January 19

Edwidge Danticat (born January 19, 1969) was raised in Haiti by relatives until she joined here parents in Brooklyn at age twelve. She is the author of several novels...

John Harold Johnson (January 19, 1918 – August 8, 2005)  was the founder of the Johnson Publishing Company and in 1982 became the first African American to appear on the Forbes 400. He worked at the Supreme Life Insurance Company while attending the University of Chicago, and one of his duties was to compile a monthly digest of newspaper articles. He felt that this concept could  be marketed, and in 1942 founded Negro Digest, a monthly magazine similar in format and content to Readers' Digest but aimed at an African American readership. In 1945 he launched the large-format, glossy Ebony, which was an immediate success and is still in publication today. This was followed in 1951 by Tan, a true confessions magazine, and Jet, a weekly magazine which covered fashion and beauty tips, entertainment news, and politics. It also covered the Civil Rights Movement and was instrumental in coverage of the murder of Emmett Till. In addition to publishing, Johnson developed a line of cosmetics, purchased three radio stations, started a book publishing company, and a television production company, and served on the board of directors of several major businesses, including the Greyhound Corporation. In 1996 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


Lysander Spooner (January 19, 1808 – May 14, 1887) was a political philosopher and abolitionist whose most famous writing includes the seminal abolitionist book The Unconstitutionality of Slavery (1845) and No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority. a series of tracts published during the Civil War which opposed treason charges against secessionists. He is also known for competing with the U.S. Post Office with his American Letter Mail Company, which closed after legal problems with the federal government.

Ida Elizabeth Bowser Asbury (January 19, 1869 - 1955) began her course work at the University of Pennsylvania in 1887 and earned a Certificate of Proficiency in Music in June of 1890, making her the first African American woman to graduate from UPenn. She was a was a violinist and teacher of music until her marriage in 1901 to attorney John Cornelius Asbury, who served in the Pennsylvania State Assembly from 1921 to 1925. She was the daughter of of painter David Bustill Bowser.

Anna Louise James (January 19, 1886 - December 12, 1977) graduated from the Brooklyn College of Pharmacy in 1908, and in 1909 opened a pharmacy in Hartford, Connecticut,  becoming the first African American woman licensed as a pharmacist in the state. She soon relocated to Old Saybrook to join her brother-in-law, Peter Lane, at his pharmacy, buying his half of the business in 1917 and operating James Pharmacy until her retirement in 1967. She was one of the first women in Old Saybrook to register to vote after the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920.

Hans Massaquoi (January 19, 1926 – January 19, 2013) was a journalist and author born in Nazi Germany, to a white German mother and Liberian Vai father. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1947, serving two years in the Army as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division and becoming a naturalized citizen in 1950. With his GI bill he studied journalism at the University of Illinois followed by a career at Jet and Ebony magazines. Pictured here: Massaquoi as a child with a Nazi badge.

Carl Maxie Brashear (January 19, 1931 - July 25, 2006) became the first African-American U.S. Navy Master Diver, rising to the position in 1970. He was also the first to enter and graduate from the diver training program n 1954. In 1966 he lost his left leg after a diving accident, and two years later was the first amputee diver to be (re)certified as a U.S. Navy diver. His life story is dramatized in the 2000 motion picture Men of Honor, in which he was portrayed by Cuba Gooding, Jr.

Antoine Fuqua (born January 19, 1966) began his career directing music videos for popular artists like Toni Braxton, Coolio, Stevie Wonder, and Prince. From 1998 onwards, he began directing feature films, although he has worked on a few music videos since then. He directed the film Training Day, for which Denzel Washington won an Academy Award for best actor, as well as Tears of the Sun, King Arthur, Shooter, Brooklyn's Finest, and The Magnificent Seven. He also co-created the comic book miniseries After Dark with Wesley Snipes

Edwidge Danticat (born January 19, 1969) was raised in Haiti by relatives until she joined here parents in Brooklyn at age twelve. She is the author of several novels, including Brother, I'm Dying, Krik? Krak!, and The Dew Breaker. She was the recipient of a 2009 MacArthur Grant and holds a BA in French Literature from Barnard College and an MFA in Creative Writing from Brown University.


On January 19, 1899, Harriet Tubman was granted a pension for her work for the Union during the Civil War. She nursed fugitives at the Port Royal Camp in South Carolina as well as serving as a cook. She also led scouting parties that mapped nearby territory and provided key intelligence that led to the capture of Jacksonville, Florida. She was also first woman to lead an armed assault during the Civil War during the Combahee River Raid later worked with Colonel Robert Gould Shaw at the assault on Fort Wagner.  Shown here is H.R. 4982, a bill granting a pension to Harriet Tubman Davis, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives. National Archives Identifier 306578.

Photo Gallery

Dancer and Cabaret Singer Elizabeth Welch - January 19, 1934

Ernie Banks With Parents and Twin Sons During a visit by his parents to his home in Chicago, Chicago Cubs star shortstop; Stock Photo ID: BE043943; Date Photographed: January 19, 1960; Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA Credit: © Bettmann/CORBIS. Digital Diaspora Family Reunion Roadshow


Emmett Till Kidnapers DID Kill Him - Jet Magazine, January 19, 1956

African American Police.... Jet Magazine January 19, 1961

Malik Goes to School: Examining the Language Skills of African American Students from Preschool-5th Grade by Julie A. Washington. $8.91. Publisher: LEA (January 19, 2009). 194 pages


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