On This Day in Black History: January 16
"Forty acres and a mule": General Sherman issued Special Field Order No. 15, which stated that "the islands of Charleston south, the abandoned rice fields along the rivers for thirty miles back from the sea, and the country bordering St. Johns River, Florida are reserved and set apart for the settlement of Negroes now made free by the acts of war and the proclamation of the President of the United States." Freed settlers' families were given title to 40-acre plots and Sherman also granted them surplus army mules. However, land titles were quickly rescinded and the land was given to white owners. No forty acres. No mule.
Hiram R. Revels, the first African-American to be elected to the U.S. Senate, died.
The 99th Pursuit Squadron, an all-black unit known as the Tuskegee Airmen, was formed. These African-American pilots made a major contribution to World War II with their skill and daring.
Major-General Johnson Thomas Umurakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi became the first military head of state in Nigeria after a military coup ended the first republic.
Lynden Pindling headed the first black government in the Bahamas.
Curt Flood filed suit against Major League Baseball and its reserve clause, citing that federal antitrust laws had been violated.
Angola gained independence from Portugal.
Major Frederick D. Gregory, Major Guion Bluford and Dr. Ronald McNair were selected for training in NASA's astronaut program.
South Africa's Pan-Africanist Congress suspended its armed struggle against the government of President F.W. de Klerk.
President Laurent-Désiré Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo was assassinated by one of his own bodyguards.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female president of an African country, was sworn in as President of Liberia.

Today's Featured Page
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