Black in the Day…A Fire Invention

September 30, 1975: On this day Virgie Ammons was granted a patent for her invention, the fireplace damper activating tool. This tool prevents cold air and dust from blowing down the chimney and back into the house by allowing the chimney damper to be locked in the closed position. According to her patent abstract, her damper addressed the problem of fireplace dampers that flutter and make noise when gusty winds affected the chimney. Moreover, some dampers do not remain fully shut and Ammons was concerned that, “even a slightly open damper could…

Black in the Day…We’re On the Air

September 29, 1975: On this day WGPR-TV (Where God’s Presence Radiates), the first Black fully owned and operated television station in the U.S., kicked into the air on when it made its first broadcast. WGPR-TV first aired on channel 62 in Detroit, Michigan.  Station founder William Venoid Banks was a Detroit attorney, minister and prominent member of the International Free and Accepted Modern Masons, an organization he founded in 1950. The Masons owned the majority of stock in WGPR-TV. The station initially broadcast religious shows, R&B music shows, off-network dramas, syndicated…

Black in the Day…Voter Suppression Violence

September 28, 1868:   On this date one of the worst outbreaks of violence during Reconstruction took place in Opelousas, Louisiana. The Opelousas massacre occurred. That city in Louisiana was the site where local Blacks lost their lives by violent whites (many of them Confederate veterans and prominent citizens). The event started with three local members of the KKK-like Knights of the White Camelia beating teacher and newspaper editor Emerson Bentley—while he was teaching class—because he had promoted voter registration and education for all. After some Black folks, mostly freedmen, came…

Black in the Day…It Was Written

September 27, 1950:   On this day Gwendolyn Brooks became the first Black person to win a Pulitzer Prize for her book of poetry, Annie Allen. This wasn’t her only first that she accomplished. She also was poetry consultant to the Library of Congress—the first Black woman to hold that position—and poet laureate of the State of Illinois. Also, In 1976, she became the first Black woman inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Gwendolyn Brooks is one of the most highly regarded, influential, and widely read poets of 20th-century…

Black in the Day…An FTC First

September 26, 1962: On this day A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., becomes the first African American member of the Federal Trade Commission.  In 1962 President Kennedy appointed Higginbotham to the Federal Trade Commission making him the youngest and first African American to ever serve on a federal regulatory commission. But this was not the only first that he accomplished. In 1964 Higginbotham was appointed the first African American Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by President Lyndon Johnson. By doing so, he became one of the youngest people…