December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Black citizens banned together and initiated the Montgomery Bus Boycott protest against racial segregation on public transit, which was foundational in the Civil Rights Movement.
December 2, 1969: Marie Van Brittan Brown’s patent “Home Security System Utilizing Television Surveillance” was approved making Brown the inventor of the first home security system that is the foundation of modern systems used today.
December 3, 1847: Frederick Douglass published the first issue of The North Star, which advocated for the freedom of enslaved Black people and equality among all people regardless of race or creed.
December 4, 1906: Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc., the first Black Greek Letter fraternity was founded at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York by seven college students. Henry Arthur Callis, Charles Henry Chapman, Eugene Kinckle Jones, George Biddle Kelley, Nathaniel Allison Murray, Robert Harold Ogle, and Vertner Woodson Tandy known as the “Jewels” of the fraternity. The first alumni chapter was established in 1911.
December 5 1935: The National Council of Negro Women
Educators (NCNW) was founded by Mary McLeod Bethune, a civil and women’s rights activist. The NCNW remains active to this day with 32 national organizations connecting over 2,000,000 women and men.
December 6, 1936: Dr. Richard Francis Jones was the first Black American to be certified as a urologist. His work as an assistant in gynecology and urology at Freedmen’s Hospital (now called Howard University Hospital) led Jones to become the first Black Diplomate of the American Board of Urology and the sixth Black to be a board certified specialist.
December 7, 1941: Doris “Dorie” Miller, a Black cook onboard the USS West Virginia, shot down four enemy planes during the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor. Miller was one of the first heroes of World War II and the first Black American to be awarded the Navy Cross, the second highest decoration for valor in combat.
PROVIDED BY: Beck Cultural Exchange Center, 1927 Dandridge Ave., Knoxville, TN. Beck is the protector and storehouse of artifacts of the lives of Black East Tennesseans, which includes pictures, documents, souvenirs, historical accountings of the experiences of African-Americans in East Tennessee history. For more information, visit BeckCenter.net; Email, BeckCenter@BeckCenter.net; Phone, 865.524.8461.