January 13

On January 13, 1913, Delta Sigma Theta (ΔΣΘ) Sorority was founded on the campus of Howard University by 22 undergraduate students who had earlier been initiated into....

Charlotte E. Ray (January 13, 1850 – January 4, 1911) was the first African American female lawyer. She was also the first female admitted to the District of Columbia Bar, and the first woman admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia. Her admission was used as a precedent by women in other states who sought admission to the bar. She was also the first woman to graduate from Howard Law School in 1872. She was unable to sustain a law practice because of her race and gender, and later taught school in Brooklyn and was active in the women's suffrage movement and the  National Association of Colored Women. She was the daughter of Rev. Charles Bennett Ray, founder and editor of The Colored American.


Salmon P. Chase (January 13, 1808 – May 7, 1873) supported abolition of slavery from the early days of his law practice in Cincinnati when he defended runaway slaves and those tried for assisting them. In Jones v Van Zandt he argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that slavery was local, not national, and that it could exist only as a part of state law. He led the Liberty Party in Ohio, and also led its merger with the Free Soil Party which he represented in the U.S. Senate from 1849 through 1855. This was followed by a term as Governor of Ohio, and in 1860 he was named Secretary of the Treasury by President Lincoln. Upon the death of pro-slavery Chief Justice Roger B. Taney in 1864 he was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court where he served until his death in 1873.

Melba Doretta Liston (January 13, 1926 – April 23, 1999) was the first woman trombonist to play in big bands during the 1940s and 1960s. After playing in youth bands and studying with Alma Hightower and others, she joined the big band led by Gerald Wilson in 1943, later playing with Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, and Billy Eckstine. In the 1960s she began collaborating with pianist Randy Weston, arranging compositions (primarily his own) for mid-size to large ensembles. and also arranged for Motown and Stax during this time. In 1987, she was awarded the “Jazz Masters Fellowship” of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Shonda Rhimes (born January 13, 1970) is best known as the creator, head writer, and executive producer of the television medical drama Grey's Anatomy, its spin-off Private Practice, and the political thriller series Scandal. She has also served as the executive producer of the ABC television series Off the Map, How to Get Away with Murder, and The Catch. In 2007, sgw was named one of Time magazine's 100 People Who Help Shape The World, and in 2015, she published a memoir, Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person.


On January 13, 1863, the First Kansas Colored Infantry mustered into federal service as the first African American regiment to be organized in a northern state and the first to see combat during the Civil War. It was organized at Ft. Scott, Kansas, and most of the men recruited were freed or escaped slaves from Missouri. The regiment's company D had three black officers, William D. Matthews and his two lieutenants, Henry Copeland and Patrick Minor, who were not allowed commissions as officers when the regiment was formally mustered into the Union army.

On January 13, 1913, Delta Sigma Theta (ΔΣΘ) Sorority was founded on the campus of Howard University by 22 undergraduate students who had earlier been initiated into the Alpha Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority but wanted to form an organization focusing on public service and women's advancement. The first public act of Delta Sigma Theta was the Women's Suffrage March in Washington D.C., on March 3, 1913. Today, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority is the largest African-American Greek-lettered organization.

On January 13, 1966, Robert C. Weaver was nominated as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Weaver became the first African American Cabinet member when he was sworn in as head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on January 18 of that year.

On January 13, 1990, L. Douglas Wilder was sworn in as Virginia's sixty-sixth governor. He was the first elected African American governor in United States history. He had previously served as the state's Lt. Governor and as Mayor of Richmond.

Photo Gallery

[Interior of All-Black School], Photograph, January 13, 1948

Martin Luther King Jr. Issue.United States, 1979. - Issued by the United States on January 13, 1979, this mint stamp honored Martin Luther King Jr., the assassinated civil rights leader, and paid tribute to his role in the struggle for racial equality.

Barack Obama, January 13, 2009, one week before his inauguration as President of the United States. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)


Birmingham, Alabama Debutantes and Mrs. Claudia Smith - Jet Magazine, January 13, 1955

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternitys 40th Annual Convention In Miami, Florida - January 13, 1955

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