December 29

Jules Bledsoe (December 29, 1898 - July 14, 1943) was one of the first African Americans to appear regularly on Broadway, and originated the role of Joe in Showboat later performed by Paul Robeson. A classically trained baritone, he appeared in opera throughout the United States and in Europe, and also worked briefly in the film industry making several musical shorts and having uncredited roles in the films Safari, Western Union, and Santa Fe Trail. He wrote patriotic, gospel and folk songs as well as an opera, Bondage, based on Uncle Tom's Cabin, and his song cycle African Suite premiered in Amsterdam in 1936.


Inman Edward Page (December 29, 1853 - December 21, 1935) worked his way through Howard University as a groundskeeper, janitor, and clerk to Oliver O. Howard of the Freedmen's Bureau. He was later one of the first African Americans to attend Brown University, where he earned a master's degree. Page served as began his career in education at Lincoln Institute in Jefferson City, Missouri, becoming president in 1880. He then served as president of Langston College for eighteen years, and also was president of the Colored Baptist College in Macon, Missouri, and Roger Williams University in Nashville before returning to Oklahoma to work in the public school system, primarily as principal of Douglass High School.

Emory Conrad Malick (December 29, 1881 - December 1958) was the first African American to earn a pilot's license on March 20, 1912. After a crash in 1928 in which a passenger died, he no longer flew but remained interested in aviation. He died from injuries suffered during a fall on an icy sidewalk in Philadelphia and his body was not identified for over a month.

Hulan Edwin Jack (December 29, 1906 – December 19, 1986) was a prominent Saint Lucian-born New York politician who in 1954 became the highest ranking African American municipal official up until that time, when he was elected Borough President of Manhattan, more than a decade before the rise of big city black mayors in the 1960s,  With an annual salary of $25,000 he was also the highest paid black officeholder in the country.  He had previously served in the New York State Assembly representing his Harlem district from 1940 to 1953.

Robert C. Weaver (December 29, 1907 - July 17, 1997) was the first Secretary of Housing and Urban Development after the department was created by Lyndon Johnson in 1965, and the first African American to hold any cabinet position. Weaver, who held a BS, MA and PhD from Harvard in economics, had served as part of Roosevelt's "Black Cabinet" and as director of the Housing and Home Finance Administration. He later became president of Baruch College.

Dr. Lewis A. Jackson (December 29, 1912 - January 8, 1994) was Director of Training for the Tuskegee Airmen. After World War II he earned a PhD in Education from Ohio State where he taught aviation. He was also a FAA Flight Examiner as well as designing experimental aircraft, including those that could be driven as well as flown. "An airplane in every garage" was his goal.

Tom Bradley (December 29, 1917 - September 29, 1998) was mayor of Los Angeles from 1973 to 1993, the second African American to serve as mayor of a major city. (The first was Cal Stokes of Cleveland in 1968.) Bradley had previously been a Los Angeles police officer, attorney, and city council member. He was mayor during the 1984 Olympics and the 1992 Los Angeles riots. He made two unsuccessful runs for governor, losing both times to George Deukmejian.

Stanley "Tookie" Williams III (December 29, 1953 – December 13, 2005) was a leader of the Crips, a notorious American street gang which has its roots in South Central Los Angeles in 1969. In 1979 he was convicted of four murders committed in the course of robberies, sentenced to death, and eventually executed. Once incarcerated, he authored several books, including anti-gang and anti-violence literature and children's books.


December 29 is the fourth day of Kwanzaa, representing the principal of Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

On December 29, 1925, Anna Julia Cooper formally received her doctorate from the University of Paris-Sorbonne, which was presented to her in a ceremony at Howard University by officials from the French Embassy. At the age of sixty-five, Cooper became the fourth black woman in American history to earn a Doctorate of Philosophy degree. She had begun the work ten years earlier at Columbia University but could not meet Columbia's one-year residency requirement and continue to teach at "M" Street High School in Washington, D.C. She was also raising five great-nieces and nephews during this time.

Photo Gallery

December 29, 2011 - While in Hawaii, the President and First Lady visited the USS Arizona Memorial.


Jet Magazine, December 29, 1966 


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