December 5

Bill Pickett (December 5, 1870 - April 2, 1932) invented the technique of bulldogging, and performed at local rodeos and county fairs near Taylor, Texas with his four brothers.

Charity Adams Earley (December 5, 1918 - January 13, 2002) was the first African American woman to be commissioned as an officer in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (later WAC) and the first commanding officer of a segregated overseas battalion when the 6888th Central Postal Battalion was formed to distribute mail to 7 million servicemen in Europe. She teaching math at a Columbia, South Carolina high school when she became was one of a select group of women recruited to serve as WAAC officers by Mary McLeod Bethune at the request of WAAC Diretor Oveta Culp Hobby. When she left the Army in 1946 was the highest-ranking as Lt. Colonel. She then earned a master's degree in psychology from Ohio State University and was an administrator at Tennessee A&I College and Georgia State College before settling in Dayton, Ohio.


Willie M. (Bill) Pickett (December 5, 1870 - April 2, 1932) left school in fifth grade to become a full-time ranch hand. He invented the technique of bulldogging (grabbing cattle by the horns and wrestling them to the ground) and performed at local rodeos and county fairs near Taylor, Texas with his four brothers. In 1905 he joined the 101 Ranch Wild west Show which starred Buffalo Bill, Will Rogers, and Tom Mix. In order to perform in segregated arenas he was forced to claim Cherokee ancestry. Pickett also acted in many early movies and died at the age of 72 after being kicked in the head by a horse.

Elbert Frank Cox (December 5, 1895 - November 28, 1969) earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Indiana and in 1925 became the first African American to earn a PhD. in mathematics when he graduated from Cornell. He taught briefly at West Virginia State College and then at Howard University where he was mathematics department chair until 1961. Dudley Woodard and Walter Claytor, the next two African Americans with a doctorate in math were also on the Howard faculty.

Modjeska Monteith Simkins (December 5, 1899 - April 5, 1992) was Director of Negro Work for the South Carolina Tuberculosis Association during the 1930s, the only African American public health worker in the state. She was forced to resign due to her increased involvement with the NAACP. She had been on the executive board of the local Columbia NAACP branch and was one of the founders of the state organization in 1939. She served as its secretary for 16 years (the only woman to serve as an officer) and helped write the declaration for the school lawsuit that asked for the equalization of Clarendon County black and white schools in the case of Briggs v Elliott which became part of Brown v Board of Education.

Dr. James Edward Cleveland (December 5, 1931 – February 9, 1991) was a gospel singer, musician, and composer. Known as the King of Gospel music, Cleveland was a driving force behind the creation of the modern gospel sound by incorporating traditional black gospel, modern soul, pop, and jazz in arrangements for mass choirs. Throughout his career, Cleveland appeared on hundreds of recordings and earned 4 Grammy awards.

Geneva Handy Southall (December 5, 1935 - January 2, 2004) earned a bachelor's degree from Dillard University and a master's from The American Conservatory in Chicago before becoming the first woman to earn a PhD in piano performance from the University of Iowa in 1966. She was on the faculty of the University of Minnesota for 21 years teaching both music and African American studies, and wrote three biographies of composer and pianist "Blind Tom" Morris. Dr. Southall had previously taught at Paul Quinn College, Knoxville College, South Carolina State College, and Grambling University. She was the sister of UMC Bishop W. T. Hardy, Jr.

Lowell Perry (December 5, 1931 - January 7, 2001) became the first African American coach in the NFL in 1957 when the Steelers hired him as receivers' coach after a career-ending injury. He attended law school while coaching, and began a 17-year career with Chrysler. He also spent a year announcing football for CBS, the first African American to broadcast a game to a national audience. In 1975 he was appointed EEOC Chairman by President Gerald Ford.

Little Richard (born Richard Wayne Penniman, born December 5, 1932) was considered a key performer in the transition from rhythm and blues to rock and roll in the mid-1950s. He was also the first artist to put the funk in the rock and roll beat and contributed significantly to the early development of soul music. He claims to be "the architect of rock and roll", and history would seem to bear out Little Richard’s boast.

Adolph Caesar (December 5, 1933 – March 6, 1986) was an American actor. In addition to his film career, Adolph Caesar did much voice-over work for television and radio commercials, including theatrical previews and radio commercials for many blaxploitation films such as Cleopatra Jones, Superfly, Truck Turner and The Spook Who Sat by the Door. Caesar also lent his voice to the popular 80s cartoon Silverhawks. He played Hotwing, a magician and skilled illusionist.


The National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) was founded on December 5, 1935, with the support of the leaders of 28 of the most notable black women's organizations. The founder and president until 1949, Mary McLeod Bethune, envisioned a unified force of black women's groups fighting to improve racial conditions nationally and internationally.

December 5, 1946 President Truman created the Committee on Civil Rights by Executive Order No. 9808. The purpose of the committee was to examine the state of Civil Rights in America and submit a report to the President. This 1949 photo shows Truman with Mary McLeod Bethune, Madame Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, Ambassador of India to the United States, and Dr. Ralph Bunche.
December 5, 1955, the Montgomery Bus Boycott began as a one-day protest but was extended until demands were met for a total of 381 days, ending on December 20, 1956. (Photo by Grey Villet//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Photo Gallery

December 5, 1951. Billie Holiday, American singer and Coleman Hawkins, American saxophone player.

Photo by Jean-Pierre Leloir - Miles Davis and Kenny Clarke (drums), Club Saint-Germain, Paris, December 5, 1957.


Confederate newspaper from Winston... ad for a Negro Woman for sale... WESTERN SENTINEL, Winston, North Carolina, December 5, 1862

Maurice Hines and Gregory Hines to Appear at Miami Cotton Club - Jet Magazine, December 5, 1957

Fred Hampton The Black Panther newspaper (December 5, 1969) Artist: Emory Douglas

Poster, 5 December 1970. The quote is from Fred Hampton, leader of the Chicago chapter of the Panthers, who was shot dead during a police raid in 1969.


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