November 12

Bert Williams (November 12, 1874 – March 4, 1922) was one of the leading vaudeville performers and the most prominent African American entertainer of the early 20th century. Booker T. Washington said of him,  "He has done more for our race than I have. He has smiled his way into people's hearts; I have been obliged to fight my way." Williams was born in Nassau, The Bahamas, to parents who emigrated to Florida and then to Riverside, California. He began working the west coast minstrel circuit as a teenager, soon forming a lasting partnership with George Walker. The duo starred in a number of musicals, the most successful being In Dahomey, written by Will Marion Cook and Paul Lawrence Dunbar. In 1903 it became the first African American musical to open on Broadway, and later toured Great Britain including a command performance at Buckingham Palace. During the tour Williams and Walker were both initiated into the Edinburgh Lodge of the Freemasons, which was racially integrated unlike lodges in the U.S. The success of In Dahomey was followed by Abyssinia, co-written by Williams. It included the song Nobody which became his trademark and led to a successful recording career with Columbia Records. George Walker became too ill to work in 1909, dying two years latter. He had been the pair's business manager and spokesman. The career of the less aggressive and outspoken Williams suffered until he signed with the Ziegfeld follies, appearing with such stars as W. C. Fields, Fanny Brice, Will Rogers, and Eddie Cantor. Fields described him as "the funniest man I ever saw – and the saddest man I ever knew." Williams left the Follies in 1919 due to the size and quality of his scenes, and increasing isolation as the only African American member of the show. He appeared in other productions and collapsed on stage in Detroit from pneumonia, dying a week later at the age of 47. His funeral was held at the Masonic Lodge in Manhattan, the only African American to be so honored.


William Edmondson (November 12, 1863 - February 7, 1951) began sculpting in his sixties while working as a stonemason's assistant. He made his own chisels out of railroad spikes and mostly carved animals and human figures. His work was discovered by Sidney Hirsch of Vanderbilt University, and in 1938, it was included in "Three Centuries of Art in the United States." On February 11, 1941, he was honored with a one-man show at the Nashville Art Gallery. In 1951, he was posthumously honored by the Nashville Artist Guild.

Buck Clayton (born Wilbur Dorsey Clayton, November 12, 1911 – December 8, 1991) was an American jazz trumpet player who was a leading member of Count Basie’s "Old Testament" orchestra and a leader of mainstream-oriented jam session recordings in the 1950s. From 1934 or 1935 (depending on the sources), he was a leader of the "Harlem Gentlemen" in Shanghai where he worked closely with Li Jinhui, father of Chinese popular music.
Jackie Washington (November 12, 1919 — June 27, 2009) was a Canadian blues musician. Born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario, Washington became Canada's first black disk jockey in 1948, at CHML in Hamilton. In the 1930s, he was one of the Washington Brothers, who played clubs and nightspots until his brother's tragic death by drowning. His first release as a solo blues artist was Blues and Sentimental in June 1976. In addition to his own albums, Washington appeared on recordings by Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot. He had also been a regular performer at many Canadian folk and blues festivals.

Booker T. Jones (born November 12, 1944) is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, record producer and arranger, best known as the frontman of the band Booker T. and the MGs. He has also worked in the studios with many well-known artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, earning him a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement.


On November 12, 1896, Buffalo Soldier Moses Williams (1845-1899) received the Medal of Honor fifteen years after his heroic action in battle battle against the Chiracahua Apaches in the foothills of the Cuchillo Negro Mountains during the New Mexico Apache Wars in August 1881. Williams was a veteran of the Civil War, having served in the United States Colored Troops. In 1866, with the formation of four peacetime black regiments, he was able to become a regular army soldier serving with the 9th Cavalry.
On November 12, 1941 opera singer Mary Cardwell Dawson founded the National Negro Opera Company. Based in Pittsburgh, the Opera Company remained in the steel city until 1960 and lasted outright until 1962. In 1955 the NNOC broke a racial barrier by becoming the first independent company and the first African American company to perform at the Metropolitan Opera House.

Photo Gallery

Elsie Lacks, the daughter of Henrietta Lacks. Born November 12, 1939. Died February 24, 1955 at Crownville Insane Asylum. Believed to be mentally challenged, but may have just been deaf and epileptic. Was horribly mistreated at Crownville.

November 12, 1960 -- Dorothy Height, leader of the African American and women’s rights movements, was also president of the National Council of Negro Women. In this photo she presents Eleanor Roosevelt with the Mary McLeod Bethune Human Rights Award at the Council's Silver Anniversary Dinner in New York.  (National Archives, FDR Library, ARC 196283)

Alexander P. Haley November 12, 1977 The NAACP’s Spingarn Medal is awarded to Alexander P. Haley
“for his unsurpassed effectiveness in portraying the legendary story of an American of African descent.”

On November 12, 1996, the city of Nicodemus, Kansas was designated a national historical site by the U.S. National Park. The city was founded in 1877 by six African Americans who recruited others to join them.

Nelson Mandela and Oprah Winfrey at the Christmas Kindness event in Kwa Zulu Natal on 12 November 2002.

November 12, 2007 Aletra Hampton passed away, aged 92. She was a jazz pianist, singer
and founding member, who performed for years as part of the Hampton Sisters act.
On November 12, 2011, James Earl Jones received an Honorary Academy Award.

At Bell Multicultural High School in Washington D.C, November 12, 2013


Jet Magazine, November 12, 1953

Advertisement For Ebony Magazine - Jet Magazine, November 12, 1953

Jet Magazine, November 12, 1970

SOUL — America's Most Soulful Newspaper, November 12, 1973 — Eddie Kendricks


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