December 23

Madam C. J. Walker (born Sarah Breedlove, December 23, 1867 - May 25, 1919) is generally regarded as the first female self-made millionaire in America. She was widowed with a young daughter when she was 20, and moved from Vicksburg, Mississippi, to St. Louis where two of her brothers, who were barbers, lived. She learned about hair care from them, and developed her own products as well as working as an agent for Annie Turnbo Malone, owner of the Poro Company.

She married salesman Charles Joseph Walker in 1906, and they founded the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company. Originally headquartered in Indianapolis, the company grew to 20,000 agents and employees by 1917 and included laboratories, a factory, and national chains of salons and beauty schools. She later moved to a $250,000 home in Irvington-on-Hudson, New York, designed by Vertner Tandy.

She donated to many colleges including Tuskegee Institute and Mary McLeod Bethune's Daytona Education and Industrial School for Negro Girls.  Her donations to the NAACP and the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs were the largest either organizational had received at the time, and her will left two-thirds of her estate to charity. After her death, her daughter, A'Lelia Walker, became president of the company her mother had founded.


Henry Highland Garnet (December 23, 1815 - February 13, 1882) was an advocate of militant abolitionism and a prominent member of the movement that led beyond moral suasion toward more political action. Renowned for his skills as a public speaker, he urged blacks to take action and claim their own destinies. One of his most famous speeches, "Call to Rebellion," was delivered August 1843 to the National Negro Convention in Buffalo, New York. By 1849 Garnet began to support emigration to Mexico, Liberia, or the West Indies, where he thought more opportunities were available. In support of this, he founded the African Civilization Society.

Vivian Harris (December 23, 1902 - February 18, 2000) was known as the "Voice of the Apollo", introducing acts at the Harlem theater from 1935 until the mid-1950's. She was also a dancer, singer, and comedian, appearing on Broadway and performing with many famous black comedy acts, including Pigmeat Markham. She remained at the Apollo until 1970 in various backstage and administrative functions as well as performing, and is estimated to have made over 10,000 appearances.

Actress Fredericka Carolyn "Fredi" Washington (December 23, 1903 - June 28, 1994) began her career as a dancer in the Broadway show Shuffle Along and later toured with Josephine Baker. She is best known for her role as Peola in the film Imitation of Life (1934). Unable to get roles beyond the "tragic mulatto", she left acting to write for People's Voice, owned by her brother-in-law, Adam Clayton Powell Jr. She was also a founder of the Negro Actors Guild in 1937.

Esther Phillips (born Esther Mae Jones; December 23, 1935 – August 7, 1984) began her career when she won the amateur talent contest in 1949 at the Barrelhouse Club, owned by Johnny Otis. Her first hit record was "Double Crossing Blues", with the Johnny Otis Quintette , which reached number 1 on the Billboard R&B chart. After leaving Otis and recording on her own her career did not do well, but she had a comeback in 1962 with the country tune, "Release Me" which went to number 1 on the R&B chart and number 8 on the pop chart. Her 1972 album, "From a Whisper to a Scream" with the lead track, "Home Is Where the Hatred Is", by Gil Scott-Heron was nominated for a Grammy Award. Phillips lost to Aretha Franklin, but Franklin presented the trophy to her, saying she should have won it instead. In 1975, she released a disco-style update of Dinah Washington's "What a Diff'rence a Day Makes", her biggest hit single since "Release Me".

Maritza Correia (born December 23, 1981) is an Olympic swimmer from the United States. When she qualified for the USA Olympic Team in 2004, she became the first Puerto Rican of African descent to be on the USA Olympic Swimming Team. She also became the first African American United States swimmer to set an American and World swimming record.


On December 23, 1946 Duquesne head coach Charles "Chick" Davies, honoring the stand of DU administration, refused to yield to Tennessee coach John Maurer's refusal to send his team on the floor in protest of DU's black center Chuck Cooper (pictured) taking part in the game. Cooper told his teammates he would not be offended if they played without him but the players said they would not play unless he was in the lineup. Cooper went on to play for the NBA Boston Celtics.

Photo Gallery

Daniel Chavis, son of Bartlett Chavis, with his wife Irena King, daughter of Forrester King and Nancy Moxley in Champaign County, Ohio. They were married on 23 December 1852 in Logan County.

The Supremes' Mary Wilson & the Jackson 5 — December 23, 1971, Los Angeles — Motown party that delivered presents to 700 underprivileged children.

Public School 103 in Baltimore. US Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall attended this school 1914-1920. Located in the Old West Baltimore Historic District, on the NRHP since December 23, 2004. The district is roughly bounded by North Ave., Dolphin St., Franklin St. and Fulton Ave. in west Baltimore. The school is located about 1315 Division Street.


Jet Magazine, December 23, 1954

Jet Magazine, December 23, 1954

Jet Magazine, December 23, 1971

Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee: An African American Architect Designs for Booker T. Washington by Ellen Weiss. $32.19. Author: Ellen Weiss. Publisher: NewSouth Books (December 23, 2011).


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