January 18

A young Vietnamese girl presents a floral wreath to an African American soldier arriving with the 25th division on January 18, 1966 at Vung, Tau, forty miles south of Saigon. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Daniel Hale Williams (January 18, 1856 - August 4, 1931) is noted for performing heart surgery in 1893 on a stabbing victim by repairing the pericardium which covers the heart. He had assisted in a similar surgery two years earlier by Henry Dalton, and there are two other recorded pericardostomies. (Heart surgery was not regarded as feasible by most surgeons until World War I.)

Dr. Williams also founded Chicago's Provident Hospital in 1891 to provide health care and training to African Americans. During his career he also taught Clinical Surgery at Meharry Medical College and was an attending surgeon at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. In 1895 he co-founded the National Medical Association for African American doctors, and in 1913 he became a charter member and the only African American doctor in the American College of Surgeons.


George Dawson (January 19, 1898 – July 5, 2001) was called "America's favorite poster child for literacy" after learning to read at the age of 98 when a door-to-door recruiter for an adult literacy program happened to contact him. His life story, Life Is So Good, was published in 2000. He worked as a laborer, and retired at age 79 after working in a dairy for 30 years.

Randolph W. (Bill) Bromery (January 18, 1926 – February 26, 2013) earned a BS in mathematics from Howard University in 1956 while working full-time at the U.S. Geological Survey as an airborne exploration geophysicist, and was the first African American professional geophysicist with the USGS. He later earned an MS in 1962 from American University, and a PhD from Johns Hopkins in 1968, both in geology, and joined the faculty at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Geology Department in 1969, earning tenure quickly, and becoming Chancellor in 1971. He also promoted African American studies, securing the papers of W. E. B. Du Bois and Horace Mann Bond for the University's Special Collections Department. The Library has since been named the W. E. B. Du Bois Library. Bromery, a saxophonist himself, recruited several well-known jazz figures to the faculty, including Max Roach, Archie Shepp, and Fred Tillis. During World War II, he was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, flying missions in Italy.

David Ruffin (January 18, 1941 – June 1, 1991) was most famous for his work as one of the lead singers of The Temptations (1964–68) during the group's "Classic Five" period as it was later known. He was the lead voice on such famous songs as "My Girl" and "Ain't Too Proud to Beg". Known for his unique raspy and anguished tenor vocals, Ruffin was ranked as one of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2008 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.

Benjamin Todd Jealous (born January 18, 1973) served as president and chief executive officer of the NAACP from 2008 to 2013. He was an NAACP organizer while a student at Columbia University, and after being suspended for protesting the university's plan to turn the site of Malcolm X's assassination into a research facility, he worked with the NAACP in Mississippi to keep the state's three HBCU's open As a reporter, and later managing editor, forthe Jackson Advocate, Mississippi's oldest historically black newspaper, he investigated abuses at Parchman Prison. After returning to Columbia, he earned a B.A. in political science, and a Rhodes Scholarship leading to a master's degree in comparative social research from the University of Oxford. He then served as Executive Director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), a federation of more than 200 black community newspapers, as director of the US Human Rights Program at Amnesty International, and as president of the Rosenberg Foundation.

Shoshana Nyree Johnson (born January 18, 1973) is a Panamanian-born former United States soldier, and was the first black or Hispanic female prisoner of war in the military history of the United States. Johnson was a Specialist of the U.S. Army 507th Maintenance Company, 5/52 ADA BN, 11th ADA Brigade. During a gun fight that led to her capture she suffered bullet wounds to both of her ankles. She was freed in a rescue mission conducted by United States Marine Corps units on April 13, 2003.


On January 18, 1958, Willie O'Ree broke the color barrier in the NHL when he made his first appearance with the Boston Bruins against the Montreal Canadiens. He played two games that season, and another 43 in 1961. There were no other African American players in the NHL until 1974.

On January 18, 1975, The Jeffersons debuted on CBS, and ran through June 25, 1985. It is the longest-running sitcom with a predominantly African American cast in the history of American television. The show focuses on George and Louise Jefferson, an affluent African American couple living in New York City.

Photo Gallery

Black leaders discuss civil rights with President Lyndon B. Johnson in his office at the White House on January 18, 1964. L-R: Roy Wilkins (NAACP), James Farmer (CORE),  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (SCLC), and A. Whitney Young (NUL)..

Leslie Uggams and Clarence Williams III on the set of ‘Mod Squad.’ Ms. Uggams was a guest star in the episode, “Kill Gently, Sweet Jessie,” which aired on January 18, 1972

The Ogunsanya Quadruplets, age 23, graduated from Warwick University, UK, with Masters Degrees on January 18, 2012.

President Barack Obama With 1st Lady Michelle Obama In The Blue Room January 18, 2013


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