This Month In Black History: Important Things That Happened In January That You Never Learned


January 1, 2023

Happy New Year!

As we enter both a new month and year, it’s imperative that we continue to brush up on those who paved the way. From birthdays to inventions, these pioneers made it possible for us to accomplish amazing things each year and, with the strength of our ancestors, 2023 will be no different! Here’s a list of important things that happened in January that you never learned, courtesy of BlackFacts.com:


January 1, 1831 – William Lloyd Garrison publishes first issue of The Liberator, an abolitionist journal that was considered the most widely circulated anti-slavery newspaper during the antebellum period and throughout the Civil War

The Liberator anti-slavery  

January 13, 1850 – Charlotte E. Ray, first Black woman to practice law in the U.S., is born



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January 18, 1856 – Pioneering surgeon Dr. Daniel Hale Williams is born



January 7, 1890 – Inventor WB Purvis receives patent for the fountain pen



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January 7, 1891  Zora Neale Hurston is born



January 26, 1892 – Bessie Coleman is born



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January 4, 1911 – Charlotte E. Ray passes away


January 8, 1912 – African National Congress is founded



January 19, 1918 – Entrepreneur John H. Johnson is born



January 13, 1919  Jackie Robinson is born


January 10, 1924 – Drummer Max Roach is born



January 17, 1927 – Eartha Kitt is born



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January 15, 1929 – Civil rights icon Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is born



January 5, 1931 – Dance legend Alvin Ailey is born



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January 17, 1931 – Actor James Earl Jones is born



January 22, 1931 – Singer Sam Cooke is born


January 9, 1935 – Entrepreneur Earl G. Graves is born



January 4, 1937 – Opera singer Grace Bumbry is born



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January 25, 1939 – Singer Etta James is born



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January 14, 1940 – Civil rights activist Julian Bond is born



January 23, 1941 – Author Richard Wright wins NAACP Spingarn Medal for “Native Son”


January 17, 1942 – Boxer Muhammad Ali is born



January 5, 1943 – Scientist George Washington Carver passes away



January 12, 1944 – Boxer “Smoking Joe” Frazier is born


January 26, 1944 – Activist Angela Davis is born


January 20, 1947 – Negro Leagues baseball player Josh Gibson is born


January 10, 1949 – Boxer and entrepreneur George Foreman is born


January 16, 1950 – Famed actress and dancer Debbie Allen is born


January 21, 1951 – Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is born


January 27, 1952 – Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” wins the National Book Award



January 29, 1954 – Oprah Winfrey is born


January 26, 1958 – Singer Anita Baker is born



January 28, 1960 – Zora Neale Hurston passes away


January 27, 1961 – Opera singer Leontyne Price debuts at the Metropolitan Opera House


January 24, 1962 – Jackie Robinson inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame


January 31, 1963  James Baldwin collection of essays, The Fire Next Time, is published


January 2, 1964 – Professional boxer Pernell Whitaker is born


January 12, 1965 – Playwright Lorraine Hansberry passes away


January 6, 1968 – Famed director John Singleton is born


January 11, 1971 – The Queen of Hip Hop Soul, Mary J. Blige, is born


January 27, 1972 – Mahalia Jackson is born


January 6, 1973 – Fashion designer and style icon Misa Hylton is born


January 18, 1975 – The Jeffersons premieres on television


January 23, 1976 – Singer and activist Paul Robeson passes away


January 16, 1979 – Singer and actress Aaliyah Dana Haughton is born


January 18, 1981 – Willie O’Ree makes history as the first Black professional hockey player


January 31, 1988 – Doug Williams, first Black quarterback to play in Super Bowl, named MVP in Super Bowl XXII


January 3, 1989 – The Arsenio Hall Show premieres


January 6, 1993 – Musician John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie passes away


January 24, 1993 – Thurgood Marshall passes away


January 17, 1996 – Barbara Jordan, first African American elected to Texas Senate, passes away


January 1, 1997 – Kofi Annan becomes the first Black Secretary-General of the United Nations


January 13, 1999 – Michael Jordan announces his second retirement from NBA



January 6, 2003 – Civil rights activist Mamie Till Mobley passes away


January 1, 2005  Shirley Chisholm passes away


January 19, 2006 – Singer/songwriter Wilson Pickett passes away


January 30, 2006 – Civil rights leader Coretta Scott King passes away


January 20, 2009 – Barack Obama makes history as the 44th President of the United States


January 13, 2010 – Teddy Pendergrass passes away


January 20, 2012 – Singer Etta James passes away


January 9, 2014 – Poet Amiri Baraka passes away


January 3, 2015  Edward Brooke III, the first African-American popularly elected to U.S. Senate, passes away


January 27, 2016 – Black History Month is observed in the Netherlands as Black Achievement Month 


January 10, 2017  President Barack Obama delivered his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois 


This month in Black History: Important things that happened in January that you never learned. Photo Courtesy of Joe Holloway/Associated Press

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