If you are even just a little bit of a history buff, you will enjoy this account of three historic events in African American history that occurred in the year 1920.
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Founded
At the very beginning of the year on January 16, 1920, an African American sorority was formed under the name Zeta Phi Beta. Five women — Arizona Cleaver Stemons, Pearl Anna Neal, Myrtle Tyler Faithful, Viola Tyler Goings, and Fannie Pettie Watts — founded the sorority on the campus of Howard University under the following principles : scholarship, service, sisterly love, and Finer Womanhood. It is the first and only sorority ever to be constitutionally bound to a fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated.
The idea of Finer Womanhood was very important to these women. They wanted to establish a sisterhood of women that departed from the superficial and questionable activities of other black sororities that were in existence at that time. The sorority embraces all black women (and non-black women) of all backgrounds and beliefs as long as they have a strong commitment to education, serving and loving the community, and exemplifying the founders’ vision of Finer Womanhood. Today, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority has over 125,000 members all over the world.
First Negro League Ball Game Played
On May 2, 1920, the very first Negro League Baseball game was played in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Negro National League (NNL) was established earlier that year on February 13, 1920. This would be the very first baseball league for African American baseball players.
The establishment of the NNL was the first step in bringing about the recognition of African American players as being highly qualified to play professional baseball. Years down the line, in 1937, the Negro American League was established. Jackie Robinson, an historic figure in American history, was a player in the Negro American League. In 1947, Jackie Robinson would become the first Black American man to play in Major League Baseball.
First Blues Record Recorded
On August 10, 1920, the very first vocal blues song was recorded and released by an African American woman named Mamie Smith. It was called “Crazy Blues.” Mamie Smith and Her Jazz Hounds sold more than 75,000 copies of this first record in the first month of its release! They were the very first to bring to light the popularity of blues music. Mamie was called “The Queen of the Blues.” She was the beginning of a long line of classic female blues singers.
The song “Crazy Blues” was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1994. Listen to the song here.