Firsts

Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin addresses 1st Nat’l Conference of Colored Women

Josephine Ruffin

 

In 1894 Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin founded the Women’s New Era Club, a charitable organization of sixty prominent black women in Boston. Soon afterwards she began editing its monthly publication, the Women’s Era. Encouraged by the success of the New Era Club and heartened by the rapid growth of similar black women’s groups across the nation, Ruffin organized and convened the first National Conference of Colored Women at the Charles Street A. M. E. Church in Boston in 1895.

While the new organization emphasized its refusal to exclude non-black women, Ruffin nonetheless argued that African American women needed to take the leadership for their own welfare. Two years after the convention met, the National Association of Colored Women was formed with Mary Church Terrell as its first president and Ruffin as editor of the Women’s Era, now the official newspaper for the national organization.

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William Tucker

*On this date in 1606, the first recorded birth of a black child in the continental United States occurred.  This was is in the Cathedral Parish Archives in St. Augustine, Florida, thirteen years before enslaved Africans were first brought to the English colony at Jamestown in 1619. ”

William Tucker, the first Black child born (recorded) in the American colonies, was baptized on January 3, 1624, in Jamestown, Virginia.  Two of the first Africans to be brought to North America in 1619 were simply called Anthony and Isabella they were married and in 1624 gave birth to the first Black child born in English America naming him William Tucker in honor of a Virginia Planter.

After 1619, all Africans brought into the colonies were sold as slaves.  Today, the black population Is over 35-million, or nearly 13-percent of the U.S. total. The largest numbers of African Americans live in New York State (more than 3-million). Other states with African American populations of more than 2-million include California, Florida, Georgia and Texas.

Earl Lloyd

Earl Lloyd

Jackie Robinson, the man who broke Major League Baseball’s color line, ranks as a national icon. Filmmaker Ken Burns go so far as to compare Robinson to Thomas Jefferson.  Earl Lloyd, the first African-American to play in the National Basketball Association, ranks as a largely overlooked pioneer.

Lloyd started at power forward – with an emphasis on power – for the 1954-55 NBA champion Syracuse Nationals, who moved to Philadelphia in 1963 to become the 76ers. Lloyd now lives in a retirement community in Crossville, Tenn. He’s a major, if obscure, figure in NBA history.

He doesn’t mind his low profile. Lloyd has no interest in standing beside Robinson in the nation’s memory. Standing there would only make him nervous.  Continue reading

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority


The First Black Sorority
was formed on the campus of Howard University. The brainchild of Ethel Hedgeman, Hedgeman approached eight other women in the Liberal Arts School and soon Alpha Kappa Alpha was established as a Greek-letter organization in 1908. Founding members included Ethel Hedgeman Lyle, Beulah E. & Lillie Burke, Margaret Flagg Holmes, Marjorie Hill, Lucy Diggs Slowe, Marie Woolfolk Taylor, Anna Easter Brown, and Lavinia Norman.

Initially seen as a source for enhancing the social and academic life of its members, it soon expanded its horizons to include enhancing the lives of those in the community. It was the second Greek-letter group established on campus, the first being Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.

In 1912, the undergraduate group embarked upon a plan to take the sorority in a different direction and decided to change the name as well as the symbols associated with it. One graduate member, Nellie Quander, opposed the change. She rallied the graduates together all of whom remained firm in their commitment to Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA). Continue reading

Omega Psi Phi Fraternity

Omega Psi Phi Founders

Omega Psi Phi (ΩΨΦ) is an international fraternity with over 700 undergraduate and graduate chapters. The fraternity was founded on November 17, 1911 by three Howard University juniors, Edgar Amos Love, Oscar James Cooper and Frank Coleman, and their faculty adviser, Dr. Ernest Everett Just. Omega Psi Phi is the first predominantly African-American fraternity to be founded at a historically black university.

Since its founding, the Fraternity’s stated purpose has been to attract and build a strong and effective force of men dedicated to its Cardinal Principles of manhood, scholarship, perseverance, and uplift. Throughout the world, many notable members are recognized as leaders in the arts, academics, athletics, entertainment, business, civil rights, education, government, and science fields. Continue reading

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