October 2

Nathaniel "Nat" Turner (October 2, 1800 – November 11, 1831) was an American slave who led a slave rebellion in Virginia on August 21, 1831 that resulted in 55 white deaths and at least 100 black deaths. Turner was convicted, sentenced to death, and hanged. In the aftermath, the state executed 56 blacks accused of being part of Turner's slave rebellion. Two hundred blacks were also beaten and killed by white militias and mobs reacting with violence.


Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (October 2, 1869 - January 30, 1948) was the preeminent leader of the Indian independence movement in British-ruled India. Employing nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. The honorific Mahatma (Sanskrit for "high-souled" or  "venerable"), applied to him first in 1914 in South Africa, is now used worldwide. Through his life's work of non-violent resistance, and promotion of pluralism and justice, Gandhi became one of the world's greatest spiritual teachers; inspiring the civil rights work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and many, many others.

Moses Gunn (October 2, 1929 - December 16, 1993)  co-founded the Negro Ensemble Company in the 1960s, won Obies for his portrayal of Aaron in Titus Andronicus and for his work in the NEC produced First Breeze of Summer, which moved to Broadway, and was nominated for a 1976 Tony Award for his role in The Poison Tree. In film he  played Ellsworth Raymond "Bumpy" Jonas in the first two Shaft movies and Booker T. Washington in the 1981 movie Ragtime. He is a graduate ofTennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee, received a masters degree from Kansas University, and taught at Grambling University before pursuing an acting career.

Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr. (October 2, 1935 - December 8, 1967) was an Air Force test pilot and flight instructor who was the first African American chosen to become an astronaut in June 1967. He was killed the following December in the crash of an F-104 Starfighter at Edwards AFB. Major Lawrence held a BS in chemistry from Bradley University where he had been Cadet Commander of the Air Force ROTC, and a PhD in physical chemistry from Ohio State University.  During his brief career, Lawrence earned the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Outstanding Unit Citation. On December 8, 1997, his name was inscribed on the Space Mirror Memorial at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Johnnie L Cochran, Jr. (October 2, 1937 – May 29, 2005) was an American lawyer best known for his leadership role in the defense and criminal acquittal of O. J. Simpson for the murder of his former wife Nicole Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. He also represented Michael Jackson, 1992 Los Angeles riot beating victim Reginald Oliver Denny, and Geronimo Pratt. Known for his skill in the courtroom, he was an early advocate for victims of police brutality. He died from a brain tumor in 2005.

Avery Brooks (born October 2, 1948, Evansville, Indiana) attended Indiana University and Oberlin College, and later completed his B.A., plus an M.F.A. from Rutgers University in 1976, becoming the first African American to receive a MFA in acting and directing from Rutgers. He is best known for his television roles as Benjamin Sisko on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as Hawk on Spenser: For Hire and its spinoff A Man Called Hawk, and as Dr. Bob Sweeney in the Academy Award-nominated film American History. Brooks has taught acting at  Oberlin College, Case Western Reserve University, and Rutgers University where he is a full professor.

Assotto Saint (October 2, 1957 - June 29, 1994) was a poet, dancer with the Martha Graham company, and playwright. He appeared in Marlon Riggs' No Regrets.Through his contributions to literary and popular culture, Haitian-born American poet, performance artist, musician, and editor and publisher Assotto Saint increased the visibility of black queer authors and themes during the 1980s and early 1990s.

Melissa Victoria Harris-Perry (born October 2, 1973; formerly known as Melissa Harris-Lacewell) is an American author and political commentator with a focus on African-American politics. She is a professor of political science at Tulane University. Prior to that, she was an associate professor of politics and African-American studies at Princeton University from 2006 to 2010, and taught political science at the University of Chicago from 1999 to 2005.


On October 2, 1866, Emanuel Stance, the man who was to win the Medal of Honor for action in the post-Civil War period, approached a U.S. Army recruiting officer in Lake Providence, Louisiana. The recruiter, Lieutenant John Maroney, would record Stance's eyes as "black," his hair as "black," and his complexion as "black." His age would be recorded as 19 and his occupation as that of a "farmer." A more accurate description of his occupation would probably have been "sharecropper."

On October 2, 1897, the first African American firefighter of the Los Angeles Fire Department was hired. George Washington Bright was appointed by the Fire Commission as a call man and assigned to Engine Co. No. 6. He was later promited to full-time hose man, driver, and, in 1902 to lieutenant.
On October 2, 1897, Burghardt Gomer Du Bois was the first child born to W. E. B. Du Bois and Nina Gomer Du Bois. He died of diphtheria at the age of 19 months in Atlanta where Dr. Du Bois was teaching. An African American doctor could not be found to treat him.  Dr. Du Bois wrote in his autobiography that the first time he saw his son, "[I] saw the strength of my own arm stretched onward through the ages of the newer strength of his; saw the dream of my black fathers stagger a step onward in the wild phantasm of the world; heard in his baby voice the voice of the Prophet that was to rise within the Veil.”

On October 2, 1967, Thurgood Marshall was sworn in as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court becoming the first African American Supreme Court Justice. On June 13, 1967, President Johnson nominated Marshall to fill the seat of retiring Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark. Of his decision to appoint Marshall, Johnson said it was “the right thing to do, the right time to do it, the right man, and the right place.” After a heated debate, the Senate confirmed Marshall’s nomination by a vote of 69 to 11 on August 30.

October 2, 1989 marked the premier of the African-American comic strip "Jumpstart." The journalism series runs in 40 newspapers across the country. Twenty-six year old Robb Armstrong is the creator (the youngest African-American to be in syndication). He follows in the footsteps of Morrie Turner (the creator of Wee Pals, the first African American syndicated comic strip).

Photo Gallery

This single page from the Parish of Avoyelles on October 2, 1850, includes Edwin Epps and a list of his slaves

On October 2, 1925, Josephine Baker opened in Paris at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées,
 where she became an instant success for her erotic dancing and for appearing practically nude on stage.

[left to right] Freddie Hubbard, Curtis Fuller, and Wayne Shorter during Art Blakey & The Jazz
Messengers’ Mosaic session, Englewood Cliffs NJ, October 2 1961 (photo by Francis Wolff)

This quote, originally attributed to St. Augustine of Hippo, was famously used by
 Pope John Paul II  in some of his addresses, including a visit to Harlem on October 2, 1979.

The Ida B. Wells - Barnett House,  the residence of civil rights advocate Ida B. Wells  and her husband
 Ferdinand Lee Barnett, from 1919 to 1930 was designated a Chicago Landmark on October 2, 1995.

Nicole Lyons attends the BET Hip Hop Awards 2010 at Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center
on October 2, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)

Jesse Cook, one of the oldest World War II veterans visiting the World War II Memorial on October 2, 2013


Jet Magazine, October 2, 1958

Jet Magazine, October 2, 1958

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