Today is the first day of Black History Month, and it’s a day rich in…well… black history.
So what history was made on this day?
1865: A man of many accomplishments cleared for the high court
In 1865, John Swett Rock became the first African-American to be admitted to the bar of the U.S. Supreme Court. Swett Rock (1825-1866), an abolitionist, lawyer, and one of the first black Americans to earn a medical degree, was admitted to the bar allowing him to argue before the nation’s highest court on February 1, 1865, the same day Congress approved the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, ending slavery. Rock would also become the first black person to speak before the U.S. House of Representatives. Read more about John Swett Rock here.
1965: Slavery’s end made official
President Abraham Lincoln signed a joint resolution submitting the 13th Amendment to the states, marking the official end of slavery on February 1st, 1865. According to the Library of Congress, “The Senate debated and passed the 13th Amendment on April 8, 1864, by a vote of 38 to 6. After initially rejecting the legislation, the House of Representatives finally passed the 13th Amendment on January 31, 1865, by a vote of 119 to 56.” The Amendment was ratified on December 18, 1865; eight months after Robert E. Lee surrendered on behalf of the Confederates, and Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in April of that year.
1902: Langston Hughes, dreamer, enters the world
On February 1, 1902, Lang – One of the most important poets in America’s cultural history, Langston Hughes, was born in Joplin, Missouri. Hughes grew up in various places — from Kansas to Illinois to Ohio, but he is best known for what he did once he moved to Harlem New York. Hughes was a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance, as part of the early Black Arts Movement. During World War II, he wrote a column for the Chicago Defender newspaper. He is perhaps best known for his poem, “I dream a world.” Hughes died on May 22, 1967.
1978: Harriet Tubman gets a stamp
On February 1, 1978, the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp honoring abolitionist heroine Harriet Tubman, commemorating the conductor of the “underground railroad.”
What new history is being made today? For more, check out the 2012 Grio’s 100.