November 4

On November 4, 2008, Sen. Barack Obama defeated Republican presidential candidate John McCain to become the 44th President of the United States and the first African American president in US history. He is shown here with daughters Sasha and Malia, and his wife Michelle, waving to the crowd after he delivered his address at Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois, USA, to celebrate his victory on Election Day.


Francis James Grimké (November 4, 1852 - October 11, 1937) spent his career as pastor of the 15th Street Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C.. He was born to wealthy Charleston slave owner Henry Grimké and Nancy Weston, an enslaved household servant. The elder Grimké died when Francis was an infant; he had left instructions in his will for Nancy and their sons to be freed and provided for but his heirs did not comply. However, his sister Angelina, who was a Philadelphia abolitionist, learned of the boys' existence and provided for their education. Francis Grimké was educated at Lincoln University and married Charlotte Forten, the granddaughter of wealthy Philadelphia businessman James Forten. The couple were active in the civil rights work of the times through the Niagara Movement and other organizations, and were among the founders of the NAACP.

Robert L. "Bob" Douglas (November 4, 1882 – July 16, 1979) was the founder of the New York Renaissance basketball team. Nicknamed the "Father of Black Professional Basketball", Douglas owned and coached the Rens from 1923 to 1949, guiding them to a 2,318-381 record (.859). He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor in 1972, the first African American enshrined. The Rens soon became a dominant team, winning as many as 88 consecutive games during the 1932–33 season. At the World Professional Basketball Tournament they won in 1939, lost to the eventual champion Harlem Globetrotters in 1940, and finished second to the National Basketball League champion Minneapolis Lakers in 1948.

Eileen Southern (November 4, 1920 - October 13, 2002) was an authority on Renaissance and African American music best known for her 1970 book The Music of Black America. Holding a PhD from NYU, she taught at Prairie View, Southern, Brooklyn College, and CUNY before joining the Harvard faculty in 1974. She became the school's first tenured African American woman in 1979, and was chair of the department of Afro-American Studies. She founded The Black Perspective in Music in 1973, with her husband, Prof. Joseph Southern. It was the first musicological journal on the study of black music, and she was its editor until it ceased publication in 1990.

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu (November 4, 1933 – November 26, 2011) was a Nigerian military officer and politician. Ojukwu served as the military governor of the Eastern Region of Nigeria in 1966, the leader of the breakaway Republic of Biafra from 1967 to 1970 and a Nigerian politician from 1983 to 2011, when he died, aged 78.

Patricia Bath (born November 4, 1942) developed the Laserphaco Probe, which revolutionized cataract surgery. She holds a BS degree from Hunter College, an MD from Howard University, and was the first African American accepted as a resident in ophthalmology at New York University. She was also the first woman to serve on the staff of the UCLA-affiliated Jules Stein Eye Institute and the first woman to head a residency program in ophthamology, which she did at the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles. Since her internship in Harlem she has worked to bring vision care to minority and underserved communities, and is the founder of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness.

Berlinda Tolbert (born November 4, 1949) is best known for her role as Jenny Willis Jefferson on The Jeffersons and is one day older than the Mike Evans, the actor who played Lionel Jefferson. She also appeared in the film Harlem Nights.


On November 4, 1879, druggist Thomas Elkins of Albany, New York, patented a "refrigeration apparatus" designed to keep food cool. The  patent was for an insulated cabinet into which ice is placed to cool the interior. As such, it was a "refrigerator" only in the old sense of the term, which included non-mechanical coolers. Elkins acknowledged in his patent that, "I am aware that chilling substances enclosed within a porous box or jar by wetting its outer surface is an old and well-known process."

Photo Gallery

Warren County - November 4, 1939. The group of 150 club members and parents who attend
the county 4-H achievement day program, Saturday Nov. 4, 1939 at Warrenton, N.C.
 The group is listening to the county 4-H song contest. From NCSU Libraries

"Cpl. Carlton a machine-gunner in an M-4 tank, attached to a Motor Transport
unit near Nancy, France." 761st Mt. Bn. November 5, 1944. Ryan. National Archives 111-SC-196106-S

San Francisco, CA, November 4, 1955 (photo by Vivian Meier)

A US soldier carries a wounded comrade to safety during Operation
Attleboro, near Tay Ninh, Republic of Vietnam, November 4, 1966.


Newspaper with account of a freed slave buying her own daughter: NEW YORK TIMES, November 4, 1856

Joyce Winston on the cover of Jet Magazine November 4, 1954


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