African American History

On January 1, 1864, Parker Robbins of Bertie County, a free person of color of mixed African and Native American descent, enlisted in the 2nd United State Colored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Monroe, Va.

On January 6, 1889, James Francis Shober, the first black physician with a medical degree to set up practice in North Carolina, died.

On January 10, 1924, popular jazz drummer Max Roach was born in Pasquotank County. Shortly after moving to New York City with his family in 1928, Roach began to study piano with his aunt.

On January 11, 1961, noted African-American educator and founder of the Palmer Memorial Institute, Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown died.

On January 11, 1909, alto saxophonist Talmage “Tab” Smith was born in Kinston.

On January 13, 1868, classes began at Raleigh’s Saint Augustine’s University.

On January 14, 1868, a North Carolina constitutional convention, now known as the “Convention of 1868,” opened in Raleigh.

On January 25, 1946, noted educator Orishatukeh Faduma died.

On February 1, 1960, four African American college students sat down at the lunch counter at Woolworth’s Department Store in downtown Greensboro and asked to be served.

On February 3, 1983, Henry Frye was sworn in as North Carolina’s first African-American Supreme Court Justice.

On February 6, 1971, Mike’s Grocery, a mom-and-pop store in Wilmington, was firebombed and burned.

On February 8, 1898, Warren Coleman and his associates laid the cornerstone for the nation’s first black-owned cotton mill in Concord.

On February 10, 1937, Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and pianist Roberta Flack was born in Black Mountain.

On February 10, 1854, African American orator and teacher, Joseph C. Price was born in Elizabeth City.

On February 11, 1813, freedom seeker, writer and abolitionist Harriet Jacobs was born in Edenton.

On February 13, 1941, Piedmont Blues musician “Blind Boy Fuller” died in Durham.

On February 14, 1943, saxophonist Maceo Parker was born in Kinston.

On February 17, 1963, American basketball superstar Michael Jeffrey Jordan was born in Brooklyn, New York.

On February 20, 1885, 22 years after Emancipation, freedmen in Edgecombe County incorporated Princeville, the state’s first town founded by African Americans.

On February 21, 1933, Nina Simone, often called the “high priestess of soul,” was born in the small town of Tryon in Polk County.

On February 25, 1870, Hiram Revels was seated in the United States Senate.

On February 27, 1964, black feminist activist, scholar and educator Anna Julia Haywood Cooper died at the age of 105.

On March 1, 1827, Thomas Day ran an advertisement in the local newspaper, the Milton Gazette & Roanoke Advertiser, thanking his patrons and advertising his handmade furniture and quality service. 

On March 21, 1949, the Freedom Riders surrendered at the Orange County Courthouse in Hillsborough and were sent to segregated chain gangs.

On March 24, 1862, African American educational leader George E. Davis was born in Wilmington.

On April 30, 1963, Angie Brooks and Allard Lowenstein attempted to have lunch together at two restaurants in downtown Raleigh but were denied service because Brooks was African.

On May 26, 1949, actress Pam Grier was born in Winston-Salem.

James H. Young was owner and editor of the Raleigh Gazette, the principal voice of black politics in North Carolina in the 1890s. He was elected to the state legislature from Wake County in 1894 and 1896.

On November 3, 1949, television actor and writer Michael Evans was born in Salisbury.

On November 8, 1965, Specialist/SFC Lawrence Joel of Winston-Salem, a Korean War veteran, began a routine patrol near Bien Hoa, Vietnam.

On November 9, 1973, civil rights activist Floyd McKissick broke ground on Soul City in rural Warren County.

On November 10, 1898, the year’s white supremacy campaign culminated with a violent political coup in Wilmington, marking the onset of the Jim Crow era of segregation in the state.

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On November 27, 1981, Mel Tomlinson made his debut as the only African American member of the New York City Ballet.

On December 6, 2010, officials of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, and others met to dedicate and unveil four plaques commemorating the extension of civic and voting rights.

On December 27, 1857, Republican Congressman, educator, and conservative and diplomatic advocate for racial equality Henry Plummer Cheatham was born into slavery near Henderson.

On December 31, 1900, renowned sculptor Selma Burke was born in Mooresville.