Peter Salem and Salem Poor were two African-Americans hero’s among others who fought at Battle of Bunker Hill and Breed’s Hill.
Free slave Peter Salem, a private in Captain Simon Edgel’s company at the battle of Bunker Hill, was the first military hero of the War of Independence against British rule. On June 17, 1775, at a crucial moment in the battle, when British major John Pitcairn, had rallied the disorganized British troops and prepared a counterattack, Salem, shot the major through the head just after he yelled “The day is Ours.” Peter Salem, a former slave who had gained his freedom upon enlisted in the militia, had battled Pitcairn, and his forces earlier at Lexington and was glad to have dispatched the hated major as he did. Now leaderless, the British lost their nerve and the battle. Afterward, Salem’s fellow soldiers took up a collection for him. He was also honored by a visit to meet George Washington and by a monument placed over his grave in Framingham, Massachusetts in 1882.
Congress Authorized President Lincoln to accept African-Americans in Union Army on this day in 1862. They passed the Second Confiscation and Militia Act, freeing slaves who had masters in the Confederate Army. Two days later, slavery was abolished in the territories of the United States, and on July 22 President Lincoln presented the preliminary draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to his Cabinet.
James Weldon Johnson (June 17, 1871 – June 26, 1938)
Johnson born June 17, 1871 was an American author, educator, lawyer, diplomat, songwriter, and civil rights activist. Johnson is best remembered for his leadership of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), where he started working in 1917. In 1920 he was the first black to be chosen as executive secretary of the organization, effectively the operating officer. He served in that position from 1920 to 1930. Johnson established his reputation as a writer, and was known during the Harlem Renaissance for his poems, novels, and anthologies collecting both poems and spirituals of black culture.
He was appointed under President Theodore Roosevelt as US consul in Venezuela and Nicaragua for most of the period from 1906 to 1913. In 1934 he became the first African-American professor to be hired at New York University. Later in life he was a professor of creative literature and writing at Fisk University.
William Frank Powell (1848-1920)
Powell gained prominence in New Jersey as a teacher and educational leader prior to attracting the attention of several presidents of the United States who offered Powell opportunities to become an American envoy. Powell, after rejecting two consular assignments, ultimately served as a diplomat to Haiti and the Dom
Robert Maynard (June 17, 1937 – August 17, 1993)
Robert Maynard born in Brooklyn on this day 1937 was an American journalist, newspaper publisher and editor, former owner of The Oakland Tribune, and co-founder of the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education in Oakland, California.
Frank Wills and Watergate Conspiracy
Frank Wills, Washington security guard, foiled break-in at offices of Democratic National Committee in first event of the Watergate conspiracy.
Tuskegee boycott began
On June 17, 1977, Blacks began to boycott city stores as a way to protest against the law that prohibited them of municipal votes by strategically placing their homes outside of city limits. Tuskegee, Alabama, had a Black majority, however, Whites mostly owned the businesses and held the municipal offices. Blacks began a voter registration drive with the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University), which obtained some success. Yet, the Alabama legislature redrew the Tuskegee town boundaries that excluded the Institute.
Venus Williams (June 17, 1980 – present)
Williams born this day in 1980 is an American professional tennis player who is a former World No. 1 and is ranked World No. 11 in singles as of February 1, 2015. S he has been ranked World No. 1 in singles by the Women’s Tennis Association on three separate occasions, for a total of eleven weeks. She became the World No. 1 for the first time on February 25, 2002, becoming the first black American woman to achieve this feat during the Open Era. She is credited as changing the women’s game and ushering a new, modern era of power and athleticism on the women’s professional tennis tour. She is also regarded as the best grass court player of her generation and she is widely considered as one of the all-time greats of women’s tennis.