September 2

Romare Bearden's (September 2, 1911 - March 12, 1988) art career varied from scenes of African Americans in the south to abstract interpretations of the crucifixion to collages inspired by the Civil Rights Movement. As his death he was noted as "the nation's foremost collagist." Bearden also worked as a New York City social worker aiding the gypsy population and turned down a chance at a major league baseball career because he would have been forced to pass for white. (Art selections are below in the Photo Gallery.)


James Forten (September 2, 1766 - March 4, 1842) was a wealthy Philadelphia sailmaker. He was an active abolitionist, helping to found William Lloyd Garrison's The Liberator and supporting the paper financially. Forten opposed colonization movements and fought for equality for free blacks in Pennsylvania, often partnering with Richard Allen and Absalom Jones. He is the grandfather of poet and diarist Charlotte Forten Grimke Weld.

Edith Wilson (September 2, 1896 - March 30, 1981) was one of the stars of early African-American musical theatre. After working in vaudeville with her pianist brother Danny Wilson, Edith rose to prominence in 1921 when she replaced Mamie Smith in Perry Bradford's musical revue "Put And Take". She was also an actress, appearing on radio in Amos and Andy and in the film To Have and Have Not (1944). Shortly after World War II she became the face of Aunt Jemima pancake mix. She retired from active performance in 1963, becoming executive secretary for the Negro Actors Guild.

Amanda Randolph (September 2, 1896 - August 23, 1967) was a singer, pianist, restauranteur, and actress. She was the first African American to star in a regular televsion show ("Amanda", on Dumont in 1948) and portrayed Louise on the Danny Thomas Show. She also appeared on Broadway in "Shuffle Along", in several Oscar Michaux films, and as Sapphire's mother Ramona on the Amos 'n' Andy radio show.

Walter McAfee (September 2, 1914 - February 18, 1990) was a physicist at the United States Army Signal Corps Engineering Laboratories at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey for 42 years, first working on Project Diana which studied the Earth's relationship to the moon via radar signal echoing. He earned a BS in Mathematics from Wiley College, an MS from Ohio State University, and a PhD in physics from Cornell University researching on nuclear collisions with his advisor, Nobel laureate Hans Bethe. He also did post-doctoral work at Harvard on high-altitude nuclear explosions.

O.S. "Ozzie" Williams (born September 2, 1921) was one of the first African American aeronautical engineers, holding BS and MS degrees from NYU. He worked for a number of private corporations, including Grunman Aerospace where he was team leader on a NASA contract to develop the Apollo lunar module subsystems. After retiring from Grunman as a Senior VP he taught marketing at St. John's University.

Horace Silver (September 2, 1928 - June 18, 2014) was a jazz pianist, composer, and arranger, known for the hard bop style that he helped pioneer in the 1950s. While playing a club in Hartford, he was discovered by Stan Getz who invited Silver and his trio to tour with him. Later, Silver and Art Blakey co-founded the Jazz Messengers, a cooperatively-run group that initially recorded under various leaders and names.

John Robert Thompson, Jr. (born September 2, 1941) is a former basketball coach for the Georgetown University Hoyas. In 1984, he became the first African-American head coach to win a major collegiate championship, capturing the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship when Georgetown, led by Patrick Ewing, defeated the University of Houston. After retirement from coaching in 1999 he became a professional radio and TV sports commentator. His son, John Thompson III, followed him at Georgetown in 2004 and another son, Ronny, is head basketball coat at Ball State.

William Everett "Billy" Preston (September 2, 1946 – June 6, 2006) was a musician whose work included R&B, rock, soul, funk and gospel. Preston became famous first as a session musician with artists including Little Richard, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles and the Beatles, and was later successful as a solo artist with hit pop singles including "Outa-Space", its sequel, "Space Race", "Will It Go Round in Circles" and "Nothing from Nothing", and a string of albums and guest appearances.


On September 2, 1963: Gov. George Wallace postponed the opening of Tuskegee High School to prevent its integration. State troopers enforced the order, preventing the school from becoming Alabama's first racially integrated public grade school. Wallace took similar action in Birmingham, Huntsville, and Mobile, but four Huntsville schools were integrated on September 9.

On September 2, 1975, Joseph W. Hatchett was sworn in as first Black Supreme Court Justice in Florida and the first in the South in the twentieth century, and was re-elected the next year after having been appointed by Governor Reubin Askew. Hatchett later  became the first African American justice admitted to a federal court of appeals in the south when he was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit by President Jimmy Carter in 1979.

Photo Gallery

"The Blues People", collage by Romare Bearden
"Falling Star" by Romare Bearden

"The Calabash", collage by Romare Bearden

Dorothy Dandridge and daughter, Harolyn Suzanne Nicholas, born on September 2, 1943

Barack Obama in Boulder, September 2, 2013


Jet, September 2, 1954

Jet, September 2, 1954

Jet, September 2, 1954 (Irene Williams is the aunt of Clarence Williams, III)

Jet, September 2, 1954

Sports Illustrated, September 2, 1957

Jet, September 2, 1985

Parade, September 2, 2012

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