in Claiborne County, Mississippi.

On this day: February 24, 2017

On this day: February 24, 2017

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On this day: February 24, 2017, we remember:

Booker Taliaferro Washington an educator, author, and orator. Born April 5, 1856, Washington was from the last generation of black American leaders born into slavery and became a leading voice of former slaves and their descendants.

In his autobiography, Up From Slavery, Washington details his personal experiences as a child slave during the Civil War, to his difficulties and obstacles to get an education and his work establishing vocational schools Washington was also a controversial figure in his own lifetime, and W. E. B. Du Bois, among others, criticized some of his views.

Washington became the first leader of Tuskegee Institute, the forerunner of Tuskegee University in Alabama. He led the institution for the rest of his life and became a prominent national leader among African Americans, with considerable influence with wealthy white philanthropists and politicians.

Washington served as an advisor to Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Washington was the dominant leader in the African American community. Washington, as the guest of President Theodore Roosevelt in 1901, was the first African American ever invited to the White House.

On this day: February 23, 1979

On this day: February 23, 1979

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On this day: February 23, 1979

Frank E. Peterson Jr. named the first African American general in the Marine Corps.

On February 23, 1979, Frank E. Peterson Jr. was promoted to brigadier general, becoming the first African-American general in the Marine Corps. He was the first African American Marine Corps aviator and the first African American Marine Corps general.

The first ever black Marine Corps pilot, Petersen fought endemic racism to rise to the rank of three-star general, It is said that from the moment he signed up to the Navy as a seaman apprentice in 1950, Frank E. Petersen Jr. was under no illusions as to the challenge he faced. He aced his entrance exam but was called a few days later and asked to re-take it because it was thought Petersen had cheated.

Petersen retired from the Marine Corps in 1988 after 38 years of service. “At the time of his retirement, he was by date of aviator designation the senior ranking aviator in the U.S. Marine Corps and the United States Navy with respective titles of ‘Silver Hawk’ and ‘Gray Eagle’.

In 2010, President Obama appointed Petersen to the Board of Visitors to the United States Naval Academy.

On this day: February 21, 1965

On this day: February 21, 1965

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On this day: February 21, 1965

Malcolm X, the former minister in the Nation of Islam and civil-rights activist, was assassinated.

It is historically documented that on February 21, 1965, as Malcolm was preparing to address the Organization of Afro-American Unity in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom when someone yelled, “Nigger! Get your hand outta my pocket!” As Malcolm X and his bodyguards tried to quash the disturbance, a man rushed forward, and with a sawed-off shotgun, shot Malcolm X once in the chest. Two other men charged the stage firing semi-automatic handguns.

At 3:30 pm, shortly after arriving at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, Malcolm X was pronounced dead. His autopsy identified 21 gunshot wounds to the chest, left shoulder, arms, and legs, including ten buckshot wounds from the initial shotgun blast. Malcolm X was only 39 years of age.

He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history.