Today in History: April 7th

By Melva N. Lloyd

April 7th isn’t just the 97th day of the year…check out what happened on this day in history:

April 7, 1915:  American jazz singer and songwriter Billie Holiday (born Elinore Harris) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Nicknamed “Lady Day” and the “Queen of Song”, Holiday was a revered musical talent throughout the swing movement in Harlem, New York.  Diana Ross would earn an Oscar nomination for her role as Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues in 1972.

April 7, 1940:  Booker T. Washington, political leader, educator and former Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (now Hampton University) student, becomes the first African-American to be depicted on a United States postage stamp.  He would later be featured on the Memorial Half Dollar which was minted by the United States from 1946 to 1951.

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April 7, 1968:  President Lyndon B. Johnson declares April 7, 1968 as a national day of mourning for civil right leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  King was assassinated just three days prior on April 4th; escaped convict, James Earl Ray, would be captured two month after King’s death and charged with his murder.

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April 7, 2003:  The Supreme Court voted 6-3 to uphold a 50-year-old Virginia law making it a crime to burn a cross as an act of intimidation; this act has always been associated with the Ku Klux Klan and while burning a cross at a Klan rally is protected by the First Amendment, doing so for other purposes is illegal.

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