History in school teaches us that Harriet Tubman freed the slaves and Martin Luther King Jr., had a dream every February but skipped over so many other African-American achievers. Confining our history to 28 days not only diminishes the significance of our contributions but also allows the greater truth to be erased. There is nothing as motivating as knowing that people who look like you have achieved great things.
On July 5, 1852 Frederick Douglass gave a speech that is now known as the “What To The Slave Is The 4th Of July” speech. Douglass was asked to give a speech on July 4th during a commemoration of the Declaration of Independence. However he choose to give one on July 5th instead. When Douglass gave his speech he acknowledged the signers of the Declaration of Independence but he made it clear that there was too much work to be done before the 4th of July would be a day of celebration for Blacks.
…But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common.ÑThe rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrevocable ruin! I can to-day take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people!…
We celebrate Black History Month in February, but Black History is 365/24/7. But we must remember never to stop celebrating the accomplishments and work of the Black community in our society. February should not be the only time we acknowledge all the ways Black individuals in this country have left their mark. We must never let the energy die. We must keep fighting, keep learning, keep going, keep being an activist, keep supporting and buying from our Black-owned businesses and we must do our part in continuing to learn and teach others about Black history.
We at Black Westchester challenge you to learn something new about Black history every day. Whether that means reading a book by a Black author, listening to music from an African-American artist you’ve never listened to before, or just researching the achievements of African-Americans who came before us. With that in mind, we share with you some events, dates, and achievements that took place in the month of July!!!
In July 1905, a group of Black activists and intellectuals met on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls to discuss the issue of civil liberties for African Americans. That meeting was the start of The Niagara Movement. The group had planned to meet on the New York side of the Falls but were forced to change locations after being denied accommodations. The organization, formed by W.E.B Du Bois and William Monroe Trotter, was made up of critics of Booker T. Washington, President of Tuskegee Institute. During this period, Washington was viewed by most as the authority figure on issues that concerned Black Americans. Washington’s view that Black Americans should help themselves while being patient and accommodating was denounced by members of the Niagara Movement, who demanded that blacks be granted the same rights and liberties as whites.
July 1, 1889 – Frederick Douglass named Minister to Haiti
July 1, 1960 – Ghana becomes a republic
July 1, 1982 – Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five release the rap song “The Message.” “The Message” was an early prominent Hip-Hop song to provide social commentary. The song’s lyrics describe the stress of inner-city poverty. In the final verses, a child born in the ghetto without prospects in life is lured away into a life of crime, for which he is jailed until he commits suicide in his cell
July 2, 1777 – Vermont became the first American colony to abolish slavery. Vermont’s legislature agreed to abolish slavery entirely, and it also moved to provide full voting rights for African American males.
July 2, 1872– Inventor E. McCoy received Patent No. 129,843 for the lubricator for steam engines.
July 2, 1908 – U.S. Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993) was born. Marshall made history by becoming the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States.
July 2, 1943 – Charles Hall becomes the first African American fighter pilot to down enemy aircraft
July 2, 1964 – President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, preventing employment discrimination due to race, color, sex, religion, or national origin. Title VII of the Act establishes the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to help prevent workplace discrimination.
July 3, 1950 – The Hazel Scott Show premiered on the DuMont Television Network, making Trinidadian-born Hazel Scott the first African American woman to have her own television show.
July 4, 1827 – New York State abolishes slavery
July 4, 1881 – Tuskegee Institute was founded in a one-room shanty near Butler Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Thirty adults represented the first class, with Dr. Booker T. Washington as the first teacher.
July 4, 1910 – Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion, successfully defended his title by knocking out Jim “The Great White Hope” Jeffries, who had come out of retirement “to win back the title for the White race.”
July 4, 1963 – Marian Anderson, opera star, and Ralph Bunche, diplomat and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, are awarded the first Medals of Freedom from President John F. Kennedy, the creator of the award.
July 4, 1989 – “Fight the Power” was released by Public Enemy on the Motown Records label. It was created for the movie ‘Do the Right Thing’ by Spike Lee.
July 5, 1975 – Arthur Ashe defeats Jimmy Connors to win the men’s Wimbledon singles championship and becomes the first African American male to win the title.
July 6, 1957 – The first Black woman tennis champion wins Wimbledon. Althea Gibson won the women’s singles championship at Wimbledon.
July 9, 1955 – E. Frederic Morrow became the first African-American to serve in an executive position on a United States president’s cabinet in the White House joining President Eisenhower’s staff as Administrative Officer for Special Projects from 1955 to 1961.
July 10, 1893 – Dr. Daniel Hale Williams performs the world’s first open-heart surgery on a young man named James Cornish. James was rushed to Provident Hospital in Chicago with a stab wound.
July 10, 1927 – David Norman Dinkins born in Trenton, N.J. Dinkins became the first black mayor of New York City, serving from 1989 to 1993.
July 16, 1947 – Activist Assata Shakur is born
July 17, 2014 – Eric Garner dies after being put in a chokehold by New York City police, following suspicion he was selling untaxed cigarettes in Staten Island. The video is captured with Garner saying “I can’t breathe,” which becomes a rallying cry for criminal justice and police brutality reform. A grand jury chooses not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaelo, but Garner’s family later settles a lawsuit against the city for $5.9 million.
July 18, 1918 – Freedom fighter, former President of South Africa, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nelson Mandela born in Mvezo, Umtata South Africa. He first attempted to change South Africa’s policy of Aparthied by non-violent means. After realizing that this method would not bring about the change he sought, he pursued guerrilla activities, which led to his imprisonment for 27 years. After his 1990 release from prison, he became his country’s first black President in 1994.
July 20, 1967 – The first Black Power Conference was held in Newark, New Jersey with over a thousand in attendance.
July 20, 1967 – First coast-to-coast black-owned and operated radio network: The National Black Network (NBN) begins operations.
July 21, 1864 – The New Orleans Tribune, the first Black newspaper to be published daily is launched
July 21, 1896 – Mary Church Terrell is elected president of the newly founded the National Association of Colored Women in Washington D.C.
July 26, 1948 – President Harry Truman issues Executive Order 9981 to end segregation in the Armed Services.
July 28, 1866 – Section 3 of the Act of Congress authorized the formation of the two regiments of cavalry composed of “colored” men. These regiments would be later nicknamed as “Buffalo Soldiers.”
July 30, 2002 – WNBA player Lisa Leslie of the Los Angeles Sparks became the first woman to dunk in a professional game. May 22, 1967, Langston Hughes died in NYC from complications after abdominal surgery, related to prostate cancer, at the age of 65
July 31, 1874 – Father Patrick Francis Healey, was named President of Georgetown University and became the first African American to be named President of a Major US University. He was also the first African American to receive a Ph.D.