December 24

On December 24, 1968, NBC's Julia aired the episode "I'm Dreaming of a Black Christmas". On the same day, the photo on the left was taken at Herbert Hoover Boys' Club in St. Louis.

On December 24, 1865, six Confederate veterans met in Pulaski, Tennessee to form the Ku Klux Klan as a means to counter the post-Civil War changes in Southern society through threats and violence toward Northerners, recently emancipated slaves, and their sympathizers. Although former Confederate Brigadier General George Gordon codified the beliefs and structure of the Klan, and General Nathan Bedford Forrest served as its first Grand Wizard (national leader), there was no organized hierarchy and local groups acted independently of each other.

The extreme violence surrounding the 1868 Presidential election of Ulysses S. Grant with thousands of African Americans killed led some leaders to distance themselves from the Klan and to urge that attacks be curtailed in order to avoid government intervention. In 1870 a Federal grand jury determined that the Klan was a terrorist organization, and the following year Congressman Benjamin Franklin Butler of Massachusetts introduced the Civil Rights Act of 1871 (Ku Klux Klan Act), which allowed President Grant to use military force to stop any Klan activity, with participants being tried in Federal court.

Local vigilante groups continued to use violence to maintain white supremacy, and in 1915 the Klan was reborn as a highly structured national movement centered in the midwest, and claiming to operate as a Christian fraternal organization. Although it peaked with a reported membership of six million, it declined by the end of the 1920s due to financial mismanagement and murder charges against Grand Dragon D.C. Stephenson. A third wave of the Klan surfaced during the 1950s as a reaction to the Civil Rights Movement as a loosely joined group of local white supremacists.


Octavia V. Rogers Albert (December 24, 1853 – August 18, 1889) taught in Montezuma, Georgia, where she met and later married fellow teacher,
Methodist Episcopal pastor Dr. Aristide Elphonso Peter (A. E. P.) Albert. The couple lived in Houma, Louisiana, where she interviewed formerly enslaved men and women over a period of fifteen years, collecting their stories in The House of Bondage, or Charlotte Brooks and Other Slaves which was first published in installments after her death in the New Orleans-based Methodist Episcopal Church newspaper, the “Southwestern Christian Advocate”.  

Warren "Baby" Dodds (December 24, 1898 – February 14, 1959) was a jazz drummer born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is regarded as one of the best jazz drummers of the pre-big band era, and one of the most important early jazz drummers. He varied his drum patterns with accents and flourishes, and he generally kept the beat with the bass drum while playing buzz rolls on the snare. Some of his early influences included Louis Cottrell, Sr., Harry Zeno, Henry Martin, and Tubby Hall. Dodds was among the first drummers to be recorded who improvised while performing.

Irvin Charles Mollison (December 24, 1898 - May 5, 1962) was the first African American appointed to a position in the federal judiciary whose position was posthumously converted into an Article III judgeship. Judge Mollison also was the first African American to serve on the United States Customs Court. He was appointed by President Truman, and confirmed by the United States Senate without a single dissenting vote. He was a 1923 graduate of the University of Chicago Law School. 

Jabbo Smith (born Cladys Smith, December 24, 1908 – January 16, 1991) was raised in the  the Jenkins Orphanage in Charleston, South Carolina where he learned trumpet and trombone, and by age ten was touring with the Jenkins Band. At age 16 he left the orphanage to become a professional musician, at first playing in bands in Philadelphia and Atlantic City before making his base in New York City from about 1925 through 1928. In the 1930s, he moved to Milwaukee where he collaborated with saxophonist Bill Johnson. Subsequently, Smith dropped out of the public eye, playing music part-time in Milwaukee with a regular job at an automobile hire company. 

Stormé DeLarverie (December 24, 1920-May 24, 2014) who was born in New Orleans to a white father and black mother, was a lesbian whose scuffle with the police was one of the defining moments of the Stonewall riots, spurring the crowd to action. Some have referred to her as "the gay community’s Rosa Parks". During the 1950s and '60s she toured the black theater circuit as the only drag king of the Jewel Box Revue, America’s first racially integrated female impersonation show.

Lloyd W. "Fig" Newton (born December 24, 1942) is a retired United States Air Force four-star general who served as Commander, Air Education and Training Command (COMAETC) from 1997 to 2000. He was also the first African-American pilot in the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. He earned a bachelor of science degree in aviation education from Tennessee State University in Nashville, where he was commissioned as a distinguished graduate through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program in 1966.  He flew 269 combat missions from Da Nang Air Base, South Vietnam, including 79 missions over North Vietnam and was selected to join the U.S. Air Force Aerial Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, in November 1974.


On December 24, 1832 the Georgia Infirmary became the first hospital for African Americans when it was chartered “for the relief and protection of aged and afflicted Africans.” It was established by the Georgia General Assembly and funded by a $ 10,000 grant from the estate of Thomas F. Williams, a local merchant and minister. Today the institution is known as the Adult Day Center-Georgia Infirmary and is part of St. Joseph’s/Candler healthcare network. 

On December 24, 1963, the 28th Regiment, United States Colored Troops began accepting enlistments. Its initial training took place at Camp Fremont located near the south side neighborhood of Fountain Square in Indianapolis, Indiana. Reverend Willis Revels and Garland H. White, both ministers of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Indianapolis were the chief recruiting officers, and the regiment's commanding officer was Captain Charles S. Russell. After the Confederate surrender at Appomattox, the 28th was moved to the Mexican border in Texas as part of the American response to the French intervention in Mexico.

On December 24, 1878, the Boston Police Department hired its first African American patrolman, Horatio J. Homer. He was later promoted to sergeant in 1895 and retired on January 29, 1919, after 40 years of service. He primarily served in the commissioner's office and guarding visiting dignitaries. Sgt. Homer had previously worked as a waiter, Pullman porter, and janitor of the Globe Theater.

Photo Gallery

Medgar Evers and Myrlie Beasley married on December 24, 1951 and had three children together.

Merry Christmas from The Supremes -- December 24, 1965 -- The Shamrock Hilton Houston, TX

Henry Orlando and Donald Washington with Santa at the Herbert Hoover Boys' Club Christmas party, 24 December 1968. ©Missouri History Museum

On the December 24, 1968 episode of Julia (NBC), titled "I'm Dreaming of a Black Christmas", Julia's (Diahann Carroll) son, Corey (Marc Copage), wants to know if Santa is black or white.

December 24, 2012 | Michelle Obama


Jet Magazine, December 24, 1953


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