This Day in Black Business History: February 5

The Freedmen's Bureau / Drawn by A.R. Waud.

On February 5, the following events impact Black business and progress:

1813Jermain Wesley Loguen, abolitionist and religious leader, is born into slavery in Davidson County, Tennessee. At the age of 21, he escapes bondage and follows the Underground Railroad to Canada. After working and learning to read, Loguen receives religious (and abolitionist) training at the Oneida Institute, in Whitesboro, New York. He eventually becomes a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and the Stationmaster of the Underground Railroad in Syracuse, New York. Publishing calls for aid to fugitive slaves in the local newspapers, Loguen operates the most open station in the state--if not the entire country. With an estimated 1500 fugitive slaves passing through his home on their way to freedom, Loguen becomes known as the “King of the Underground Railroad.”
1866After the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Congress debated the economic rights of the freedmen. Congressman Thaddeus Stevens proposed an amendment to authorize the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands with a mandate to set up schools and to distribute confiscated Confederate land to freedmen and loyal refugees in forty acre lots. The measure failed in the House by a vote of 126 to 37.
1958The United States Department of State confirms Clifton R. Wharton as Minister to Romania. The career diplomat becomes the first African American to head a U.S. embassy in Europe.
1990Harvard University law student Barack Obama becomes the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review.
1994A racially diverse Mississippi jury convicts and gives a life sentence to white separatist Byron De La Beckwith for the 1963 assassination of civil rights leader Medgar Evers. Though prosecuted for the murder in 1964, two all-white-all-male juries deadlocked and refused to convict De La Beckwith. The murder and the 1994 trial are the subjects of the 1996 film Ghosts of Mississippi.

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