February 19, 1890 Isaiah Mays received the Medal of Honor, America’s highest military decoration, for his actions during an engagement with robbers. Mays was born enslaved on February 16, 1858 in Carters Bridge, Virginia. By May 11, 1889, he was serving as a corporal in Company B of the 24th Infantry Regiment.
February 16, 1904 James Baskett, actor and the first male performer of African descent to receive an Oscar, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. Baskett appeared on Broadway in the all-black musical revue “Hot Chocolate” in 1929. He also appeared in a number of all-black films, including “Harlem is Heaven” (1932) and “Straight to Heaven” (1939).
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