January 22

On January 22, 1964, SNCC organizers held Freedom Day in Hattiesburg, Mississippi in an attempt to have hundreds of black residents register to vote in a county where not one black person was registered. 

William Warfield (January 22, 1920 - August 26, 2002) is best known for his performance as Joe in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's 1951 remake of Show Boat. The next year he performed in Porgy and Bess during a tour of Europe sponsored by the U.S. State Department (he made six separate tours for the State Department, more than any other solo artist.) In the production he played opposite the opera star Leontyne Price, whom he later married. He was a graduate of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and during World War II was the only African American member of the "Ritchie Boys", thousands of soldiers who were trained at Fort Ritchie, Maryland, an intelligence center where hundreds of Jewish recruits who fled Nazi Germany for the United States were trained to interrogate their one-time countrymen. He was chosen because of his fluency in German  as a result of his musical education.


Walter L. Cohen, Sr. (January 22, 1860 – December 29, 1930) was one of the few African American political appointees in the post-Reconstruction South, serving as a customs inspector in New Orleans under under President McKinley, registrar of the federal land office under President Teddy Roosevelt, and comptroller of customs by under President Warren G. Harding. He was a delegate to all Republican National Conventions between 1896 and 1924, and in 1928 President Coolidge offered him the position of minister to Liberia, but he declined the offer. He was also the founder and president of the People's Life Insurance Company in New Orleans.

Justina Laurena Ford (January 22, 1871 – October 14, 1952) was the first licensed African American female doctor in Denver, Colorado, and practiced gynecology, obstetrics, and pediatrics from her home for half a century. It wasn't until 1950 that she was allowed to join the Colorado and American Medical Associations, and she also became a member of the Denver Medical Society, working in the Denver General Hospital.


"Blind" Willie Johnson (January 22, 1897 – September 18, 1945) was a blues singer and guitarist, whose music straddled the border between blues and spirituals. While the lyrics of his songs were often religious, his music drew from both sacred and blues traditions. His music is distinguished by his powerful bass thumb-picking and gravelly false-bass voice, with occasional use of a tenor voice.

Sam Cooke (born Samuel Cook, January 22, 1931 - December 11, 1964) had 30 U.S. top 40 hits between 1957 and 1964, plus three more posthumously. He is perhaps best remembered for "A Change Is Gonna Come", a classic protest song from the era of the Civil Rights Movement which was released shortly after his death. Other hits include "You Send Me", "A Change Is Gonna Come", "Cupid", "Chain Gang", "Wonderful World", "Another Saturday Night", and "Twistin' the Night Away". He died of a gunshot wound received in the lobby of the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles, which the motel's manager, Bertha Franklin, claimed was in self-defense.

Private First Class James Anderson, Jr (January 22, 1947 - February 28, 1967) was a United States Marine who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for heroism while serving in Vietnam in February 1967. When his Medal of Honor was awarded on August 21, 1968, he became the first African-American U.S. Marine recipient of the Medal of Honor. The United States Navy prepositioning ship, USNS PFC James Anderson Jr. (T-AK 3002) is named in honor and there is also a public park named for him in his hometown of Carson, California.


On January 22, 1964, SNCC organizers held Freedom Day in Hattiesburg, Mississippi in an attempt to have hundreds of black residents register to vote in a county where not one black person was registered. Participants included Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker (both shown here), Bob Moses, John Lewis, James Forman, and Howard Zinn. Protesters marched in a heavy rain while one applicant was allowed into the court house every fifteen minutes to register. There were no mass arrests or beatings, although Moses was arrested for obstructing trafffic and NYU Law School graduate Oscar Chase was arrested after a minor traffic accident with no damage for leaving the scene  of the accident and was beaten while in police custody.

On January 22, 2009 Susan Rice confirmed as UN ambassador by the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent on January 22, 2009. She is the first African American woman to hold that office. She had previously served on the staff of the National Security Council and as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during President Bill Clinton's second term.

Photo Gallery

January 22, 1972 — The Persuaders perform "Thin Line Between Love & Hate" on Soul Train

Michelle Obama, January 22, 2013


Petty Officer First Class James McDaniel, USCGR "Coast Guardsman James McDaniel of Roselle, N.J., steward’s mate first class, who has filled his post as loader in a 20-millimeter gun crew aboard an attack transport during three invasions in the South Pacific." /22 January 1944 issue of Baltimore’s The Afro-American

Former Model Taffy Douglas Is On A Jazz Tour of European Cities - Jet Magazine, January 22, 1959

Dorothy Dandridge stretching in preparation for her Porgy and Bess role with Walter Saxer, in the January 22, 1959 issue of Jet Magazine

Dinah Washington and Laverne Baker Sing at Bistro While in Mink Coats - Jet Magazine, January 22, 1959

Black Wings: Courageous Stories of African Americans in Aviation and Space History by Von Hardesty. $17.10. 192 pages. Publisher: Smithsonian (January 22, 2008). Publication: January 22, 2008.

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