1933 – Grammy-winning singer Lou Rawls is born in Chicago.
1940 – Iconic comedian Richard Pryor is born in Peoria, Illinois.
1955 – Rosa Parks refuses to yield her seat to a white man, initiating the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which lasted for approximately a year.
1971 – Arthur Spingarn, lawyer and former NAACP president, dies in his New York City home at 93.
1987 – Carrie Saxon Perry begins her term as the mayor of Hartford, Connecticut, becoming first black woman elected mayor of a major northeastern U.S. city.
1987 – Novelist James Baldwin dies in France of stomach cancer at 63.
1859 – White abolitionist John Brown is hanged in Charlestown, Virginia, for leading the raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia.
1884 – Inventor Granville T. Woods patents the telephone transmitter.
1891 – Charles Wesley, historian and educator who served as president of Wilberforce University and Central State University, is born in Louisville, Kentucky.
1922 – Politician and civil rights leader Charles C. Diggs, the first African-American elected to Congress from Michigan, is born in Detroit.
1969 – Marie Van Brittan Brown patents a home security system with television surveillance.
1975 – Ohio State running back Archie Griffin becomes the first person ever to win consecutive Heisman Trophies.
1989 – Andre Ware of the University of Houston becomes the first African-American quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy.
1847 – Frederick Douglass starts The North Star, an anti-slavery newspaper.
1906 – Alpha Phi Alpha, the first Black Greek Letter fraternity is founded at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
1909 – The New York Amsterdam News, a weekly African-American newspaper, is founded by James H. Anderson.
1969 – Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark are killed by Chicago police.
1784 – Phyllis Wheatley, the first published African-American female poet, dies in Boston at 31.
1931 – Singer James Cleveland, “The King of Gospel Music,” is born in Chicago.
1932 – Music icon Little Richard is born in Macon, Georgia.
1935 – Mary McLeod Bethune founds National Council of Negro Women in New York City.
1957 – New York became the first city to legislate against racial or religious discrimination in the housing market with adoption of Fair Housing Practices Law.
1932 – Richard B. Spikes patents the automatic gearshift.
1936 – Richard Francis Jones becomes first African-American certified in urology.
1949 – Blues legend Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter dies in New York City at 60.
1967 – Madame Lillian Evanti, famed African-American opera singer, dies in Washington, D.C., at 77.
1942 – Reginald Lewis, the first African-American business owner to build a billion-dollar company, is born in Baltimore.