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19th Century

Chase, William Calvin (1854-1921)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
William Chase was born in 1854 to a free black family in Washington, D.C.  Chase was raised in integrated neighborhoods and attended local area schools including Howard University Law School.  Chase combined the practice of law with journalism for most of his career and was also active in Republican politics, serving as District of Columbia delegate to the party's national convention in 1900 and again in 1912.

William Chase is most well known for his nearly forty years of service as editor of the Washington Bee, a weekly publication that, during its run, was the oldest secular newspaper in continuous publication in the country.  As one of the great 19th-century editors, Chase served as a formidable “race man” and used his newspaper to voice a variety of opinions about all issues relating to African Americans and American race relations. William Chase’s Washington Bee was published weekly from 1882 through 1922 and documented extensive opposition to segregation and discrimination throughout the United States.  His newspaper fought for equal rights at a time when only a handful of black publications existed at all.  
Sources: 

Appiah, Kwame 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.exploredc.org/index.php?id=381

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Coker, Daniel (1780-1846)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Daniel Coker (born Isaac Wright) was a writer, activist, and a founder of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church who eventually emigrated from the United States to Sierra Leone as a missionary and colonist. Coker was born in 1780 in either Baltimore County or Frederick County, Maryland to Susan Coker, a white indentured servant, and Edward Wright, a slave father. He was raised in a household with his white half-brothers from his mother’s previous marriage and was allowed to attend the local school as their valet. While still in school he fled to New York where he changed his name to Daniel Coker and was ordained a Methodist minister.

Upon secretly returning to Maryland, Coker’s friends helped him purchase his freedom which gave him the rare opportunity to boldly speak out against the institution of slavery as well as participate in activities not usually open to black Americans at the time. He began both teaching and preaching in the Baltimore area.  Responding to racial discrimination in the Methodist Church, Coker called upon African American Methodists to withdraw from the white-dominated church and establish their own organization. Unable to recruit enough parishioners from the Sharp Street Church where he worked, Coker and others who advocated his separatist ideals broke from the congregation to form the African Bethel Church, which later became Bethel A.M.E Church.

Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982); http://www.genealogyforum.rootsweb.com/gfaol/resource/AfricanAm/Coker.htm; http://www.ame-church.com/index.php.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Bowie State University (1865- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Founded in 1865, Bowie State University is Maryland’s oldest historically black university, and one of the ten oldest African American institutions of higher education in the United States.  It is also one of eleven senior colleges and universities in the University of Maryland system.  The institution is located on a scenic wooded tract adjacent to the city of Bowie, Maryland, about mid-way between Washington, D.C. and Annapolis, the state capital, and about 25 miles south of Baltimore.

Bowie State University traces its history back to a school opened in Baltimore in January of 1865 by the Baltimore Association for the Moral and Educational Improvement of Colored People.  The first classes were held in the African Baptist Church of Baltimore.  In 1868, with assistance from the Freedmen’s Bureau, the school relocated to a building purchased from the Society of Friends at Courtland and Saratoga Streets.  The institution re-organized solely as a normal school to train black teachers in 1893.  

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

The Creole Case (1841)

Entry Type: 
Events
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Artist: Hale Woodruff

"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The Creole Case was the result of an American slave revolt in November 1841 on board the Creole, a ship involved in the United States coastwise slave trade. As a consequence of the revolt, 128 enslaved people won their freedom in the Bahamas, then a British possession. Because of the number of people eventually freed, the Creole mutiny was the most successful slave revolt in U.S history.   

In the fall of 1841, the brig Creole, which was owned by the Johnson and Eperson Company of Richmond, Virginia, transported 135 slaves from Richmond for sale to New Orleans, Louisiana. The Creole had left Richmond with 103 slaves and picked up another 32 in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Most of the slaves were owned by Johnson and Eperson, but 26 were owned by Thomas McCargo, a slave trader who was one of the Creole passengers. The ship also carried tobacco; a crew of ten; the captain’s wife, daughter, and niece; four passengers, including slave traders; and eight black slaves of the traders.

Sources: 
Arthur T. Downey, The Creole Affair: The Slave Rebellion that Led the U.S and Great Britain to the Brink of War (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield.2014); George Hendrick and Willene Hendrick, The Creole Mutiny: A Tale of Revolt Aboard a Slave Ship, (Chicago, Illinois :Ivan R. Dee.2003), “Creole Case,” Atlanta Black Star, http://atlantablackstar.com/2014/02/07/5-slave-ships-uprisings-amistad/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Storer College [Harper's Ferry] (1867-1956)

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership, Public Domain
Storer College was created when John Storer, a philanthropist living in Sanford, Maine, approached Rev. Dr. Oren Burbank Cheney, President of Bates College, with a $10,000 gift to found a school which would eventually become a college and would educate students in a southern state, regardless of color or race.  Though Storer was agreeable to opening the school in any southern state, the US Government granted seven acres of Federal land with buildings near Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.  The school was named Storer and opened in October, 1867 with 19 students.

The West Virginia State Legislature then appropriated $10,000 for the purpose of educating blacks above the elementary level, ensuring that the institution would be dedicated to African American education.  Additional support came from the West Virginia Baptist Home Missionary Society.  By 1870, Storer was administered as a Normal Academy and was the only teacher-training institution for African Americans in the State of West Virginia.
Sources: 
Vivian V. Gordon, “Section E: A History of Storer College, Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia,” The Journal of Negro Education, 30:4 (1961), 445-449; Dawne R. Burke, An American Phoenix: A History of Storer College from Slavery to Desegregation (Pittsburgh: Geyer Printing House, 2006); National Park Service website: http://www.nps.gov/hafe/historyculture/storer-college.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

The New York City Draft Riots (1863)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Burning of the Colored Orphanage
Image Ownership: Public domain

The New York City Draft Riots remain today the single largest urban civilian insurrection in United States history. By the start of the Civil War in April 1861, New York City, New York Mayor Fernando Wood called for the city to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy but the response from most New Yorkers was unenthusiastic.  Nonetheless, two years later when the U.S. government instituted the first military draft, anti-government sentiment particularly among the city’s large Irish-born population, grew quickly.  One could escape the draft by paying a $300 fine (about $5,500 today). The rich were able to afford the fines, while the disenfranchised and poor white men, who in New York City were often the Irish, were forced to enlist because they were often the sole source of income for their families.

Sources: 
Barbara Maranani, “The most violent insurrection in American history,” History.com, July 5, 2013, http://www.history.com/news/four-days-of-fire-the-new-york-city-draft-riots; John Strausbaugh, “White Riot: Why the New York Draft Riots of 1863 Matter Today,” Observer.com, July 11, 2016, http://observer.com/2016/07/white-riot-why-the-new-york-draft-riots-of-1863-matter-today/; Iver Bernstein, The New York City Draft Riots : Their Significance for American Society and Politics in the Age of the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

24th Infantry Regiment (1866-1951)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Twenty-Fourth Infantry Soldiers at Yosemite Park
Image Ownership: Public Domain
When the U.S. Army was reorganized on July 28, 1866 for peacetime service after the American Civil War, six regiments were set aside for black enlisted men.  These included four infantry regiments, numbered 38th through 41st.  The 24th Infantry was organized during a reduction in March 1869 by merging the 38th and 41st.  Both had served in Texas since their establishment, and the consolidation took place at Fort McKavett.  The regiment’s first four commanders had rendered distinguished service in the Civil War.  They were Colonels Ranald S. Mackenzie (November 1869-December 1870), Abner S. Doubleday (December 1870-December 1872), Joseph H. Potter (December 1872-April 1886), and Zenas R. Bliss (April 1886-April 1895).
Sources: 
William G. Muller, The Twenty Fourth Infantry Past and Present (Fort Collins, CO:  Old Army Press, 1972); Frank N. Schubert, On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldier:  Biographies of African Americans in the U.S. Army, 1866-1917 (Wilmington, DE:  Scholarly Resources, 1995).
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Long, Jefferson Franklin (1836-1907)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Jefferson Franklin Long, a Republican who represented Georgia in the 41st Congress, was the first black member to speak on the floor of the House of Representatives, and was the only black representative from Georgia for just over a century. Long was born a slave in Knoxville, Georgia on March 3, 1836. Little is known of his early years, however by the end of the civil war he had been educated and was working as a tailor in the town of Macon. He was prosperous in business and involved in local politics.

By 1867 he had become active in the Georgia Educational Association and had traveled through the state on behalf of the Republican Party.  He also served on the state Republican Central Committee.  In 1869 Long chaired a special convention in Macon, Georgia which addressed the problems faced by the freedmen.

In December of 1870 Georgia held elections for two sets of congressional representatives – one for the final session of the 41st Congress (the first two of which Georgia had missed due to delayed readmission to the Union), and one for the 42nd Congress, set to begin in March of 1871. Georgia Republicans nominated Long, an African American, to run for the 41st congress, while Thomas Jefferson Speer, a white American, was chosen to run for the 42nd. Long was elected on January 16th, 1871.

Sources: 
Bruce A. Ragsdale and Joel D. Treese, Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1989 (Washington, DC; U.S. Government Printing Office, 1990); Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1982).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Brazzaville, Congo (1880- )

Entry Type: 
Places
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Brazzaville, the capital and largest city of the Republic of the Congo, was founded on September 10, 1880. The city was on the site of Nkuna, a Bateke village and was named after its part-African founder, explorer Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza.  Makoko of the Téké, the local political leader, negotiated a treaty with de Brazza in which he granted the French control over his nation in exchange for protection from neighboring rivals. The city was developed on the north bank of the Congo River in order to compete with the Belgian city of Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) which was established on the opposite bank.  From October 1880 to May 1882, Brazzaville was guarded from the Belgians by the troops of Melamine Camara, a Senegalese Sergeant in the French colonial army.
Sources: 
F. Scott Bobb, Cities, Towns, and Villages in the Republic of the Congo: Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, Dolisie, Mossendjo, Etoumbi, Nkayi, Congo, N'Kosso, Owando (Memphis, Tennessee: General Books LLC, 2010); Global Security, Military “Republic of Congo Civil War” 2010, Accessed Dec 8, 2010, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/congo-b.htm 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Williams, Lacey Kirk (1871-1940)

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

Lacey Kirk Williams was the President of the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc., from 1922 to 1940 and Vice President of the World Baptist Alliance between 1928 and 1940.  He also succeeded in creating an interracial alliance which he called a "cooperative" between the wealthy American Baptists, a white denomination, and the National Baptist Convention which greatly contributed to the latter's growth and the black community as a whole.  Williams was President of the National Baptist Convention when he died in a plane crash in 1940 on his way to deliver a speech in Flint, Michigan.

Williams was born to a former slave couple, Levi and Elizabeth Williams, on the Shorter Plantation near Eufaula, Alabama.  His family migrated to Texas in 1878.  He received his education at Bishop College in Texas and Arkansas Baptist College and was ordained to ministry in 1894 at the Thankful Baptist Church in Pitt Bridge, Texas. The same year he was married to Georgia Lewis and they had one son together.  Williams became the pastor of the Mt. Gilead Baptist Church in Ft. Worth in 1910 and soon afterwards was elected president of the Texas Baptist State Convention.  

Sources: 

J. Gordon Melton, Religious Leaders of America: A Biographical Guide to
Founders and Leaders of Religious Bodies, Churches, and Spiritual
Groups in North America
(Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1991);   
http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/WW/fwiag.html.                                                                                    

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Port Royal Experiment (1862-1865)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
African Americans Preparing Cotton for Gin at
Port Royal, 1862
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
The Port Royal Experiment, the first major attempt by Northerners to reconstruct the Southern political and economic system, began only seven months after the firing on Fort Sumter. On November 7, 1861 the Union Army occupied South Carolina’s Sea Islands, freeing approximately 10,000 slaves. As the Confederate Army and white plantation owners fled, Northerners began to capitalize on their possession of an area world famous for its cotton. During the first year of occupation African American field hands harvested approximately 90,000 lbs. of the crop. The workers were paid $1 for every 400 pounds harvested and thus were the first former slaves freed by Union forces to earn wages for their labor.  
Sources: 
Akiko Ochiai, "The Port Royal Experiment Revisited: Northern Visions of Reconstruction and the Land Question," The New England Quarterly 74.1 (2001): 94-117; Willie Lee Rose, Rehearsal for Reconstruction: The Port Royal Experiment (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1964).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Wormley House (1871–1893)

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
The Wormley House, ca. 1884
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Just one block away from President’s Square, now Lafayette Square, in Washington, D.C. stood the Wormley House, one of the most prominent private hotels and social clubs of its time, and the only one owned by an African American.
Sources: 
Carol Gelderman, A Free Man Of Color And His Hotel; Race, Reconstruction and the Role of the Federal Government, (Washington, D.C., Potomac Books, 2012); John DeFerrari, “The Talented Mr. James Wormley,” Streetsofwashington.com, http://www.streetsofwashington.com/2012/09/the-talented-mr-james-wormley.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Aldridge, Ira (1807-1867)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Ira Frederick Aldridge was the first African American actor to achieve success on the international stage. He also pushed social boundaries by playing opposite white actresses in England and becoming known as the preeminent Shakespearean actor and tragedian of the 19th Century.
Sources: 
Bernth Lindfors, Ira Aldridge, the African Roscius (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2007); Bernth Lindfors, Ira Aldridge: The Early Years, 1807-1833 (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2011); Bernth Lindfors, Ira Aldridge: The Vagabond Years, 1833-1852 (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2011); Herbert Marshall, Ira Aldridge: Negro Tragedian (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1993); Anthony D. Hill, An Historical Dictionary of African American Theater (Prevessin, France: Scarecrow Press, 2007.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Wiley College (1873- )

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

Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, is the first African-American college established in the Lone Star State.  The institution was founded in 1873 by Bishop Isaac Wiley of Methodist Episcopal Church and chartered by the Freedman’s Aid Society in 1882. Isaac Wiley grew up with dreams of becoming a minister but instead turned to medicine. In 1850 he was given the opportunity to go to China on a medical missionary trip. Following his return to the United States he entered the ministry and rose through the ranks before becoming a Bishop in 1872. In 1873 he founded Wiley College.  The college is now affiliated with the United Methodist Church and is dedicated to the idea of social responsibility and seeks to contribute and revitalize the community, which it serves.

Wiley College was established to provide an education to newly freed men and women and to prepare them for a new life. It was also established to train teachers for careers at black elementary and secondary schools in Texas and other states and territories.

Sources: 
Quintard Taylor, In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West, 1528-1990 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc: 1998); Wiley College Website, http://www.wileyc.edu/ ; James Farmer Biography, http://www.umw.edu/cas/jfscholars/who/default.php ; Isaac Wiley Biography, http://www.famousamericans.net/isaacwilliamwiley/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Jim Crow/Jump Jim Crow

Vignette Type: 
Misc
History Type: 
African American History
Thomas Rice Playing Jim Crow in Blackface, New York City, 1833
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The term Jim Crow originates back to 1828 when a white New York comedian, Thomas Dartmouth “Daddy” Rice, performed in blackface his song and dance that he called Jump Jim Crow.  Rice's performance was supposedly inspired by the song and dance of a physically disabled black man he had seen in Cincinnati, Ohio, named Jim Cuff or Jim Crow.  The song became a huge hit in the 19th century and Thomas Rice performed it across the country as “Daddy Jim Crow,” a caricature of a shabbily dressed African American man.
Sources: 
Eric Lott, Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993); Dale Cockrell and Don B. Wilmeth, Demons of Disorder: Early Blackface Minstrels and their World. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997); Gilbert Thomas Stephenson, “The Separation of The Races in Public Conveyances” The American Political Science Review 3.2 (1909): 180-204; Dance History Archives by Street Swing, http://www.streetswing.com/histmai2/d2rice1.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Empress Zewditu (1876-1930)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Empress Zewditu of Ethiopia was born on April 29, 1876 as Askala Maryam in the city of Harrar in Enjersa Goro Province, Ethiopia. Her mother was Abechi, a Shewan noblewoman and her father was Menelik II, at that point the king of Shewa and the future emperor of Ethiopia.

Menelik II agreed to submit to Emperor Yohannes’s rule with the stipulation that his daughter, Zewditu, would marry Yohanne’s son and future heir Araya Selassie Yohannes. They wed in 1882 when Araya Selassie Yohannes was nine and Zewditu was six.  Despite the arranged marriage Menelik II and Yohannes continued their contentious relationship until the death of Emperor Yohannes in the battle of Metemma against the Madhists of Sudan in 1889.  Menelik II was soon afterwards crowned Emperor of Ethiopia.

Upon the death of Menelik II in 1913, Lij Iyasu, the son of Zewditu's half-sister Shewa Regga, assumed power. The new emperor viewed Zewditu as a threat and ordered her and her husband be taken to the countryside (Falle Province). Iyasu, however, quickly fell out of favor with the powerful nobles who insured his rule.  When he was accused of flirting with Islam, Iyasu was removed from the throne and replaced by Zewditu on September 27, 1916.

Sources: 
Stuart Munro-Hay, Ethiopia, The Unknown Land: A Cultural and Historical Guide (London and New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2002); Chris Poutry and Eugene Rosenfeld, Historical Dictionary of Ethiopia and Eritrea (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1994); Saheed A. Adejumobi, The History of Ethiopia (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2007).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Trévigne, Paul (1825-1908)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Creole New Orleans newspaper editor Paul Trévigne, the biracial son of a Battle of New Orleans veteran, was born in New Orleans in 1825. Trévigne was part of the free people of color community in Louisiana that protested racial injustice before the Civil War and helped establish Republican politics in the state after 1865. 

Trévigne taught at the Catholic Indigent Orphan School in New Orleans, a school dedicated to providing free education to African American orphans.

Sources: 
Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982); http://www.lib.lsu.edu/special/exhibits/creole/Institution/institution.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
The Evergreen State College

Lewis, Oliver (1856-1924)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
In 1875, Oliver Lewis became the first jockey to win the Kentucky Derby, America's longest continuous sporting event. Lewis was born in 1856 in Fayette Country, Kentucky, to his parents Goodson and Eleanor Lewis. Lewis was born free, but there is little known about his parents or family.

Lewis was only 19 years old when he entered the first Kentucky Derby. The race was held at what was then the Louisville Jockey Club on May 17, 1875, but is now known as Churchill Downs. Ten thousand spectators watched this first race.  Lewis rode a horse named Aristide, which was one of two colts entered by their owner, H. Price McGrath of Jessamine, Kentucky. The other horse, Chesapeake, was ridden by William Henry. Although the same owner entered both horses, Chesapeake was favored to win the $2,850 purse, and Lewis was told that his job was to lead most of the race to tire out the other horses. Out of the fifteen jockeys in the field, at this first Kentucky Derby, thirteen of them were African American. Aristide's trainer, Ansel Williamson, was also an African American.  
Sources: 
Edward Hotaling, The Great Black Jockeys: The Lives and Times of the Men Who Dominated America’s First National Sport (California: Three Rivers Press, 1999); http://biography.jrank.org/pages/2969/Lewis-Oliver.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Stanley, Sara G. (1837-1918)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Born in 1837 in North Carolina, Sara G. Stanley was a member of a free, educated and economically secure family.  She attended Oberlin College and later moved to Delaware after her family immigrated there.  Following the tradition of other free black women Sara joined the local ladies antislavery society.  As a representative of her organization she delivered a strong and forceful address at the 1856 meeting of the all male Convention of Disfranchised citizens of Ohio.

Sources: 
Ellen NicKenzie Lawson and Marlene D. Merrill, “The Three Sarahs: Documents of Antebellum Black College Women” in Edwin Mellen Press Studies in Women and Religion, Vol. 13. (New York, 1984); Darlene Clark Hine, Black Women In America: An Historical Encyclopedia, Vol. 11 (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Carlson Publishing, 1993), p. 1104.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Vermont

Duterte, Henrietta S. Bowers (1817-1903)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Henrietta S. Duterte with one of her children
who died in infancy
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Henrietta Smith Bowers Duterte (pronounced Dew-tier), the first female undertaker in the nation, was born free in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was one of 13 children born to John Bowers and Henrietta Smith Bowers in July 1817. The Bowers family was originally from Baltimore, Maryland but they settled in Philadelphia around 1810.  Henrietta Bowers’ father became the sexton of the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas.  

Bowers grew up in Philadelphia’s “Seventh Ward,” a long narrow strip in center of the city that for nearly two centuries was home to the city’s most prominent African American neighborhood.  Seventh Ward was the section where scholar and activist W.E.B. DuBois lived and wrote The Philadelphia Negro, the nation's first major study of black urban life.  

Sources: 
Charles L. Blockson, The Underground Railroad: First-Person Narratives of Escapes to Freedom in the North (Prentice Hall Press, 1987); “Ephemera Online,” A visual cultural program project, The Library Company of Philadelphia, http://ephemeraonline.org/themes/duterte-2/; Linn Washington, “An Historic Run For Freedom Tales From The Underground Railroad” (Philly.com, Feb 1, 1988),  http://articles.philly.com/1988-02-01/news/26242046_1_underground-railroad-first-person-narratives-freedom; Linn Washington, “Philadelphia’s Black elite in the shadows of history 1840-1940”( Philly.com, Feb 8, 1988),   http://articles.philly.com/1988-02-08/news/26243256_1_black-elite-black-world-white-hospitals; Helen M. Greenwald, The Oxford Handbook of Opera (Oxford University Press, November 2014).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Pleasant, Mary Ellen (1814-1904)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Mary Ellen Pleasant was born on Aug. 19, 1814 in Virginia and spent her early years in Nantucket, Massachusetts.  She worked as a bond servant to the Hussey family, an abolitionist family.  She later married James Smith, a wealthy former plantation owner and an abolitionist.  Mary Ellen and James worked on the Underground Railroad.  After Smith’s death four years later, Mary Ellen continued her work as a conductor on the Underground Railroad.

Mary Ellen married John James Pleasant around 1848.  To avoid trouble with slavers for their abolitionist work, the couple moved to San Francisco, California in April 1852.  Mrs. Pleasant established several restaurants for California miners, the first named the Case and Heiser.  With the help of clerk Thomas Bell, Mrs. Pleasant amassed a fortune by 1875 through her investments and various businesses by 1875.  She also helped to establish the Bank of California.
Sources: 
Lynne Hudson, The Making of Mammy Pleasant: A Black Entrepreneur in Nineteenth Century San Francisco (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003).  
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Turner, Benjamin Sterling (1825-1894)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Benjamin Sterling Turner, a member of the United States House of Representatives from Alabama during the Reconstruction period, was born on March 17, 1825 in Weldon, North Carolina. He was raised as a slave and as a child received no formal education. In 1830 Turner moved to Selma, Alabama with his mother and slave owner. While living on the plantation he surreptitiously obtained an education and by age 20 Turner was able to read and write fluently. 

While still a slave Turner managed a hotel and stable in Selma.  Although his owner received most of the money for Turner’s work, he managed to save some of his earnings and shortly after the Civil War he used the savings he had accumulated to purchase the property.  The U.S. Census of 1870 reported Turner as owning $2,500 in real estate and $10,000 in personal property, making him one of the wealthiest freedmen in Alabama.
Sources: 
Stephen Middleton, ed., Black Congressmen During Reconstruction (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2002); http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=T000414.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Barber, J. Max (1878-1949)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Jesse Max Barber, journalist, dentist, and civil rights leader, was born on July 5, 1878 in Blackstock, South Carolina to former slave parents.  As a young man he worked as a barber while completing the teacher’s training course at Benedict College, Columbia, S.C.  His literary career began in 1903 while attending Virginia Union University in Richmond.  While there, he became student editor of the University Journal and was president of the Literary Society.

Immediately following his graduation in 1903, Barber began working as a managing editor for a new black periodical, the Voice of the Negro, founded in Atlanta in 1904.  Barber eventually became the editor-in-chief.  As it developed into a widely-read journal, the Voice became a progressive, radical forum for Barber.  By 1906 it was the leading black magazine in the United States with a circulation of 15,000.   

Barber’s association with W.E.B. Du Bois, the Niagara Movement, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) left no doubt that he was an outspoken critic of racial injustice.  He argued fervently for black civil rights and stressed the importance of chronicling historical events for future generations.  Sadly, in 1906, the Voice became a casualty of the Atlanta race riot and moved its publication to Chicago before finally going under in 1907.  For a brief period Barber was editor of a weekly newspaper, the Chicago Conservator.
Sources: 
Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates Jr., Africana: Civil Rights: An A-to-Z Reference of the Movement that Changed America (Philadelphia: Running Press, 2005); Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: Norton, 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Davis Bend, Mississippi (1865-1887)

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History

Davis Bend, Mississippi was an all-black town near Vicksburg, sometimes referred to as Davis Bend colony. It was a 4,000-acre cooperative community made up of former enslaved African Americans seeking equality, justice, and race pride in a society they called their own. In 1865, this community was one of the first black towns to develop after the Civil War. The architect of Davis Bend was African American Benjamin Montgomery. Prior to 1865, when Davis Bend was simply referred to as the “Joseph Davis plantation,” an enslaved Montgomery functioned as its overseer and owned the plantation store. After the war, Davis sold the land that his plantations rested on to Montgomery for $300,000 in gold at a 6 percent interest rate.

The largest plantation at Davis Bend was Hurricane. In 1872, Benjamin Montgomery’s son, Isaiah, ran Hurricane as its property manager, informal counsel, and diplomat to white neighbors, agents, and suppliers from Vicksburg, Cincinnati (Ohio), New Orleans (Louisiana), and St. Louis (Missouri).

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

Bennett College [Greensboro] (1873- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History

Bennett College Chapel

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Sources: 
Mark Elliot, Color Blind Justice: Albion Tourgee and the Quest for Racial Equality from the Civil War to Plessy V. Ferguson (NY: Oxford University Press, 2008); Bennett College for Women Official Website - http://www.bennett.edu; Beverly Guy-Sheftall, "Black Women and Higher Education: Spelman and Bennett Colleges Revisited," The Journal of Negro Education, 51:3 (Summer 1982), pp. 278-287.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Burns United Methodist Church (1866- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Burns United Methodist Church (UMC) in Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa, is the oldest still-operating historically African American congregation in the state of Iowa. It was originally organized in 1866 as the Black Methodist Episcopal Church of Iowa, during a decade in which there were fewer than two dozen black residents of Polk County. After the Civil War, northern Methodists attempted to organize blacks, both free from birth and newly free, into Methodist congregations. It later changed its name to commemorate Francis Burns (1809-1863), the first African American bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church.

The congregation has met at many different locations over the course of its existence. Upon its founding, it first met in the same building as the city’s segregated school for black children. In 1873, the church built a small chapel, and then relocated to a larger building on East Second and Maple Street in the 1880s. In 1903, it constructed a new church building at Twelfth and Crocker Streets.
Sources: 
Charline J. Barnes and Floyd Bumpers, Iowa’s Black Legacy (Chicago: Lincoln Publishing, 2000); Nancy Curtis, Black Heritage Sites: An African American Odyssey and Finder’s Guide (Chicago: American Library Association, 1996).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Jordan, George (1849?-1904)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
George Jordan, buffalo soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, hailed from rural Williamson County in central Tennessee.  Enlisting in the 38th Infantry Regiment on 25 December 1866, the short and illiterate Jordan proved a good soldier.  In January 1870, he transferred to the 9th Cavalry’s K Troop, his home for the next twenty-six years.  Earning the trust of his troop commander, Captain Charles Parker, Jordan was promoted to corporal in 1874; by 1879, he wore the chevrons of a sergeant.  It was during these years that Jordan learned how to read and write, an accomplishment that certainly facilitated his advancement in the Army.

On 14 May 1880, following a difficult forced march at night, a twenty-five man detachment under Jordan successfully repulsed a determined attack on old Fort Tularosa, New Mexico, by more numerous Apaches.  The next year on 12 August, still campaigning against the Apaches, Jordan’s actions contributed to the survival of a detachment under Captain Parker when they were ambushed in Carrizo Canyon, New Mexico.  Although neither engagement received much attention initially, in 1890 Jordan was awarded a Medal of Honor for Tularosa and a Certificate of Merit for Carrizo Canyon.

By the time of his retirement in 1896 at Fort Robinson, Jordan had served ten years as first sergeant of a veteran troop renowned for its performance against the Apache and Sioux.  Jordan joined other buffalo soldier veterans in nearby Crawford, Nebraska, and became a successful land owner, although his efforts to vote bore little fruit.
Sources: 
Charles L. Kenner, Buffalo Soldiers and Officers of the Ninth Cavalry, 1867-1898: Black and White TogetherBlack Valor: Buffalo Soldiers and the Medal of Honor, 1870-1898 (Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly Resources Incorporated, 1997); Frank 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).
(Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Robinson, Georgia Ann Hill (1879–1961)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Georgia Ann Hill Robinson became the first black female police officer to work for the Los Angeles (California) Police Department (LAPD)—and possibly the first in the country—in 1916. Months before 15 percent of the police force of the United States would begin enlisting to enter combat in the first World War, Robinson began her groundbreaking twelve-year career with the LAPD. Robinson’s work for the LAPD would lead her to civic work, and she would devote her life to serving the residents of Los Angeles by fighting against segregation and for women’s welfare.
Sources: 
Marilyn Corsianos, Policing and Gendered Justice: Examining the Possibilities (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009); Sergeant Jerretta Sandoz, “130 Years of Service,” (February 2016), http://lapd.com/assets/tbl_feb2016_sandoz.pdf; Cecilia Rasmussen, “Policewomen’s Battle to Serve and Protect,” Los Angeles Times, June 9, 1997, http://articles.latimes.com/1997-06-09/local/me-1608_1_police-protective-league; Find a Grave, “Georgia Ann Hill Robinson,” (March 7, 2010), http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=49397780.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Lafon, Thomy (1810-1893)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Alecia P. Long, The Great Southern Babylon: Sex, Race, and Respectability in New Orleans, 1965-1920 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2004); August Meier, Negro thought in America, 1880-1915: Racial Ideologies in the Age of Booker T. Washington (Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1988); http://odyssey-house.com; http://realtytimes.com
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Whitfield, James Monroe (1822-1871)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982); The Classroom Electric, http://www.classroomelectric.org/volume1/levine/bio.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

National Equal Rights League (1864–1921)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Fisk University Students (including W.E.B. DuBois) and Faculty
in Front of Jubilee Hall, 1887
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Toni P. Anderson, Tell Them We Are Singing for Jesus: The Original Fisk Jubilee Singers and Christian Reconstruction, 1871-1878 (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2009); Eyes on The Prize: America's Civil Rights Years 1954-1965, DVD, directed by Judith Vecchione (PBS, 2010); Fisk University Official Website -  http://www.fisk.edu
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Lambert, William (1817-1890)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Abolitionist and civil rights activist William Lambert was born in Trenton, New Jersey in 1817, the son of a manumitted father and a freeborn mother. As a young man Lambert was educated by abolitionist Quakers.

Twenty-three year old Lambert arrived in Detroit, Michigan in 1840 as a cabin boy on a steamboat, and eventually started a profitable tailoring and dry cleaning business.  Upon his death Lambert left behind an estate estimated at $100,000.  Lambert was also a founder of the St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church and served as one of its wardens.

In Detroit Lambert soon became active in the movement to secure suffrage for the black men of Michigan. He founded the Colored Vigilant Committee, Detroit’s first civil rights organization. In 1843 Lambert helped to organize the first State Convention of Colored Citizens in Michigan. He was subsequently elected chair of the convention and gave an address regarding the right to vote that was directed not only towards black people, but also to the white male citizens of the state. Lambert also worked to bring public education to the black children of Detroit.
Sources: 
Katherine DuPre Lumpkin, “The General Plan Was Freedom”: A Negro Secret Order on the Underground Railroad," Phylon, 28:1 (1st Qtr., 1967); “William Lambert," Detroit African-American History Project, Wayne.edu website; Historic Elmwood Cemetery & Foundation, http://www.elmwoodhistoriccemetery.org/biographies/william-lambert/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Riley, George Putnam (1833-1905)

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

George Putnam Riley, a native of Boston, Massachusetts, was an important figure in the Pacific Northwest during the nineteenth century. Riley’s grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War under General Israel Putnam, and his middle name probably refers to his grandfather’s commander. His father, William Riley, was a clothing dealer in Boston. His mother, Elizabeth Riley, a prominent Boston abolitionist, wanted him to attend college, but he was unable to attend due to his race. While living in Boston, Riley participated in the John Brown Mass Meetings, and he worked for the prominent lawyer—and later Civil War general—Benjamin Butler.

Sources: 
Tacoma Daily Ledger, June 22, 1889; Laurie McKay, “The Nigger Tract” 1869-1905: George Putnam Riley and the Alliance Addition of Tacoma,” Unpublished Paper, Phi Alpha Theta Regional Conference, April 2001; Esther Hall Mumford, Seattle’s Black Victorians, 1852-1901 (Seattle: Ananse Press, 1980); Salem Weekly Oregon Statesman December 31, 1869, May 6, 1870; Salem, Oregon Statesman, January 4, May 6, 1870; Portland The Oregonian, April 28, May 2, and May 18, 1870; Seattle The Seattle Republican, October 6, 1905; and the George Riley Group L.L.C. https://www.opencorpdata.com/us-wa/602490513.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
National Park Service

Franklin, Buck Colbert (1879–1960)

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

Buck Franklin was an attorney in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who is most notably known for defending the survivors of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. He was also father to the venerable civil rights advocate and historian John Hope Franklin.

Franklin was born the seventh of ten on May 6, 1879, near the town of Homer in Pickens County, Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory (currently Oklahoma). He was named Buck in honor of his grandfather who had been a slave and purchased the freedom of his family and himself. There is speculation that the true origins of the Franklins’ freedom came when Buck Franklin’s father, David Franklin, escaped from his plantation and changed his name early in the Civil War.

Sources: 
Buck Colbert Franklin, John Hope Franklin, and John Whittington Franklin, My Life and an Era: The Autobiography of Buck Colbert Franklin (Baton Rouge, Louisiana: LSU Press, 2000); Scott Ellsworth, Death in a Promised Land: The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 (Baton Rouge, Louisiana: LSU Press, 1992).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Delany, Martin Robison (1812-1885)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Martin Robison Delany was an African American abolitionist, the first African American Field Officer in the U.S Army, and one of the earliest African Americans to encourage a return to Africa.
Sources: 
Victor Ullman, Martin R. Delany: The Beginnings of Black Nationalism (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971); Jim Haskins, Black Stars: African American Military Heroes (John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York, NewYork, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Barbadoes, James G. (1796-1841)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
James G. Barbadoes, abolitionist and colonizationist, was born in 1796. Barbadoes is thought to have come from the Island of Barbados, West Indies. He resided in Boston, Massachusetts for most of his life.  Around 1806, Barbadoes married Rebecca (maiden name unknown) and the couple had a son, who died in infancy, named after William Lloyd Garrison. However their second son, Fredrick G. Barbadoes, survived and became an abolitionist later in his life.
Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982); Roy E. Finkenbine, "Barbadoes, James G."; http://www.anb.org/articles/15/15-00036.html; American National Biography Online Feb. 2000. Access Date: Mon May 12, 2008.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Benedict College []South Carolina] (1870- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Benedict College Webpage,  http://www.benedict.edu/index.html  ;  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 and Michael Fultz, Encyclopedia of African-American Education (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996);  Arthur J. Klein (Ed.), Survey of Negro Colleges and Universities (New York: Negro Universities Press, 1969).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

The Baptist War (1831-1832)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Destruction of the Roehampton Estate, January 1832
Image Ownership: Public domain

The Baptist War, also known as the Christmas Rebellion, was an eleven-day rebellion that mobilized as many as sixty thousand of Jamaica’s three hundred thousand slaves in 1831–1832. It was considered the largest slave rebellion in the British Caribbean. The name Christmas Rebellion came from the fact that the uprising began shortly after December 25. It was also called the Baptist War because many of the rebels were Baptist in faith.

Sources: 
“The Baptist War,” National Library of Jamaica, http://nlj.gov.jm/; Michael Craton, The Economics of Emancipation: Jamaica and Barbados, 1823–1843 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995); “The Baptist War,” Caribya Jamaica British West Indies, http://caribya.com/jamaica/history/slavery.emancipation/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Scott, Harriet Robinson (ca. 1820-1876)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership, Public Domain
Harriet Robinson Scott was an enslaved person who is best remembered for being the second wife of Dred Scott.  Harriet was born a slave on a Virginia plantation around 1820.  From a young age she was a servant to Lawrence Taliaferro, a US Indian Agent.  In 1834 Taliaferro left his home in Pennsylvania for a post as agent to the Sioux Nation at St. Peter’s Agency in the Wisconsin Territory.  He took Harriet with him to his new post.
Sources: 
Lea VanderVelde, Mrs. Dred Scott (New York, New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2009); "Famous Dred Scott Case," The New York Times, December 22, 1895; http://shs.umsystem.edu/historicmissourians/name/s/scotth/index.html; Paul Finkelman, Dred Scott v. Sandford: A Brief History with Documents (New York: Bedford/ St. Martin's, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Newburg, New York Race Riot (1899)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Newburg, New York, 1910
Image Ownership, Public Domain

The 1899 Newburg, New York Race Riot was the culmination of months of racial tension between non-black and black brickyard workers after brickyard owners began hiring black workers to fill labor shortages.  Previously, local brickyards had hired Irish workers, then Hungarian, Italian, and Arab workers with only two brickyards in the city hiring black workers exclusively.

According to the local papers, although there was some racial tension before the riot, generally the various workers including a few black laborers, got along.  But demand for brick was high in 1899 and brickyard owners were anxious to profit from high prices and so they sent agents to the South to recruit more black workers.  As the number of Black workers increased and began working side by side other non-black workers, strikes and incidents of racial violence increased throughout the brickyards in the region.

Sources: 
The [New York] Sun, July, 29, 1899, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030272/1899-07-29/ed-1/seq-9/; The [New York] Sun, June 18, June 1899, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030272/1899-06-18/ed-1/seq-10/; Herbert Shapiro, White Violence and Black Response, (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1988).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Southern New Hampshire University

First African Methodist Episcopal Church, Los Angeles, California, (1872- )

Vignette Type: 
Churches
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The First African Methodist Episcopal (FAME) Church is today the oldest and one of the largest African American congregations in Los Angeles, California. It was founded in 1872 by Bridget (Biddy) Mason who arrived as a slave in Los Angeles with her owner in 1856. However, since California was a free state, Mason with the help of local black and white abolitionists, successfully sued in court to win her freedom.   

In 1872, Mason organized the first FAME meeting in her own home, which twelve other people attended.  The congregation remained very small and their meetings were held alternatively in the members’ homes.  During the 1880s, as migration of both blacks and whites to Los Angeles increased, FAME Church became more popular, particularly among the middle class blacks.  The first permanent church building was established in 1903 on Eighth and Tome in the African American business district.  The gothic-style church became a community landmark.
Sources: 
Darnell Hunt and Ana-Christina Ramón, eds., Black Los Angeles: American Dreams and Racial Realities (New York: New York Press, 2010); Douglas Flamming, Bound For Freedom: Black Los Angeles in the Jim Crow Era (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005); George Barna and Henry R. Jackson Jr., High Impact African American Churches: Leadership Concepts from Today’s Most Effective Churches (Ventura: Regal Books, 1989); Brent Alan Wood, First African Methodist Episcopal Church and Its Social Intervention in South Central Los Angeles (Los Angeles: University of Southern California Press, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Lynch, James D. (1838-1872)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

James D. Lynch, a Reconstruction era politician, is best known for his position as Secretary of the State of Mississippi from 1869 to 1872. Lynch was the first African American to hold a major political office in that state. Born in 1838 in Baltimore, Maryland, his father was white merchant and minister and his mother was a slave.

Lynch received an early education at an elementary school taught by the Reverend Daniel Payne of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church, and was then send to Meriden, New Hampshire to attend the Kimball Union Academy. After studying for only two years he moved to Indianapolis and began preaching at a small church in the town of Galena, Indiana.

After the Civil War, Lynch joined other religious missionaries in South Carolina. As an official of the Methodist Episcopal Church, North, he helped establish churches and schools for African American adults and children between 1865 and 1866.  

Lynch eventually turned to politics believing that the freedmen’s political rights equally important as the development of their religious faith. In 1867 he was elected the Vice President of the first Republican State Party Convention in Mississippi. By 1869 he had become the most prominent African American politician in Mississippi and, after his nomination by the Republican Party and an exhaustive campaign; Lynch was elected Secretary of State.

Sources: 
George Alexander Sewell, Mississippi Black History Makers (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1977); http://library.msstate.edu/content/templates/?a=137&z=129 ; http://www.galenahistorymuseum.org/lynch.htm .
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Ibadan, Nigeria (1829- )

Entry Type: 
Places
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Ibadan, located in Western Nigeria, is the country’s second largest city and capital of the Oyo state. A 2006 Nigerian Census shows the population of Ibadan at 1,138,639 citizens. Home to the University of Ibadan, it is a leader in the nation’s institutions of education, health, and economics. The dominant religions are Christianity and Islam.

Although literature suggests the initial creation of the city as circumstantial, the growth and transition of Ibadan into one of the dominant cities in West Africa confirms its relevance and impact. The history of Ibadan had long been preserved through oral history but written records place its official founding in 1829. After the collapse of the Yoruba Empire towards the end of the 18th century, the area which is now Ibadan had been populated by Yoruba rebels. Located between the forests and the plains and surrounded by seven hills, it functioned as a sanctuary for the fighters that fled. Ibadan served that purpose again in the early 19th century when the intertribal conflict that led the Ife, Ijebu, and Oyo ethnic groups to flee the Fulani who were expanding into the region from the northwest. 

Sources: 
Bolanle Awe, "Militarism and Economic Development in Nineteenth Century Yoruba Country: The Ibadan Example," The Journal of African History, Vol. 14, No. 1 (1973); Fourchard Laurent, "The Case of Ibadan, Nigeria," in Understanding Slums: Case Studies for the Global Report on Human Settlements http://www.ucl.ac.uk/dpu-projects/Global_Report/pdfs/Ibadan.pdf; Nigerian Medical Association. The Federal Republic of Nigeria, National Bureau of Statistics http://www.nigerianstat.gov.ng/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Copeland, John Anthony, Jr. (1836-1859)

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

John Anthony Copeland was a mulatto, born free in Raleigh, North Carolina on August 15, 1834 to John Anthony Copeland, a slave, and Delilah Evans, a free woman.  Copeland spent much of his early life in Ohio and attended Oberlin College.  While residing in Oberlin, Ohio, Copeland became an advocate for black rights and an abolitionist.  In 1858 he participated in assisting John Price, a runaway slave seeking his freedom.  This act became famous as the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue, where abolitionists boldly aided slaves in violation of the federal Fugitive Slave Law.  

Sources: 

Timothy Patrick McCarthy and John Stauffer  Prophets of Protest: Reconsidering the History of American Abolitionism (New York: The New Press, 2006;  Herb Boyd, Autobiography of a People: Three Centuries of African American History Told by Those Who Lived It (New York: Doubleday, 2000); Peggy A. Russo, and Paul Finkelman, Terrible Swift Sword: The Legacy of John Brown (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2005); http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/index.php?q=node/5478.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Memphis Riot, 1866

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

In the late afternoon of May 1, 1866, long broiling tensions between the residents of southern Memphis, Tennessee erupted into a three day riot known as the Memphis Riot of 1866.  The riot began when a white police officer attempted to arrest a black ex-soldier and an estimated fifty blacks showed up to stop the police from jailing him.  Accounts vary as to who began the shooting, but the altercation that ensued quickly involved more and more of the city.  The victims initially were only black soldiers, but the violence quickly spread to other blacks living just south of Memphis who were attacked while their homes, schools, and churches were destroyed.  White Northerners who worked as missionaries and school teachers in black schools were also targeted.

Sources: 
“Report of the Committee of Investigation on the Memphis Riots,” New York Times, July 16, 1866; Memphis Riots and Massacres, 39th Congress, 1st session, 1865-6; Altina L. Waller, “Community, Class and Race in the Memphis Riot of 1866,” Journal of Social History 18:2 (Winter 1984); Kevin Hardwick , “‘Your Old Father Abe Lincoln is Damned and Dead’: Black Soldiers and the Memphis Race Riot of 1866,” Journal of Social History 27:1 (Autumn 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Beaty, Powhatan (1837–1916)

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

Powhatan Beaty was an American soldier and actor. He served in the Union Army’s 5th United States Colored Infantry Regiment throughout the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign during the American Civil War. He received the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration given by the United States, when he took command of his company at the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm after all the officers were killed or wounded during the battle. After the war, Beaty became an actor appearing in amateur theater productions.

Powhatan Beaty was born into slavery on October 8, 1837, in Richmond, Virginia, and would gain his freedom sometime around 1849 when he relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio. While attending school there, he gained an interest in theater and appeared in school concerts. After leaving school, Beaty was an apprenticed to a black cabinetmaker but continued to study acting and received training from several coaches, including James E. Murdock, a retired professional stage actor from Philadelphia.

Beaty enlisted in the Union Army in Cincinnati for a three-year term on June 7, 1863, at the age of twenty-five. He joined as a private but was promoted to sergeant shortly after, placed in charge of forty-seven other recruits, and ordered to report to Columbus, Ohio. From there, they were scheduled to be sent to Boston to join the newly created 54th or 55th Massachusetts Infantry Regiments, the only officially recognized black regiments in the United States at the time.  

Sources: 
“Powhatan Beaty,” American Civil War, http://americancivilwar.com/colored/powhatan_beaty.html; Melvin Claxton and Mark Puls, Uncommon Valor: A Story of Race, Patriotism, and Glory in the Final Battles of the Civil War (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2006); Charles W. Hanna, African American Recipients of the Medal of Honor: A Biographical Dictionary, Civil War through Vietnam War (Jefferson, North Carolina; McFarland & Company, 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

African Company / African Grove Theatre

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

The African Company was the first known black theatre troupe. In 1816, William Henry Brown (1815-1884), a retired West Indian steamship steward, acquired a house on Thomas Street in lower Manhattan, New York. He offered a variety of instrumental and vocal entertainments on Sunday afternoons in his tea garden, attracting a sizeable audience from the five boroughs of New York City.

In 1821, Brown moved to Mercer and Bleeker Street into a two-story house with a spacious tea garden. He converted the second floor into a 300-seat theatre and renamed the enterprise The African Grove Theatre. Opening the season with a performance of Richard III (21 September 1821), the company mounted productions ranging from Shakespeare, to pantomime, to farce. Brown followed with Tom and Jerry; or, Life in London; The Poor Soldier; Othello; Don Juan; and Obi, or, Three-Finger’d Jack.

Sources: 
Errol Hill, Shakespeare in Sable: A History of Black Shakespearean Actors (Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1984); Anthony Duane Hill, ed., An Historical Dictionary of African American Theater (Prevessin, France: Scarecrow Press, 2008).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Ohio State University

Owens, Charles (?-1882)

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

A successful business owner and real estate investor, Charles Owens became one of the most prominent African Americans in Los Angeles by the end of the nineteenth century. Born into slavery in Texas, Charles’s father, Robert Owens, purchased his family’s freedom and migrated to Los Angeles, California in 1850.

Sources: 
Beasley, Delilah, The Negro Trail-Blazers of California. Los Angeles: Times Mirror Print and Binding House, 1919; Taylor, Quintard. In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West, 1528-1990. New York: W.W. Norton, 1998; Flamming Douglas. Bound For Freedom: Black Los Angeles in Jim Crow America. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005; “Biddy Mason.” In African American Women: A Biographical Dictionary, edited by Dorothy C. Salem. New York: Garland Publishing, 1993.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Hamilton, John Henry “Doc” (1891-1942)

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

Doc Hamilton, born John Henry Hamilton in 1891, was a famous Seattle, Washington prohibition-era club owner. Originally from West Point, Mississippi, he moved to Seattle at the age of 23. Hamilton served in World War I in the famous 92nd infantry division (also known as the “buffalo” division) in France. Upon returning from the war he opened his first speakeasy in his own home on 1017½ E. Union Street. Speakeasies were nightclubs that illegally sold and served alcohol which had been outlawed by the Prohibition Act of 1920. Seattle police discovered his club and shut it down in 1924. This was the first of his many illegal clubs and encounters with the Seattle Police Department and other local law enforcement officials.

Sources: 
Paul de Barros, Jackson Street After Hours: The Roots of Jazz in Seattle (Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 1993); Sharon Boswell and Lorraine McConaghy,Dried Out, but Still Thirsty,” Seattle Times, April 14, 1996, http://old.seattletimes.com/special/centennial/april/thirsty.html; http://www.historylink.org/File/3471.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Kenyatta, Jomo (c. 1894-1978)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Jomo Kenyatta and Thurgood Marshall

Elected in 1963 and named president in 1964, Jomo Kenyatta was the first president of Kenya and is still today often referred to as mzee (the Father of the Nation).

Kenyatta was born under the name Kamau to Kikuyu parents in the town of Gatundu, Kiambu district around 1894 (the exact date of his birth is unknown). His parents died while he was young, and he then moved to Muthiga to live with his grandfather where he enrolled in the Church of Scotland’s Thogoto mission school, converted to Christianity, and was baptized as Johnstone.

Kenyatta left Thogoto in 1922 and became a clerk and water-meter reader with the Municipal Court of Nairobi. He became involved with the Kikuyu Central Association (KCA) in 1925 and resigned from his government post that same year. In 1928 Kenyatta became secretary general of the KCA and editor of its vernacular Kikuyu newspaper, Muiguithania (The Reconciler).

Sources: 

Keith Kyle, The Politics of the Independence of Kenya (Houndmills: MacMillan Press Ltd., 1999); Godrey Muriuki, “Kenya: Kenyatta, Jomo: Life and Government of,” in Encyclopedia of African History, ed. Kevin Shillington (New York: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2005).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Morris, Robert, Sr. (1823–1882)

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

Robert Morris became one of the first black lawyers in United States after being admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1847. Morris was born in Salem, Massachusetts on June 8, 1823.   At an early age, Morris had some formal education at Master Dodge’s School in Salem.  With the agreement of his family, he became the student of Ellis Gray Loring, a well known abolitionist and lawyer.

Shortly after starting his practice in Boston, Morris became the first black lawyer to file a lawsuit on behalf of a client in the history of the nation.  A jury ruled in favor of Morris’s client, though the details of the trial are unknown.  Morris, however, recorded his feelings and observations about his first jury trial:

"There was something in the courtroom that made me feel like a giant.  The courtroom was filled with colored people, and I could see, expressed on the faces of every one of them, a wish that I might win the first case that had ever been tried before a jury by a colored attorney in this county…"

Sources: 

Clay J. Smith, Jr., Emancipation: Making of the Black Lawyer 1844 -1944 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995); Rayford W. Logan and Michael Winston, Dictionary of American Negro Biography; (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1982).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Black Genealogy Research Group

Paul Laurence Dunbar High School (1870- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Paul Laurence Dunbar High School was established in 1870 as the Preparatory High School for Colored Youth with 45 students and one teacher, Emma J. Hutchins, to provide secondary education for the city’s African American children after efforts to integrate schools in Washington, D.C. failed. Within the first few years, the school expanded and added African American faculty, most of whom were former students at the school. Among the first several principals of the school were Mary Jane Patterson, the second African American female college graduate, Anna J. Cooper, the fourth African American woman to earn a Ph.D., and Richard T. Greener, the first African American graduate of Harvard in Massachusetts. The school had numerous locations until it moved to a permanent site at M Street in 1891.  At that time the name was changed to the M Street High School, and in 1916 it moved again and was renamed the Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in honor of the African American poet. This site and name remain with the school until the present day.
Sources: 
Mary Gibson, The Dunbar Story (1870-1955) (New York: Vantage Press, 1965); “Dunbar High School,” District of Columbia Public Schools profile, http://profiles.dcps.dc.gov/dunbar.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Smith, Stephen (1795-1873)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Stephen Smith was born into slavery in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. At 21 he purchased his freedom for $50 and soon afterwards began to ally with the abolitionist cause that he would support through most of his adult life.   In 1830 Smith became the chairman of the African American abolitionist organization in Columbia, Pennsylvania while developing a successful lumber business.  The Columbia Spy reported that in 1835 his success “…excited the envy or hatred of those not so prosperous and of the ruling race.”  In that year unknown persons vandalized his office and destroyed his papers, records and books.  Shortly after this incident, Smith moved to Philadelphia where he again entered the lumber business and after a few years regained his prosperity.

Sources: 
S. Webb, History of Pennsylvania Hall Which Was Destroyed by a Mob, on the 17th of May, 1838 (Philadelphia: Merrihew and Gunn, Printers, 1838).  Ira V. Brown, “Racism and Sexism: The Case of Pennsylvania Hall,” Phylon, 37:2 (2nd Qtr., 1976), 126-136; The Columbia Spy, Sept. 9, 1830, Dec. 12, 1868 and Jan. 29, 1870.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of California, Santa Barbara

Gloucester, Elizabeth A. Parkhill (1817-1883)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Elizabeth A. Parkhill Gloucester, the wife of the Rev. Dr. James Gloucester, was an abolitionist, a supporter of the Underground Railroad, business owner, and considered one of the wealthiest women of her race at the time of her death in 1883. 

Born in Virginia to a free woman, Elizabeth Parkhill moved to Philadelphia at the age of six after her mother's death. Before her death, Elizabeth’s mother had arranged for her to live in the home of Rev. John Gloucester, founder of the first black Presbyterian Church in the United States.  She was raised along with his ten children as part of the family.

By the time she was 21, Elizabeth worked as a domestic for John Cook, a prominent Philadelphia Quaker. A few years later she became reacquainted with one of the children she grew up with, James Gloucester, and after a short courtship, the two were married in 1838. James worked in Philadelphia as a teacher and Elizabeth had taken some of her savings and opened a second hand clothing shop. James, also an ordained Presbyterian minister, was offered the opportunity to start a new church and the couple relocated to New York City, New York in 1840. Together they had six children; Emma, Stephen, Elizabeth, Eloise, Charles, and Adelaide.
Sources: 
Montrose Morris, “Walkabout: The Gloucester Family of Brooklyn, Part 1” (Brownstowner.com, October 9, 2012), http://www.brownstoner.com/blog/2012/10/walkabout-the-gloucester-family-of-brooklyn-part-1/; In pursuit of freedom, Abolitionist biographies, http://pursuitoffreedom.org/abolitionist-biographies/; Chuck Taylor, “Heights History: Gloucester’s Remsen House @ Remsen & Clinton Streets” (October 10, 2012), http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/49051; Edward Rothstein, “When Slavery and Its Foes Thrived in Brooklyn ‘Brooklyn Abolitionists’ Reveals a Surprising History” (Jan 16, 2014), http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/17/arts/design/brooklyn-abolitionists-reveals-a-surprising-history.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Fagen, David (1875- ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
David Fagen was the most celebrated of the handful of African American soldiers who defected to the Filipino revolutionary army led by Emilio Aguinaldo during the Filipino American War of 1899-1902.  Fagen was born in Tampa, Florida around 1875. Details of his life remain sketchy. His father was a merchant and a widower. For a time he worked as a laborer for Hull’s Phosphate Company.

On June 4, 1898 at the age of 23, Fagen enlisted in the 24th Infantry, one of the four black regiments of that time that was coincidentally based in Tampa. Fagen would see combat a year later as he shipped off from San Francisco, California to Manila on June 1899. By then, the Filipino American war had been raging for four months, as Filipino patriots sought to defend their newly established Republic which they had won in a revolution against Spain. Fagen was soon in combat against Filipino guerillas in Central Luzon. Reports indicate that he had constant arguments with his commanding officers and requested to be transferred at least three times which contributed to his growing resentment of the Army.
Sources: 
Michael C. Robinson and Frank N. Schubert, “David Fagen: an Afro-American Rebel in the Philippines, 1899-1901,” The Pacific-Historical Review, vol. 44, No. 1, (Feb. 1975), pp.68-83.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Hyman, John Adams (1840-1891)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John Adams Hyman was born into slavery on July 23, 1840 in Warren County, North Carolina. Hyman's thirst for knowledge resulted in him being sold away from his family for attempting to read a spelling book that was given to him by a sympathetic white jeweler. He continued to seek knowledge at his new residence in Alabama and was sold again for fear that he would influence other slaves. Hyman was sold eight more times for his attempts to educate himself.  

At the age of 25 Hyman was freed by the Thirteenth Amendment and returned to his family in North Carolina. He quickly enrolled in school where he received an elementary education. Hyman also became a landowner and merchant.  Hyman, a Mason, soon emerged as a leader of the post-Civil War North Carolina black community.  
Sources: 
Stephen Middleton, ed. Black Congressmen During Reconstruction (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2002); George W. Reid, “Four in Black: North Carolina’s Black Congressmen, 1874-1901” Journal of Negro History 64 (Summer 1979): 229-43; http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=H001025.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Fowler, John W. “Bud” (1858-1913)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born John W. Jackson, in Fort Plain, New York, on March 16, 1858, Fowler spent much of his boyhood in Cooperstown, N.Y. where organized baseball maintains its Hall of Fame and museum. Coincidentally Fowler is argued to be one of the first professional black baseball players, when in 1872 he joined a white team in New Castle, Pennsylvania for a salary.  For the next two and a half decades, Fowler played across the country where black players were allowed to play, from Massachusetts to Colorado and briefly in Canada. He played in crossroad farm towns and in mining camps, in pioneer Western settlements and in larger Eastern cities.  Like many ball players of his day, Fowler could play most any position, but it was as a second baseman and pitcher where he excelled at best.  His habit of calling teammates and other players “Bud” led to his nickname.

Organized baseball was just being structured during the turn of the century and Fowler was one of sixty black players who played in white leagues across the country. In the early days of baseball there was no official color line, and he played in organized baseball with white ball clubs until the color line became entrenched around 1900. Until 1895 Fowler he was usually the only black player on an all-white team.
Sources: 
Ralph J. Christian, “Bud Fowler: The First African American Professional Baseball Payer and the 1885 Keokuks,” Iowa Heritage Illustrated 87:1 (2006); Robert Peterson, Only the Ball Was White (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970); Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Fort Pillow Massacre (1864)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History

 

Illustration from Kurz & Allison
Image Courtesy of Library of Congress
Prints and Photographs Division

On April 12, 1864, some 3,000 rebels under the command of Nathan Bedford Forrest overran Fort Pillow, a former Confederate stronghold situated on a bluff on the Tennessee bank of the Mississippi, some 40 miles north of Memphis. The garrison consisted of about 600 Union soldiers, roughly evenly divided between runaway slaves-turned-artillerists from nearby Tennessee communities and white Southern Unionist cavalry mostly from East Tennessee. Under a flag of truce which his men violated by creeping up on the fort, Forrest demanded the garrison’s surrender, threatening that if it refused he would not be responsible for the actions of his men. Believing Forrest was bluffing, Bradford refused, whereupon the Confederates swarmed over the parapet.

Sources: 
Andrew Ward, River Run Red: The Fort Pillow Massacre in the American Civil War (New York: Viking Press, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Langston, Oklahoma (1890- )

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

Aerial Photo of Langston City and Langston University

Sources: 
Jimmie Lewis Franklin, Journey Toward Hope (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1982); Kenneth Marvin Hamilton, Black Towns and Profit: Promotion and Development in the Trans-Appalachian West, 1877-1915 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991); Kenneth Marvin Hamilton, "The Origins and Early Developments of Langston, Oklahoma," The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 62, No. 3 (Jul., 1977): 270-282; "Langston town, Oklahoma," U.S. Census Bureau, <http://factfinder.census.gov/> accessed 31 January 2010; Martin Dann, "From Sodom to the Promised Land: E. P. McCabe and the Movement for Oklahoma Colonization," Kansas Historical Quarterly, Vol. XL No. 3 (Autumn 1974): 370-378; Norman Crockett, The Black Towns (Lawrence: The Regent Press of Kansas, 1979).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Oregon

Lyles Station, Indiana (c. 1840- )

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Lyles Station, Indiana, is a community of African Americans located about five miles west of Princeton, Indiana, in Gibson County. It flourished from about 1880 to 1913, when it boasted an independent, self-sustaining community of about 800 black residents.

The roots of Lyles Station began around the 1840s when two free African Americans from Tennessee, Joshua Lyles and his brother Sanford Lyles, purchased land near the Wabash, White, and Patoka Rivers in southwestern Indiana with help from local Quakers. They and their families improved and farmed the land, so that by the Civil War their holdings consisted of hundreds of acres. Other newly relocated blacks joined them. According to tradition, Lyles aided fugitive slaves coming north from Tennessee during the antebellum period, offering them a safe haven to either settle in or to rest until they continued on to other locations on the Underground Railroad. The community was then known as the Switch Settlement.
Sources: 
Jacqueline Y. Cortez, Contributions in Black and Red: Local History of Negro Settlement in Southwestern Indiana and Illinois (Vincennes, IN: Vincennes University Press, 1976); Carl Chester Lyles, Lyles Station, Indiana: Yesterday and Today (Evansville: University of Southern Indiana Press, 1984).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Washington, George (1817-1905)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
George Washington was a prominent pioneer in the state named, like he was, for America's first president.  He founded Centralia in southwest Washington and was a leading citizen and benefactor of the town.  Washington's father was a slave, his mother of English descent.  When his father was sold soon after his birth in Virginia, his mother left him with a white couple named Anna and James Cochrane (or Cochran), who raised him in Ohio and Missouri.  At the age of 33, Washington joined a wagon train and headed west with the Cochranes, seeking to escape discriminatory laws.

In 1852 he staked a claim on the Chehalis River in what was then Oregon Territory. Because Oregon law prohibited settlement by African Americans, Washington had the Cochranes file the claim. After Washington Territory was created, they deeded the property to him.

When he was in his fifties, Washington married widow Mary Jane Cooness (or Cornie).  In January 1875, the Washingtons platted a town, which they called Centerville, on their property.  The name was changed to Centralia in 1883.  The Washingtons provided land for a Baptist church, cemetery, and public square (now George Washington Park).
Sources: 
HistoryLink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "George and Mary Jane Washington found the town of Centerville (now Centralia) on January 8, 1875" (by Kit Oldham), http://www.historylink.org/essays/output.cfm?file_id=5276   "History of Centralia," Centralia, Washington website, http://www.centralia.com/PageDetails.asp?ID=25&Title=Historic%20Centralia#founder
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Staff Historian, HistoryLink.org

Lewis, Q. Walker (1798–1856)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Salt Lake City in 1850
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Quack Walker Lewis, black abolitionist, barber, AND elder (priest) in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was born in Barre, Worcester County, Massachusetts, on August 3, 1798. His father, Peter P. Lewis, was a free black yeoman farmer in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and his mother, Minor Walker Lewis, was born a slave in Worcester County. Peter and Minor had a total of eleven children, all of whom were born free and part of the black middle class in Massachusetts.
Sources: 
Connell O’Donovan, “The Mormon Priesthood Ban and Elder Q. Walker Lewis: An Example for His More Whiter Brethren to Follow,” The John Whitmer Historical Association Journal, vol. 26 (2006), 48-100; Newell G. Bringhurst, “The ‘Missouri Thesis’ Revisited: Early Mormonism, Slavery, and the Status of Black People,” in Black and Mormon, eds. Newell G. Bringhurst and Darron T. Smith (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Healy, Patrick (1834-1910)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Patrick Healy was one of the successful Healy siblings of the early 19th century who openly acknowledged being of part African or black ancestry. Known as the first American of acknowledged African descent to earn a doctorate, Patrick Healy was also the first African American to become a Jesuit priest and the first to become president of a major university in the United States.

Patrick Healy was born on February 2, 1834 in Macon, Georgia to an Irish American father and a mother who was a mulatto domestic slave. These loving parents wanted their children to receive a good education, which they could not receive in their home state due to laws restricting illegitimate children and slaves by birth from attending school. They were sent north to a Quaker school to be educated.

Patrick Healy and his two brothers, James and Sherwood, eventually enrolled at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. Here the brothers would follow their Catholic faith and later join the priesthood.
Sources: 
Albert S. Foley, Bishop Healy: Beloved Outcaste: The Story of a Great Priest Whose Life has Become a Legend (New York: Strauss and Young, 1954); God’s Men of Color: The Colored Catholic Priests of the United States, 1854-1954 (New York: Strauss and Young, 1955); http://www.library.georgetown.edu/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Turner, Jack (circa 1840-1882)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Jack Turner, political activist and martyr, was born a slave in Choctaw County, Alabama around 1840. Choctaw County was situated in Alabama’s “Black Belt,” a large swath of cotton growing land in the central part of the state historically known for its dark, mineral-rich soil, and large population of black slaves to cultivate it. Turner worked part of this land as a slave until the end of the Civil War. Although he received no formal education, he independently learned to read and to write.
Sources: 
William Warren Rogers and Robert David Ward, August Reckoning, Jack Turner and Racism in Post-Civil War Alabama (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1973); Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982); William Warren Rogers and Robert David Ward, “ ‘Jack Turnerism:’ A Political Phenomenon of the Deep South,” The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 57, No. 4 (Oct., 1972), pp. 313-332.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

University of Maryland, Eastern Shore (1886- )

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

The University of Maryland, Eastern Shore is a historically black land grant institution located in Princess Anne, Maryland.  The school was initiated under the auspices of the Delaware Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church and began as a branch campus for Morgan College (Morgan State University) in 1886.  The school initially served as a feeder school for the Centenary Biblical Institute that served African American students from the

Sources: 
University of Maryland Eastern Shore History, http://www.umes.edu/About/Default.aspx?id=239 (Official site); George H. Callcott, A History of the University of Maryland (Baltimore: Garamond/Pridemark Press, 1966); Wanda E. Gill, The History of Maryland's Historically Black Colleges (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, 1992).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Ellis, William Henry (1864-1923)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public domain

William Henry Ellis, an African American businessman who challenged racial constructs in the United States by “passing” as Hispanic, was born a slave to Charles and Margaret Ellis on June 15, 1864. His parents had been brought by Joseph Weisiger from Kentucky to Texas in 1853. In 1870 the Ellis parents had gained their freedom and relocated to Victoria, Texas, where they established a home for themselves and their seven children.

In his youth, William Henry Ellis attended school in Victoria with his sister, Fannie, while his other siblings held full-time jobs as laborers or servants. Sometime during his teenage years, Ellis learned to speak fluent Spanish.

Sources: 
Karl Jacoby, The Strange Career of William Ellis: The Texas Slave Who Became a Mexican Millionaire (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2016); Texas State Historical Association website, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fel32.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Abyssinian Baptist Church, New York City (1808- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Abyssinian Baptist Church, ca. 1930
Image Courtesy of CORBIS
Abyssinian Baptist church, currently located in Harlem, New York, was founded in 1808 when a group of black parishioners left First Baptist Church of New York due to the imposition of racially-segregated seating.  Reverend Thomas Paul, an African American minister from Boston, Massachusetts, assisted the group consisting of African Americans and Ethiopian immigrants in establishing a church.  The group named the new church Abyssinian after Abyssinia, the ancient name of Ethiopia.
Sources: 
Adam Clayton Powell, III, History, Art and Archives (United States House of Representatives), http://history.house.gov/People/Detail/19872; Abyssinian Baptist Church, http://abyssinian.org/about-us/history/; Powerful Harlem Church is Also a Powerful Harlem Developer, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/18/nyregion/18abyssinian.html?_r=2&scp=1&sq=Abyssinian%20Development%20Corporation&st=cse; Will Haygood, King of the Cats: The Life and Times of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

Edwards, James (1871-1951)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
James Edwards, ca. 1930
Image Courtesy of James Guenther

James Edwards was one of the most successful African American homesteaders in the state of Wyoming.  Born in Ohio on February 14, 1871, local tradition in Wyoming suggests that prior to venturing west, Edwards had served in an African American cavalry unit in Cuba, though no documentation has been found to substantiate the claim.

In 1900, Edwards accompanied his father and a group of Italian miners westward in response to eastern newspaper advertisements of work at the Cambria coal mine in Newcastle, Wyoming.  After being driven away from the mine, Edwards walked south to the area near Lusk, finding work on March 31, 1903 on Eugene Bigelow Wilson and George Luther Wilson's Running Water Ranch on the Niobrara River in present day Niobrara County, Wyoming.   He was regarded by the owners of the ranch as a good and trustworthy worker, sheepman, and horse trainer.  Edwards worked on the Wilson Brothers’ ranch until December of 1914.  By the end of his employment on the ranch he had been promoted to foreman, putting him in a supervisory role over white employees.

Sources: 
Todd Guenther, "'Y'all Call Me Nigger Jim Now, But Someday You'll Call Me Mr. James Edwards': Black Success on the Plains of the Equality State," Annals of Wyoming 61:2 (Fall 1989); Anne Wilson Whitehead, “Letters to the Editor,” Annals of Wyoming 62:2 (Summer 1990).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Wyoming

Hart, Frank “Black Dan” (1858-1908)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Frank Hart with O'Leary Championship Belt, 1881
Image Ownership: Public Domain
In the late 1870’s and early 1880’s, the sport of “six day, go as you please” endurance racing gripped the United States and Great Britain.  The participants in these events were called pedestrians, and they were free to run or walk around an indoor track for as long as they could stay on their feet.  The top pedestrians survived on less than four hours of sleep a day and slept on cots inside the track’s oval.  Fans followed these six day contests of endurance with all the fervor of today’s NFL fans.  They also placed bets on prospective winners.

On April 10, 1880, an African American pedestrian, Frank Hart stood atop this international craze for six day racing.  His given name was Fred Hichborn but he changed it to Frank Hart when he turned professional.  Hart had just won the prestigious O’Leary Belt competition and smashed the world record, after covering 565 miles in six days of racing.  He earned about $17,000 in prize money, which was a small fortune in 1880.  As the race ended, he waved an American flag to thousands of cheering fans who packed Madison Square Garden.   Another African American, William Pegram of Boston finished second with 540 miles. Hart also competed in one of the international Astley Belt competitions, and set an American record when he won the Rose Belt in Madison Square Garden in December 1879.
Sources: 
Kastner, Charles B., Bunion Derby:  The First Footrace Across America (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2007); Marshall, P. S., King of the Peds (Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse, 2008); Sears, Edward S., Running Through The Ages (Jefferson, North Carolina:  McFarland and Company, Inc., 2001); “Sporting Comment:  Passing of Frank Hart, Greatest Colored Pedestrian,” The Auburn Citizen, 9 February 1909.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Kinshasa, Congo (1881-- )

Entry Type: 
Places
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Kinshasa is the capital and largest city in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is the third largest city in Africa after Cairo and Lagos and the second largest French-speaking city in the world other than Paris, France. Formerly known as Leopoldville, it was founded and named by Henry Morton Stanley in 1881 in honor of King Leopold II of Belgium who controlled the vast territory known as the Congo Free State. Kinshasa is located on the southern bank of the Congo River.  With Brazzaville on the North bank of the Congo River, Kinshasa is the only capital city that faces another national capital. The combined population of the two capitals is approximately twelve million, with 10,076,099 in Kinshasa and suburbs in 2009 and an estimated 1.2 million inhabitants in its northern neighbor in 2007.

Sources: 
Theodore Trefon, Reinventing Order in the Congo: How People Respond to State Failure in Kinshasa (London: Zed Books, 2004); Elizabeth Heath  "Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo," Encyclopedia of Africa, editors, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (New York: Oxford University press, 2010); CIA World Fact Book https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cg.html#top.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Fairfax, Alfred (c.1843– c.1916)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Courtesy of the Kansas Historical Society

Elected to the state House of Representatives in 1888, Alfred Fairfax was the first African American to serve in the Kansas legislature. A farmer and pastor, Fairfax represented the 58th District. During his single term in office (1889-1890), he served as chairman of the House Committee on Immigration and spoke out in favor of an end to segregated schools as well as a prohibition of discrimination more generally.

Sources: 
“Alfred Fairfax.” Kansas Historical Society, Kansapedia. http://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/alfred-fairfax/11733; Thomas C. Cox, Blacks in Topeka, Kansas: 1865-1915, A Social History (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Press, 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Igbo Landing Mass Suicide (1803)

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History
Drawing Depicting the Igbo Entering the Waters of Dunbar Creek
Image Courtesy of Dee “Larue" Williams
Igbo Landing is a historic site at Dunbar Creek on St. Simons Island, Glynn County, Georgia. In 1803 one of the largest mass suicides of enslaved people took place when Igbo captives from what is now Nigeria were taken to the Georgia coast. In May 1803, the Igbo and other West African captives arrived in Savannah, Georgia, on the slave ship the Wanderer. They were purchased for an average of $100 each by slave merchants John Couper and Thomas Spalding to be resold to plantations on nearby St. Simons Island. The chained slaves were packed under deck of a coastal vessel, the York, which would take them to St. Simons. During the voyage, approximately 75 Igbo slaves rose in rebellion, took control of the ship, drowned their captors, and in the process caused the grounding of the ship in Dunbar Creek.
Sources: 
“Igbo Landing,” New Georgia Encyclopedia, http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/history-archaeology/ebos-landing; “Igbo Landing,” Glynn County, Georgia History and Lore, http://www.glynncounty.com/History_and_Lore/Ebo_Landing/; Marquetta L. Goodwine, The Legacy of Ibo Landing: Gullah Roots of African American Culture (Atlanta: Clarity Press, Inc., 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Berea College

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History
Berea College Class of 1901
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Berea College, located in east central Kentucky at the base of the Cumberland Mountains, was founded in 1855 by abolitionist John G. Fee.  Berea was one of the first fully integrated colleges in the South, enrolling an essentially equal number of blacks and whites from 1865 to 1892.  Racial coeducation in a slaveholding state was a monumental experiment.  However, in 1904, the Day Law, aimed specifically at Berea, outlawed integrated education in Kentucky, thus forcing the College to turn its focus toward educating impoverished white Appalachian students.  Berea officials quickly responded to the policy change by using some of its endowment to establish Lincoln Institute in Simpsonville, near Louisville, to educate African Americans.  
Sources: 
Jacqueline Burnside, “Suspicion Versus Faith: Negro Criticism of Berea College,” Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 83 (Summer 1985): 237-66; Andrew Baskin, “Berea College and the Founding of Lincoln Institute,” Griot 9 (Spring 1990): 39-56; Dwayne Mack, “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Berea College’s Participation in the Selma to Montgomery March,” Ohio Valley History (Fall 2005).  
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Harris, Moses [aka Black Moses / "Black Squire"] (1800?-1849)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Moses (Black) Harris on Left in Alfred Jacob Miller Painting
Image Ownership:  Public Domain
Information on Moses Harris’ birth and lineage is limited.  It is believed that he was born in either Union County, South Carolina or somewhere in Kentucky.  Harris was also known as Black Moses or the “Black Squire.”  During the 1820’s Harris moved west and began work as a fur trapper.  His work brought him as far west as the Yellowstone River valley, which is in Montana and northern Wyoming.  During his years as a trapper, Harris gained valuable information on wilderness, mountain and winter survival.  

Moses Harris’ reputation as both a mountain man and his knowledge of wilderness gave him employment as a wagon train guide.  While still fur trapping, he began working as a trail guide, leading trains of supplies to other fur traders.
Sources: 
Elizabeth McLagan, A Peculiar Paradise: A History of Blacks in Oregon, 1788-1940. (Portland: Georgian Press Company, 1980); Jerome Peltier, Black Harris (Fairfield, Washington: Ye Galleon Press, 1996)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Winkfield, Jimmy (1882-1974)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain
Jimmy Winkfield, born on April 12, 1882, became famous as an early 20th Century horse jockey.  Winkfield, the youngest of 17 children, was born in Chilesburg, Kentucky, a town just outside of Lexington.  As a child, he had a routine that included performing chores on the farm where his father was a sharecropper and overseeing the thoroughbred parades down the country roads. He and his family moved to Cincinnati in 1894.


On August 10, 1898, Winkfield rode his first race. Aboard Jockey Joe at Chicago's Hawthorne Racetrack, he raced his horse out of the gate and rode across the path of the three inside horses, in an effort to get to the rail. This aggressive behavior did not go over well with racetrack officials and he earned a one year suspension.  Winkfield learned from his mistake and on September 18, 1899, won his first race.  Six months later he rode for the first time in the Kentucky Derby.

In 1901, at 19, Winkfield captured his first Kentucky Derby title astride a horse named Eminence. He went on to win 161 races that year, including key victories in the Latonia Derby on Hernando and Tennessee Derby where he rode Royal Victor. While these were spectacular accomplishments, he returned to the Kentucky Derby in 1902 and won again in the most important race of his career.  

Sources: 
Ed Hotaling, Wink: the Incredible Life and Epic Journey of Jimmy Winkfield (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004); Neil Schmidt, “Black Jockey’s journey spanned different worlds.” The Cincinnati Enquirer. April 29, 2002.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

African Civilization Society, The (1858-1869)

Entry Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
Global African History
West Africa in the 18th Century
Image Ownership: Public Domain

The African Civilization Society (ACS) was founded in 1858 by Henry Highland Garnet who sought to encourage blacks American to immigrate to Africa. Garnet envisioned educated black Americans moving to the African Continent as cultural missionaries to lead the economic, political, and moral development of the various indigenous peoples.  The ACS Constitution outlined its goals for civilizing and Christianizing Africa and people of African descent in other areas of the world.  The ACS also saw itself as a major force in the destruction of the African slave trade and in promoting African self-governance and self-reliance. Specifically, the ACS sought to make African nations independent cotton producers. They believed that cotton grown in Africa and sold on the world market would break the monopoly of southern United States slave-grown cotton in European and American textile production, and thus hasten the end of slavery.  

Sources: 

The Constitution of the African Civilization Society available at 
http://www.archive.org/details/constitutionofaf00afri/; Carol Faulkner,
"'A Proper Recognition of Our Manhood:' The African Civilization
Society and the Freedmen's Aid Movement," Afro-Americans in New York
Life and History
(24:1 (January, 2000).

Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Rollin, Frances Anne (1845-1901)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Carole Ione Lewis
Image Courtesy of Carole Ione Lewis
Sources: 

Frank A. Rollin, Life and Public Services of Martin R. Delany Boston:
Lee and Shepard
, (1868); Carole Ione, Pride of Family; Four Generations
of American Women of Color
(New York: Harlem Moon Classics: 2004); Eric
Foner, A Short History of Reconstruction 1863-1877 (New York: Harper
Collins, 1990); Dorothy Sterling, Black Foremothers; Three Lives (New
York: Feminist Press, 1979); www.Freedmansbureau.com

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

True Reformers Bank, The (1888-1910)

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
True Reformers Bank, 1889
Image Courtesy of the Virginia Historical Soceity
The Savings Bank of the Grand Fountain United Order of True Reformers was the first bank owned by African Americans in the United States. It was founded on March 2, 1888 by Reverend William Washington Browne and opened on April 3, 1889. Although the True Reformers bank was the first black-owned bank chartered in the United States, the Capitol Savings Bank of Washington, D.C. was the first to actually open on October 17, 1888.
Sources: 
William P. Burrell, Twenty Five Years History of the Grand Fountain of the United Order of the True Reformers: 1881-1905 (New York: Negro Universities Press, 1909); James D. Watkinson,  “William Washington Browne and the True Reformers of Richmond, Virginia,” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 97, No. 3 (1989).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sydney, Australia

Stewart, T. McCants (1853-1923)

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

Teacher, author, clergyman, and civil rights leader, Thomas McCants Stewart was born in Charleston, South Carolina on December 28, 1853,  to George Gilchrist and Anna Morris Stewart.  Young Stewart attended the Avery Normal Institute before enrolling in Howard University in 1869. Although only fifteen when he arrived on Howard’s campus, Stewart, nonetheless, distinguished himself as a student and contributed occasional articles to the Washington, D.C. New National Era, an African American newspaper.

Yet Stewart grew increasingly dissatisfied with the quality of instruction at Howard and became one of the first black students to enroll in the University of South Carolina at Columbia in 1874. In December 1875, Stewart graduated with Bachelor of Arts and L.L.B. degrees.

Sources: 
Albert S. Broussard, African American Odyssey: The Stewarts, 1853-1963 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998); Charles E. Wynes, "T. McCants Stewart: Peripatetic Black South Carolinian," South Carolina Historical Magazine 80 (October, 1979): 311-317.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas A&M University

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (1816- )

Vignette Type: 
Churches
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Emanuel A.M.E. Church is the oldest black A.M.E. Church in the South and contains the oldest black congregation south of Baltimore, Maryland.  The church’s early roots emerged out of slavery in a shared legacy with Charleston (South Carolina) Methodist Episcopal Church in 1791. Due to disputes over burial grounds, enslaved and free black members of the church withdrew their membership, and, under the leadership of Morris Brown, they established a church affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal churches in 1816.  Because of the perceived threat of religious gatherings by enslaved and free blacks in antebellum Charleston and elsewhere in the slave-holding South, Brown and fellow ministers were placed in jail for violating state and local laws just two years after the church’s founding.
Sources: 
Sarah Kaplan, “For Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church, Shooting Is Another Painful Chapter in Rich History,” Washington Post, June 18, 2015; “Future Too Bright: Charleston Landmarks Link to Past to Present,” Baltimore-Afro American, Mar. 10, 1951; Chester Higgins, “Mrs. King Fights For Black Workers,” Jet, May 22, 1969; Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church website, “Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church History,” http://www.emanuelamechurch.org/churchhistory.php; National Park Service, “Emanuel A.M.E. Church,” http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/charleston/ema.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Dunjee, Roscoe (1883-1965)

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

Roscoe Dunjee was a prolific journalist and civil rights activist. He was the son of Rev. John William Dunjee, a Baptist minister, and Lydia Ann Dunjee. Although his father was born in Jefferson County, West Virginia, Roscoe worked for various African American newspapers in Oklahoma while attending Langston University.

In 1915, Dunjee founded his own newspaper in Oklahoma City entitled the Black Dispatch which became one of the most prominent black newspapers in America. Throughout his life, in the Black Dispatch Dunjee wrote confrontational editorials attacking the institution of Jim Crow, encouraged African Americans to vote and fight for their Civil Rights, and named his paper the Black Dispatch because whites had degraded the term to refer to African Americans as gossipers and liars. Dunjee chose to invert the term “black dispatch” as something honorable concerning the image of African Americans.

Sources: 
J. Reuben Sheeler, “Roscoe Dunjee” in Rayford Logan & Michael Winston, Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: Norton & Company, 1982), 203-204.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Cincinnati

Joplin, Scott (1867-1917)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Scott Joplin, a musician and composer of ragtime music, was born in 1867 to ex-slave parents who worked as laborers on a Texas farm.  At an early age they moved to Texarkana, on the Texas-Arkansas border, and it was here, following his mother as she cleaned the houses of white families, that Scott was exposed to the piano and learned to play.  When his talent was recognized he was formally instructed by a German music teacher.

By the 1880s Joplin was living in Sedalia, Missouri, and playing in bands from St. Louis to Chicago as a cornet player.  While in Sedalia he played piano and in 1896 enrolled in George R. Smith College, a small black institution in Sedalia, to improve his musical abilities.  In 1898 Joplin published his first ragtime composition, Original Rags.  The following year he hired a lawyer before publishing his next and most famous song, The Maple Leaf Rag.  Joplin and his attorney negotiated with publisher John Stark, a one cent royalty for every sale which provided him an income far greater than most composers of the day.  By 1902 Joplin had moved to St. Louis and published several more compositions including The Entertainer and The Ragtime Dance.
Sources: 
Michael Erlewine, All Music Guide to Jazz (San Francisco: Backbeat Books, 1998); http://www.scottjoplin.org/biography.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Stewart, John (1786-1823)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
John Stewart (also sometimes spelled Steward) was a missionary to the Wyandotte Indians of Ohio and founder of what is often considered the first Methodist mission in America. Stewart was born in Powhatan County, Virginia to free Negro parents who were of mixed ancestry; a mix of white, black, and Indian. Due to his parents’ freedom, John was able to obtain a modest public education. His brother was a Baptist minister which possibly indicates that he received religious training at home. Stewart was a frail and sickly child.
Sources: 
Joseph Mitchell, The Missionary Pioneer: Or, A Brief Memoir of the Life, Labours, and Death of John Stewart (Man of Colour), Founder, Under God, of the Mission Among the Wyandotts, at Upper Sandusky, Ohio ( New York: J.C. Totten, 1827); Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Grant, George Franklin (1847-1910)

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

Dr. George Franklin Grant was the first African American professor at Harvard. He was born in Oswego, New York to former slaves. When he was fifteen years old a local dentist, Dr. Albert Smith, hired him as an errand boy. He soon became a lab assistant, and Dr. Smith encouraged him to pursue a career in dentistry. In 1868 he and Robert Tanner Freeman, another son of former slaves, became the first blacks to enroll in Harvard Dental School. After receiving his degree in 1870, he became the first African American faculty member at Harvard, in the School of Mechanical Dentistry, where he served for 19 years.

While there he specialized in treating patients with congenital cleft palates. His first patient was a 14 year-old girl, and by 1889 he had treated 115 cases. He patented the oblate palate, a prosthetic device that allowed patients to speak more normally. He was a founding member and president of the Harvard Odontological Society, and, in 1881, he was elected President of the Harvard Dental Association.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Oakwood University [Huntsville] (1896- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Oakwood College is a private, four-year coeducational historically black liberal arts university located in Huntsville, Alabama; the small urban campus is five minutes from downtown. Sitting on 1,185 acres, Oakwood University is one of the historical landmarks of Huntsville.  It is the only historically black institution sponsored by the Seventh Day Adventists.

Sources: 
Oakwood University Webpage, http://www.oakwood.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

Weston, Anthony (1791- ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Born a slave under the name “Toney” in 1791, Anthony Weston eventually became the patriarch of Charleston, South Carolina’s elite free black family, the Westons. Weston began his life as a biracial enslaved person who worked as a millwright.  Eventually, however, he supervised the construction of the mills that processed the crops of his owner, rice planter Plowden Weston.

A grateful Plowden Weston included in his will a provision for Anthony Weston to control half of his time (literally, after completion of daily tasks, time earned to pursue one’s own interests and ambitions) and to train his successors.  The will also stipulated that Anthony Weston would be granted full control of his time in 1833. As indicated in the will, these provisions were based on “In consideration of the good conduct and faithful valuable service of my mulatto man Toney….”

Following Plowden Weston’s death in 1827, Anthony Weston was virtually free, although he could not be completely emancipated because of a provision in the South Carolina Slave Act of 1820 stipulating that the emancipation of an enslaved person would also have to be recognized by the state government. Furthermore, Plowden Weston’s will did not appoint an owner in trust for Anthony Weston, so he lived under the threat of being seized by the state and sold at auction.

Sources: 
Michael P. Johnson and James L. Roark, No Chariot Let Down: Charleston’s Free People on the Eve of the Civil War, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001); Bernard E. Powers, Black Charlestonians: A Social History, 1822-1885 (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1994); and Michael P. Johnson and James L. Roark, Black Masters: A Free Family of Color in the Old South (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1986).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Flake, Green (1828-1903)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born enslaved on January 6, 1828 on the Jordan Flake Plantation in Anson County, North Carolina, Green Flake at the age of ten was given as a wedding gift to James Madison Flake, Jordan’s son who married Agnes Love in 1838 in Anson County, North Carolina.  The couple moved shortly thereafter to Mississippi with their three-year-old son as well as Green and their other slaves.  In 1844 the Flake family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) after being converted by missionary Benjamin Clapp.  The baptism included Green and the other slaves on April 5, 1844 by Elder Clapp.

Shortly afterwards the James Flake family made the decision to leave Mississippi to participate in the largest religious migration in American history, the gathering of LDS members from across the United States to what is now Utah.  They migrated first to Nauvoo, Illinois, where the church accepted Green’s labor as part of the Flake family tithing.  
Sources: 
John Zimmerman Brown, Journal of Pioneer John Brown (Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1941); Margaret Blair Young and Darius Aidan Gray, Standing on the Promises (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 2000-2003); HistorytoGo.com, http://historytogo.utah.gov/utah_chapters/pioneers_and_cowboys/thosepioneeringafricanamericans.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Brigham Young University

Howell, Martha Ann Jane Stevens Perkins (1875–1954)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Pulic Domain"
Martha Ann Jane Stevens Perkins Howell, born on January 20, 1875, was named for her maternal grandmother, Martha Vilate Crosby Flake, who had been a slave during the Mormon migration to the West. Martha Howell’s maternal grandfather was Green Flake, also born a slave, who was in the Vanguard Company for the Mormon pioneers. Martha’s mother was Lucinda Flake, and her father, of Mexican origin, was George Washington Stevens.

Black Mormons comprised a small group in the intermountain west, and the few families with many children constituted the largest marriage pool for blacks at a time where anti-miscegenation laws were solidly in place.  

On October 11, 1899, Martha and her bridegroom, Sylvester Perkins, celebrated a double wedding with Louis Leggroan and Nettie James, granddaughter of Jane Manning and Isaac James. The Perkins family was also prominent. Sylvester Perkins was the brother of Jane James’s daughter-in-law and the son of Franklin Perkins, who had been briefly married to Jane James herself.  
Sources: 
Thomas G. Alexander, Utah: The Right Place (Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith Publisher, 1995). Alan Cherry, “Lucile Bankhead: Oral History Interview,” April 11, 1985, LDS Afro-American Oral History Project, Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, Brigham Young University, “Abner Howell Oral Interview,” Undated Audiotape, provided by Boyd Burbidge.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Brigham Young University

McCoy, Elijah (1843-1929)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Elijah McCoy was born on May 2, 1843 in Colchester, Ontario, Canada to runaway slave parents who used the Underground Railroad to escape.  Once the McCoy family settled in Canada, they were extremely poor.  Nonetheless they saved money for their son to get an education.  When Elijah was 15 years old, he was sent to a boarding school in Edinburgh, Scotland to study mechanical engineering.

Once he returned to the United States, McCoy had a difficult time in finding a job because of his race despite his numerous credentials.  He eventually settled for a menial job as a fireman for the Michigan Central Railroad oiling the various working parts of the trains.  These tasks were slow and boring for the certified mechanical engineer who began to wonder why the moving parts of the train couldn’t oil themselves.  From this, he became interested in the challenges of self-lubrication for machines and began to test various ideas for automatic lubrication.
Sources: 
Gossie Harold Hudson, W. Sherman Jackson, Edward S. Jenkins and Exyie C. Ryder, American Black Scientists and Inventors (Washington D.C.: National Science Teachers Association, 1975); http://www.blackhistorysociety.ca/EMcCoy.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Cooper, John W. (1873-1966)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
John W. Cooper and Sam Jackson
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John W. Cooper was an African American ventriloquist, born in Brooklyn, New York in 1873.  After losing both of his parents at a very young age, Cooper received his education at Professor Dorsey’s Institute in Brooklyn.  There he developed into a budding entertainer and took a special interest in ventriloquism, a craft he learned from an unidentified white man whom he met at a Sheepshead Bay racetrack.  

Cooper, who was also a singer, joined “The Southern Jubilee Singers.”  While touring with the group he also developed his ventriloquism act, writing and performing his own material before mostly white audiences.  “Fun in a Barber Shop” became one of his most famous acts.  Cooper portrayed six different puppet characters, each with his own voice performed by Cooper himself.

In 1902, when he was twenty-nine, Cooper had his first big break in ventriloquism while traveling with Richards and Pringles Minstrels.  In that year he was recognized by the Daily Nonpariel, a leading entertainment magazine, as the best ventriloquist of that era.    Cooper went on to create another act with a black ventriloquist puppet named Sam Jackson.  Cooper and Sam traveled all over the United States during the next two decades.  By the start of World War I he began performing at veteran hospitals, service clubs, and military camps.  
Sources: 
C. B. Davis, “Reading the Ventriloquists’ Lips: The Performance Genre behind the Metaphor” (TDR 1988-), 42: 4 (Winter 1998); Dan Willinger, “Ventriloquists Vaudeville Years,” Ventriloquist Central: A Tribute to Ventriloquism,” http://www.ventriloquistcentral.com/tribute/vaudeville/vaudeville.htm; Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Patton, Georgia E.L. (1864-1900)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Georgia E. L. Patton, "Brief Autobiography of a Colored Woman Who Has Recently Emigrated to Liberia," Liberia 3 (Nov. 1893); Mary Krane Derr, "Georgia E.L. Patton," in African American National Biography: Volume Six, ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Evelyn Brooks-Higginbotham (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008); Ida B. Wells, Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells, ed. Alfreda M. Duster (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970.).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Danquah, J.B. (1895-1965)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public domain

Joseph Kwame Kyeretwei Boakye Danquah (Dankwa) was a Ghanaian lawyer, politician, and leader in that nation’s independence movement. He was born on December 18, 1895, to Emmanuel Yao Boakye and Lydia Okom Korantemaa in the town of Bepong in the Eastern Region of the Gold Coast (Ghana), then a colony of Great Britain.

Upon completion of Senior Secondary School at Begoro, he began working as a clerk for Vidal J. Buckle, a barrister-at-law in Accra, the capital city. In 1914, after passing his Civil Service Examination, Danquah became a clerk at the Supreme Court. His brother, Nana Sir Ofori Atta I, later sent him to Britain in 1921 to continue his studies.

Danquah entered the University of London in 1922 as a philosophy student and graduated in 1925.  He continued graduate studies there and in 1927 became the first West African to obtain the doctor of philosophy degree from a British University. He also passed the British Bar in 1926. While pursuing his studies, Danquah also edited the West African Students’ Union (WASU) magazine and eventually becoming the Union’s president.

Sources: 
"Dr. J. B. Danquah Profile, Ghanaweb, http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/people/person.php?ID=167; "J.B. Danquah," Encyclopædia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/biography/J-B-Danquah; David Birmingham, Kwame Nkrumah: The Father of African Nationalism (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Baltimore (1863-- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership, Public Domain
Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church was the first African American Catholic Church in the United States.  The building, located on the corner of Calvert and Pleasant Street in Baltimore, Maryland, was originally constructed in 1836 for the congregation of the First Universalist Church.  By 1837, the church held services, but soon after the structure sustained damages from a heavy flood, and by 1839 the church filed bankruptcy.  The building was then transformed into a public place and used as an assembly hall.  It housed the 1844 Whig Convention that nominated Henry Clay for President; later the Democratic Convention held its 1848 meeting there and nominated General Cass.  The edifice also held the Maryland convention to discuss leaving the Union in 1861.  Soon after this event, the German Lutheran Church acquired the building, and it returned to being a place of worship.
Sources: 
Baltimore American (July 10, 1877); “In 1944 Father Cassidy and Brother Mario Organized the Interracial Study Club” and “A Tribute to the Josephite Fathers” in Notre Dame Archives; http://www.josephites.org/parish/md/sfx/page2.html.
Affiliation: 
University of Texas El Paso

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

Currin, Green I. (1842–1918)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Courtesy of Oklahoma Senate State
Historical Preservation Fund

Born in 1842, in Williamson County, Tennessee, Green I. Currin (sometimes referred to as G.I. or Jacob Curran) was the first African American to serve in the Oklahoma Territorial Legislature, winning election to its inaugural session in 1890. During the territorial period, Currin also served as a U.S. deputy marshal and as regent of the Colored Agricultural and Normal University (now Langston University) in Langston, Oklahoma.

Sources: 
Kaye M. Teall, Black History in Oklahoma: A Resource Book (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma City Public Schools, 1971); Kenneth Wiggins Porter, “Jacob Green Currin” in the Dictionary of American Negro Biography, edited by Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc, 1982); Thomas C. Cox, Blacks in Topeka, Kansas: 1865-1915, A Social History (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Press, 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Wiggins, Thomas “Blind Tom” (1849-1908)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Thomas Greene Wiggins was born May 25, 1849 to Mungo and Charity Wiggins, slaves on a Georgia plantation. He was blind and autistic but a musical genius with a phenomenal memory. In 1850 Tom, his parents, and two brothers were sold to James Neil Bethune, a lawyer and newspaper editor in Columbus, Georgia. Young Tom was fascinated by music and other sounds, and could pick out tunes on the piano by the age of four. He made his concert debut at eight, performing in Atlanta.

Sources: 
Geneva Handy Southall, Blind Tom, The Black Pianist-Composer: Continually Enslaved (Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2002); http://chevalierdesaintgeorges.homestead.com/Wiggins.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Anderson, Osborne P. (1830-1872)

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

Osborne Perry Anderson was one of the five African American men to accompany John Brown in the raid on the Federal Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia) in October 1859.  Anderson was a free-born black abolitionist, born in West Fallow Field, Pennsylvania on July 27, 1830.  Along with John Anthony Copeland Jr., another member of the Brown raiding party, Anderson attended Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio.  He later moved to Chatham, Canada, where he worked as a printer for Mary Ann Shadd's newspaper, the Provincial Freeman.   In 1858 Anderson met John Brown and eventually became persuaded to join his band of men determined to attack Harpers Ferry.

Sources: 

Osborne Perry Anderson, A Voice from Harper's Ferry: A Narrative of
Events at Harper's Ferry with incidents Prior and Subsequent to its
Capture by Captain John Brown and His Men
(Boston: Privately Printed,
1861); Timothy Patrick McCarthy and John Stauffer, Prophets of Protest:
Reconsidering the History of American Abolitionism
(New York: The New
Press, 2006);  Herb Boyd, Autobiography of a People: Three Centuries of
African American History Told by Those Who Lived It
(New York:
Doubleday, 2000); Peggy A. Russo and Paul Finkelman, Terrible Swift
Sword: The Legacy of John Brown
(Athens: Ohio University Press, 2005);
http://www.iath.virginia.edu/jbrown/men.html#opa.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Seacole, Mary Jane (1805 –1881)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Mary Jane Grant Seacole was an early nurse in the British Empire during the 19th Century. Born in Kingston, Jamaica as Mary Grant, she was the daughter of a Scottish officer and a black mother. Mary’s mother ran a hospital/boarding house in Kingston and she, after a brief period as a servant, returned to her family home and worked alongside her mother. It was during this period that Mary's skills as a nurse were first recognised and she spent a good deal of time travelling throughout the Caribbean providing care.  Mary Jane Grant married Edwin Seacole in 1836 but he died eight years later.

In 1850, Mary Seacole resided briefly in Panama with her half brother, Edward, where they ran a hotel for travelers bound for Gold Rush California. Seacole's reputation as a nurse grew as she provided care for these mostly American travelers during several outbreaks of cholera.
Sources: 

Ron Ramdin, Mary Seacole (Life & Times) (London: Haus Publishing 2005); Jane Robinson, Mary Seacole: The Charismatic Black Nurse who became a heroine of the Crimea (London: Constable Press, 2004); http://www.maryseacole.com.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Parker, John P. (1827-1900)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
John Parker House Museum, Ripley, Ohio  

Image Courtesy of the John Parker House Museum

John Parker, inventor and businessman, was also a prominent Underground Railroad conductor before the Civil War.  He was reputedly responsible for the rescue of nearly 1,000 enslaved people between 1845 and 1865.  Parker repeatedly crossed the Ohio River from his home in Ripley, Ohio, often going as far as 20 miles on foot into Kentucky to rescue fugitive slaves and bring them to freedom.  

Sources: 
Stuart Seely Sprague, ed., His Promised Land: The Autobiography of John P. Parker, former slave and conductor of the Underground Railroad (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1996); The History of Brown County, Ohio, Containing a History of the County: General and Local Statistics; Portraits of Early Settlers and Prominent Men (Chicago: W.H. Beers, 1883);  https://www.johnparkerhouse.org/
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Cralle, Alfred L. (1866–1920)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Alfred L. Cralle was an African American businessman and inventor who was best known for inventing the ice cream scoop in 1897. Cralle was born on September 4, 1866, in Kenbridge, Lunenburg County, Virginia, just after the end of the American Civil War. He attended local schools and worked for his father in the carpentry trade as a young man. During that period, he also became interested in mechanics.  

Cralle was sent to Washington D.C. where he attended Wayland Seminary, a branch of the National Theological Institute, one of a number of schools founded by the American Baptist Home Mission Society immediately after the Civil War to help educate newly freed African Americans.

Sources: 
“Alfred L. Cralle,” Wiki Tree, https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Cralle-1; “Alfred L. Cralle,” African-American Inventors, http://www.african-americaninventors.org/inventors.php?cat=&limit=18&page=2; “Alfred L. Cralle,” Black American History, http://blackinhistory.tumblr.com/post/45713140285/alfred-l-cralle#.WE0xSVyOOjI.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Tubman, Harriet Ross (c. 1821-1913)

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

Dubbed “The Moses of Her People,” escaped slave Harriet Tubman assisted hundreds of slaves on the Underground Railroad, leading them from Maryland to safety in Pennsylvania.  Born enslaved and raised in Dorchester County, Maryland to Benjamin and Harriett Greene Ross, Harriett was both a field hand and a domestic servant.  As a young girl, she suffered a lifelong injury after her master threw a piece of iron at her, which struck her in the head.  Throughout her life, Harriett suffered bouts of narcoleptic seizures.  In 1844, she married a free black man, John Tubman.  She escaped in 1849 in order to avoid being sold into the Deep South. Her husband refused to go with her.  Several months later, when she returned to get him, she learned he had taken another wife.  He died shortly after the end of the Civil War. Harriett later married Nelson Davis.

Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992) and Darlene Clark Hine, “Harriet Tubman” in Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, Vol. II (New York: Carlson, 1993): 1176-1180.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Groves, Junius George (1859-1925)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Junius Groves and Wife, Matilda, ca. 1895
Image Courtesy of  the Kansas Historical Society
Junius G. Groves, a successful, self-educated farmer, landowner, and entrepreneur, became one of the most prosperous African American men in the early twentieth century. He was born enslaved on April 12, 1859 in Green County, Kentucky.  His parents were Martin Groves and Mary Anderson Groves. Two decades later, as a freedman possessing ninety cents, Groves made his way to eastern Kansas during the time of the Exoduster Movement of ex-slaves from the South.  Groves began farming by sharecropping near Edwardsville, Kansas.  In 1880, he married Matilda E. Stewart of Kansas City, Missouri. Within a few years, they began purchasing their own land.

Much of Groves' success was due to his forty-six years of devotion to the science of agriculture. He earned the title “Potato King of the World” in 1902 for growing the most bushels of potatoes per acre than anyone else in the world up to that point in time. The couple's twelve surviving children (out of fourteen births) helped with the farm and family holdings.

Sources: 
Booker T. Washington, The Negro in Business (Boston: Hertel, Jenkins, & Co., 1907; reprinted, Chicago: Afro-American Press, 1969); Anne Hawkins, "Hoeing Their Own Row: Black Agriculture and the Agrarian Ideal in Kansas, 1880-1930," Kansas History 22 (autumn 1999); Angela Doyle Radicia, “Junius Groves and the Community of Groves Center,” unpublished paper, Mid-America Conference on History, Tulsa, Oklahoma, September 2007.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Murphy, Isaac Burns (1861-1896)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Isaac Murphy was born on April 16, 1861 as Isaac Burns near Frankfort, Kentucky on a farm to parents James Burns and a mother whose name is unknown.  Murphy was the first American jockey elected to Racing’s Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York and only one of two black jockeys (Willie Simms is the other) to have received this honor.

Burns’s father, a free black man, was a bricklayer and his mother was a laundrywoman.  During the civil war his father joined the Union Army and died in a Confederate prisoner of war camp.  After his father’s death, Burns and his mother moved to live with her father, Green Murphy, a bell ringer and auction crier, in Lexington, Kentucky.  Isaac Burns changed his last name to Murphy once he started racing horses as a tribute to his grandfather.

Sources: 
David Reed, “High Tributes Paid To Murphy,” The Lexington Herald (Lexington, Kentucky), May 5, 1967, p. 13;  Stephen P. Savage, “Isaac Murphy: Black Hero in Nineteenth Century American Sport, 1861-1896,” Canadian Journal of History and Physical Education 10 (1979):15-32; Robert Fikes, Jr, “Issac Murphy”  Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); Patsi B. Trollinger, Perfect Timing: How Isaac Murphy Became One of the World's Greatest Jockeys (New York: Viking Press, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

The Partition of Africa

Entry Type: 
Misc
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
Heilbrunn Timeline ofArt History, Image ©
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Sources: 

Steig Förster, Wolfgang J. Mommsen, and Ronald Robinson, eds., Bismarck, Europe and Africa: The Berlin Africa Conference, 1884-1885 and the Onset of Partition (London:  Oxford University Press, 1988); H. L. Wesseling, Divide and Rule: The Partition of Africa, 1880-1914 (London:  Praeger, 1996).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Jordan, John Henry (1870-1912)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
John Henry Jordan, wife, Mollie and son, Edward
“Image Courtesy of Karen Jordan”
Sources: 

History of American Negro; History of Coweta County, Georgia; Bill Banks, “Sharing Untold Stories,” The Atlanta Journal Constitution (February 1, 2001); Karen Jordan, “From a Dream to a Legacy,” The Tennessean (November 16, 2003); Karen Jordan, “Meharry Legacy Continues,” Interpreter Magazine (February-March 2004); W. Winston Skinner, “Descendant Plans Book about Pioneer Local Black Doctor,” Newnan Times-Herald (July 10, 2006); www.karenjordanwrites.com.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Simmons College of Kentucky [Louisville] (1879- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Simmons College Graduates, 2009
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Simmons College of Kentucky, the state’s oldest African American college, was founded in 1879. The college was established by former slaves to train the sons and daughters of fellow African Americans. In August of 1865, Rev. Henry Adams led the effort to create the institution where he proposed a college be established for former enslaved people at the State Convention of Colored Baptist Churches meeting at Louisville.  

Follow up efforts to create the college languished until November 1879 when the Trustees of the Convention of Colored Baptist Churches of Kentucky bought four acres of land in Louisville to serve as the campus for the institution. The college was first known as the Kentucky Normal Theological Institute and its first president was Rev. Elijah P. Marrs.
Sources: 
Nancy C. Curtis, Black Heritage Sites: The South (Michigan: Edwards Brothers, Inc., 1996); Simmons College of Kentucky, “Our History” A Black College That Changed America, 2010, Accessed Dec 5, 2010, http://www.simmonscollegeky.edu/documents/44.html; Simmons College of Kentucky, “Simmons at a Glance” A History of Simmons College of Kentucky, 2010, Accessed Dec 5, 2010, http://www.simmonscollegeky.edu/documents/48.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Fortune, T. Thomas (1856-1928)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
T. Thomas Fortune—African American journalist, editor, and writer—was born into slavery on October 3, 1856 to Sarah Jane and Emanuel Fortune.  Raised in Marianna, Florida, he as a child witnessed the politically-motivated violence of the Florida Ku Klux Klan.  Despite minimal formal education, Fortune worked in print shops during his childhood.  Moving north in 1874, he worked as a customs inspector in Delaware’s eastern district before briefly enrolling in Howard University in 1876.  Deciding he would become a journalist, Fortune left Howard less than a year after he arrived.
Sources: 
Emma Lou Thornbrough, T. Thomas Fortune: Militant Journalist (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972); John Hope Franklin and August Meier (eds.), Black Leaders in the Twentieth Century (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982); Walter David Greason, Suburban Erasure: How the Suburbs Ended the Civil Rights Movement (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2013).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Monmouth University

Remsen House (ca. 1830-1936)

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Owned by a prestigious African American couple, Elizabeth and Rev. James Gloucester, Remsen House was an upscale boarding establishment situated in the heart of Brooklyn Heights, New York. Located at 144 Remsen Street on the corner of Remsen and Clinton Streets in what is now Brooklyn, it was formerly known as The Hamilton Club, named after Revolutionary War leader and first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton.

The Hamilton Club was originally an exclusive men’s club founded to provide a place for the city’s elite to gather to eat, drink, and discuss politics. By the 1860s, the club membership had expanded and could no longer be accommodated at the Remsen Street location. When the club moved, the building was sold to African American entrepreneur, Elizabeth Gloucester, and her husband, Rev. James Gloucester, shortly after they arrived in Brooklyn in 1865.  

The Gloucesters were able to purchase the five-story building shortly after they sold all of their property in Manhattan. With approximately $150,000, they purchased the Hamilton Club and renamed it Remsen House after the street where it was located. The Gloucesters turned the top floor of their property into the family home where they frequently held meetings and dinners. The other floors were rented to commercial enterprises.
Sources: 
Sarah Ottino, “Black Wealth and the 1843 National Colored Convention” www.ColoredConventions.org; “Clubs Playing a Big Part in Brooklyn’s Life,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, April 3, 1933; “Walkabout: The Gloucester Family of Brooklyn,” (Parts 1-3), www.brownstoner.com; "Mrs. Gloucester's Will to be Contested," New York Globe September 22, 1883; “African American Attendee," www.African American Attendee, http://www.nationalabolitionhalloffameandmuseum.org/african-american-attendee.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Ringold, Millie (1845-1906)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Millie Ringold was a gold prospector, boarding house proprietor, and long-time resident of the Yogo mining district in the Little Belt Mountains of central Montana. According to the 1900 census, Millie Ringold—whose names are variously spelled Molly, Ringo, and Ringgold—was born a slave in 1845 in Virginia. By the 1870s she had settled in Fort Benton, Montana Territory, and worked as a nurse for the U.S. Army.

In 1879 miners discovered gold along Yogo Creek near Helena, Montana, kicking off a short-lived gold rush. Ringold was among the prospectors who flooded the region, reportedly with a wagon, a pair of mules, and an $1,800 grub stake. Although most miners left the area by 1883, Ringold remained, never relinquishing her faith that additional gold deposits would be found.

The 1900 census listed her as prospector-owner of her claim. By that point she had hired an African American man to work for her, who may have been Abraham Carter, the other African American resident listed in the 1900 census for the Yogo District, and one of those who remained after the initial boom played out. When Ringold ran out of funds to pay him, she reportedly did the manual work herself, often wearing men’s overalls.
Sources: 
Montana Historical Society library vertical file, Ringold file, Fergus County Democrat, October 1906; and Kenneth W. Hay, “I Remember Old Yogo and the Weatherwax,” Montana the Magazine of Western History 25:2 (Spring 1975), 62-9.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

O’Hara, James Edward (1844-1905)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public domain
North Carolina congressman James O'Hara was born a free person in New York City to an Irish merchant and West Indian mother. While growing up he worked as a deckhand on ships that sailed between New York and the West Indies.  When he was eighteen O’Hara settled Halifax County, North Carolina with a group of missionaries.  

After the Civil War, James O’Hara taught at freedman’s schools in New Bern and Goldsboro, North Carolina. O'Hara also studied law at Howard University in Washington, D.C.  Shortly after North Carolina’s 1868 Constitutional Convention which reorganized state government and authorized black male voting, O'Hara was elected to the North Carolina state legislature.  In 1871, while still in the legislature, he completed his law apprenticeship and passed the North Carolina bar exam.  In 1878 O’Hara won the Republican nomination for North Carolina’s heavily black Second Congressional District.  He lost the general election to white Democrat William Hodges Kitchin. Four years later, in 1882, O'Hara again faced Kitchin and won the election by 18,000 votes.  He was reelected in 1884.
Sources: 
Stephen Middleton, ed., Black Congressmen During Reconstruction (Westport, Connecticut : Praeger, 2002); George W. Reid, “Four in Black: North Carolina’s Black Congressmen, 1874-1901.” Journal of Negro History 64 (Summer 1979); http://bioguide.congress.gov; http://ead.lib.uchicago.edu.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Adams, Henry [Louisiana] (1843 - ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Henry Adams was a Louisiana leader who advocated the emigration of southern freed blacks to Liberia after emancipation. Born a slave in Newton County, Georgia on March 16, 1843, Henry Adams was originally born as Henry Houston but changed his name at the age of seven.  His enslaved family was relocated to Louisiana in 1850 and lived there until 1861. 

Adams married a woman named Malinda during his enslavement and the couple had four children. Unlike most enslaved people, Adams and his wife were able to acquire property during the Civil War

After the war Adams moved to DeSoto Parish in Louisiana where he started a successful peddling business.  Adams eventually became a merchant but in 1866 at the age of 23 he enlisted in the U.S. Army.  Adams was discharged in September 1869 after rising to the rank of quartermaster sergeant.  Adams learned to read and write in the Army, providing him a measure of self-confidence that encouraged his leadership of other ex-slaves once he returned to civilian life.

Sources: 
Henry Adams Testimony, Senate Report 693, 46th Cong., 2nd Sess., part 2, pp. 101-111; Steven Hahn, A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South, from Slavery to the Great Migration (Harvard University Press, 2003); Neil Irvin Painter, Exodusters: Black Migration to Kansas After Reconstruction (New York, London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1992).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

White, George Henry (1852-1918)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

George H. White served as a member of the fifty-fifth and fifty-sixth United States Congresses (March 4, 1897-March 3, 1901) from North Carolina’s Second Congressional District during what historian Rayford Logan has termed the nadir in race relations for the post-Reconstruction South. Born in Rosindale, North Carolina on December 18, 1852, White graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1877, and was admitted to the bar in 1879.  White practiced law and served as the Principal of the State Normal School of North Carolina until he entered politics in 1881, at which time he served for a year in the North Carolina House of Representatives.  Four years later he served for a term in the state’s senate.  From 1886 to 1894, White worked for the second judicial district of North Carolina as solicitor and prosecuting attorney. 

Sources: 
Benjamin R. Justensen, George Henry White: An Even Chance In the Race of Life (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 2001); “White, George H.,” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=W000372; “White, George H.,” Documenting the South, http://docsouth.unc.edu/nc/whitegh/whitegh.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Johnson C. Smith University

Howard University (1867– )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Howard University Faculty, 1950:
Left to Right, James Nabrit, Charles Drew, Sterling Brown,
E. Franklin Frazier, Rayford Logan and Alain Locke.
Courtesy of the Howard University Archives,
Moorland-Spingarn Research Center
Howard University has been labeled “the capstone of Negro education,” because of its central role in the African American educational experience.  Among historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) Howard has produced the greatest number of graduates with advanced degrees.  Originally conceived as a theological school in 1866, Howard University was chartered as a university by an act of the United States Congress in 1867.  It is the only HBCU to hold that distinction.  Named after Oliver Otis Howard, a Civil War general who became commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau, the institution was from its inception committed to graduate and professional education in sharp contrast to most other black postsecondary institutions of that era.
Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan, Howard University: The First Hundred Years (New York: New York University Press, 1968); Raymond Wolters, The New Negro on Campus: Black College Rebellions of the 1920s  (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1975); http://www.howard.edu/explore/history.htm; http://www.howard.edu/library/Reference/Guides/Retrospective/default.htm; http://www.law.howard.edu/1234.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Montgomery College (Maryland)

Burris, Samuel (1808-1868)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Samuel Burris was a conductor on the Underground Railroad in the mid-nineteenth century best known for his own narrow escape from possible slavery while helping a fugitive slave. Born in Willow Grove, Kent County, Delaware in 1808, Burris was a free black man.  He moved his family to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and in 1845 began to actively assist the Underground Railroad. His assignment was to return to Delaware and Maryland and lead fugitives to safe houses in Pennsylvania.  

Burris worked closely with William Still (a well-known abolitionist and conductor on the Railroad) and Thomas Garrett in this dangerous endeavor.  Although slavery was gradually being phased out of Delaware at that time, it was still illegal to participate in the Underground Railroad. The maximum punishment for a free African American doing so in Delaware was being sold into slavery for seven years.

Sources: 
Ann Klimas, “People of the Underground Railroad in Maryland” (2014), retrieved from Pathways to Freedom: Maryland and the Underground Railroad: http://pathways.thinkport.org/library/people.cfm; Russ Pickett, “Samuel Burris” (2007), retrieved from RussPickett.com: http://www.russpickett.com/history/burrbio.htm; The State of Delaware,” The People vs Samuel D. Burris” (2014), retrieved from State of Delaware: The Official Website of the First State: http://history.delaware.gov/freedom/people_burris.shtml.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Ball, James Presley(1825-1904)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The daguerreotypist James Presley (J.P.) Ball was born in 1825 in Virginia, probably a freeman.  As a young man he learned daguerreotyping and opened his first studio in Cincinnati, Ohio at age twenty.  The city was a center for anti-slavery activity as well as the photographic arts, and Ball became a leader in both.  He wrote and published a pamphlet depicting the horrors of slavery to accompany a large panorama in his gallery, and served as the official photographer for a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.  By the 1850s, his business had achieved tremendous success.  Frederick Douglass, Jenny Lind, and the orator Henry H. Garnet, among other notables, sought out his services, and he became quite affluent.  
Sources: 
Deborah Willis, J. P. Ball: Daguerrean and Studio Photographer (New York: Garland Publishing, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

McCrary, Warner (c.1810–n.d.)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownrship: Pubic Domain"
Warner McCary, slave, musician, performer, self-identified prophet, and physician, was born in Natchez, Mississippi, circa 1810. His mother, Franky, was a slave, and his father, James McCary, was a slave owner and cabinetmaker who migrated to Natchez from Pennsylvania. Throughout his life, Warner went by several names, including William McCary and Okah Tubbee.

Early on, McCary attempted to distance himself from his life in slavery. As he told his narrative, Warner claimed his father was the Choctaw chief, Mushulatubbee, and that he was stolen as a child and placed in the home of James McCary. Franky was referenced only as a slave, a physical abuser, and a psychological menace to Warner. When James McCary died in 1813, his will manumitted Bob and Kitty McCary, his earlier children with Franky. Warner, however, was to remain a slave for the rest of his life, and his labors were to benefit Bob and Kitty financially.
Sources: 
Angela Pulley Hudson, Real Native Genius: How an Ex-Slave and a White Mormon Became Famous Indians (Chapel Hill: North Carolina UP, 2015); Newell G. Bringhurst, Saints, Slaves, and Blacks: The Changing Place of Black People Within Mormonism (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1981).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Micheaux, Oscar (1884–1951)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of John A. Ravage
Oscar Micheaux was the quintessential self-made man.  Novelist, film-maker and relentless self-promoter, Micheaux was born on a farm near Murphysboro, Illinois.  He worked briefly as a Pullman porter and then in 1904 homesteaded nearly 500 acres of land near the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  Micheaux published novels in Nebraska and New York and made movies in Chicago, Illinois and Los Angeles, California.
Sources: 
Pearl Bowser and Louise Spence, Writing Himself Into History: Oscar Micheaux, His Silent Films and His Audiences (Piscataway, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2000); Betty Carol Van Epps-Taylor, Oscar Micheaux: Dakota Homesteader, Author, Pioneer Film Maker (Rapid City: Dakota West Books, 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Molyneux, Thomas (1784–1818)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Fred Henning, Fights For The Championship, Volume II (London: Licensed Victuallers’ Gazette, 1899); Henry Miles, Pugilistica, Volume I (London: Weldon & Co., 1880); http://www.cyberboxingzone.com/boxing/tom-mol.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Clotilda (Slave Ship)

Vignette Type: 
Misc
History Type: 
African American History
Sylviane A. Diouf, Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Story of the Last Africans Brought to America (NY: Oxford University Press, 2007).
Contributor: 

Bussa Rebellion (1816)

Entry Type: 
Events
History Type: 
Global African History
Bussa Emancipation Statue, Bridgetown, Barbados
Image Ownership: Public domain

The Bussa Rebellion was the largest slave revolt in the history of Barbados. The rebellion took its name from the African-born slave, Bussa, who led the uprising. The Bussa Rebellion was the first of the three major slave uprisings that took place in the British West Indies between the U.S. abolition of the slave trade in 1807 and general emancipation by the British in 1838. The two other rebellions occurred in the Crown colony of Demerara-Essequibo (now part of Guyana) in 1823, and Jamaica in 1831.

Enslaved people began planning the revolt after the Barbadian House of Assembly discussed and rejected the Imperial Registry Bill in November 1815, which called for the registration of colonial slaves. Believing this registration would make their lives more difficult, enslaved people began to secretly meet in February to plan the uprising in April.

Sources: 
“Bussa Rebellion,” National Library of Jamaica, http://nlj.gov.jm/; Hilary Beckles, Black Rebellion in Barbados (Bridgetown, Barbados: Antilles Publications, 1984); “Bussa Rebellion,” The National Archives, https://nationalarchives.gov.uk/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

St. Mark African Methodist Episcopal Church [Milwaukee] (1869- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
St Mark AME Church, First Church Building, ca. 1870
Image Courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society
St. Mark African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, the first African American church in Wisconsin, was founded in Milwaukee as the First African Methodist Episcopal Church by Ezekiel Gillespie and seven other men and women.  Gillespie desired to establish a “Church of Allen,” referring to Richard Allen, who had founded the first African Methodist Episcopal church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1787.  Reverend Theodore Crosby held the first service on January 8, 1869 in a former Marshall Field’s department store building.  For 30 years, St. Mark was the only black church in Milwaukee and, as a result, became the focal point for African American culture in the city and in Wisconsin.
Sources: 
Joe William Trotter, Jr., Black Milwaukee: The Making of an Industrial Proletariat, 1915-45 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1985); http://www.stmarkame-milwaukee.com/; http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/.
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

Fillmore District, San Francisco

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
San Francisco's Fillmore District
Image Courtesy of Lianne Milton

Although Third Baptist Church, the first black church of San Francisco, was established in 1852 in the Fillmore District, located west of downtown San Francisco, this historic area has been the home to a number of ethnic groups throughout its history. In the 1870s, Fillmore was largely Jewish. By the turn of the twentieth century, Filipinos, Mexicans, Japanese, Russians, and African Americans lived in the area.

After the Earthquake of 1906, Fillmore became an entertainment destination with the relocation of several clubs and theaters there. The most important was the Majestic Ballroom, which was renamed the Fillmore Auditorium in 1952. Other clubs included Jack’s Tavern, Club Alabam, and Town Club all of which featured local African-American performers who lived in the surrounding community.

Up to 1942, only a few hundred African-American families resided throughout this multi-ethnic, working-class district. When President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, the Japanese residents of the Fillmore District were relocated, and the vacant buildings soon housed African-Americans who relocated to the west coast to work in the defense industries around the Bay Area.

Sources: 
Albert S. Broussard, Black San Francisco: The Struggle for Racial Equality in the West, 1900-1950 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1993); Paul T. Miller, The Postwar Struggle for Civil Rights: African Americans in San Francisco, 1945-1975 (New York: Routledge, 2010); www.thefillmoredistrict.com
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Academic Historian

Rapier, James Thomas (1837-1883)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of Moorland-Spingarn
Research Center, Howard University

James Thomas Rapier was a Republican representative from the state of Alabama elected to the 43rd United States Congress. Rapier was born on November 13, 1837 in Florence, Alabama and attended high school in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1856 at the age of 19 he traveled to attend the King School in Buxton, Ontario, Canada, an experimental black community. There, along with his education he experienced a religious conversion and decided to devote his life to helping southern blacks. Rapier also attended the University of Glasgow and Franklin College in Nashville before receiving a teaching certificate in 1863.

Rapier moved to Maury County, Tennessee and in 1865 started campaigning for African American suffrage. He delivered the keynote address at the Tennessee Negro Suffrage Convention in Nashville that same year. When the movement saw no success he took up cotton farming in his home town of Florence, Alabama and became successful.

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

National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. (1895--)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
National Baptist Convention, Detroit, 1927
Image Ownership: Public Domain

The National Baptist Convention, USA, Incorporated (NBCUSA) is made up of approximately 7.5 million African American Baptists, making it the largest African-American organization in the country. It was founded in Atlanta, Georgia in 1895 when the leaders of the American National Baptist Convention, the Baptist Foreign Mission Convention and the National Baptist Educational Convention joined to form the National Baptist Convention (NBC).

Sources: 

Nina Mjagkij, Organizing Black America (New York, NY: Garland
Publishing, Inc., 2001); Nina Mjagkij, Portraits of African American
Life Since 1865
(Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources Inc., 2003); http://www.nationalbaptist.com/.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Ali, Duse Mohamad (1866-1945)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Scholar, playwright, journalist, and African nationalist, Duse Mohamad Ali was born in Alexandria, Egypt on November 24, 1866 to an Egyptian father, Ali Abdul Salam and a Sudanese mother, whose name is unknown. At a very young age Ali was sent to study in England under the tutelage of Captain Duse of the French Army, a classmate who his father had studied alongside at the French Military Academy. In April of 1882, at the age of fifteen, Ali discontinued his studies and returned to Egypt. Soon after his return both his brother and father were killed during the Urabi Uprising and the British Bombardment of Alexandria that took place later that year.   Soon after the death of his father and brother, his family was evacuated to Sudan.

Sources: 
Ali, Duse Mohamed, “Leaves from an Active Life,” The Comet, 1937-1938; The African Times and Orient Review (1912-1918); Ian Duffield, “Duse Mohamed Ali, Afro-Asian Solidarity and Pan-Africanism in Early Twentieth-Century London,” in S. Jagdish and Ian Gundara Duffield, eds., Essays on the History of Blacks in Britain: From Roman Times to the Mid-Twentieth Century (Aldershot: Avebury, 1992).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Vanderbilt University Divinity School

Brown, John (1800-1859)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
John Brown on His Way to the Gallows, December 2, 1859
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John Brown was a controversial figure who played a major role in leading the United States to civil war. He was a devout Christian and lifelong abolitionist who tried to eradicate slavery from the United States through increasingly radical means. Unlike most abolitionists, Brown was not a pacifist and he came to believe that violence was necessary to dislodge slavery. He engaged in violent battles with pro-slavery citizens in Kansas and Missouri, and led a raid on the federal munitions depot at Harper’s Ferry. Although the raid failed spectacularly, it helped precipitate the Civil War and turned Brown into a martyr for the abolitionist cause.
Sources: 
Benjamin Quarles, Allies for Freedom: Blacks and John Brown (New York: Oxford University Press, 1974); David S. Reynolds, John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights (New York: Alfred A. Knopf Books, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Lyons, Maritcha (1848–1929)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Maritcha Remond Lyons, an African-American teacher and civil rights activist, was born in New York City, New York to Albro Lyons Sr. and Mary Joseph Lyon on May 23, 1848. She was the third of five children in the free black family. To avoid the danger from draft riots in New York City, Maritcha’s parents sent their children to Providence, Rhode Island, during the Civil War.

In 1865 at age sixteen, Maritcha was denied entry to Providence High School due to her race. Her family joined the campaign for desegregation in the state, led by prominent black abolitionist George T. Downing. Maritcha testified before the state legislature, and the school was ultimately desegregated. In 1869 she became the first black graduate of Providence High School.
Sources: 
Jessie Carney Smith, Notable Black American Women (Farmington Hills: Thomson Gale, 1996); Tanya Bolden, Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl (New York: Abrams, 2015).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Harper, Frances Ellen Watkins (1825-1911)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
A poet and essayist, Frances Ellen Watkins was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1825.  Orphaned at the age of three, Watkins went to live with her aunt and uncle, Harriet and William Watkins.  Unlike most free blacks, Frances grew up in comfortable surroundings; her uncle juggled several occupations in order to support the family, including preaching, shoemaking, and medicine. He was also a teacher and administrator at Watkins Academy, a school he had established in 1820.  Like other young women, Frances learned the female “trades” of sewing and domestic work in addition to learning academic subjects at her uncle’s school.  
Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992); Frances Smith Foster, “Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,” in Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, Vol. I (New York: Carlson, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Bowlegs, Billy/Holata Micco (1810-1864)

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

 

Sources: 
Kenneth Porter, The Black Seminoles: History of a Freedom-Seeking People (Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press, 1996); Kevin Mulroy, The Seminole Freedmen: A History. (Norman OK: University of Oklahoma Press.  2007); J. Leitch Wright, Jr.,  Creeks and Seminoles (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986); J.B. Bird, "Rebellion: John Horse and the Black Seminoles, the First Black Rebels to Beat American Slavery," http://www.johnhorse.com/; Willard R. Johnson, "Tracing Trails of Blood on Ice: Commemorating ‘The Great Escape in 1861-62 of Indians and Blacks into Kansas,'" Negro History Bulletin, 64: No. 1-4, (2001).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Moton, Robert R. (1867-1940)

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

Robert Russa Moton was born on the William Vaughan Plantation in 1867 in Prince Edward County, Virginia. Moton attended the local freedman’s school and eventually went on to college at the Hampton Institute (now called Hampton University).

At Hampton Institute Moton distinguished himself academically and after graduation was appointed the school’s Commandant in charge of military discipline, a post he held for 25 years.  Moton also became a Hampton fundraiser, traveling north to lecture on the school’s programs.

Sources: 
Robert Russa Moton, Finding a Way Out: An Autobiography (Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday, Page and Company, 1920); William Hardin Hughes and Frederick D. Patterson, Robert Russa Moton of Hampton and Tuskegee (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1956); Lerone Bennett, “Chronicles of Black Courage: Robert R. Moton Risked Life in Fight for Black Doctors at Tuskegee Veterans Hospital,” Ebony, July 2002; http://www.hamptonu.edu/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Saltspring Island, British Columbia

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Ganges Harbour, Salt Spring Island
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Now known as an upscale tourist destination, few people realize that Saltspring Island, British Columbia was seen as a land of freedom and of opportunity for many blacks in the mid-19th Century.  It was a new frontier where blacks were granted rights by the British that had been denied to them in the United States.  

In the 1850s, Saltspring Island was an attractive place to settle because of its fertile soils and rich farmland.  The island had two major settlements – the Begg’s and the Ganges-Vesuvius Bay.  Canadians, Europeans, British settlers and their Aboriginal wives first established themselves at Begg’s Settlement.  The Ganges-Vesuvius settlement was made up of primarily black citizens.

Sources: 

R. W. Sandwell, Contesting Rural Space: Land Policy and the Practices of Resettlement on Saltspring Island, 1859-1891 (Canada: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005); Crawford Kilian, Go Do Some Great Thing: The Black Pioneers of British Columbia (Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, Publishers, 1978).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Mills, Florence (1896-1927)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

The 1927 Times of London (UK) obituary noted of Florence Mills, “There is no doubt that she was a real artist full of individuality and intelligence, and her premature death is a sad loss to the profession.”  Florence Mills was an internationally-recognized and multifaceted performer who paved the way for other black female stars during the Harlem Renaissance.

Born Florence Winfrey in 1896, in Washington, D.C. to former slaves Nellie and John Winfrey, Mills moved with her parents to New York City, New York in 1905. To help her financially struggling family, Mills and her two older sisters created “The Mills Sisters,” a dance and singing troupe that performed in theatres in Harlem, New York.

Sources: 

Bill Egan, Florence Mills: Harlem Jazz Queen (Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2004); http://www.florencemills.com/biography.htm.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Hedgeman, Anna Arnold (1899–1990)

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

Political activist and educator Anna Arnold Hedgeman was the first African American woman to serve on the cabinet of a New York mayor when she worked during the term of New York City Mayor Robert Wagner from 1957-1958. Her career spanned more than six decades as an advocate for civil rights. In 1963 she helped A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin plan the March on Washington and was the only woman among the key event organizers.

Anna Arnold was born on July 5, 1899 in Marshalltown, Iowa to William James Arnold II and Marie Ellen Arnold. When Anna was a child, the family moved to Anoka, Minnesota where the Arnolds were the only black family in the community. Her father created an environment that prioritized education and a strong work ethic. Arnold learned how to read at home and was not allowed to attend school until she was seven years old.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Fisk Jubilee Singers

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

In 1866 the Fisk Free Colored School was established in Nashville, Tennessee by the American Missionary Association. Housed in abandoned Union hospital barracks, Fisk set out to educate former slaves with the support of donations from former abolitionists. As those donations declined over the next five years, Fisk fell on hard times.

To save the institution, Fisk’s treasurer, George Leonard White, decided to gamble on the extraordinary voices of the young black singers who had begun to share with him the songs of their ancestors. Over the objections of his colleagues and sponsors, White and his assistant, a frail young African American pianist named Ella Sheppard, led a choir of nine young former slaves (now called the Fisk Jubilee Singers) up from Nashville to perform for congregations in the North along the route of the Underground Railway.

The Jubilees, as they were eventually called, struggled through a schizophrenic world of liberal ministers and adoring audiences, but also poor receipts, and segregated hotels, restaurants and trains. They made their way to New York, where they chose for their debut Steal Away, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot and  Deep River, the secret hymns their ancestors sang in fields and cabins and brush arbor churches, the spirituals they were about to introduce into the universal canon of Christian worship,.

Sources: 
Andrew Ward, Dark Midnight When I Rise: The story of the Fisk Jubilee Singers who introduced the world to the music of black America (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Bowers, Thomas J. (1823-1885)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Thomas J. Bowers, businessman, pianist, and activist, was best known as an African American opera singer, who was compared favorably with the leading world tenors of the mid-nineteenth century.  

Bowers was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1823, one of John C. Bowers Sr. and Henrietta Bowers’s thirteen children. John was a secondhand clothing dealer, organist, vestryman (warden), and school trustee at St. Thomas African Episcopal Church.

Thomas showed a strong desire to learn music at a young age. His older brother John became his first music teacher, and, by the age of eighteen, Thomas succeeded his brother as the organist at St. Thomas. Despite his natural abilities, his parents did not approve of any public performances outside of the church, and, for quite some time, Thomas respected their wishes. Instead he and John were trained as tailors by their father who had opened a fashionable merchant tailor shop at 71 South Second Street that catered to upper class gentlemen and businessmen in Philadelphia.
Sources: 
James Monroe Trotter, Music and some highly musical people (1878, reproduced New York: Johnson Reprint Corporation, 1968); Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982); Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Jr, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and the African American Experience New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Flipper, Henry Ossian (1856-1940)

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

Born near Thomasville, Georgia on March 21, 1856, Henry O. Flipper rose to prominence as the first African American graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1877. Despite being born into slavery to Festus, a shoemaker, and Isabella Flipper, Henry was reared in a family that emphasized excellence, and he and his younger brothers all became respected members of their communities as a military officer, AME bishop (Joseph), physician (E.H.), college professor (Carl), and farmer (Festus, Jr.).

Sources: 
Henry O. Flipper, The Colored Cadet at West Point: Autobiography of Lieut. Henry Ossian Flipper, U.S.A. First Graduate of Color from the U.S. Military Academy  (New York: H. Lee & Company, 1878); Henry O. Flipper, Negro Frontiersman: The Western Memoirs of Henry O. Flipper, First Negro graduate of West Point, Theodore D. Harris, ed., (El Paso: Texas Western College Press, 1963); Charles M. Robinson, III, The Court Martial of Lieutenant Henry Flipper (Texas Western Press: El Paso, Texas, 1994); The Online Handbook of Texas.
Affiliation: 
University of Texas, El Paso

Corrothers, James David (1869-1917)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in Michigan in 1869, James David Corrothers became an important literary figure in the 1890s. Corrothers grew up in South Haven, a southern Michigan town established by abolitionists, fugitive slaves, and free blacks during the years before the civil war. For a time he was the only African American child in the town who attended public school on a regular basis and he often recalled confrontations with fellow white students.  

Corrothers was raised by his grandfather.  He and his grandfather moved to Muskegon when Corrothers was fourteen where he worked odd jobs to support the two of them.    When his grandfather died two years later in 1885 Corrothers moved to Indiana and then Springfield, Ohio. He waited tables, worked as a lumberjack and for a time as an amateur boxer all by his 18th birthday.  

Corrothers moved to Chicago in 1887 where he met journalist-reformer Henry Demarest Lloyd.  After reading some of Corrothers’s poetry, Lloyd persuaded the Chicago Tribune to hire the young writer.  Corrothers eventually received an assignment to write on Chicago’s black upper class. When the article he submitted was rewritten by a white reporter in black “dialect,” Corrothers quit the paper in protest.   With support from temperance leader Francis Willard and Lloyd, Corrothers entered Northwestern University in 1890.  Although he left before earning a degree, Corrothers was now sought by the major Chicago daily newspapers.  
Sources: 
Kevin K. Gaines, Uplifting The Race: Black Leadership, Politics, and Culture in The Twentieth Century (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996); Dickson D. Bruce, Jr., Black American Writing from the Nadir: The Evolution of a Literary Tradition, 1877–1915 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 1989).   
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Hill, Peter (1767-1820)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Peter Hill, a clockmaker, was born on July 19, 1767 in the Burlington Township, New Jersey.  He is assumed to be the son of slaves owned by a clockmaker named Joseph Hollinshead, Jr.  Peter Hill grew up in the Hollinshead household and as he grew older was allowed to learn clock making from his master in order to assist Hollinshead in his store.  In 1794, Hollinshead manumitted Peter who was 27.  His freedom was certified the following year in an official court document. 

Sources: 
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

Woodbey, George Washington (1854- ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public
Domain

Born into slavery on a plantation in Tennessee, George Washington Woodbey was largely self-educated and as young man supported himself as a miner and factory worker before becoming an ordained minister in 1874 and pastoring churches in Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. By the mid-1880s Woodbey, a riveting and eloquent public speaker, had adopted the cause of social reform in America.  He was Nebraska’s Prohibition Party’s candidate for lieutenant governor in 1890 and was the party’s candidate for Congress in 1894.  Woodbey later bolted the Prohibition Party to endorse William Jennings Bryan of the Populist People’s Party in Bryan’s failed 1896 presidential campaign. 

By the turn of the century Woodbey had become a committed socialist and allied himself with Eugene V. Debs’s Socialist Party.  So impressed with Woodbey’s ability to captivate and inform crowds on the street corners of Omaha, A.W. Ricker, chief editorial writer for the socialist newspaper, Appeal to Reason, as well as Ricker’s associates, were of the opinion that “Comrade Woodbey is the greatest of living negro in America.”

Sources: 
Philip S. Foner (Ed.). Black Socialist Preacher. San Francisco: Synthesis Publications, 1983; Robert H. Craig. Religion and Radical Politics. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Knoxville College (1875- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Knoxville College, ca. 1900
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Knoxville College was founded in 1875 as a missionary effort of the United Presbyterian Church of North America in order to promote religious, moral, and educational leadership among freed men and women. Located north of downtown Knoxville, Tennessee, in the city’s Mechanicsville community, the college is situated on 39 acres and houses 17 buildings on its campus. A historically black college (HBCU), Knoxville College is currently a private, church-related, four-year, coeducational, liberal arts institution, and is a United Negro College Fund member school.
Sources: 
Knoxville College website, http://www.knoxvillecollege.edu; Toni Hodge-Wright, The Handbook of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Seattle: Jireh and Associates, 1992); The Tennessean Newspaper Website, http://www.Tennessean.com.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Downing, George T. (1819-1903)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Nineteenth Century political leader George T. Downing was born on December 30, 1819 in New York, New York. The son of restaurateur Thomas Downing, he was introduced to politics at a young age. His father owned the Oyster House, which was a popular meeting place for New York politicians. When he moved to Newport, Rhode Island from New York City in the 1840s, Downing opened his own restaurant, the Sea-Girt House Luxury Hotel. Following his move to Rhode Island, he married Serena Leonora de Grasse on November 24, 1841.  The couple had six children including the inventor Philip Downing.  Henry Francis Downing, who would also become prominent in his own right, was George T. Downing's nephew.

In addition to managing his own restaurant Downing was also the manager of the U.S. House of Representatives’ dining room in Washington, D.C.  That position afforded him, as an African American, rare contact with many prominent politicians and lobbyists in the antebellum period. This political influence would prove to be useful as he lobbied for the desegregation of Newport schools. Downing worked tirelessly on the cause from 1857 until the schools were desegregated in 1865.
Sources: 
Lawrence Grossman, "George T. Downing and Segregation of Rhode Island Public Schools, 1855-1866," Rhode Island History 36: 4 (November 1977); J.H. Hewitt, "Mr. Downing and His Oyster House: The Life and Good Works of an African-American Entrepreneur," New York History (July 1993); Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives Art & History, “George T. Downing" Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives Art & History, George T. Downing, http://artandhistory.house.gov/art_artifacts/DiningRoomsite/downing.aspx; "Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame: George T. Downing, Inducted 2003," Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame: George T. Downing, Inducted 2003, http://www.riheritagehalloffame.org/inductees_detail.cfm?iid=471.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Ryan, Ella & John

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born on Aug. 6, 1865 in Chillicothe, Ohio to George R. and Mary Elizabeth (Gatliffe) Ryan, John Henry Ryan was one of twelve children.  Ella (Alexander) Ryan’s origins are more unclear; however she was raised in Missouri as one of at least three children.  John H. and Ella Ryan moved to Spokane, Washington in 1889 along with several of John’s other siblings. Ella Ryan owned a successful beauty salon while John Ryan became a prominent local businessman.  The Ryans moved briefly to Seattle in 1900 where John Ryan worked in the newspaper industry.
Sources: 
Gary Reese Fuller, Who We Are: An Information History of Tacoma’s Black Community before W.W.I. (Tacoma: Tacoma Public Library, 1992)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Fango, Gobo (1855-1886)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Gobo Fango’s Gravestone Near Oakley, Idaho
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Sources: 
Tess Hilmo, “Gobo Fango,” The Friend, March 2003, 28-30; Steve Crump, “You can't top Gobo Fango's Idaho story,” Magicvalley.com, June 4, 2009, http://magicvalley.com/news/local/column-you-can-t-top-gobo-fango-s-idaho-story/article_15629d60-1c26-5eb3-ac80-18c8da2adf12.html; Deseret News, February 12, 1886, 3; Dean H. Garrett, “The Controversial Death of Gobo Fango,” Utah Historical Quarterly 57 (Summer 1989): 264-72.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Brigham Young University

Johnson, Halle Tanner Dillon (1864–1901)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Dr. Halle Tanner Dillon Johnson was the first female physician to pass the Alabama state medical examination and was the first woman physician at Tuskegee Institute.  She was the eldest of nine children born to African Methodist Episcopal bishop Benjamin Tucker Tanner and Sarah Elizabeth Miller in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1864.  Her brother, Henry Ossawa Tanner, became a noted artist.  Shortly after Halle was born the Tanners moved to Philadelphia where the children were educated.    

In the middle 1880s Halle Tanner worked with her father on the AME Church Review.  In 1886 she married Charles E. Dillon and the two moved to Trenton, New Jersey where they had a daughter, Sadie.  Charles Dillon died of an unknown cause and Halle Tanner Dillon moved back to Philadelphia to live with her parents.  Tanner decided to become a physician and enrolled at the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania.  The only African American woman in her class, Tanner graduated with an M.D. and high honors after three years of study in 1891.  While at the college, she learned of a job opportunity as resident physician at Tuskegee Institute.  She contacted Booker T. Washington, the Principal of Tuskegee.  Washington appointed her and helped her prepare for the Alabama state medical examination.
Sources: 
Darlene Hine, Black Women in America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 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_172.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Myers, Isaac (1835-1891)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Isaac Myers, a labor leader and mason, was born in Baltimore on January 13, 1835.  He was the son of free parents but grew up in a slave state.  Myers received his early education from a private day school of a local clergyman, Rev. John Fortie, since the state of Maryland provided no public education for African American children at the time.  At 16 years, he became an apprentice to James Jackson, a prominent black Baltimore ship caulker.  Four years later Myers was supervising the caulking of clipper ships operating out of Baltimore.

During the Civil War Myers worked as a porter and shipping clerk for a grocer and then returned to his original profession as a caulker.  Soon after the war ended, Myers found himself unexpectedly unemployed when a group of white caulkers protested the employment of black caulkers and longshoremen.  In response to the strike, Myers proposed the creation of a union for black caulkers. 

Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1982); Sara Opdycke, “Myers, Isaac,” American National Biography Online (Feb. 2000); http://www.anb.org.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/articles/15/15-01264.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Woods, Granville T. (1856-1910)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Granville T. Woods was a prominent inventor and electrical engineer who developed over 50 significant patents over the course of his life.  Because of his significant electrical inventions he is known as the “Black Edison.”

Sources: 
Robert Hayden, Nine African American Inventors (New York: Presidio Twenty First Century Books, 1992); Portia P. James, The Real McCoy: African American Invention and Innovation 1619-1930 (Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution, 1989); David M. Foy, Great Discoveries and Inventions by African Americans (Edgewood, Maryland: APU Publishing Group,1989).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Edward Waters College [Jacksonville] (1866- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Centennial Hall, Edward Waters College
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Edward Waters College was founded in 1866 by the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) for the education of newly freed slaves. Located near downtown Jacksonville, Florida, the college currently sits on 23 acres and houses Centennial Hall (a nationally registered historic structure), the school’s oldest building which was constructed in 1916. A historically black college, Edward Waters College is currently a private, Christian, liberal arts college, is the oldest black college in Florida. It is a member of the United Negro College Fund.

Sources: 
Edward Waters College website, http://www.ewc.edu; Toni Hodge-Wright, The Handbook of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Seattle: Jireh and Associates, 1992).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Williams, Fannie Barrier (1855-1944)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Fannie Barrier Williams was an educator, political activist, and women’s rights advocate who worked for advancement opportunities of African Americans. She called especially for social and educational reforms to improve the plight of black women in the Southern States of the U.S.  

Barrier was born to Anthony and Harriet Barrier in Brockport, New York on February 12, 1855. The family of five was one of very few black families in the community. Despite their minority status, they were well-respected in Brockport. Aspiring to become a teacher, Barrier was the first African American to graduate from the Brockport State Normal School (now SUNY Brockport) in 1870.  She was 15 at the time of her graduation.  Barrier and her siblings did not experience much overt discrimination growing up in Brockport. Besides being one of the few black families in the neighborhood the Barriers were the only black family at their church, the First Baptist Church of Brockport.

Sources: 
"The New Woman of Color: The Collected Writings of Fannie Barrier Williams, 1893-1918, by Fannie Barrier Williams, Mary Jo Deegan, ed., " Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 96.4 (2003);  "Fannie Barrier Williams," Western New York Suffragists, http://winningthevote.org/F-FBWilliams.html; Fannie Barrier Williams, Dictionary of Unitarian & Universalist Biography, http://uudb.org/articles/fanniebarrierwilliams.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Pegg, John Grant (1869-1916)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Owneship: Public Domain
John Grant Pegg was born around 1869 in Virginia.  He began his career in about 1890 as a Pullman porter, working out of Chicago. It was there that he met Mary Charlotte Page of Kansas, a seamstress. After their marriage they moved to Omaha, Nebraska in 1898.  Pegg became involved in Omaha politics as a Republican committeeman who became known informally as the “councilman for the Black community.”  In 1910 Pegg became the first African American appointed Inspector of Weights & Measures for the City of Omaha.  His work in the black community led him to be known as a “race man” dedicated to improving the African American section of Omaha’s population. Pegg, for example, was a Shriner and a member of the local Masonic Lodge.

The Kincaid Homestead Act of 1904 opened up thousands of acres of northern Nebraska for homesteaders.  In 1911, John Pegg sponsored a number of black settlers who went by wagon out to Cherry County, Nebraska to homestead.  Among them were his brother Charlie Pegg and his nephew James. They homesteaded land in John Pegg’s name in Cherry County although John Pegg never lived on the homestead. His brother and nephew operated a cattle ranch that supplied beef to the South Omaha packing plants.  John Grant Pegg died in 1916 in Omaha.
Sources: 
Personal letters and journal entries of William Gaitha Pegg, son of John Grant Pegg, 1982.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Chambers, Samuel D. (1831-1929) and Amanda Chambers (1840-1925)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Pubic Domain"
Like the majority of black Americans living in the South in pre-Civil War America, Samuel and Amanda Chambers were slaves.  Samuel, was born in 1831 in Pickens County, Alabama.  Amanda was born in 1840 in Noxubee County, Mississippi.  Samuel’s father was his owner, James Davidson.  His mother, Hester Gillespie, was one of Davidson’s slaves.  Following the sale of his mother, Samuel was sold to Maxfield Chambers a Mississippi resident.  At the age of 13, Samuel responded to the preaching of Mississippian Preston Thomas, a recent convert to the Latter-day Saints faith. Thomas baptized Samuel Chambers in 1844.  

In the ensuing decades Chambers married, fathered a son, Peter, and endured the sorrow of losing his first wife.  In 1858 Samuel married Amanda Leggroan, the daughter of Green and Hattie Leggroan, all were slaves, the property of David Lagronne of Mississippi.  Samuel and Amanda did not have children.  With the passage of the 13th Amendment in 1865, Samuel and Amanda gained their freedom along with nearly four million other African Americans.

Sources: 
William G. Hartley, “Samuel D. Chambers, The Improvement Era, Spring 1977; “Saint Without Priesthood: The Collected Testimonies of Ex-Slave Samuel D. Chambers,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 12: 2 (Summer 1979; Jessie L. Embry, Black Saints in a White Church: Contemporary African American Mormons (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1994. 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Utah

Williams, Marguerite Thomas (1895-1991?)

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

Marguerite Thomas Williams, born in 1895, was the first African American (male or female) to earn a Ph.D. in geology.  Like Roger Arliner Young, Williams was mentored by African American biologist Ernest Everett Just.

Williams earned her bachelor's degree in geology from Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1923.  Just considered Williams for a position at the University but chose to award it to Roger Arliner Young.  However, Williams found work as an assistant professor at Miner Teacher’s College in Washington, D.C. where she was chair of the Division of Geography between 1923 and 1933.  She was allowed a leave of absence so that she could pursue a master’s degree at Columbia University which she received in 1930.  She continued teaching at Miner for a decade before she earned her doctorate in geology from Catholic University in 1942.  Her dissertation titled “The Study of the History of Erosion in the Anacostia Drainage Basin” examined a local geological feature.

Sources: 
Wini Warren, “Marguerite Thomas Williams: Geologist,” in Black Women Scientists in the United States (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1999); https://webfiles.uci.edu/mcbrown/display/marguerite_williams.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Cromwell, John Wesley (1846-1927)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

John Wesley Cromwell was a historian, editor, educator and lawyer who was born into slavery on September 5th, 1846 in Portsmouth, Virginia. He was the youngest child of Willis Hodges Cromwell and Elizabeth Carney Cromwell, who had twelve children. In 1851 Willis Cromwell obtained his family’s freedom and they moved to West Philadelphia. John attended Bird’s Grammar School at the age of ten and the Institute for Colored Youth in 1856. He graduated in 1864 and taught briefly in Colombia, Pennsylvania.

Cromwell returned to Virginia in 1865 at the age of eighteen and opened a private school for freedmen in Portsmouth, which was eventually taken over by the American Missionary Association. He returned to Philadelphia and worked with the Baltimore Association for the Moral and Intellectual Improvement of Colored People. In December of 1865, the principal of the Association recommended Cromwell to teach in the American Missionary Association’s freedman’s schools being formed across the South. Cromwell taught briefly in Maryland and Virginia through 1867.

John Wesley Cromwell soon got involved with local politics in Virginia. In 1867 he was named a delegate to the first Republican convention in Richmond. He was also named clerk in the Virginia Constitutional Convention in 1868.

Sources: 
Adelaide M. Cromwell, Unveiled Voices, Unvarnished Memories: The Cromwell Family in Slavery and Segregation, 1692-1972 (Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 2007); Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Lewis, Kossola Cudjo (c. 1841–1935)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Courtesy Erik Overbey Collection
University of South Alabama Archives
Sources: 
Sylviane A. Diouf, Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Story of the Last Africans Brought to America (NY: Oxford University Press, 2007); http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/face/Article.jsp?id=h-1403
Contributor: 

Mortenol, Camille Sosthène Héliodore (1859-1930)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public domain

French naval hero Camille Mortenol was born November 29, 1859 in Pointe-à-Pitre, the largest city in the French island colony of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean Sea, the son of former slave André Mortenol, a sailor, and his wife, Julienne Toussaint, a seamstress. A bright child who was particularly adept at mathematics, he attracted the attention of the French abolitionist Victor Schoelcher, who acted as his mentor and obtained a scholarship for him to study at Lycée Montaigne in Bordeaux, France, where Mortenol was granted the bachelor of science degree. He next became the first student of African descent to attend the École Polytechnique in Paris, finishing in 1880, ranked 19th in a class of 205.

Sources: 
“Le commandant Mortenol (1859-1930)” at http://www.une-autre-histoire.org/le-commandant-mortenol-biographie/; “Le commandant Mortenol (1859-1930) - Une autre histoire” at http://www.colsbleus.fr/articles/7962; “Camille Mortenol, un fils d’esclave devenu officier de marine et défenseur de Paris” http://www.opex360.com/2016/11/11/camille-mortenol-fils-desclave-devenu-officier-de-marine-defenseur-de-paris/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

St. Bartley Primitive Baptist Church [Huntsville] (1808- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership, Public Domain
Instituted in 1808 by enslaved blacks, St. Bartley Primitive Baptist Church of Huntsville, Alabama, exemplifies 206 years of black religious independence.  It was located originally outside the city limits of Huntsville near present day Governors Drive and Madison Street, among the tombstones, dogwoods, and flowering trees of the Old Georgia Graveyard—a slave graveyard, and the only land that enslaved blacks could claim.  The original congregation appears to have been composed of slaves transported by their owners from Georgia to northern Alabama.  St. Bartley, initially called the African Huntsville Church, is recognized widely as being Alabama’s oldest black church.
Sources: 
Edward R. Crowther, “Independent Black Baptist Congregations in Antebellum Alabama,” The Journal of Negro History, (Vol. 72, No. 3/4 Summer - Autumn 1987, pp. 66-75); Saint Bartley Primitive Baptist Church website at http://www.saintbartleypbchurch.org/history.html; January 29, 2014, phone interview with Elder William T. Gladys.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Alabama State University

1895 New Orleans Dockworkers Riot (1894-1895)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Newspaper Account of the Dockworkers Riot, 1895
Image Ownership: Public domain

The 1895 New Orleans Dockworkers Riot was a racially motivated attack on non-union black dockworkers by white dockworkers and their sympathizers.  The riot occurred in New Orleans, Louisiana from March 9 through 12, 1895 and marked the end of nearly 15 years of bi-racial union cooperation and union power in New Orleans.  The riot also left six black laborers dead and many other wounded.

Throughout the 1880s and into the 1890s, black and white dockworker unions worked together to promote fair working conditions and wages for their workers along the New Orleans waterfront.  In 1892, the year of the New Orleans general strike, black and white dockworker unions agreed to share work equally between white and black workers.

Following the economic panic of 1893 and the onset of a national depression, New Orleans commerce suffered tremendously from diminished trade, low cotton prices, smaller crops, and a decline in profits.  Economic concerns intensified racial tensions and black dockworkers as white dockworkers began to discuss withdrawing from the equal share agreement.

Sources: 
Daniel Rosenberg, New Orleans Dockworkers: Race, Labor, and Unionism 1892-1923, (New York: SUNY Press 1988); Eric Arnesen, Waterfront Workers of New Orleans: Race, Class, and Politics, 1863-1923, (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Southern New Hampshire University

Robison, William (1821-1899)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
California pioneer, expressman, and civil rights worker William Robison was born a slave in Gloucester County, Virginia on August 28, 1821.  He may have gained his freedom by fighting in the Seminole War in 1836.  He would have been 15 at the time.

It is also unclear as to how he got to California but it was probably on the USS Ohio which arrived in Monterey on October 9, 1848.  Most probably, Robison was aboard.   The USS Ohio then sailed to Boston but returned to California in 1850.  This time, Robison remained in the state.  On November 11, 1856, he married Flora Pitz, a South Carolinian, and the couple had two children, Fannie and William.  By 1880, however, the U.S. Census showed Robison as single.

Robison spent a short time mining for gold after his 1850 arrival then settled in Stockton.  There he worked for Adams & Company Express and, after its failure in 1855, for Wells Fargo & Company, driving an express wagon. This was a position of importance, as the express companies loaded gold dust from the mines on the San Francisco steamers, and sent up gold coins to myriad mining towns. He also picked up and delivered local packages to the river port supplying the Mother Lode’s Southern Mines.
Sources: 
Roley E. Wilhoit and John H. Field, Statement for the San Joaquin Society of California Pioneers (1865), 29 April1899, transcript from the Stockton Public Library and Haggin Museum; Correspondence from George Tighlman in Stockton, to William Daegener in Columbia, 7 May 1861, Wells Fargo Bank Archives.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Antoine, Caesar Carpenter (1836-1921)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Caesar Carpenter "C.C." Antoine is best known as a leading African American politician in Louisiana during Reconstruction (1863-1877). Antoine was born in New Orleans to a Black father who fought the British as an American soldier at the Battle of New Orleans (1815), and to a West Indian mother. His father’s mother was from Africa and the daughter of a captured African chief. Her reputed self-purchase from slavery and accumulation of a minor fortune allowed C.C. Antoine and his father to live out their lives as free blacks.  Prior to entering politics, Antoine ran a successful grocery business in New Orleans.

In 1862, one year after the Civil War began, New Orleans was captured and occupied by Union troops, Antoine joined the Union Army and quickly rose to the rank of Captain.  From 1862 to 1865 Captain Antoine was attached to one of the nation’s first all-black regiments, the Louisiana Native Guards. As Captain, Antoine recruited former bondsmen for service and developed Company I of the Seventh Native Guard primarily stationed at Brashear (now Morgan City) about 85 miles southwest of New Orleans.

Sources: 
John Andrew Prime, “Lt. Gov. C.C. Antoine: Louisiana's 3rd Black Lieutenant Governor”http://home.earthlink.net/~japrime/cwrt/antoine.htm; Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 (New York: Harpers Perennial, 2002); W.E.B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880 (New York: Touchstone, 1995).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Augusta, Alexander T. (1825-1890)

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

Alexander Thomas Augusta was the highest-ranking black officer in the Union Army during the Civil War.  He was also the first African American head of a hospital (Freedmen’s Hospital) and the first black professor of medicine (Howard University in Washington, D.C.).

Sources: 

Joseph T. Glatthaar, Forged in Battle: The Civil War Alliance of Black
Soldiers and White Officers
(New York: Free Press, 1990); Herbert M.
Morais, The History of the Negro in Medicine (New York: Publishers Co.,
1968); http://msa.maryland.gov/megafile/msa/speccol/sc2200/sc2221/000011/000018/pdf/d011488e.pdf.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Amazons (Ahosi) of Dahomey

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The Amazons of Dahomey were a military corps of women appointed to serve in battles under the direction of the Fon king, who ruled over a nation that included much of present-day southern Togo and southern Benin.  They emerged during the Eighteenth Century and were finally suppressed during the 1890s. The Amazons were chosen from among the nominal wives of the king, called “Ahosi.”  Estimates of the number of women soldiers vary by accounts, yet some scholars believe the numbers to have ranged over time from several hundred to a few thousand women soldiers.

The Fon women’s army had three main wings: the right and left wings, and the elite center wing or Fanti.  Each of these wings had five subgroups: the artillery women, the elephant huntresses, the musket-bearing frontline group, the razor women, and the archers.  They served in battles in conjunction with male troops.
Sources: 
Stanley B. Alpern, Amazons of Black Sparta: the Women Warriors of Dahomey (New York: New York University Press, 1998); David E. Jones, Women Warriors: a History  (Washington, DC: Brassey’s, 1997); Robert B. Edgerton, Warrior Women: The Amazons of Dahomey and the Nature of War (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2000).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Still, James (1812-1882)

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

James Still, medical doctor and herbalist, was born on April 9, 1812 in Burlington County, New Jersey.  Still was born to Levin and Charity Still, two former slaves living in the Pine Barrens to avoid being captured and sold back into slavery. Although the Still family was poor, the children attended school periodically and had some of their own textbooks, such as the New Testament and a spelling book.  When Still was three years old, a Dr. Fort, a Philadelphia physician, came to the Pines to vaccinate the children. His visit was the spark of inspiration that led to Still’s desire to be a doctor.

Just before Still turned 18 he was voluntarily hired out as an indentured servant by his father. During the three years of his servitude, Still read everything available about medicine and botany, and learned all he could from the Native Americans of the area. On his twenty-first birthday, he was released from his service, given $10.00 and a new suit. He left immediately for Philadelphia. Still’s racial and financial status prevented him from attending medical school. Nonetheless, he continued to gain medical knowledge, reading everything he could find while working menial jobs to support himself.  

Sources: 
James Still, Early Recollections and Life of Dr. James Still (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott and Company, 1877); Carole Ann Lang, “James Still: New Jersey’s Black Physician of the Pines,” Negro History Bulletin 43:1 (March 1980).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Lowe, Ann Cole (1898-1981)

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

Ann Cole Lowe was the first African American to become a noted fashion designer. Lowe’s one-of-a-kind designs were favored by wealthy and socially prominent women from the 1920s to the 1960s. In 1953, Lowe designed the ivory silk taffeta wedding dress worn by Jacqueline Bouvier when she married John F. Kennedy.

Lowe was born in Clayton, Alabama in 1898 although the specific date is unknown.  Lowe was a great-granddaughter of a skilled seamstress slave and a white plantation owner. Her mixed-race grandmother, Georgia Tompkins, was given her freedom after being purchased by a freeman named General Cole. Ann learned to sew from Georgia and from her mother Janey Lowe, who made dresses for Southern society women. Janey Lowe died in 1914 when Lowe was sixteen. At the time of her death Janey Lowe was working on four ball gowns for the First Lady of Alabama, Elizbeth Kirkman O'Neal. Lowe finished the dresses.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Paul, Susan (1809–1841)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

The youngest daughter of Baptist minister Rev. Thomas Paul and Catherine Waterhouse Paul, Susan Paul was a primary school teacher and an active member of the bi-racial Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society.  The Pauls were a highly regarded family in the free black abolitionist community in Boston.  Thomas Paul’s brother, Rev. Nathaniel Paul, was also an outspoken opponent of slavery.
Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992) and Lois Brown, “Out of the Mouths of Babes: the Abolitionist Campaign of Susan Paul and the Boston Juvenile Choir,” New England Quarterly, 75 (March 2002): 52-79.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Factor, Pompey (1849–1928)

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

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Pompey Factor, former slave, scout for the United States Army and Congressional Medal of Honor winner, was born in Arkansas in 1849 to Hardy Factor, a black Seminole chief and an unknown Biloxi Indian woman.

By the end of that 2nd Seminole War (1835-1842), most of the Seminole Indians and runaway slaves were captured and removed to the Indian Territory. The fear of enslavement drove many black Seminole to Mexico in the 1850s. Factor’s family was among those who emigrated.
On August 16, 1870, Factor enlisted in the Army and was assigned the rank of private with the Detachment of Seminole Negro Indian Scouts who worked with the Twenty-fourth Infantry, an all-black regiment. As a scout, he performed reconnaissance duties in Texas for the Army, tracking the movements of Comanches, Apaches, Kiowa and other Native Americans who refused to go to reservations.

Sources: 
Katz, William Loren, Black People Who Made the Old West, (Trenton, NJ: African World Press, 1992); The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture www.encyclopediaofarskansas.net/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Black Genealogy Research Group

Five Points District, New York City (1830s-1860s)

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History
Five Points by George Catlin, 1827
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Originally the site of New York City’s first free black settlement, by 1850 the Five Points district in lower Manhattan had instead become infamous for its dance halls, bars, gambling houses, prostitution, and for its mixed race clientele.  To the larger white community, the Five Points was both a warning about the dangers of racial mixing, and a threat to New York’s racial and social order.  To white missionaries and reformers, the area was a mission field.  To most middle class black residents of the city, the Five Points was an embarrassment.  In retrospect, the Five Points simply reflected the changing geography of poverty and race within New York City as working-class Irish immigrants moved into and “whitened” previously all-black residential areas.    
Sources: 
Leslie M. Harris, In the Shadow of Slavery: African Americans in New York City, 1626-1863 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003); The Five Points Site: Archaeologists and Historians Rediscover a Famous Nineteenth-Century New York Neighborhood, http://r2.gsa.gov/fivept/fphome.htm.
Contributor:&