January 23

On January 23, 1964, the 24th Amendment was ratified, outlawing the poll tax as a prerequisite for voting in Federal elections, with the Supreme Court ruling the following year in Harper v Board of Elections that it was unconstitutional in elections at any level. Southern states of the former Confederacy had adopted poll taxes in laws of the late 19th century and new constitutions from 1890 to 1908 as a way to prevent African Americans and often poor whites from voting. Efforts had been made state-by-state to abolish it over the previous two decades, and at the time of the ratification, only Virginia, Alabama, Texas, Arkansas, and Mississippi still had a poll tax.


Amanda Berry Smith (January 23, 1837 – February 24, 1915) became an evangelist and missionary for the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church following the death of her husband in the Civil War. She worked primarily in the western U.S. until a visit to England led to missionary work in India, Liberia, and other countries in western Africa. After her return to the U.S. she founded the The Amanda Smith Orphanage and Industrial Home for Abandoned and Destitute Colored Children in West Harvey, Illinois, near Chicago. Her autobiography was published in 1893.

Ora Mae Washington (January 23, 1898 - December 21, 1971) led the Tribune Girls (sponsored by the Philadelphia Tribune) to 11 straight Women's Colored Basketball World Championships from 1930 to 1940. She also played tennis, winning the American Tennis Association singles title 8 times out of 9 years (1929-1937) and 12 straight doubles titles. In 2009 she was elected to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

Ajay Deforest Johnson (January 23, 1901 - October 12, 1996) is shown here in a clipping from  the Chicago Defender (November 15, 1947) about his promotion to lieutenant in the LAPD, going on to say: "The promotion was one of several moves planned by the department and city officials to improve race relations, further integration of the force and speed up an even better law enforcement on the coast." Lt. Johnson was a native of Waco, Texas, and before joining the police force in 1929 was a pitched for the Los Angeles Sox and the Philadelphia Royal Giants.

Benjamin Arthur Quarles (January 23, 1904 - November 16, 1996) was a historian who taught at Shaw, Dillard, and Morgan State Universities over a period of 40 years. He was a prolific writer, focusing on the contributions made by the black soldiers and abolitionists of the American Revolution and the Civil War, and many of his books were required reading in the African-American history courses that were developed in American universities during the 1960s with the civil rights movement and increasing interest in the history of minorities and women. Major books by Dr. Quarles include The Negro in the American Revolution (1961), Black Abolitionists (1969), The Negro in the Civil War (1953), and Lincoln and the Negro (1962).

Sir William Arthur Lewis (January 23, 1915 — June 15, 1991) was a Saint Lucian economist noted for his contributions in the field of economic development. In 1979 he won the Nobel Prize in Economics, becoming the first black person to win a Nobel Prize in a category other than peace, and is one of two St Lucian Nobel laureates. He held a PhD from the London School of Economics (1940) and taught there until until he was named a lecturer at the University of Manchester in 1948. He was the first economic consultant to Ghana after the nation gained its indepenence in 1957, and later returned to the Caribbean before accepting a faculty position at Princeton where he taught from 1963 to 1983.

Robert Parris (Bob) Moses (born January 23, 1935) was field secretary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), project director of the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), and one of the chief organizers of the Freedom Summer voter registration movement and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 1982, which he used to implement Project Algebra to improve the math skills of low-income students. He holds a BA from Hamilton College and an MA in the philosophy of mathematics from Harvard University, and has taught in The Bronx, New York; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Jackson, Mississippi; and Miami, Florida.


On January 23, 1891, Dr. Daniel Hale Williams founded Provident Hospital and Training School in Chicago, the first hospital in the United States owned and operated hospital in the U.S. Though the historic Provident Hospital was forced to close in 1987 due to financial difficulties, it reopened in 1993 as part of Cook County's Bureau of Health Services to provide services to residents of Chicago's South Side. It is now known as Provident Hospital of Cook County.

On January 23, 1957, truck driver Willie Edwards Jr. was on his way to work in Montgomery, Alabama, when he was stopped by four Klansmen. The men mistook Edwards for another man who they believed was dating a white woman. They forced Edwards at gunpoint to jump off a bridge into the Alabama River. His body was found three months later.

Photo Gallery

On January 23, 1943, legendary musician Duke Ellington played at Carnegie Hall in New York for the first time. 

On January 23, 1976, noted singer, actor and activist Paul Robeson died in Philadelphia


Sam and Barbara Cooke | Sam Cooke Is Dating Harlean Harris - Jet Magazine, January 23, 1958

The Black History of the White House (City Lights Open Media) by Clarence Lusane. $14.45. Author: Clarence Lusane. 544 pages. Publisher: City Lights Publishers; 1 edition (January 23, 2013)


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