November 28

Ruth Alice Lucas (November 28, 1920 – March 23, 2013) was the first African American woman in the Air Force to be promoted to the rank of colonel.

Charles H. Alston (November 28, 1907 - April 27, 1977) was the first African American supervisor for the WPA's Federal Art Project, with his main work being the murals at Harlem Hospital. While there he met his wife, Dr. Myra Logan, who was an intern at the hospital. He held a BA from Columbia University and an MA from Columbia Teacher's College, and taught at the Harlem Community Art Center, Art Students League, Museum of Modern Art, and City College of New York. One of his early students in Harlem was Jacob Lawrence, and he was also a mentor to Romare Bearden who became his cousin after Alston's father died and his mother married Bearden's uncle, Harry Bearden, when Alston was five years old. He also founded the Harlem Artists Guild and Spiral, another black arts collective, and served on the National Council of Culture and the Arts. In 1990 his bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. became the first image of an African American displayed at the White House.
Detail of Charles Alston's Modern Medicine (oil on canvas) in Harlem Hospital, a mural commissioned in 1936 by the WPA. Alston's future wife, Myra Logan, was a medical intern at the hospital then and served as a model for the mural; she appears as a nurse holding a baby.

William H. Lewis -- (November 28, 1868 – January 1, 1949) was an African American pioneer in athletics, politics and law. He was the first African American college football player, the first in the sport to be selected as an All-American, the first to be appointed as an Assistant United States Attorney, the first to become a member of the American Bar Association, and the first to serve as United States Assistant Attorney General.

Colonel Ruth Alice Lucas (November 28, 1920 – March 23, 2013) graduated from Tuskegee Institute in 1942 and enlisted in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), transferring to the newly formed U.S. Air Force in 1947. She received a master's degree in educational psychology from Columbia University in 1957 and moved to the Washington, D.C. area in the early 1960s, where she worked at the Pentagon creating, organizing, and implementing special literacy programs aimed to increase the education levels of service personnel. In 1968 she became the first African American woman in the Air Force to be promoted to the rank of colonel. After her retirement from the military she worked in outreach for the University of the District of Columbia.

Gert Schramm (November 28, 1928 -April 18, 2016) was a survivor of Buchenwald concentration camp, where he was the only black prisoner. He was the son of a German woman and an African American father and was arrested in violation of Nazi racial purity laws at the age of 15. After being the camp was liberated he worked as a mechanic and was on the prisoners' advisory board of the Buchenwald Memorial Foundation.

Berry Gordy Jr. (born November 28, 1929) is a songwriter, producer and founder of Motown Corporation. His gift for identifying musical talent made Motown a major national and then international success. He he signed such artists as The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Martha & the Vandellas, and The Jackson 5. He produced Lady Sings the Blues, starring Diana Ross and her second movie Mahogany. He has written or co-written 240 songs for Motown’s music catalog.

American pacifist James Zwerg (born November 28, 1939) participated in a one-semester student exchange program in January 1961 between Wisconsin's Beliot College and Fisk University where he met John Lewis, then an organizer with SNCC. He participated in the Freedom Rides along with Lewis, and was severely beaten in Montgomery. He was unconscious for two days and pictures of him after the beating were widely published across the country, as was an interview that later became part of the "Eyes on the Prize" documentary, in which a battered Zwerg told the American public that the Freedom Rides would go on. "We will continue our journey, one way or another. We are prepared to die."


On November 28, 1961, Ernie Davis won the Heisman Trophy, becoming the first African American winner. He was the first pick in the NFL draft by the Washington Redskins, but Redskins owner, George Preston Marshall, was a notorious racist and traded him to the Cleveland Browns. He and Jim Brown were expected to form the most dominant backfield in NFL history, but Davis was diagnosed with leukemia soon afterward and passed away in May of 1963.

Photo Gallery

Josephine Baker During The Rothschild Gala In Monaco City, Monaco On November 28, 1973. Credit: Daniel SIMON 

Legendary Top Model Jennifer Brice walks the runway at Le Grand Divertissement à Versailles aka “The Battle of Versailles” on November 28, 1973.

Backstage beauty from “Le 1973 Grand Divertissement à Versailles” Fashion Show, on 28 November 1973.

The legendary Herbie Hancock presents Smithsonian Magazine’s first annual American Ingenuity Award for performing arts to Esperanza Spalding. November 28, 2012. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images for Smithsonian Magazine)

The First Daughters at the Capital Area Food Bank in DC, Wednesday, November 28, 2013.

A demonstrator protesting the shooting death of Michael Brown holds a sign near the entrance to a local Walmart store on Black Friday, November 28, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.


Ella Fitzgerald on the cover of Down Beat magazine, November 28, 1956. 

Carol J. Crawford is First Black Miss World - Jet Magazine November 28, 1963

Dreams and Nightmares: Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and the Struggle for Black Equality in America (New Perspectives on the History of the South) by Britta Waldschmidt-Nelson. $10.35. 208 pages. Publisher: University Press of Florida (November 28, 2011). 


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