December 1

On December 1, 1955, the Montgomery Bus Boycott was implemented following the arrest of Rosa Parks on that day. Fliers were distributed in black neighborhoods by Jo Ann Robinson of the Women's Political Movement, and the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), led by Dr, Martin Luther King, met to prepare a statement to the city demanding equal seating and the hiring of African American drivers. The boycott was originally intended for only one day, Monday, December 5, but at a meeting that night MIA members decided that it be continued until demands were met. The MIA organized a system of carpools, with car owners volunteering their vehicles or themselves driving people to various destinations, and some white housewives also drove their black domestic servants to work. Donations were sent from black churches around the country to support the boycott, which lasted a total of 381 days. (The bus shown above is the one on which Mrs. Parks refused to give up her seat, and is on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit. The painting to the left is My Miss America by Ernie Barnes.)


George Washington Buckner, (December 1, 1855 – February 17, 1943) graduated from Indiana State Normal School (now Indiana State University) and taught in Vincennes, Washington and Evansville before graduating from the Indiana Eclectic Medical College in 1980. He established a medical practice in Evansville and in 1913 President Woodrow Wilson appointed him the first African American diplomat to a foreign country as US Minister to Liberia, where he served for two years. In Evansville he helped establish the Cherry Street Black YMCA and the United Brotherhood of Friendship. and regularly wrote the "Colored Folks" section of region's Democratic newsletter.

Etta McDaniel (December 1, 1890 – January 13, 1946) appeared in over 60 films between 1933 and 1946. She was the sister of actor Sam McDaniel and actress and Academy Award winner Hattie McDaniel. Etta McDaniel's film d├ębut was in the 1933 King Kong, as the native woman who saves her baby from the approaching monster. She then became a supporting actor or extra, frequently in uncredited roles, performing as maids and nannies.

Louis Allen (Lou) Rawls (December 1, 1933 – January 6, 2006) released his first album in 1962, I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water, but it wasn’t until the 1966 hit single "Love Is a Hurtin' Thing" that he hit the top of the R&B charts and earned his first gold record. Rawls started incorporating spoken word segments to his songs, considered by some to a precursor to rap music. His award-winning career spanned 40 years in both music and acting.

Billy Paul (born Paul Williams; December 1, 1934) is a Grammy Award winning American soul singer, most known for his 1972 number-one single, "Me and Mrs. Jones" as well as the 1973 album and single "War of the Gods" which blends his more conventional pop, soul and funk styles with electronic and psychedelic influences. He is usually identified by his diverse vocal style which ranges from mellow and soulful to low and raspy.

Richard Franklin Pryor (December 1, 1940 – December 10, 2005) was a comedian, actor, film director, social critic, satirist, writer, and MC. Pryor was known for uncompromising examinations of racism and topical contemporary issues, which employed colorful vulgarities, and profanity, as well as racial epithets. He reached a broad audience with his trenchant observations and storytelling style. He is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential stand-up comedians of all time.

Gerald Anderson "Jerry" Lawson (December 1, 1940 – April 9, 2011) was chief hardware engineer and director of engineering and marketing for Fairchild Semiconductor's video game division, where designed the Fairchild Channel F video game console.  He also founded and ran Videosoft, a video game development company which made software for the Atari 2600 in the early 1980s. He also produced one of the earliest arcade games, Demolition Derby, which debuted in a southern California pizzeria shortly after Pong.

Angela M. Brown (born December 1, 1964) is a dramatic soprano particularly admired for her portrayal of Verdi heroines. She trained in voice at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, and at Indiana University She first received national acclaim appearing in the title role of Aida at the Met in December of 2004, in May of 2005 she was tapped to appear as Cilla in the world premier of Margaret Garner, an opera co-written by author Toni Morrison. In addition, she began giving concerts in support of her CD Mosaic, a collection of African-American spirituals. In the midst of touring worldwide, Brown also developed "Opera… from a Sistah's Point of View", a free program created to share her love of opera with "demographic groups that would not normally attend an opera."


On December 1, 1874, Queen Esther Chapter No. 1, Order of the Eastern Star, in Washington, DC at the home of Mrs. Georgiana Thomas (shown seated in this 1935 photograph). This establishes the first Eastern Star Chapter among African American women in the United States.

Photo Gallery

Sam Cooke on The Ed Sullivan Show, December 1, 1957

December 1, 2011 President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters at the national Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Washington, D.C.


The Saturday Evening Post, December 1, 1934.

Dorothea Towles Models at the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Scholarship Fashion Show in Baltimore, Maryland - Jet Magazine, December 1, 1955

Imagining the African American West (Race and Ethnicity in the American West) by Blake Allmendinger. $9.99. Author: Blake Allmendinger. Publisher: University of Nebraska Press (December 1, 2008).


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