For the week of August 10-16
1867—Famed Black Shakespearean actor Ira Aldridge dies in Poland. Aldridge was born in New York, where he developed a love for the theater. But prejudice in America forced him to go to England to practice his craft. Despite running into racism there as well, he was able to find work. He came in for harsh criticism when paired with White female actresses. But after performing Shakespeare’s Othello, he was proclaimed “an actor of genius” by several newspapers. (Note: There is some authority that Aldridge actually died on Aug. 7.)
1981—A nationwide African-American boycott of the giant Coca Cola bottling company ends after the firm reaches an agreement with Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Operation PUSH. Coke agreed to pump at least $34 million into Black businesses and increase the number of African-American-owned distributorships. Critics would later charge that the beverage giant reneged on the deal and the amount of money pumped into Black businesses never came to more than $11 million.