December 16

African American Santa Claus Langston Patterson, 77, greets a child at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza Mall in Los Angeles, December 16, 2013. Patterson has worked as Santa since 2004 at the mall, which is one of the few in the country with a black Santa Claus.

William Cooper Nell (December 16, 1816 – May 25, 1874) was a colleague of William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass, writing for both the The Liberator and The North Star. He worked for integration for schools and public accommodations in Boston and the state of Massachusetts, with the schools being successfully desegregated in 1855. After passage of the Fugitive Slave Act he was a founder of the Committee of Vigilance in Boston, which served to aid escaped slaves. In 1861, he was hired as a postal clerk in Boston, earning the distinction of being the first African American to hold a federal civilian post. Nell also fought for recognition of Revolutionary War here Crispus Attucks worked for legislation to allow African Americans into the Massachusetts militia.


George Lewis Ruffin (December 16, 1834 - November 19 1886) was the first African American to graduate from Harvard Law School (1869), as well as the first to be elected to the Massachusetts Legislature (1870). to serve on the Boston City Council (1875), and to be appointed by Governor Benjamin F. Butler as a judge to the Charlestown District Municipal Court in Boston (1883). He was married to Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, the first president of the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs.
Helen Frances (Fanny) Garrison Villard (December 16, 1844 – July 5, 1928) was a founding member of the NAACP and instrumental in the creation of Hampton Insutitute as well as Vassar and Radcliffe Colleges. She was the daughter of William Lloyd Garrison, and was married to businessman Henry Villard, owner and publisher of the New York Evening Post and The Nation, which their son, Oswald, later managed. She was also a proponent of women's suffrage and organized protests against the First World War in 1914.
Barbara Smith (born December 16, 1946) has played a significant role in building and sustaining Black Feminism in the United States. Since the early 1970s she has been active as an innovative critic, teacher, lecturer, author, independent scholar, and publisher of Black feminist thought. Smith's essays, reviews, articles, short stories and literary criticism have appeared in a range of mainstream publications.


The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, known as the CME Church, was organized December 16, 1870 in Jackson, Tennessee by 41 formerly enslaved members of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. W. H. Miles and R. H. Vanderhorst were the first bishops elected. Originally known as the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church until 1954, it came about as a proposal at the 1866 General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church South which at that time had approximately 80,000 African American members. There are currently about 1.2 million members and the CME operates four colleges: four CME related colleges, Lane College (Jackson, TN), Miles College (Birmingham, AL), Paine College (Augusta, GA) and Texas College (Tyler, TX). Shown here is Bishop C. H. Phillips, author of a comprehensive 1825 history of the CME.

On December 16, 1946 the first coin honoring an African American was issued. The image of Booker T. Washington was on the half dollar designed by Isaac Hathaway, a sculptor from Lexington, Kentucky who taught at Arkansas AM&N (now UA Pine Bluff) and Tuskegee Institute. Mr. Hathaway also designed a coin featuring George Washington Carver in 1951.

On December 16, 1977, Andrew Young was named as ambassador and chief delegate to the United Nations. In 1979 he played a leading role in a settlement in Rhodesia between Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, paving the way for Mugabe as Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe. Young resigned later that year after transcripts of a private meeting with the UN representative of the PLO were leaked. He later served as mayor of Atlanta.

Photo Gallery

Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking to a crowd at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. A Ku Klux Klan rally was held in the city the same day. This image was taken for (but not used in) an article and photo spread that appeared in the issue of The Southern Courier for December 16-17, 1967.  

December 16, 2012: 'Two days after the shootings at Newtown, the President travelled to Connecticut to meet with the victims' families and give remarks at a prayer vigil. The President spent hours greeting family members. Difficult as that was for everyone, the one moment that helped soothe the pain was when he posed for a photo with the siblings and cousins of Emilie Parker, one of the 20 children who died that day in Newtown.


Jet Magazine, December 16, 1991 -- Phyllis Hyman

Cotton and Race in the Making of America: The Human Costs of Economic Power by Gene Dattel. $13.83. Publication: December 16, 2011. Publisher: Ivan R. Dee 


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