October 11

R. Nathaniel Dett (October 11, 1882 - October 2, 1943) composed and performed choral and piano works blending the style of the European Romantic composers with African-American spirituals. He held a  Bachelor of Music degree from Oberlin Conservatory of Music (1905) and taught at Lane College, Lincoln Institute, Hampton Institute, and Bennett College. In 1918 he wrote: We have this wonderful store of folk music—the melodies of an enslaved people ... But this store will be of no value unless we utilize it, unless we treat it in such manner that it can be presented in choral form, in lyric and operatic works, in concertos and suites and salon music—unless our musical architects take the rough timber of Negro themes and fashion from it music which will prove that we, too, have national feelings and characteristics, as have the European peoples whose forms we have zealously followed for so long. 


Eleanor Roosevelt (October 11, 1894 - November 7, 1962) became aware of the effects of systemic racism as First Lady during the depression, and worked with Walter White, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Pauli Murray to promote equality for African Americans. She  resigned from the DAR in 1939 when Marian Anderson was not allowed to sing at Constitution Hall. The two are shown here with Nasrollah Entezam, president of the fifth session of the U.N. General Assembly, on Human Rights Day in 1950.

Henrietta Bell Wells (October 11, 1912 - February 27, 2008) was the first female member of the Wiley College Debate Team. She was on the team only one year due to financial pressures but participated in the first interracial collegiate debate between Wiley and the University of Michigan Law School. Mrs. Wells later taught in Houston and other cities; was Dean of Women at Dillard University; and served as third president of the Houston alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta.

Art Blakey (October 11, 1919 – October 16, 1990) was a Grammy Award-winning jazz drummer & bandleader born in Pittsburgh. Founder of "hard bop" school of jazz. He got his start with Billy Eckstine. For more than 30 years, Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers included young musicians who went on to become prominent names in jazz, such as Hank Mobley, Freddie Hubbard, Horace Silver and Wynton Marsalis. Mr. Blakey was inducted into the American Jazz Hall of Fame in 1982 and Grammy Hall of Fame in 2001.

Malvin (Mal) Greston Whitfield (October 11, 1924 - November 19, 2015) was a gold medalist in the 800 meters at the 1948 and 1952 Olympics, as well as winning medals on the 4x400 relay team. He had been a member of the Tuskegee Airmen and also served in the Air Force during the Korean War. He then worked for the U.S. State Department leading sports clinics Africa, enabling many athletes to attend U.S. universities on track scholarships. He is the father of CNN anchor Fredricka Whitfield.

Roscoe Robinson, Jr. (October 11, 1928 – July 22, 1993), was the first African American to become a four-star general in the United States Army, serving as U.S. Military Representative, NATO Military Committee (USMILREP), 1982–1985. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1951 with a degree in military engineering and in 1964 received a master's degree from the University of Pittsburgh in international affairs. He had previously served as commander of the United States Army Garrison, Okinawa and of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.


On October 11, 1865 Jamaica's Morant Bay rebellion began when Paul Bogle (left) led 200 to 300 black men and women into the town of Morant Bay to protest  injustice and widespread poverty. Most freedmen were prevented from voting by high poll taxes, and their living conditions had worsened following crop damage by floods, cholera and smallpox epidemics. Governor Edward John Eyre declared martial law in the area, ordering in troops to hunt down the rebels. They killed many innocent blacks, including women and children, with an initial death toll of more than 400. Troops arrested more than 300 persons, including Bogle. Many were innocent but were quickly tried and executed under martial law; both men and women were punished by whipping and long sentences.

On October 11, 1930, the Houston Defender was established by Clifton Frederick Richardson, Sr. After his death in 1939, his son Clifton F. Richardson, Jr., continued as the owner, editor, and publisher until 1981 when Sonceria Messiah-Jiles purchased the Houston Defender and became its publisher. In 2008 the Defender had a readership of 60,000 with Messiah-Jiles as the owner publisher and Von Jiles as the editor.

Photo Gallery

Lewis W. Hine - Vera Hill, 5 years old picks 25 pounds of cotton a day,
Comanche County, Oklahoma, October 11, 1916

WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 11: ( AFP OUT) U.S. President Barack Obama looks at Francisco, a first grade student from Bronx, New York, one of the students from the movie "Waiting for Superman" who is making himself comfortable on a sofa in the Oval Office of the White House on October 11, 2010 in Washington, DC. The children toured the White House and met with Obama. (Photo by Ron Sach-Pool/Getty Images) 2009 Getty Images


10 Month Old Yolanda King is Now Walking - Jet Magazine, October 11, 1956

The Black Panther (October 11, 1969)

October 11,1973 Jet Magazine

Cooking in Other Women's Kitchens: Domestic Workers in the South,1865-1960 (John Hope Franklin
Series in African American History and Culture) by Rebecca Sharpless. $26.64. Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press; 1st edition (October 11, 2010). 304 pages.


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