December 14

John Mercer Langston (December 14, 1829 - November 15, 1897) was the son of a white farmer and a freed mixed-race mother who was sent to Ohio along with his brothers to study at Oberlin College. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1849 and a Master of Theology in 1852. Unable to be admitted to law school, he read law under a local judge and was admitted to the Ohio State Bar in 1854. The following year he may have become the first African American to be elected to a local position of leadership when he was chosen as town clerk of Bethlehem Township, Ohio.

Along with his brother Charles he founded the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society in 1858 and served as its first president, as well as assisting with the Underground Railroad. During the Civil War he recruited troops for the Union Army, both for the Massachusetts 54th Regiment and for an Ohio regiment. He was founding president of the National Equal Rights League and an inspector general for the Freedmen's Bureau.

After the war he was founding dean of Howard Law School, later serving as vice-president and acting president. While in Washington D.C. he worked with legislators in support of reconstruction, helping Sen. Charles Sumner to draft what would become the Civil Rights Act of 1875. He was appointed Minister to Haiti in 1877, returning to the U.S. five years later to serve as president of the newly-formed Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute (now Virginia State University).

In 1888 Langston ran for the U.S, House of Representatives and was seated 18 months after a bitterly contested election. He was defeated in his 1990 bid for re-election, and no other African Americans served in Congress from the south until 1972. He was the great-uncle of poet Langston Hughes, who was the grandson of his brother Charles..


Lillian Randolph (December 14, 1898 – September 12, 1980) is best known as the maid Birdie Lee Coggins from The Great Gildersleeve radio comedy and subsequent films, and as Madame Queen on the Amos 'n' Andy radio show and television show from 1937 to 1953. Her best known film roles were those of Annie in It's a Wonderful Life and Bessie in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer. Like her sister, Amanda, Lillian was also one of the actresses to play the part of Beulah on radio. Lillian assumed the role in 1952 when Hattie McDaniel became ill; that same year, she received an "Angel" award from the Caballeros, an African-American businessmen's association, for her work in radio and television for 1951. She played Beulah until 1953, when Amanda took over for her.

Deford Bailey (December 14, 1899 - July 2, 1982) was the first African American to perform at the Grand Ole Opry and one of the first African American stars of country music. He was a pioneer member of the WSM Grand Ole Opry and one of its most popular performers, appearing on the program from 1927 to 1941. During this period he toured with major country stars, including Uncle Dave Macon, Bill Monroe, and Roy Acuff.

Clark Terry (born December 14, 1920)was an American swing and bebop trumpeter, a pioneer of the flugelhorn in jazz, composer, educator, and NEA Jazz Masters inductee. He played with Charlie Barnet (1947), Count Basie (1948–51), Duke Ellington (1951–59),[3] Quincy Jones (1960), and Oscar Peterson (1964-96). He was also with The Tonight Show Band from 1962 to 1972. Terry's career in jazz spanned more than 70 years, during which he became one of the most recorded jazz musicians ever, appearing on over 900 recordings. Terry also mentored many musicians including Quincy Jones, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, and Wynton Marsalis

Ernest (Ernie) Davis (December 14, 1939 – May 18, 1963) played college football for Syracuse University and was the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy (1961). He was the number-one pick in the 1962 NFL draft by the Washington Redskins but was immediately traded to the Cleveland Browns, Davis was diagnosed with leukemia prior to the 1962 American Football Coaches All-American Game and died at the age of 23 before being able to play in the NFL.  He was also the first African American member of the nationwide Jewish fraternity Sigma Alpha Mu.


Ignatius Sancho (c. 1729 – 14 December 1780) was a composer, actor, and writer. He is the first known Black Briton to vote in a British election. He gained fame in his time as "the extraordinary Negro", and to 18th century British abolitionists he became a symbol of the humanity of Africans and immorality of the slave trade. The Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, an African, edited and published two years after his death, is one of the earliest accounts of African slavery written in English by a former slave of Spanish and English families.

December 14, 1960, four white and two African American college students (including Randolph-Macon Woman’s College students) entered a Lynchburg drugstore hoping to convince the owner to let them have coffee together. The result was the city’s first sit-in. This landed the college students in jail, prompted additional sit-ins from classmates.

On December 14, 1964 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Heart of Atlanta Motel v U.S. that the U.S. Congress could use the power granted to it by the Constitution's Commerce Clause to force private businesses to abide by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Because the motel drew most of its business from interstate travelers the Supreme Court ruled that it must abide by the roles of interstate commerce.

Photo Gallery

Sammy Davis Jr. was awarded the Spingarn Medal for his "superb and many-faceted talent," along with his contributions to the civil rights movement (December 14, 1968).

The Jackson 5 performed for the first time on The Ed Sullivan Show on December 14, 1969 (CBS)

Johnny Rodgers December 14, 1972 Johnny Rodgers, a running back with the University of Nebraska, is awarded the Heisman Trophy. Rodgers gained a total of 5,586 yards for the Cornhuskers in three years.

December 14, 1991 Desmond Howard, of the University of Michigan wins the Heisman trophy

Denzel Washington (L), star of the film The Hurricane, based on the true story of Rubin Hurricane Carter (C), an innocent man who fought for 20 years for justice, poses at the films premiere party December 14, 1999 in Los Angeles with boxing champion Evander Holyfield. Washington portrays Carter in the film.
December 14, 2013: As family members watch, Nelson Mandela's flag-draped coffin arrives at the Mthatha airport for the December 15th funeral and burial in his childhood village Qunu in South Africa.


TV Guide: December 14, 1968 - Diahann Carroll of "Julia"


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