September 20

Hughie Lee-Smith, End of the Festival, 1954

Hughie Lee-Smith (September 20, 1915 - February 23, 1999) was employed by the WPA in Ohio, served in the Navy where he painted a mural entitled "History of the Negro in the U.S. Navy", and taught at the Art Students League in New York City. In 1963 he became an associate member of the National Academy of Design, the second African American to be elected to the Academy after Henry Ossawa Tanner, and was made a full member four years later. His depiction of figures in desolate or surreal landscapes has been compared to the work of Giorgio de Chirico and Edward Hopper.

The Promise by Hughie Lee-Smith, 1999


Jean-Jacques Dessalines (Haitian Creole: Janjak Desalin) (September 20, 1758 – October, 17, 1806) was a leader of the Haitian Revolution and the first ruler of an independent Haiti under the 1801 constitution. Initially regarded as Governor-General, Dessalines later named himself Emperor Jacques I of Haiti (1804–1806). Disaffected members of Dessalines' administration, including Alexandre Pétion and Henri Christophe, began a conspiracy to overthrow the Emperor. Dessalines was assassinated north of the capital city, Port-au-Prince, at Pont Larnage.

Slappy White (born Melvin White, September 20, 1921 - November 7, 1995) was an American comedian and actor. He worked with Redd Foxx on the Chitlin' Circuit of stand-up comedy during the 1950s and 1960s. He appeared on the television shows Sanford and Son, That's My Mama, Blossom, and Cybill and in the films Mr. Saturday Night and Amazon Women on the Moon.

Colbert I. King (born September 20, 1939) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and editorialist for the Washington Post, one of the nation's most influential newspapers. A Washington native, King spent several decades in public service and banking before joining the Post's editorial board in 1990. His eloquence on behalf of the poor and his hard-hitting, often indignant exposés of government mismanagement "speak to people in power," in the words of the Pulitzer committee, "with ferocity and wisdom."

Ursula M. Burns (born September 20, 1958) serves as Chairman (since May 2010) and CEO (since July 2009) of Xerox. As such, she is the first African American woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 company. She is also the first woman to succeed another woman as head of a Fortune 500 company, having succeeded Anne Mulcahy as CEO of Xerox. In 2014, Forbes rated her the 22nd most powerful woman in the world.


On September 20, 1850 the slave trade was banned in Washington DC as the fifth of five laws that were part of the Missouri Compromise. However, slavery continued to be legal there until April 16, 1862. Southerners in Congress were unanimous in opposing this provision, which was seen as a concession to the abolitionists, but were outvoted.

On September 20, 1893, a black man named Thomas Smith who was accused of robbing and beating a woman who was selling produce at the Roanoke (Va.) Market was lynched. After an angry mob stormed the jail eight were killed and thirty wounded when the militia fired upon the crowd. Smith was taken and lynched as he was transported to another jail, hanged from a tree at Franklin Rd. and Mountain Avenue.

On September 20, 1958 Martin Luther King Jr. was stabbed in the chest at Blumstein’s Department Store in Harlem while promoting his first book, Strive Toward Freedom, an account of the Montgomery bus boycott. His attacker, Izola Curry, believed that King and the NAACP were plotting against her and she was found mentally incompetent to stand trial.

On September 20,1984, Leontine Turpeau Kelly was consecrated the first African American woman Bishop of the United Methodist Church, the first woman of color to serve as a bishop in any major denomination. The daughter and wife of ordained Methodist pastors, she began her career as a Lay Speaker and assumed leadership of her husband's church following his death in 1969.

On September 20, 2007, thousands of chanting demonstrators wearing Black T-Shirts filled the streets of Jena, Louisiana in protest of the disparity of six Black teenagers initially charged with attempted murder in the beating of a white classmate. A number of events took place months preceding the assault escalated racial tensions (including the hanging of nooses from a tree in the high school courtyard between white & Black youths).

Photo Gallery

Dr. Martin Luther King is shown leading a group of Black children to their newly integrated school in Grenada, Mississippi, escorted by folk singer Joan Baez and two aides, Andy Young (L) and Hosea Williams (next to Baez) on September 20, 1966.

On September 20, 1987 Alfre Woodard won an Emmy for outstanding
 guest performance in the dramatic series L.A. Law. 

Ericka Dunlap  broke a 68-year-old color barrier by becoming the first African American
Miss Florida. On September 20, 2003, she was crowned Miss America 2004.

First lady Michelle Obama gestures before introducing her husband President Barack
 Obama at a DNC fundraiser at Gotham Hall in New York, September 20, 2012. Picture: AP


Jet Magazine, September 20, 1962

Saundra Williams of Philadelphia is crowned the first Miss Black America at a
pageant designed as a counter-event to the traditional (and white-dominated)
 Miss America contest. (LIFE September 20, 1968)

The Black Panther - “Free the GI’s: Our Fight Is Not in Vietnam”
 September 20 1969.   Artist: Emory Douglas

Jet Magazine, September 20, 1973

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