January 26

Angela Davis (born January 26, 1944) is an American political activist, scholar, and author. She emerged as a nationally prominent activist and radical in the 1960s....

Bessie Coleman (January 26, 1892 – April 30, 1926) was the first woman of African American or Native American descent to earn an aviator’s license. Unable to find anyone willing to train a black woman to fly in the U.S., she learned French so that she could train in France and was encouraged by Robert S. Abbott, founder and publisher of the Chicago Defender. She was the first American of any race or gender to earn an international pilot’s license. Upon returning to the U.S. she began a barnstroming career, first appearing at an American airshow on September 3, 1922, at an event honoring veterans of the all-black 369th Infantry Regiment of World War I. She died at age 34 during a test flight for an exhibition in Jacksonville, Florida before she could realize her dream of opening an aviation school for African Americans.


Zara Frances Cully (January 26, 1892 – February 28, 1978) was best known for her role as Olivia "Mother Jefferson" Jefferson on the CBS sitcom The Jeffersons (1975-78). She was one of the oldest performers active in television at the time of her death, and originated the Mother Jefferson role on an episode of All in the Family at the age of 82. A graduate of the Worcester School of Speech and Music, she was a drama teacher at her own studio as well as at Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, and had become known as Florida's "Dean of Drama" before relocating to Hollywood in 1940.

May Miller (January 26, 1899 – February 8, 1995) was the most widely published female playwright of the Harlem Renaissance, with seven published volumes of poetry during her career as a writer. She was a graduate of Howard University in 1920 and did graduate work in poetry and drama at American University and Columbia University, followed by twenty years teaching English and speech at Frederick Douglass High School, in Baltimore, Maryland. She helped establish the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, serving as Chair of the Literature Panel for the Commission’s first three years.  She was the daughter of educator and activist Kelly Miller.

Huey "Piano" Smith (born January 26, 1934, New Orleans, is a rhythm and blues pianist whose sound was influential in the development of rock and roll. Allmusic journalist, Steve Huey, noted "At the peak of his game, Smith epitomized New Orleans R & B at its most infectious and rollicking, as showcased on his classic signature tune, "Don't You Just Know It."

Ivan Gladstone Van Sertima (26 January 1935 – 25 May 2009) was born in Karina Village, Guyana, when Guyana was still a British colony; he retained his British citizenship throughout his life. He published They Came Before Columbus in 1976, as a Rutgers graduate student. The book deals mostly with his claims of African origin of Mesoamerican culture in the Western Hemisphere, but among other things also writing that the kings of the 25th Dynasty of Egypt were Nubians.

Sherian Grace Cadoria (born January 26, 1943) was the first African American female general in the United States Army and the highest ranking female at the time of her retirement in 1990 with the rank of Brigadier General. She is a graduate of Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and holds a Master of Arts degree in Social Work from the University of Oklahoma. Initially in the Women's Army Corps, she transferred to the Military Police Corps in the 1970s.

Angela Davis (born January 26, 1944) is an American political activist, scholar, and author. She emerged as a nationally prominent activist and radical in the 1960s, as a leader of the Communist Party USA, and had close relations with the Black Panther Party through her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement despite never being an official member of the party. She was a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in its History of Consciousness Department and a former director of the university's Feminist Studies department.

Dr. L. Natalie Carroll (born January 26, 1950) is a 1974 graduate of Meharry Medical College and the next year became the first woman to complete a surgery internship at the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. In 1978, became the first African American woman to complete an obstetrics/gynecology residency at the same facility. She has had an OB/GYN practice in Houston since 190, and in 2002 was elected president of the National Medical Association (NMA), the oldest and largest organization of black healthcare professionals in the United States.


On January 26, 1863, Edwin Stanton, the U.S. Secretary of War, gave Massachusetts Governor John A. Andrew permission to begin recruiting black troops for the first U.S. Colored Regiment. Andrew set about assembling officers for the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, all of whom are to be white, as mandated by the government. Two weeks after the call for volunteers, more than 1,000 free blacks from Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and other Northern states, as well as newly-freed slaves from the South, answered the call to join the 54th Massachusetts Infantry.

On January 26, 1990, Elaine Weddington Steward was named assistant general manager of the Boston Red Sox of the American League, becoming the first African American woman to hold an executive position in MLB. She graduated with honors from St. John’s University in 1984 with a B.S. in Athletic Administration, followed by a law degree from St. John's Law School in 1987. While attending St. John’s she served as an intern in the New York Mets public relations department, and joined the Red Sox as general counsel in 1988.

Photo Gallery

Historic American Buildings Survey W. N. Manning, Photographer, January 26, 1935 S.W. CORNER OF DOUBLE LOG SLAVE HOUSE - Freeman-Caver-Christian House, Upper Friendship Road, Oxford, Calhoun County, AL

Lena Horne and Eleanor Roosevelt in Mrs. Roosevelt’s Manhattan apartment prior to their appearance on 'The Frank Sinatra Timex Show' on January 26, 1960. Ms. Horne worked with the former first lady to pass anti-lynching legislation. Photo via Bettman/Corbis.

Earl Campbell (left) and Bum Phillips (right) are recognized as part of Houston's 41 sports legends during the opening ceremony of Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston, Texas, January 26, 2004.

US President Barack Obama walks to his car upon arriving in Romules, Michigan, on January 26, 2012. AFP Photo/Jewel Samad


Actress, singer, model and poet Mauryne Brent on the January 26, 1956 cover of Jet Magazine

Emmett Till Murder Case Could Be Reopened - Jet Magazine, January 26, 1956

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