January 16

On January 16, 1865 Major General William T. Sherman issued Special Field Orders, No.15 They provided for the confiscation of 400,000 acres of land along the Atlantic coast of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida and the dividing of it into parcels of not more than 40 acres, on which were to be settled approximately 18,000 freed slave families and other Blacks then living in the area. The orders were issued following Sherman's March to the Sea and were intended to address the immediate problem of dealing with the tens of thousands of black refugees who had joined Sherman's march in search of protection and sustenance, and "to assure the harmony of action in the area of operations". News of "forty acres and a mule" spread quickly; freed slaves welcomed it as proof that emancipation would finally give them a stake in the land they had worked as slaves for so long. The orders had little concrete effect, as they were revoked in the fall of that same year by President Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Abraham Lincoln after his assassination.


James Wormley (January 16, 1819 - October 18, 1884) was the son of freedman Lynch Wormley, who operated a livery in Washington, D.C. He drove a carriage for his father and later worked as a steward, both on a riverboat and for prominent figures in Washington. He opened the Wormley House in 1869 and it became a gathering spot for the city's elite and was the site of the Wormley Agreement, which resolved the disputed presidential election of 1876, contested between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel J. Tilden, and led to the dismantling of Reconstruction in the South. He was also instrumental in the creation of the first public school for African American children in the District.

William Fletcher Penn (January 16, 1871 - May 31, 1934) was a prominent physician in Atlanta, Georgia and a founding member of the Atlanta Chapter of the NAACP. He first attended medical school at Leonard Medical School for Blacks in Raleigh, North Carolina before being invited to attend Yale Medical School in 1893. He graduated in 1897, the first African American to do so, as well as the first African-American to head the university yearbook.

Samuel James Battle (January 16, 1883 - August 7, 1966) was the first African American police officer in New York City. After attending segregated schools in North Carolina, Battle moved north, first to Connecticut, then to New York City, where he took a job as a train porter and began studying for the New York City Police Department civil service exam. He was sworn in on March 6, 1911. He was promoted to sergeant in 1926, lieutenant in 1935, and parole commissioner in 1941.
Ellen Holly (born January 16, 1931)   began her career on Broadway in Tiger Burning Bright and A Hand is on the Gate before going to film. She guest starred on Sam Benedict, The Nurses, & One Life to Live as Judge Carla Hall, a role she played from 1968 to 1981 and 1983 to 1985. Agnes Nixon, the creator of One Life to Live, chose Holly after writing a letter to the The New York Times about what it was like to be a light-skinned black. Nixon created the role of Carla for her.

Debbie Allen (born January 16, 1950) is an African American actress, dancer, choreographer, television director, television producer, and a member of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities. She is perhaps best known for her work on the 1982 musical-drama television series Fame, where she portrayed dance teacher Lydia Grant, and served as the series' principal choreographer. She is the younger sister of actress/singer Phylicia Rashād.

Helen Folasade Adu, OBE (Yoruba: Fọláṣadé Adú; born January 16, 1959), better known as Sade, is a British singer-songwriter, composer, and record producer. She first achieved success in the 1980s as the frontwoman and lead vocalist of the Brit and Grammy Award-winning English group Sade. In 2012, Sade was listed at number 30 on VH1's 100 Greatest Women In Music. Sade has a contralto vocal range.

Juanita Bynum (born January 16, 1959; Chicago, Illinois) is one of five children of Elder Thomas Bynum, Sr. and Katherine Bynum of St. Luke Church of God in Christ. Bynum attended Saint's Academy Church of God in Christ (COGIC) High School (a boarding school) in Lexington, Mississippi.

Aaliyah Dana Haughton (January 16, 1979 – August 25, 2001) appeared on the television show Star Search at the age of 10 and performed in concert alongside Gladys Knight. At age 12, she signed with Jive Records and her uncle Barry Hankerson's Blackground Records. He introduced her to R. Kelly, who became her mentor, as well as lead songwriter and producer of her debut album. On August 25, 2001, she and eight others were killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas after filming the music video for the single "Rock the Boat".


Zeta Phi Beta (ΖΦΒ) is an international, historically black Greek-lettered sorority founded on January 16, 1920 by five collegiate women at Howard University. Zeta Phi Beta was founded on the simple belief that sorority elitism and socializing should not overshadow the real mission for progressive organizations – to address societal mores, ills, prejudices, poverty, and health concerns of the day

On January 16, 1941, The War Department announced the formation of the first Army Air Corps Squadron for African American cadets, which would become the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the United States Army Air Forces, known as the Tuskegee Airmen because they trained at Moton field and attended classes at Tuskegee University in Alabama. They were activated in September of that year and ready for combat by April 1943.

On January 16, 2006 Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was sworn in as President of Liberia. She served as Minister of Finance under President William Tolbert from 1979 until the 1980 coup d'État, after which she left Liberia and held senior positions at various financial institutions. She is the first and currently the only elected female head of state in Africa.

Photo Gallery

January 16, 2012 Where: At the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to attend the Let Freedom Ring Celebration in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Blues & Soul magazine, January 16, 1979


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