Director George Romero passed away on this date in 2017.
Of course, Romero is remembered for Night of the Living Dead, which, although an inspiration for The Walking Dead, (particularly the character of Duane Jones), and one of the best films that can be seen for free on Youtube, it is also groundbreaking for its approach to the casting of the film.
Duane Jones, an English Professor at the time, was cast as Ben, not for his race, but simply because he was the best actor for the role:
As stated on IMDB:
“His role in Night of the Living Dead (1968) was the first time in American cinema that a black actor was cast in a lead role of a major motion picture that did not specify that the part had to be played by a black actor.”