1775 – The Continental Congress of the United States issues the order to bar blacks from the army.
1868 – Famed composer and pianist Scott Joplin, the “King of Ragtime,” is born in Northeast Texas.
1870 – Robert Sengstacke Abbott, founder of the black-owned Chicago Defender newspaper, is born in Chicago.
1949 – Famed tap dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson dies of heart failure in New York City at 71.
1955 – The Interstate Commerce Commission bans racial segregation on interstate buses, train lines and in waiting rooms.
1975 – South American nation Suriname gains its independence from the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
1883 – Famed abolitionist, author and human rights activist Sojourner Truth dies in her Battle Creek, Michigan, home at age 86.
1895 – The National Negro Medical Association is founded.
1907 – Rudolph Dunbar, the first black man to conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra, is born in Nabacalis, British Guiana.
1939 – Music icon Tina Turner is born in Nutbush, Tennessee.
1928 – Marjorie Joyner is issued a patent for a hair wave machine.
1942 – Rock legend and guitar virtuoso Jimi Hendrix is born in Seattle.
1929 – Berry Gordy, record producer and songwriter best known as the founder of the Motown record label and its subsidiaries, is born in Detroit.
1960 – North African nation Mauritania gains its independence from France.
1960 – Author Richard Wright, whose best-known works include “Native Son” and “Black Boy,” dies of a heart attack in Paris at 52.
1961 – Ernie Davis, a halfback at Syracuse University, becomes the first black Heisman Trophy winner.
1908 – Politician Adam Clayton Powell Jr., New York’s first black congressman, is born in New Haven, Connecticut.
1919 – Pearl Primus, noted 20th-century choreographer, dancer and anthropologist, is born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
1875 – Alexander P. Ashbourne patents an improved biscuit cutter.
1897 – Inventor J.A. Sweeting patents a cigarette-rolling device.
1912 – Famed photographer and film director Gordon Parks is born in Fort Scott, Kansas.
1924 – Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Congress and the first black major-party candidate for president, is born in New York City.
1966 – The Caribbean nation of Barbados gains its independence from the United Kingdom.