1907 — Grace Towns Hamilton, civil rights activist and politician, is born
In 1965, Grace Towns Hamilton was the first African-American woman elected to the Georgia General Assembly, and she served in the Georgia House of Representatives until 1984. A chair in the Emory University political science department was named in her honor.
1964 — U.S. House of Representatives passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964
By a vote of 290-130, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited any state or local government or public facility from denying access to anyone because of race or ethnic origin. It also provided the U.S. attorney general with the power to bring school desegregation lawsuits. The federal government was allowed to stop giving federal funds to companies or states that discriminated. The Civil Rights Act was signed into law on July 2, 1964.
1971 — Major League Baseball welcomes first African-American baseball announcer
Bill White, the former first baseman and five-time All-Star, was recommended for the New York Yankees play-by-play job by broadcast/radio legend Howard Cosell. In 1971, White became the first African-American broadcaster for a major-league team, even though he had never called a baseball game.
1989 — First African-American chairman appointed by a major U.S. party
Attorney Ronald Brown became the first African-American elected national chairman of the Democratic Party. Five years later, he was named secretary of commerce by President Bill Clinton and served in this role until he was killed, along with 32 other people, in 1996 plane crash en route to a diplomatic mission in Croatia.
1990 — Date of Nelson Mandela’s release is announced
South African President F.W. de Klerk announced to parliament that Nelson Mandela would be released unconditionally on Feb. 11. The news took many by surprise. Besides Mandela, other political activists were also freed. The formation of a democratic South Africa would eventually result from this action.
1992 — Renowned author Alex Haley dies
Alex Haley, who became famous as a result of his novel Roots, which traced his family’s lineage back to Africa and retells the story of seven American generations, dies.