February 3

On February 3, 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified, granting citizens the right to vote regardless of race, color, or "previous condition of servititude." It was the third of three "Reconstruction Amendments",  and the election of Ulysses S. Grant to the presidency in 1868 convinced a majority of Republicans that protecting the franchise of black male voters was important for the party's future. However, it was frequently bypassed by Southern state constitutions which enacted poll taxes or literacy tests to vote. These were often waived for white voters, and the origin of the term "grandfather clause" came from allowing men to vote if their grandfathers had voted.


Horace Greeley (February 3, 1811 – November 29, 1872) was founder and editor of the New York Tribune which took editorial positions in opposition to slavery in the late 1830s, opposing the annexation of the slaveholding Republic of Texas to the United States. In the 1840s, Greeley became an increasingly vocal opponent of the expansion of slavery. Long active in politics, he served briefly as a congressman from New York, and was the unsuccessful candidate of the new Liberal Republican party in the 1872 presidential election against incumbent President Ulysses S. Grant.

Edward James Roye (February 3, 1815 - February 11, 1872) served as the fifth President of Liberia from 1870 to his overthrow and subsequent violent death in 1871. A prosperous barber in Terre Haute, Indiana he immigrated to Liberia in 1846 and set up business as a merchant. Within three years of his arrival, he became active in Liberian politics. Before being elected president he served as Speaker of the Liberian House of Representatives and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia.

Charles Henry Turner (February 3, 1867 - February 15, 1923) was a prominent research biologist, educator, zoologist, and comparative psychologist born in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was the first African American to receive a graduate degree at the University of Cincinnati (1892) and  to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago (1907). His research showed that insects can hear and can distinguish pitch. In addition, he found that cockroaches can learn by trial and error and that honeybees can see color. Details of his work can be found here.

Charles W. Follis, a.k.a. "The Black Cyclone," (February 3, 1879 – April 5, 1910) was the first black professional American football player. He played for the Shelby Blues of the "Ohio League" from 1902 to 1906. On September 16, 1904, Follis signed a contract with Shelby making him the first African American contracted to play professional football. He was also the first black catcher to move from college baseball onto a black professional baseball team.

Lil Hardin Armstrong (February 3, 1898 – August 27, 1971) was a jazz pianist, composer, arranger, singer, and bandleader. She was the second wife of Louis Armstrong, with whom she collaborated on many recordings in the 1920s. They met when both were performing with King Oliver's orchestra in Chicago and were married in 1924. In the 1930s, sometimes billing herself as "Mrs. Louis Armstrong", Hardin led an "All Girl Orchestra", and later a mixed-sex big band which broadcast nationally over the NBC radio network. In the same decade she recorded a series of sides for Decca Records as a swing vocalist and performed as piano accompanist for many other singers.

Mabel Mercer (February 3, 1900 – April 20, 1984) was an English-born cabaret singer who performed in the United States, Britain, and Europe with the greats in jazz and cabaret. She was a featured performer at Chez Bricktop in Paris, owned by the hostess Bricktop, and performed in such clubs as Le Ruban Bleu, Tony's, the RSVP, the Carlyle, the St. Regis Hotel, and eventually her own room, the Byline Club. Among those who frequently attended Mercer's shows was Frank Sinatra, who made no secret of his emulating her phrasing and story-telling techniques.

Emile Alphonse Griffith (February 3, 1938 – July 23, 2013) was a professional boxer from the U.S. Virgin Islands who became a World Champion in the welterweight, junior middleweight, and middleweight classes. His best known contest was a 1962 title match with Benny Paret which he won by a knockout. Paret never recovered consciousness and died in the hospital 10 days later. New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller created a commission to investigate the incident and the sport. ABC, which televised the fatal bout, ended its boxing broadcasts and other networks followed; the sport would not return to free television until the 1970s. Griffith reportedly felt guilt over Paret's death and suffered nightmares about Paret for 40 years.

Marlon Troy Riggs (February 3, 1957 – April 5, 1994) was a gay African American filmmaker, educator, poet, and gay rights activist. He produced, wrote, and directed several television documentaries, including Ethnic Notions, Tongues Untied, Color Adjustment, and Black Is. . . Black Ain't. Riggs' aesthetically innovative and socially provocative films examine past and present representations of race and sexuality in America.
Princess Angela of Liechtenstein (born February 3, 1958 in Bocas del Toro, Panama) is the wife of Prince Maximilian of Liechtenstein. Princess Angela and her son, Prince Alfons, are the highest ranked black members of a reigning European dynasty.


On February 3, 1956, Autherine J. Lucy became the first black student to attend the University of Alabama. However, three days later she was expelled, as what was referred to for "her own safety" in response to threats. In 1992, Autherine Lucy-Foster graduated from the University with a master’s degree in education. That same day her daughter, Grazia Foster, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in corporate finance

On February 3, 1965, voting rights demonstrators were arrested during a protest at the Dallas Country Courthouse in Selma, Alabama at the order of Sheriff Jim Clark. Five hundred and tweny were arrested on that day, bringing the total for the three-day protest to almost 1300.

Photo Gallery

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at Capital City Charter School, February 3, 2009


African American Viewers and the Black Situation Comedy: Situating Racial Humor (Studies in African American History and Culture) by Robin R. Means Coleman. $53.00. Author: Robin R. Means Coleman. Publisher: Routledge (February 3, 2000)

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