This Week In Black History April 23-29

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    For the week of April 23-29

    April 23

    1856—One of the greatest inventors in American history, Granville T. Woods, is born in Columbus, Ohio. During his life he received 65 patents for electrical, mechanical and communications devices. Among his inventions was an advanced telephone transmitter. The transmitter was so advanced that the Alexander Graham Bell Company purchased the rights to it from Woods, both because it was superior to what Bell had invented and for fear that Woods might become a major rival to the Bell Company. At his height, the Cincinnati, Ohio Catholic Tribune (Jan. 14, 1886) wrote of Woods: “…the greatest colored inventor in the history of the race and equal, if not superior, to any inventor in the country…”

    1872—Charlotte E. Ray becomes the first Black female lawyer in American history. Born in New York City to a journalist father and a politically active mother, Ray was a brilliant student who was teaching at Howard University in Washington, D.C., by the time she was 19. By age 22 she had her law degree and was admitted to the D.C. bar. However, sexual and racial discrimination forced her to abandon her law practice and return to New York to teach. She died Jan. 4, 1911.

    1971—Liberian President William Tubman dies. Tubman and his strong-man rule had kept the West African nation founded by freed American slaves relatively stable but not necessarily democratic. His death laid the foundation for the anarchy and civil wars which would grip the nation for the next 30 years. Tubman also headed a class of so-called Americo-Liberians who often discriminated against the native African population.

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