February 17

On February 17, 1966,  Martin Luther King Jr. was photographed trying for a behind-the-back shot while using his "best stick" in a pool match with Chicago civil rights leader Al Raby. King was temporarily living in Chicago to work on an anti-slum campaign. (Photo by Ed Wagner Jr.)

Maud Cuney Hare (February 16, 1874 - February 13 or 14, 1936) collected music from across the South and Caribbean in her study of folklore, and was the first to study Creole music. She is most remembered for her final work, Negro Musicians and Their Music (1936), which documents the development of African-American music. She was born in Galveston to Wright Cuney, a leading Reconstruction politician, and Adelina Dowdy (or Dowdie) of Woodville, Mississippi. She studied violin, piano, and voice at the New England Conservatory of Music where she refused to seek off-campus housing when asked to because of her race, and while there came to know Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin and W. E. B. Du Bois, and was briefly engaged to Du Bois. She then taught music at  the Texas Deaf, Dumb, and Blind Institute for Colored Youths,  the Institutional Church of Chicago, and Prairie View A&M before returning to Boston where she performed, lectured, and founded the Allied Arts Center for the development and support of young black performers, composers, and playwrights. In 1919, she and William Howard Richardson were the first musicians of color to perform in the concert-lecture series at the Boston Public Library. She was also one of the first women in the Niagara Movement and wrote a monthly music column for The Crisis magazine.


Charles Arthur Hayes (February 17, 1918 – April 8, 1997) was elected as a Democrat to the Ninety-eighth Congress by a special election held on August 23, 1983, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Harold Washington, who had been elected mayor of Chicago. He served four terms before being defeated by Bobby Rush in the 1992 primary. He was a trade unionist from 1938 to 1983 and served as vice president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. In the 1950s, he raised funds that fueled Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s voter registration drive in the South and was one of major labor leaders arrested during the 1980s anti-apartheid protests that eventually won the freedom of Nelson Mandela.

James Nathaniel Brown (born February 17, 1936) was a fullback for the Cleveland Browns from 1957 through 1965, and was named to the Pro Bowl each season he played. He led the league in rushing yards in eight out of his nine seasons, and by the time he retired, he had shattered most major rushing records. He  is the only rusher in NFL history to average over 100 yards per game for a career and his record six games with four touchdowns still stands. At Syracuse University he was an All-American in both football and lacrosse, and played basketball and ran track as well. His film debut was in Rio Conchos (1964) and he also starred in The Dirty Dozen two years later.

Mary Frances Berry (born February 17, 1938) is the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania and the former chairwoman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. She is a past president of the Organization of American Historians, the primary professional organization for historians of the United States. Before going to Penn, Berry was provost of the College of Behavioral and Social Science at University of Maryland, College Park, and chancellor of the University of Colorado at Boulder. She received Ph.D. and J.D. degrees from the University of Michigan.

Huey Percy Newton (February 17, 1942 – August 22, 1989) was born in Monroe, Louisiana, and named after politician Huey P. Long, but his family moved the the San Friancisco Bay area as part of the Second Great Migration. While at Merritt College in Oakland, he was active in the Black Student Movement and with fellow campus activist Bobby Seale co-founded the Black Panther Party in 1966, with Seale becoming Chairman and Newton becoming Minister of Defense.  He earned a BA  and a PhD in social philosophy from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Michael Jeffrey Jordan (born February 17, 1963) is a retired American professional basketball player, active entrepreneur, and majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. His biography on the National Basketball Association (NBA) website states, "By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time." Jordan was one of the most effectively marketed athletes of his generation and was considered instrumental in popularizing the NBA around the world in the 1980s and 1990s.


Benjamin "Pap" Singleton (1809 - February 17, 1900) was an American activist and businessman best known for his role in establishing African-American settlements in Kansas. A prominent voice for early black nationalism, he became involved in promoting and coordinating black-owned businesses in Kansas and developed an interest in the Back-to-Africa movement.

On February 17, 1973, USS Jesse L. Brown (DE/FF/FFT-1089) was a Knox-class frigate of the United States Navy. She was named for Jesse L. Brown, the first African-American naval aviator in the U.S. Navy. The ship was eventually decommissioned and sold to the Egyptian Navy and was renamed Damiyat (F961). The name is also transliterated as Damyat and Damietta by some sources.

On February 17, 1997, Sergeant Danyell E. Wilson became the first African-American woman to earn the prestigious badge and guard the Tomb of the Unknowns

Photo Gallery

Boxing Instruction, Colonial Park Recreation Center, Manhattan, February 17, 1942

February 17, 1961: A soldier stands to attention as President Nkrumah (1909 - 1972), of Ghana places a wreath during the memorial service held in Accra, Ghana, for Patrice Lumumba (1925 - 1961), the murdered Nationalist leader of the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

Huey Newton’s Birthday Party. Oakland Auditorium, February 17, 1968. Photo by Gerhard Gscheidle. Stokley Carmichael and H. Rap Brown sit directly to the left of Huey’s chair (empty because at this time Huey was awaiting trial on charges of killing an Oakland policeman) as Eldridge Cleaver announces the SNCC-Black Panther merger to a crowd of 5000.

Son of World War I hero Sgt. Henry L. Johnson accepts Distinguished Service Cross in hometown Monday, February 17, 2003

My Nurse from Korea by Lois Mailou Jones sold by Swann Galleries, New York, on Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Jacqueline Coke, Jet Magazine, February 17, 1955

Reginald and Marjorie Shepherd. Black Wife of British Soldier Fed Up With White Peeping Toms to Leave Britain Jet Magazine February 17, 1955.

Lena Horne Feeds Her Pug Nellie - Jet Magazine, February 17, 1955

Happy Birthday Huey! -- The Black Panther Newspaper, February 17, 1969

February 17, 1979

The Invisible Line: Three American Families and the Secret Journey from Black to White by DanielJ. Sharfstein. $12.26. Author: DanielJ. Sharfstein. 417 pages. Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (February 17, 2011)