1813 – James McCune Smith, African-American physician, apothecary, abolitionist, and author is born.
James McCune Smith was an American physician, apothecary, abolitionist, and author. He was the first African American to hold a medical degree and graduated at the top in his class at the University of Glasgow. He was the first African American to run a pharmacy in the United States.
In addition to practicing as a doctor for nearly 20 years at the Colored Orphan Asylum in Manhattan, Smith was a public intellectual: he contributed articles to medical journals, participated in learned societies, and wrote numerous essays and articles drawing from his medical and statistical training. He used his training in medicine and statistics to refute common misconceptions about race, intelligence, medicine, and society in general. Invited as a founding member of the New York Statistics Society in 1852, which promoted a new science, he was elected as a member in 1854 of the recently founded American Geographic Society. But he was never admitted to the American Medical Association or local medical associations.
He has been most well known for his leadership as an abolitionist; a member of the American Anti-Slavery Society, with Frederick Douglass he helped start the National Council of Colored People in 1853, the first permanent national organization for blacks. Douglass called Smith “the single most important influence on his life.” Smith was one of the Committee of Thirteen, who organized in 1850 in New York City to resist the newly passed Fugitive Slave Law by aiding fugitive slaves through the Underground Railroad. Other leading abolitionist activists were among his friends and colleagues. From the 1840s, he lectured on race and abolitionism and wrote numerous articles to refute racist ideas about black capacities.
Both Smith and his wife were of mixed-race African and European ancestry. As he became economically successful, he built a house in a good neighborhood; in the 1860 census he and his family were classified in that neighborhood as white, whereas in 1850 they were classified as mulatto. He served for nearly 20 years as the doctor at the Colored Orphan Asylum in New York but, after it was burned down in July 1863 by a mob in the New York Draft Riots, in which nearly 100 blacks were killed, Smith moved his family and practice out to Brooklyn for safety. The parents stressed education for their children. In the 1870 census, his widow and children continued to be classified as white.
To escape racial discrimination, his children passed into white society: the four surviving sons married white spouses; his unmarried daughter lived with a brother. They worked as teachers, a lawyer, and business people. Smith’s unique achievements as a pioneering African-American doctor were rediscovered by 20th-century historians. They were relearned by his descendants in the twenty-first century when a three-times-great-granddaughter took a history class and found his name in her grandmother’s family bible. In 2010, several Smith descendants commissioned a new tombstone for his grave in Brooklyn. They gathered to honor him and their African-American ancestry.
1923 – Yankee Stadium: “The House that Ruth Built” opens.
Yankee Stadium was a stadium located in the Bronx, a borough of New York City. It was the home ballpark of the New York Yankees, one of the city’s Major League Baseball (MLB) franchises, from 1923 to 1973 and then from 1976 to 2008. The stadium hosted 6,581 Yankees regular season home games during its 85-year history. It was also the former home of the New York Giants football team from 1956 through the first part of the 1973–74 football season. The stadium’s nickname, “The House That Ruth Built”, is derived from Babe Ruth, the baseball superstar whose prime years coincided with the stadium’s opening and the beginning of the Yankees’ winning history. It has also been known as “The Big Ballpark in The Bronx”, “The Stadium”, and “The Cathedral of Baseball”.
1923 – Beryl Platt, Baroness Platt of Writtle, English engineer and politician is born.
Beryl Catherine Platt, Baroness Platt of Writtle, was a British Conservative politician and member of the House of Lords. Her background was in engineering, and she worked in aeronautics and aviation safety. She retained a strong interest in science and technology, particularly the role and advancement of women in these fields.
1925 – The International Amateur Radio Union is formed in Paris. April 18th is now “World Amateur Radio Day“.
Every April 18, radio amateurs worldwide take to the airwaves in celebration of World Amateur Radio Day. It was on that day in 1925 that the International Amateur Radio Union was formed in Paris.
Amateur Radio experimenters were the first to discover that the short wave spectrum — far from being a wasteland — could support worldwide propagation. In the rush to use these shorter wavelengths, Amateur Radio was “in grave danger of being pushed aside,” the IARU’s history has noted. Amateur Radio pioneers met in Paris in 1925 and created the IARU to support Amateur Radio worldwide.
Just two years later, at the International Radiotelegraph Conference, Amateur Radio gained the allocations still recognized today — 160, 80, 40, 20, and 10 meters. Since its founding, the IARU has worked tirelessly to defend and expand the frequency allocations for Amateur Radio. Thanks to the support of enlightened administrations in every part of the globe, radio amateurs are now able to experiment and communicate in frequency bands strategically located throughout the radio spectrum. From the 25 countries that formed the IARU in 1925, the IARU has grown to include 160 member-societies in three regions. IARU Region 1 includes Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Northern Asia. Region 2 covers the Americas, and Region 3 is comprised of Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific island nations, and most of Asia. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has recognized the IARU as representing the interests of Amateur Radio.
1981 – Audrey Tang, Taiwanese computer scientist and academic is born.
Audrey Tang is a Taiwanese free software programmer, who has been described as one of the “ten greats of Taiwanese computing.” In August 2016, she was invited to join the Taiwan Executive Yuan as a minister without portfolio, making her the first transgender official in the top executive cabinet.