November 21

On November 21, 1784, James Armistead was cited by French General Lafayette for his valuable service to the American forces in the Revolutionary War.

Charles Turner Torrey (November 21, 1813 - May 9, 1846) opposed William Lloyd Garrison's moderate abolitionist policies and in 1839 led a more activist group in breaking away from the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. They advocated a more political approached and formed the abolitionist Liberty Party. Torrey also worked to free slaves directly, and organized an Underground Railroad route from Washington D.C. to Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Albany. He used this to free over 400 people from the D.C. area, especially those who were the property of southern Congressmen and other politically prominent slaveholders. He was convicted of stealing slaves and sentenced to six years in prison, where he died of tuberculosis at the age of 36.

Laurence Clifton Jones (born November 21, 1884 – July 13, 1975) turned down a position at Tuskegee Institute after graduation from the University of Iowa in 1908 to teach at the Utica Institute in rural Hinds County, Mississippi. He was recruited by residents of nearby D'Lo to form a school in Rankin County where the illiteracy rate was 80%. He founded the Piney Woods Country Life School where he was president for over 60 years. The school was also home to the Mississippi School of the Blind for Negroes until it relocated to Jackson. The Piney Woods School is one of four remaining historically African American boarding schools in the United States.

Coleman Randolph Hawkins (November 21, 1904 – May 19, 1969), nicknamed Hawk and sometimes "Bean", was an American jazz tenor saxophonist. One of the first prominent jazz musicians on his instrument, as Joachim E. Berendt explained: "there were some tenor players before him, but the instrument was not an acknowledged jazz horn". While Hawkins is strongly associated with the swing music and big band era, he had a role in the development of bebop in the 1940s.

Samuel DuBois Cook (born November 21, 1928) entered Morehouse College along with his boyhood friend Martin Luther King at age 15 under an early admissions program the school had during World War II, While there he was student body president and founded the campus chapter of the NAACP. He earned a BA degree in history in 1948 and went on to earn an MA (1950) in political science and a Ph.D (1954) from Ohio State University. Dr. Cook taught political science at Southern, Atlanta University, and Duke where he was the first black faculty member at a PWI in the south. In 1975 he became president of Dillard, a post he held for 22 years.

Etta Zuber Falconer (November 21, 1933 – September 18, 2002) was one of the first African American women in the United States to obtain a Ph.D. in mathematics. She entered Fisk University at the age of 15 where she majored in mathematics and minored in chemistry, graduating summa cum laude in 1953. She received an MS in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin in 1954 and a PhD in mathematics from Emory in 1969. She spent most of her career at Spelman College, retiring as chair of the mathematics department. She also started a computer science department at the college, and earned an MS in computer science from Emory University in 1982.

James DePreist (November 21, 1936 – February 8, 2013), was the Oregon Symphony's ground-breaking conductor (from 1980 to 2003), director emeritus of The Juilliard School's conducting program in New York (from 2004 - 2011) and most recently the permanent conductor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. He was the nephew of contralto Marian Anderson and studied composition with Vincent Persichetti at the Philadelphia Conservatory while earning a bachelor's degree at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a master's degree from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

Vernon Earl "Earl the Pearl" Monroe gained national recognition at Winston-Salem State University under Hall of Fame coach Clarence "Big House" Gaines, leading the school to a 1967 NCAA College Division Basketball Championship.and being named NCAA College Division player of the year. He played in the NBA for four years with the Baltimore Bullets before being traded to the New York Knicks where he played in the backcourt with Walt Frazier until his retirement in 1980.

Vincent W. Patton III (born November 21, 1954) became the first African American Master Chief Petty Officer of the U.S. Coast Guard in 1998. He earned an EdD from American University in 1984 and also holds degrees in counseling, social work, and communications. After retiring from the Coast Guard he earned a Master's Degree in theology and has taught at UC Berkeley and served as chaplain for the USO.


On November 21, 1784, James Armistead was cited by French General Lafayette for his valuable service to the American forces in the Revolutionary War. Armistead, who was born into slavery 24 years earlier, had worked as a double agent for the Americans while supposedly employed as a servant of British General Lord Cornwallis. As a spy, he participated in the operation that surrounded Cornwallis and led to the British surrender.

On November 21, 1984, TransAfrica’s Randall Robinson, Washington, DC congressional delegate, Walter Fauntroy, National Council of Negro Women’s Dorothy Height, and U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner, Mary Frances Berry, among others, demonstrate and are arrested in a sit-in demonstration in front of the South African Embassy in Washington, DC on this date. They protested against apartheid, South Africa’s policy of racial discrimination

Photo Gallery

Ella Fitzgerald made her singing debut at 17 on November 21, 1934 at the Apollo Theater.

Michelle Obama introduces country music singers and songwriters Kris Kristofferson, Lyle Lovett and Darius Rucker during a student music event in the State Dining Room of the White House on November 21, 2011 in Washington D.C.

President Barack Obama hands out food for Thanksgiving at the Capitol Area Food Bank on November 21, 2012 in Washington, DC. Credits:  (Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images)


Era Bell Thompson and G Marshall Wilson Back From Being Detained in South Africa
 Jet Magazine, November 21, 1957

FBI Is Probing Mississippi Abduction of Jesse Harvey
 Jet Magazine, November 21, 1957

SOUL - November 21, 1977 - The Brothers Johnson


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