While Scott Joplin’s exact birthdate is unknown, it’s often considered to be November 24, 1868, as shown on his tombstone. Joplin was dubbed the “King of Ragtime Writers,” known for hits such as “Maple Leaf Rag” and “The Entertainer.”
Jazz musician Coleman Randolph “Hawk” Hawkins was born on November 21, 1904, in Saint Joseph, Missouri. Hawkins is credited with establishing the tenor saxophone as a prominent jazz instrument.
Composer and musician William Christopher Handy was born on November 16, 1873, in Florence, Alabama. He called himself the “Father of the Blues” for his role in popularizing the style on a national level.
Inventor Jan Matzeliger was born on September 15, 1852, in Paramaribo, Dutch Guyana (present-day Surinam). He invented a device that is considered “the most important invention for New England” and the “greatest step forward in the shoe industry.”
Civil Rights activist Roy Ottoway Wilkins was born on August 30, 1901, in St. Louis, Missouri. He was a leader in the Civil Rights movement and a major figure in the NAACP for over 20 years.
Lena Mary Calhoun Horne was born on June 30, 1917, in New York City, New York. Horne was one of the great icons of the 20th century. She spent over 70 years in the entertainment industry as an actress and jazz singer and was also an acclaimed civil rights activist.
Robert Robinson Taylor was born on June 8, 1868, in Wilmington, North Carolina. He was the first African American student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the first fully accredited African American architect in the US.
On April 30, 1983, legendary blues musician Muddy Waters died in Westmont, Illinois. Dubbed the “Father of Modern Chicago Blues,” Waters had dozens of hits over the years and has been a major influence for generations of musicians.