December 15

December 15, 2013 marked the close of the exhibit "Unenslaved: Rice Culture Paintings" by Jonathan Green at the Avery Research Center for African American History in Charleston, South Carolina.

William Augustus Hinton (December 15, 1883 - August 8, 1959) was the first African American professor at Harvard Medical School, where he earned his medical degree in 1912. He began his teaching career in 1918 as an instructor in preventive medicine and hygiene, and in 1921 began teaching bacteriology and immunology, which he continued to teach until his retirement in 1950. He also directed Harvard's Wassermann Laboratory, the official lab for the Massachusetts State Department of Public Health, and developed a test for diagnosing syphilis which was easier, less expensive, and more accurate than previous methods, and was adopted by the U. S. Public Health Service. Dr. Hinton also published the first medical textbook by an African American: Syphilis and Its Treatment (1936). He noted the role of socioeconomics in health and called syphilis "a disease of the underprivileged." He was also a consultant to the U. S. Public Health Service,


Kathryn Magnolia Johnson (December 15, 1878 - 1955) was a teacher and early NAACP member. She traveled selling Crisis Magazine and organizing NAACP branches throughout the south. Critical of all-white leadership, she left the NAACP in 1916, and began working for the YMCA. She and Addie Wailes Hunton were sent to Europe during World War I to report on conditions for African American soliders, which were reported in their book Two Colored Women with the American Expeditionary Forces.
Eslanda Cardozo Goode Robeson (December 15, 1896 – December 13, 1965) had a varied and remarkable career both within and outside motion picture filmmaking, working initially as the first African American hired at New York City’s Presbyterian Hospital in the surgical pathology department. After her marriage to Paul Robeson, whose biography she wrote in 1930, she joined him in several independent film projects.

Jesse Lorenzo Belvin (December 15, 1932 - February 6, 1960) was a singer, pianist and songwriter popular in the 1950s whose success was cut short by his death in a car crash at age 27. In 1950 he joined saxophonist Big Jay McNeely's backing vocal quartet, Three Dots and a Dash, and was featured prominently on their record releases. In 1952 he joined Specialty Records. He is best known as the writer of "Earth Angel," a million-selling record by the Penguins.

Donna Brazile (born December 15, 1959) briefly served as the interim chairperson for the Democratic National Committee in the spring of 2011 and assumed that role again in the summer of 2016. She was the first African American to direct a major presidential campaign, acting as campaign manager for Al Gore in 2000. She has also worked on several presidential campaigns for Democratic candidates, including Jesse Jackson and Walter Mondale/ Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, and for Dick Gephardt in the 1988 Democratic primary.


On December 15 and 16, 1864, eight regiments of the 13th U.S. Colored Troops fought at the Battle of Nashville, one of the most decisive victories of the Civil War and the last battle outside states along the east coast. On the first day of battle three brigades of the First Colored Brigade under Col.Thomas Morgan were part of a diversion to the southeast of the city, and on the next day the Second Brigade under Col. Charles R. Thompson fought to the southwest, capturing a parapet atop Overton Hill.

On December 15, 1939, Gone With the Wind premiered at Loew's Grand Theater, on Peachtree Street in Atlanta, Georgia. Hattie McDaniel, winner of a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her role in the film, and other African American cast members were not allowed to attend the premiere. Studio head David Selznick had asked that McDaniel be permitted to attend, but MGM advised him not to, because of Georgia's segregation laws. Clark Gable threatened to boycott the Atlanta premiere unless she could attend, but McDaniel convinced him to attend despite his objjections.

Photo Gallery

Jermaine LaJuane Jackson weds Hazel Joy Gordy, December 15, 1973.

When Marvin Gaye divorced his first wife, Anna Gordy, he was running low on money thanks to an extravagant lifestyle and was unable to pay Anna alimony or child support. Marvin's attorney came up with a solution for Marvin to give half the royalties he would earn from his next project to Anna. That project, Here, My Dear is a double studio album, released on December 15, 1978.

December 15, 2013: Nelson Mandela's funeral. Actor Idris Elba, who plays Mandela in the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, leaves at the end of Mandela's funeral in Qunu, South Africa.  

Michelle Obama was appropriately festive for the holidays in this bedazzled white J Mendel dress at TNT's Christmas In Washington event on December 15, 2013 in Washington, D.C


Heavyweight champ Joe Louis lies on the canvas at (the old, original) Madison Square Garden in New York after being floored by contender Jersey Joe Walcott in a December 1947 title match. Louis came back to win by a controversial decision. Originally published in the December 15, 1947 issue of LIFE.

Dancing Dorothy Dandridge - Jet Magazine - December 15, 1955

I've Got to Make My Livin': Black Women's Sex Work in Turn-of-the-Century Chicago (Historical Studies of Urban America) by Cynthia M. Blair. $23.31. 337 pages. Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (December 15, 2010)

Joan Myers Brown & the Audacious Hope of the Black Ballerina: A Biohistory of American Performance by Brenda Dixon Gottschild. $26.72. Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (December 15, 2011)


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