February 9

Alice Walker (born February 9, 1944) is best known for her 1982 novel The Color Purple which won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and was made into an Academy Award-winning film starring Whoopi Golberg and Oprah Winfrey.  Her first book of poetry was published while she was a senior at Sarah Lawrence College. After joining the civil rights movement in Mississippi and later working as an editor at Ms. magazine, her first novel, The Third Life of Grange Copeland was published in 1970, followed by Meridian in 1976. Later novels include The Temple of My Familiar and Possessing the Secret of Joy,which feature several characters and descendants of characters from The Color Purple.


John C. Bowers (February 9, 1811 – October 5, 1873) was an entrepreneur, organist and vestryman at St. Thomas African Episcopal Church, and a founding member of the first Grand United Order of Odd Fellows for African Americans in Pennsylvania.He was active in the anti-slavery movement in Philadelphia, and involved in the founding of several organizations including the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society. He was a vocal opponent of the American Colonization Society, which promoted the idea that free blacks should leave the United States and emigrate to Liberia. In 1855 he was a delegate to the Colored National Convention, and in 1865 he was elected president of the Colored People's Union League of Philadelphia.

Dr. Lawrence A. Nixon (February 9, 1883 - March 6, 1966) attended Wiley College and Meharry Medical College before establishing a practice in El Paso where he was a founder of both Myrtle Avenue Methodist Church and the local NAACP branch. He filed suit after being denied the right to vote and won two Supreme Court decisions (Nixon v. Herndon, 1923 and Nixon v. Condon, 1932) but the state managed to find loopholes to maintain the White Democratic Primary until 1944.

Blanche Calloway (February 9, 1902 - December 16, 1978) was a Jazz singer, bandleader, & composer from Baltimore, Maryland. She is not as well known as her younger brother Cab Calloway, but she may have been the first woman to lead an all male orchestra. Cab Calloway often credited her with being the reason he got into show business. She made her first recordings in 1925, with Louis Armstrong as a sideman on the session.

Charles Anderson (February 9, 1907 - April 13, 1996) is viewed as “the father of black aviation” for his role as the trainer of the Tuskegee Airmen. Whenhe received his pilot’s license in 1932, he was the only black flight instructor in America. It was Chief Anderson at the controls when First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt took a 40-minute flight which led to the creation of the Tuskegee Airmen program.

Lloyd Noel Ferguson (February 9, 1918 - November 30, 2011) was a chemistry professor at North Caolina A&T, Howard University, and California State University at Los Angeles. While at Howard he created the first doctoral program in chemistry at any HBCU, and throughout his career helped to develop programs such as Support of the Educationally and Economically Disadvantaged and the Minority Biomedical Research Program that encourage young minority students wishing to pursue higher education and careers in science. In 1972, he co-founded the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers.


On February 9, 1971, Satchel Paige became the first player from the Negro League to be elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Paige played primarily for the St. Louis Browns before joining the Cleveland Indians in 1948, becoming baseball's oldest rookie at age 42. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn had introduced the idea of inducting four Negro League players annually several years previously, and it was postponed until Paige could be the first player selected when he became eligible in 1971.

Photo Gallery

On February 9, 1965, Martin Luther King, Jr. met with President Lyndon Johnson to discuss voting rights for African Americans. He pledged swift action on legislation. Several months later on August 6, he signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965

Coretta Scott King displaying her book My Life With Martin Luther King Jr. February 9, 1970.

On February 9, 1995 Bernard Harris opened the door of a space shuttle and stepped into the history books by becoming the first African American to walk in space.

Dylan and the Obamas at the White House, after a performance celebrating music from the civil rights movement (February 9, 2010)

This portrait is of some of the officers of t the 447th Bombardment Group - known better as the Tuskeegee Airmen. Luther McIlwain, front row fourth from the left, was a navigator in the group. He passed away on February 9, 2013 at the age of 91.


February 9, 1956; Jet Magazine

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