October 19

Raymond Pace Alexander (October 19, 1897 - November 24, 1974) was a Harvard-educated Philadelphia civil rights attorney working with the local NAACP on cases such as desegregation of Pennsylvania schools in the 1930's. He served on the Philadelphia City Council and was appointed Common Pleas Judge in 1959. He was the first African American Wharton Business School graduate and was married to Sadie Tanner Mossell, a law school classmate and partner in his law practice.


Cassius Marcellus Clay (October 19, 1810 - July 22, 1903) was a wealthy Kentucky planter who became an abolitionist during his time at Yale Law School after hearing William Lloyd Garrison speak. Clay worked toward emancipation, both as a Kentucky state representative and as an early member of the Republican Party.  President Lincoln appointed him as envoy to Russia shortly before the start of the Civil War, and he was instrumental in securing Russian, French, and English support of the Union. He was briefly recalled in 1862 to accept a commission from Lincoln as a major general with the Union Army but publicly refused to accept it unless Lincoln would agree to emancipate slaves under Confederate control.

Juanita Moore (October 19, 1914 – January 1, 2014) first performed as a dancer at the Cotton Club before becoming a film extra while working in theater. After making her film debut in Pinky (1949),she had a number of bit parts and supporting roles in motion pictures through the 1950s and 1960s. Her role in the remake of Imitation of Life (1959) as housekeeper Annie Johnson, whose daughter Sarah Jane (Susan Kohner) passes for white, won her a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She was also nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for the role.

LaWanda Page (born Alberta Peal, October 19, 1920 – September 14, 2002) is best known for her role as Aunt Esther in the popular 1970s television sitcom Sanford and Son. She and Redd Foxx, who portrayed Fred Sanford, had been friends since growing up together in St Louis and both had developed individual comedy acts, often appearing on the same bill. When Foxx was hired for the role of Fred Sanford, he insisted that Page be cast in the show as the sister of his late wife, Elizabeth. 

James Luther Bevel (October 19, 1936 – December 19, 2008) was a leader of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement who, as the Director of Direct Action and Director of Nonviolent Education of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) initiated, strategized, directed, and developed SCLC's three major successes of the era: the 1963 Birmingham Children's Crusade, the 1965 Selma Voting Rights Movement, and the 1966 Chicago Open Housing Movement.

Dr. Johnetta Cole (born October 19, 1936) was the first African American woman to serve as president of Spelman College, leading the institution from 1987 to 1997. From 2002 to 2007, she was president of Bennett College in Greensboro, NC. Prior to her work as a university president, she taught at a number of schools, including the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Hunter College, and Emory University. Since 2009 she has served as the director of the Smithsonian Institute's National African Art Museum.


On October 19, 1900, Henry Ossawa Tanner won the silver medal at the Universal Exposition in Paris for his painting Daniel in the Lions Den. He is one of Thomas Eakins’ all-time favorite students from their days at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Tanner had permanently emigrated to France in 1891 in response to the racism in Jim Crow-era America.  In his autobiography The Story of an Artist’s Life, Tanner describes the burden of racism: "I was extremely timid and to be made to feel that I was not wanted, although in a place where I had every right to be, even months afterwards caused me sometimes weeks of pain. Every time any one of these disagreeable incidents came into my mind, my heart sank, and I was anew tortured by the thought of what I had endured, almost as much as the incident itself."

On October 19, 1943, "Othello" opened at New York's Shubert Theater, with Paul Robeson in the title role. Its 296 performances made it the longest running Shakespearean play on Broadway. Robeson had previously performed the role in high school and at London's Savoy Theater in 1930.

On October 19, 1960, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and 51 others were arrested in Atlanta, Georgia, after refusing to leave their seats at downtown department store lunch counters. The Jim Crow segregation laws and customs heavily in force in Atlanta at the time dictated that black and white people use separate water fountains, bathrooms, ticket booths, and other public spaces, and banned African Americans from being served at store lunch counters.

Photo Gallery

Pianist Mary Lou Williams accepts the Atlanta NAACP Grand Jubilee Award from
 chapter President Julian Bond during a Freedom Fund Dinner held on October 19, 1978. 

Pauletta Pearson and Denzel Washington arrive at the "American Gangster" New York City Premiere
 at The Apollo Theater on October 19, 2007 in New York City © Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage.com

Colin Powell October 19, 2008: A record-breaking 9 million viewers tune in to see Gen. Colin Powell, a Republican, announce his endorsement of Democratic Presidential Nominee Barack Obama. (Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images)

Jet Magazine, October 19, 1967 -- Bill Cosby

Jet Magazine, October 19, 1972 — Diana Ross

People Magazine, October 19, 1992 -- Magic Johnson


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