Theatre/the Arts

Those who serve as Black examples in dance, painting, sculptor, stage performance, and more.

Artist of nature, John Audubon born

John Audubon

*John Audubon was born on this date in 1785. He was a Black French American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter. He painted, cataloged, and described the birds of North America.

Broadways first Black Play opens

In Dahomey, original program (copy)

*On this date in 1903, In Dahomey opened, at the New York Theater. This was a landmark American musical comedy and was "the first full-length musical written, produced and performed by Blacks at a major Broadway Theater.

It featured music by Will Marion Cook from the book by Jesse A. Shipp, and lyrics by Paul Laurence Dunbar. The production was produced by McVon Hurtig and Harry Seamon and starred Black actors James Smith and George Sisay and one of the leading comedians in America at that time, Bert Williams.

In Dahomey ran for 53 performances.


Fayad Nicholas, eldest Nicolas dancer born

Fayard Nicholas

*Fayard Nicholas was born on this date in 1914. He was an African American dancer and choreographer.

Jeni "The Hoofer Le Gon born

Jeni Le Gon

*Jeni Le Gon was born on this date in 1916. She was an African American dancer and actress.

Born and raised near the south side of Chicago, her musical talents were developed on the street in neighborhood bands and musical groups. At the age of thirteen, buoyed by her brother who got a job touring as a singer and exhibition ballroom dancer, she landed her first job in musical theatre, dancing as a soubrette in pants, not pretty skirts. Le Gon trained at Mary Bruce's School of Dancing.

Josephine Premice born

Josephine Premice

*Josephine Premice was born on this date in 1926. She was an African American actress and singer known for her work on the Broadway stage.

Born in Port a Prince, Haiti, Premice grew up in Brooklyn, New York and Haiti and studied dance with Martha Graham and Katherine Dunham. After graduating from Columbia University with a degree in Anthropology, she began her theatrical career in the 1945 production of ''Blue Holiday'' at the Belasco Theater alongside Ethel Waters and Josh White, the folk singer.

One of classical music's finest, Camilla Ella Williams

Camilla Ella Williams

*Ella Williams was born on this date in 1919. She was an African American operatic soprano, and the first African American to have received a contract with a major American opera company.

A Classic Vocalist, Willard White

Willard White

*Willard White was born on this date in 1946. He is a Jamaican bass-baritone classical vocalist.

He was born into a poor but supportive family in Kingston. His father was a dockworker, his mother a housewife. White first began to learn music by listening to the radio and singing Nat King Cole songs. Singer and civil rights activist, Paul Robeson, also inspired him. He was a founding member of the Jamaica Folk Singers, sang with the Jamaica Amateur Operatic Society and trained at the Jamaican School of Music and then went on to the Juilliard School in New York.

A master of landscape art, Robert Duncanson

Robert S. Duncanson

The birth of Robert S. Duncanson in 1821 is celebrated on this date. He was a Black artist.

Georgette Harvey, a Stage & Screen legend

Georgette Harvey

*Georgette Harvey was born on this date in 1884. She was an African American actress.

Lorenzo Fuller, a Kansas legend

Lorenzo Fuller

*Lorenzo Fuller was born on this date in 1919. He was an African American musician and entertainer.