The National Museum of African American History and Culture opens

More than 15 years after it was first established, the National Museum of African American History and Culture opens on the National Mall on September 24, 2016. Barack Obama, the nation’s first African American president, leads the ceremony and officially opens the museum by ringing the Freedom Bell, a bell from an African American Baptist church founded in 1776.

As far back as 1915, there had been proposals for a museum recognizing the achievements of African Americans. In 1929, President Herbert Hoover approved a commission to create such an institution, but it never received funding. Various attempts were made to pass legislation establishing a museum through Congress, including multiple bills introduced by Georgia congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis, but even after the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution joined the effort in the 1990s it still took more than a decade.

Finally, in 2003, Congress approved and President George W. Bush signed legislation allocating $17 million to plan the museum and choose a site. Eventually, it was decided that the museum would sit on the National Mall, the newest addition to what is literally a long line of museums stretching from the Washington Monument to the Capitol. The final design, however, was like nothing else in the area: an inverted step pyramid, encased in a bronze screen that references historic iron grilles from African American communities in Charleston, South Carolina and New Orleans, Louisiana. In the words of David Adjaye, a British architect of Ghanaian descent who was part of the design team, the building was meant to provide a “punch” at the end of the “row of palaces” that was the rest of the Mall. The building rises five stories into the air and reaches equally deep underground.

The museum was completed with just months left in Obama’s second term. At the opening ceremony, the president shed tears as he talked about watching the museum’s construction and imagining how he would one day tour it with his grandchildren. In addition to two former presidents, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and entertainers like Will Smith and Oprah Winfrey, Obama was joined by four generations of an African American family, the Bonners. 99-year-old Ruth Bonner, whose father was born into slavery, helped him ring the Freedom Bell along with her daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter. The NMAAHC drew 2.4 million visitors in its first full year of operation and is the world’s largest museum dedicated to African American history and culture.

READ MORE: Black History: Timeline of the Post-Civil Rights Era


President Trump announces he and the first lady tested positive for COVID-19

Amid a resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic, and after almost a year of questioning medical advice and flaunting rules about mask-wearing, President Donald Trump announces that he and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19 in an early-morning tweet on October 2, 2020. Coming a week after a White House gathering celebrating his nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court and just 48 hours after his first debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, Trump’s announcement precipitates several days of uncertainty in Washington and around the country.

“You don’t have to do it,” Trump told the nation on April 3, the first time he addressed the Center for Disease Control’s recommendation that Americans wear masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus. “I don’t think I’m going to be doing it.” Trump never fully embraced masks or social distancing, and reportedly chastised aides who wore masks in his presence even as case numbers began to climb for a second time in the fall of 2020. Masks were few and far between at the September 26 ceremony announcing Barrett’s nomination, an event that became infamous over the next week as a number of high-profile attendees later tested positive for COVID.

When news broke that Hope Hicks, one of Trump’s advisors, had tested positive, speculation swirled that Trump and the First Family could have contracted the virus. Around 1 a.m. on October 2, Trump confirmed his diagnosis, tweeting “Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”

Although those close to him kept the seriousness of his condition secret even from others in the West Wing, the president’s fever became debilitating and he was placed on oxygen. The FDA hurriedly approved an experimental treatment of monoclonal antibodies, and doctors warned that someone in his condition—74 and medically obese, Trump was considered to be at high very high risk—should be taken to the hospital. Reluctantly, Trump went to the hospital later in the day on October 2, a Friday, and remained there over the weekend. 

Although doctors warned that his departure from Walter Reed was premature, Trump returned to the White House on Monday and made a full recovery. Trump claimed he had “learned a lot” about COVID from his experience, but he and his supporters continued to question the effectiveness of masks, vaccines and other CDC recommendations. Trump’s bout with COVID was probably the most highly-publicized in the world, and it was impossible to ignore the irony of the president being laid low just hours after holding a rally at which he claimed that “the end of the pandemic is in sight.” COVID cases in the United States continued to climb following Trump’s recovery, and his prediction proved entirely unfounded. By the time he left office in January of 2021, some 400,000 Americans had died of COVID.

Read all our pandemic coverage here 


Atlanta Race Riot of 1906 begins

On the afternoon of September 22, 1906, Atlanta papers report four separate assaults on white women by Black men, none of which is every substantiated by hard evidence. Inflamed by these fabrications, and resentful of the city’s growing African American population, white Atlantans riot. Over the next few days, the race riot will claim the lives of at least 12 Black Atlantans—the total may be more than twice as high—and devastate the city’s Black community.

The race riot took place against the backdrop of a heated gubernatorial primary. Atlanta’s population had nearly doubled over the last three decades, and its Black population had risen from 9,000 in 1880 to 35,000 by 19000. During Reconstruction, before Jim Crow laws became ubiquitous, African Americans competed with whites for jobs, held political office and established a thriving salon society. In fact, it was progress like this that led many whites to embrace Jim Crow, and the Atlanta Race Riot of 1906 was a direct result of this phenomenon. In the 1906 Democratic gubernatorial primary, one candidate, Hoke Smith, ran on a platform of explicitly disenfranchising the city’s African American population, arguing that giving them the right to vote had led them to pursue social and economic opportunities that should only be available to whites. His opponent, Clark Howell, was not anti-segregation or pro-civil rights—he simply maintained that the poll tax was already doing enough to prevent Black participation in government. Smith was the former publisher of the Atlanta Journal while Howell was the editor of the Atlanta Constitution, and it was no coincidence that city’s papers ran a slew of inflammatory articles about African American men committing crimes as the primary election neared.

READ MORE: The 1906 Atlanta Race Massacre: How Fearmongering Led to Violence

The tension boiled over on September 22, after local papers ran with a story about a Black man assaulting a white woman. A white mob formed downtown and headed for Decatur Street and the surrounding district of Black businesses and salons. There, they looted Black-owned businesses, swarmed streetcars and attacked passengers, and assaulted hundreds, killing at least a dozen African Americans. The militia arrived around midnight, but it was only when heavy rain started a few hours later that the mob finally dispersed. Over the next few days, Black and white vigilante groups roamed the area. While law enforcement stood by and watched—and by some accounts, helped—as armed white men moved into Black neighborhoods, they cracked down on a group of Black men who had stockpiled weapons in Brownsville on September 24, arresting 250 men and confiscating the guns.

Although leaders of both races made attempts at reconciliation in the wake of the riot, many viewed it as proof that white Americans would sooner revoke their Black neighbors’ right to vote, destroy their economic and social institutions and murder them in the streets than allow them an equal place in society. The grief, exhaustion and rage felt by the Black community in the wake of the massacre was captured by W.E.B. Du Bois in his poem “A Litany of Atlanta,” published later that year.


Interim Superintendent, Dr. Vicki L. Cartwright, Announces BCPS is collecting financial donations to support Haiti earthquake victims.

Dear Broward County Public Schools parents and guardians, 

On August 14, 2021, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the nation of Haiti. As the country works to assess the full scope of casualties, the Broward County School Board sends its deepest condolences to the country of Haiti and everyone that has been affected by this devastating event.

Through the Broward Education Foundation, the District is collecting financial donations to support earthquake relief and recovery efforts in Haiti. Donations will be used to fund reputable organizations that assist local families who were directly impacted by the earthquake. Donate online at

Broward County is home to a large, vibrant and diverse Haitian community. We mourn together with the many Haitians and Haitian Americans who are our students, staff members, community leaders, neighbors and friends.

Our District is working to meet the individual needs of our families and staff as the country of Haiti rebuilds. We will continue to open our doors to our global neighbors from the country of Haiti who need to continue their education and have a stable environment during these difficult times. School District counselors, therapists, social workers, teachers, administrators and District staff are providing mental health resources and services to our school families impacted by this traumatic event.

The entire community is encouraged to help the victims of this earthquake as they recover and rebuild.   



Dr. Vickie L. Cartwright
Interim Superintendent


NFL adopts overtime for regular-season games

On April 25, 1974, the NFL adopts a new overtime rule for regular-season games to prevent tie games. The rule change comes as part of sweeping effort to improve the action and tempo of games. The league also moves goal posts from the front to the back of the end zone and limits contact defensive players can make with receivers.

The new overtime rule mandated teams play an extra period if the score was tied at the end of regulation play. In overtime, the first team to score was declared the winner. If the score was still tied after the overtime, the game resulted in a tie. The NFL has since modified the overtime rule.

The season before the overtime rule was adopted, the NFL had seven ties in the regular season. Unlike some changes in NFL rules, the adoption of overtime was beneficial. From 1920 to 1973, the league had 256 ties. Since the 1974 rule change, ties have decreased significantly.

Most fans dislike ties; so do players. “It’s not losing … but it’s damn sure not winning,” NFL receiver Stefon Diggs once said. 


Chuck Cooper becomes first African American selected in NBA draft

On April 25, 1950, the Boston Celtics make Chuck Cooper, an All-American forward from Duquesne University, the first African American picked in NBA draft. With the selection, the first pick in the second round, Cooper breaks the NBA’s color barrier and changes the league for the better.

The pick was met with skepticism by some in the NBA, including some of the Celtics’ owners. But Celtics founder and original owner Walter Brown famously said that Cooper could be “striped, plaid or polka dot … All I know is the kid can play basketball, and we want him on the Boston Celtics.”

READ MORE: Earl Lloyd first Black player to play in NBA

Cooper’s selection provided a pathway for other African American players to play in the league. Earl Lloyd, who became the first African American to play in an NBA game, with the Washington Capitols, was selected later in the same draft as Cooper. 

Cooper averaged 9.3 points and 8.5 rebounds in his rookie season, the best of his eight in the league. 

When he played on the road during the Jim Crow era, Cooper often had to eat and sleep in different locations than his white teammates. Cooper never thought of himself as a pioneer: “Jackie Robinson took care of that when he broke the color line in baseball,” he said in a 1976 interview.

Bob Cousy, who starred with the Celtics in the 1950s and early 1960s, roomed with Cooper. Cousy, a white player, hung out with him socially. Both liked jazz. “We bonded, become friends and remained so for years,” said Cousy in a 2019 interview.

Cooper, who died of cancer on February 5, 1984, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019.

READ MORE: Jackie Robinson breaks Major League Baseball color barrier


Althea Gibson becomes first African American to win U.S. Open tennis title

On September 8, 1957, 30-year-old Althea Gibson becomes the first African American to win the U.S. Open, beating Louise Brough, 6-3, 6-2. Afterward, vice president Richard Nixon presents her with the championship trophy. “Now I have been doubly honored,” Gibson says. “I won Wimbledon before Queen Elizabeth II and now I have won here before our vice president.”

On July 6, 1957, became the first Black woman to win Wimbledon, beating Darlene Hard. In 1956, she won her first Grand Slam singles championship, beating Angela Mortimer to become the first Black woman to win the French Open or any other Grand Slam tournament.

READ MORE: The life of Althea Gibson

An excellent all-around athlete, Gibson was New York’s women’s table tennis champion as a 12-year-old. In her late 20s, she developed into one of the world’s best female tennis players. 

Because there was no prize money in the U.S. Open (then called the “U.S. National Championships”) before 1968, Gibson was still an amateur. So, after her historic victory, she talked about turning pro in another profession.

“I’ve always wanted to sing,” Gibson told a wire service. “You’ve got to make a living somehow. I’ve had contract offers from several record companies but haven’t had time to follow them up.” Gibson eventually became a recording artist, releasing an album and performing on the The Ed Sullivan Show in 1959.

READ MORE: Trailblazing Black women in sports

Gibson retired from tennis in 1958, but she wasn’t done competing. She became a professional golfer, ranking as highly as 27th on the pro tour.

On September 28, 2003, Gibson died of complications from respiratory and bladder infections. In 2019, she was honored with a statue outside Arthur Ashe Stadium at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home of the U.S. Open. 


Pitcher Jim Abbott, born without right hand, makes MLB debut

On April 8, 1989, California Angels rookie pitcher Jim Abbott, who was born without a right hand, makes his Major League Baseball debut in a 7-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners. His debut generates a buzz throughout the sports world. “Maybe I was unnerved by all the attention,” Abbott tells reporters afterward.

The Chicago Tribune wrote that the excitement generated by Abbott’s debut “ranked right behind Jackie Robinson’s breaking the color barrier.” Abbott pitched 4 2/3 innings, giving up six hits and three earned runs against Seattle.

A native of Flint, Michigan, Abbott played well enough at Flint Central High School to be selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1985 MLB draft. Choosing to go to college instead, Abbott attended the University of Michigan, where he led Wolverines to two  Big Ten championships. In 1988, the Angels selected Abbott with the eighth overall pick of the draft.

Abbott started 1989 with the Angels, becoming one of the rare players to make it to the major leagues without playing in the minor leagues. He had a respectable rookie season, finishing with a 12-12 won-loss record and a 3.92 ERA. 

By the end of 1991, Abbott was one of MLB’s better starting pitchers. His career high point occurred September 4, 1993, when he pitched a no-hitter for the New York Yankees against the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium.

Abbott, who pitched for four teams over 10 years, retired after the 1999 season. 

READ MORE: Who invented baseball?


Blanche Ely High School Celebrates Grand Opening of New Outdoor Innovative Dining Area

Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony Takes Place Thursday, August 26, at 11:45 a.m. 

WHO: School Board Members, Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) Interim Superintendent Dr. Vickie L. Cartwright, School and District Leadership, Business Leaders, and Community Members

WHAT: Blanche Ely High School is celebrating the grand opening of its new outdoor innovative dining area with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The new space includes special features to keep technology resources at students’ fingertips. The project is part of the District’s SMART bond program.

WHEN:    Thursday, August 26, 2021, at 11:45 a.m.

WHERE:  Blanche Ely High School

              1201 NW 6th Avenue

               Pompano Beach, FL 33060


Media must check in with the school’s front office upon arrival on campus. A mask or face covering is required.






“Committed to educating all students to reach their highest potential.”  

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth largest school district in the nation and the second largest in the state of Florida. BCPS is Florida’s first fully accredited school system since 1962. BCPS has nearly 261,500 students and approximately 175,000 adult students in 241 schools, centers and technical colleges, and 93 charter schools. BCPS serves a diverse student population, with students representing 170 different countries and 147 different languages. To connect with BCPS, visit, follow us on Twitter @browardschools, on Facebook at and download the free BCPS mobile app. 


John Irvin Kennedy plays for Phillies, fully integrating National League

On April 22, 1957, John Irvin Kennedy becomes the first African-American player on the Philadelphia Phillies, fully integrating the National League 10 years after Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier. In the eighth inning of a 5-1 loss to the Brooklyn Dodgers at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, N.J., Kennedy enters the game as a pinch-runner.

In 1959, Elijah “Pumpsie” Green was the first Black player on the Boston Red Sox, the last Major League Baseball team to integrate.

READ MORE: Facts, quotes and statistics about Jackie Robinson

After playing in the declining Negro Leagues, Kennedy signed with the Phillies in October 1956 and was invited to spring training in 1957. He received an endorsement from Phillies scout Bill Yancey, who compared Kennedy’s swing to future Hall of Famer Ernie Banks’s and predicted he would become one of baseball’s better hitters.

In spring training, Kennedy sparkled, hitting .333 (second on the team) and making only one error at shortstop. But 10 days before the opener, the Phillies spent $75,000 to acquire Cuban shortstop Chico Fernandez from the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1957, Fernandez played in 149 games for the Phillies. Kennedy, 30, played in only five, getting two at-bats and no hits. 

“I would not say they made a huge commitment to the development of John Kennedy,” Chris Threston, author of The Integration of Baseball in Philadelphia, told BillyPenn.Com in 2017. “They just wanted to get it over with.”

Kennedy never made it back to the majors after 1957. “I was up for a few weeks. Some… Negro League players never even got that,” he told the Philadelphia Daily News in 1997. 

Kennedy died on April 27, 1998. 

READ MORE: Who invented baseball?