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19th Century

Barnes, William Harry (1887-1945)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public domain

Over the course of three decades in the early twentieth century, Dr. William Harry Barnes greatly influenced the field of otolaryngology, a medical subspecialty focused on the ear, nose, throat, and related structures of the head and neck. An accomplished surgeon and researcher, Barnes’ used his surgical acumen to improve the hypophyscope, a device used by neurosurgeons to operate on the pituitary gland. He also developed a technique to remove a patient's tonsils with little to no bleeding, in just ten minutes.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 4, 1887, Barnes spent almost his entire life in the city. As a child, he lived with his parents, George Washington Barnes and Eliza R. Webb Barnes, and two sisters (Mary and Violet), on Lombard Street, near present day Center City. In 1912, the year he completed medical school, Barnes married Mattie E. Thomas. The couple had five sons, two of whom followed their father into the field of medicine.

Sources: 
Charles Carey, African Americans in Science: An Encyclopedia of People and Progress (Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2008); William Montague Cobb, "William Harry Barnes, 1887-1945," Journal of the National Medical Association 47, no. 1 (1955); Ray Spangenburg, Diane Moser, and Douglas Long, African Americans in Science, Math, and Invention (Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 1995).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Calhoun, William Henry (1890–1967)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Courtesy of The Black Heritage
Society of Washington"
Dr. William Henry Calhoun, a prominent early 20th century Seattle, Washington physician, was born on December 29, 1890 in Jackson, Tennessee.  Little is known about his parents or his childhood.  

Calhoun attended Meharry Medical School located in Nashville, Tennessee.  The college was established in 1876 (just 14 years before he was born) as the Medical Department of Central Tennessee College.  It was one of the first medical schools in the South for African Americans, although Howard Medical School in Washington, D.C., was the first, chartered in 1868.

Following his graduation from Meharry Medical College in the early 1920s, Dr. Calhoun migrated to Seattle, Washington.  In the early Seattle years, he practiced medicine from the Chandler Annex located on East Madison Street.  He and his wife, Verna, lived in an apartment above his office.

Sources: 
Geraldine Rhodes Beckford, Biographical Dictionary of American Physicians of African Ancestry 1800-1920, (New York: Africana Homestead Legacy Publishers 2011); “William H. Calhoun,” American Medical Association Masterfile, 1906-1969; http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/about-ama/physician-data-resources/physician-masterfile.page; James N. Simms, Simms Blue Book and National Negro Business and Professional Directory (Chicago: James N. Simms, Publisher, 1923); “Joyner, Robert Nathaniel M.D. (1913-1999),” HistoryLink, http://www.historylink.org.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Harare, Zimbabwe (1890- )

Entry Type: 
Places
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Harare (formerly known as “Fort Salisbury” or “Salisbury”) is the largest city in Zimbabwe with a population of 1.6 million. It serves as Zimbabwe’s seat of government and Zimbabwe’s commercial and industrial center.  The city is located in Northern Zimbabwe in the region of the Shona speaking people.

Cecil Rhodes and the British South African Company (BSAC) founded the settlement as “Fort Salisbury” on September 12, 1890.  The fort began when the BSAC’s Pioneer Column, under the command of Major Frank Johnson, invaded Shona territory and seized land held by the Shona and other indigenous groups. Britain recognized the fort as a colonial municipality in 1897 and in 1923 the settlement became the capital of the Rhodesia Colony which then included both Northern and Southern Rhodesia.  In 1953 Salisbury became the capital of the newly forged Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland which includes the contemporary nations of Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. After the collapse of the Federation in 1963 Salisbury remained the capital of Southern Rhodesia.
Sources: 
“Harare,” New Encyclopedia of Africa, editors John Middleton and Joseph Miller (Detroit: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2008); "Robert Mugabe," Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 71 (Detroit: Gale, 2009); Mary Johnson Osirim, Enterprising Women in Urban Zimbabwe: Gender, Microbusiness, and Globalization (Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2002); Oyekan Owomoyela, Culture and Customs of Zimbabwe (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Joaquin Delta College

Grier, Eliza Ann ( ? - 1902)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Eliza Ann Grier was born a slave, but became emancipated and eventually earned her M.D., becoming in 1898 the first African American woman to practice medicine in Georgia.  Little is known of Grier’s early life beyond her growing up in Atlanta.  In 1883, nearly 20 years after her emancipation, Grier entered Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee with the goal of becoming a teacher.  She earned a degree in education from Fisk eight years later in 1891 because she took every other year off to pick cotton and perform other work to earn her tuition to continue her studies.
Sources: 

Dorothy Sterling, We Are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century (New York: W.W. Norton, 1984), http://www.nlm.nih.gov/changingthefaceofmedicine/physicians/biography_132.html

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Terrell, Robert H. (1857-1925)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Robert Herberton Terrell, the first African American judge in Washington, D.C., was born in Charlottesville, Virginia on November 27, 1857 to Harris and Louisa Ann Terrell.  The Terrells, an upper-middle class American family, sent their son to public schools in the District of Columbia and then to Groton Academy in Groton, Massachusetts.  In 1884, Robert Terrell graduated cum laude from Harvard University.  Five years later he graduated from the Howard University Law School with an LL.B.  In 1893 he attained his LL.M from Howard University Law School.  Because of the difficulty in getting a job as a black attorney in Washington, D.C., Terrell taught in the District’s public schools between 1884 and 18. He then worked as chief clerk in the office of the auditor of the U.S. Treasury. 

Robert Terrell met Mary Church when she accepted a teaching post at the Preparatory School for Colored Youth in Washington, D.C., where he was principal.  They married in October 1891 and had two daughters.  Mary Church Terrell, the daughter of Robert R. Church, a prominent Republican politician and businessman in Memphis, would soon be noted in her own right as a civil rights leader and instrumental in the organization of the Colored Women’s League of Washington.  She was also an early president of the National Association for Colored Women. 

Sources: 
Leon Litwack and August Meier, eds.,  Black Leaders of the Nineteenth Century  (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988); M. Sammy Miller and C.B. Purvis, “An Unpublished Letter from Dr. Charles B. Purvis to Judge Robert Herberton Terrell, The Journal of Negro History, 63:3 (July 1978); George C. Osborn “Woodrow Wilson Appoints a Negro Judge,” The Journal of Southern History, 4:4 (Nov. 1958); Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1982); Kathryn I. Bel Monte, African-American Heroes and Heroines: 150 True Stories of African American Heroism (Hollywood, Florida: Lifetime Books, Inc., 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Elizabeth City State University (1891- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Jimmy Jenkins Science Center
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Elizabeth City State University was established in 1891 as a response to a bill, enacted by the North Carolina General Assembly, which proposed the creation of a normal school for the training of black teachers in the state. Located in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, the University is a member-institution of the University of North Carolina, and currently sits on a 200-acre campus surrounded by residential districts. A historically black college, Elizabeth City State University is a public, four-year liberal arts institution, and has a diverse student body of approximately 2,500 students.
Sources: 
Elizabeth City State University website, http://www.ecsu.edu; Toni Hodge-Wright, The Handbook of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Seattle: Jireh and Associates, 1992).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

William Parker (?-----?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Farm House of William and Eliza Parker
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
William Parker was a former slave and an abolitionist. As the principal leader in the 1851 incident in Christiana, Pennsylvania known as the Christiana Riot, Parker helped bring more attention to the problem of slavery in the long years leading up to the Civil War. The Christiana Riot would shed light on the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.

According to his memoir, The Freedman’s Story, William Parker was born into slavery in Anne Arundel County, Maryland on the Rowdown Plantation. His mother, Louisa Simms, passed away at an early age and he was raised by grandmother. The date of Parker’s birth is unknown. Parker spent his early years on the plantation, but when he was in his late teens he escaped slavery and moved north to find freedom. Parker settled in Christiana, Pennsylvania and married Eliza Ann Elizabeth Howard, with whom he had three children.

Sources: 
Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001); Thomas P. Slaughter, Bloody Dawn: The Christiana Riot and Racial Violence in the Antebellum North (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991); "William Parker, ‘The Freedman's Story.’ In Two Parts," http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/parker1/parker.html#freedman163.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

25th Infantry Bicycle Corps (1896-97)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

Sources: 
George Sorenson, Iron Riders: Story of the 1890s Fort Missoula Buffalo Soldier Bicycle Corps (Missoula: Pictorial Histories Publication Company, 1996); The Bicycle Corp: America’s Black Army on Wheels, written and produced by Gus Chambers (PBS Home Video, 2000).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Montana State University

Mirambo (ca.1840--1884)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Richard Reid, "Mutesa and Mirambo: Thoughts on East African Warfare and Diplomacy in the Nineteenth Century," The International Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol. 31, No. 1 (Boston University African Studies Center, 1998);"Mirambo," Encyclopedia Britannica Online, 26 May 2009.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Cooper, Anna Julia Haywood (1858-1964)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Anna Julia Haywood Cooper was a writer, teacher, and activist who championed education for African Americans and women. Born into bondage in 1858 in Raleigh, North Carolina, she was the daughter of an enslaved woman, Hannah Stanley, and her owner, George Washington Haywood.

In 1867, two years after the end of the Civil War, Anna began her formal education at Saint Augustine’s Normal School and Collegiate Institute, a coeducational facility built for former slaves. There she received the equivalent of a high school education.

Sources: 
Anna Julia Cooper, A Voice from the South (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988); Paula J. Giddings, When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America (New York: HarperCollins, 2001); Kimberly Springer, “Anna Julia Haywood Cooper,” in African American Lives, ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Pennington, James W. C. (1807-1870)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born into slavery on the eastern shore of Maryland in 1807, James William Charles Pennington escaped from slavery in 1828 and settled for a time in Long Island, where he studied in night school.  Devoted to black education, he became an antislavery preacher, teacher, activist, and writer.  Pennington attended classes at Yale College in New Haven, although Yale forbade him to officially enroll or to use its library.  In 1838 he officiated at the wedding of Frederick Douglass and Anna Murray.  During the 1840s and 1850s he pastored African Congregational churches in Newtown, Long Island; Hartford, Connecticut; and New York City, gaining international recognition as an antislavery orator and civil rights activist.  Harriet Beecher Stowe in Uncle Tom’s Cabin praised him as an exemplary African American leader.  In addition to many sermons and speeches, Pennington authored one of the first history textbooks for African American teachers, A Text Book of the Origin and History . . . of Colored People (1841) and a memoir of slavery, The Fugitive Blacksmith, or Events in the History of James W.C. Pennington (1849).
Sources: 
Pennington, James W.C., The Fugitive Blacksmith; Charles E. Wilson, Jr., “Pennington, James W. C.” in William L. Andrews, Frances Smith Foster, and Trudier Harris, eds., The Oxford Companion to African American Literature (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
State University of New York at Buffalo

Holly, James Theodore (1829-1911)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

James Theodore Holly emigrationist, missionary, and bishop, was born in Washington, D.C on October 3, 1829. At age fourteen his family relocated to Brooklyn, New York. His father taught him the shoemaking trade. Then in 1848 he began working as an abolitionist with Lewis Tappan, one of the nation’s leading anti-slavery activists. In 1850 Holly and his brother Joseph opened their own boot making shop.

In 1851, James and Charlotte Holly were married in New York but they soon moved to Windsor, Canada, just across the border from Detroit. The Hollys remained in Windsor until 1854. While there James Holly helped former slave Henry Bibb edit his newspaper, Voice of the Fugitive. Holly also endorsed the Refugee Home Society and organized the Amherstburg Convention of free blacks in Canada.

Before leaving for Canada, Holly had joined the Protestant Episcopal Church. He became a church deacon in 1855 then in the following year a priest. Even as he continued his religious activities, Holly was drawn toward emigration, believing that African Americans had no future in the United States. In 1854 he was a delegate to the first Emigration Convention in Cleveland. The next year he represented the National Emigration Board as commissioner.

In 1856 Holly returned to the United States, settling in New Haven, Connecticut where he was the priest of St. Luke’s Church and teacher in public and private schools until 1861.

Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982); “Bishop James Theodore Holly.” St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, http://specbuffalo.bfn.org/bishop_holley.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Fayetteville State University (1867-- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Fayetteville State University is a historically black institution of the University of North Carolina system located in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  It is the second oldest higher education institution in North Carolina and was founded in 1867 as Howard School in honor of General Oliver Otis Howard, who was appointed by President Andrew Johnson as the first commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau.  Seven black citizens of Fayetteville, Matthew N. Leary, Andrew J. Chesnutt, Robert Simmons, George Grainger, Thomas Lomax, Nelson Carter, and David A.

Sources: 
Henry N. Drewry and Humphrey Doermann in collaboration with Susan H. Anderson, Stand and Prosper: Private Black Colleges and Their Students (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2001);http://www.uncfsu.edu/pr/history.htm; http://www.uncfsu.edu/about.htm; http://library.uncfsu.edu/archives/HistoryFSU.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Toussaint, Pierre (ca.1781-1853) and Gaston, Marie-Rose Juliette (1786-1851)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Pierre Toussaint
Image Courtesy of New York State Historical Society
Juliette Toussaint
Image Courtesy of New York State Historical Society
Pierre Toussaint, New York society hairdresser, devout Catholic, and wealthy philanthropist, was born a third-generation elite house slave at the Bérard family plantation in Haiti.  His father’s name is not known but he took his surname in honor of revolutionary hero Toussaint L’Ouverture.  His mother Ursule was groomed as the personal maid of the Bérard matriarch; his grandmother, Zenobie Julien, nursed the Bérard children, made five voyages to France to help them adjust to their Parisian boarding schools, and continued to work for the family long after being rewarded with her freedom.
Sources: 
Hannah Farnham Sawyer Lee, Memoir of Pierre Toussaint, Born a Slave in St. Domingo (Boston: Crosbie, Nichols and Company, 1854); James Sullivan, “Pierre Toussaint: Slave, Saint and Gentilhomme of Old New York, Parts I, II, III,” November 2011 http://teaattrianon.blogspot.ca/2011/11/pierre-toussaint-slave-saint-and.html; Arthur Jones, Pierre Toussaint: A Biography (New York: Doubleday, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Mason, Bridget “Biddy” (1818–1891)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Bridget “Biddy” Mason, born a slave in Mississippi in 1818, achieved financial success that enabled her to support her extended family for generations despite the fact that she was illiterate. In a landmark case she sued her master for their freedom, saved her earnings, invested in real estate, and became a well-known philanthropist in Los Angeles, California.

Although born in Mississippi, Mason was owned by slaveholders in Georgia and South Carolina before she was returned to Mississippi.  Her last owner, Robert Marion Smith, a Mississippi Mormon convert, followed the call of church leaders to settle in the West.  Mason and her children joined other slaves on Smith’s religious pilgrimage to establish a new Mormon community in what would become Salt Lake City, Utah.  At the time Utah was still part of Mexico

Sources: 

Tricia Martineau Wagner, African American Women of the Old West (Guilford, Connecticut: TwoDot, an imprint of The Globe Pequot Press, 2007); Quintard Taylor, In Search of the Racial Frontier African Americans in the American West 1528-1990 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1998; Dolores Hayden, The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1995); Jessie Carney Smith, (editor). Epic Lives One Hundred Black Women Who Made a Difference (Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1993).

Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Dickson, Moses (1824-1901)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Moses Dickson was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on April 5, 1824. At 16, he began a three year tour of the South which persuaded him to work for the abolition of slavery. On August 12, 1846, Dickson and twelve other men gathered in St. Louis to devise a plan to end slavery in the United States. They formed a secret organization known as the Knights of Liberty which planned to initiate a national insurrection against slavery.

Dickson married widow Mary Elisabeth Butcher Peters at Galena, Illinois on October 5, 1848. They had one daughter, Mamie Augusta, and a year later the family located permanently in St. Louis.

By 1856, according to Dickson and his followers, 47,240 members of the Knights of Liberty throughout the nation stood ready to fight for freedom. In August of that year Dickson created a smaller secret organization, the Order of Twelve, in Galena, Illinois. During the war, the Knights disbanded and many of their members joined the Union Army.

Sources: 
Reverend Moses Dickson, Manual of the International Order of Twelve of Knights and Daughters of Tabor 3d. ed. (St. Louis: A. R. Fleming Printing, 1900); William A. Muraskin, Middle-Class Blacks in a White Society: Prince Hall Freemasonry in America (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1975).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
National Park Service

Dunn, Oscar J. (ca. 1825-1871)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 (New York: Harper’s Perennial, 2002); W.E.B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880 (New York: Touchstone, 1995); “Lieut.-Gov. Oscar J. Dunn—Cause of His Death—Some Reminiscences of His Career” The New York Times, November 28, 1871.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

New Philadelphia, Illinois (1836- )

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History
Frank McWorter's 1836 plat map of
New Philadelphia
Image Ownership: Public Domain
New Philadelphia, Illinois was one of the most famous of the antebellum all-black towns.  Founded by Free Frank McWorter (1777-1854), a former Kentucky slave who purchased his freedom with his own earnings, New Philadelphia, Illinois was the first U. S. town to be registered by an African American prior to the Civil War.  Now covered by prairie farm fields, New Philadelphia was located across the Mississippi River from Hannibal, Missouri amid a cluster of other black settlements and pro-abolitionist Illinois towns.

Frank McWorter was born a slave in South Carolina and at the age of 18 moved with his owner to Kentucky.  With labor in short supply in their new location, McWorter was hired out to a neighboring farm, allowing him to prove his potential as a conscientious worker.  When his master announced the plantation was again relocating, McWorter negotiated a deal to remain in Kentucky, running the farming operations, saving wages, and eventually opening a saltpeter mine as a side business.  He earned enough money to purchase his freedom along with that of another slave, his wife Lucy (1771-1870), for a total of $1,600.  McWorter later purchased the freedom of their first-born son as well as 15 other family members.  In 1830, he sold all of his Kentucky holdings and moved his family to northwest Illinois.
Sources: 
Juliet E. K. Walker, Free Frank: A Black Pioneer on the Antebellum Frontier (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1995); Historical Landscapes of New Philadelphia, Illinois, University of Illinois http://www.anthro.illinois.edu/faculty/cfennell/NP/newphilgeog.html; New Philadelphia, Center for Heritage Resource Studies http://heritage.umd.edu/CHRSWeb/New%20Philadelphia/NewPhiladelphia.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Alexander, Archer (ca. 1810-1879)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
The Lincoln Emancipation Statue in
Washington,D.C. Archer Alexander is the
Model for the Slave Here
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Archer Alexander was born into slavery on a Virginia plantation around the year 1810.  His likeness, in face and figure, immortalizes all American slaves on a monument to emancipation that stands in Lincoln Park in Washington, D. C. The bronze monument "Emancipation," also known as the "Freedmen's Memorial," depicts Abraham Lincoln reaching out to a crouching figure who is working to free himself from his chains. Financed mainly by donations from former slaves, it was dedicated on April 14, 1876 by Frederick Douglass, himself a former slave.

Alexander was born to slave parents Aleck and Chloe on a farm outside of Richmond, Virginia.  When Archer was in his teens, his father was sold in order to settle a plantation debt. Two years later when the plantation owner died, Alexander Archer was willed to the eldest son Thomas Delaney, with whom he had been raised. When Thomas Delaney moved to Missouri, Archer went with him. Settling in St. Louis, Archer met and married a slave named Louisa and started a family. When Thomas Delaney moved to Louisiana he sold Alexander to Louisa's owner, a farmer named Hollman.
Sources: 
William G. Eliot, The Story of Archer Alexander: From Slavery to Freedom (Boston: Cupples, Upham and Company, 1885; reprinted in Westport, Connecticut by Negro Universities Press, 1970); Candace O'Connor, “The Image of Freedom,” St. Louis Post Dispatch (February 23, 1989), Installation Ceremony Program for Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp, Archer Alexander Distinguished Professor, Washington University in St. Louis, October 30, 2014.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Steward, Theophilus Gould (1843-1925)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Theophilus G. Steward, African Methodist Episcopal minister, U.S. Army chaplain, and historian, was born 17 April 1843 in Bridgeton, New Jersey.  Publicly educated, he entered the ministry in 1864 and immediately sought to “go South.”  His wishes were granted in May 1865 and he departed for South Carolina where he married Elizabeth Gadsen after a short courtship.  Under the direction of Bishop Daniel Payne, Steward assisted in the establishment of AME churches in South Carolina and Georgia for the next seven years.  Between 1882 and 1891, Steward performed missionary work in Haiti and served as a pastor in Delaware, New York, and Pennsylvania.
Sources: 
Frank N Schubert, On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldiers II: New and Revised Biographies of African Americans in the U.S. Army, 1866-1917 (Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2004); Steward, Fifty Years in the Gospel Ministry (electronic edition hosted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2001 <http://docsouth.unc.edu/church/steward />); Steward, The Colored Regulars in the United States Army (New York, New York: Arno Press, 1969).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Brooks, Allen (1853?-1910)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Lynching of Allen Brooks in Downtown Dallas, 1910
Image Ownership: Public domain

On Thursday, March 3, 1910, a Dallas, Texas mob lynched Allen Brooks, a fifty-seven-year-old African American man.  His murder was one of a number of lynchings in major Texas cities.

Little is known about Brooks’s early life.  He was born in either Maryland or Texas around 1853.  By the beginning of the 20th century, he resided in Freedmanstown (also referred to as “North Dallas”), a black neighborhood adjacent to Dallas’s central business district.  He found work as a house cleaner and laborer until the time of his death.

Sources: 
Terry Anne Scott, “’Don’t Fail To See This’”:  Race, Leisure, and the Transformation of Lynching in Texas,” Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Chicago, 2015; James Allen and John Littlefield, Without Sanctuary: Photographs and Postcards of Lynching in America, (Santa Fe, N.M.: Twin Palms, 2000); Michael Phillips, White Metropolis:  Race, Ethnicity, and Religion in Dallas, 1841-2001, (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2010); Christopher J. Dowdy, “Dallas Untold, 2015,” https://blog.smu.edu/untolddallas/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Hood College

Coffin, Alfred O. (1861- ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Although he was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in a field of the biological sciences, Alfred Oscar Coffin ended his career as Professor of Romance Languages at Langston University in Oklahoma.  Born in Pontotoc, Mississippi on May 14, 1861, Coffin earned his bachelor’s degree at Fisk University and his master’s and Ph.D. in biology at Illinois Wesleyan University in 1889.  Beginning in 1887, Coffin taught for two years at Alcorn Agricultural & Mechanical College in Mississippi.  From 1889 to 1895 he was Professor of Mathematics and Romance Language at Wiley University in Marshall, Texas where he found time to write a treatise on the native plants there.  Back at Alcorn A&M from 1895 to 1898 he worked as the campus disbursement agent.  From 1898 to 1909 Coffin was a public school principal in San Antonio, Texas and in Kansas City, Missouri.  Starting in 1910 for several years he worked as an advance agent for Blind Boone Concert Company, promoting the blind ragtime musician.
Sources: 
Who’s Who of the Colored Race (Chicago: F. L. Mather, 1915); Harry H. Greene. Holders of Doctorates Among American Negroes (Boston: Meador Pub. Co., 1946); http://webfiles.uci.edu/mcbrown/display/coffin.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Yergan, Max (1892–1975)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Scurlock Studio Records, Archives Center,
National Museum of American History, Behring Center,
Smithsonian Institution
In a remarkable and controversial life, Max Yergan spanned both the globe and the ideological spectrum of American politics. An early champion of racial uplift and the social gospel in South Africa, Yergan transformed into a leading figure on the radical Black Left during the 1930s and 1940s, only to reincarnate once again as a ultraconservative anticommunist after 1950.
Sources: 
Source:  David Henry Anthony III, Max Yergan:  Race Man, Internationalist, and Cold Warrior (New York:  NYU Press, 2006)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Payne, Daniel Alexander (1811-1893)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Born on February 24, 1811 to free Black parents London and Martha Payne in Charleston, South Carolina, Daniel Alexander Payne would become a Bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church, President of Wilberforce University, abolitionist, educator, and historian. When Payne was four his father passed away.  His mother died when he was nine. Payne was raised by his great aunt, Sarah Bordeaux, after their passing.

Daniel Payne studied at the Minors’ Moralist Society School for two years, and then was privately tutored by Mr. Thomas S. Bonneau. Payne went to work at age twelve to a shoe-merchant, as a carpenter at thirteen, and then as a tailor, finally entering the teaching profession and opening a school for Black children in 1829, when only nineteen years of age. In 1835, South Carolina passed bill No. 2639: An Act to Amend the Law relating to Slaves and Free Persons of Color which forced Payne to close his school.

Sources: 

Paul R. Griffen, Black Theology as the Foundation of Three Methodist
Colleges: The Educational Views and Labors of Daniel Payne, Joseph
Price, Isaac Lane
(Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1984);
Josephus R. Coan, Daniel Alexander Payne: Christian Educator
(Philadelphia: A.M.E. Book Concern, 1935); Bishop Daniel Alexander
Payne, Recollections of Seventy Years (New York: Arno Press, 1968).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Tacoma

Freedom’s Journal (1827-1829)

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Freedom’s Journal was the first African American owned and operated newspaper in the United States. A weekly four column publication printed every Friday, Freedom’s Journal was founded by free born African Americans John Russwurm and Samuel Cornish on March 16, 1827 in New York City, New York. The newspaper contained both foreign and domestic news, editorials, biographies, births and deaths in the local African American community, and advertisements. Editorials deriding slavery, racial discrimination, and other injustices against African Americans were aimed at providing a counterweight to many of the white newspapers of the time period which openly supported slavery and racial bias.  

Sources: 
Jacqueline Bacon, Freedom's Journal: The First African-American Newspaper (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2007); Martin Dann, The Black Press, 1827-1890: The Quest for National Identity (New York: G.P. Putnam Sons, 1971).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Hosanna African Union Methodist Protestant Church (1843– )

Vignette Type: 
Churches
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Established by a free African American community in Southeastern Pennsylvania, Hosanna African Union Methodist Church (A.U.M.P.) has been part of local African American history and independent church history since its founding in 1843. Standing at the entrance to Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania, the one-room, one-story chapel is the last standing remnant of Hinsonville, a historic free black farming community.

Hosanna A.U.M.P. is located seven miles north of the Mason-Dixon Line in Chester County, Pennsylvania. At the time of the church’s founding, enslaved African Americans from neighboring Maryland were given Saturday noon to Sunday evening to themselves, and they helped the freedmen of Hinsonville build the church. These groups constructed a small scale version of larger African American churches in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware.  

Sources: 
Khalil Williams, “Historic Hosanna church in Chesco to be honored with a bench,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 19, 2015, http://articles.philly.com/2015-09-19/news/66681994_1_african-union-methodist-protestant-african-american-history-black-history; Elizabeth Shultz, “Hosanna Church: The Last building in Hinsonville,” Pennsylvania Historic Preservation, March 26, 2014, http://pahistoricpreservation.com/hosanna-church-last-building-hinsonville/; “Hosanna Church” in Paul Finkelman, Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895: From the Colonial Period to the Age of Frederick Douglass (New York City: Oxford University Press, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Cincinnati Riots of 1829

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Cincinnati in 1829 at the Time of the First Cincinnati Race Riot
Image Ownership: Public domain

Racism and economic tensions fulminated in Cincinnati, Ohio in August of 1829, resulting in white violence against African Americans over a two-week period in August 17-22. White mobs estimated at times at 200 to 300 led by Irish immigrants invaded the riverfront area where African Americans lived with the avowed intent to drive them all out of the city. The mob burned shelters and homes and assaulted a number of individuals. African Americans fought back but the attacks persuaded many in the black population to evacuate Cincinnati. A number of them emigrated to Canada to a community they named Wilberforce. Those who stayed behind attempted to rebuild their lives but experienced further white assaults in 1836 and beyond.

Sources: 
Beverly Bunch-Lyons, Contested Terrain: African American Women Migrate from the South to Cincinnati, Ohio, 1900-1950 (New York: Routledge, 2005); Nikki Marie Taylor, Frontiers of Freedom: Cincinnati's Black Community, 1802-1868 (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Fifth Ward, Houston, Texas (1866- )

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Fifth Ward is one of the six political districts created in Houston, Texas in the mid-nineteenth century. It was established in 1866. Over the years it has produced notable cultural and political figures. Located northeast of downtown, Fifth Ward lies north of the Buffalo Bayou, and east of the White Oak and Little White Oak Bayous.
Sources: 
Roger Wood, Down in Houston: Bayou City Blues (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003); Denise Labrie, “Houston Frenchtown,” in The Creole Chronicles 4 (Louisiana Creole Heritage Center, Northwestern State University, October 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Arizona, Tucson

Maseru, Lesotho (1869- )

Entry Type: 
Places
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Maseru is the capital of Lesotho as well as its largest city. Maseru, a Sesotho word, means “place of the sandstone.” The city is situated along the west central border between Lesotho and South Africa on the Calderon River.  The 2006 census showed its population as approximately 227,880.

The city of Maseru was officially founded in 1869 following the Free State-Basotho Wars between the Boers and the British.  Maseru was originally established as a small police camp by the British. Between 1871 and 1884, Lesotho was governed from the Cape Colony (present-day South Africa) and remained the administrative capital after Basutoland (current-day Lesotho) became a British colony in 1884. The small settlement survived being burned down during the Gun War of 1880-1881 between British forces and Basotho political leaders over the right of indigenous people to bear arms. The Basotho people won the conflict.
Sources: 
Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 1999); Paul Tiyambe Zeleza and Dickson Eyoh, Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century African History (London, UK: Routledge, 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Louisville

Jordan Hatcher Case (1852)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Jordan Hatcher was a seventeen-year-old enslaved tobacco worker in Richmond, Virginia, who in 1852 rose from obscurity to notoriety when charged with assaulting and killing white overseer William Jackson.  According to newspaper accounts and trial records, Hatcher was working at the Walker & Harris tobacco factory when Jackson began flogging him with a cowhide for performing poorly.  Hatcher initially warded off the blows, but Jackson continued to beat him.  In response Hatcher grabbed an iron poker, struck Jackson unconscious, and immediately fled the factory.  When Jackson later awok
Sources: 
Midori Takagi, “Rearing Wolves to Our Own Destruction” Slavery in Richmond, Virginia, 1782-1865 (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1999); William A. Link, “The Jordan Hatcher Case: Politics and “A Spirit of Insubordination” in Antebellum Virginia,” Journal of Southern History 64:4 (Nov 1998); Harrison M. Ethridge, “The Jordan Hatcher Affair of 1852,” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 84 (1976).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Western Washington University

Thomas, James P. (1827-1913)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

James P. Thomas, a noted African American barber and businessman, was born in 1827 in Nashville, Tennessee.  He was the mulatto son of a famous antebellum judge, John Catron (one of the justices in the Dred Scott case), and a slave mother, Sally Thomas, who purchased James’s freedom when he was six years old.  However, under Tennessee law, he remained a slave as long as he resided in the state.  Therefore, he was not legally freed until March 6, 1851.

Sources: 
James Thomas, ed., Loren Schweninger, From Tennessee Slave to St. Louis Entrepreneur: The Autobiography of James Thomas  (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1984); Juliet E.K. Walker “Review,” The Journal of Southern History, 51:3 (Aug. 1985); Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Rust College [Holly Springs] (1866- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Rust College website, http://www.rustcollege.edu; Toni Hodge-Wright, The Handbook of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Seattle: Jireh and Associates, 1992); U.S. News and World Report website, http://www.usnews.com.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Jones, Jehu Jr. (1786-1852)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Foundation Cornerstone, St. Paul Lutheran Church

"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Jehu Jones Jr., the first African American Lutheran pastor, was born in Charleston, South Carolina on September 4, 1786 to slave parents, Jehu Sr. and Abigail Jones. Jones’ parents were freed in 1798.  The elder Jones, who had been trained as a tailor, was able to buy a house and take up innkeeping, eventually running an upscale hotel in Charleston with his wife.

Jones was originally affiliated with the Episcopal Church but, finding himself increasingly drawn to Lutheranism, around 1820 he became a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Charleston. With the encouragement of his pastor, the Reverend John Bachman, Jones traveled to New York to be ordained by the New York Synod in 1832 as a missionary to Liberia to help the freed slaves in that country. However, when Jones returned to Charleston after being ordained, he was briefly jailed for violating a law prohibiting freed blacks from returning to a state they had left.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Willis, Charley (1847–1930)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

Charley and Laura Willis
Image Ownership: Public Domain

African American cowboy Charley Willis was recognized as a singing cowboy who authored the popular trail song, “Goodbye Old Paint.” Willis was a skilled cowhand who not only sang songs from the trail but who contributed to preserving authentic cowboy music from the era.

Charley Willis was born in 1847 in Milam County, outside of Austin, Texas. Freed after the Civil War he headed to West Texas at age eighteen and found work breaking wild horses at the Morris Ranch in Bartlett, Texas. In 1871, at age twenty-four, he rode the Chisholm Trail one thousand miles north into Wyoming Territory as a drover. Charley was musically knowledgeable and talented. He became known for the songs he brought back from the trail.

In 1885 Willis taught his favorite song, “Good-bye Old Paint,” to Morris’s seven-year-old son, Jess.  As an adult Jess Morris became known as a talented fiddler, and though credited with authoring “Good-bye Old Paint,” he was quick to clarify that had he learned the song from Charley Willis as a child. In 1947 John Lomax, a pioneering musicologist and folklorist, recorded Morris singing and playing Willis’ song, “Good-bye Old Paint,” and later sent it to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress where it is preserved.

Sources: 
Tricia Martineau Wagner, Black Cowboys of the Old West (Guilford, Connecticut: The Globe Pequot Press, 2011); Sara R. Massey, ed., Black Cowboys of Texas (College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 2000); Jim Bob Tinsley, He Was Singin’ This Song: A Collection of Forty-Eight Traditional Songs of the American Cowboy, with Words, Music, Pictures, and Stories (Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida, 1982).
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Americo-Liberians

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Americo-Liberian Settlements, 1874
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
M. B. Akpan, "Black Imperialism: Americo-Liberian Rule Over the African Peoples of Liberia, 1841-1964," Canadian Journal of African Studies, Vol. 1, No. 2 (1973), pp. 217-236; Martin Meredith, The Fate of Africa: From the Hopes of Freedom to the Heart of Despair (New York: Public Affairs, 2005); http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/6618.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Buxton, Iowa (1895-1927)

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Most coal mining communities are transitory due to the demands of the mining industry. However, that was not the case with Buxton, Iowa, a coal mining colony with a large black population that grew in southern Iowa at the beginning of the 20th Century.

Beginning in the 1890s Ben Buxton, the President and principal stockholder of the Consolidation Coal Company and North Western Railroad of Chicago, Illinois, sent agents to the southern states to recruit black laborers to work in the coal mines of Iowa following strikes by white miners. Most of those recruits settled in the town of Buxton, founded by the company in 1895 to house the new arrivals.   Most of the miners arrived from the Virginia and West Virginia coal mining regions.  

At its peak in 1910, Buxton’s population was between eight and ten thousand people. Although it was usually described as “a black man’s town” it was in fact a multi-ethnic community throughout its history. Swedes, Slovaks and Welsh immigrants were the largest European groups although African Americans were by far the largest ethnic group in the town.
Sources: 
David M. Gradwohl & Nancy M. Osborn, Exploring Buried Buxton (Ames: Iowa University State Press, 1984); Dorothy Schwieder, Buxton (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1987); Eric A. Smith, Buxton, Iowa: An Experiment in Racial Integration, The Iowa Genealogical Society, Hawkeye Heritage (Vol. 34, Issue 3, Fall 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Afro-American Genealogical & Historical Society of Chicago

Smith, James McCune (1813-1865)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Although many twenty-first century readers are aware of his work only through his introduction to Frederick Douglass’s My Bondage and My Freedom, Dr. James McCune Smith was one of the most broadly accomplished black intellectuals and activists in antebellum America.  Born in New York on April 18, 1813, to a mother who purchased her own freedom and a father who may have been a freed slave or a white merchant, Smith attended the African Free School in New York City, where at the age of eleven he was chosen to give an address to the Marquis de Lafayette (1824).  
Sources: 
James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Horton, In Hope of Liberty: Culture, Community, and Protest Among Northern Free Blacks, 1700-1860 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997); John Stauffer, The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001); John Stauffer, ed., The Works of James McCune Smith: Black Intellectual and Abolitionist (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
State University of New York at Buffalo

McGuire, George Alexander (1866-1934)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
George Alexander McGuire was a bishop and founder of the African Orthodox Church, as well as chaplain-general of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). McGuire was born on March 26, 1866 at Sweets, Antigua, in the Caribbean. He was educated in the local school system, then at the Antigua branch of Mico College for teachers and at the Moravian Miskey Seminary in the Danish West Indies.  From 1888 to 1894 McGuire was pastor of a Moravian Church in the Danish West Indies

In 1894, McGuire arrived in the United States and initially joined the African Methodist Episcopal Church.  On January 2, 1895, however McGuire joined the Episcopal Church and two years later became an ordained priest.  McGuire led small mostly black Episcopal churches in Cincinnati, Richmond, Virginia and Philadelphia.  
Sources: 
John Hope Franklin and August Meier, eds., Black Leaders of the Twentieth Century (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1982); Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982); Byron Rushing, “A Note on the Origin of the African Orthodox Church.” The Journal of Negro History 57:1 (Jan., 1972).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Detter, Thomas (1821- ? )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

Thomas Detter, Nellie Brown, or the Jealous Wife with other Sketches (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996); William L. Andrews, Francis Smith Foster, and Trudier Harris, The Concise Oxford Companion to African American Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church, New Haven, Connecticut (1844- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Image Caption: St. Luke’s Congregation in Front of the Church, ca. 1930
Image Ownership, Public Domain
Established on June 7, 1844, Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church of New Haven, Connecticut, is the fourth oldest black Episcopal Church in the United States.  Born of the righteous indignation of its founding members over continuing acts of racial discrimination meted out by the white vestry of Trinity Episcopal Church on the Green in New Haven, Saint Luke’s boasts a proud heritage.

In 1842, Trinity Episcopal’s vestry relegated black church members to four pews (numbers 143, 144, 146, and 184) at the rear of the gallery in the church.  Outraged and indignant, the black members of the congregation, led by Alexander DuBois, great-grandfather of W.E.B. DuBois, began proceedings to institute an independent black Episcopal church.  W.E.B. DuBois noted that “when the white Episcopalians of Trinity Parish, New Haven, showed plainly that they no longer wanted black folk as fellow Christians, he (his great grandfather, Alexander DuBois) led the revolt, which resulted in St. Luke's Parish.”
Sources: 
Randall K. Burkett, “The Reverend Harry Croswell and Black Episcopalians in New Haven, 1820-1860,” The North Star: A Journal of African American Religious History, Volume 7, Number 1 (Fall 2003), 1-20.;   W. E. B. DuBois, Darkwater; Voices from Within the Veil (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Howe, 1920); Edward Getlein, A History of Trinity Church On-The-Green, New Haven, Connecticut, 1752-1976 (New Haven: Trinity Church on the Green, 1976); http://www.stlukeschurchnewhaven.org/; http://www.trinitynewhaven.org/Home/History/HistoryOverviewandTimeline/tabid/236/Default.aspx.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Alabama State University

Jackson, Lydia Flood (1862-1963)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Lydia Flood Jackson was a champion of women’s rights and suffrage in California for African American women and other people of color. The outspoken activist was the first black student to attend an integrated public school in Oakland, California.

Flood’s mother, Elizabeth Thorn Scott Flood, led the 19th Century campaign for desegregated education in California and founded the state’s first African American school in Sacramento in 1854.  Her father Isaac Flood, one of the first African American residents of Oakland, California, also fought for education and equality for blacks.

Sources: 
Tricia Martineau Wagner, African American Women of the Old West (Guilford, CT: TwoDot, an imprint of The Globe Pequot Press, 2007); Delilah L. Beasley, The Negro Trailblazers of California (New York: G. K. Hall & Co., 1919); “Elizabeth Flood’s School: Oakland’s First African American Institution” (Oakland Heritage Alliance News, Winter 1992-93); George F. Jackson, Black Women Makers of History (Sacramento: Fong & Fong, 1977).
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Mound Bayou (1887- )

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History
Mound Bayou Residents in Front of Store, Late 1930s
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Mound Bayou was an all black town in the Yazoo Delta in Northwest Mississippi. It was founded during the spring of 1887 by twelve pioneers from Davis Bend, a fledgling black colony impacted by falling agricultural prices, natural disasters, and hostile race relations. This migration movement was led by Isaiah Montgomery, former patriarch of Davis Bend. Purchased from the Louisville, New Orleans, and Texas Railroad (L, NO & T), Mound Bayou bordered a new rail line between Memphis, Tennessee and Vicksburg. From 1890 to 1915, Mound Bayou was a land of promise for African Americans. Encapsulated in this “promise” were self-help, race pride, economic opportunity, and social justice, in a self-segregated community designed for blacks to have minimum contact with whites until integration was a viable option to black freedom.

Sources: 
Leon Litwack and August Meier (eds.), Black Leaders of the Nineteenth Century (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1991); and David H. Jackson, A Chief Lieutenant of the Tuskegee Machine: Charles Banks of Mississippi (Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press, 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Cassius, Samuel Robert (1853-1931)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Courtesy of Disciples of Christ Historical Society,
(Nashville, Tennessee)
 

Samuel Robert Cassius was an ordinary man who lived an extraordinary life.  A former enslaved African American from Virginia, Cassius was the product of a bi-racial union, a house-slave, Jane, and probably his physician and politician owner, James W. F. Macrae, a relative of General Robert E. Lee.

During the Civil War, Cassius and his mother relocated to Washington, D. C., where he worked as a “contraband” and enrolled in the first school for African American children in the nation’s capital.  In this school, young Samuel encountered a white school teacher from Connecticut, Frances W. Perkins, who whetted his appetite for knowledge, steered him toward the ministry, and inspired to teach in his adult years.  While residing in the Washington, D. C., Cassius also “shook hands” with President Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and a host of other white and black dignitaries.

Sources: 
Edward J. Robinson, “From Heaven to Hell: Samuel Robert Cassius and Black Life in Oklahoma” Chronicles of Oklahoma (Spring 2006): 78-99; Edward J. Robinson, To Save My Race from Abuse: The Life of Samuel Robert Cassius (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2007); Edward J. Robinson, To Lift Up My Race: The Essential Writings of Samuel Robert Cassius (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2008).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Abilene Christian University

Black and Tan Republicans

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Sources: 

Hanes Walton, Black Republicans: The Politics of the Black and Tans (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1975); Caroline Goeser, Picturing the New Negro: Harlem Renaissance Print Culture and Modern Black Identity (Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2007).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Laveaux, Marie (1801-1881)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Image Ownership: Public Domain
Few lives in African American history are surrounded by more myth and misinformation than the life of Marie Laveaux. Although she is best known today as the "legendary Creole voodoo priestess of New Orleans," Laveaux was in fact a 19th century hairdresser, confidant, and community leader in New Orleans, who tended the sick and financed charitable and benevolent organizations.

Marie Laveaux was born a free woman of color on September 10, 1801, to free blacks Marguerite D’Arcantel and Charles Laveaux. She was described as a quadroon, a term which meant one quarter African. In antebellum New Orleans, she and other part-African people were privileged because of the three-tier racial system that dominated the city. She lived long enough however to see that three-tier system evolve into a two-tier system (white and black) in the post Civil War period.

Laveaux was baptized as a Roman Catholic when she was only six days old and despite her embracing voodoo practices, remained a devout Catholic until her death.  Unlike other black Creoles, however, Laveaux never learned to read or write.

In 1819 she married Jacques Paris who was originally from Santa Domingo (now Haiti) in the St. Louis Cathedral, the largest and oldest church in the city.  Paris was also a quadroon.  Their marriage was brief.  Paris disappeared after one year, giving rise to the idea of Laveaux's mysterious powers.  
Sources: 
Ina Johanna Fandrich, The Mysterious Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveaux : A Study of Powerful Female Leadership in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans (New York: Routledge, 2005); Carolyn Morrow Long, A New Orleans Voudou Priestess : The Legend and Reality of Marie Laveau (Gainsville: University Press of Florida, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps (1861-1865)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
In 1859, the all-white volunteer fire department of Victoria, British Columbia refused blacks in their ranks. Therefore, some blacks volunteered their services to Governor James Douglas as a militia unit. Concerns over an imminent Indian War and a dispute between Britain and the United States over the San Juan Islands influenced Douglas to accept the offer of a volunteer militia unit that was sponsored by a prominent black merchant, Mifflin Gibbs.
Sources: 
 A Resource Guide on Black Pioneers in British Columbia.(Victoria, B.C: The British Columbia Black History Awareness Society,1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
British Columbia Black History Awareness Society

Washington, Jessie (1897-1916)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public domain

On the morning of May 15, 1916, approximately 15,000 people gathered near Waco, Texas to witness the trial and lynching of Jessie Washington, an eighteen-year-old black man charged with the bludgeoning death of Lucy Fryer.  The brutal murder of Washington provided the newly formed National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) with an opportunity to place lynching at the forefront of public consciousness, and thereby solicit support for its national anti-lynching campaign.

Sources: 
Scott, Terry Anne, “’Don’t Fail To See This’”:  Race, Leisure, and the Transformation of Lynching in Texas,” Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Chicago, (2015); National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, "The Waco Horror," Supplement to the Crisis, July (1916); Patricia Bernstein, The First Waco Horror:  The Lynching of Jesse Washington and the Rise of the NAACP, (College Station:  Texas A & M Press, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Hood College

Foster, Andrew "Rube" (1879-1930)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Andrew Rube Foster was born in Calvert, Texas, on September 17, 1879.  The son of Andrew and Sarah Foster, Rube started a baseball tradition that would be followed by his brother Willie Bill Foster.  Rube quit school after the eighth grade, barnstorming with the Waco Yellow Jackets, an independent black team in 1897.  By 1902, Rube’s baseball abilities gave him an opportunity to play with the Chicago (Illinois) Union Giants.  After a short stint with Union Giants, Rube played for the Cuban X-Giants.  In 1903, Rube Foster was the top pitcher in black baseball, and was the pitcher of record as the Cuban X-Giants won the Black World Series.  Rube sometimes played with white semi-pro teams and exhibition games against white players. Rube established himself as the premier pitcher challenging major league pitchers such as Rube Waddell, Chief Bender, Mordecai Brown, and Cy Young.  Honus Wagner stated that Rube Foster was one of the greatest pitchers of all times and one of the smartest pitchers he had ever seen.

Sources: 
Robert Charles Cottrell, The Best Pitcher in Baseball: The Life of Rube Foster, Negro League Giant (New York: New York University Press, 1970).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Augusta State University

Walls, Josiah Thomas (1832–1905)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
First elected to the Congress in 1870, Josiah T. Walls became Florida’s first elected African American Congressman. Walls was born a slave in Winchester, Virginia on December 30, 1842.  He was conscripted by the Confederate Army and captured in Yorktown by Union forces in 1862.  Walls then enlisted in the U.S. Colored Troops Infantry Regiment in 1863 where he rose in rank to First Sergeant.  Prior to his discharge from the Army in 1865, Walls married Helen Ferguson of Newnansville, Florida.

After leaving the U.S. Army, Walls settled in Alachua County, Florida and became active in local politics.  After passage of the U.S. Military Reconstruction Act of 1867, Walls joined the newly formed Republican Party in Florida.  He was an elected delegate to the 1868 state constitutional conventions and shortly afterward was elected to the lower house of the State Legislature in 1868.  He advanced to the State Senate representing the 13th District, which was mostly Alachua County, in 1869.  
Sources: 
Maurice Christopher, Americas Black Congressman (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1971).
Affiliation: 
Los Angeles City College

Mitchell, John, Jr. (1863–1929) and the Richmond Planet (1883 -1996)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

John Mitchell, Jr. edited and published the Richmond Planet newspaper from one year after its founding in 1883, until his death in 1929.  He was known as the “fighting editor” for his writing against racism.

In 1863, John Mitchell, Sr. and his wife Rebecca were living on the Lyons family estate in Henrico County, Virginia, near Richmond.  The Mitchells were slaves; John was a coachman and Rebecca was a seamstress.  On July 11, 1863, they had John, Jr., the first of two sons.  After the Civil War, the Mitchell family moved to Richmond, where Rebecca and John, Jr. continued to work for the Lyons family.

Mitchell graduated high school at the top of his class in 1881.  He taught in Virginia Public Schools until state politics led to the firing of many black teachers, including him.

In 1883 the black lawyer Edwin Archer Randolph founded the Richmond Planet.  After just a year, the newspaper was in the red and on the verge of collapse.  Mitchell led a group of former teachers who resurrected it.

Sources: 

Ann Field Alexander, Race Man: The Rise and Fall of the “Fighting
Editor,”
John Mitchell Jr., Charlottesville: University of Virginia
Press (2002); Richmond Planet, Richmond, Virginia (1884 – 1929);
William J. Simmons, Men of Mark, Cleveland: George M. Rewell & Co
(1887).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Kentucky State University [Frankfort] (1886- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Whitney Young Statue at Kentucky State
University
Image Courtesy of Kentucky State University

Kentucky State University, the largest predominantly black institution of higher learning in the state, began as a state normal (teacher training) school.  On October 15, 1885, Kentucky's political leaders held a conference in Louisville to discuss the ways to improve the welfare of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  The conference made a number of recommendations including the establishment of a normal school to train African American teachers needed for the instruction of black children in elementary schools across the state.  On May 18, 1886, the Kentucky state legislature authorized and chartered “the State Normal School for Colored Persons" which would be located in the state capital, Frankfort.  The legislature pledged biennial funding of $3,000 for operating expenses and $7,000 to build classrooms.

Sources: 
Henry N. Drewry and Humphrey Doermann, Stand and Prosper: Private Black Colleges and Their Students (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2001); Kentucky State University, “Heritage” Kentucky State Introduction, 2009, Accessed Nov 30, 2010, http://www.kysu.edu/about/heritage/; Kentucky State University, “Kentucky State University” A History of Public Service More Than a Century of Excellence In Higher Education, 2010, Accessed Nov 30, 2010, http://sacs.kysu.edu/content-page.aspx?id=7a4d7330-bf9a-dd11-910c-000e7f3041f.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Catto, Octavius Valentine (1839–1871)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Octavius Valentine Catto was a prominent Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, activist, scholar, athlete, and military officer in the National Guard during the Civil War.   

Catto was born in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 22, 1839. His mother, Sarah Isabella Cain, a free woman, was a descendant of one of Charleston’s most distinguished mulatto families, the DeReefs. His father, William Catto, was a slave millwright who gained his freedom and became a prominent Presbyterian minister. The elder Catto relocated his family north around 1850 and soon became the pastor at First African Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  
Sources: 
Henry H. Griffin, The Trial of Frank Kelly for the Assassination and Murder of Octavius V. Catto, (Buffalo, NY: William S. Hein & Co., 2009); Daniel R. Biddle and Murray Dubin, Tasting Freedom: Octavius Catto and The Battle for Equality in Civil War America, (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Temple University Press, 2010); The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia, Aaron X. Smith, “Murder of Octavius Catto” (http://philadelphiaencyclopedia.org/archive/murder-of-octavius-catto/)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Lewis, Julian H. (1891-1989)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public domain

ENTRY SPONSOR: Meta Maxwell

An accomplished scientist, physician, and educator, Dr. Julian Herman Lewis challenged racism in the American medical and scientific communities in his prominent 1942 text Biology of the Negro. Drawing on his background as both a doctor and as a recipient of a Ph.D. in physiology and pathology, Lewis demonstrated that claims of black racial inferiority had no basis in biology. In addition to his seminal 1942 publication, Lewis also enjoyed a long and successful career as a researcher and community activist.

Born in Shawneetown, Illinois on May 26, 1891, Lewis came from a family of educators. His father, John C. Lewis, who had been enslaved in rural Kentucky as a child, met his mother, Cordelia Scott, while both were attending Berea College. The couple became public school teachers and administrators in Cairo, Illinois with their children, Lewis and his two younger sisters.

Sources: 
Christopher Crenner, "Race and Laboratory Norms: The Critical Insights of Julian Herman Lewis (1891–1989)," Isis 105, no. 3 (September 2014); Kerrie Kennedy, “University of Chicago to honor its first African American professor, Julian H. Lewis, on Feb. 21, 2015,” https://news.uchicago.edu/http%3A//news.uchicago.edu/article/2015/02/16/uchicago-honors-first-african-american-professor-julian-h-lewis; Ray Spangenburg, Diane Moser, and Douglas Long, African Americans in Science, Math, and Invention (Detroit: Gale Research, 1995).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Carson, Letitia (ca.1814-1888)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Letitia Carson was born enslaved in Kentucky sometime between 1814 and 1818.  Little is known of her early life or how she got to Missouri at some point before 1845.

In May 1845, Letitia began a 6-month journey on the Oregon Trail with Irish immigrant David Carson, a 45-year old Platte County, Missouri landholder who had become an American citizen in October 1844. Whether Letitia was ever owned by David Carson is unclear.  What is clear is that by the time they began the trek to Oregon, he recognized her as a free person.  On June 9, somewhere near the crossing of the South Platte River, where the Oregon Trail begins, Letitia gave birth to the couple's first child, Martha.

Soon after arriving in Oregon, the family of three settled into a cabin they built on David's 640-acre Soap Creek Valley land claim. Son Adam was born in 1849. The next year Oregon officials reduced Carson’s claim to 320 acres because it was illegal for Letitia to be David’s wife because of her race and because black people were ineligible to make an Oregon land claim.

In September 1852, David died after a short illness, leaving Letitia and their two children behind. A wealthy white neighbor, Greenberry Smith, became executor of the estate and declared that, as slaves, Letitia and the children were themselves property and therefore could not be heirs to the estate. 

Sources: 
George Abdill, “Letitia Carson, Pioneer Black Woman,” The Umpqua Trapper, 18:3 (1982); Letitia Carson Historical Website, www.orww.org/History/Letitia_Carson/; Bob Zybach, “The Search for Letitia Carson in Douglas County, Part I: Who Is Letitia Carson?” Douglas County Pioneer, 28:2 (2014); Bob Zybach, “The Search for Letitia Carson in Douglas County, Part I: Letitia Carson in Upper Cow Creek Valley, 1853-1861,” The Umpqua Trapper, 50:4 (2014); Bob Zybach, “The Search for Letitia Carson in Douglas County, Part II: Letitia Carson and the Homestead Act, 1862-1869,” The Umpqua Trapper, 51:1 (2015).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Mbabane, Swaziland (1887- )

Entry Type: 
Places
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Mbabane is the capital of Swaziland and is located on the Mbabane River and its tributary the Polinjane River in the Mdimba Mountains. It is the second largest city in the country. The city’s name comes from an African Chief, Mbabane Kunene, who lived in the region when British settlers arrived in the late 19th century. Mbabane is one of the least-populous capitals in Africa. The estimated population in 2007 was 76,000 and the 2014 estimate is 90,000.

The town was founded around 1887 along the Transvaal-to-Mozambique transport route. In 1902, the British established a protectorate over Swaziland and chose Mbabane as their new headquarters.  One year later, 1903, Mbabane became the capital of Swaziland following the end of the South African War (also known as Anglo-Boer War).
Sources: 
Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 1999); Peter G. Forster and Bongani J. Nsibande, Swaziland: Contemporary Social and Economic Issues (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2000).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Louisville

Jasper, John J. (1812-1901)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Reverend John Jasper is arguably one of the most famous black ministers of nineteenth-century Richmond, Virginia, who gained popularity for his electrifying preaching style and his ability to spiritually move both black and white Baptists.  He began his career in the early 1840s, preaching at funerals of slave and free black parishioners and giving occasional sermons at the First African Baptist Church.  His popularity grew quickly and not only among Richmonders; after giving a guest sermon to the Third African Baptist Church in the nearby city of Petersburg, Jasper was invited by that congregation to preach every Sunday.  Jasper’s accomplishments are even more remarkable given the fact that he was a slave in the tobacco factories and iron mills of Richmond during the first 25 years of his ministry work during a time when Virginia law expressly prohibited blacks from preaching.
Sources: 
Mary J. Bratton, “John Jasper of Richmond: From Slave Preacher to Community Leader,” Virginia Cavalcade 29 (Summer 1979); William E. Hatcher, John Jasper: The Unmatched Negro Philosopher and Preacher (New York: Negro Universities Press, 1969); John Jasper, “De Sun Do Move,” http://www.library.vcu.edu/jbc/speccoll/vbha/6th5.html

 

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Western Washington University

Bland, James A. (1854-1911)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
James A. Bland was an entertainer and a prolific composer who wrote sentimental songs about the American South for use in minstrel shows. Bland was born in Flushing, New York on October 22, 1854 to educated, free parents. He briefly studied at Howard University in Washington, D.C., but inspired by the spirituals and folk songs he heard performed by ex-slaves working on the Howard campus, he soon abandoned academics in favor of a profession in music. A self-taught banjo player, Bland initially sought work at clubs and hotels and then turned his attention to composition and minstrel entertainment.

In the late 1870s, Bland began his professional career as a member of the first successful all-black minstrel company, the Georgia Minstrels. Following the style of traditional all-white minstrel companies, such as the Virginia Minstrels, Bland’s company blackened their faces, painted on red lips, and used stereotypical exaggerated movements and dances in their shows.
Sources: 
David Ewen, Great Men of American Popular Song (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1972); Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982); Eileen Southern, The Music of Black Americans: A History (New York: W.W. Norton, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Shaw University (1865- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Shaw University is a private, four-year coeducational historically black liberal arts university located in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Founded in 1865, Shaw University is one of the oldest historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the country.

Shaw was originally founded as Raleigh Institute, a school designed to teach freedmen theology and biblical interpretation. The school’s name changed to Shaw Collegiate Institute in 1870 and five years later it adopted its present name, Shaw University. The college offered its first post-secondary instruction in 1874, and the first baccalaureate degree was awarded in 1878.

Sources: 
Shaw University Webpage, http://www.shawuniversity.edu; Toni Hodge-Wright, The Handbook of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Seattle: Jireh and Associates, 1992); Julian B. Roebuck and Komanduri S. Murty, Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Their Place in American Higher Education (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Jones, Jehu Sr. (1769-1833)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Map of Charleston, South Carolina
and Vicinity, 1825
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Jehu Jones Sr. was a free black entrepreneur in Charleston, South Carolina, most well known for owning the Jones Hotel. He was born in 1769 as a slave to Christopher Rogers, a tailor, and grew up learning his master’s trade.

Rogers manumitted (freed) Jones in 1798 for $140.00, and soon thereafter Jones set up his own tailoring shop. Even though he often ran into problems trying to collect money owed him by his white patrons, Jones could, under South Carolina law, file lawsuits against them. Jones’ shop proved successful, and with the help of his eldest son, Jehu Jr., he expanded the business. In 1802 Jones started investing in real estate in Charleston and in the nearby town of Sullivan’s Island.  As Jones’ investments grew in value he began purchasing slaves in 1807.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Dart, Isom (1849-1900)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Ned Huddleston (also known as Isom Dart) was born into slavery in Arkansas in 1849. His reputation as a rider, roper and bronco-buster earned him the nicknames of the “Black Fox” and the “Calico Cowboy.”  He was also a notorious Wyoming Territory outlaw.

In 1861 twelve-year-old Huddleston accompanied his owner, a Confederate officer, into Texas during the Civil War. After being freed at the end of the war Huddleston headed for the southern Texas-Mexico border region where he found work at a rodeo, became a stunt rider and honed his skills as a master horseman.

Sources: 
Tricia Martineau Wagner, Black Cowboys of the Old West (Guilford, Connecticut: The Globe Pequot Press, 2011); Dean F. Krakel, The Saga of Tom Horn: The Story of the Cattleman’s War, with Personal Narratives, Newspaper Accounts and Official Documents and Testimonies (Laramie, WY: Powder River Publishers, 1954); Arthur Cromwell, The Black Frontier (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Television, 1970).
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Battle of Isandlwana (1879)

Entry Type: 
Events
History Type: 
Global African History
Sources: 

P.S. Thompson, Black Soldiers of the Queen: The Natal Native Contingent in the Anglo-Zulu War (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2006); Andrew Duminy and Charles Ballard, The Anglo-Zulu War: New Perspectives (Pietermaritzburg , South Africa: University of Natal Press, 1981); John P.C. Laband, Lord Chelmsford's Zululand Campaign, 1878-1879 (Dover, New Hampshire: Alan Sutton Publishing , 1994).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sussex, England

Wright, Jonathan J. (1840-1885)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Jonathan Jasper Wright, the first African American to serve on a state Supreme Court, was born in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania and grew up in nearby Susquehanna County in the northeastern corner of the state.  In 1858, Wright traveled to Ithaca, New York where he enrolled in the Lancasterian Academy, a school where older students helped teach younger ones.  He graduated in 1860 and for the next five years taught school and read law in Pennsylvania.

Wright’s first known political activity came in October 1864 when he was a delegate to the National Convention of Colored Men meeting in Syracuse.  The convention, chaired by Frederick Douglass, passed resolutions calling for a nationwide ban on slavery, racial equality under the law and universal suffrage for adult males.  When Wright applied for admission to the Pennsylvania bar, however, he was refused because of his race.
Sources: 
Frederic D. Schwarz, “The Reluctant Judge,” American Legacy 10:3 (Fall 2004); R. H. Woody, "Jonathan Jasper Wright, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of South Carolina, 1870-77," The Journal of Negro History 18:2 (April 1933); William C. Hine, "Wright, Jonathan Jasper," in John A. Garrity and Marc C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), Thomas Holt, Black Over White: Negro Political Leadership in South Carolina During Reconstruction (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1977)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Utah

Brown, William Wells (1814?-1884)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
William Wells Brown was an African American antislavery lecturer, groundbreaking novelist, playwright and historian.  He is widely considered to have been the first African American to publish works in several major literary genres. Known for his continuous political activism especially in his involvement with the anti-slavery movement, Brown is widely acclaimed for the effectiveness of many of his writings.  
Sources: 
William E. Farrison, William Wells Brown: Author and Reformer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969); Paul Jefferson, The Travels of William Wells Brown (New York: Markus Wiener, 1991); Herb Boyd, Autobiography of a People: Three Centuries of African American History Told by Those Who Lived It (New York: Doubleday, 2000).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Healy, Eliza [Sister Mary Magdalen] (1846-1918)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Sister Eliza Healy was both an educator and noted first African American Mother Superior of a Catholic convent. Healy was born on a plantation near Macon Georgia on December 23, 1846 to a white father, Michael Morris Healy and one of his mulatto slaves, Eliza Smith. Healy spent her childhood on the plantation until her mother died suddenly in the spring of 1850, and her father died that August, leaving Eliza Healy and two of her younger siblings, Amanda and Eugene, orphaned.
Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982); James M. O’Toole, Passing for White: Race, Religion and the Healy Family 1820-1920 (Amherst and Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bluefield State College (1895-- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Sources: 
Ronald Roach, "Blues for Blacks at Bluefield State," Black Issues in Higher Education 15:2 (Spring 1998); http://bluefieldstate.edu/about/history.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Fleming, Louise Celia “Lulu” (1862-1899)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership, Public Domain
Louise Cecelia Fleming, the first African American to graduate from the Women’s Medical College at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was born January 28, 1862 to slave parents on a plantation near Hibernia in Clay County, Florida.  Her father is unknown; she was raised by her mother who served as a maid in the plantation house.  As a child she travelled along with her owners and her mother to Jacksonville, Florida to attend Bethel Baptist Church, which in 1859 had a membership of 40 whites and 250 black slaves.  In 1865, immediately after the Civil War, the white and black members of the church separated and formed their own congregations.
Sources: 
Lulu C. Fleming, “A Letter from the Congo Valley,” Missionary Review of the World, n.s. 1 (1888): 207-209 in Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, Sharon Harley and Andrea Benton Rushing, eds., Women in Africa and the African Diaspora (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1996); Joseph R. Moss, “The Missionary Journey of Louise 'Lulu' Fleming, M.D,” address given to the Florida Baptist Historical Society, May 4, 1996, found at http://www.floridabaptisthistory.org/docs/monographs/lulu_fleming.pdf; Donald Hepburn & Earl Joiner, “Lulu Fleming: The Daughter of a Florida Slave Who Served as a Medical Missionary,” Florida Baptist Witness, February 15, 2011, http://www.gofbw.com/print.asp?ID=12611; Gerald H. Anderson, ed., Dictionary of African Christian Biography, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: W. B Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Buffalo Soldiers

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Captain Dodge's Colored Troops to the Rescue, 1881,
by Frederic Remington 
Image Courtesy of the Frederic Remington Art Museum
Sources: 
William H. Leckie, The Buffalo Soldiers: a Narrative of the Negro Cavalry in the West  (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1967); Frank N. Schubert, Black Valor: Buffalo Soldiers and the Medal of Honor, 1870-1898 (Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly Resources Books, 1997); Frank N. Schubert, On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldier: Biographies of African Americans in the U.S. Army, 1866-1917 (Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly Resources, 1995); Frank N. Schubert, On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldier II:  Biographies of African Americans in the U.S. Army, 1866-1917 (Lanham, Maryland: Scholarly Resources Books, 2004); Frank N. Schubert, Voices of the Buffalo Soldier: Records, Reports, and Recollections of Military Life and Service in the West (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2003).
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Cuffe, Paul, Jr. (?-?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Paul Cuffe was born into a Pequot family that had intermarried with freed or escaped slaves in New England. His father, Paul Cuffe, Sr., became known for his attempt to begin an African American colony in Sierra Leone.  Paul Cuffe, Jr., made his living as a whaling harpooner and probably came to know Herman Melville, the author of Moby Dick and other works.  It is probable that Melville modeled his character Queequeg, the aboriginal harpooner, after the younger Cuffe.
Sources: 
Bruce E. Johansen and Donald A. Grinde, Jr., The Encyclopedia of Native American Biography (New York: Da Capo Press, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
State University of New York, Buffalo

Rainey, Joseph Hayne (1832-1887)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
In 1870 Republican Joseph Hayne Rainey became the first African American to be elected to the United States House of Representatives and take his seat.  Others were elected earlier but were not seated.  Rainey was born in Georgetown, South Carolina, on June 21, 1832. His parents had been slaves but his father purchased his family’s freedom and taught him to be a barber. The family moved to Charleston in 1846.  Rainey, however, traveled frequently outside the South and married in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1859.

In 1861 Joseph Rainey was drafted to work on a Confederate blockade runner during the Civil War. In 1862 he escaped to Bermuda with his wife and worked there as a barber before returning to South Carolina in 1866.
Sources: 
Bruce A. Ragsdale and Joel D. Treese, Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1989 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1990); Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1982).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Bonga, George (1802–1880)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Courtesy of William L. Katz"
George Bonga was a 19th century fur trader of black and Native American heritage.  He lived along the shores of Lake Superior, one of the Midwestern Great Lakes. Fluent in French, English, and Native American languages, Bonga served as an interpreter during Indian-U.S. negotiations and worked for the American Fur Company before establishing his own trading post.

Bonga was born on August 20, 1802 near the present-day city of Duluth, Minnesota. His grandparents were Marie Jeanne and Jean Bonga, who as slaves lived at the prominent fur trading depot of Fort Michilimackinac in the northern Michigan territory. George’s father Pierre Bonga travelled to Minnesota as a fur trader and married Ogibwayquay of the Native American Ojibwe nation.  Bonga was educated in Montreal, Canada and returned to Minnesota to carry on the family business along with his two brothers.

In 1820, Bonga used his language fluency to serve as interpreter for Lewis Cass, Governor of Michigan Territory, at a treaty council held in Fond du Lac territory with the Ojibwe. In 1868, he again served as interpreter for Indian agent Joel Bean Bassett in negotiations with the Mississippi Band of Ojibwe at White Earth in Minnesota.  And in 1837, he tracked suspected murderer Che-ga-wa-skung for six days and brought him to Fort Snelling for trial.

Sources: 
“Letters of George Bonga,” Journal of Negro History 12 (1927): 41–54; June Drenning, “Black Pioneers of the Northwest,” Negro Digest 8:(1950): 65–67; Charles Flandreau, “Reminiscences of Minnesota During the Territorial Period,” in Hiram Stevens, ed., History of the Bench and Bar of Minnesota, (Los Angeles: Commercial Printing House, 1901); Kenneth Wiggins Porter, The Negro on the American Frontier (New York: Arno Press, 1971).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Adams, John Quincy ["J. Q."] (1848-1922)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Educator, newspaper publisher and politician John Quincy Adams is best known as the editor of the Western Appeal/The Appeal of St. Paul, Minnesota. He held the position from 1886 to 1922.

John Quincy Adams was born free in Louisville, Kentucky, on May 4, 1848, to the Reverend Henry and Margaret Priscilla Adams (née Corbin). He was one of four children. Adams attended private academies in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and Yellow Springs, Ohio, and graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio. He then moved to Arkansas where he taught in schools in Little Rock before taking a position assisting his uncle, Joseph C. Corbin, who was Arkansas’ Superintendent of Public Instruction. Between 1870 and 1876 he also was involved in Republican Party politics and served as Engrossing Clerk in the state senate and as Deputy Commissioner of Public Works.

Between 1876 and 1886 Adams lived in Louisville, Kentucky, where he taught school and was engaged in Republican Party politics at the state and national levels, serving as Ganger and Storekeeper in the United States Revenue Service. He lost that appointment with the election of Grover Cleveland in 1884. During that period, he and his brother Cyrus Field Adams published the weekly Louisville Bulletin between1879 and 1886. In 1880 Adams was responsible for convening the first Colored National Press Convention and was elected its first president, a position that he held for two years.
Sources: 
The Appeal (St. Paul), September 16, 1922, 1-2; David V. Taylor, “John Quincy Adams: St. Paul Editor and Black Leader,” Minnesota History 43:8 (Winter 1973); David V. Taylor, “The Blacks,” in June D. Holmquist, ed., They Chose Minnesota: A Survey of the State's Ethnic Groups (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1981); I. Garland Penn, The Afro-American Press and Its Editors (Springfield, Massachusetts: Willey and Company, 1891).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Burton, Walter Moses (1829?-1913)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

Map of Fort Bend County, Texas, 1882
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Walter Moses Burton holds the distinction of being the first black elected sheriff in the United States.  Burton was also a State Senator in Texas.

Burton was brought to Fort Bend County, Texas as a slave from North Carolina in 1850 at the age of twenty-one.  While enslaved, he was taught how to read and write by his master, Thomas Burton. After the Civil War his former owner sold Burton several large plots of land for $1,900 making him one of the wealthiest and most influential blacks in Fort Bend County.  In 1869, Walter Burton was elected sheriff and tax collector of Fort Bend County.  Along with these duties, he also served as the president of the Fort Bend County Union League.

Sources: 

Merline Pitre, Through Many Dangers, Toils and Snares: The Black Leadership of Texas, 1868-1900 (Austin: Eakin, 1985); "Walter Moses Burton" in The Handbook of Texas History Online, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbu67.

 

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas Southern University

Smith, Henry (?- 1893)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Fifteen Thousand Spectators Gather to See
the Lynching of Henry Smith, February 3, 1893
Image Ownership: Public domain

On Friday, February 3, 1893, Henry Smith was lynched in Paris, Texas, in front of an estimated 15,000 spectators. His death was one of the earliest spectacle lynchings on record.  The heinousness of Smith’s death captured the attention of journalist and anti-lynching advocate Ida B. Wells.  She included a detailed description of the event in her seminal The Red Record, a work that sought to expose the iniquities of racialized mob violence.

Sources: 
Scott, Terry Anne, “’Don’t Fail To See This’”:  Race, Leisure, and the Transformation of Lynching in Texas,” Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Chicago, (2015); Linda O. McMurray, To Keep the Waters Troubled:  The Life of Ida B. Wells (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998); Ida B. Wells, The Red Record:  Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynching in the United States (Chicago: Privately Printed, 1895).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Hood College

Bertonneau, E. Arnold (1834-1912)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
“Image Courtesy of Thomas F. Bertonneau”
Sources: 
Eric Foner (ed.), Freedom's Lawmakers: A Directory of Black Officeholders During Reconstruction (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1996); James G. Hollandsworth, Jr, The Louisiana Native Guards: The Black Military Experience During the Civil War (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1998); and Charles Vincent, Black Legislators in Louisiana During Reconstruction (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1976).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Underground Railroad, The (1820-1861)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Underground Railroad, Fugitives Smuggled During Winter
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The Underground Railroad was established to aid enslaved people in their escape to freedom.  The railroad was comprised of dozens of secret routes and safe houses originating in the slaveholding states and extending all the way to the Canadian border, the only area where fugitives could be assured of their freedom.  Shorter routes led south from Florida to Cuba or from Texas to Mexico.  The Underground Railroad also included the smuggling of fugitive slaves onto ships that carried them to ports in the North or outside the United States.
Sources: 
William Still, The Underground Railroad (Chicago, Johnson Publishing Company, 1970)
David W. Blight, Passages to Freedom: The Underground Railroad in History and Memory (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books in association with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, 2004); J. Blaine Hudson, Encyclopedia of the Underground Railroad (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2006); http://www.nationalgeographic.com/railroad/
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

King, Horace (1807-1885)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Horace King, born a slave on September 8, 1807 in Chesterfield District, South Carolina, was a successful bridge architect and builder in West Georgia, Northern Alabama and northeast Georgia in the period between the 1830s and 1870s.   King worked for his master, John Godwin who owned a successful construction business.  Although King was a slave, Godwin treated him as a valued employee and eventually gave him considerable influence over his business.  Horace King supervised many of Godwin's business activities including the management of construction sites. In 1832, for example, King led a construction crew in building Moore’s Bridge, the first bridge crossing the lower Chattahoochee River in northwest Georgia.  Later in the decade, Godwin and King constructed some of the largest bridges in Georgia, Alabama, and Northeastern Mississippi.  By the 1840s King designed and supervised construction of major bridges at Wetumpka, Alabama and Columbus, Mississippi without Godwin's supervision.  Godwin issued five year warranties on his bridges because of his confidence in King’s high quality work.

Sources: 

John S. Lupold, John S., and Thomas L. French Jr. Bridging Deep South
Rivers: The Life and Legend of Horace King
  (Athens: The University of
Georgia Press, 2004); John N. Ingham and Lynne B. Feldman, African
American Business Leaders
  (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press,
1993); Thomas L. French and Edward L. French, "Horace King, Bridge
Builder," Alabama Heritage 11 (Winter 1989): 34-47.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Herndon, Alonzo Franklin (1858–1927)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Alonzo Franklin Herndon was an African American entrepreneur who founded and was the first president of Atlanta Life Insurance Company.  Herndon was born on June 26, 1858 in Walton County, Georgia to Frank Herndon, a white farmer, and Sophenie, his slave.  By the time of his death in 1927, Herndon was Atlanta, Georgia’s wealthiest African American and one of the first black millionaires in the United States.

Herndon worked on his father's plantation near Social Circle, Georgia.  Freed by the 13th Amendment, Herndon and his mother, younger brother, and maternal grandparents became sharecroppers.  Herndon supplemented the family income by working as day laborer and peddler of peanuts, homemade molasses, and axle grease.

Sources: 
Alexa Benson Herndon, Atlanta Life Insurance Company: Guardian of Black Economic Dignity (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1990); Carole Merritt, The Herndons: An Atlanta Family (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2002); http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/business-economy/alonzo-herndon-1858-1927; https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/atlanta/her.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Smith, Sylvanus (1831–1911)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Sylvanus Smith, once described in a city directory as a “hog driver,” was a free black Brooklynite who promoted and protected racial equality, business ownership, and property development in the community of Weeksville, New York. Smith was one of the original landowners of Weeksville.   
Sources: 
http://pursuitoffreedom.org/abolitionist-brooklyn/; John L. Rury, “The New York African Free School, 1827-1836: Community Conflict over Community Control of Black Education,” Phylon, 44: 3 (1983); Ellen M. Snyder-Grenier, Brooklyn: An Illustrated History (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1996).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, Houston, Texas (1868- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, the first African American Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, was organized in January 1866 by former slaves.  These individuals were assisted by white missionaries from the First Baptist Church and the German Baptist Church.  Antioch’s members worshiped at the two churches until they decided to hold services on Buffalo Bayou in what was called “Brush Arbor.”  Shortly thereafter, the congregation moved to “Baptist Hill,” located at Rusk and Bagby streets.  In 1868, John Henry (Jack) Yates, one of Antioch’s members, was ordained as a minister and became the church’s first pastor.  Responding to the growth of the membership in 1875, Yates led his congregation in constructing a new edifice.  A red brick church was designed by African American Richard Allen, a former member of the Texas Legislature, and became the first house of worship owned by African Americans in Houston.     
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas Southern University

The Bordentown School (1886–1955)

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History in the West
The Boredontown School Assembly, ca. 1945
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The “Bordentown School,” founded in 1886 in Bordentown, New Jersey, began as a self-sustaining, co-educational, vocational school in a two-story residence in Bordentown, New Jersey. Originally established as a private institution by Rev. Walter A. Rice, a college-educated former slave and minister with the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, it was taken over by the state of New Jersey in 1894 and renamed the “Manual Training and Industrial School for Colored Youth.”   
Sources: 
Ezola Bolden Adams, "The Role and Function of the Manual Training and Industrial School at Bordentown as an Alternative School, 1915-1955," Ed.D. dissertation, New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University, 1977); Arlene S. Bice and Patricia DeSantis, Bordentown (Mount Pleasant, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2014);  http://www.delrivgreenway.org/heritagetrail/Bordentown-School.html; http://www.pbs.org/program/place-out-of-time/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Morelos y Pavón, José María (1765-1815)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Monument to Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon at
Montemorelos, Mexico
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"

José María Morelos y Pavón, statesman and Roman Catholic priest, was one of the greatest insurgent military commanders during the Mexican War of Independence.  Morelos was born into a poor “pardo” (Afro-Mexican) family in Valladolid, Mexico on September 30, 1765 to José Manuel Morelos y Robles, a carpenter, and Juana María Guadalupe Pérez Pavón.  In his youth Morelos performed many menial jobs, including farming and mule skinning.  In 1790 he studied philosophy, rhetoric, ethics and Latin grammar at the Colegio de San Nicolás, operated by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, and in 1795 Morelos entered Tridentine Seminary, becoming a full-fledged priest by age 32 in December 1797. He administered in several areas throughout New Spain, including Carácuaro and Churumuco. 

Sources: 
Marco Polo Hernandez Cuevas, African Mexicans and the Discourse on Modern Nation (Lanham: University Press of America, Inc., 2004); Michael C. Meyer, William L. Sherman, Susan M. Deeds, The Course of Mexican History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999); http://www.publicartinla.com/sculptures/Lincoln_Park/sculptures_descr.html; http://www.tamu.edu/faculty/ccbn/dewitt/morelos1.htm.
Affiliation: 
University of Texas, El Paso

Bruce, John Edward (1856-1924)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John Edward Bruce was born into slavery in Piscataway, Maryland in 1856.  When Bruce was three years old his father was sold away to Georgia prompting young Bruce and his mother to escape to Washington, D.C. in fear of losing each other.  Bruce and his mother Martha resided with Martha's cousin Busie Patterson who was a body servant to Missouri senator Thomas Hart Benton. This relationship with a powerful white congressman provided the Bruce family with opportunities and access to jobs in white upper-class communities. Martha Bruce, for example, obtained a job in Connecticut working closely with a white family. While in Connecticut, John Edward Bruce enrolled in an integrated school and received his first formal education. Traveling back to Washington, he received a private education and attended Howard University.
Sources: 
Ralph L. Crowder, John Edward Bruce: Politician, Journalist, and Self-trained Historian of the African Diaspora (New York: New York University Press, 2004);
http://www.cwo.com/~lucumi/bruce.html; http://www.historicaldocuments.com/BloodRedRecord.htm
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Marshall, Harriet Gibbs (1868-1941)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
A pioneer in the world of African American music education, Harriet Gibbs Marshall was born in Victoria, British Columbia on February 18, 1868 to Mifflin Wistar Gibbs and Maria Ann (Alexander) Gibbs. In 1869 her family moved to Oberlin, Ohio. Marshall began her study of music at the age of nine and continued the pursuit at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music where she studied piano, pipe organ, and voice culture. Graduating in 1889, she was the first African American to complete the program and earn a Mus.B. degree, which at the time was Oberlin’s equivalent of a Bachelor of Music degree.

Marshall trained in Europe after graduating and in 1890 returned to the United States to found a music conservatory at the Eckstein-Norton University, an industrial school in Cane Springs, Kentucky. At the beginning of the 20th century, Marshall held the position of supervisor for the District of Columbia’s African American public schools, Divisions X-XIII, and served as the divisions’ director of music.

To provide African American students with advanced musical training within the conservatory structure, she founded the Washington Conservatory of Music in 1903. It was later renamed the Washington Conservatory of Music and School of Expression when the school expanded to include drama and speech. In establishing a school exclusively operated by African American musicians for the advancement of African American education, Marshall realized a lifelong goal.
Sources: 
Alice Allison Dunnigan, The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians: Their Heritage and Traditions (Washington, D.C.: Associated Publishers, 1982); Doris E. McGinty, “Gifted Minds and Pure Hearts: Mary L. Europe and Estelle Pinckney Webster,” The Journal of Negro Education 51:3 (Summer 1982);  Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005); Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982); Eileen Southern, The Music of Black Americans: A History (New York: W.W. Norton, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Voorhees College (1897- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Voorhees College is a private, four-year coeducational historically black liberal arts university located in Denmark, South Carolina on a small, park-like campus located approximately 50 miles from Columbia.

Voorhees was first opened in 1897 as Denmark Industrial School. In 1902, the school changed its name to Voorhees Industrial School in honor of Ralph Voorhees, a philanthropist from Clinton, New Jersey who donated $5,000 to purchase the acreage for the institution and build its first building. Voorhees offered its first post-secondary instruction in 1929, the same year it changed its name to Voorhees Normal and Industrial School. Voorhees made another name change in 1947, becoming the Voorhees School and Junior College. The college made its final name change to its current name, Voorhees College, in 1962, and awarded its first baccalaureate degree in 1969.

Sources: 
Voorhees College Webpage, http://www.voorhees.edu; Toni Hodge-Wright, The Handbook of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Seattle: Jireh and Associates, 1992); Julian B. Roebuck and Komanduri S. Murty, Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Their Place in American Higher Education (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

St. Augustine Catholic Church, New Orleans, Louisiana (1841- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
St. Augustine Catholic Church of New Orleans was the first black church in Louisiana and the first black Catholic church in the United States. In the 1830s a group of free African-American New Orleanians began organizing to create a Catholic church in Tremé, a historically black and multicultural New Orleans neighborhood. With the blessing of Antoine Blanc (1792-1860), the first Archbishop of New Orleans, the parish was founded in 1841 and the first ceremony was held there on October 9, 1842.

A group of white Catholics, angered that a Catholic church aimed at black New Orleanians was to be built, began a campaign to purchase pews in an attempt to outnumber the black parishioners. This effort was unsuccessful, as free blacks still greatly outnumbered whites. Additionally, reputedly a first in American history, black members pooled resources to purchase pews for slaves.
Sources: 
Donald E. DeVore, “Water in Sacred Places: Rebuilding New Orleans Black Churches as Sites of Community Empowerment,” The Journal of American History 94:3 (Dec. 2007); Bruce Nolan, “St. Augustine Parish Counts Its Blessings,” The Times-Picayune, (March 20, 2009); http://www.staugustinecatholicchurch-neworleans.org.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Stahl, Jesse (c. 1879–1935)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

African American cowboy and rodeo rider Jesse Stahl set the standard of performance in saddle bronc riding that continues to this day. Stahl was a topnotch horseman, a first-class gentleman, and a cowboy who was regarded by many who saw his performances as larger than life.

Conflicting sources establish Jesse Stahl’s birthplace as Tennessee, Texas or California sometime between 1879 and 1883.  Nothing is known about his childhood other than he had a brother named Ambrose. Both brothers joined the rodeo circuit but only Jesse went on to fame.

Jesse Stahl is most famous for his performance at the Salinas Rodeo in California in 1912.  Before over 4,000 fans, Stahl stole the show in the rodeo’s classic event of saddle bronc riding on the bronco named Glass Eye. The horse would buck, twist his body 180-degrees midair, and land in the exact opposite direction. Most observers felt that none other than Stahl stood a chance of staying on Glass Eye. He did, and that magnificent ride thrilled fans and cemented Stahl’s name into the annals of rodeo fame. Other stories of Stahl's exploits have been passed down through oral tradition.

Sources: 
Tricia Martineau Wagner, Black Cowboys of the Old West (Guilford, Connecticut: The Globe Pequot Press, 2011); Paul W. Stewart and Wallace Yvonne Ponce, Black Cowboys (Broomfield, Colorado: Phillips Publishing, 1986); Burton Anderson, “The California Rodeo: A Central Coast Tradition,” Monterey County Historical Society (1997), http://www.mchsmuseum.com/rodeo.html.
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Mahdist Revolution (1881-1898)

Entry Type: 
Events
History Type: 
Global African History
Map of the Mahdist State, 1881-1898
Image Ownership: Public Domain

The Mahdist Revolution was an Islamic revolt against the Egyptian government in the Sudan.  An apocalyptic branch of Islam, Mahdism incorporated the idea of a golden age in which the Mahdi, translated as “the guided one,” would restore the glory of Islam to the earth.

Attempting to overhaul Egypt through an aggressive westernization campaign, Egyptian ruler Muhammad Ali, who was himself a provincial governor of the Ottoman Empire, invaded the Sudan in 1820.  Within a year his armies had subdued the Sudan and he began conscripting local Sudanese men into the Egyptian military.  In 1822 Khartoum became the capital of Egyptian-occupied Sudan and a distant outpost in the Ottoman Empire.

Egyptian rule over the Sudan involved the imposition of high rates of taxation, the taking of slaves from the local population at will, and the absolute control over all Sudanese trade which destroyed livelihoods and indigenous practices.  During the process of military conscription, tens of thousands of Sudanese men and boys died on their long march from the Sudanese hinterlands to Aswan, Egypt.

Sources: 
Kevin Shillington, Encyclopedia of African History (New York: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2004); C. Brown, “The Sudanese Mahdiya,” in Protest and Power in Black Africa, edited by R. I. Rotberg and A. Mazrui (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970); R. O. Collins, The Southern Sudan, 1883-98: A Struggle for Control (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1962).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Louisiana Purchase and African Americans (1803)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
It is ironic that the 1803 Louisiana Purchase from France was instigated by one of the few successful slave rebellions. Toussaint L’Overture on St. Dominique (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic) so bedeviled the French that Napoleon decided to sell the Louisiana Territory to the US.  This doubled the size of the infant United States and has been heralded as crucial to the American path to becoming the world superpower.
Sources: 
John Hope Franklin and Alfred A. Moss, Jr., From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans (Alfred A. Knopf, New York 1994);
http://www.monticello.org/jefferson/lewisandclark/louisiana.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Grimke, Archibald (1849-1930)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Moorland-Spingarn
Research Center, Howard University
Archibald Grimke was a leading intellectual, activist, and author on racial equality in early 20th Century America. Grimke was born into slavery, the son of Nancy Weston, a slave, and Henry Grimke, her owner. After his father's death, he and his brother Francis spent eight years living as freemen before his half-brother, Montague, took them as servants into his home in 1860. After suffering beatings at Montague's hand Archibald fled and hid with relatives until Charleston fell to Union forces in 1865.
Sources: 
Dickson D. Bruce, Jr., Archibald Grimke, Portrait of a Black Independent (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Coppin, Levi Jenkins (1848-1924)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Levi Coppin was an editor, educator, missionary and the 30th Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Coppin was born in Frederick Town, Maryland in 1848 to Jane Lily and John Coppin.  He had six siblings. Coppin’s mother taught him to read and write at an early age and was very religious, which influenced him greatly. She held secret classes (against state law prohibiting blacks to assemble) during week nights as well as on Sunday mornings educating both free blacks and slaves.
Sources: 
Coppin, Levi Jenkins, Unwritten History (Philadelphia: A.M.E. Book Concern, 1919);
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

National Afro American League (1887–1893)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Joseph Charles Price, First 
President of the National
Afro-American Council
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The first Afro-American League (AAL) was established in 1887 before changing its name, two years later, to the National Afro-American League (NAAL). The focus of the league was to obtain full citizenship and equality for African-Americans. Timothy Thomas Fortune, editor of the New York Age and Bishop Alexander Walters of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Washington, D.C. as key figures in the NAAL, sought equal opportunities in voting, civil rights, education, and public accommodations.  The organization also sought to end lynchings in the South.

As one of the key figures of the NAAL, Fortune organized the first national meeting in January 1890, where 36-year-old Joseph C. Price, then President of Livingston College in North Carolina, was elected President of the League. During this meeting, the League adopted a constitution that would not accept politicians in order to escape the grasp of the Republic Party’s control. Their main goal would be fighting Jim Crow on legal grounds.
Sources: 
Benjamin R. Justesen, Broken Brotherhood: The Rise and Fall of the National Afro-American Council (Carbondale: Southern Illinois Press, 2008); Nina Mjagkij, Organizing Black America: An Encyclopedia of African American Associations (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 2001); Jack Salzaman, Encyclopedia of African-American culture and history: the Black experience in the Americas (Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2006.)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bethel Baptist Institutional Church of Jacksonville, Florida (ca. 1865- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership, Public Domain
Bethel Baptist Institutional Church is the oldest Baptist church congregation in the state of Florida.  At the end of the Civil War, Bethel Baptist Church was recognized by the court in Jacksonville to be a black church, but the history of this church extends well beyond the 1860s to the 1830s and its initial founding.  Instituted in 1838 by James McDonald and Ryan Frier, who served as co-pastors, Bethel Baptist’s congregation numbered six charter members including two slaves called Bacchus and Peggy.  Church worship occurred at “Mother Sam’s” plantation.  Attended by growing numbers of slaves from local plantations who received day passes from masters in order to permit them to travel safely, Bethel Baptist flourished and grew steadily.
Sources: 
Abel A. Bartley, Keeping the Faith: Race, Politics, and Social Development in Jacksonville, Florida, 1940-1970 (New York: Greenwood Publishing Group. (2000); John Leonidas Rosser, A History of Florida Baptists (Nashville: Broadman Press 1949); Wayne W. Wood, Jacksonville's Architectural Heritage: Landmarks for the Future (revised edition) (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1996); https://bethelbaptistjax.com/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Alabama State University

Rawles, George Washington (1845–1922)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

Sources: 
Stewart Sifkas, Compendium of Confederate Armies (Baltimore: Heritage Books,  2003); US Federal Census 1910, Microfilm number T624-1662, Page 3B, Enumeration District 188, Seattle Ward 11, King County, Washington acknowledges his service in the Confederate Army.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Dunbar, Paul Laurence (1872-1906)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
William L. Andrews, Frances Smith Foster, and Trudier Harris, eds., The Oxford Companion to African American Literature (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997); Braxton, Joanne M, ed. The Collected Poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1993); http://www.dunbarsite.org/biopld.asp.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Harrison, Samuel (1818-1900)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Samuel Harrison, a minister, political activist, and former slave, became one of Berkshire County, Massachusetts’s most ardent abolitionists. Harrison was born enslaved in Philadelphia in 1818 but he and his mother were freed in 1821.  Shortly afterwards the widowed mother and her son moved to New York City. When Harrison was nine years old, he returned to Philadelphia to live with an uncle. 

Throughout his childhood, Harrison worked as an apprentice to his uncle in a shoemaking shop, learning a trade that would support him for years. He also attended church services with his mother regularly, and it was during his adolescence that Harrison decided to become a Presbyterian minister. 

Samuel Harrison tried hard to educate himself. In 1836, he enrolled in a manual school run by the abolitionist Gerrit Smith in Peterboro, New York. After only a few months, he transferred to the Western Reserve College in Hudson, Ohio (now Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, Ohio), an institution known for its abolitionist sympathies.   Financial difficulties, however, forced him to return to Philadelphia in 1839.

Soon after returning to Philadelphia, Harrison married Ellen Rhodes who he had known since the two were children. Over the next twenty years, Ellen gave birth to thirteen children, seven of whom died in early childhood.

Sources: 
Samuel Harrison, An Appeal of a Colored Man to his Fellow Citizens of a Fairer Hue in the United States (Pittsfield, Massachusetts: Chickering & Axtell, 1877); Samuel Harrison, Rev. Samuel Harrison, His Life Story, As Told By Himself (Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Privately printed, 1899); Dennis Dickerson, "Reverend Samuel Harrison: A Nineteenth Century Black Clergyman,” in Black Apostles at Home and Abroad: Afro-Americans and the Christian Mission from the Revolution to Reconstruction, edited by David W. Wills and Richard Newman (Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857)

Vignette Type: 
Misc
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The Dred Scott v. Sandford case (1857) was the most important slavery-related decision in the United States Supreme Court’s history.  Coming on the eve of the Civil War, and seven years after the Missouri Compromise of 1850, the decision affected the national political scene, impacted the rights of free blacks, and reinforced the institution of slavery.  

The Missouri Compromise was an agreement passed in 1820 between the pro- and anti-slavery factions in Congress, primarily addressing the regulation of slavery in the Western Territories. The compromise prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana Territory north of the parallel 36°30? north, except within the boundaries of the proposed state of Missouri. The purpose was to balance the Congressional strength of the two factions by making sure an equal number of slave and free states were admitted to the Union.  

Dred Scott was a black slave who sued for his freedom in Missouri.  Scott had accompanied his late master to army postings in the free states of Illinois, Wisconsin and to the Minnesota Territory, areas where slavery was forbidden by state law governed by the Northwest Ordinance (1787) and the Missouri Compromise.  Following decades of Missouri precedents holding that residence in a free jurisdiction led to the emancipation of a slave, the trial court freed Scott.  
Sources: 
Dred Scott v. Sandford, 19 Howard (U.S.) 393 (1857); Leonard W. Levy, Kenneth Karst, and Adam Winkler, Encyclopedia of the American Constitution (Detroit:  MacMillan Reference USA, 2000), 818-820.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Leidesdorff, William Alexander (1810-1848)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Although little remembered today, Leidesdorff was a social, economic and political force in pre-gold rush San Francisco, California with a number of “firsts” credited to his name. When he was named the U.S. Vice Consul to Mexico in 1845, he became the nation’s first African American diplomat.  He was elected to San Francisco’s first city council and its first school board in 1847.  He built the first hotel, the first shipping warehouse, he operated the first steamboat on San Francisco Bay, and he laid out the first horse race track in California.

Sources: 
Gary Mitchell Palgon, William Alexander Leidesdorff: First Black Millionaire, American Consul and California Pioneer (Atlanta: Lulu Press, 2005); Sue Bailey Thurman, “William Alexander Leidesdorff” in Pioneers of Negro Origin in California ( San Francisco: Acme Publishing Company, 1952) http://www.sfmuseum.net/bio/leidesdorff.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
National Park Service

Jones, Dora (1890-1972)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Dora Jones in 1947
Image Ownership: Public domain

The most widely publicized case of the virtual enslavement of an African American in the 20th century is that of Dora Jones, born Theodora Lawrence Jones in 1890 in Athens, Alabama, the daughter of former slaves Plato Jones, a shoemaker and brick maker, and Lazzie Garrett Jones. As a young girl attending a church-supported missionary school in Athens, Jones was a favorite of teacher Elizabeth Kimball, a young woman from a wealthy Boston, Massachusetts family. As a teenager Jones was persuaded to follow Kimball to Washington, D.C. as her maid when she married Walter P. Harman, a Harvard-educated government employee. Harman soon took advantage of Jones and impregnated her. Elizabeth’s divorce from Harman did little to calm her fury at Jones who was isolated and 700 miles from friends and family. This was the beginning of decades of verbal and physical abuse and labor without compensation that lasted nearly forty years.

Sources: 
Robert Fikes Jr., “Slavery Trial Draws All Eyes to San Diego,” in the San Diego Reader (March 16, 2017); Lionel Van Deerlin, “S.D. Was Site of Slavery Conviction,” San Diego Union-Tribune (August 15, 1985); United States v. Ingalls, https://www.leagle.com/decision/194714973fsupp761133.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Craft, William and Ellen (1824-1900; 1826-1891)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownershp: Public Domain
William and Ellen Craft were born into slavery.  William was born in Macon, Georgia to a master who sold off his family to pay his gambling debts.  William’s new owner apprenticed him as a carpenter in order to earn money from his labor.  Ellen was born in Clinton, Georgia and was the daughter of an African American slave and her white owner.  Ellen had a very light complexion and was frequently mistaken for a member of her white family.  At the age of 11, she was given away as a wedding gift to the Collins Family in Macon, Georgia.  It was in Macon, Georgia where William and Ellen met.

In 1846 Ellen and William were allowed to marry, but they could not live together since they had different owners.  The separation took its toll and they started to save money and plan an escape.  In December of 1848, the Crafts escaped enslavement.  Ellen’s light complexion allowed her to dress as a white man.  She then claimed William was her slave.  This plan worked and they settled in Boston, Massachusetts, where they became famous because of their remarkable and romantic escape.  Their story briefly generated a sizeable income. 
Sources: 
William and Ellen Craft, Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom; or, The Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery [originally published in 1860] Miami, Florida: Mnemosyne Pub. Company, 1969); Georgia Douglas Camp Johnson, William and Ellen Craft (Alexandria, Va.: Alexander Street Press, 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, Inc. (1896)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History

 

"Oklahoma Federation of Colored Women Banner, 1910"
Image Ownership: Public Domain

The National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, Inc. (NACWC), was established in July 1896 as a merger between the National League of Colored Women and the National Federation of Afro-American Women.  The merger enabled the NACWC to function as a national umbrella group for local and regional Black women’s organizations.

The NACWC adopted the motto of “Lifting as We Climb,” promoting self-help among women. During the early years of the organization, the largely educated and middle-class constituency supported temperance, positive images of women through moral purity, and women’s suffrage, issues also pursued by white women’s groups. However, unlike those groups, the NACWC saw their organization in terms of gender and race; viewing their women’s movement as a way to uplift black women, men, and children. For example, the NACWC saw the struggle for suffrage as the right to vote not just for women, but also for black men still disfranchised through the political maneuverings of whites.

Sources: 

Lillian Serece Williams and Randolph Boehm, Records of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, 1895-1992, A Microfilm Project of University Publications of America, Microfilm Reels; Elizabeth Davis, Lifting as They Climb (Washington D.C.: NACW, 1933); Deborah Gray White, Too Heavy a Load: Black Women in Defense of Themselves, 1894-1994 (New York: Norton, 1998).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Tacoma

Smith, Bessie (1894-1937)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Along with Ma Rainey and Mamie Smith, singer Bessie Smith helped pioneer the genre of blues music and propel it into popular culture. Her early death at the age of 43 cut short a career that influenced the direction of American music and contributed to the success of African Americans in the performing arts.

Smith was born into poverty most likely on April 15, 1894 in Chattanooga, Tennessee to William Smith, a preacher, and Laura Smith. Both parents died when Bessie was young. To help support her orphaned siblings, Bessie began her career as a Chattanooga street musician, singing in a duo with her brother Andrew to earn money to support their indigent family.
Sources: 
Chris Albertson, Bessie (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003); Angela Y. Davis, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism (New York: Random House, 1998); Nanette de Jong, “Smith, Bessie (15 Apr. 1894-26 Sept. 1937),” American National Biography Online (New York: Oxford University Press, February 2000).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Toomer, Amanda America Dickson (1849-1893)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Heiress and socialite Amanda America Dickson Toomer was, in her time, the wealthiest African American woman in Georgia, and one of the wealthiest women in the United States.

Born November 20, 1849, on the Dickson Plantation, near Sparta, Georgia (Hancock County), Amanda America was the product of her 12-year-old mother, an enslaved house servant, Julia Francis Lewis, and 40-year-old David Dickson, a well-known agricultural reformer of that era and one of the wealthiest planters in the area.   In her youth, Amanda was taken into the Dickson family home and raised by her paternal grandmother where she was taught to read, write, and play the piano. According to Dickson family tradition, David Dickson eventually doted on his only daughter.

In 1866, 17-year-old Amanda married her white first cousin, Charles Eubanks, a recently returned Confederate Army veteran and together they had two children, Julian Henry and Charles Green. It was an unhappy marriage, and in 1870, Amanda left her husband, and returned to the Dickson Plantation, where she was legally given the surname of Dickson for herself and her sons. Eubanks died two years later.

Sources: 
Kent Leslie, Woman of Color, Daughter of Privilege: Amanda America Dickson, 1849-1893 (Athens:  University of Georgia Press, 1996); Find-A-Grave, Amanda America Dickson Toomer, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=13428942; Mark Woodard, My GA History, Amanda America Dickson, http://mygahistory.com/amanda-america-dickson/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Wood, Robert (1844 - ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Natchez, Mississippi in the 1870s
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Robert Wood is believed to be one of the first African American mayors in the United States.  He served as mayor of Natchez, Mississippi in the early 1870s.  Wood was born in 1844 to Susie Harris, an African American housekeeper, and Dr. Robert Wood, a white doctor from Virginia.  His parents never married, but lived side by side.  According to oral histories, Wood was never a slave and lived mostly with his father, a former mayor of Natchez himself.  

Mississippi Governor James L. Alcorn appointed Robert Wood as mayor of Natchez, Mississippi in 1869.  He later was elected mayor in 1870.  His election was part of the “Black and Tan Revolution,” a short-lived political shift in Mississippi in which citizens of Mississippi elected many African Americans to state offices between 1868 and 1875.  At its peak in 1873, half of Mississippi's state elected officials were black.  

Sources: 

David Duncan Collum, Black and Catholic in the Jim Crow South: The
Stuff that Makes Community.
(Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press, 2006);
Mike Brunker, “Race, Politics and the Evolving South: A Black Mayor,
130 Years Later,” http://www.nbcnews.com/id/5676325/, Aug. 17, 2004.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Morgan, Garrett A., Sr. (1877?-1963)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Inventor, entrepreneur, and publisher Garrett A. Morgan, Sr. received patents for a three-position traffic signal and a safety hood that was designed to aid breathing in smoke-filled areas. He gained national attention when he utilized his mask to rescue men trapped during a tunnel explosion in 1916.

Garrett Augustus Morgan was born in 1875 or 1877 in Paris, Kentucky to farmers Sydney and Elizabeth Morgan. Garrett received an elementary school education and left home at the age of 14, finding work in Cincinnati, Ohio as a mechanic. In 1895 he moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he worked for 12 years repairing sewing machines and in 1901 invented a sewing machine belt fastener.
Sources: 
Charles W. Carey, Jr., American Inventors, Entrepreneurs, and Business Visionaries (New York: Facts On File, 2002); Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, African American Lives (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

White Sr, Jacob Clement (1806–1872)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Imagr Ownership: Public Domain"
Jacob C. White Sr. was a leading entrepreneur in early black Philadelphia, a tireless opponent of slavery and racial discrimination, and one of the wealthiest men in Philadelphia during his lifetime.

Born in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in March of 1806, Jacob Clement White Sr. was the son of Martha Cecelia and George Christopher White. White married Elizabeth Bustill Miller, a seamstress, and together they had eight children; Jacob Jr., Martha, Mary Ann, Martin, Joseph and George. White purchased and sold several homes in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for his growing family, and additionally worked as a barber, dentist, bleeder (a person who applied leeches and heated glass cups to drain infections from the body), unlicensed physician, and store owner. In 1847 White purchased five and a half acres of land at Ninth and Lombard Streets in Philadelphia that he converted into one of the city’s black-owned burial grounds, Lebanon Cemetery.
Sources: 
William Still, The Underground Railroad (Philadelphia, Porter & Coates, 1872); Karsonya Wise Whitehead, Notes from a Colored Girl: The Civil War Pocket Diaries of Emilie Frances Davis (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2014); Murray Dubin and Daniel Biddle, Tasting Freedom: Octavius Catto and the Battle for Equality in Civil War America (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2010)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Lai, Carlotta Stewart (1881-1952)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Despite its charm, Hawaii was a peculiar setting for a young black woman from Brooklyn, New York in the late nineteenth century. The third child of T. McCants Stewart and Charlotte Pearl Harris, Carlotta Stewart was born in 1881 in Brooklyn, New York, where she attended public schools during her formative years. Although her father had spent several years in Liberia, Africa, Carlotta had never traveled outside of the continental United States before coming to Hawaii. She was eighteen when she arrived in Hawaii in 1898, accompanying her father and stepmother.

The first evidence of Carlotta's activities appears in 1902 when she graduated from the Punahou School, Oahu College. After graduation, Carlotta completed the requirements for a Normal School certificate, which she received in 1902, and promptly accepted a teaching position in the Practice Department of the Punahou Normal School in July, right after her graduation. Carlotta remained at the Normal School for several years where she taught English.
Sources: 
Albert S. Broussard, African American Odyssey: The Stewarts, 1853-1963 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas A&M University

Flippin, George Albert (1868–1929)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
George Albert Flippin and the University of Nebraska Football
Team, 1895
Sources: 
Albert S. Broussard, “George Albert Flippin and Race Relations in a Western Rural Community,” The Midwest Review 12 (1990), 1-15; Albert S. Broussard, African American Odyssey: The Stewarts, 1853-1963 (Lawrence: University Press Of Kansas, 1998); Lane Demas, Integrating the Gridiron: Black Civil Rights and American College Football (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2011).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas A&M University

Pretoria, South Africa (1855- )

Entry Type: 
Places
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Pretoria, home to the Union Buildings where the office of the President is located, is one of three capital cities in South Africa.  The others are Cape Town and Bloemfontein. The city was first called Pretoriusdorp after Voortrekker (Afrikaans for “pioneer”) leader Andries Pretorius, though it was later changed to its current form. Its nickname is “Jacaranda City” thanks to the multitude of the purple-flowering trees of the same name within its borders.  The city’s population in 2011 was over 2.9 million people, 42% of whom are black African, 1.9% Indian/Asian, 2.5% mixed, 52.5% white, and 1.2% from other heritages.
Sources: 
Peter E. Raper, Dictionary of Southern African Place Names (Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball, 2004); Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, "Pretoria, South Africa, Encyclopedia of Africa (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010); http://www.pretoria.co.za/interesting/things-you-didnt-know.html; http://www.south-africa.me.uk/pretoria.htm; http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20100523104119724; http://www.csir.co.za/profile_of_csir.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Tanner, Benjamin Tucker (1835-1923)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Benjamin Tucker Tanner was born on Christmas day of 1835 to Hugh and Isabella Tanner of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  As one of twelve children he brought income into the Tanner household by delivering newspapers at age nine.  In 1852 Tanner was accepted into Avery College, a training school for black youth in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania.  At Avery, Tanner met and in 1858 married fellow student Sarah Elizabeth Miller. They had four children including Henry Ossawa Tanner, the first African American artist to achieve national acclaim, and Halle Tanner Dillon Johnson, one of the first black women physicians in the United States. Benjamin Tucker Tanner continued his own education at Western Theological Seminary in Allegheny City from 1857 to 1860.  He received a Doctor of Divinity degree from Wilberforce College in 1878.

Benjamin Tanner joined the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in 1856.  Two years later, while at Western Theological Seminary, Tanner was given a license to preach.  In 1860 he received his pastoral certificate and two years later founded an AME Church in Washington, D.C.  Always an advocate of education, he established the nation’s first school for freedmen in the United States Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. and later managed freedman’s schools in Frederick County, Maryland.
Sources: 
William Seraile, Fire in His Heart Bishop Benjamin Tucker Tanner and the A.M.E. Church (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1998); Kwame A. Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2004).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Batson, Flora (1864-1906)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Flora Batson was an internationally acclaimed concert singer of the nineteenth century whose talent and prestige earned her the title “Queen of Song.” She was born on April 16, 1864 in Washington, D.C., to Mary A. Batson, a Civil War widow. Mother and daughter moved to Providence, Rhode Island in 1867 when Batson was three years old.

Growing up, Batson sang in local choirs, and starting in 1878 she sang for Storer College in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia for two years. Declining an offer to study music on a full scholarship at Storer College, Batson continued her singing career under the management of social reformer Thomas Doutney at various temperance revivals. One such performance in New York City, New York’s Masonic Temple in 1885 launched her professional career. To much critical acclaim, she sang "Six Feet of Earth Make Us All One Size" for ninety consecutive nights and caught the attention of John G. Bergen, the white manager of the all-black Bergen Star Concert Company. She accepted his invitation into the company, and by 1887 she had achieved national fame as its leading soprano.
Sources: 
Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005); Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982); Jessie Carney Smith, ed., Notable Black American Women (Detroit: Gale Research Inc, 1991); Eileen Southern, The Music of Black Americans: A History (New York: W. W. Norton, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Livingstone College [Salisbury] (1879-- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Livingstone College is a private, four-year coeducational historically black liberal arts university located in Salisbury, North Carolina. The large, urban campus is located about 40 miles northeast of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Livingstone College was founded in 1879 under the name Zion Wesley Institute.  One year later the school was granted the right to instruct in post-secondary education. In 1887, the school awarded its first degree and also changed its name to Livingstone College in honor of Dr. David Livingstone (1813-1873), a well-known missionary, philanthropist, and explorer in Africa.

Sources: 
Livingstone College Webpage, http://www.livingstone.edu/; Toni Hodge-Wright, The Handbook of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Seattle: Jireh and Associates, 1992); Julian B. Roebuck and Komanduri S. Murty, Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Their Place in American Higher Education (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Rose Hill Missionary Baptist Church [Natchez, Mississippi] (1854- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Photo Courtesy of Susan C. Allen
Rose Hill Missionary Baptist Church of Natchez, Mississippi traces its origins as far back as 1837 in a shared legacy with First Baptist Church and later Wall Street Baptist Church, two predominantly white congregations in Natchez in 1850.  It is however recognized as the oldest organized black Baptist congregation in Mississippi and the oldest African American church in Natchez.  A deed filed in the Adams County Courthouse in 1858 documented a separate Baptist chapel for enslaved blacks under the auspices of the Wall Street Baptist Church. The document claimed that this black church was formed in 1854. Early enslaved members continued to maintain dual membership with the predominantly white Wall Street Baptist Church until after the Civil War. But the establishment of an all-black congregation with its own building in Antebellum Mississippi was particularly distinctive at the time.
Sources: 
Mimi Miller, "Rose Hill Missionary Baptist Church" (Natchez: Historic Natchez Foundation, 2014; Sherry Pace, Historic Churches of Mississippi (Jackson: The University Press of Mississippi, 2007); Vershall Hogan, “Walking Tours of Historic Churches Part of Conference,” The Natchez Democrat, Feb. 19, 2014.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Coles, Solomon Melvin (1844-1924)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Edna Jordan, Black Tracks to Texas: Solomon Melvin Coles—From Slave to Educator (Corpus Christi: Golden Banner Press, 1977); Moses N. Moore, Jr. and Yolanda Y. Smith, “Solomon M. Coles: The First Black Student Officially Enrolled in Yale Divinity School,” Spectrum: Yale Divinity School History, 6-7; Moses N. Moore, Jr. and Yolanda Y. Smith, “Solomon M. Coles: Preacher, Teacher, and Former Slave—The First Black Student Officially Enrolled in Yale Divinity School,” http://www.yale.edu/divinity/storm/Coles.
Affiliation: 
Independent Historians

Richmond, Bill (1763 – 1829)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Henry Downes Miles, Pugilistica: The History of British Boxing (London: Weldon & Co., 1880); http://www.100greatblackbritons.com/bios/bill_richmond.htm; "The Rise of the Black," Boxing (December 4, 1909).

 

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Elaw, Zilpa (1790? - ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Born in Pennsylvania to free parents, who raised her in the Christian faith, she was sent around the age of twelve, after her mother died, to live with a Quaker couple. At the age of fourteen, she began attending Methodist meetings, where she was converted. In 1810, she and Joseph Elaw were married; they settled in Burlington, New Jersey, because of his job as a fuller. They had a daughter, who was eleven years old when Joseph died of consumption in 1823.
Sources: 
Zilpha Elaw, Memoirs of the Life, Religious Experience, Ministerial Travels and Labours of Mrs. Zilpha Elaw, An American Female of Color: Together with Some Account of the Great Religious Revivals in America (1846); William L. Andrews, ed., Sisters of the Spirit: Three Black Women’s Autobiographies of the Nineteenth Century (1986).
Affiliation: 
Seattle Pacific University

Crumpler , Rebecca Davis Lee (1831-1895)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
For many years Dr. Rebecca Cole was considered to be the first black woman physician.  However, historical research has shown that the honor rightly belongs to Dr. Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler who completed her M.D. in 1864, three years before Dr. Cole.  

Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler was born free on February 8, 1831 to Absolum and Matilda Davis in Christiana, Delaware.  She was raised by an aunt in Pennsylvania who is noted to have provided health care to her neighbors.  In 1852 Davis was living in Charlestown, Massachusetts where she worked as a nurse for eight years.  She enrolled in the New England Female Medical College in 1860.  Her acceptance at the college was highly unusual as most medical schools at that time it did not admit African Americans.  Despite its reluctance, the faculty awarded Davis her medical doctorate.  That year she also married Arthur Crumpler.

Dr. Crumpler practiced medicine in Boston and specialized in the care of women, children, and the poor.  She moved to Richmond, Virginia in 1865 to minister to freedpeople through the Freedmen’s Bureau.  Crumpler returned to Boston in 1869 where she practiced from her home on Beacon Hill and dispensed nutritional advice to poor women and children.  In 1883 she published a medical guide book, Book of Medical Discourses, which primarily gave advice for women in the health care of their families.  
Sources: 
Sarah K. A. Pfatteicher, "Crumpler, Rebecca Davis Lee," American National Biography Online, Feb. 2000.; http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/partners/early/e_pioneers_crumpler.html; http://rlsonline.org/53350_12922.asp
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Smith, Harry Clay (1863-1941)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society

Harry Clay Smith was a newspaper editor and politician, born in Clarksburg, West Virginia, on January 28, 1863. He moved to Cleveland, Ohio at an early age and stayed in the area for the remainder of his life. After graduating from Cleveland’s Central High School in 1882, he established the Cleveland Gazette, and became the publisher and editor of the newspaper for nearly sixty years. The Gazette was a popular eight-page weekly that published local black activities and events in the greater Cleveland area, as well as many other cities in Ohio. Readership was at a steady 10,000 before World War I and circulated within the state of Ohio and parts of the Midwest.

Smith used the Cleveland Gazette to promote civil rights issues and engage in politics. Smith lobbied the state government of Ohio to do more to preserve the civil rights of African Americans.  Using the Gazette as a medium to communicate to the masses, Smith attacked segregation and racial discrimination. He advocated three strategies to challenge racial discrimination: political pressure, legal action and boycotts.  He was in particular, an ardent supporter of the campaign to desegregate Ohio schools in 1887.

Sources: 
Kenneth L. Kusmer, A Ghetto Takes Shape: Black Cleveland, 1870-1930 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1976); Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American
Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982); http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Lincoln University [Jefferson City] (1866- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Lincoln University is a public university located in Jefferson City, the capital of Missouri. It is a member of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and was founded in 1866 by members of the 62nd and 65th United States Colored Infantry and as such is the only black college founded by African American members of the U.S.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia (1885 – )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Sources: 
Martin Luther King, Jr., The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.: Volume I: Called to Serve, January 1929-June  1951. Eds. Clayborne Carson, Ralph Lukor, and Penny Russel, (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1992); The National Park Service, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site at http://www.nps.gov/malu/planyourvisit/ebenezer_baptist_church.htm ; Stanford Encyclopedia, Ebenezer Baptist Church at http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/encyclopedia/enc_ebenezer_baptist_church/ 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Alabama State University

Williams, Paul R. (1894-1980)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Architect Paul Williams in Front of His Most Famous
Project, the Theme Building, Los Angeles Airport
Paul R. Williams was one of the most well known 20th Century African American architects. Early in his career, Williams designed mostly houses, but in the 1950s and 1960s he designed some of the most distinctive public buildings in Los Angeles. Williams’s best-known building is probably the Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport, which he designed with William Pereira.

Paul Williams was born in Los Angeles in 1894, a few years after his parents had moved to Southern California from Tennessee. Williams’s father died in 1896, and his mother died two years later. Williams grew up in the home of C.D. and Emily Clarkson. He graduated from Polytechnic High School and studied at the Los Angeles School of Art, the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design, and the engineering school at the University of Southern California. While he pursued his studies in the 1910s, Williams also worked in the offices of several different Los Angeles architects. In 1917 he married Della Mae Givens. They had two daughters, Marilyn and Norma.
Sources: 

Karen E. Hudson, Paul R. Williams, Architect: A Legacy of Style (New York: Rizzoli, 1993); “Architect Paul R. Williams,”    http://www.paulrwilliamsproject.org/about/paul-revere-williams-architect/


Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Western Washington University

Ransier, Alonzo J. (1834-1882)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress; Bruce A. Ragsdale & Joel D. Tresse, Black Americans in Congress 1870-1989 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1990).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Murray, Daniel A. P. (1852-1925)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Daniel A. P. Murray was born on March 3, 1852 in Baltimore, Maryland.  At the age of nine he left Baltimore to live in Washington, D.C., where his brother managed the U.S. Senate restaurant.  In 1871 Murray acquired a job as a personal assistant to the librarian of Congress, Ainsworth R. Spofford.  Under Spofford's tutelage Murray gathered invaluable research skills and learned several languages. In 1879 he married Anna Evans, an Oberlin College graduate whose uncle and cousin had taken part in John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry.  Two years later, in 1881, he advanced to assistant librarian of the Library of Congress, a position he would hold until his retirement in 1923.

Sources: 
African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A.P. Murray Collection (1818-1907): Library of Congress
http://rs6.loc.gov/ammem/aap/aaphome.html; Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Bogle, Robert (1774-1848)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Robert Bogle Sign, Philadelphia 
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Nicholas Biddle, An Ode to Bogle (Philadelphia: Privately printed, 1865); W. E. B. DuBois, The Philadelphia Negro:  A Social Study (New York: Schocken Books, 1967); John N. Ingham and Lynne B. Feldman, African-American Business Leaders: A Biographical Dictionary (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994)

Browne, Hugh Mason (1851-1923)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Hugh M. Browne was a civil rights activist and educator.  Born June 12, 1851, in Washington D.C. to John and Elizabeth (Wormley) Browne, he is known for his work as the principal of the Institute for Colored Youth and his advocacy for vocational education.

After graduating from a segregated public school in Washington D.C., he studied at Howard University and graduated in 1875. That year he enrolled in the Theological Seminary of Princeton, graduating three years later and licensed as a Presbyterian minister.

After further education in Scotland, he became a professor at Liberia College in the Republic of Liberia, serving there from 1883 to 1886.  He introduced a course on Industrial Education there, and attempted to reform Liberian higher education. This culminated in an essay he was invited to write, “The Higher Education of the Colored People of the South,” in which he advocated elementary and industrial education over abstract higher education, espousing the opinion that Liberians and blacks in the south currently need practical education and are not ready for a more literary education. His cultural and educational criticisms of Liberia created tension with the principal of Liberia College, leading to his restriction from teaching.

Sources: 
The Crisis, Vol. 27, No. 4, (New York: The Crisis Publishing Company, Inc., Feb 1924); Princeton Theological Seminary, Necrological reports and annual proceedings of the Alumni Association ... : 1875-1932 (Princeton, New Jersey: C.S. Robinson, 1891); Faustine C. Jones-Wilson, Encyclopedia of African American Education (Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Company, 1996); http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/articles/pages/4144/Browne-Hugh-M-1851-1923.html#ixzz0bzcyIaRl
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Seymour, William J. (1870-1922)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

William J. Seymour was born in Centerville, Louisiana, to former slaves Simon and Phillis Seymour, who raised him in the Baptist church. While living in Cincinnati, Ohio, he was influenced by holiness teachings, and then he moved to Houston, Texas, where he heard Charles Fox Parham’s teaching on Apostolic Faith. The teaching, simply put, combined the baptism of the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues (glossalalia), such as was experienced in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2. Seymour embraced the teaching, moved to Los Angeles, California, and began preaching in the spring of 1906 in an abandoned church on Azusa Street, which he named the Apostolic Faith Mission. From this place, the Pentecostal movement spread across the globe.

Sources: 
William J. Seymour, ed. The Azusa Street Papers: A Reprint The Apostolic Faith Mission Publications, Los Angeles, California (1906–08). Foley, Ala.: Together in the Harvest Publications, 1997; Grant Wacker, Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 2001); http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/199904/026_azusa.cfm.
Affiliation: 
Seattle Pacific University

Spikes, Richard (1878-1965)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public domain

ENTRY SPONSOR: Malik and Cerosetta Simba

Richard Bowie Spikes was a prolific inventor with more than a dozen patents to his name. Primarily interested in automobile mechanics, Spikes also sought to improve the operation of items as varied as barber chairs and trolley cars. Professionally, he worked as a mechanic, a saloon keeper, and a barber, occupations that likely influenced his many later inventions.

Born to Monroe and Medora Spikes on October 2, 1878, Spikes came from a large family of at least six siblings. His younger brother, Benjamin Franklin Spikes, known as “Reb,” would go on to become a well-known jazz musician. The 1880 census lists his birthplace as Texas, though in later years Spikes would report the location as actually being in Indian Territory (later the state of Oklahoma).

In 1900, Spikes married Lula B. Charlton. The couple had one son, born in 1902. During the early 1900s, the family moved often, living in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, before settling in California.

Sources: 
James Michael Brodie, Created Equal: The Lives and Ideas of Black American Innovators (New York: W. Morrow, 1993); Justin Corfield, “Richard B. Spikes,” in The Encyclopedia of the Industrial Revolution in World History, edited by Kenneth E. Hendrickson (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Williams, Bert (1874-1922)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Egbert Austin "Bert" Williams was born in New Providence, Nassau on November 12, 1874.  When he was eleven or twelve his family settled in Riverside, California, and it was not long before Williams became attracted to show business.  In 1893 Williams got his start in show business and one of his first jobs was with a minstrel group called Martin and Selig's Minstrels.  While in this group Williams met George Walker, a song-and-dance man with whom Williams soon formed an illustrious partnership called Williams and Walker.

Throughout his career Williams achieved many firsts.  In 1901 he became the first African American to become a best selling recording artist, and in 1902 he became an international star with his performance in the show In Dahomey, the first black musical to be performed on Broadway.  Also, in 1910 Williams became the first black to be regularly featured in a Broadway revue when he joined the Ziegfeld Follies, and he even came to claim top billing for the show.

Sources: 
"Bert Williams," Broadway the American Musical: Stars Over Broadway
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/broadway/stars/williams_b.html ; Eric Ledell Smith, Bert Williams: A Biography of the Pioneer Black Comedian (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland &Company, Inc., Publishers, 1992).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Margaret Garner Incident (1856)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Margaret Garner Kills Her Children, 1867 Engraving
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Best known as the inspiration for Toni Morrison’s award winning novel, Beloved, The Margaret Garner Incident of 1856 contains one of the most ground breaking fugitive slave trials of the pre-Civil War era. Margaret Garner was born into slavery on June 4, 1834 on Maplewood plantation in Boone County, Kentucky. Working as a house slave for much of her life, Garner often traveled with her masters and even accompanied them on shopping trips to free territories in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Sources: 
Steven Weisenburger, Modern Madea: A Family Story of Slavery and Child-Murder from the Old South. New York: Hill and Wang, 1998.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Alphonse Trent Orchestra

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West


Jazz arose in 19th century America from music brought from West Africa by slaves.  It is therefore not surprising that the many of the most successful jazz musicians come from the African American communities in the South.  While there is a common belief that Jazz was fermented only in urban centers like New Orleans and Chicago, an entire group of innovative jazz musicians traveled the American southwest in territory bands; bringing into being the “Kansas City” sound.  These nomadic orchestras traveled across the Midwest and south in trains, cars, and buses carrying quality jazz to the public and providing forums for young talent to develop.   Alphonse Trent was one of these “troubadours.”  He was born in Fort Smith Arkansas on August 24, 1905, played the piano as a child and began playing with local bands as a young man.  Trent started his first band at 18 and went on to lead one of the most famous of the Midwest bands, the Alphonse Trent Orchestra.   For ten years, the band traveled the circuit which included Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and the smaller towns in between.

The Alphonse Trent orchestra lasted only ten years and only recorded eight songs but it was a legend in its time.  Over its life, the Trent orchestra featured jazz greats Snub Mosley on trombone, Peanuts Holland and Terrence Holder on trumpets, and A.G. Godley on drums.  Although there were few recordings, the ones that do exist demonstrate the quality of the musicians and the elegance of the group.  Many of the soloists went on to successful careers of their own.
Sources: 

Scott Yanow, Jazz: a Regional Exploration (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2006); Potomac River Jazz Club, http://www.prjc.org/roots/williams.html; Doug Ramsey, Jazz Matters – Reflections on Some of its Makers (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1989); Joe Bailey, “The Texas Shuffle”: Lone Star Underpinnings of the Kansas City Jazz Sound. (Journal of Texas Music History: Volume 6, Issue 1, 2006); David Oliphant, Texan Jazz. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Cornish, Samuel Eli (1795-1858)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Samuel Cornish, an abolitionist and editor, was born in Sussex County, Delaware and raised in Philadelphia and New York City, New York.  Since both of his parents were free African Americans Cornish was born free.  After graduating from the Free African School in Philadelphia Cornish began training to become a Presbyterian minister and was ordained in 1822.  Shortly afterward he moved to New York City where he organized the first black Presbyterian Church in Manhattan.

Sources: 

Jack Salzman, David Smith, and Cornel West, eds., Encyclopedia of
African-American Culture and History
(New York: Simon & Schuster
Macmillan, 1996); Lerone Bennett Jr., Pioneers in Protest (Chicago:
Johnson Publishing Company Inc., 1968).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bivins, Horace W. (1862-1937)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Horace Waymon Bivins, buffalo soldier, was born on May 8, 1862 in Accomack County, Virginia. His father Severn S. Bivins and his mother Elizabeth Bivins were free black farmers on Virginia's Eastern Shore. His parents taught Bivins to farm and at the age of 15 he was in charge of an 8-horse farm near Keller Station, Virginia.

Bivins, however, yearned for a life away from farming and at 17 he entered Hampton Institute in Virginia where he was first introduced to military training.  In 1887 Bivins joined the U.S. Army as a private. He was ordered to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri and assigned to Troop E, 10th U.S. Cavalry. Bivins was eventually stationed with the regiment at Fort Grant in Arizona Territory. There he took part in the campaign against Geronimo during the final days of the Apache wars in the Southwest.  An expert marksman, Bivins won eight medals and badges given by the War Department in shooting competitions between 1892 and 1894
Sources: 
Irene Schubert and Frank N. Schubert, On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldiers II (Baltimore: Scarecrow Press, Inc, 2004); Ed Kemmick, “Horace W. Bivins, Much-decorated soldier served many …Years of adventure,” 2003, Accessed Dec 7, 2010, http://www.mtstandard.com/news/state-and-regional/article_e3c02099-4d74-50ec-95f3-518bdcf2c240.html; Encyclopedia, Bivins, Horace W.(1862–1937) “Soldier, Joins the Tenth Calvary, Writes about Military Life,” 2010, Accessed Dec 7, 2010, http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/articles/pages/4119/Bivins-Horace-W-1862-1937.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

First Congregational Church, Atlanta, Georgia (1867- )

Vignette Type: 
Churches
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The First Congregational Church of Atlanta, Georgia, the largest Congregational church in the South, began as a “gathered church” on May 26, 1867. After being baptized, local formerly enslaved African Americans joined members of the mostly white congregation that met at the Storrs School Chapel. The American Missionary Association (AMA) established the Storrs School in 1865, in Atlanta, which provided classes, worship, and social services for former slaves and whites impoverished by the Civil War. Inspired by the worship services offered at the Storrs School, the ex-slaves petitioned for a church of their own. Land was donated to the congregation on the corner of Houston and Courtland Street, and a new “little red church” was built. Over the next decade, the congregation became primarily African American, while white members formed their own church.

In 1894, First Congregational Church called its first African American pastor, Dr. Henry Hugh Proctor, a graduate of Fisk University and Yale Divinity School, and former Elder at First African Presbyterian Church. Under Dr. Proctor’s leadership the present church building was completed in 1908. The groundbreaking ceremony was marked by the attendance of Booker T. Washington as guest of honor and former President Theodore Roosevelt visited the church in March 1911. The church structure is listed as a landmark on the National Register of Historic Places and is noted as a Georgia Historical site.
Sources: 
City of Atlanta, First Congregational Church (United Church of Christ), http://www.atlantaga.gov/index.aspx?page=414;  First Congregational Church United Church of Christ, About Us, Our History Is Our Legacy, http://firstchurchatl.org/about-us/; Georgia Historical Society,  http://georgiahistory.com/ghmi_marker_updated/first-congregational-church/
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Brown, Charlotte L. ( ? -- ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

Charlotte L. Brown is best known as a civil rights activist in San Francisco, California in the 1860s.  Brown was the daughter of James E. and Charlotte Brown and sister to Margaret Ann.  James Brown was also a well regarded civil rights activist in Gold Rush Era California.  Charlotte Brown's mother, for whom she was named, was a free, black seamstress who purchased her husband James’ freedom before they moved to San Francisco, California during the 1840s.

Charlotte L. Brown was the plaintiff in one of the most important early California civil rights campaigns.  On April 17, 1863, Brown was forcibly removed from a horse-drawn streetcar in San Francisco. Her father, who ran a livery stable in San Francisco, brought suit on her behalf against the Omnibus Railroad Company.  The successful suit resulted in $5,000 in damages awarded as well as the right of blacks to ride the street cars.  The Charlotte Brown case was one of a few civil rights cases brought by prominent free blacks in California to protest discrimination on public transportation.  Ms. Brown later married prominent free black civil rights activist James Riker.

Sources: 
Charlotte L. Brown et al case (San Francisco: California Historical Society, 1866). Delilah L. Beasley, The Negro Trail Blazers of California (Los Angeles: Times Mirror Publishing and Binding House, 1919), p. 65.  Marc Primus, ed. Monographs of Blacks in the West: Number 1, Manuscript Series (San Francisco: San Francisco African American Historical and Cultural Society, Inc., 1976), pp. 120-21
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Gant, Joe “Gans” (1874–1910)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Joe Gans and Oscar Nelson Before the
“Fight of the Century” at Goldfield, Nevada, Labor Day, 1906
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Joe Gant, who was given the name Gans by the press, became the first American and African American to hold a world boxing title when he defeated Frank Erne in Fort Erie, Canada, in 1902 to take the World Lightweight Boxing Championship. Gant was born Joseph Saifus Butts on November 25, 1874, in Baltimore, Maryland. The names of his parents are unknown, and he was orphaned at age four and raised by his foster mother, Maria Gant. Gant later married and divorced Mary Beulah Gant. The couple had two children before he began competing in amateur fights.

Gant's professional boxing career began in 1891 when he was seventeen. He was a self-taught fighter, learning his craft by studying other boxers’ moves and competing in the then-popular Battle Royal contests where he and a dozen other fighters boxed blindfolded until only one contestant was left standing. These contests helped him develop strong boxing fundamentals and strategic ways to endure long bouts in the ring. His scientific approach to boxing and his famous left jab eventually earned him the title “The Old Master.”

Sources: 
Colleen Alcock, Joe Gans: A Biography of the First African American World Boxing Champion (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, 2008); Phillips I. Earl, “Tex Richard: The Most Dynamic Fight Promoter in History,” Boxing Insider, October 2013.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Djibouti City, Republic of Djibouti (1888- )

Entry Type: 
Places
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Djibouti City is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Djibouti.  Its contemporary population is estimated at 624,000, which is about 70% of the population of the entire nation. Located on the Horn of Africa, Djibouti was an important trade center for both the Arabian Peninsula and Eastern Africa. It also had links to the East African city states.  About 95% of the city’s population is Muslim.  
Sources: 
Ari Nave, “Djibouti, Djibouti," and "Djibouti” and “Gouled Aptidon, Hassan,” Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience, Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., eds. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); BBC News “Djibouti Profile,” The BBC News Website (December 22, 2013), http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13231764.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Dixon, George "Little Chocolate" (1870-1909)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
George Dixon, also known as “Little Chocolate,” was born on July 29, 1870 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Standing only 5’ 3 ½” and weighing no more than 118 pounds over the bulk of his career, “Little Chocolate” was described as long armed and skinny legged, swift of hand and foot, and possessing an ideal fighting temperament and great stamina. Ring magazine founder and editor, Nat Fleischer, described him as a marvel of cleverness, yet indicated that he could slug with the best of them. Fleischer rated him as the # 1 bantamweight of all time.

Dixon became the first black man to win a world championship when he captured the bantamweight title just shy of his 20th birthday by defeating Nunc Wallace of England in 18 rounds on June 27, 1890. Only 13 months later he knocked out Abe Willis of Australia to garner the featherweight crown. He held that title for the next six years, finally losing it by decision to Solly Smith on October 4, 1897. He regained it on November 11, 1898 by defeating Dave Sullivan, but then lost it for good when Terry McGovern knocked him out on January 9, 1900.
Sources: 
John D. McCallum, The Encyclopedia of World Boxing Champions (Radner, Pennsylvania; Chilton Book Co. 1975); www.cyberboxingzone.com and www.boxrec.com.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Cook, Will Marion (1869-1944)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Will Marion Cook was a talented musician, conductor, and composer born on January 27, 1869 in Washington, D.C. to John Hartwell Cook and Marion Isabelle Lewis. From 1884 to 1887 Cook studied violin at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.  He then studied abroad for two years from 1887 to 1889 at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik in Germany, training under Heinrich Jacobsen.

Like Harry T. Burleigh, Cook had also studied under Czech composer Antonin Dvorák at New York’s National Conservatory of Music, and was similarly inspired to experiment with compositions that maintained the integrity of the Negro spiritual. In 1898 Cook’s first composed score, for the show Clorindy, the Origin of the Cakewalk, met with critical acclaim. The show’s successful run at the Casino Roof Garden Theatre in New York established Cook as a gifted composer. He made history with Clorindy by becoming the first African American to conduct a white theater orchestra. In 1899 he married Abbie Mitchell, the show’s leading actress. They had two children together, Will and Marion, but separated in 1906.
Sources: 
Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds., African American Lives (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004); Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982); Eileen Southern, The Music of Black Americans: A History (New York: W.W. Norton, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Lane, William Henry/Master Juba (1825-c. 1852)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image courtesy of Manuscripts, Archives and
Rare Books Division, Schomburg Center
for Research in Black Culture,
The New York Public Library
William Henry Lane is credited as one of the most influential figures in the creation of American tap dance. Lane developed a unique style of using his body as a musical instrument, blending African-derived syncopated rhythms with movements of the Irish jig and reel. Lane’s melding of these vernacular dance forms is recognizable today as the foundations of the ever-evolving style of American tap dance.

Free-born in Providence, Rhode Island around 1825, Lane began learning the Irish jig and reel from “Uncle” Jim Lowe, a dance hall and saloon performer in New York City, New York. By the age of ten, Lane was performing in Paradise Square in the Five Points District of New York, where a high concentration of African American and Irish populations lived alongside each other. The vernacular dance forms of these two ethnic groups intermingled, providing Lane access to the different rhythmic and movement foundations that facilitated the development of his style of dance.
Sources: 
Mark Knowles, Tap Roots: The Early History of Tap Dancing (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc., 2002); Jacqui Malone, Steppin’ on the Blues: The Visible Rhythms of African American Dance (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1996); Marian Hannah Winter, “Juba and American Minstrelsy,” Chronicles of the American Dance, Paul Magriel, ed. (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1948).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Pilgrim Baptist Church, Saint Paul, Minnesota (1863- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Pilgrim Baptist Church in Saint Paul, Minnesota, is the oldest African American church in the state of Minnesota. A group of escaped slaves began worshiping together in 1863, and under the leadership of fellow escaped slave Robert Thomas Hickman, the church officially became Pilgrim Baptist Church on November 15, 1866. On this day, Robert Hickman led a baptismal service on the Mississippi River in St. Paul.

Hickman led a group of around 50 escaped slaves from Boone County, Missouri to St. Paul, traveling on the Underground Railroad at the height of the Civil War. Migrating by boat, the group called themselves “pilgrims.” Hickman’s owner had taught him to read and gave him permission to preach to other slaves, cementing him as the group’s leader. Descendants of this original group still worship at Pilgrim Baptist.
Sources: 
Kate Roberts, Minnesota 150: The People, Places, and Things that Shape Our State (St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2006); Pilgrim Baptist Church; Yvette L. Pye, “But This Is St. Paul, Minnesota: The Black Church and Urban Youth Education” (Ph.D. Diss., University of Minnesota, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Light, Allen B. (1805- ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Allen Light's Sailor's Papers, 1827
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The African American experience in California in the years just prior to the Gold Rush included more than just overland immigrants. Allen B. Light, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, arrived in Santa Barbara, California in 1835 as a crew-member of the American ship Pilgrim. After his arrival in California, Light would bear the titles of mercenary, hunter, Mexican citizen, and even “comisario general” during his time in the West.

Upon arriving in Santa Barbara, Light signed on with a sea-going hunting party led by George Nidever to hunt sea otter off the Californian and Mexican coast. The shortage of otters from over-hunting caused intense competition in the pelt market; otter pelts could be had for as much as $37 each that decade. This competition would escalate to the level of naval skirmishing between Mexico-based parties and with “contrabandistas” - Native Americans (often from present-day Alaska) supported by American brigs. Allen Light became a skirmisher himself when attacked by contrabandistas from the Convoy off Santa Rosa Island. He, Nidever, and two other hunters killed three men with gunfire in order to escape.
Sources: 
Marivi S. Blanco, "Allen Light," San Diego History Center, http://www.sandiegohistory.org/education/light8/biolight.htm; “African Americans in the Far West,” The New Encyclopedia of the American West (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

The Coloured Hockey League of the Maritimes (1890s-1920s)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Nova Scotian Black Hockey Team, ca. 1910
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
George and Darril Fosty, Black Ice (New York: Stryker-Indigo Publishing Company, Inc. 2007); Cecil Harris, Breaking the Ice (Toronto: Insomniac Press, 2003); Willie O'Ree, The Autobiography of Willie O'Ree Hockey's Black Pioneer (New York: Somerville House, 2000); http://www.birthplaceofhockey.com/hockeyists/african-n-s-teams/african-ns-team/
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Edwards, Thyra J. (1897-1953)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Thyra J. Edwards, born in 1897, the granddaugher of runaway slaves, grew up in Houston, Texas and started her career there as a school teacher.  Eventually she moved to Gary, Indiana and later Chicago, Illinois where she was employed as a social worker.  Edwards would eventually become a world lecturer, journalist, labor organizer, women's rights advocate, and civil rights activist all before her 40th birthday.   

Sources: 
Gregg Andrews, Thyra J. Edwards: Black Activist in the Global Freedom Struggle (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2011); E. Carlton-LaNey, ed., African American Leadership: An Empowerment Tradition in Social Welfare History (Washington, D.C.: National Association of Social Workers, 2001). 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Howard University

Chesnutt, Charles Waddell (1858-1932)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Charles Waddell Chesnutt was born the son of free black parents on June 20, 1858 in Cleveland, Ohio. His parents had recently moved to Cleveland from Fayetteville, North Carolina in response to the growing restrictions placed on free blacks in that slave state.
By 1866, Chesnutt worked part time in the family store while regularly attending Cleveland’s Howard School for Blacks.  

In 1872 Chesnutt was forced to end his formal education at the age of fourteen because he had to help support his parents.  However, the school’s principal invited him to stay at the school as a distinguished pupil-teacher and turn his modest salary over to his father.  

By sixteen, Chesnutt was employed in Charlotte, North Carolina as a full-time teacher and in 1877, returned to Fayetteville, North Carolina as the assistant principal of Howard School.  In 1880 Chesnutt became the school’s principal.

In search of more lucrative employment, Chesnutt resigned his school-administrator post in 1883 and moved to New York City where he worked as a stenographer and journalist on Wall Street.  By 1887, Chesnutt returned to Cleveland and was admitted to the Ohio Bar.   As a teacher, lawyer, businessman and writer, Chesnutt was a prominent member of Cleveland’s African American elite.  By 1900, however, Chesnutt gave up his business and professional life to write and lecture full-time.
Sources: 
Helen Chesnutt, Charles Waddell Chesnutt, Pioneer of the Color Line (North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1952); Linda Metzger, Black Writers: A Selection of Sketches from Contemporary Authors (Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1989).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Councill, William Hooper (1849-1909)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
William Hooper Councill, educator and race leader, was born into slavery in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on July 12, 1849. His parents were both slaves on the Councill plantation. When William was five, his father escaped to Canada and tried unsuccessfully to obtain freedom for his family.  In 1857, William, his mother, and his brother, Cicero, were sold at the Richmond slave market to a trader, who in turn sold them on to a planter in Alabama. His two other brothers were sold separately.  

When Union troops occupied Chattanooga, Tennessee during the Civil War, Councill and his family escaped through Union lines to the North.  He returned to Alabama in 1865 to attend a school for freedmen that had been started by Quakers. This would be Councill’s only formal schooling.  He worked and studied for three years before graduating in 1867.
Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: Norton, 1982); August Meier, Negro Thought in America 1880-1915, Racial Ideologies in the Age of Booker T. Washington, (University of Michigan Press, 1964); Vivian Gunn Morris, Curtis L. Morris and Asa G. Hilliard, III, The Price They Paid: Desegregation in an African American Community (New York: Teachers College Press, 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Moorland, Jesse (1863–1940)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Jesse Moorland was an educator, minister, and a philanthropist, but was most renowned for his extensive work with the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA).  Born on September 10, 1863, in Coldwater, Ohio, he was the only child of a local farmer, William Edward Moorland and his wife, Nancy Jane Moorland.  He was raised by his grandparents after his mother passed away and his father decided to leave him in their care.  His grandparents sent him to a local school in Coldwater and then later to the Northwestern Normal School in Ada, Ohio.  

In 1886, Moorland married Lucy Corbin and the couple began teaching together in Urbana, Ohio.  They later moved to Washington, D.C. to continue their studies at Howard University.  Moorland studied theology and graduated with his Master’s degree in 1891.  In the same year, Moorland also became an ordained minister in the Congregational Church and was appointed Secretary of the Colored Branch of the YMCA in Washington, D.C.  Two years later, he resigned from the YMCA and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to become pastor of Howard Chapel.  In 1896, he moved again to become pastor at Mount Zion Congregational Church in Cleveland, Ohio.

Sources: 
Eric Bennett, Africana (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 1999); Dwight Burlingame, Philanthropy in America: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia (California: ABC-CLIO, 2004); http://www.aaregistry.com/detail.php?id=1141 (Accessed December 16, 2009)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Steward, Austin (1793-1869)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Austin Steward, author, businessman, abolitionist, and temperance leader, was born a slave in Prince William County, Virginia to Robert and Susan Steward sometime around 1793. By the age of seven he was working as a house slave on the plantation of Capt. William Helm. The Helm family left Virginia, after being involved in several embarrassing scandals, settled in upstate New York. Austin Steward went with them along with many other slaves.

While living in upstate New York, Steward taught himself to read in secrecy, for which he was severely beaten and his books burned. This beating, along with many others he received, gave him severe reoccurring head pains from which he suffered for the rest of his life. In 1814 Steward sought the help of the New York Manumission Society to secure his freedom. An agent of the society informed Steward that he was legally free on the grounds that he had been rented out by Capt. Helm to other farmers, which violated New York State’s slave laws. The agent told Steward to continue his services to Capt. Helm until the agent could fully provide Steward with everything he would need to make his freedom official.
Sources: 
Austin Steward, Twenty-Two Years a Slave, and Forty Years a Freeman (Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 2002); http://docsouth.unc.edu/fpn/steward/bio.html; http://www.math.buffalo.edu/~sww/0history/hwny-steward.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Yates, John Henry "Jack" (1828-1897)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John Henry "Jack" Yates, minister and educator, was born a slave to Robert and Rachael Yates in Gloucester County, Virginia, on July 11, 1828. As a slave, Yates learned to read and write, and acquired the skills of carpentry. During his bondage, he married Harriet Willis of a neighboring plantation and together they had eleven children. Unable to stand the pain of being separated from his family, when Harriet's master moved to Matagorda County, Texas, Jack Yates begged to go along and was granted permission.

When African American enslaved people were set free on June 19, 1865, The Yates family moved to Houston where he became drayman and Baptist preacher. As a minister, Yates did missionary work among the freedmen and women who were rapidly moving into Houston immediately after the Civil War.

Sources: 
Rutherford B. H. Yates, Sr., and Paul L. Yates, The Life and Effort of Jack Yates (Houston:  Texas Southern University Press, 1985).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas Southern University

Smith, Amanda Berry (1837-1915)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Amanda Smith, An Autobiography: The Story of the Lord’s Dealings with Mrs. Amanda Smith, The Colored Evangelist (1921); Adrienne M. Israel, Amanda Berry Smith: From Washerwoman to Evangelist (1998); Priscilla Pope-Levison, Turn the Pulpit Loose: Two Centuries of American Women Evangelists (2004.)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian, Seattle Pacific University

Hickman, Robert T. (1831-1900)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Robert Thomas Hickman, born enslaved in Missouri in 1831, is most noted for the group of slaves including his wife and young son, whom he led to freedom in Minnesota in 1863, and helping to establish the first African American church in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Hickman was born and reared near Boone, Missouri.  At a young adult Hickman worked near Boone as a rail splitter.  He was, however, allowed by his owner to learn to read and write.  Hickman also became a slave preacher for the people held in bondage in the area.  

In 1863 Hickman led a group of Boone County slaves to their freedom.  Hickman and other fugitive slaves constructed a crude raft which they hoped would take them to freedom.  When Hickman and 75 black men, women and children were discovered adrift near Jefferson, Missouri, they were rescued and towed up river to St. Paul, Minnesota by the steamboat Northerner.  The “contrabands” arrived in St. Paul on May 5, 1863.  
Sources: 
Pilgrim Baptist Church Website, http://pilgrimbaptistchurch.org/history/; David Vassar Taylor, “The Blacks” in June D. Holmquest, They Chose Minnesota: a Survey of the State’s Ethnic Groups (St. Paul:  Minnesota Historical Society Press 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Black Genealogy Research Group

Carey, Archibald J., Sr. (1868-1931)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Rev.
Sources: 
Allan Spear, Black Chicago: The Making of a Negro Ghetto, 1890-1920 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967); Christopher Robert Reed, Black Chicago's First Century (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2005); http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/articles/pages/4159/Carey-Archibald-J-Sr-1868-1931.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Keckley, Elizabeth Hobbs (1818-1907)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley is best known as Mary Lincoln’s dressmaker and confidant and as the author of Behind the Scenes By Elizabeth Keckley, Formerly a Slave, But More Recently Modiste, and Friend to Mrs. Abraham Lincoln, Or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House (1868).  

Elizabeth Hobbs was born into slavery on the Col. Armistead Burwell farm in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, in 1818 to Agnes and George Pleasant Hobbs (although her biographer Jennifer Fleischner asserts that Col. Burwell was in fact Hobbs’s father).  Agnes and George had an “abroad” marriage meaning that except for one brief period of time when George resided on the Burwell property, the family lived apart.  George Hobbs was parted from his family permanently when his master relocated west.  
Sources: 
Elizabeth Keckley, Behind the Scenes By Elizabeth Keckley, Formerly a Slave, But More Recently Modiste, and Friend to Mrs. Abraham Lincoln,  Or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House (1868), available electronically at:  http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/keckley/keckley.html;  Jennifer Fleischner, Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckly (New York: Broadway Books, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Wysinger v. Crookshank, 1888

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Wysinger v. Crookshank is the first case that rendered school segregation of African Americans in California contrary to the law. On October 1, 1888, 58-year-old Edmond Wysinger, a former slave who bought his freedom working in the California mines, moved to Visalia, California. When he attempted to enroll his son, Arthur, in the only high school in Visalia, he was told that because Arthur was “colored” he could not be admitted. Edmond Wysinger sued the school district to have his son be admitted to Visalia High School.

The case was tried in the Superior Court of Tulare County where a ruling was issued against the plaintiff.  Wysinger and his lawyers appealed and the case eventually ended up before the Supreme Court of California.  On January 29, 1890, the Court ruled that California Political Code 1669 had been amended in 1880 to allow the desegregation of all schools in the state.  Shortly afterwards Arthur was the first African American student to be admitted to Visalia’s high school. This case marked the beginning of a century-long campaign to eliminate all vestiges of school segregation in the state of California.

Sources: 
Deliah Beasley, The Negro Trail Blazers of California (Negro University Press, New York, 1919), 172-173.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of California, Santa Barbara

Garrott, James H. (1897-1991)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public domain

James Homer Garrott was an African American modernist architect. He was pivotal to the creation of many historic buildings in the Los Angeles, California area, designing more than 200 buildings throughout the city, including municipal buildings, schools, medical buildings, and over 25 churches between 1928 and 1970.

James Homer Garrott was born in Montgomery, Alabama on June 19, 1897. Garrott’s father James Henry Garrott was builder who contributed to the construction of the buildings at Tuskegee Institute; his mother was named Fannie Walker. In 1903 Garrott’s family moved to Los Angeles, where he attended Los Angeles Polytechnic High School. Six years after graduating from high school, Garrott found a job with Pasadena architect George P. Telling.

Sources: 
James Garrott Residence, James Garrott AIA 1940, The Silver Lake News, Silver Lake, Los Angeles: Architecture, History and Culture, http://thesilverlakenews.com/category/james-h-garrott/; “James H. Garrott,” https://www.revolvy.com/main/index.php?s=James+H.+Garrott; “James Homer Garrott,” Negro Who’s Who in California, https://www.archive.org/stream/negrowhoswhoinca00losa#page/.
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Washington, Booker T. (1856-1915)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Booker T. Washington is one of the most controversial and dominant figures in African American history.  According to his autobiography Up From Slavery (1901), he did not know the exact year, date, and place of his birth or his father’s name. Yet, it is widely understood that he was born enslaved on April 5, 1856 in Hale's Ford, Virginia. His mother’s name was Jane and his father was a white man from a nearby plantation. At the age of 9, Washington was freed from slavery and moved to West Virginia.  He had always been known as simply “Booker” until he decided to add the name “Washington” after feeling the pressure to have two names when he started grammar school.

Sources: 
William L. Andrews, ed. Booker T. Washington: Up From Slavery (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1996); Louis R. Harlan, The Booker T. Washington Papers: The Making of a Black Leader New, 1856-1901 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Los Angeles

Langston, Charles Henry (1817-1892)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Charles Henry Langston
(Ohio Historical Society)

Charles Henry Langston, the grandfather of poet Langston Hughes, was born a free man on a Virginia plantation in 1817 to Captain Ralph Quarles and Lucy Jane Langston, Quarles’ mulatto slave. He had two brothers, John Mercer (who would become a Virginia Congressman in 1888) and Gideon. After the death of his father in 1834, Charles inherited a large part of his father’s estate, and he went to be educated at Oberlin College in 1842 and 1843.

Sources: 
Richard B. Sheridan, “Charles Henry Langston and the African American Struggle in Kansas,” Kansas History 22 (Winter 1999/2000); Eugene H. Berwanger, “Hardin and Langston: Western Black Spokesmen of the Reconstruction Era,” Journal of Negro History 64 (Spring 1979).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Forty Acres and a Mule

Vignette Type: 
Misc
History Type: 
African American History
Sharecroppers in the Post-Civil War South
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The phrase “forty acres and a mule” evokes the Federal government’s failure to redistribute land after the Civil War and the economic hardship that African Americans suffered as a result.  As Northern armies moved through the South at the end of the war, blacks began cultivating land abandoned by whites.  Rumors developed that land would be seized from Confederates, and given or sold to freedmen.  These rumors rested on solid foundations: abolitionists had discussed land redistribution at the beginning of the war, and in 1863 President Abraham Lincoln ordered 20,000 acres of land confiscated in South Carolina sold to freedmen in twenty-acre plots.  Secretary of the Treasury Salmon Chase expanded the offering to forty acres per family.  
Sources: 
Claude Oubre, Forty Acres and a Mule: The Freedmen’s Bureau and Black Land Ownership (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978); Eric Foner, A Short History of Reconstruction, 1863-1877 (New York: Harper and Row, 1990).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

American Colonization Society (1816-1964)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Membership Certificate, American Colonization Society
Image Ownership: Public Domain

The American Colonization Society (ACS), also known as the American Society for Colonizing the Free People of Color in the United States, emerged in 1816 as a national organization dedicated to promoting the manumission of the enslaved and the settlement of free blacks in West Africa, specifically in the colony of Liberia.  The ACS transported approximately 12,000 blacks to Liberia over the course of its existence.

Sources: 

Eric Burin, Slavery and the Peculiar Solution: A History of the
American Colonization Society
(Gainesville: University Press of
Florida, 2005); PBS.org, ‘Africans in America’: American Colonization
Society http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part3/3p1521.html; Encyclopedia
Britannica, "American Colonization Society," Encyclopedia Britannica’s
Guide to Black History,
http://www.britannica.com/blackhistory/article-9006105

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sussex (England)

Thompson, Theophilus (1855-?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Theophilus Augustus Thompson was one of the first notable African American chess players. Thompson was born into slavery in Frederick, Maryland on April 21, 1855. Freed after the Civil War, he worked as a house servant in Carroll County, Maryland from 1868 to 1870.

Returning to Frederick, Thompson soon became involved in the chess scene. He watched his first chess game in April 1872. One of the players in the game was John K. Hanshew, publisher of The Maryland Chess Review. Hanshew loaned the interested Thompson a chess board and gave him selected chess problems to solve.

Before long, Thompson was publishing his own chess problems in The Dubuque Chess Review. His new-found skills in the game also allowed him to compete against other talented players. Most records of his playing career are unclear, but it is known that he was invited to a tournament in Chicago at some point.

Thompson’s most famous legacy was his book, Chess Problems: Either to Play and Mate, or Compel Self-mate in Four Moves. Published in 1873, the book was a compilation of chess endgame positions, puzzles which covered the final moves of chess games. Thompson’s book was reviewed favorably in The City of London Chess Magazine in July 1874.

Details about Thompson’s later life and his date of death are unknown.

Sources: 
http://www.thechessdrum.net/drummajors/T_Thompson.html; Theophilus Thompson, Chess Problems: Either to Play and Mate, or Compel Self-Mate in Four Moves (Dubuque: John J. Brownson, 1873).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

January 1, 1863: When New Year's Day Meant Freedom

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
First South Carolina Volunteers Hear the Reading of the
Emancipation Proclamation near Beaufort, South Carolina,
January 1, 1863
"Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress"
Sources: 
Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Army Life in a Black Regiment, and Other Writings (New York, W.W. Norton, 1984); William L. Katz, Eyewitness: The African American Contribution to American History (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Denver's Five Points

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Denver’s Five Points, ca. 1885
Photo Courtesy of the Denver Public Library,
Western History Collection, William Henry Jackson
Denver, Colorado’s Five Points community originated in the 1880s as an upper middle-class neighborhood for professional and business men.  The city built one of its first cable streetcar lines into the area and numerous neighborhood businesses emerged along its tracks. White residents initially occupied the area, but a few prosperous African American families began moving in around the turn of the century.

A major influx of black residents came between 1911 and 1929 when housing developments sprang up elsewhere in the city.  These new homes with their modern conveniences such as electrical wiring, plumbing, and garages, attracted many away from older neighborhoods. About the same time, the city extended Broadway, a major north-south artery, through older black neighborhoods.  These two factors provided both the impetus and the opportunity for a population shift.  Five Points soon became the focal point of activities in a community of nearly 6,000 African American residents.
Sources: 
Moya Hansen, “Pebbles on the Shore: Economic Opportunity in Five Points, 1920–1950.” Colorado History, Summer 2001; Rebels Remembered, Video production by Alweis Film and Video, Denver, Colorado
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Colorado Historical Society

Stewart, William P. (1839–1907)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
William P. Stewart, a Civil War veteran, was also an early black settler in Snohomish County, Washington. Stewart was born on December 9, 1839, as a free person of color to Walden and Henrietta Stewart in Sangamon County, Illinois. He had five other siblings, four brothers and one sister, and was living in Forest, Wisconsin, in 1860.
Sources: 
1880 United States Federal Census, Peshtigo, Marinette County, Wisconsin, Ancestry.com assessed on Feb. 20, 2016; 1900 United States Federal Census, Shorts, Snohomish County, Washington, Ancestry.com assessed on Feb. 20, 2016; Civil War Veterans Buried in WA State, “William P. Stewart,” http://www.civilwarvetswastate.com/find-a-veteran?sobi2Task=sobi2Details&sobi2Id=284, accessed online Feb. 22, 2016; Find A Grave, “Pvt. William P. Stewart,” http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&amp;GRid=13813712; Washington (State). Legislature. Assembly. Requesting that the State Route Number 99 Be Named the “William P. Stewart Memorial Highway.” A (SJM8014). 2015-2016 Reg. Sess. (February 12, 2016). Washington State Assembly. Web. 22 Feb. 2016; National Archives and Records Administration. U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934, Ancestry.com.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bridgetown, Barbados (1828- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Bridgetown is the capital and commercial center of Barbados.  It is also the island's only city. In 2014 more than 110,000 people called Bridgetown home.  It is the cultural, political, and economic heart of this Caribbean island nation of 284,664 (2013).

Founded by the British in 1628, its old town section and nearby St. Ann’s Garrison are examples of well-preserved colonial architecture. St. Ann's Garrison, more commonly known as "The Garrison," is a small district situated about two miles from the heart of Bridgetown, but officially recognized as part of the city.  The capital city is also home to the Bridgetown Port, one of the most advanced ports in the Caribbean.

Bridgetown was originally named "Indian Bridge" for a crude bridge, built by the Garifuna, an indigenous people.  The bridge spanned a river in the main section of the city (now known as the Careenage).  When the British settlers landed on Barbados, there was not much infrastructure, save for the old bridge. The British settlers called the area Indian Bridge.  In 1872, the original bridge was replaced. The town was later called the "Town of St. Michael" in official documents, before finally being named Bridgetown.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Maples, William Lineas (1869-1943)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
William Lineas Maples, a physician and musician, was born in Sevierville, Tennessee, on March 31, 1869. The son of Edward Maples and Martha Jane Runions, William graduated in the first class of the segregated high school in Knoxville in 1888.  Showing a talent for science, oratory, and music, he received the Dodson medal upon graduation.  

Maples taught high school for one year in Austin, Tennessee and then entered medical school at Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1889.  He received an M.D. degree in 1893 and returned to Knoxville to establish a medical practice.  The Spanish-American War in 1898 interrupted that practice as he joined the U.S. Army’s medical unit of the all-black Third Regiment of the North Carolina Volunteers. He ended his service a year later and returned to Knoxville to resume his practice.

In 1900 agents for the Hawaii Commercial and Sugar Company (HC&S Co.) on Maui traveled through Tennessee and Alabama looking for workers for Hawaii’s plantations. They also sought a physician to staff the hospital that would serve the contract workers. Maples was recruited as the anesthetist for the HC&S hospital. His older brother, Samuel, a lawyer, also accepted a position as a representative of the black contract laborers recruited for the HC&S plantations.

Prior to leaving Knoxville, Maples married Sadie (maiden name unknown), who accompanied him on the voyage to Hawaii. He was assigned to the hospital in Puunene,
Sources: 
Miles M. Jackson, And They Came: A Brief History of Blacks in Hawaii (Durham: Four Gs Publishers, 2001); Paul Wermager, They Followed the Trade Winds: African Americans in Hawaii (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Hawaii

Coston, Julia Ringwood (?- ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare
Books Division, Schomburg Center for Research in
Black Culture, The New York Public Library,
Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.
 

The date of birth for Julia Ringwood Coston, one of the first black women to edit a magazine, is unknown. We do know that she was named after Ringwood farm in Warrenton, Virginia, where she was born. While she was still an infant, Ringwood moved to Washington D.C. with her family and attended public schools there. She had almost completed school when her mother died and she was forced to withdraw.

Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

University of District of Columbia (1851- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
David A. Clarke School of Law,
University of the District of Columbia
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The University of District of Columbia was founded as a school for African American girls in 1851. The school was established by Myrtilla Miner and was initially called the Miner Normal School.  In 1879 it became part of the District of Columbia public school system. In 1873 the Washington Normal School was established for white girls in the District.  In 1913 it became known as the Wilson Normal School.  Both schools were turned into four year teacher colleges by a 1929 act of Congress.  The Miner Normal School became Miner Teachers College and the Wilson Normal School was called Wilson Teachers College. In 1955, one year after the Brown v. Board of Education Decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, the two colleges were combined to become the District of Columbia Teachers College.
Sources: 
“University of District of Columbia” Available at: http://www.udc.edu/welcome/history.htm. 27 May 2010, “Historically Black American Colleges and Universities: University of District of Columbia” Available at: http://www.petersons.com/blackcolleges. 27 May 2010, United States. Congress. House. Committee on the District of Columbia. Subcommittee on Judiciary and Education, Congressional oversight: a report on the University of the District of Columbia (Washington: U.S. G.P.O, 1984).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bonetta, Sarah Forbes (1843-1880)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
James Davies and Sarah Forbes Bonetta
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Sarah Forbes Bonetta, a princess of the Egbado clan of the Yoruba people, is best known as the goddaughter of Queen Victoria of Great Britain. Bonetta was born in 1843 in what is now southwest Nigeria. Her parents' names are unknown as are the names of her siblings who were all killed in the 1847 slave raid that made Bonetta a captive.  
Sources: 
“Sarah Forbes Bonetta: The African Princess in Brighton,” Afro-Europe International Blog, http://afroeurope.blogspot.com/2011/09/sarah-forbes-bonetta-african-princess.html; “Sarah Forbes Bonetta Davis, An African Princess in the British Monarchy Who Captured the Heart of Queen Victoria,” Trip Down Memory Lane, Kwekudee, 3 Sept. 2009;  http://kwekudee-tripdownmemorylane.blogspot.com/2012/09/sarah-forbes-bonetta-davies-african.html; Walter Dean Myers, At Her Majesty's Request: An African Princess in Victorian England (New York: Scholastic, 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Kansas

Crosswaith, Frank R. (1892-1965)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public domain

Frank R. Crosswaith was born on July 16, 1892, in La Croix, Virgin Islands, to William Ignatius and Anne Elizabeth Crosswaith. He immigrated to the United States in 1910 and became a socialist labor leader. He settled in New York City, New York where he worked as an elevator operator and married Alma E. Besard. He attended and graduated from Rand University in 1918.

Crosswaith encountered socialist writings and ideas while at Rand. In Harlem, he gravitated to a group called the New Negroes, inspired by Alain Locke’s writings. They advocated for a new way of expressing the individual Black experience, within a context of community. Beyond looking for a “race leader,” the movement called for a more inclusive, collaborative means to achieve racial uplift. Crosswaith gained recognition and respect in the Harlem Socialist party, having been called a great orator and the “Negro [Eugene V.] Debs.”

Sources: 
Jervis, Anderson. A. Philip Randolph: A Biographical Portrait. (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., New York. 1972); Opdycke, Sandra. “Frank R. Crosswaith.” American National Biography Online. (Oxford University Press, 2000  http://www.anb.org.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/articles/15/15-00156.html?a=1&n=crosswaith&d=10&ss=0&q=1 (requires login); “Locke and the New Negro” Renaissance Collage (University of Virginia, 2017, http://xroads.virginia.edu/~MA03/faturoti/harlem/collage/locke.html).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

First Kansas Colored Infantry (1862-1865)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Battle Flag of the First Kansas Colored Infantry
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The First Kansas Colored Infantry Regiment was established through the efforts of James H. Lane, the U.S. Senator from Kansas from 1861 to 1866. As Kansas joined the Union on the eve of the Civil War in 1861, Lane recruited African-Americans to fight against the Confederacy. He called for all able-bodied African-American males between the ages of 18 and 45 to join what he termed “The First Kansas Colored Infantry of the Liberating Army.” If his recruitment tactics did not mobilize volunteers, he would resort to paying for seized Missouri slaves who were brought to Kansas.  

Joining the Infantry, however, had its benefits. African-Americans who joined were promised $10.00 per month as well as improved conditions, including clothing, rations, and adequate quarters. Also black enlistees and their immediate families were issued certificates of freedom. By 1862, the 600 enlistees of the First Kansas Colored Infantry were organized in Bourbon County near Fort Lincoln.

Sources: 
Kansas Historical Society, First Kansas Colored Infantry, June 2010, http://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/first-kansas-colored-infantry/12052; Quintard Taylor, In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West, 1528-1990  (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Johnson, Samuel (1846-1901)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Cover, The History of the Yorubas
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Rev. Samuel Johnson was a nineteenth-century Anglican priest and historian of the Yoruba ethnic group of Nigeria. Samuel Johnson is most noted for his manuscript The History of the Yorubas, which was posthumously published in 1921.  

Born to Henry and Sarah Johnson, in Hasting, Freetown, Sierra Leone in 1846, Samuel Johnson’s father was originally from the nation of Oyo in what is now southwestern Nigeria.  Henry Johnson claimed to be a descendent of Abiodun, the last great king of Oyo.  Captured by slavers, he was later liberated by the British Royal Navy and brought to Freetown, Sierra Leone. There he joined other "recaptives" who had grown large enough in number to dominate the politics and culture of the British Colony by the 1850s.

Sources: 
Paul Jenkins, ed., Recovery of the West African Past: African Pastors and African History in the Nineteenth Century (Basel: Basel Afrika Bibliographien, 2000); Elijah Olu Akinwumi, “Samuel Johnson,” Dictionary of African Christian Biography (2002); http://www.dacb.org/stories/nigeria/johnson_1samuel.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Waller, John Lewis (1850-1907)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

Sources: 
Randall Bennett Wood, A Black Odyssey: John Lewis Waller and the Promise of American Life, 1878-1900 (Lawrence: Regents Press of Kansas, 1981); Clay Smith Jr., Emancipation: The Making of the Black Lawyer 1844-1944 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999); "John Waller" in  Kansapedia, the Kansas Historical Society. May 2009, http://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/john-waller/12232.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Still, William (1821-1902)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
William Still was born in Burlington County, New Jersey in 1821, as the last of eighteen children of former slaves Levin and Charity Still. By 1844, Still moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he spent the majority of his life and where he was appointed secretary of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society. Still was the first black man to join the society and the first to hold this position.

Still was also active in the Underground Railroad in the two decades between his arrival in Philadelphia and the end of the Civil War.  Still became well known in various circles as a major “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, helping fugitives make their way to Canada and freedom.  Still also campaigned for an end to racial discrimination in Philadelphia.  In 1859 he organized the effort to end black exclusion from Philadelphia streetcars.  This campaign was described in Still’s first publication, Struggle for the Civil Rights of the Coloured People of Philadelphia in the City Railway Cars in 1867.
Sources: 
Kwame Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience, Vols. 1-5 (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2004); http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USASstill.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Murphy, John Henry, Sr. (1840-1922)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Born on December 25, 1840, in Baltimore, Maryland, John Henry Murphy grew up as a slave and freed by the Emancipation Act of 1863. He enlisted in the military at age 24, during the Civil War and quickly progressed to the rank of Sergeant by the end of the conflict.  When he returned home to Maryland, he married Martha Elizabeth Howard in 1868, the daughter of a successful farmer. They met at church where his father directed the choir. Murphy quickly became interested in the role of the church in education for African American children.  He worked with the Sunday school at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church in Baltimore and became superintendent of the District Sunday School in Hagerstown, Maryland in the late 1880s.

Murphy began to publish a Sunday school newspaper with an old manually operated printing press.  The newspaper, called the Sunday School Helper, was created to assist him with the instruction of the students at his school. In 1892, the pastor of a local Baptist church, Reverend William M. Alexander, started a rival paper, Afro-American to promote his church.  By the end of they year Murphy purchased the Afro-American for $200 and merged the two newspapers.

Sources: 
Martin Dann, The Black Press 1827-1890 (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1971); Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982); http://www.mdoe.org/murphyjohnh.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Le Moyne-Owen College (1862- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Le Moyne-Owen College is a private, historically black, four year, co-educational, liberal arts institution located in Memphis, Tennessee. It is affiliated with the United Church of Christ.  The institution can trace its roots back to 1862, when the American Missionary Association (AMA) sent Lucinda Humphrey to Camp Shiloh to open an elementary school for freedmen and runaway slaves shortly after federal troops, commanded by Ulysses S. Grant, occupied West Tennessee.  In 1863, the school then known as Lincoln Chapel, was moved to Memphis, but was destroyed by fire in 1866 during the anti-black race riots following the withdrawal of federal troops.  

Sources: 
Addie Louise Joyce Butler, The Distinctive Black College: Talladega, Tuskegee and Morehouse  (Metuchen, N.J.: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1977); Toni Hodge-Wright, The Handbook of Historically Black Colleges and Universities  (Seattle: Jireh and Associates, 1992); LeMoyne-Owen College Webpage, http://www.loc.edu/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Boothe, Charles Octavius (1845-1924)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"

An African American Baptist preacher, educator, author, and tireless advocate for African American advancement and uplift, Charles Octavius Boothe was one of the founders of Dexter Avenue-King Memorial Baptist Church (1877), Selma University (1878), and the Colored Baptist Missionary Convention for the State of Alabama in the early 1870s.  The latter was the first statewide African American Baptist denominational organization. He also served as the first minister of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church and a two year term as president of Selma University (1901-1902).

Sources: 
Charles Octavius Boothe, The Cyclopedia of the Colored Baptists of Alabama: Their Leaders and Their Work. (Birmingham: Alabama Publishing Company, 1895), available at http://docsouth.unc.edu/church/boothe/bio.html ; Edward R. Crowther, "Charles Octavius Boothe: An Alabama Apostle of 'Uplift.'" Journal of Negro History 78 (Spring 1993): 110-16; Edward R. Crowther, "Interracial Cooperative Missions Among Blacks by Alabama's Baptists, 1868-1882." Journal of Negro History 80 (Summer 1995): 131-39; Charles Octavius Boothe, the Encyclopedia of Alabama http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/face/Article.jsp?id=h-1560
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Alabama State University

Kinchlow, Ben (1846?-1939?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Ben Kinchlow began life as a free black in Texas, when most African Americans were slaves. After the Texas Revolution, the new Republic legalized slavery and free African Americans were at risk of being sold back into slavery. Ben’s mother, Lizaar Moore, a half-white slave woman obtained her freedom from Sandy Moore, in Wharton County and in 1847 with one year old Ben and her other son journeyed to Mexico.

The family settled in the border area of Matamoros where Lizaar worked washing clothes, charging $2.50 a dozen for men’s clothing and $5.00 for women’s. Young Ben learned to ride and break horses and stayed in Mexico about twelve years before moving to Brownsville, where he lived until emancipation.

Working on the Bare Stone Ranch, Kinchlow became acquainted with Captain Leander McNelly and, at nineteen became a guide for McNelly working without pay. So began the Texas Ranger life of the earliest known African American with the Special Force or McNelly’s Rangers. When McNelly died Kinchlow returned to working cattle and breaking horses. He worked on the Banqueta Ranch as well as the King Ranch with horse breaking his main responsibility. Then he moved onto Matagorda County where worked as a cowhand on the Tres Palacios Ranch. He worked for twelve years getting fifty cents a head for every Maverick he roped and branded.

Sources: 
John H. Fuller, “Ben Kinchlow: A Trail Driver on the Chisholm Trail,” Sara R. Massey, ed., Black Cowboys of Texas (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2000), 99-116.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Cain, Richard H. (1825-1887)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress; Bruce A. Ragsdale & Joel D. Tresse, Black Americans in Congress 1870-1989 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1990).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Rillieux, Norbert (1806-1894)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
George Meade, “A Negro Scientist of Slavery Days,” Negro History Bulletin (April 1957, pp.159-164); James M. Brodie, Created Equal: The Lives and Ideas of Black American Innovators (New York: Bill Adler Books, Inc., 1993); http://www.blackinventor.com/pages/norbertrillieux.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Price, Joseph C. (1854--1893)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
National Education Association, Journal of Proceedings and Addresses (Topeka: Kansas Publishing, 1890); William Jacob Walls, Joseph Charles Price, Educator and Race Leader (Boston: The Christopher Publishing House, 1943).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Lambert, Charles Lucièn, Sr. (1828-1896)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Charles Lucièn Lambert, Sr., also known as Lucièn Lambert, Sr., was an internationally prominent classical musician and composer, and part of the middle generation of acclaimed Lambert musical artists.  Both his father, Charles-Richard Lambert, and his son, Lucièn-Léon Guillaume Lambert, had distinguished careers in classical music.

Charles Lucièn Lambert was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1828 to Charles-Richard, a native of New York, and an unidentified free Creole woman of color. After Charles Lucièn’s mother’s death, Charles-Richard married Coralie Suzanne Orzy, another free woman of color. They had a son, Sidney, who was born in 1838. Charles Lucièn and Sidney received their first piano lessons from their father who was by then a prominent early 19th Century New Orleans musician and composer.

Charles Lucièn Lambert was a contemporary of the soon to be famous white Creole composer and musician, Louis Moreau Gottschalk.  In fact the two enjoyed a friendly artistic rivalry as aspiring virtuoso pianists and composers in New Orleans in the late 1840s and early 1850s.

Sources: 
Lester Sullivan, Charles Lucièn Lambert Sr. (c. 1828-1896) (Hong Kong: Naxos 8.559037, 2000);
http://chevalierdesaintgeorges.homestead.com/Lambertsr.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Francis, Abner Hunt (1812?–1872)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Abner Hunt Francis was an abolitionist and activist whose life and work spanned both U.S. coasts and Canada. He was born on a farm near Flemington, New Jersey. His father, Jacob, was a Revolutionary War veteran. His mother, Mary, was enslaved when she married Jacob, who was able to purchase his wife’s freedom. While still in New Jersey, Abner opposed the American Colonization Society and attended national black conventions in 1833 and 1834. He was also a subscription agent for the Liberator.  

Sources: 
Ena L. Farley, “The African American presence in the History of Western New York,” Afro-Americans in New York Life and History 14:1 (1990); Arthur O. White, “The Black Movement against Jim Crow Education in Buffalo, New York, 1800-1900,”  Phylon 30:4 (1969): Lillian Serece Williams, Strangers in the Land of Paradise: The Creation of an African American Community, Buffalo, NY, 1900–1940 (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1999); Elizabeth McLagan, A Peculiar Paradise a History of Blacks in Oregon, 1788-1940 (Portland: The Georgian Press, 1980).
Affiliation: 
Indepenent Historian and Portland State University

Reason, Charles Lewis (1818-1893)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Charles L. Reason was born on July 21, 1818 in New York City. His parents, Michiel and Elizabeth Reason, were immigrants from Haiti who arrived in the United States shortly after the Haitian Revolution of 1793. His parents emphasized the importance of education, and very early on the young Reason displayed an aptitude for mathematics when he was a student at the New York African Free School.  Reason began his teaching career when he was 14 years old. He saved what he could of his teacher’s $25 per year salary to continue his own education with tutors. A political activist and abolitionist, Reason played a prominent role in the Negro Convention Movement in New York. In 1837 Reason joined Henry Highland Garnet, among others, in an effort to gain voting rights for African American men and he was later one of the co-authors of the Call for the New York Negro Convention of 1840.

Sources: 
John E. Fleming (with the assistance of Julius Hobson Jr., John McClendon and Herschelle Reed), The Lengthening Shadow of Slavery (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1974); Anthony R. Mayo, "Charles Lewis Reason," Negro History Bulletin 5 (June 1942):212-15;Scott W. Williams, “Charles L. Reason African American Mathematician,1818–1893,” http://www.math.buffalo.edu/mad/special/reason_charles_l.html;
John E. Fleming, “Home of McGraw Eagles: History” http://www.mcgrawschools.org/history.htm
Affiliation: 
Michigan State University

54th Massachusetts Infantry (1863-1865)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Part of the Col. Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts
54th Infantry Regiment Memorial in Boston
Image Courtesy of Peter Walton
The Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry was the first Northern black volunteer regiment enlisted to fight in the Civil War.  Its accomplished combat record led to the general recruitment of African-Americans as soldiers. They ultimately comprised ten percent of Union Army and Navy.  The Fifty-fourth’s successful campaign for equal pay also signaled a move toward racial justice in the military.
Sources: 
Martin H. Blatt, Thomas J. Brown, and Donald Yacovone (Eds.), Hope and Glory: Essays on the Legacy of the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts Regiment (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2001); John David Smith (Ed.), Black Soldiers in Blue: African American Troops in the Civil War Era (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002); Susan Wilson, Boston Sites and Insights: A Multicultural Guide to Fifty Historic Landmarks in and Around Boston (Boston: Beacon Press, 1994). 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Allen, Macon Bolling (1816-1894)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Macon Bolling Allen is believed to be the first black man in the United States who was licensed to practice law. Born Allen Macon Bolling in 1816 in Indiana, he grew up a free man.  Bolling learned to read and write on his on his own and eventually landed his first a job as a schoolteacher where he further refined his skills.

In the early 1840s Bolling moved from Indiana to Portland, Maine. There he changed his name to Macon Bolling Allen and became friends with local anti-slavery leader General Samuel Fessenden, who had recently begun a law practice.  Fessenden took on Allen as an apprentice/law clerk. By 1844 Allen had acquired enough proficiency that Fessenden introduced him to the Portland District court and stated that he thought Allen should be able to practice as a lawyer. He was refused on the grounds that he was not a citizen, though according to Maine law anyone “of good moral character” could be admitted to the bar. He then decided to apply for admission by examination. After passing the exam and earning his recommendation he was declared a citizen of Maine and given his license to practice law on July 3, 1844.

Sources: 

J. Clay Smith, Jr. Emancipation, (University of Pennsylvania Press: 1993); Allen, Macon Bolling(1816–1894) http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/articles/pages/4102/Allen-Macon-Bolling-1816-1894.html.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Abbott, Anderson Ruffin (1837-1913)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Sources: 
M. Dalyce Newby, Anderson Ruffin Abbott: First Afro-Canadian Doctor (Markam, Ontario: Fitzhenny and Whiteside, 1998); Daniel Hill, The Freedom Seekers: Blacks in Early Canada (Toronto: Stoddart Publishing, 1981); Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/abbott_anderson_ruffin_14E.html.
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Fields, George Washington (1854–1932)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
George Washington Fields was born into slavery in Hanover County, Virginia on April 25, 1854. He was one of 11 children of Martha Ann Berkley and Washington Fields. Of the children, one died in infancy, three were sold off, and one was a runaway. Fields and the others grew up on Clover Plain Plantation in northeastern Virginia.

In July 1863, during a battle between Union and Confederate soldiers on the plantation, Fields’ mother escaped along with him and five other siblings. After a few months travel, they reached the safety of Fortress Monroe near Hampton, Virginia.  Fortress Monroe was one of the first Union-occupied fortifications which received escaping slaves.  Those who arrived in 1861 and 1862 were labeled "contraband" and their status as free people was disputed.  By the time Fields and her children reached the fort, they were granted freedom by the Emancipation Proclamation since Hanover County was still in Confederate hands.  
Sources: 
Kevin M. Clermont, “The Indomitable George Washington Fields: From Slavery to Attorney” (CreateSpace independent Publishing Platform, 1st edition, June 9, 2013); Hanover County Historical Society, “Nutshell: An Historical Background,” http://www.hanoverhistorical.org/nutshell.html;  Robert Francis Engs, “ Freedom's First Generation: Black Hampton, Virginia, 1861-1890” ( Fordham University Press, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Rose, Edward (c. 1780- c. 1833)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"

Edward Rose, also known by the names Five Scalps, Nez Coupe and “Cut Nose,” was the son of a white trader father and a Cherokee and African American mother.  Little else is known about his early life including where he was born. He may have spent some years working on the Mississippi River between southern Illinois and New Orleans, Louisiana

Sources: 
Bruce E. Johansen and Donald A. Grinde, Jr., The Encyclopedia of Native American Biography (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1997); Daniel F. Littlefield,   Cherokee Freedmen  (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1978); Carl Waldman and Alan Wexler, "Rose, Edward," Encyclopedia of Exploration, Vol 1 (New York: Facts on File, Inc, 2004; LeRoy R. Hafen, ed., The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West, Vol. IX (Glendale, California: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1966).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
State University of New York at Buffalo

The Italo-Abyssinian War (1889–1896)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
Global African History
Ethiopian Soldiers in the Italian-Ethiopian War, 1889-1896
Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Following the Partition of Africa during the Berlin Conference of 1885, Prime Minister Francesco Crispi of Italy began his nation’s colonization in Africa. Italy focused on the Red Sea because of its trade routes to Asia and East Africa, and subsequently stationed troops in the port of Massawa in Eritrea, then part of the Ethiopian nation. Ethiopia’s King Yohannes fought back against this Italian invasion. Although initially unsuccessful, they eventually defeated the Italian troops in a battle that took place on January 26, 1887, that would be known as the Dogali Massacre. This battle left four hundred and thirty Italian troops dead and injured eighty-two. King Yohannes’s forces did not dislodge the Italians from Eritrea, but they did limit their control to that coastal province. Nonetheless, with the Dogali Massacre, Ethiopia became the first African nation to defeat a European power following the partition.
Sources: 
Raymond Jonas, The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in the Age of Europe (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011); Paulos Milkias and Getachew Metaferia, eds. The Battle of Adwa: reflections on Ethiopia's historic victory against European Colonialism New York: Algora Publishing, 2005; “First Italo-Abyssinian War: Battle for Adowa,” Military History Magazine, June 2006.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

McKaine, Osceola Enoch (1892-1955)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Osceola McKaine (3rd From Left) With Staff of his Supper Club
in Ghent, Belgium, ca. 1938
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Civil rights activist Osceola Enoch (“Mac”) McKaine was born in Sumter, South Carolina on December 17, 1892. In 1908, at the age of 16, he moved to Boston, Massachusetts where he attended classes at Boston College.  Later he worked as associate editor of the Cambridge Advocate, a small black newspaper in the neighboring city of Cambridge, Massachusetts.  During the 1912 presidential election, 20-year-old McKaine served as Secretary for the Colored Progressive League of New England.
Sources: 
John Egerton, Speak Now Against the Day: The Generation before the Civil Rights Movement in the South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995); James Felder, Civil Rights in South Carolina: From Peaceful Protests to Groundbreaking Rulings (Gloucestershire, UK: The History Press, 2012); Erik S. Gellman, Death Blow to Jim Crow: The National Negro Congress and the Rise of Militant Civil Rights (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2012).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Hervey, Gilford P. (1836-1920)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Gilford P. Hervey was born enslaved, the third of 14 children of Cary M. and Rose Hervey in Halifax County, North Carolina, both of whom were owned by Gideon T. Hervey.

Hervey served with Company F of the 59th United States Infantry (USCI) formerly 1st Tennessee Colored Infantry, volunteering from his home in Water Valley, Mississippi, at La Grande, Tennessee June 1863. While in military service, Gilford was involved in a number of battles including the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads on June 10, 1864 near Tupelo, Mississippi and the repulse of Nathan Bedford’s attack on Memphis on August 21, 1864. Hervey was injured during the war which prompted his claim for a pension. He was discharged from military service on January 31, 1866 in Memphis, Tennessee.

After his discharge Hervey became a minister and resided in several states including Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, and California before migrating to Seattle in 1915. During those years he married three times and had one child, a son named Carey, by his first wife, Annie Rankin. Hervey maintained his Seattle residence for five years. He died, however, in a hospital in Sedro Woolley, Washington on September 8, 1920. As a member of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), Hervey was eligible for burial in Seattle’s GAR Cemetery located on Capital Hill. Hervey is one of three known African American Civil War soldiers buried there.

Sources: 
Civil War Pension File (542345); 59th Regimental History, online http://www.itd.nps.gov/cwss/template.cfm

Contributor: 
Contributor2: 
Affiliation: 
Black Genealogy Research Group

Jefferson, Isaac (1775-1853)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Isaac Jefferson, a slave of the third President of the United States, was born in December 1775 in Monticello, on the Thomas Jefferson plantation in Virginia. His family was an important part of the Monticello labor force. His father, Great George, was the only enslaved person on the Jefferson plantation to rise from foreman to overseer. His mother, Ursula, was requested by Thomas Jefferson’s wife Martha because of her trustworthiness. Young Isaac Jefferson helped his mother and father by carrying wood and making fires. As he got older he was trained as a blacksmith.

In 1779 four year old Isaac Jefferson and other Jefferson slaves were captured by British forces while Thomas Jefferson and the Virginia government fled to Richmond.  Issac Jefferson and his family remained under the control of the British until the surrender of General Charles (Lord) Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781.  The Jefferson slaves were then brought back to Monticello and Isaac, now six, was returned to his life as a slave.
Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982); “Isaac Jefferson,” http://www.monticello.org/gettingword/isaac.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

University of Arkansas Pine Bluff (1873- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Campus of the University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff was created by the Arkansas Legislative Act of 1873. The University was established for the "convenience and well-being of the poorer classes” which meant African Americans in the state.  The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is the oldest historically black institution of higher education in the state and is the second oldest public university after the University of Arkansas.  It is popularly known as the "Flagship of the Delta."

The university was founded as the Branch Normal College and was nominally part of the "normal" (education) department of Arkansas Industrial University which later became the University of Arkansas.   It expanded under the 1890 amendments to the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act which required states that closed their colleges and universities to blacks to establish a separate institution for them.  The new college also expanded its curriculum to provide training in agriculture and mechanics as well as practical education for the laboring classes.   
Sources: 

Mary E. Benjamin, Building an educational access continuum: UAPB's commitment : proceedings [of the] Conference on Educational Access (Pine Bluff, Arkansas: University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, 1994), “University of Arkansas Pine Bluff” Available at: http://www.uapb.edu. 27 May 2010, “Encyclopedia of Arkansas” Available at: http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net. 27 May 2010.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

First Baptist Church [St. Louis, Missouri] (1817- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
First Baptist Church in St. Louis, founded as First African Baptist Church, is the oldest continuously operating black church in Missouri. The precursor to the church was founded by John Peck and James Welch, two white Baptist missionaries sent west in 1817 by the Baptist Triennial Missionary Convention to establish churches and schools for Native Americans. Upon reaching Missouri Peck and Welch identified a need for a place of worship for black slaves and set aside a piece of their emerging mission for a “Sabbath School for Negroes.” The school began with only 14 pupils but increased its attendance to 100 within two months.
Sources: 
John Aaron Wright, Discovering African American St. Louis: A Guide to Historic Sites (St. Louis, Missouri: Missouri History Museum Press, 2002); http://www.historyhappenshere.org/node/6940; http://www.firstbaptistchurchstlouis.org.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Stanford University

Waller, Effie (1879-1960)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public domain

Effie Waller was an early twentieth-century poet known for her books of poetry, Songs of the Months (1904), Rhymes from the Cumberland (1909), and Rosemary and Pansies (1909).

Waller was born in Pike County, Kentucky, on January 6, 1879, to parents Sibbie and Frank Waller. Both her parents were former slaves and later on, her father became a blacksmith. She was the third of four children. Oral histories suggest Waller’s family was considered one of the most prominent African American families in the community. Waller attended the Kentucky Normal School for Colored Persons, now known as Kentucky State University, between 1900 and 1902. There, she received a teaching certificate and intermittently taught school for more than a dozen years afterward.

Sources: 
Digital Schomburg African American Women Writers of the 19th Century website, http://digital.nypl.org/schomburg/writers_aa19/biographies.html;
Elizabeth Engelhardt, “Effie Waller Smith: African-American Appalachian Poetry from the Breaks.” Appalachian Heritage 36.3 (2008): 80-83; Kentucky Commission on Human Rights website, http://kchr.ky.gov/ggbk/Pages/gbk30.aspx; University of Kentucky Libraries Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, http://nkaa.uky.edu/record.php?note_id=1033.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Leary, Sherrard Lewis (1835-1859)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Lewis Leary was one of several Black men who were killed during John Brown’s raid on the Harpers Ferry arsenal in October 1859. It was a defining moment in African American history.

Born Sherrard Lewis Leary (sometimes referred to as Lewis Sheridan Leary), he was the second of five children born in Fayetteville, North Carolina to free Black parents. His father Matthew Leary, a saddle maker, was the mixed race son of Jeremiah O’Leary, a descendent of Irish immigrants. His mother Julia A. Menriel Leary was of mixed race, with conflicting accounts of her heritage.

Frustrated with southern racism, 21-year-old Leary moved to Oberlin, Ohio in 1856 where he earned a living as a harness maker. It was no coincidence that Leary found a more hospitable environment at Oberlin. Members of his extended family lived in the area, including his nephew, John Anthony Copeland, Jr., who also participated in the Harpers Ferry raid. Located in Lorain County, southwest of Cleveland, Oberlin was at the time home to a concentrated network of Black and white abolitionists and served as an important site on the Underground Railroad. The town was also the site of Oberlin College, the first interracial and co-educational college in the country. Two years after moving to Oberlin he married Mary Sampson Patterson, and they had one daughter, Lois.

Sources: 
Peggy A. Russo and Paul Finkelman, eds., Terrible Swift Sword: The Legacy of John Brown (Athens, OH: Ohio Univ. Press, 2005), Timothy Patrick McCarthy and John Stauffer, eds. Prophets of Protest: Reconsidering the History of Abolitionism (NY: The New Press,2006), and “Lewis S. Leary,” www.ohiohistorycentral.org.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Tukulor Empire (1852-1864)

Entry Type: 
Places
History Type: 
Global African History

 

The Tukulor Empire
Image Ownership: Public Domain

The Tukulor Empire was a Muslim theocracy established during the mid-19th century major jihads (holy wars) in Western Africa. At its apogee, the empire extended from Senegal eastward to Timbuktu, a distance of 1,500 miles. The empire's founder, Al Hajj Umar, a Senegalese Islamic scholar and leader, had gained notoriety by popularizing the Islamic Sufi order, the Tijaniyah.  The members of that order helped him gain the loyalty of thousands across the Western Sudan. 

Sources: 
“Al-Hajj Umar Tal,” in Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., eds.,  Africana: the Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience  (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); “Tukolor empire of al-Hajj Umar,” in Kevin Shillington, ed., Encyclopedia of African History (New York: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2005);  Kevin Shillington, History of Africa (London: Macmillan, 1995).
Affiliation: 
University of Nantes (France)

Horne, Frank Smith (1899-1974)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Gail Lumet Buckley, The Hornes: An American Family (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1986); Jack Salzman, David Lionel Smith and Cornel West, Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996); Hans Ostrom and J. David Macey Jr., The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature (Westport: Greenwood Press, 2005); Victor A. Kramer and Robert A. Russ, Harlem Renaissance Re-examined (New York: Whitston Publishing Co., 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Purvis, Robert (1810-1898)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Robert Purvis was born on August 4, 1810 in Charleston, South Carolina, the second of three sons to a wealthy cotton broker and a free woman of color.  With the benefits of a financially successful family, Purvis began his opposition to slavery at a very young age.  When Purvis was nine, his father moved the family to Philadelphia where Purvis attended the Pennsylvania Abolition Society’s Clarkson School.  Shortly thereafter, Purvis continued his education at Amherst College in Massachusetts.  

In 1831, Robert Purvis married Harriet Forten, the daughter of Philadelphia African American businessman and abolitionist James Forten. The death of Purvis’s father left his family financially stable and enabled Purvis to commit his efforts entirely to his antislavery activity.  He began to work very closely with the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee which sheltered runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad.  His residence soon became know as the Purvis “safe house.”  
Sources: 
Kwame Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience, Vols. 1-5 (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2004); Margaret Bacon, But One Race: The Life of Robert Purvis (New York: Albany State University press, 2007); Herb Boyd, Autobiography of a People: Three Centuries of African American History Told by Those Who Lived It (New York: Doubleday, 2000).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Haralson, Jeremiah (1846–1916)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library Of Congress
Jeremiah Haralson was born near Columbus, Georgia on April 1, 1846. The slave of Georgia planter John Haralson, he was taken to Alabama where he remained in bondage until 1865. It is unclear as to what he did in the earlier years of his freedom, but there are records that suggest he may have been a farmer and clergyman. Haralson taught himself to read and write and later became a skilled orator and debater.

In 1868, Haralson made his first unsuccessful attempt for a seat in the Forty-first Congress, representing Alabama’s First District of Alabama.  Two years later he won a seat in Alabama’s House of Representatives and in 1872 was elected to the State Senate.  In 1874 Haralson again ran for the U.S. House of Representatives.  Haralson narrowly won the Republican primary over Liberal Republican Frederick G. Bromberg.  Soon after the primary Bromberg accused Haralson of voter fraud and sought to deny him his seat.  The Democrats who controlled the U.S. House of Representatives supported Haralson and on March 4, 1875 he took his seat in Congress.   
Sources: 
Bruce A. Ragsdale, Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1989 (Washington: U.S. Government) Maurine Christopher, Black Americans in Congress
http://bioguide.congress.gov/ ; Biographical Directory of Jeremiah Haralson
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Tennessee State University (1912- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
First Faculty at Tennessee A. & I. Normal School, 1912
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Tennessee State University (TSU) is a historically black, comprehensive, four-year co-educational university located on a 500 acre campus in Nashville, Tennessee.  With over 10,000 students, including nearly 1,900 graduate students, it is one of the largest historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the nation.  It is the only state funded HBCU in Tennessee.

TSU’s history began when the Tennessee State General Assembly passed an act creating the Agricultural and Industrial State Normal School in 1909.  The school began serving a student body of 247 in June of 1912.  In 1922 the school was raised to the status of a four-year teachers college and empowered to grant bachelor’s degrees.  The first bachelor’s degrees were awarded in 1924, the same year that the school changed its name to the Agricultural and Industrial State Normal College.  Three years later the word “Normal” was dropped from the name.

Sources: 
Tennessee State University Webpage, http://www.tnstate.edu/; Toni Hodge-Wright, The Handbook of Historically Black Colleges and Universities  (Seattle: Jireh and Associates, 1992);  Faustine C. Jones-Wilson, Charles A. Asbury, Margo Okazawa-Rey, D. Kamili Anderson, Sylvia M. Jacobs & Michael Fultz, Encyclopedia of African-American Education (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996). 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Olivet Baptist Church (OBC) [Chicago] (1850- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Olivet Baptist Church, Chicago, ca. 1938
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The Olivet Baptist Church (OBC), founded on April 6, 1850, was at one time the largest Protestant church in the world, reaching 20,000 members under the leadership of Pastor Lacey Kirk Williams. It is the second oldest black church in Chicago, Illinois and the oldest African American Baptist church in the city. Olivet became known early on as a “mother” church of Chicago, since so many Baptist congregations broke off from it over the years.

Olivet was originally founded as Xenia Baptist in 1850 before becoming Zoar Baptist Church. When Zoar merged with Zion Baptist in 1861, Olivet was born. The church has occupied several different buildings over the years, one of which was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1873. By 1902, the church boasted 4,000 members, and in 1907 it purchased the building it now occupies at 31st Street and South Parkway on Chicago’s South Side. Olivet has only had three pastors since 1916: Lacey Kirk Williams, Joseph H. Jackson, and Dr. Michael A. Noble.
Sources: 
The Historic Olivet Baptist Church; Miles Mark Fisher, “The History of the Olivet Baptist Church of Chicago,” MA thesis, University of Chicago, 1922; Christopher Reed, Black Chicago’s First Century: Volume 1, 1833-1990 (Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Peyton Colony, Texas (estab. 1865)

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Peyton Colony's Mt. Horeb Baptist Church 
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Peyton Colony was a freedmen’s community established in 1865 by Peyton Roberts (c.1820-1888), an ex-slave who migrated to Caldwell County, Texas. Roberts was born enslaved on the William Roberts Plantation in Virginia.  Roberts and several families on the Roberts Plantation gained their freedom at the end of the Civil War. 

In late 1865, Peyton Roberts led these families to the Texas hill country eight miles southeast of the present-day town of Blanco. They homesteaded public land and built cabins on their new properties.  Their small community, along Boardhouse Creek, became known as the Peyton Colony.

In 1874, Rev. Jack Burch, a freedman, from Tennessee, arrived in the Colony and pitched a tent for the first meeting of the Mt. Horeb Baptist Church. Jim Upshear, one of the colonists, donated land for a permanent site and the settlers built a log church, which also served as a community school.  Part of the Colony site, now a state park, includes a cemetery with 176 graves, including Peyton Roberts and many of the original settlers.

Sources: 

Thad Sitton and James H. Conrad, Freedom Colonies: Independent Black Texans in the Time of Jim Crow, Austin, TX.: University of Texas Press, 2005; Wanda Qualls, “Peyton Cemetery – Black, Blanco County, Texas,” 2002, http://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/usgenweb/tx/blanco/cemetery/peyton.txt (accessed April, 16, 2007); Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. “Peyton, Texas,” http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/PP/hrp77.html (accessed Aril 16, 2007).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Greener, Richard T. (1844-1922)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

The son of a sailor, Richard Theodore Greener, a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania became the first African American to graduate from Harvard College.  He later was assigned to serve the United States in diplomatic posts in India and Russia

Sources: 
Allison Blakely, Russia and the Negro: Blacks in Russian History and Thought (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1986); “Figures in Black History: Richard Greener: Harvard’s First African American Graduate” http://dede.essortment.com/richardgreener_pws.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
U.S. Department of State

Europe, James Reese (1881-1919)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
James Reese Europe and Band Members, 1918
Image Ownership: Public Domain
James Reese Europe, one of the first African Americans to record music in the United States, was born on February 22, 1881 in Mobile, Alabama to Henry and Lorraine Europe.  When he was ten, his family moved to Washington D.C. where he began to study violin with Enrico Hurlei, the assistant director of the Marine Corps Band.  In 1904, Reese moved to New York to continue his musical studies.  
Sources: 
F. Reid Badger, A Life in Ragtime: A Biography of James Reese Europe (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995); Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, “Europe, James Reese,” Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1983); http://jass.com/europe.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Manly, Alex (1866-1944)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Daniel R. Miller, "Manly, Alex" in Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, vol. 4 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991); North Carolina Wilmington Race Riot Commission "Final Report, May 31, 2006" (North Carolina Office of Archives & History, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Yardley, William Francis (1844-1924)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
William Francis Yardley was a politician, businessman, lawyer, and civil rights advocate in post-Civil War Tennessee. Born free on January 8, 1844 to an Irish mother and a black father in Knoxville, Tennessee, he was abandoned at the doorstep of the Yardley family, a prominent white family who took him in, named, and raised him. The Yardleys apprenticed young William out to learn to read and write until he turned 21.  He was also mentored by Thomas Humes, the rector at St. John’s Episcopal Church.
Sources: 
Jack Neely, “The Singular Career of William Francis Yardley,” MetroPulse, Vol. 12, No. 8 (Knoxville, Tennessee: Feb 21, 2002); Jack Neely, “A Progressive Age,” MetroPulse (Knoxville, Tennessee: Sept 3, 2008); West Tennessee Historical Society, The West Tennessee Historical Society Papers Issue 49 (Memphis: West Tennessee Historical Society, 1995);   http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/entry.php?rec=1544
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Williams, Cathay (1850- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Courtesy of the National Archives
Cathay Williams is the only documented African American woman who served as a soldier in the Regular U.S. Army in the nineteenth century.  Cathay was born a slave around 1850 in Jackson County, Missouri.  In September 1861 Union troops impressed Cathay into the Army to work as a cook and washerwoman for Union Army officers.  She remained with the Army throughout the Civil War serving at various locales including Little Rock, Arkansas; New Orleans and Shreveport in Louisiana; and Savannah and Macon, both in Georgia. In 1864 she briefly served as cook and washerwoman for General Phil Sheridan and his staff in the Shenandoah Valley campaign.

On November 15, 1866 Williams disguised her gender and enlisted as William Cathey, serving in Company A of the 38th Infantry, a newly-formed all-black U.S. Army Regiment, one of its earliest recruits.  Cathay said she joined the Army because “I wanted to make my own living and not be dependent on relations or friends.”
Sources: 
St. Louis Daily Times, St. Louis, MO, January 2, 1876.  “She Fought Nobly: The Story of a Colored Heroine who Served as a Regularly Enlisted Soldier During the Late War”; NARA, Washington, D.C. , U.S. Regular Army: Enlistment papers, William Cathey, November 15, 1866, St. Louis, MO; Certificate of Disability for Discharge, William Cathey, October 14, 1868, Fort Bayard, N.M.; U.S. Army Pension Bureau, Declaration for an Original Invalid Pension, filed June 1891 by Cathay Williams.
Affiliation: 
University of New Mexico

Grimké, Charlotte Forten (1837-1914)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Charlotte Forten Grimké grew up in a rich intellectual and activist environment.  Born into a wealthy Black abolitionist family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Charlotte Louise Forten became famous in her own right as a writer and poet.  Her grandparents, James, Sr. and Charlotte Forten, hosted leading black and white abolitionists into their home on a regular basis.  James Forten was one of the wealthiest blacks in Philadelphia, having amassed a fortune in the sail making business. Her parents, Robert Bridges Forten and Mary Woods Forten, continued the family’s activist tradition as had her uncles and aunts, including Sarah, Harriet, and Margaretta Forten, who helped establish the bi-racial Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. 
Sources: 
Janice Sumler-Edmond, “Charlotte Forten Grimké,” in Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, vol. I (New York: Carlson, 1993): 505-507; Julie Winch, A Gentleman of Color: The Life of James Forten (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002); and Brenda Stevenson, ed., The Journals of Charlotte Forten Grimké (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Smalls, Robert (1839-1915)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Robert Smalls was born in Beaufort, South Carolina, on April 5, 1839 and worked as a house slave until the age of 12. At that point his owner, John K. McKee, sent him to Charleston to work as a waiter, ship rigger, and sailor, with all earnings going to McKee. This arrangement continued until Smalls was 18 when he negotiated to keep all but $15 of his monthly pay, a deal which allowed Smalls to begin saving money. The savings that he accumulated were later used to purchase his wife and daughter from their owner for a sum of $800. Their son was born a few years later.
Sources: 
Okon Edet Uya, From Slavery to Public Service, Robert Smalls 1839-1915 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971); Dorothy Sterling, Captain of the Planter: The Story of Robert Smalls (New York: Pocket Books, 1978); Edward A. Miller, Gullah Statesman: Robert Smalls from Slavery to Congress, 1839-1915 (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1995); http://www.robertsmalls.org/; http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=S000502.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Lucas, Sam (1840-1915)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Sam Lucas, one of the most respected and celebrated entertainers of his time, is credited with breaking barriers for black actors and becoming the first African American actor to star in a “white” feature film. Lucas is best remembered for his comic and dramatic roles performed on the minstrel circuit and Broadway stages, and by the end of his career, a major motion picture.

Lucas was born Samuel Mildmay in Washington, Ohio in 1840. He began singing and playing the guitar as a teenager and went on to establish a reputation as a performer while working as a barber. After the Civil War when African American performers (in blackface) were allowed to work in minstrel shows, Lucas joined traveling black companies and sang on the Ohio River steamboats. Lucas built a reputation as the best all-around entertainer in the business and was empowered to select his own shows which allowed him to star with the most successful black minstrel companies as a comedian and singer.

Sources: 

Mel Watkins, On the Real Side, (New York: Simon & Schuster); David
Pilgrim, “The Tom Caricature,” http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/tom/,
December 2000, Ferris State University, Rapids, Michigan: Jessie Carney
Smith, Notable Black Men. (Detroit: Gale Research Inc. 1999); Phyllis
R. Klotman, African Americans in Cinema: The First Half Century,
(Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Reed, Judy W. (c. 1826- ? )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Listing for J.W. Reed's Patent in the U.S. Patent Office Records
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Little is known about Judy W. Reed, considered to be the first African American woman to receive a United States patent.

In January of 1884, Reed applied for a patent on her “Dough Kneader and Roller.” The application was for an improved design on existing dough kneaders. Reed’s device allowed the dough to mix more evenly as it progressed through two intermeshed rollers carved with corrugated slats that would act as kneaders. The dough then passed into a covered receptacle to protect the dough from dust and other particles in the air.

On September 23, 1884, Reed received Patent No. 305,474 for her invention. There is no record of her life beyond this document.

Since women sometimes used their first and/or middle initials when signing documents, often to disguise their gender, and patent applications didn’t require the applicant to indicate his or her race, it is unknown if there are earlier African American women inventors before Reed.


Sources: 
B. Zorina Khan, The Democratization of Invention: Patents and Copyrights in American Economic Development, 1790-1920 (Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2005); Patricia Carter Sluby, The Inventive Spirit of African Americans: Patented Ingenuity (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Furniss, Sumner Alexander (1874-1953)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Private Office of Dr. Sumner Furniss
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Prominent physician and surgeon Sumner Alexander Furniss was the first African American to become a member of the staff at Indianapolis City Hospital in Indiana. He was also a founding member and president of the Indianapolis Young Men's Colored Association (YMCA).

Furniss was the second son born to William H. Furniss and Mary Elizabeth J. Williams, in Jackson, Mississippi, on January 30, 1874. His family moved to Indianapolis when he was young, and his father became the superintendent of the Special Delivery Department of the Indianapolis Post Office. Furniss received his early education in the local city schools and then enrolled in Lincoln University (formerly the Lincoln Institute). Just before his graduation in 1891, Furniss enrolled in the Medical College of Indiana and received his medical degree in 1894, ranking second in a class of fifty-two. Furniss was the only African American in his class. While in medical school, he worked as a clerk for Dr. E. S. Elder, a prominent Indianapolis physician, to pay for his education. On October 26, 1905, he married Lillian Morris, but no children were born to this union.

Sources: 
Commemorative Biographical Record of Central Pennsylvania including the Counties of Centre, Clearfield, Jefferson and Clarion, Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens, And many of the Early Settled Families-Volume II (Indianapolis: J. H. Beers & Company, 1908); Michelle D. Hale, “Furniss, Sumner A.” The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994); Frank Lincoln Mather, Who’s Who of the Colored Race; A General Biographical Dictionary of Men and Women of African Descent (Chicago: 1915); Linda Heywood, Allison Blakely, Charles Stith and Joshua C. Yesnowitz, African Americans In U.S. Foreign Policy; From the Era of Frederick Douglass to the Age of Obama (Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 2015).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

McCabe, Edward P. (1850-1920)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Edward P. McCabe was an African American politician and businessman most notable for his promotion of black settlement in Oklahoma and Kansas. Born in 1850 in Troy, New York, McCabe would attend school until his father’s death when he left school to support his family as a clerk on Wall Street. In 1872, he earned a job as a clerk in Chicago. Two years later, McCabe left Chicago for Kansas and arrived in the growing black community of Nicodemus in 1878.

In Nicodemus, McCabe established himself as an attorney and land agent. When Graham County was established in 1880, McCabe was appointed temporary clerk and officially elected as county clerk the next year. In 1882, he successfully stood as the Republican candidate for state auditor, a victory which made him the most important black office holder outside of the south. However, as Nicodemus’s fortunes reversed and the town began to hemorrhage residents, McCabe left first for Washington and then for Oklahoma.

Sources: 
Quintard Taylor, In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West 1528-1990 (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1998); William Loren Katz, Black People Who Made the Old West (Trenton: Africa World Press, 1992).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Montana State University

Bricktown and Deep Deuce, Oklahoma City (1889- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Like the rest of Oklahoma City, Bricktown began with the Land Run of 1889. At the junction of the Oklahoma railroad station and the Oklahoma River, the land that is now Oklahoma City and its surroundings was especially appealing to both farmers and settlers who wanted to establish a town. By the end of the day on April 22, 1889, Oklahoma City had over 10,000 residents, including freedmen looking for a better life in the West. To oversee the settlement, federal troops from Fort Reno established a fort east of the Santa Fe Railroad tracks and north of the Oklahoma River. When these troops withdrew, wholesalers and distributors took advantage of the location and developed it into a warehouse district.

At the turn of the century, jobs in the warehouse district attracted many African American families. By 1910, over 7,000 African Americans lived in Oklahoma City, mostly east of the Santa Fe tracks. White city officials felt threatened by the possibility of integrated neighborhoods and passed one of the first segregationist residential ordinances in the nation in 1915 that confined black families to a neighborhood north of Bricktown along 2nd St. This neighborhood came to be known as Deep Deuce, and it and parts of Bricktown became the center of the black community in Oklahoma City.
Sources: 
Steve Lackmeyer, “The Bricktown Collection,” RetroMetro Oklahoma City, January 31, 2011, http://www.retrometrookc.org/the-bricktown-collection; Steve Lackmeyer, “Amidst Deep Deuce Revival, Fears of a Lost History Emerge,” The Oklahoman, March 2, 2014, http://newsok.com/amidst-deep-deuce-revival-fears-of-a-lost-history-emerge/article/3938940; The Bricktown Association, “The History of Bricktown.” Oklahoma News 9, 2013, http://www.news9.com/story/7690410/the-history-of-bricktown.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Malabo, Equatorial Guinea (1827- )

Entry Type: 
Places
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Malabo is located on the northern coast of Bioko Island and serves as the capital of Equatorial Guinea. Malabo is the largest of five islands and is the second largest city in Equatorial Guinea after Bata.

Indigenous African peoples in the territory of Equatorial Guinea included Bantu tribes, the Fang, and the Bubi. The Portuguese explorer Fernão do Pó was the first European to discover the island of Bioka in 1472 and Portugal officially colonized it in 1474.

In 1778 the land and adjacent islets were ceded to Spain. In 1827, the British leased Bioko Island from Spain and established Malabo (originally named Port Clarence) as a naval station to fight slavery along the West African coast. Fernandinos, as the newly freed slaves who were rescued by the British Navy were called, settled in the town and their descendants can still be found in Malabo today, speaking an Afro-Portuguese dialect. Spain regained control in 1844, after the British moved its base to Sierra Leone. The Spanish renamed the island Santa Isabel.
Sources: 
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Anthony Appiah, Encyclopedia of Africa (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010); Roman Adrian Cybriwsky, Capital Cities around the World: An Encyclopedia of Geography, History (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2013).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Louisville

Brisby, William H. (1831-1916)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
William BrisbyWilliam Henry Brisby was born free in New Kent County, Virginia in 1831 and lived on 32 acres of land that he inherited from his father.  He later bought additional land and eventually had a 179 acre farm.  Brisby worked mostly as a blacksmith and wheelwright but raised sheep, and engaged in commercial fishing.
Sources: 
Luther Porter Jackson, Negro Office Holders in Virginia, 1865-1895 (Norfolk: Guide Quality Press, 1945); John T. Kneebone, ed., Dictionary of Virginia Biography (Richmond: Library of Virginia, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Hawaii

Johnson, Edward A. (1860-1944)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Edward Austin Johnson was a businessman, historian, educator, lawyer and politician. Born enslaved in Raleigh, N.C. on November 23rd, 1860, his parents Columbus and Eliza Johnson, had twelve children. He was educated by Nancy Walton, a free African American woman who also taught white children from wealthy families.
Sources: 
Edward A. Johnson, “A Student at Atlanta University,” Phylon, Vol. 3, No. 2 (2nd Quarter 1942) 135-148; Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982); “Edward A Johnson,” http://docsouth.unc.edu/church/johnson/bio.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

House, Callie Guy (c. 1861-1928)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Callie House is most famous for her efforts to gain reparations for former slaves and is regarded as the early leader of the reparations movement among African American political activists.  Callie Guy was born a slave in Rutherford Country near Nashville, Tennessee.  Her date of birth is usually assumed to be 1861 but due to the lack of birth records for slaves, this date is not certain.  She was raised in a household that included her widowed mother, sister, and her sister’s husband.  House received some primary school education.

At the age of 22, she married William House and moved to Nashville, where she raised five children.  To support her family, House worked at home as a washerwoman and seamstress.  In 1891, a pamphlet entitled Freedmen’s Pension Bill: A Plea for American Freedmen began circulating around the black communities in central Tennessee.  This pamphlet, which espoused the idea of financial compensation as a means of rectifying past exploitation of slavery, persuaded House to become involved in the cause that would become her life’s work.  

With the help of Isaiah Dickerson, House chartered the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty and Pension Association in 1898, and was named the secretary of this new organization.  Eventually House became the leader of the organization. In this position she traveled across the South, spreading the idea of reparations in every former slave state with relentless zeal.  During her 1897-1899 lecture tour the Association's membership by 34,000 mainly through her efforts.  By 1900 its nationwide membership was estimated to be around 300,000.  

Sources: 
Mary Frances Berry, My  Face Is Black Is True: Callie House and the Struggle for Ex-Slave Reparations (New York: Knopf, 2005); James Turner, “Callie House: The Pursuit of Reparations as a Means for Social Justice”, The Journal of African American History Vol. 91, No. 3 (Summer, 2006), pp. 305-310.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Clark, Alexander G. (1826-1890)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Born free in Washington County, Pennsylvania 1826, Alexander Clark moved to Bloomington, Iowa (later known as Muscatine) at age 16. He arrived with training as a barber, a trade which allowed him into the company of Bloomington’s leading citizens. He purchased property quickly, and supplemented his income by clearing the land, selling timber to steamships, and growing vegetables for sale. In 1848, at the age of 22, he was able to purchase a fine home in an affluent neighborhood, which stands to this day. The same year, as a trustee of the AME Educational and Church Society, he was able to procure funds, purchase land, and help to build the AME church in Bloomington.  

Sources: 
Robert Bruce Slater, “The First Black Graduates of the Nation's 50 Flagship State Universities,” The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, 13 (Autumn, 1996); Connie Street, “Black history pioneer: Alexander Clark became prominent achiever while residing in Muscatine,” Muscatine Journal, February 24, 2006.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Lane, Layle (1893-1976)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public domain

Labor leader Layle Lane was born on November 27, 1893, in Marietta, Georgia. She was the fourth of five children of Calvin Lane and Alice Virginia Clark Lane. Lane was vice president of the American Federation of Teachers union and a committee member of the March on Washington Movement, participating in the first proposed March in 1941.

Her father, Calvin, was a freedman of the clergy who built his own house in Marietta, and also established a church and school nearby. Layle’s mother Alice was an educator. Lane graduated from Vineland High School (New Jersey) as its first Black student, and entered Howard University in Washington, D.C. in the fall of 1913. At Howard, she was a member of Delta Sigma Theta, one of the largest sororities in the nation at the time for professional Black women. She graduated with degrees in English and History.

Sources: 
Leonard Bethel, La Citadelle. (University Press of America. Lanham, Massachusetts, 2015); Andrew E. Kerstern and David Lucander. For Jobs and Freedom: Selected Speeches and Writings of A. Philip Randolph. (University of Massachusetts Press. Boston, 2014).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

John Brown’s Christmas Raid into Missouri 1858

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History in the West
John Brown Mural in the Kansas State Capitol Building
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John Brown’s preferred method of battling slavery was to free hundreds at a time in a single attack. However, the week of Christmas 1858, he made an exception and successfully rescued eleven Missouri slaves, throwing the region into a state of anxiety and adding another episode to the abolitionist movement.

On December 19th, 1858, Brown received news that a slave by the name of Daniels from close to the Kansas-Missouri border had crossed into Kansas to plead for rescue from the impending sale of his family. Though an agent of the Underground Railroad, Brown usually considered a raid to prevent a single sale not worthy of the risk. However, by the next day, a raiding party of nearly twenty abolitionists had been organized with Brown (using the alias of Shubel Morgan) at the lead.
Sources: 
Robert M. De Witt, The Life, Trial and Execution of Captain John Brown (New York: Robert M. De Witt, Publisher, 1859); Oswald Garrison Villard, John Brown: A Biography Fifty Years After (Boston and New York: The Riverside Press Cambridge, 1910); Barrie Stavis, The Sword and the Word (Cranbury, New Jersey: A.S. Barnes and Co., Inc., 1970).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

University of Liberia\Liberia College (1863-- )

Entry Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
Global African History
University of Liberia
Image Ownership: Public Domain
In 1851, the national legislature of Liberia authorized the establishment of Liberia College which is now the second oldest institution of higher learning in West Africa. The Trustees of Donations for Education