November 6, 2015


November 5: A record number of nine African Americans were elected to U.S. House of Representatives on this day in 1968. Along with eight men, Rep. Shirley Chisholm became the first black congresswomen. Sen. Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass.) had been elected two years previously giving African Americans a record total of 10 members of Congress. The previous record of eight occurred shortly after the Civil War when the Union Army still occupied the former Confederate states. Some of the victories in 1968 were the result of court-ordered redistricting, but not all of them. The following incumbents were reelected: William L. Dawson (Ill.), Charles C. Diggs (Mich.), Augustus Hawkins (Calif.), Robert N.C. Nix (Pa.) and John Conyers (Mich.) In addition to representatives Chisholm and Powell, others elected to the House of Representatives for the first time were Louis Stokes (Ohio) and William L. Clay (Mo.).

November 6: Thomas Bradley is elected mayor of Los Angeles in 1973 at a time when blacks represented only 15 percent of voters in Los Angeles. He became one of the first two black mayors of a U.S. city with over a million citizens when, on the same date and year, Coleman Young was elected mayor of Detroit.

November 7: Alexa Canady, the first black female neurosurgeon, was born in Lansing, MI, on this date in 1950. Canady has also served as National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. November 8: Crystal Bird Faucet is elected state representative in Pennsylvania in 1938, becoming the first Black woman to serve in a state legislature.

November 9: Actress and singer Dorothy Dandrige was born in Cleveland in 1922. She was the first recognized African American actress and sex symbol. She starred in such movies as Carmen Jones (with Harry Belafonte) and Porgy and Bess (with Sidney Poiter). In 1954, she became the first African American woman to receive an Academy Award nomination. This beautiful but tragic star struggled with prejudices of Hollywood.

November 10: National Benefit Life Insurance Company was organized in 1898 Washington, D.C., by Samuel W. Rutherford. National Benefit was the largest African-American owned insurance company in the United States in 1930.

November 11: Armistice signed, ending World War I in 1918. Official records listed 370,000 African American soldiers and 1,400 African American commissioned officers. A little more than half of these soldiers served in the European Theater. Three segregated black regiments – the 369th, 371st and 372nd received the Croix de Guerre for valor. The 369th was the first American unit to reach the Rhine. The first soldiers in the American army to be decorated for bravery in France were Henry Johnson and Needham Roberts of the 369th Infantry Regiment.