In honor of Black History Month, we seek to share with you some momentous occurrences for African-Americans in decades past and years remembered.

On this day, February 11th, in black history:

In 1915, Joshua Daniel White, better known as Josh White, was born in Greenville, South Carolina. A well-known country blues guitarist, White was a civil rights activist who grew up in the Jim Crow South. He also became a close friend and confidant to former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He performed several social protest songs during his time before his career was damaged by the anti-Communist Red Scare of the the 1950s.

In 1977, Clifford Alexander, Jr. became the first African-American Secretary of the Army. Alexander was born in New York City and graduated from Harvard University in 1955 and later Yale University Law School in 1958. He later enlisted in the New York National Guard in 1958. His daughter is Elizabeth Alexander, a poet and professor of English at Yale University who composed “Praise Song for the Day” at Barack Obama’s inauguration on January 20, 2009.

In 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from prison after remaining behind bars for 27 years. Mandela was an anti-apharteid activist in South Africa and served as a leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe, an armed nationalist wing of the African National Congress. He was arrested in 1962 and sentenced to life in prison on charges of sabotage. After his release from prison, many of those days which he spent on Robben Island, he lead negotiations for a multi-racial democracy in 1994. He was elected president of South Africa and served from 1994 to 1999. Mandela has won over 250 awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

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