February 15

On February 15, 2011, Maya Angelou and Rep. John Lewis were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, along with 13 other recipients. The medal is the nation's highest civilian award.


Jean-Pierre Boyer (possibly February 15, 1776 - July 9, 1850) was one of the leaders of the Haitian Revolution, and President of Haiti from 1818 to 1843. He reunited the north and south of Haiti in 1820 and also occupied and took control of Santo Domingo, which brought all of Hispaniola under one government by 1822. Boyer managed to rule for the longest period of time of any of the revolutionary leaders of his generation.

Rebecca Cox Jackson (February 15, 1795 -1871) was orphaned at an early age, eventually making her home with her older brother, Joseph, an AME minister in Philadelphia. She had a religious experience in 1830 and began to have visions in which she discovered the presence of a divine inner voice that instructed her in the use of her spiritual gifts. She soon developed a large following among a neighborhood "Covenant Meeting," but this displeased her brother and others in the AME Church. She became an itinerant preacher for six years until she joined a Shaker family in Watervliet, New York, where she was recognized as a prophetess. In 1859 she and another member, Rebecca Perot, left to found an African American Shaker family in Philadelphia.

Susan B. Anthony (February 15, 1820 – March 13, 1906) was an American social reformer and women's rights activist who played a pivotal role in the women's suffrage movement. Born into a Quaker family committed to social equality, she collected anti-slavery petitions at the age of 17. In 1856, she became the New York state agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society.

James "Kokomo" Arnold (February 15, 1896 or 1901 – November 8, 1968) was an American blues musician. A left-handed slide guitarist, his intense style of playing and rapid-fire vocal delivery set him apart from his contemporaries. He got his nickname in 1934 after releasing "Old Original Kokomo Blues" for Decca Records, a cover version of Scrapper Blackwell's blues song about the city of Kokomo, Indiana.

Louise Shropshire (February 15, 1913 - November 26, 1993) was discovered by Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey at the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses (NCGCC). He was impressed by Louise’s talent as a composer and choir director and asked her to direct the mass choir segment of his convention. Together they co-wrote and copyrighted the gospel hymn, "Behold the Man of Galilee". She raised funds in Cincinnati for the civil rights movement, and hosted Dr. King when he was in the area.

Claudia Jones, née Claudia Vera Cumberbatch (February 15, 1915 - December 24, 1964), was a Trinidad-born journalist. As a child she migrated with her family to the US, where she became a political activist and black nationalist through Communism, using the false name Jones as"self-protective disinformation". As a result of her political activities, she was deported in 1955 and subsequently resided in the United Kingdom. She founded Britain's first Black newspaper, The West Indian Gazette, in 1958

Leland Melvin (born February 15, 1964) has been an astronaut, science educator, and NFL draft pick. He is currently the host of Lifetime's "Child Genius" and the proud parent of two rescue dogs.


On February 15, 1851 Shadrach Minkins was arrested in Boston under the Fugitive Slave Act after having fled from slavery in Virginia the previous year. During his trial members of the Boston Vigilance Committee were able to free him and enable his escape to Canada. His rescue led for calls for Federal troops to assist U.S. Marshals to capture fugitive slaves.

On February 15, 1968, Henry Lewis became the first African American to lead a symphony orchestra in the United States when he became the conductor and musical director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. He had previously played double-bass with and conducted the Seventh Army Symphony in Germany and the Netherlands while serving in the U.S. Army, and served as assistant conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra under Zubin Mehta, a post he held from 1961 to 1965.

Photo Gallery

African American children in St. Louis Cemetery #1, February 15, 1901

Somewhere in England, Maj. Charity E. Adams…and Capt. Abbie N. Campbell…inspect the first contingent of Negro members of the Women’s Army Corps assigned to overseas service, February 15, 1945 (National Archives, Record Group 111, ARC 531249)

On February 15, 1964: Louis Armstrong's "Hello Dolly" Becomes His First and Only Number 1 Record.

Malcolm X, February 15, 1965

In her new uniform, Mrs Sislin Fay Allen, who will become Britain's first black policewoman when she finishes her training - UK - 15 February 1968

February 15, 1978: Leon Spinks beats Muhammad Ali and Wins World Heavyweight Title. One of the five to bring home gold from the Montreal Games, Spinks upsets the 8-1 odds and improves his pro log to 7-0-1 (5)

Seven medical doctors, all members of  Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, arrived in Liberia on February 15, 2013 with the sole purpose of serving humanity by providing free surgeries and other medical services to Liberians in Monrovia and other counties.

John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk. February 15, 2013 in Miami.

On February 15, 2013, President Obama awarded the 2012 Citizens Medal to the families of the the six slain Sandy Hook heroes (educators).


During the Civil War, 880 troops of the Union Army, Navy, and Coast Guard attacked and defeated Confederate forces at Fort Clark and Fort Hatteras in 1861 securing for Federal forces their first victory of the American Civil War. Housing which was dubbed "Hotel DeAfrique," was erected near Fort Hatteras for the reception of contrabands. Later a "Freedman's Colony" was established on Roanoke Island. (Sketch of Hotel DeAfrique, from the February 15, 1862 issue of Harper's Weekly.)

Margaret Bourke White. In the February 15, 1937 issue of Life Magazine, her famous photo of African American drought victims standing in-front of a sign which declared, "World's Highest Standard of Living," (ironically) depicting a white family, was published. The photograph would later become the basis for the artwork of Curtis Mayfield's 1975 album, There's No Place Like America Today.

The Conjure Woman and Other Works by Charles W. Chesnutt (Unexpurgated Edition) (Halcyon Classics) by Charles W. Chesnutt. $1.99. Publisher: Halcyon Press Ltd.; First edition (February 15, 2010). 979 pages

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