October 15

Fanny Jackson Coppin (October 15, 1837-January 21, 1913) attended Rhode Island State Normal School and then Oberlin College, where instead of the usual courses for female students she enrolled in the "gentleman's course" which she described as "plenty of Latin and Greek in it, and as much mathematics as one could shoulder." She was chosen as a student teacher her junior and senior years, and taught literacy classes to the African American community at night. After graduation in 1865 she was hired as principal of the Ladies Department at the Philadelphia Institute for Colored Youth (now Cheyney State University), teaching Greek, Latin, and Mathematics. In 1869, she was appointed principal of the institute, the first African American woman in the country to hold such a position. After her retirement in 1902, she and her husband, A.M.E. Bishop Levi Jenkins Coppin, went to Cape Town, South Africa and performed a variety of missionary work, including the founding of the Bethel Institute, a missionary school with self-help programs.


Jean Price-Mars (October 15, 1876 - March 1, 1969) served as Haitian ambassador to several countries, including the U.S., beginning while still in his twenties, and was appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs, Worship and Education. He was also a practicing physician and a prolific writer. Considered Haiti's leading intellectual, he supported the "Negritude movement" in Haiti, which embraced the African roots of Haitian society and rejected the dominance of the Eurocentric, mixed-race elite. He is best known for his 1928 book Ainsi parla l'oncle (So Spoke the Uncle), written in response to the U.S. occupation of Haiti from 1919 to 1938.

Victoria Spivey (October 15, 1906 – October 3,1976) was a blues singer and songwriter. During a recording career that spanned forty years, from 1926 to the mid 1960s, she worked with Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Clarence Williams, Luis Russell, Lonnie Johnson, and Bob Dylan. Among her compositions are "Black Snake Blues", "Dope Head Blues" and "Organ Grinder Blues". In 1962 she initiated her own recording label, Spivey Records.

Nellie Lutcher (October 15, 1912 – June 8, 2007) gained prominence as a vocalist in the late 1940s and early 1950s. She was most recognizable for her diction and exaggerated pronunciation, and was credited as an influence by Nina Simone among others. In 1935, she moved to Los Angeles, where she began to play swing piano, and also to sing, in small combos throughout the area. An appearance on a 1947 radio broadcast of a March of Dimes talent show led to a recording contract with Capitol Records and a number of R&B hits over the next decade, including "Hurry on Down" and "Fine Brown Frame". She wrote many of her own songs and retained the valuable publishing rights to them, as well as investing her income in Los Angeles real estate,

Willie Eldon O'Ree (born October 15, 1935) is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player, known best for being the first Black player in the National Hockey League.  He made his NHL debut with the Boston Bruins on January 18, 1958 and scored four goals and ten assists in his NHL career, all in 1961. In the minor leagues, O'Ree won two scoring titles in the Western Hockey League (WHL) between 1961 and 1974.

Fela Anikulapo Kuti (October 15, 1938 - August 2, 1997), or simply Fela, was a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist musician and composer, pioneer of Afrobeat music, human rights activist, and political maverick. The musical style of Felá is called afrobeat, a style he largely created, which is a complex fusion of jazz, funk, Ghanaian/Nigerian highlife, psychedelic rock and traditional West African chants and rhythms. Afrobeat also borrows heavily from the native "tinker pan" African-style percussion that Kuti acquired while studying in Ghana with Hugh Masekela.


On October 15, 1917, 639 members of the first, and only, class of black officer candidates at Fort Des Moines received their commissions as either Captain or First and Second Lieutenant and were assigned to infantry, engineer, and artillery units with the 92nd Infantry. This was the only Buffalo Soldier division ever officially deployed in battle, and it was reactivated again in World War II on October 15, 1942, fighting in the Italian Campaign as part of the U.S. Fifth Army.

On October 15, 1883, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a group of five related cases known as the Civil Rights Cases. In these suits against private hotels, theaters, or transportation companies by plaintiffs who had been denied "whites only" services, the court in an 8-1 majority ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was unconstitutional because Congress did not have the power to regulate discriminatory acts by private individuals or organizations which the act called for. The lone dissent was by Justice John Marshall Holland (shown left), as it was in the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision.

On October 15, 1966, the Black Panther Party was formed in Oakland, California, originally as an organization to monitor and protect against police brutality, and expanding into community social services the next year. Shown at left are the six original members: Top left to right: Elbert "Big Man" Howard, Huey P. Newton (Defense Minister), Sherwin Forte, Bobby Seale (Chairman); Bottom: Reggie Forte and Little Bobby Hutton (Treasurer). Eldridge Cleaver joined a few months later, serving as Minister of Information.

On October 15, 1974 the National Guard was mobilized to restore order in the Boston school busing crisis. Violent protests had begun earlier that fall in response to implementation of court-ordered desegregation throughout the city's public schools.

Photo Gallery

On October 15, 1922, more than 2,000 gathered to see Bessie Coleman, an African
American pilot, give an exhibition in Chicago. Portrait of Bessie Coleman, pilot.
Date unknown. Photographer unknown. ICHi-26774

October 15, 1968 Wyomia Tyus became the first person to win a gold medal in the 100-meter race in consecutive
 Olympic Games when she won the medal in the 1968 Summer Olympic in Mexico City.

October 15, 1976 - Ike & Tina Turner dissolve their 19 year-old business partnership.
 Their divorce is finalized several months later.


Jet Magazine,  October 15, 1953 -- Mrs. Buddy Johnson

Jet Magazine,  October 15, 1953 -- Aida Overton Walker

Jet Magazine,  October 15, 1953 -- Donna Rae Brown

Title: Burned residence from Watts Riots, Los Angeles (Calif.) Caption: Store Gone--Charles Steppes stands in front of burned-out store near his home in Watts. After the rioting, his fulltime job in a store in the Crenshaw district was cut to only four hours each week Creator/Contributor: Los Angeles Times (Firm), Publisher Date: October 15, 1965

This photo and headline accompanied an article from the October 15, 1970 issue of Jet magazine. They
 reveal that long before the recent struggle for marriage equality began, African American women who
love women have engaged with the institution of marriage and have fought to make it their own.

Rolling Stone, October 15, 1970 - Jimi Hendrix

Melba Moore, seated in a nude pose, July 1971 by Jack Robinson. The photo, which appeared in the October 15, 1971 issue of Vogue, was taken as Ms. Moore was touring the country after appearing on Broadway in “Hair” and “Purlie.”

Jet Magazine, October 15, 1981 How Michael Jackson surprised a female fan who broke through a line of
 security guards at The Forum in Los Angeles to give him a gift while he was on stage singing a love song.


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