February 4

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (February 4, 1913 -October 24, 2005) became a pivotal figure in the Civil Rights Movement wen she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in December 1955. Others had done the same in the last decade, but NAACP organizers believed that Parks, secretary of the local NAACP chapter, was the best candidate for seeing through a court challenge after her arrest for civil disobedience in violating Alabama segregation laws. She had recently attended the Highlander Folk School, a Tennessee center for training activists for workers' rights and racial equality. Shortly after the year-long boycott after her arrest, she moved to Detroit, where she found work as a seamstress. From 1965 to 1988 she served as secretary and receptionist to John Conyers, an African-American US Representative. She was also active in the Black Power movement and the support of political prisoners in the US. After retirement, she wrote her autobiography and continued to insist that the struggle for justice was not over and there was more work to be done.


John Rankin (February 4, 1793 – March 18, 1886) was an American Presbyterian minister, educator and abolitionist. Upon moving from Kentucky to Ripley, Ohio in 1822, he became known as one of Ohio's first and most active "conductors" on the Underground Railroad. During a visit by Rankin to Lane Theological Seminary to see one of his sons, he told Professor Calvin Stowe the story of a woman the Rankins had housed in 1838 after she escaped by crossing the frozen Ohio River with her child in her arms. Stowe's wife (Harriet Beecher Stowe) also heard the account and later modeled the character Eliza in her book Uncle Tom's Cabin after the woman.

Henry Alvin Cameron (February 4, 1872 - October 30, 1918) taught science and coached at Pearl High School in Nashville until he joined the military at age 45 during World War I. He was commissioned a First Lieutenant and served with Company M, 365th Infantry Regiment, 92nd Division. He was killed in action while on a scout patrol with his unit during the Battle of the Argonne Forest. He was the first of only three black men appointed officers in World War I from Tennessee and the only black officer to die from Tennessee.
Frank Wills (February 4, 1948 – September 27, 2000) was the security guard who alerted police to a possible break-in at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C., which eventually led to the uncovering of the truth about the Watergate Scandal that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.


The Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded on February 4, 1794 by Richard Allen. The church has been located at the corner of Sixth and Lombard Streets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, since that time, making it the oldest church property continuously owned by African Americans. The church was organized by African American members of St. George's Methodist Church who walked out due to racial segregation in the worship services

On February 4, 1875, Congressman James T. Rapier of Alabama rose on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to support the Civil Right bill then before Congress which when enacted later that year became the Civil Rights Act of 1875. He noted how the race issue in the United States society related to class and religious inequalities in other lands, and said that he was "half slave and half free", having political rights but no civil rights. He said that in Europe, "they have princes, dukes, and lords; in India, "brahmans or priests, who rank above the sudras or laborers;" in America, "our distinction is color."

During his playing days, Jackie Robinson’s impact was also felt off the field. On February 4, 1952, he was hired as the Director of Community Activities for a radio station, WNBC, and the television station WNBT, becoming the first African-American executive of a major radio and television station. “It also gives us a chance to combat communist propaganda by showing there are plenty of opportunities for Negroes in this country,” Robinson once said about his new position.

On February 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr, gave his "Drum Major Instinct" sermon. King encouraged his congregation to seek greatness, but to do so through service and love. King concluded the sermon by imagining his own funeral, downplaying his famous achievements and emphasizing his heart to do right. It was an adaptation of an homily by the same name given by J. Wallace Hamilton, a well-known, liberal, white Methodist preacher.

On February 4, 1999, when Amadou Diallo, a 23-year-old immigrant from Guinea, was shot and killed by four New York City Police Department plain-clothed officers: Sean Carroll, Richard Murphy, Edward McMellon and Kenneth Boss. The officers fired a combined total of 42 shots, 19 of which struck Diallo, outside his apartment at 1157 Wheeler Avenue in the Soundview section of The Bronx. The four were part of the now-defunct Street Crimes Unit. All four officers were charged with second-degree murder and acquitted at trial in Albany, New York.

Photo Gallery

The Negro janitors of the plant maintenance department in North America's Kansas City factory in V-formation as they start out on their daily tasks. February 4, 1942. Carl Conley. 208-NP-1KK-1

Sammy Davis, Jr., Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier in an outtake from their February 4, 1966 LIFE magazine cover. Photo: Philippe Halsman/Magnum Photos.

February 4th - Michelle Obama's 2010 Style Diary


Jet Magazine, February 4, 1954

Dorothy Dandridge, Johnny Mathis, Maria and Nat King Cole at Hiltoppers Charity Guild Benefit - Jet Magazine, February 4, 1960

Marty Phillips is a Junior at Columbus Ohio East High School - Jet Magazine February 4, 1960

"Thou, Dear God" is the first and only collection of sixty-eight prayers by Martin Luther King, Jr. Arranged thematically in six parts--with prayers for spiritual guidance, special occasions, times of adversity, times of trial, uncertain times, and social justice--Baptist minister and King scholar Lewis Baldwin introduces the book and each section with short essays. On sale February 4, 2014. Paperback, $15.00

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