December 7

On December 7, 1941, Doris “Dorie” Miller,a mess attendant on the USS West Virginia, was officially credited with downing two Japanese planes during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Reginald F. Lewis (December 7, 1942 – January 19, 1993) worked in securities law before he created the venture capital firm, The TLC Group, in 1983. His first major deal was with the McCall Pattern Company, which he bought with a $1 million personal investment and sold a year later for $95 million. TLC then bought Beatrice International Foods in 1987, renaming it TLC Beatrice. With sales of $1.8 billion in 1987, it became the first black-owned company to have more than $1 billion in annual sales, and peaked in 1996 at $2.2 billion. Lewis held an undergraduate degree in economics from Virginia State College, and after participating in a program at Harvard Law School funded by the Rockefeller Foundation to select a few black students to attend summer school at Harvard to introduce them to legal studies, he became the only person to be ever admitted to the school before applying. In 1987 he established The Reginald F. Lewis Foundation which awarded grants to a wide range of organizations, including $5 million to establish the  Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture in his hometown of Baltimore.


Sir Milton Margai (December 7, 1895 - April 28, 1964) was the first prime minister of Sierra Leone. He received his primary education at the Evangelical United Brethren School in Bonthe, Bonthe District, and his secondary education at St Edward's Secondary School in Freetown before attending medical school in England, graduating from the Durham University College of Medicine in 1926. His medical career was with the Colonial Medical Service, primarily training local women in health care and midwifery. In 1949 he founded the nationalist Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) with Siaka Stevens, and was elected chief minister in 1954. He led the drive for decolonization, and Sierra Leone was granted independence from the United Kingdom in 1961, with Margai being eleced Prime Minister the following year. He founded a school for the blind in 1961, and in 1963 the Milton Margai College of Education and Technology was established.

Francis Cecil Sumner (December 7, 1895 - January 12, 1954) studied psychology under G. Stanley Hall at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, becoming the first African American to earn a doctorate in psychology in 1920. He taught at Wilberforce University, Southern University, and West Virginia Collegiate Institute before joining the faculty of Howard in 1930 where he was psychology department chair until his death. One of his most influential students was Kenneth B. Clark whose research on the effects of racism in children contributed to the decision in Brown v Board of Education. This was also the basis of much of Dr. Sumner's work, coming at a time when social psychology stressed the inferiority of non-white groups. He had studied a number of languages as an undergraduate at Lincoln University, and was an official abstractor for both the Journal of Social Psychology and the Psychological Bulletin, where he translated more than three thousand articles from German, French, and Spanish.

Willie Beatrice Barrow (née Taplin; December 7, 1924 – March 12, 2015) was an American civil rights activist and minister. She was the co-founder of Operation PUSH, which was named Operation Breadbasket at the time of its creation alongside Rev. Jesse Jackson. In 1984, she became the first woman executive director of a civil rights organization, serving as Push's CEO. Barrow was the godmother of President Barack Obama.

Louis Pollak (December 7, 1924 - May 8, 2012) assisted the NAACP Legal Defense Fund on Brown v. Board of Education but was not listed on the brief because he was currently working for the state department. He later was a U.S. District Court judge and served as dean of the law schools at Yale and Penn. He received his A.B. magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1943 and his LL.B. from the Yale Law School in 1948, where he was editor of the Yale Law Journal. He worked at the law firm now known as Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison before serving as special assistant to Ambassador-at-large Philip C. Jessup until 1953. His father, Walter Pollak, also worked in major civil rights cases, including Gitlow v. New York and representation of the Scottsboro Boys.

Comer Cottrell (December 7, 1931 - October 3, 2014) founded the Pro-Line Corporation in 1970, later introducing the Curly Kit, which made the Jheri curl easy to achieve at home. Pro-Line became one of the most successful African American-owned businesses, and was sold to Alberto-Culver for $75-80 million. In 1990, he purchased the campus of Bishop College and moved Paul Quinn College from Waco, Texas to its campus. He was active in civil and political organizations in the Dallas area, and was part of the team that purchased the Texas Rangers baseball club, becoming the first African American to be an owner or part-owner of a major league team.

Pearl Cleage (born December 7, 1948) writes both fiction and non-fiction drawn on her experiences as an activist for AIDS and women's rights, and she cites the rhythms of black life as her muse. Her first novel, What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day, was an Oprah Book Club selection in 1998 and appeared on the New York Times best-seller list for nine weeks. She has received numerous awards in recognition of her work, including the Bronze Jubilee Award for Literature in 1983 and the outstanding columnist award from the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists in 1991. In 2013 she was named playwright in residence of Atlanta's Alliance Theatre.


On December 7, 1874, members of the Red Shirts, a paramilitary organization that acted as an arm of the Democratic Party, killed at least 50 African American residents of Vicksburg, Mississippi, with other estimates ranging as high as 300. President Ulysses S. Grant sent Federal troops to Vicksburg to quell the violence. In the aftermath of the Vicksburg Massacre, other states adopted what they called the Mississippi Plan of intimidating African Americans who tried to vote or become involved in local politics.

On December 7, 1941, Doris “Dorie” Miller, was a mess attendant on the USS West Virginia when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. While carrying out an order of loading the ship with weapons, Miller took over a machine gun aboard and was officially credited with downing two Japanese planes. He was honored as one of the first heroes of World War II, and given the Navy Cross by Admiral Chester Nimitz. He was killed in November 1943 when the Liscome Bay was sunk by a Japanese submarine during the Battle of Makin Island.

Julius Ellsberry (1922 - December 7,1941) served as a Mess Man First Class aboard the USS Oklahoma when he was killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was a native of Birmingham, Alabama and posthumously received a Purple Heart. Birmingham's African American community raised over $300,000 in war bond purchases toward the completion of a B-24 Liberator named The Spirit of Ellsberry, and Ellsberry Park near Finley Boulevard north of downtown was dedicated in his honor in 1979.
On December 7, 1956, Jim Parker of Ohio State University became the first African-American college football player to win the Outland Trophy, given annually to the best college football interior lineman by the Football Writers Association of America. He also finished eighth in voting for the Heisman Trophy and had been a three-year All-American. Parker played eleven years for the Baltimore Colts and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1973.

Photo Gallery

December 7, 1941 The NAACP awards its prestigious Spingarn Medal to novelist Richard Wright. 

Elvis Presley and B.B. King at the WDIA Goodwill Revue, Ellis Auditorium, in Memphis, on December 7, 1956.

On December 7, 1985 Bill Cosby received the 70th NAACP Spingarn Medal

Nelson Mandela, wearing traditional Xhosa dress, attends the wedding of his great grand nephew on December 7, 2002 in Umtata, Eastern Cape Province

President Barack Obama, right, first lady Michelle Obama, left, Sasha Obama, second from left, and Malia Obama, sing during the 90th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony on the Ellipse south of the White House. December 7, 2012 Photo: AP

Tuskegee Airman Lowell Steward died Wednesday, December `7, 2014. He flew nearly 150 missions and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, but after the war, Steward returned home and was denied a mortgage because of his skin color. He then went into the real estate business and was a broker for 40 years.


December 7, 1970: Fans at Madison Square Garden for the Cassius Clay vs. Oscar Bonavena fight, by Bill Ray for Life magazine.


No comments:

Post a Comment