BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – The world said goodbye to Nat King Cole, and barring of 5-year-old Sarah Roberts from an all-white Boston school would eventually lead to the first law banning segregated schools. All this and more in today’s special edition of, “This Day in History”.
On this day in 1848, 5-year-old Sarah Roberts was barred from an all-white school in Boston. Her father had attempted to transfer her to the school because of it being closer to their home. Her barring led to her father, Benjamin Roberts, filing what would be the first school integration suit on his daughter’s behalf. Though the judge in the trial, Roberts v. Boston, ruled in favor of the defendant, the issue would not die there. Roberts brought the issue to the state legislature with the aid of his lawyer Charles Sumner. Less than a decade later, in 1855, the state of Massachusetts banned segregated schools within the state. The ban in Massachusetts was the first law prohibiting segregated schools in the United States.
On this day in 1804 – New Jersey began the process to abolishing slavery in the state. The state legislature approved a law that would bring gradual emancipation in the Garden State. New Jersey was the last Northern state to outlaw slavery.
On this day in 1851, Black abolitionists invaded a Boston courtroom and rescued the fugitive slave, Shadrach Minkins. Minkins fled to Canada and, with other African-American expatriates in Montreal, would go on to create the city’s first Black community there.
On this day in 1968, Henry Lewis became the first African-America to lead a symphony orchestra in the United States. Lewis led the New Jersey Symphony for 8 years, and would guest conduct for the ensemble another 20 years after his retirement in 1976.
On this day in 1965, the world said goodbye to famed musician, singer, and actor, Nat King Cole. Born in Montgomery, Alabama, Cole made history in 1956 by becoming the first African-American performer to host a TV series.
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