September 16

Riley " B. B." King (September 16, 1925 - May 14, 2015) was an American blues guitarist and singer-songwriter acclaimed for his expressive singing and guitar playing. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him at #3 on its list of the “100 greatest guitarists of all time.” He introduced a sophisticated style of soloing based on fluid string bending and vibrato that would influence virtually every electric blues guitarist.


Educator Carlotta Stewart Lai (September 16, 1881 - July 6, 1952) was promoted to principal of the Koolau elementary school in Hawaii in 1909. Stewart's mobility in the space of seven years was an impressive achievement. While many black women had established careers in teaching and a handful as administrators by 1909, it was unusual for a black female at the age of twenty-eight to serve as principal of a multiracial school.

Hector Hyppolite (September 16, 1894 - December 12, 1948) was a Haitian artist and third-generation Houngon. The subjects of his work include Christian themes, still life, and voodoo imagery. During the final years of his creative times, Hyppolite’s paintings attracted international attention including the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. A legend in his country, Hyppolite is known for his aesthetically complex yet highly intuitive paintings.

Hector Hyppolite. Black Magic (Magique Noir), ca. 1946–47.

Hector Hyppolite (Haitian, 1894–1948) The Adoration of Love (La Dauration l'amour),

The Siren  (La Siréne), Hector Hyppolite, 1946

Lester Blackwell Granger (September 16, 1896 – January 1976) organized the Los Angeles chapter of the National Urban League (NUL) and headed the National Urban League from 1941-1961. During his first year as the leader of the NUL, he led the NUL's effort to support the March on Washington proposed by A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin and A. J. Muste to protest racial discrimination in defense work and the Armed Forces. In 1945, he began working with the Department of Defense to desegregate the military, seeing first success with the Navy in February 1946. He retired from the NUL in 1961 and joined the faculty of Dillard University in New Orleans.

Battling Siki (born Louis Mbarick Fall,  September 16, 1897 - December 15, 1925), a flamboyant French-Senegal boxer, began his professional career in France at the age of 15, winning the world light heavyweight championship  in 1922. He lost the title six months later as drinking and carousing began to take a toll on his career. He moved to the U.S. where he had a 10-17-3 record and was murdered in New York City at the age of 28). He also served in the French Army during World War I and was decorated for bravery in battle with the Croix de Guerre and the Médaille Militaire.

Ret. Lt. Col. Charles W. Dryden (September 16, 1920 – June 24, 2008) was one of the Tuskegee Airmen. Dryden earned his wings in 1942, and served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II. He later taught Air Science at Howard University and was a founder of the Atlanta Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen. He is the author of an autobiography, A-Train: Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman.

Jazz singer Jon Hendricks (born September 16, 1921) is  considered one of the originators of vocalese, which adds lyrics to existing instrumental songs and replaces many instruments with vocalists (such as the big-band arrangements of Duke Ellington and Count Basie). Furthermore, he is considered one of the best practitioners of scat singing, which involves vocal jazz soloing. For his work as a lyricist, jazz critic and historian Leonard Feather called him the "Poet Laureate of Jazz", while Time dubbed him the "James Joyce of Jive". Al Jarreau has called him "pound-for-pound the best jazz singer on the planet—maybe that's ever been".

Reuben Vincent Anderson (born September 16, 1942) became the first African American graduate of University of Mississippi Law School, first African American judge on the Mississippi Supreme Court, and the first African American President of the Mississippi Bar Association. He received his BA degree from Tougaloo College in 1964, attended Southern University Law School, and received the JD degree from University of Mississippi Law School in 1967. He was also the associate counsel for the Mississippi NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

James Alan McPherson (September 16, 1943 - July 27, 2016) won a 1978 Pulitzer Prize in 1978 in Fiction for his short story collection Elbow Room, becoming the first African American to receive the award. He was also in the first group of MacArthur "Genius Grant" winners when it began in 1981. McPherson graduated from Harvard Law School in 1968 but the publication of his short story "Gold Coast" led to a life-long contibutorship at The Atlantic Monthly, and instead of practicing law he pursued a writing career, earning an MFA in creative writing at the University of Iowa. He joined the Iowa Writer's Workshop in 1981, and was affiliated with it until his death, serving as acting director from 2005 to 2007.

Henry Louis "Skip" Gates Jr. (born September 16, 1950) is an American literary critic, teacher, historian, filmmaker and public intellectual who currently serves as the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He has discovered what are considered the first books by African-American writers, both of them women, and has published extensively on appreciating African-American literature as part of the Western canon.


On September 16, 1928 more than 3000 African Americans died when Lake Okeechobee flooded Western Palm Beach County, Florida, with a 10-15 foot tidal wave. There are at least 3 mass graves containing bodies buried without coffins or identification. Residents had been warned to evacuate the low ground earlier in the day, but after the hurricane did not arrive on schedule, many thought it had missed and returned to their homes. Prior rainfall caused the lake to rise 3 feet in the last month, filling nearby canals and ditches. When the worst of the storm crossed the lake, the south-blowing wind caused a storm surge to overflow the small dike  at the south end of the lake.

On September 16, 1933 "The Emperor Jones" was released. "Paul Robeson had the very highest standards for the representation of race on screen, and he never made a film he was completely pleased with. He was right to question the film's final commitment to Black dignity, but The Emperor Jones remains a remarkable refraction of the many lives the race led in the years of the Great Migration northward, and the terrible forced exile of African Americans from the soul of America."

On September 16, 1963 African American children were able to attend school in Prince Edward County, Virginia for the first time in four years. The public schools had been closed to avoid desegregation, with white children attending private schools. The free schools were set up by the federal government as a one-year emergency plan, and the public schools reopened the following year.

Photo Gallery

Black students are bused back to the Roxbury section from South Boston under a heavy police guard,
September 16, 1974, on the third day of court-ordered busing as a means of public school integration.

September 16, 1990 Keenan Ivory Wayans's In Living Color wins an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series.

President Barack and Michelle Obama on September 16, 2009: Congressional Hispanic Caucus
Institute's 33rd Annual Awards Gala at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC 


Seaside Minstrel, suspected of being an alien, is made to remove the black from his face for purposes
of identification. PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI. Volume 147 September 16, 1914.

Portland, Oregon's Tigner Quadruplets Celebrate Eighth Birthday - Jet Magazine, September 16, 1954.

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