This Week in Black History

November 12, 2015

Thursday November 12: The Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., was founded by seven young educators who sought to raise the standards of school teachers in 1922, at Butler University in Indianapolis, IN. These individuals included Mary Lou Allison Little, Dorothy Hanley Whiteside, Vivian White Marbury, Nannie Mae Gahn Johnson, Hattie Mae Dublin Redford, Bessie M. Downey and Cubene McClure. The sorority now has more than 100,000 members worldwide.

Friday November 13: The United States Supreme Court upheld lower court decision which banned segregation on city buses in Montgomery, AL in 1956. Federal injunctions prohibiting segregation on the buses were served on city, state and bus company officials, December 20. At two mass meetings Montgomery blacks, led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called off a year-long bus boycott and the buses were integrated the next day.

Saturday November 14: Escorted by U.S. Federal Marshalls, Ruby Bridges becomes the first African American child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South in 1960 following court-ordered integration in New Orleans. Former United States Deputy Marshal Charles Burks later recalled, “She showed a lot of courage. She never cried. She didn’t whimper. She just marched along like a little soldier, and we all were very proud of her.” Ruby and her family suffered for their decision to send their daughter to a white school. Her father lost his job, the grocery store where the family shopped would no longer accept their money, and her grandparents, who were sharecroppers in Mississippi, were turned off their land.

Sunday November 15: Princeton Professor W. Arthur Lewis shared the Nobel Prize in Economics with Theodore Schultz in 1979. He was the first black person to be named a Nobel Laureate for a category other than peace. In 1957 he served as the first economic advisor of the newly independent African nation of Ghana and is credited with developing some of the most important concepts about the patterns of capital and wages in developing countries. He was particularly known for his contributions to the developing economies of former colonies as they began to gain independence from European nations.

Monday November 16: Tennis star Zina Garrison is born in Houston in 1963. During her career, Garrison was a women’s singles runner-up at Wimbledon in 1990, a three-time Grand Slam mixed doubles champion, and a women’s doubles gold medalist at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. She retired from the professional tour in 1996 having won 14 top-level singles titles and 20 doubles titles.

Tuesday November 17: The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity was incorporated in 1911 at Howard University by Edgar A. Love, Oscar J. Cooper, and Frank Coleman. It is the first African American fraternity established at a historically black college. The three founders created the fraternity in the belief that “friendship is essential to the soul.” Today the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity has over 700 chapters across the United States, Bermuda, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, South Korea, Japan, Liberia, Germany, and Kuwait.

Wednesday November 18: Louis E. Martin, newspaper editor, political activist, advisor to three American presidents was born in Shelbyville, TN in 1912. Martin was known throughout the capital as the “godfather of black politics,” acting as the unnoticed liaison between African Americans and U.S. presidents from Franklin Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter. He was particularly influential in the appointment of a number of African Americans to prominent federal positions, including Thurgood Marshall’s appointment to the United States Supreme Court in 1967 and Clifford Alexander as Secretary of the Army in 1977.