October 21

George Stinney Jr. (October 21, 1929 - June 16, 1944) was the youngest person legally executed in 20th century America. He was convicted of the rape and murder of Betty June Binnicker, age 11, and Mary Emma Thames, age 8, in Alcolu, South Carolina, during a trial that lasted less than three hours, with jury deliberation of 10 minutes. There was no written record of his confession apart from notes provided by an investigating deputy, and no transcript of the brief trial. He was denied appeal and executed by electric chair. The 14-year-old Stinney, who stood 5'1" tall and weighed 90 pounds, was too small for the chair to be effective, so a Bible was used as a booster seat. In 2014, circuit court judge Carmen Mullen vacated the conviction, writing, "No one can justify a 14-year-old child charged, tried, convicted and executed in some 80 days," and concluding that "In essence, not much was done for this child when his life lay in the balance."


Carlos Wesley "Don" Byas (October 21, 1912 – August 24, 1972) founded and led his own college band, Don Carlos and His Collegiate Ramblers, during 1931 and 1932 at Langston College. After college, he played in Los Angeles jazz clubs, working in Lionel Hampton's band at the Paradise Club in 1935. He then joined the Eddie Mallory band, accompanying Mallory's wife, the singer Ethel Waters, on tour, and at the Cotton Club. In 1941 Count Basie chose him to succeed the post of Lester Young in his big band. He went on tour with Don Redmon's band in Europe in 1946, and remained there, settling in The Netherlands.
John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie (October 21, 1917 – January 6, 1993) was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, composer and occasional singer. Gillespie was a trumpet virtuoso and improviser, building on the virtuoso style of Roy Eldridge but adding layers of harmonic complexity previously unknown in jazz. His beret and horn-rimmed spectacles, his scat singing, his bent horn, pouched cheeks and his light-hearted personality were essential in popularizing bebop.

Ronald Ervin McNair (October 21, 1950 - January 28, 1986) was a physicist and NASA astronaut. In 1971, he received a bachelor's degree in engineering physics, magna cum laude, from North Carolina A & T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina.  In 1976, he received his Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and became a staff physicist at the Hughes Research Lab. He was chosen for the space program in 1978 and had flown one mission before losing his life in the Challenger disaster.


On October 21, 1835, a mob of pro-slavery businessmen stormed a meeting of the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Association held at the office of William Lloyd Garrison's The Liberator where British abolitionist George Thompson (left) was a speaker. The rioters were unable to find Thompson but destroyed the sign announcing the meeting and captured Garrison, who was rescued and taken to the Leverett Street Jail for his own safety. Thompson later remarked, "Such a mob--30 ladies routed and a 6x2 board demolished by 4,000 men."

On October 21, 1955, 18-year-old Mary Louise Smith was arrested for not giving up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery bus, about six weeks before Rosa Parks was arrested on the same charge. Her father bailed her out of jail and paid the $9 fine. Smith was one of five women named as plaintiffs in the federal civil suit, Browder v. Gayle, challenging the constitutionality of the state and local bus segregation laws.

Photo Gallery

Dr Martin Luther King at the Ritz Hotel, in London on a one-day visit to launch
 the British publication of his book 'Why We Can't Wait' - 21 October 1964

Coretta Scott King gives a speech in Washington, D.C. in hopes of having the government agree to a moratorium
 on peace in Vietman on October 21, 1969. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

Sylvester Magee - reported to be the Last Union Veteran died on 21 October 1971 in Marion County, Mississippi at the
age of 130 (born 29 May 1841). He was present at the fall of Vicksburg and pressed into service in the Union Army.

Maya Angelou at a visit to Wheelock College on October 21, 1988

October 21, 2012     Pete Souza/The White House Mr. Obama and Ruby Bridges Hall, the first black child to integrate an elementary school in the South, admiring the Norman Rockwell painting of her marching into school, which he hung outside the Oval Office. Copyright 2012 The New York Times Company


Charleston Courier, October 21, 1820

Jeanna Limyou on the cover of Jet Magazine October 21, 1954

Dr Mary McLeod Bethune Named Mother of the Century - Jet Magazine, October 21, 1954.

Bound for Glory: Celebrating the Gift of African American Spirituals through Expressive Calligraphy by Timothy R. Botts. $16.00. Publication: October 21, 2011. Author: Timothy R. Botts. 128 pages. Publisher: Tyndale House 


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