October 29

Harriet Powers (October 29, 1837 – January 1, 1910) used traditional appliqué techniques to make quilts recording local legends, Bible stories, and astronomical events. She lived most of her life in Clarke  County, Georgia, and first exhibited a quilt at the 1886 Athens Cotton Fair. Known as the Bible Quilt, it contains 11 panels illustrating Bible stories. It is one of only two examples of her work known to survive today, but her correspondence and diary indicate that there were others. Bible Quilt is on display at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the other (Pictorial Quilt) is in the National Museum of American History collection at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Harriet Powers, Bible Quilt, 1885-1886


Josephine Beall Willson Bruce (October 29, 1853 - February 24, 1923) was born in Philadelphia and educated at Oberlin College in Ohio, where she met and married U.S. Senator Blanche K. Bruce in 1878, the first African American U.S. Senator to carry out a full term. When his term expired two years later he remained in Washington through political appointments, and Mrs. Bruce was one of the charter members of the Colored Woman's League of Washington, D.C. and the first vice president of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW). After her husband's death, she joined the staff at Tuskegee Institute, becoming Dean of Women. She is the mother of controversial educator Roscoe Conkling Bruce, named after his father's political mentor.

Martha Minerva Franklin (October 29, 1870 - September 26, 1968) graduated from Philadelphia's Women's Hospital Training School for Nurses in 1897 and was working in New Haven ten years later when she began organizing African American nurses and founded the  National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) since those in segregated states were unable to join the American Nurses Association. The goals of the NACGN were to improve training for black nurses, reduce racial inequality in the nursing profession, and cultivate leaders from within the black nursing community. It received early support from the National Medical Association, a black physicians' group. and was invited to hold their meetings in tandem with the NMA.

Leigh Whipper (October 29, 1876 - July 26, 1975) was a film, television and stage actor. He was the first African American to join the Actors’ Equity Association, and one of the founders of the Negro Actors Guild of America. He is best known for his role as Crooks in the film of Of Mice and Men, a role he reprised on Broadway. Without any dramatic training, he made his first Broadway appearance in Georgia Minstrels. His first film role was in the 1920 silent film Symbol of the Unconquered.

Hadda Brooks (born Hattie L. Hapgood, October 29, 1916 – November 21, 2002) usually played the small part of a lounge piano player in films, and often sang the title song, with "Out of the Blue" became a top hit for Brooks in 1947, followed by"Boogie Woogie Blues" the next year. In 1957 he was the second African American woman to host a TV show, which ran for 26 weeks on KCOP-TV and aired in Los Angeles and San Francisco. She sang at Hawaii's official statehood ceremony in 1959 and later lived there. In 1993, she was presented with the prestigious Pioneer Award by the Smithsonian-based Rhythm and Blues Foundation, and returned to movies with a cameo in the Jack Nicholson film, The Crossing Guard (1995). She resumed recording the next year.

Richard Perry Loving (October 29, 1933 – June 29, 1975), shown here with his wife, Mildred, and their children. After the Lovings married in Washington D.C. in 1958, they returned to Caroline County, Virginia and were arrested and given a one year suspended sentence under the condition that they leave Virginia and not return for 25 years. In 1963 they challenged the law, ultimately leading to the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruling the law unconstitutional in 1967. Because of this ruling, (Loving v. Virginia) the 16 states which still had anti-miscegenation laws on their books were forced to repeal them. Richard Loving was killed by a drunk driver in 1975 and Mildred Loving lost her right eye in the same accident.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (born October 29, 1938) is the 24th and current President of Liberia. She won the 2005 presidential election and took office in January 2006, and she was a successful candidate for re-election in 2011. She is the first elected female head of state in Africa and in June 2016 she was elected as the Chair of the Economic Community of West African States, making her the first female to occupy that position since it was formed. She was jointly awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize with Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakkol Karman of Yemen. The women were recognized "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work."

Melba Moore (born Beatrice Melba Smith, October 29, 1945) is an R & B singer and actress. She is the daughter of saxophonist Teddy Hill and R & B singer Bonnie Davis. She began her performing career in 1967 in the original cast of the musical Hair. In 1970, Moore won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role in Purlie. She co-starred with Clifton Davis in the then-couple's TV variety series in 1972. Her successful recording career includes hits like "This Is It" and "Lean On Me". She returned to Broadway in 1995 landing a part in Les Misérables. A year later, she started her long-running one-woman show, Sweet Songs of the Soul, later renamed I'm Still Standing.

Tracee Ellis Ross (born October 29, 1972) began her career acting in independent films, variety series and hosted the pop-culture magazine The Dish on Lifetime. From 2000 to 2008, she played the leading role as Joan Clayton on the UPN/CW comedy series Girlfriends, for which she received two NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series. She also has appeared in films Hanging Up (2000), I-See-You.Com (2006), and Daddy's Little Girls (2007), before returning to television playing Dr. Carla Reed on the BET sitcom Reed Between the Lines, for which she received her third NAACP Image Award. She is the daughter of actress/singer Diana Ross.

Vonetta Flowers (born October 29, 1973) was a star sprinter and long jumper at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and originally aspired to make the U.S. Summer Olympic Team. After several failed attempts, Flowers turned to bobsledding, and found success as a brakewoman almost immediately. At the 2002 Winter Olympics, she, along with driver Jill Bakken, won the gold medal in the two-woman event, becoming the first African American to win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics. She retired from competition after the 2006 Winter Olympics.


On October 29, 1931 William Grant Still’s “Afro-American Symphony” was first presented by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. It was the first symphony composed by a Black composer to be performed by a major orchestra.  It combines a fairly traditional symphonic form with blues progressions and rhythms that were characteristic of popular African-American music at the time.

On October 29, 1969, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Alexander v. Holmes, ordering immediate desegregation of public schools in the South after 15 years of delays by many school boards after the Court's 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education that segregated public schools were unconstitutional. It did away with the "with all deliberate speed" clause of the 1955 Brown II ruling.

On October 29, 1997, William E, Kennard was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the first African American chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC regulates the nation’s radio, wire, satellite, and cable communications. Kennard, who began working at the FCC in in 1993 as general counsel, was named a member of the five-member panel by President Bill Clinton in 1997 before becoming chairman.

Photo Gallery

Sojourner Truth and President Lincoln in the White House, October 29, 1864. They met early in the morning,
and though the meeting was more of a courtesy call than a substantive discussion, Truth remembered it fondly.

Gordon Parks and Lena Horne. The tickets in Ms. Horne’s hand read: “Cosmopolitan Tennis Club, Inc.
 presents their Annual Fall Dance at The Renaissance Ballroom. The date: Saturday, October 29, 1949.

First Lady Michelle Obama works in the garden on the South Lawn of the White House on October 29, 2009
 in Washington, DC. First Lady Michelle Obama invited local school children to help with the fall vegetable
harvest in the garden at the White House.Photo Credit: Mark Wilson, Getty Images via StyleList

Models take a selfie backstage during Lagos fashion and design week October 29, 2014.
(REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye)


Jet Magazine -- October 29, 1964

Jet Magazine -- October 29, 1970

One Blood: The Death and Resurrection of Charles R. Drew by Spencie Love. $28.95.
 Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press (October 29, 1997).

A Fire You Can't Put Out: The Civil Rights Life of Birmingham's Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth
by Andrew M Manis. $29.95. Publisher: University Alabama Press (October 29, 2001).


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