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19th Century

Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852)

Vignette Type: 
Misc
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Uncle Tom's Cabin, written and published by Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1852, was the most popular 19th century novel and, after the Bible, was the second-best-selling book of that century.  Over 300,000 copies were sold in the United States in its first year alone.  The book’s impact on the American public on the issue of slavery was so powerful that when President Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe at the start of the American Civil War he stated “so this is the little lady who made this big war.”  

This anti-slavery novel was controversial as soon as it appeared.  Stowe used Uncle Tom’s Cabin to publicize the horrors of slavery, bringing them to the attention of thousands who heretofore had not been particularly sympathetic to the abolitionist cause.  Its portrayal of slavery immediately increased the tensions between Southern slaveholders and non-slaveholding Northerners and as Lincoln’s comments suggested, brought the nation to civil war.
Sources: 

Mason I. Lowance, Ellen E. Westbrook and R.C. De Prospo, The Stowe Debate: Rhetorical Strategies in Uncle Tom's Cabin (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1994); "Uncle Tom's Cabin and American Culture: A Multi-Media Archive," Edited by Stephen Railton; http://www.uncletomscabin.org/; http://zorak.monmouth.edu/~afam/stowe2.jpg; http://www.uncletomscabin.org/.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Hackley, Emma Azalia (1867-1922)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Emma Azalia Smith Hackley was an African American singer and Denver political activist born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 1867.  Her parents, business owners Henry and Corilla Smith, moved to Detroit where she attended Washington Normal School, graduating in 1886.  Smith, a child prodigy learned to play the piano at three and later took private voice, violin and French lessons.

Emma Smith worked as an elementary school teacher for eighteen years.  During that period she met and married Edwin Henry Hackley a Denver attorney and editor of the city’s black newspaper, the Denver Statesman.  In 1900 Hackley received her music degree from Denver University.  In 1905-1906 she studied voice in Paris with former Metropolitan Opera star Jean de Reszke.

Hackley was active in black Denver’s civic and social life.  She founded the Colored Women’s League and served as executive director of its local branch.  She and her husband also founded the Imperial Order of Libyans which fought racial discrimination and promoted patriotism among African Americans.
Sources: 
M. Marguerite Davenport, Azalia: The Life of Madame E. Azalia Hackley (Boston: Chapman & Grimes, 1947); Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982);  "Seven--As Large As She Can Make It": The Role of Black Women Activists in Music, 1880-1945” in Cultivating Music in America, http://www.escholarship.org/editions/view?docId=ft838nb58v&doc.view=content&chunk.id=d0e8684&toc.depth=1&anchor.id=0&brand=eschol
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Mound Bayou (1887- )

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

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

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

C.R. Patterson & Sons Company (1893-1939)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The C.R. Patterson & Sons Company was a carriage building firm, and the first African American-owned automobile manufacturer. The company was founded by Charles Richard Patterson, who was born into slavery in April 1833 on a plantation in Virginia. His parents were Nancy and Charles Patterson. Patterson escaped from slavery in 1861, heading west and settling in Greenfield, Ohio around 1862.

At some point after his arrival in Ohio, Patterson went to work as a blacksmith for the carriage-building business, Dines and Simpson. In 1865 he married Josephine Utz, and had five children from 1866 to 1879. In 1873, Patterson went into partnership with J.P. Lowe, another Greenfield-based carriage manufacturer. Over the next twenty years, Patterson and Lowe developed a highly successful carriage-building business.

In 1893 Patterson bought out J.P. Lowe’s share of the business and reorganized it as C.R. Patterson & Sons Company. The company built 28 types of horse-drawn vehicles and employed approximately 10-15 individuals. While the company managed to successfully market its equine-powered carriages and buggies, the dawn of the automobile was rapidly approaching.
Sources: 
http://www.coachbuilt.com/bui/p/patterson/patterson.htm; http://www.highland-ohio.com/patterson_automobile.htm; Monette Bailey, “CR Patterson and Son: America’s Only African-American Automobile Manufacturers,” African Americans on Wheels, January 2005 (accessed at http://www.highland-ohio.com/patterson%20auto_tommy%20smith.htm).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Sanders, Mingo (1857-1929)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image from Harper’s Weekly, January 12, 1907
(Used With Permission from HarpWeek L.L.C.)
First Sergeant Mingo Sanders is best known as one of the leading figures in the Brownsville Affray in Brownsville, Texas in 1906.  Sanders was a career soldier with the then-segregated U.S. Army’s 1st Battalion, 25th Infantry, when it was posted at Fort Brown, Texas in July 1906.  Born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1857, Sanders as a young boy remembered watching a military parade in his hometown and deciding he would become a soldier.  He enlisted on May 16, 1881 in Charleston and spent his entire career with the 25th Infantry.
Sources: 
Harry Lembeck, Taking On Theodore Roosevelt: How One Senator Defied the President on Brownsville and Shook American Politics (Amherst NY: Prometheus Books, 2015); John H. Nankivell and Quintard Taylor, Buffalo Soldier Regiment: History of the Twenty-Fifth United States Infantry, 1869–1926 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001); Mary Church Terrell, “A Sketch of Mingo Saunders,” Voice of the Negro, March 1907.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Kinchlow, Ben (1846?-1939?)

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

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

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

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

Rock, John S. (1825-1866)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John S. Rock was born to free black parents in Salem, New Jersey in 1825. He attended public schools in New Jersey until he was 19 and then worked as a teacher between 1844 and 1848.  During this period Rock began his medical studies with two white doctors. Although he was initially denied entry, Rock was finally accepted into the American Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He graduated in 1852 with a medical degree. While in medical school Rock practiced dentistry and taught classes at a night school for African Americans.  In 1851 he received a silver medal for the creation of an improved variety of artificial teeth and another for a prize essay on temperance.   
Sources: 
John A Garraty and Jerome Sternstein, eds., Encyclopedia of American Biography, 2nd edition (New York: Harper Collins, 1996); Carter, Purvis, “The Negro in Periodical Literature, Part III,” Journal of Negro History (July 1967) 92-102.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Harpers Ferry Raid, 1859

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
U.S. Marines Attacking John Brown and His Men at Harper's Ferry, 1859
Image Ownership: Public Domain
On October 16, 1859 in the town of Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia) John Brown, an ardent abolitionist, and 21 other men raided a West Virginia armory to seize weapons for a planned slavery insurrection. Civilians in the town were alerted when gunshots were heard and news spread that the armory had been captured, they assembled militia to counterattack the building.  Later the United States government sent in Marines led by Colonel Robert E. Lee to quash the insurgent takeover.  Escape routes were cut off and the military recaptured the armory.  In the course of the raid ten of Brown's men were killed; seven, including Brown himself, were captured, and five escaped.
Sources: 
Joseph Edgar Chamberlain, John Brown (Boston: Small, Maynard & Company, 1899); Benjamin Quarles, Allies for Freedom: Blacks and John Brown (New York: Oxford University Press, 1974); Paul Finkelman, His Soul Goes Marching On: Responses to John Brown and the Harper’s Ferry Raid (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1995); http://www.wvculture.org/History/archivesindex.aspx.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Dillard University [New Orleans] (1869- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Dillard University is a private, Historically Black liberal arts college located in New Orleans, Louisiana.  It is affiliated with the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church.  Dillard University is a result of the merger between Straight College and New Orleans University in 1930.
Sources: 
Louise Bernard and Radiclani Clytus, Within These Walls: A Short History of Dillard University (New Orleans: Dillard University Office of the President, 2000); Dillard Heritage, http://www.dillard.edu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=55&Itemid=63 (Official site).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

African Baptist Church [Boston] (1805- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
African Meeting House
First Site of the African Baptist Church
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Officially founded on August 8, 1805 by the Reverend Thomas Paul, The African Baptist Church is the oldest black church in Massachusetts.  The first meeting of the congregants took place around 1800.  Thomas Paul and Scipio Dalton formed the African Baptist Church after a group of black congregants who had previously attended the predominantly white First and Second Baptist Churches, decided to leave those congregations. Knowing there would be little resistance to their withdrawal, the group received assistance and the blessing of the larger white churches.  Dr. Samuel Stillman, pastor of First Baptist Church, agreed to support the new church with the stipulation that they were to “plainly dissuade” white admittance.


At the time of its founding the church congregation consisted of 24 members, nine men, and 15 women.  With $7,150 raised in funds for the new church, they built an edifice at 46 Joy Street on Beacon Hill which was completed in December 1806.  That building is now a national historic landmark called the African Meeting House.

Sources: 
Paul Finkelman, “Emigration schemes for Africa, Canada, and Latin America,” Encyclopedia of African American history, 1896 to the present (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009); George A. Levesque, "Inherent Reformers-Inherited Orthodoxy: Black Baptists in Boston, 1800-1873," The Journal of Negro History 60.4 (1975): 491-525; George A. Levesque, Black Boston: African American life and culture in urban America, 1750-1860 (New York: Garland Publishing, 1994); "A Christ Centered Caring Church," Peoples Baptist Church of Boston, http://www.pbcboston.org/about-us/our-history.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Foster, Andrew "Rube" (1879-1930)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

Wysinger v. Crookshank, 1888

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

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

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

Hayden, Harriet (c.1820-1893)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Hayden House
Image Courtesy of the U.S.
National Park Service
Harriet Bell Hayden and her husband, Lewis Hayden (c.1811-1889), escaped slavery in Kentucky in 1844, traveling first to Ohio, then Michigan and finally settling in Massachusetts, where they became active abolitionists in Boston.  In addition to caring for their two children, Joseph and Elizabeth, Harriet ran a boarding house out of their home at 66 Phillips Street, while Lewis ran a successful clothing store.  

The Hayden home also served as a stop on the Underground Railroad and is now listed as a national historic site. In 1850, they assisted a fugitive slave couple, William and Ellen Craft, who had escaped from Georgia, protecting them from slave catchers on the prowl in Boston as a result of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.  Lewis also led in the well-publicized rescue of Shadrach Minkins in 1851 from a Boston courthouse.  After Harriet died, part of the Hayden estate was donated to Harvard University to start a scholarship fund for African American students.
Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992); Stanley J. And Anita W. Robboy, “Lewis Hayden: From Fugitive Slave to Statesman,” New England Quarterly, 46 (1973): 591-613; and www.nps.gov.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Porter, Maggie (1853-1942)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Fisk University Franklin Library's Special Collections
Maggie Porter was born in Lebanon, Tennessee around 1853.  At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Henry Frazier, a wealthy planter from Lebanon, took refuge in Nashville with his family and house slaves, among them a Mrs. Porter, his chief domestic servant, her husband, and three daughters, including her little girl Maggie. When Union troops reached the outskirts of the city, Frazier left the household under Mrs. Porter’s care, taking her husband and two of her daughters along with him, possibly as insurance against her absconding with Maggie behind Union lines. Frazier returned to Nashville, now under Federal control and freed the Porters upon the publication of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Mrs. Porter agreed to remain in his service. But when Frazier refused to pay her wages, she promptly hired herself out to another family.
Sources: 
Andrew Ward, Dark Midnight When I Rise: The Story of the Jubilee Singers Who Introduced the World to the Music of Black America (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Lincoln University [Pennsylvania] (1854 - )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Albert Einstein at Lincoln University
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Lincoln University in Pennsylvania was founded in 1854 by John Miller Dickey, a Presbyterian minister and his wife, Sarah Emlen Cresson. It is located on Baltimore Pike in southern Chester County, a rural part of southeastern Pennsylvania. Lincoln was originally founded under the name Ashmun Institute, after the religious leader and social reformer, Jehudi Ashmun, to educate young men of African descent. It is the first degree-awarding school of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in the United States.

Dickey, the first president of the institute, supported the establishment of Liberia as a colony for African Americans and encouraged the Institute's first students to support the movement.
Sources: 
Lincoln University of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, About Lincoln: A Legacy of Producing Leaders, http://www.lincoln.edu/about.html (official website); U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges 2010: Lincoln University, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/lincoln-university-pa/lincoln-university-3290; City Town Info, Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, http://www.citytowninfo.com/school-profiles/lincoln-university-of-pennsylvania.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Harare, Zimbabwe (1890- )

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

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

Brown, Henry "Box" (1816-1889)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
To escape enslavement on a plantation near Richmond, Virginia, Henry “Box” Brown in 1849 exploited maritime elements of the Underground Railroad.  Brown’s moniker “Box” was a result of his squeezing himself into a box and having himself shipped 250 miles from Richmond, Virginia to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Henry Brown, born enslaved in 1816 to John Barret, a former mayor of Richmond, eventually married another slave named Nancy and the couple had three children.  Brown became an active member of Richmond’s First African Baptist Church where he was known for singing in the choir.  In 1848 Brown’s wife and children were abruptly sold to away to North Carolina.  Using “overwork” (overtime) money, Brown decided to arrange for his freedom.

He constructed a wooden crate three feet long and two feet six inches deep with two air holes. With help from Philadelphia abolitionists, he obtained a legal freight contract from Adams Express.  This freight company with both rail and steamboat capabilities arranged to ship his package labeled “Dry Goods” to Philadelphia.  The package was a heavy wooden box holding Brown’s 200 pounds.

Sources: 
Henry Brown, Narrative of the Life of Henry “Box” Brown (Manchester, England: Lee and Glynn Publisher, 1851); Julie Winch, A Gentleman of Color, the Life of James Forten (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002); David Cecelski, The Waterman’s Song: Slavery and Freedom in Maritime North Carolina (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001); Daphne Brooks, Bodies in Dissent, Spectacular Stories of Race and Freedom 1850-1910 (Duke University Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 2008); Suzette Spencer, Online Encyclopedia of Virginia, August  23, 2013, http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Brown_Henry_Box_ca_1815#start_entry.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Brown, Charlotte L. ( ? -- ?)

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

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

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

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

Gant, Joe “Gans” (1874–1910)

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

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

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

Cassey, Joseph (1789-1848)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
The Cassey House, Philadelphia
Image Courtesy of Janine Black
Joseph Cassey was born in the French West Indies in 1789.  He arrived in Philadelphia sometime before 1808.  Cassey prospered in the barber trade and as a perfumer, wig-maker, and money-lender.  His barbershop was located a block from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.  Cassey amassed an estimated $75,000 fortune by the 1830s to become, after lumber merchant Stephen Smith, the second wealthiest African-American in Philadelphia.

Cassey bought and sold real estate, often with business partner, Robert Purvis, another notable African American Philadelphian.  A Bucks County farm outside Philadelphia jointly owned by Cassey and Purvis was visited frequently by abolitionists and women’s rights advocates including Lucretia Mott who described her stay there as an occasion where she was entertained handsomely. 

Joseph Cassey owned numerous Philadelphia rental properties including a small apartment in the rear courtyard of what would become the “Cassey House,” at 243 Delancey Street.  Joseph’s son, Francis eventually bought the Cassey House and the other houses facing the courtyard at a sheriff’s sale.  The Cassey House remained in the Cassey family for 84 years and was home to three generations of Casseys.
Sources: 
Joseph Cassey’s Will, W8-1948, will book #20, page 38, Register of Wills, Philadelphia City Hall; The Cassey Family Bible (1700s), in the care of Dianna Ruth Cassey, Warner, New Jersey; Charles H. Wesley, "The Negro in the Organization of Abolition," Phylon 2:3 (1941):223-235; George Washington Williams, History of the Negro Race in America from 1619 to 1880: Negroes as Slaves (New York and London: G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Knickerbocker Press, 1882); Joseph Willson, The Elite of Our People: Joseph Willson's Sketches of Black Upper-Class Life in Antebellum Philadelphia (The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000); M. H. Bacon, But One Race: The Life of Robert Purvis (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2007); M. R. Small and E. W. Small, "Prudence Crandall, Champion of Negro Education," The New England Quarterly 17:4 (1944)506-529.  Philip Lapsansky, Chief of Reference, The Library Company of Philadelphia, Nov. 1, 2007; http://www.yale.edu/glc/crandall/01.htm , (9/25/07); http://negroartist.com/writings/jamesforten.htm (9/14/2007).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Temple University

Mirambo (ca.1840--1884)

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

Bradley, Benjamin (1830- ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
USS Dale, Sloop-of-War, ca. 1860
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Benjamin Bradley was the first person to develop a working model of a steam engine for a war ship.  Born in Maryland around 1830 Bradley was owned by an unidentified slaveholder in Annapolis, Maryland.  While living in Annapolis Bradley worked for a printing company at a young age.  At the age of 16 he demonstrated his great skill in mechanical engineering.  He constructed a model of a steam engine out of two pieces of steel, a gun barrel, and pewter.  Impressed by this feat, his master arranged for Bradley to work at the Department of Natural and Experimental Philosophy at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.  Bradley became the first African American to hold any but menial posts at the Naval Academy.  

Bradley learned to read and write at the Academy.  In time he became an assistant who set up experiments for the Academy's faculty.  While working at the Naval Academy he sold his first small steam engine to a Midshipman living in Annapolis. This engine was powerful enough to run a small boat.  Bradley used this money to expand on his findings and create an even larger model.

Sources: 

Michael Brodie, Created Equal: The Lives and Ideas of Black American Innovators (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1993); Jim Haskins, Outward Dreams: Black Inventors and Their Inventions (New York: Walker Publishing Company, Inc., 1991).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

The Hamburg Massacre (1876)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Map of the Hamburg Massacre
Image Ownership: Public Domain
On July 8, 1876, the small town of Hamburg, South Carolina erupted in violence as the community's African American militia clashed with whites from the surrounding rural area.  Hamburg was a small all-black community across the river from Augusta, Georgia.   Like many African American communities in South Carolina, it was solidly Republican and with the GOP in charge in Columbia, some of its men were members of the South Carolina National Guard (the Militia).    

On July 4, two white farmers from surrounding Edgefield County, Thomas Butler and Henry Getzen, attempted to drive a carriage through the town along the main road, but were obstructed by the all-black Militia which was engaged in a military exercise.  Although the farmers got through the military formation after an initial argument, racial tensions remained high.  
Sources: 
Stephen Budiansky, The Bloody Shirt: Terror After Appomattox (New York: Viking Penguin, 2008); Thomas Holt, Black over White: Negro Political Leadership in South Carolina During Reconstruction (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1979); Richard Zuczek, State of Rebellion: Reconstruction in South Carolina (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1966).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Buxton, Iowa (1895-1927)

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

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

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

Landry, Pierre Caliste (1841-1921)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Pierre Caliste Landry, a former slave turned educator and minister, is noted as the first African American to be elected mayor of a town in the Unites States. Landry was born into slavery on April 19, 1841 on a sugar cane plantation in Ascension Parish, Louisiana. He was given the name Caliste at birth by his mother, Marcelite, an enslaved cook on the plantation, and his father, Roseman Landry, a white laborer. Caliste was sent to live with Pierre Bouissiac and his wife Zaides, a family of free African Americans and was educated at a local school for free children. However, despite his owner's wishes that he be freed, Laundry, at the age of 13 was sold for $1,665 to the Houmas Plantation, whose owner was Marius St. Colombe Bringer.

The Bringer Family owned over 35,000 acres of land on various plantations. Landry was allowed to continue his education in the plantation schools and live inside the family mansion. After working various positions, Landry was appointed superintendent of the yard and allowed to form a business partnership with the head butler on the plantation. They operated a plantation store, selling candies and goodies Landry made.
Sources: 
Florence M. Jumonville, Louisiana History: an Annotated Biography, (Greenwood Publishing Group, London, 2002); James David Wilson, “Pierre Caliste Landry and African American Leadership in Louisiana, 1841-1884”, (Thesis, University of Southwestern Louisiana, 1997); Creolegen, Honorable Pierre Caliste Landry – First Mayor of Color in U.S., Creolegen.org, http://www.creolegen.org/2012/08/24/honorable-pierre-caliste-landry-first-mayor-of-color-in-u-s/
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Light, Allen B. (1805- ?)

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

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

Emancipation Proclamation (1863)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Following the Union Army victory at Antietam, Maryland on September 17, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary emancipation proclamation.  This document gave the states of the Confederacy until January 1, 1863 to lay down their arms and peaceably reenter the Union; if these states continued their rebellion all slaves in those seceding states were declared free.

Fearing the secession of neutral border slaveholding states such as Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation excluded those states, which left almost one fifth of the four million slaves in bondage. Their freedom would come with the 13th Amendment, ratified in 1865.

The Emancipation Proclamation also allowed freedmen to enlist into the Union Army.  This provision struck a series blow to the economic structure of the seceding states as many black slaves labored for the Confederate Army or were engaged in vital agricultural or industrial production for the Confederacy.
Sources: 
James West Davidson, Nation of Nation: A Concise Narrative of the American Republic.  Volume I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, 2006); Pauline Maier, Inventing America: A History of the United States Vol. I, 2nd edition (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Callioux, Andrew (1820-1863)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Black Louisiana Troops at Port Hudson, 1863
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Andrew Callioux, Captain of the First Louisiana Native Guards Regiment, Union Army, became a hero while leading his troops at the Battle of Port Hudson in 1863. Callioux was born a free man in New Orleans.  A cigar maker with an elite clientele, Callioux was a Catholic creole of color that had attained considerable affluence.  He was also a skilled horseman, boxer and athlete who often boasted that he was “the blackest man in America.” Callioux had received his civil and military education in Paris, which enabled him to speak both English and French fluently. By his 40th birthday Callioux was considered a pillar in the free black community of New Orleans, having earned the respect of both blacks and whites.

When the Civil War began Callioux organized Company E of the First Louisiana Native Guards, a unit of 440 Creoles who became the first black troops to be accepted into service in the Confederate Army.  Callioux received a commission as Captain.  Never used in battle by the Confederates, Company E remained behind when Union forces occupied New Orleans in April 1862.  Within weeks Union General Benjamin F. Butler persuaded Captain Callioux and the First Louisiana Native Guards to join Federal forces. Initially Union commanders, like their Confederate predecessors, used the First Louisiana Native Guards only for garrison duty.  
Sources: 
Robert Ewell Greene, Black Defenders of America, 1775-1973 (Johnson Publishing Company Inc. Chicago: 1974); Benjamin Quarles, The Negro in the Civil War (Little, Brown and Company) Joseph T. Glatthaar, Forged in Battle: The Civil War Alliance of Black Soldiers and White Officers (The Free Press: A Division of Macmillan, Inc. London: 1990)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Cuffe, Paul, Jr. (?-?)

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

Goode, Sarah E. (c.1855?-1905)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Drawing of Sarah E. Goode's Cabinet Bed
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Sarah Elisabeth Goode was one of the first African-American women to obtain a patent from the United States government in 1885. She shares the distinction with Judy Reed, who invented a dough-kneading machine that was patented in 1880, and Miriam Benjamin, who received a patent in 1888 for a hotel chair that signaled the service of a waiter.

Little has been confirmed of Goode’s early life, but it is believed that in 1860, at age five, she was living as Sarah Jacobs, a free inhabitant of Toledo, Ohio. By 1870, she had moved to Chicago, Illinois and by 1880 was married to Archibald Goode, a carpenter/stair builder. The couple had children, but the exact number is unknown.

Sources: 
Autumn Stanley, Mothers and Daughters of Invention: Notes for a Revised History of Technology (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1995); Anne L. MacDonald, Feminine Ingenuity: Women and Invention in America (New York: Ballantine Books, 1993); http://www.uspto.gov/news/pr/2002/02-16.jsp; http://furniture.about.com/b/2010/03/14/sarah-goodes-folding-cabinet-bed.htm; United States Census (years 1910, 1880, 1870, 1860, 1850); Cook County Birth Certificates 1878-1922; Cook County Birth Registers 1871-1915; Illinois Statewide Death Index Pre-1916.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Fullerton

First African Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1807- )

Vignette Type: 
Churches
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
First African Presbyterian Church, the nation's oldest African American Presbyterian Church, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was founded in 1807 by former Tennessee slave John Gloucester. This church is the fourth of the first five African American churches founded in the city of Philadelphia. After gaining his freedom, Gloucester traveled to Philadelphia in 1807 to appeal to the Presbytery to become a licensed preacher, and thus began his journey with this “Mother Church of African American Presbyterianism.”

In the early years, Gloucester preached in homes, rented spaces, or if the crowd was large enough, on the empty lot at the corner of Seventh and Shippen (now Bainbridge) Streets. In 1809, First Colored Presbyterian, as it was first named, was chartered by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and by 1811, the lot where Gloucester gave his first sermons was purchased and the church's first edifice was built. In 1966, the church changed its name to First African Presbyterian Church.
Sources: 
Arthur T. Boyer, Brief Historical Sketch of The First African Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, Along with Rev. William Catto's History and Discourse From 1807-1940 (Philadelphia: Privately Published, 1944); We Have This Ministry, A History of the First African Presbyterian Church (Philadelphia: The Winchell Company, 1994); George M. Apperson, “The Emancipation and Ordination of a Tennessee slave,” Presbyterian Voice, September 1999.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Peyton Colony, Texas (estab. 1865)

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

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

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

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

Sources: 

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Greenfield, Elizabeth Taylor (1819-1876)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Manuscripts,
Archives and Rare Books Division,
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture,
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and
Tilden Foundations

Born a slave in 1819 in Natchez, Mississippi, Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield had little reason to dream of the life that would eventually become her own.  Because of a series of unlikely circumstances and her own relentless efforts she would eventually become known as the first African American singer to gain recognition in both Europe and the United States.
Sources: 
No Author Given, The Black Swan at Home and Abroad; or A Biographical Sketch of Miss Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield (Philadelphia: W.S. Young, Printer, 1855); Edward T. and Janet W. James, eds., Notable American Women: 1607-1950; A Biographical Dictionary Vol. II (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971), pp. 87-89.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Vermont

Albert, Octavia Victoria Rogers (1853-1890)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Octavia V. Rogers Albert, The House of Bondage or Charlotte Brooks and Other Slaves (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988); Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America: The Early Years, 1619-1899 (New York: Facts on File, Inc, 1997); Frances Smith Foster. "Albert, Octavia Victoria Rogers" American National Biography Online (Feb. 2000); 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, Seattle

Virginia Union University (1865- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Virginia Union University, a historically black university located in Richmond, Virginia, traces its roots back to the Wayland Seminary, founded in 1865 by the American Baptist Home Missionary Society (ABHMS).
Sources: 
Virginia Union University History, http://www.vuu.edu/about_vuu/history.aspx (official website); Adolph H. Grundman, "Northern Baptist and the Founding of Virginia Union University: The Perils of Paternalism," The Journal of Negro History, 63:1 (January 1978).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

The Church of St. Mark, Brooklyn, New York (1838- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The Church of St. Mark in Brooklyn, New York was originally established by a group of black Episcopalians in 1838.  The next year, Dr. Samuel M. Haskins was asked to be rector (pastor), the role he would maintain for 60 years.  By April 1841 the congregation completed a Gothic style edifice in Manhattan on the corner of Bedford Ave. and South Fifth Street in Brooklyn.  This building was used by the church for the next 60 years until it was condemned in 1896 to allow access to the new “East River” (Brooklyn) Bridge.

A church committee was formed to find a new location and in 1898 a six lot piece of land was obtained, surrounded by Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn Avenue, and Union Street.  Although the congregation planned to build an expansive collection of buildings including a new church, parish house, rectory, as well as others, they determined to start with the parish house.  Because of the prolonged construction, the house would include a room for worship and would serve as the church until the expansion could be made.

Sources: 
Stephen E. Lawson, Church of St. Mark, 2014, retrieved from the New York City Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, http://www.nycago.org/Organs/Bkln/html/StMarkEpisCrownHts.html; John A. Rollins, St. Mark’s Church (2014), retrieved from The Episcopal Diocese of Long Island: http://www.dioceselongisland.org/parishesDetail.php?124; Ingrid P. Scrubb, About St. Mark Church (2014), retrieved from Church of St. Mark-Anglican Episcopal: http://stmarkepiscopalbrooklyn.org/Web/About.asp.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bertonneau, E. Arnold (1834-1912)

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

Francis, Abner Hunt (1812?–1872)

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

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

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

Walker, Madam C. J. (Sarah Breedlove), 1867–1919

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of A'Lelia Bundles/
Walker Family Collection
Madam C.J. Walker was born Sarah Breedlove to former slaves, Owen and Minerva Breedlove in Delta, Louisiana on December 23, 1867.  Breedlove became an orphan at age seven when her parents died.  Three years later, ten-year-old Sarah and her sister moved across to river to Vicksburg, Mississippi to work as maids.  By her fourteenth birthday, Sarah married Moses McWilliams of Vicksburg and three years later gave birth to her only daughter Lelia (who later changed her name to A’Lelia).  Breedlove became a widow in 1887.  She and her daughter moved to St. Louis to join her older brothers who were barbers.  While in St. Louis she found work as a washer woman earning $1.50 per day.  She also married her second husband, John Davis, in 1894.  The marriage lasted nine years.
Sources: 
A’Lelia Bundles, On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker (New York: Scribner, 2001); Kathryn Lasky, Vision of Beauty: The Story of Sarah Breedlove Walker (Cambridge: Candlewick Press, 2000); www.walkertheatre.com; www.madamcjwalker.com.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Brown, Morris (1770-1849)

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

Morris Brown was born in Charleston, South Carolina on February 13, 1770. His family belonged to a sizeable African American population in the city who were mostly enslaved.  Brown’s parents, however, were part the city’s tiny free black community.  In the year of Brown’s birth, more than 5,800 enslaved blacks and 24 free blacks resided in the city, compared to a total of 5,030 whites.  Within this city where African Americans were the majority, Brown’s family circulated within an elite black society, whose members were often so closely related to aristocratic whites in the city that they were exempt from the racist restrictions imposed on the majority of enslaved people.

Sources: 
Margaret Washington, “The Meanings of Scripture in Gullah Concepts of Liberation and Group Identity,” in Vincent Wimbush, ed., African Americans and the Bible: Sacred Texts and Social Textures (NY Continuum, 2000), pp. 321-30; Bernard E. Powers, Jr., “Seeking the Promised Land: Afro-Carolinians and the Quest for Religious Freedom to 1830,” in James Lowell Underwood and W. Lewis Burke, eds., The Dawn of Religious Freedom in South Carolina (Columbia: Univ. of South Carolina Press, 2006), 138, 139; Philip D. Morgan, “Black Life in Charleston,” in Bernard Bailyn, et al., eds., Perspectives in American History, v. 1 (1984), 187-232; and Peter Bergman, The Chronological History of the Negro in America (NY: Harper & Row, 1969), 45.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Alabama A&M University [Normal] (1875-- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Alabama A&M Front Gate
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical (Alabama A & M) University is a historically black university located in the city of Normal, Alabama.  The school began in 1875 when Alabama officials used the Morrill Act of 1862 allowing state governments to establish colleges for African American students.  Alabama A&M University was one of the first seventeen new land-grant black institutions founded under the Morrill Act.  

When the school opened in 1875 it was called Huntsville Normal School and was located in Huntsville, Alabama.  The school began with 61 students and two teachers.  In 1878 it developed an industrial education program, which attracted private donors such as the Slater and Peabody Funds that provided crucial financial support.  The success of the industrial education program led the school to petition the state for a name change to State Normal and Industrial School at Huntsville.  The Alabama legislature also approved an increase in its funding to $4,000 per year from the original $1,000 a year.
Sources: 
Henry N. Drewry, Humphrey Doermann and Susan H. Anderson, Stand and Prosper: Private Black Colleges and Their Students (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2001); Marybeth Gasman and Christopher L. Tudico, ed., Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Triumphs, Troubles, and Taboos (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008); http://www.aamu.edu/about/docs/AAMUHistory.PDF; http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/hbcu-rankings/page+2.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Maseru, Lesotho (1869- )

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

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

Northup, Solomon (1808- ? )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Solomon Northup in his Plantation Suit,
Illustration from the Book, Twelve Years a Slave
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Solomon Northup was a free black man who was illegally held in bondage for twelve years before he regained his freedom.  Northup was born to free parents in Minerva, New York in 1808. Little is known of his mother other than she was born a free mulatto.  His father Mintus Northup, an emancipated slave, was a farm owner, voted in local elections, and valued education for his sons, Solomon and elder brother Joseph.

On December 25, 1829 Solomon Northup married Anne Hampton and the couple had three children:  Elizabeth, Margaret, and Alonzo. The Northup family sold the family farm and moved to Glens Falls, New York where he worked numerous seasonal jobs around their county of residence.  His wife also contributed to the family’s income as a part-time cook at various taverns in rural New York State.  Northup eventually gained a reputation as a brilliant violinist who entertained large audiences throughout rural New York.

Sources: 
Solomon Northup. Twelve Years a Slave: Narrative of Solomon Northup, a citizen of New York, Kidnapped in Washington City in 1841 and Rescued in 1853, from a cotton plantation near the Red River in Louisiana (Buffalo: Derby, Orton, and Mulligan, 1853); David Fiske, Solomon Northup: His Life Before and After Slavery. (Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2012); Michael Cipley. “Escape From Slavery Now a Movie, Has Long Intrigued Historians,” New York Times. (September 23, 2013). B4.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Eastern Kentucky University

Denver's Five Points

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

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

Stewart, William P. (1839–1907)

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

Southern Tenant Farmers Union

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Women at Southern Tenant Farmers' Union (STFU) Rally
Parkin, Arkansas (1937)
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The Southern Tenant Farmers Union (STFU) was founded in Tyronza, Arkansas in July 1934 by black and white tenant farmers and Socialist Party members.  The STFU is part of a rich tradition of labor organizing in the Depression-era South amongst mostly Black agricultural laborers.

Since the Reconstruction era the vast majority of Southern farmers were exploited under semi-feudal labor conditions, paying for their land usage with crops, and easily subject to the whims of the white landowners. Their plight was exacerbated by the Great Depression and ironically by a highly touted New Deal reform, the Agricultural Administration Act (AAA).  As provisions of the AAA reduced large farmers’ need for laborers, the lives of 1930s sharecroppers and tenant farmers grew more difficult.  That they built successful unions, often with help from radical organizations, is one of the most inspiring chapters of African American and labor history.
Sources: 
Donald H. Grubbs, Cry From the Cotton: The Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union and the New Deal (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1971); William H. Cobb, “Southern Tenant Farmers Union,” Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, last updated 22 Sept 2007, http://encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=35.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Americo-Liberians

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

Union League (1863- )

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
New Union League House in Philadelphia, 1863
Image Ownership: Public Domain

The Union League of America (or Loyal League) was the first African American Radical Republican organization in the southern United States.  The League was created in the North during the American Civil War as a patriotic club to support the Union.  It was officially established in May 1863 when a common constitution was adopted.  By late 1863 the League claimed over 700,000 members in 4,554 councils across the nation.  

After the Civil War the League spread throughout the South mainly but not exclusively among the freedpeople.  Paid organizers, including freedmen advocates and anti-Confederates from Unionist clubs, went south to promote the League, and loyalty to the federal government, in the ex-Confederate states.  Many newly freed slaves, or freedmen, saw this as an opportunity to seek fair treatment and equal rights from the federal government and the state governments.  

Sources: 

Phyllis Field, “Union League,” in Nina Mjagkij, ed., Organizing Black
America: An Encyclopedia of African American Associations
(New York:
Garland Publishing, 2001); Michael Fitzgerald, The Union League
Movement in the Deep South: Politics and Agricultural Change During
Reconstruction
(Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Opelousas Massacre (1868)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
The Opelousas Massacre occurred on September 28, 1868 in Opelousas, St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. The event is also referred to as The Opelousas Riot by some historians. There is debate as to how many people were killed.  Conservative estimates made by contemporary observers indicated about 30 people died from the political violence.  Later historians have placed the total as closer to 150 or more.

While most Reconstruction-era violence was sparked by conflicts between black Republicans and white Democrats, the initial catalyst for the Massacre was the attempt by some Opelousas blacks to join a Democratic political group in the neighboring town of Washington.  White Democrats in Opelousas, mainly members of the Seymour Knights, the local unit of the white supremacist organization Knights of the White Camellia, visited Washington to drive them out of the Party.   In response Emerson Bentley, an Ohio-born white school teacher and editor of The Progress, a Republican newspaper in Opelousas, wrote what many local whites thought was a racially inflammatory article which described the violence that the Seymour Knights had used against the African American Democrats in Washington.  Bentley argued that such violence should persuade the blacks to remain loyal to the GOP.
Sources: 
Ted Tunnell , Crucible of Reconstruction (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1984); John Ficklen, History of Reconstruction in Louisiana (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1910).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Wright, Jonathan J. (1840-1885)

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

Wright’s first known political activity came in October 1864 when he was a delegate to the National Convention of Colored Men meeting in Syracuse.  The convention, chaired by Frederick Douglass, passed resolutions calling for a nationwide ban on slavery, racial equality under the law and universal suffrage for adult males.  When Wright applied for admission to the Pennsylvania bar, however, he was refused because of his race.
Sources: 
Frederic D. Schwarz, “The Reluctant Judge,” American Legacy 10:3 (Fall 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Utah

Cox, Minnie M. (1869–1933)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Minnie M. Cox, the first black female postmaster, was born 1869 in Lexington, Mississippi, to former slaves William and Mary Geddings. After attending school in Lexington and Indianola, Mississippi, Geddings graduated from Fisk University at the age of nineteen. After graduation, she married Wayne W. Cox, who was principal of the Indianola Colored School and the city’s first black alderman in 1888. The couple was politically active in the Republican Party and as a consequence, President Benjamin Harrison appointed Cox postmaster in Indianola in 1891.

As postmaster, Cox had a large salary of $1,100 a year, and her position carried the prestige of a presidential appointment. She was the first postmaster in that community to have a telephone installed in the office at her own expense so that local people could call to check if they had mail.

In 1892 President Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, chose Mrs. D.J Treadwell, a white woman, to replace Cox. On May 22, 1897, however, Cox was reappointed to the post by President William McKinley and then appointed for another term by President Theodore Roosevelt.

Despite her long tenure as postmaster, many local whites were angry that a black woman held the post. The white citizens of Indianola wanted to eliminate African Americans from all political positions, and they particularly wanted Cox removed as postmaster.

Sources: 
Horace Randall Williams and Ben Beard, This Day in Civil Rights History (Montgomery: New South Books, 2009); “Minnie Cox,” And Speaking of Which, http://andspeakingofwhich.blogspot.com/2013/08/minnie-m-cox.html; Deanna Boyd and Kendra Chen, The History and Experience of African Americans in America’s Postal Service, http://postalmuseum.si.edu/AfricanAmericanhistory/p4.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

First Kansas Colored Infantry (1862-1865)

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

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

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

Cole, Rebecca J. (1846-1922)

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

Dr. Rebecca J. Cole was the first black woman doctor in the United States.  Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on March 16, 1846, Cole was one of five children.

Cole began her schooling at the Institute for Colored Youth and graduated in 1863.  She then attended the New England Female Medical College and graduated in 1864 after completing her thesis titled “The Eye and Its Appendages.”  With her graduation she became the first formally trained black woman doctor in the United States.  She received a second medical degree in 1867 when she graduated from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.   

After graduation, Cole went to work at Elizabeth Blackwell’s Infirmary for Women and Children in New York.  After gaining experience there, she moved to Columbia, South Carolina to practice but then later returned to Philadelphia.  Cole also set up practices in North Carolina and Washington, D.C. during her medical career.

Sources: 
Darlene Hine, Black Women in America:an Historical Encyclopedia (New York: Carlson Pub., 1993);  Harry A. Ploski and James Williams, The Negro Almanac (Detroit: Gale Research Incorporated, 1989); https://www.nlm.nih.gov/changingthefaceofmedicine/physicians/biography_66.html (Accessed November 20, 2009); Sandra Harding, The "Racial" Economy of Science: Toward a Democratic Future (Indianapolis, Indiana University Press, 1993); Dorthy Sterling, “We Are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century” (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Whitman, Alberry Allson (1851-1901)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Alberry Allson Whitman was a romantic poet and a clergyman of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Whitman was born enslaved in Hart County, Kentucky. He became a freedman in 1863, but his family was unable to enjoy their freedom for long as his parents died shortly thereafter.
Sources: 
Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982);
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Dunbar, Paul Laurence (1872-1906)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

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

Sessions, Lucy Stanton Day (1831-1910)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Educator and abolitionist Lucy Stanton Day Sessions is believed to be the first African American woman to graduate from college, completing a Ladies Literary Course from Oberlin College in 1850. For over a century the Ohio college has recognized its early Literary Course program as equivalent to a degreed program even though it did not award graduates with a bachelor’s degree. In 1862 Oberlin College formally awarded the first bachelor’s degree to an African American woman when Mary Jane Patterson graduated with a B.A.
Sources: 
Jessie Carney Smith, Notable Black American Women: Book II (Detroit: Gale Research, 1996); Allison Keller, “Sessions, Lucy Stanton Day," Oxford African American Studies Center (Oxford University Press: 2006); Ellen N. Lawson,: "Lucy Stanton: Life on the Cutting Edge,” Western Reserve Magazine 10(1983): 9-10.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Salem Baptist Church, Alton, Illinois (1819- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Salem Baptist Church, in Alton, Illinois, first organized in 1819, still stands as the only predominantly African American congregation in Madison County, which is situated along the Mississippi River across from Missouri. African American stonemason Madison Banks and white contractor Samuel Marshall, both from Alton, built the church sometime in the early 1820s.  They were assisted by two members of the congregation, John Walker and William Emery.  Conflicting dates about the church’s founding can be attributed to the later construction of the first building in 1912. It is believed that Salem Baptist Church’s first congregants were organized in 1819 on a local farm, by a Baptist Missionary named James Ely Welch.
Sources: 
United States Department of the Interior, National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service, http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/listings/20140110.htm; Ruth Keenoy, Charlotte Johnson, Tom Raglin, and  Renee Johnson, “National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Salem Baptist Church,” http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/feature/places/pdfs/13001004.pdf.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Gibbs, Mifflin Wistar (1823-1915)

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

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 17, 1823, Mifflin Wistar Gibbs apprenticed as a carpenter. By his early 20s he was an activist in the abolition movement, sharing platforms with Frederick Douglass and helping in the Underground Railroad. Black intellectual ferment of the era gave him a superb education outside the classroom, and he became a powerful writer. In 1850 he migrated to San Francisco, California; starting as a bootblack, he was soon a successful merchant, the founder of a black newspaper, Mirror of the Times, and a leading member of the city’s black community.

Sources: 
Crawford Kilian, Go Do Some Great Thing: The Black Pioneers of British Columbia (Vancouver BC: Douglas & McIntyre, 1978); Tom W. Dillard, “The Black Moses of the West: A Biography of Mifflin Wistar Gibbs, 1823-1915.” (M.A. Thesis, University of Arkansas, 1975.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Capilano College (British Columbia)

Historically Black Colleges and Universities of Atlanta

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Spelman Students, 1895
Image Ownership: Public Domain
In the following article by Alton Hornsby, Jr., the Fuller E. Callaway Professor of History at Morehouse College and former editor of the Journal of Negro History, briefly describes the founding of Atlanta University (Georgia), Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University), Morehouse College, Spelman College, Morris Brown College and the Gammon Theological Seminary.  This article originally appeared in the Program of the American Historical Association for its Atlanta Meeting in 2007 as “The Historically Black Colleges of Atlanta.”
Sources: 
American Historical Association,  Atlanta and Historians: 121st Annual Meeting, January 4-7, 2007  (Washington, D.C.: The American Historical Association, 2007), pp. 34-35.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Morehouse College

Moore, Frederick Randolph (1857-1943)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Frederick Randolph Moore, a political activist and journalist, was born in 1857 to his slave mother and white father in Virginia. While Moore was still very young, the family moved to Washington, D.C., where Moore attended public schools and to make money, sold newspapers on street corners.

Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (U.S.:W.W. Norton & Company, 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Meharry Medical College (1876- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Meharry Medical College, ca. 1945
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Meharry Medical College, founded in 1876 in Nashville, Tennessee, is the second oldest medical school for African Americans in the nation.   The college was established by the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Freedman’s Aid Society in 1876 when Samuel Meharry, a Scots-Irish immigrant salt trader who had been helped by a former slave family, gave a $15,000 donation in their honor.  The Church and the Society used the donation to establish a program to provide medical training for former slaves.     

Meharry originally functioned as the Medical Department of Central Tennessee College in Nashville.  The department had its first graduate in 1877 and the following year there were three graduates.  In 1886 the Dental Department was founded followed in 1889 by the Pharmacy Department.  In 1915 the Medical Department received a state charger and Meharry became an independent institution.  Hubbard Hospital, named after George W. Hubbard, one of the first faculty members, was built in 1917.
Sources: 
Meharry Medical College, http://www.mmc.edu/ (official website); Reavis L Mitchell, Jr., Meharry Medical College (1876-), http://www.tnstate.edu/library/digital/meharry.htm; StateUniversity: Meharry Medical College, http://www.stateuniversity.com/universities/TN/Meharry_Medical_College.html; BrainTrack College & University Directory: Meharry Medical College, http://www.braintrack.com/college/u/meharry-medical-college; CityTownInfo: Meharry Medical College, http://www.citytowninfo.com/school-profiles/meharry-medical-college.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Settle

St. Philip’s Protestant Episcopal Church, New York City (1809- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
St. Philip’s Protestant Episcopal Church was the first African American Episcopal parish in New York City, New York.  It was also one of the largest Christian congregations in the United States at one time.  

The church originated from the meetings of a group of free African Americans and slaves who had been worshipping at the Trinity Church on Wall Street for nearly a century.  They withdrew however in 1809 and renamed themselves the Free African Church of St. Philip.  Nine years later in 1818 they laid the foundation for St. Philip’s Episcopal Church on Centre Street in Lower Manhattan.  The wooden structure burned down in 1822 and was replaced by a stone building.  The newer church would undergo two more reconstructions during its existence: first in 1834 when irate whites attempted to destroy the building and again in 1863 after New York City officials used the edifice as a militia barracks during draft riots. In 1886, the church relocated to 25th street.

Sources: 
Wayne Kempton, “The Story of St. Philip’s Church” (2012), retrieved from Anglican History: http://anglicanhistory.org/usa/misc/decosta_philip1889.html; Gail Silver, “Saint Philip’s Church,” retrieved from Saint Philip’s Church of Harlem (2014) http://www.stphilipsharlem.org/history.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Williams, Bert (1874-1922)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

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

Williams, Cathay (1850- )

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

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

Hayden, Lewis (c.1811-1889)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Lewis Hayden was born a slave in Lexington, Kentucky in 1811 into the household of the Rev. Adam Runkin, a Presbyterian minister.  In 1840 he married fellow slave, Harriet Bell (c.1811-1893).  The Haydens successfully escaped slavery in 1844.  They traveled to Ohio, Canada, Michigan, and finally settled in Boston, Massachusetts, where they became active participants in abolitionist activities.  While Harriett ran a boarding house from their home at 66 Phillips Street and raised their two children, Joseph and Elizabeth, Lewis ran a successful clothing store on Cambridge Street, where he also held abolitionist meetings and outfitted runaway slaves. Their home, which contained a secret tunnel, served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. The Hayden home is now listed as a national historic site.
Sources: 
Stanley J. And Anita W. Robboy, “Lewis Hayden: From Fugitive Slave to Statesman,” New England Quarterly, 46 (1973): 591-613, and https://www.nps.gov/index.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Sheppard, Ella (1851-1915)

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

 

Image Courtesy of Fisk University Special Collections

Ella Sheppard, soprano, pianist and reformer, was the matriarch of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, a social reformer, confidante of Frederick Douglass, and one of the most distinguished African American women of her generation. Sheppard was born a slave in 1851 on Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage plantation. A biracial relation of Jackson’s family, her father Simon Sheppard had purchased his freedom by hiring himself out as a Nashville, Tennessee liveryman and hack driver. When Sheppard was a little girl, her slave mother Sarah threatened to drown Ella and herself if their owners refused to permit her Simon to purchase Ella’s freedom. But an elderly slave prevented her, predicting that “the Lord would have need of that child.” Her owners refused to release Sarah, but allowed Ella to go with her father, who soon remarried and, fearful he and his daughter might be reenslaved, fled penniless to Cincinnati, Ohio.

Sources: 
Andrew Ward, Dark Midnight When I Rise: The Story of the Jubilee Singers Who Introduced the World to the Music of Black America (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Alabama State University [Montgomery] (1867-- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Paul Finkelman, editor, Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present: From the Age of Segregation to the Twenty-First Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009); http://www.alasu.edu/about-asu/history--tradition/the-asu-legacy/index.aspx; http://www.alasu.edu/about-asu/stats--facts/index.aspx; http://www.alasu.edu/about-asu/president--administration/presidents-bio/index.aspx.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Mbabane, Swaziland (1887- )

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

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

Christiana Riot of 1851

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership, Public Domain
After the passage of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, open skirmishes took place between Southern slave catchers and Northern abolitionists who despised slavery and what they saw as its encroachments on the liberty and freedom of residents of the free states.  Armed altercations and confrontations took place in a number of Northern communities between 1851 and 1861.  One of the earliest—what came to be called the Christiana Riot—took place in 1851 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  Lancaster County abuts Maryland along the lower reaches of the Susquehanna River, and the area had two branches of the Underground Railroad.
Sources: 
Thomas P. Slaughter, Bloody Dawn: The Christiana Riot and Racial Violence in the Antebellum North (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991); Jonathan Katz, Bloody Dawn: The Fugitive Slave Rebellion (New York: Cromwell, 1974); William Hensel, The Christiana Riot and Treason Trail of 1851 (Lancaster, Pennsylvania: New Era Printing, 1911); David Forbes,  A True Story of the Christiana Riot (Quarryville, Pennsylvania, 1898);  Thomas Calcarco, Places of the Underground Railroad, a Geographical Guide (Santa Barbara: Greenwood Publishing, 2010); http://www.etymonline.com/cw/christiana.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

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

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

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

The Italo-Abyssinian War (1889–1896)

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

Bolden, Buddy (1877-1931)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Buddy Bolden Band
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Charles “Buddy” Bolden is said to be the first musician to play jazz music. While this is debatable, it is clear that Bolden’s music helped form the jazz movement. Bolden was born on September 6, 1877 in New Orleans, Louisiana. At the age of six, Bolden’s father died of pneumonia, leaving behind wife, Alice, daughter Cara and young Bolden.  The father’s death led the family to remain close for the rest of their lives.

Bolden began playing the coronet as a teenager.  He joined a small New Orleans dance band led by Charlie Galloway. It was at Galloway’s barber salon that Buddy honed his technical skills as a musician.  By the age of 20 he left the band to begin his own group.
Sources: 
Donald M. Marquis, In Search of Buddy Bolden: First Man of Jazz (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2006); Danny Barker, Buddy Bolden and the Last Days of Storyville (New York: Continuum, 1998); David Perry, Jazz Greats (London: Phaidon Press Limited, 1996).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Battle of Isandlwana (1879)

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

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sussex, England

Taylor, John Baxter, Jr. (1882-1908)

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

The first African American to win an Olympic Gold Medal, John Baxter Taylor was born November 3, 1882, in Washington, D.C. He attended Central High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he ran track and was the only African American on the team. After graduating from high school in 1902, Taylor attended Brown Preparatory School for one year, running track for an undefeated team.

Sources: 

Oceana Chalk, Black College Sport (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company,
1976).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Long Beach

Nixon, E.D. (1899-1987)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Courtesy of Alabama Department of Archives and History,
Montgomery, Alabama
Edgar Daniel Nixon, an African American civil rights leader and union organizer, is remembered primarily for helping lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama from 1955 to 1956.  E.D. Nixon was born to Wesley M. Nixon, a Baptist minister, and Sue Ann Chappell Nixon, a maid-cook, in Lowndes County, Alabama on July 12, 1899.  Due to his mother’s death as a young boy, Nixon lived with various family members during his childhood and received little formal education.
Sources: 
F. Eriks Brooks, "E. D. Nixon" in Encyclopedia of Alabama. The Encyclopedia of Alabama, http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-1355; "Nixon, Edgar Daniel (1899-1987)" in The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute. http://kingencyclopedia.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/encyclopedia/enc_nixon_edgar_daniel_1899_1987/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Louisiana Purchase and African Americans (1803)

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

Ball, Jr. Joseph T. (1804-1861)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Joseph T. Ball, Jr. was born Feb. 21, 1804 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  His mother Mary Montgomery Drew of Cambridge, Massachusetts, was white while his father was Jamaican-born Joseph T. Ball, Sr who came to Massachusetts in 1790. The elder Ball founded a society to help African American widows in need.  All of Joseph Ball, Jr.’s four sisters, Lucy, Mary, Martha, and Hannah, became women’s rights advocates and abolitionists.

Ball was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) in the summer of 1832 by either Brigham Young or his brother Joseph Young in Boston.  Soon after his baptism, Ball moved to Kirtland, Ohio in September 1833, where he become acquainted with the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith.  Ball may have been ordained an elder as early as 1833, or as late as 1837; Wilford Woodruff, an early Church leader, reports that Ball was certainly an Elder in 1837 as they were serving a mission together in New England and New Jersey.

A successful missionary, Ball baptized William Willard Hutchings on May 2, 1842.  Two years later he was ordained a High Priest by William Smith, brother of the prophet Joseph Smith.  The ordination coincided with his new church service as the Boston Branch president (similar to a Bishop in a larger LDS congregation) from October 1844 to March 1845.  This was the largest LDS congregation outside of church headquarters in Nauvoo, Illinois and Ball was not only the first African American High Priest in the LDS Church, but was also the first black man to preside over a Mormon congregation.  

Sources: 
Newell Bringhurst, Saints, Slaves, and Blacks: The Changing Place of Black People within Mormonism (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1981); Joseph Smith to “Viana Jaquish” [Vienna Jacques], September 4, 1833, Joseph Smith Papers; Kirtland High Council Minute Book, March 17, 1836, p. 146; Jonathan Oldham Duke, Personal History, pp. 5-6, Vault MSS 227, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University; Conference Minutes, August 9, 1839, Times and Seasons, vol. 1 no. 3, p. 4; Wilford Woodruff journal, December 12, 1839; John Carlin’s autobiographical entry in Nauvoo Seventies Record, p. 12; Inez Smith Davis, The Story of the Church, Chapter 51 “Welding the Fragments,” n. p.; Times and Seasons, vol. 2 no. 4, pp. 253-254, December 15, 1840; “Revival in Maine,” Vermont Chronicle (Bellow Falls, VT), August 9, 1843; and “S. Brannan” to Wilford Woodruff, reprinted in Times and Seasons, January 1, 1844, vol. 5 no. 1. p. 388.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Leary, Sherrard Lewis (1835-1859)

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

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

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

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

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

Steward, Susan Smith McKinney (1847-1918)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Dr. Susan Smith McKinney Steward was the first African American woman to earn a medical doctorate (M.D.) in New York State and the third in the United States.  Susan Smith was born to elite Brooklyn parents, Ann Springstead and Sylvanus Smith.  She was of mixed European, African, and Shinnecock Indian heritage. Though her early education was musical, Susan Smith entered the New York Medical College for Women in 1867.  She earned her M.D. in 1870, graduating as valedictorian.  The next year, 1871, she married Reverend William G. McKinney with whom she had two children.

Dr. Smith McKinney’s professional accomplishments were numerous.  She established her own private practice in Brooklyn which she ran from 1870 to 1895.  During this time she co-founded the Brooklyn Women’s Homeopathic Hospital and Dispensary which served the African American community, completed post-graduate education at the Long Island Medical College Hospital in Brooklyn (1887-1888), practiced at the Brooklyn Home for Aged Colored People where she also served as a board member (1892-1895), and practiced at New York Medical College and Hospital for Women in Manhattan (1892-1896).  Dr. Smith McKinney specialized in prenatal care and childhood diseases and gave papers on both these topics.
Sources: 
Robert C. Hayden, “Steward, Susan Maria Smith McKinney,” American National Biography Online, February 2000; Darlene Clark Hine, Black Women in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); "Famous Resident: Susan Smith McKinney Steward," http://www.green-wood.com/about-history/.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Morgan, Clement Garnett (1859-1929)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Clement Garnett Morgan, a lawyer and civil rights leader, was born in 1859 to slave parents, Clement and Elizabeth Garnett Morgan in Stafford County, Virginia. Shortly after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, the family moved to Washington D.C., where Morgan went to Preparatory High School for Colored Youth. With no way to use his diploma, Morgan became a barber. Unsatisfied with this work, Morgan moved to St. Louis, Missouri where he taught school for four years. Still unsatisfied, he decided to return to school.
Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Ransier, Alonzo J. (1834-1882)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

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

Southern University ][Baton Rouge] (1880- )

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

Southern University, Baton Rouge,the largest historically black university in Louisiana, was chartered in 1880 in New Orleans, Louisiana as a state supported institution for the education of black Louisianans.   It was founded in response to the efforts of African American political leaders such as former governor P. B. S. Pinchback, T. T. Allain, Erick J. Gilmore, and Henry Demas. At the time Louisiana had three private colleges, Straight University (1868), Leland University (1870) and New Orleans University (1873). All three schools were located in New Orleans as was Southern University initially. Southern provided a welcome alternative for those who could not afford to attend private institutions.

Twelve students entered Southern University in 1881. Like most black institutions at the time, the first courses were at the pre-college level. Slowly college level instruction was added as well as vocational training.  The 1890 Morrill Act allowed Southern to be designated a land grant institution and established an Agricultural and Mechanical department.   
Sources: 
Charles Vincent, A Centennial History of Southern University and A&M College, 1880-1980 (Baton Rouge: Southern University Press, 1981); Charles B. Rousseve, The Negro in Louisiana: Aspects of His History and Literature (New Orleans: Xavier University Press, 1937);“Southern University and A&M College official website, www.subr.edu; Southern University System Official Website, www.sus.edu.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Locker, Jessie Dwight (1891-1955)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Jessie Locker was an attorney, politician, and community leader who was also the second black American to be appointed as United States Ambassador when he was sent to Liberia (1953).

Jessie Dwight Locker was born in College Hill (Cincinnati), Ohio on May 31, 1891 to Laban and Sarah Elizabeth Locker. His father, a pastor, was the first black minister in Ohio to be ordained in the Christian Church. Jessie Locker graduated as class Valedictorian from College Hill High School, and then travelled to Washington, D.C., to attend Howard University. He received his law degree from Howard University in 1915. Shortly thereafter, in 1919, Locker returned to Cincinnati and began his law practice.  He also worked as a night janitor while he built up his clientele.
Sources: 
The Cincinnati Enquirer, Friday, February 28, 1997, “Black Leaders Became Foreign Ambassadors”; The New York Age, Saturday, September 19, 1953, “New Ambassador Holds Meeting with Dulles”; U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian, “Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954,” Document 254, Locker Correspondence.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training

Denmark Vesey Conspiracy of 1822

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Book Describing the
Denmark Vesey Plot, 1822
Image Ownership: Public Domain
After one loyal slave told his master about a plot to seize the city of Charlestown, South Carolina and kill all the whites, local authorities exposed the most comprehensive slave plot in the history of the United States.  More than 1,000 free and enslaved blacks intended to be a part of this uprising which was planned for sometime in July 1822. Denmark Vesey, a free black carpenter and Methodist leader, used his position to organize blacks, who were especially angry about the recent decision to suppress their African Church. South Carolina authorities moved swiftly once the plot was uncovered and Vesey and 36 of his co-conspirators were hanged after a dubious trial. Their executions were accompanied by a massive demonstration of support from defiant free and enslaved blacks that required local militia and Federal troops to restore order.
Sources: 
Robert S. Starobin, Denmark Vesey: The Slave Conspiracy of 1822 (Prentice Hall: Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1970); http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part3/3p2976.html
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Plessy, Homer (1863-1925)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Homer Plessy Memorial, New Orleans
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Plaintiff for a landmark Supreme Court case, Homer A. Plessy was born on March 17, 1863 in New Orleans. He was a light-skinned Creole of Color during the post-reconstruction years. With the aid of the Comité des Citoyens, a black organization in New Orleans, Homer Plessy became the plaintiff in the famous Plessy v. Ferguson case decided by the US Supreme Court in May 1896. The decision established the “separate but equal” policy that made racial segregation constitutional for the next six decades.  

In order to challenge the 1890 Louisiana statute requiring separate accommodations for whites and blacks, Homer Plessy and the Comité des Citoyens used Plessy’s light skin to their advantage. On June 7, 1892 Plessy bought a first class ticket on the East Louisiana Railway. He took a vacant seat in a coach reserved for white passengers. When Plessy was ordered to leave, he disobeyed. Policemen arrived and threw Plessy off the train and arrested him and threw him into jail. He was charged with violating the Louisiana segregation statute of 1890.

Sources: 
Otto H. Olsen, ed., The Thin Disguise: Turning Point in Negro History, Plessy v. Ferguson (New York: Humanities Press Inc., 1967); Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Evergreen State College

Morris Brown College [Atlanta] (1885-- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Established in 1881 and chartered by the State of Georgia in 1885, Morris Brown College is a private, liberal arts college located in Atlanta, Georgia.  The school opened its doors on October 15, 1885 with 107 students and 9 teachers.  Morris Brown College was founded by members of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and is named in honor of Rev. Morris Brown of Charleston, South Carolina, the second Bishop of the AME Church.  
Sources: 
George A. Sewell and Cornelius V. Troup, Morris Brown College: The First Hundred Years 1881-1981 (Atlanta, Morris Brown College, 1981); Morris Brown College History, http://www.morrisbrown.edu/01_04_ourcollege_e.htm (Official Site); Marybeth Gasman, “Historically Black Colleges and Universities: A Bibliography,” The Review of Black Political Economy. 34:1-2 (Summer-Fall 2007);
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Richmond, Indiana (1836- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, organized in September 1836 in Richmond, Indiana, is the oldest still-operating black congregation in the state of Indiana. It was organized by AME missionary William Paul Quinn, one of dozens of churches he founded during his life; Quinn would later make his permanent home in Richmond.

The church began with 54 members.  Its first permanent building was a relocated two-story frame warehouse which was then renovated by the congregation into a church and school. In the first half of the nineteenth century, African Americans had few opportunities for state-sponsored education in the Midwest, so churches such as Bethel AME provided educational services. As a city founded and largely populated by abolitionist Quakers, Richmond was a haven for free blacks in the nineteenth century. Bethel AME Church served as the socio-cultural center of the African American community in Richmond.
Sources: 
Office of Archeology and Historic Preservation, “Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church,” Historic American Buildings Survey (Washington, DC: National Park Service, Department of the Interior, 1974), http://memory.loc.gov/pnp/habshaer/in/in0000/in0088/data/in0088data.pdf; No Author Given, History of Wayne County, Indiana (Chicago: Interstate Publishing Company, 1884).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Turner, James Milton (1840-1915)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Courtesy of Kingdom of Callaway
Historical Society in Fulton, MO
James Milton Turner was an African American Missourian who was a prominent politician, education advocate, and diplomat in the years after the Civil War. Turner was born a slave in St. Louis, Missouri in 1840. His father, John Turner (also known as John Colburn), was a well-known “horse doctor” in St. Louis who had earlier purchased his freedom. In 1843 John Turner was able to buy freedom for his wife, Hannah, and his son James. When he was fourteen James attended Oberlin College in Ohio for one term until his father’s death in 1855 forced him to return to St. Louis to help support his mother and family.
Sources: 
Irving Dillard, “James Milton Turner, A Little Known Benefactor of His People.” The Journal of Negro History Vol. 19, No. 4 (October 1934), 372-411; Gary R. Kremer, James Milton Turner and the Promise of America: The Public Life of a Post-Civil War Black Leader (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1991).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Saskatchewan

Prince, Nancy Gardner (1799-c.1856)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Little is known about the early life of Nancy Gardner Prince, except from what she reveals in her 1853 autobiography, A Narrative of the Life and Travels of Mrs. Nancy Prince.  Prince was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts.  Her father, Thomas Gardner, was a seaman from Nantucket who died when Nancy was just three months old.  Her mother, the daughter of slaves, married several times.  Always on the brink of poverty, the death of Mony Vose, Nancy’s stepfather, was an economic disaster and led to her mother’s emotional breakdown.  Nancy and her six younger siblings picked and sold berries in order to support the family. She then left home to work as a servant for white families.

Nancy Gardner’s life changed dramatically when she married Nero Prince in 1824.  Prince was a founder of the Prince Hall Freemasons in Boston.  They traveled to Russia, where Nero worked as a footman at the court of the czar in St. Petersburg, and Nancy opened a boarding house and made and sold infant clothing.  When the Princes returned to the United States, they settled in Boston, where Nancy started a seamstress business and participated in the activities of the bi-racial Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society.  In 1840 and 1842 she went to Jamaica as a Christian missionary.  Prince often gave public lectures about her travels.
Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992); Bert James Loewenberg and Ruth Bogin, eds., Black Women in Nineteenth Century American Life (Univ. Park: Penn State Univ. Press, 1978); and Australia Tarver Henderson, “Nancy Gardner Prince” in Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, vol. II (New York: Carlson, 1993): 946-47.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Paul, Nathaniel (1793?-1839)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Early 19th Century abolitionist minister Nathaniel Paul was born into a free black family in Exeter, New Hampshire and was one of six Paul sons to enter the Baptist ministry.  His elder brother, Thomas Paul, Sr., was the first pastor of the First African Baptist Church in Boston in 1806.  Shadrach Paul was an itinerant preacher who rode throughout New Hampshire for the Domestic Mission Society.  Benjamin Paul worked alongside Nathaniel as an antislavery agent and minister.  Nathaniel Paul moved to Albany, New York, a way station on the Underground Railroad to Canada, where he served as the first pastor of the Union Street Baptist Church.  

A leader in the city’s black community, Rev. Paul participated in a variety of projects designed to improve educational opportunities for blacks in Albany. He was an organizer of the Wilberforce School in Canada, the only school for black youth until 1873, although some blamed him for the financial failure of Wilberforce.  Paul was also a founder and leader of the Union Society of Albany for the Improvement of the Colored People in Morals, Education, and Mechanic Arts.  Paul was also an active abolitionist and a vocal opponent of the colonization movement.  One of his speeches, delivered in New York City in 1829, appeared in the abolitionist journal, The Rights of All.  
Sources: 
J. Marcus Mitchell, “The Paul Family,” Old Time New England, LXIII (Winter, 1973): 74-76; Lorenzo Greene, The Negro in the Colonial Period (New York: Atheneum, 1969); Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: Norton, 1982), 481-2; William H. Pease and Jane H. Pease, Black Utopia: Negro Communal Experiments in America (Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society, 1964), and Milton C. Sernett, Afro-American Religious History: A Documentary Witness (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1985); New York Genealogical Records, 1675-1920 in www.ancestry.com
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

West Virginia State University (1891- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Campus of West Virginia State University
Image Ownership: Public Domain
West Virginia State University is one of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) that has undergone a demographic change in its student body over the last century.  When it opened its doors in 1891 the institution was intended to educate black students from throughout West Virginia.  Today the vast majority of its students are white and commute from the Charleston area.  

The West Virginia Colored Institute was one of seventeen schools created after the expansion of the second Morrill Act. This 1890 act provided support to the states that chose to create and fund higher education for African Americans during the period when racial segregation was a central feature of public and private education.    
Sources: 
Arline Thorn, “West Virginia State University: A Brief History” http://www.wvstateu.edu/About-WVSU/History-and-Traditions.aspx; Christopher Brown, “Good Intentions: Collegiate Desegregation and Transdemographic enrollments,” The Review of Higher Education 25:3 (spring 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Morelos y Pavón, José María (1765-1815)

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

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

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

Rollins, Ida Gray Nelson (1867-1953)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Ida Gray Nelson Rollins, the first African American Woman dentist, was born in Clarksville, Tennessee, on March 4, 1867.  She became an orphan when her mother, Jennie Gray, died in her early teens.  Rollins’ white father, whose name is not known, played no role in her childhood or education.  After her mother’s death, Ida was raised by her aunt, Caroline Gray, who had three other children, one boy and two daughters.  

Caroline Gray was 35, uneducated, and unable to read or write when she moved from Clarksville, Tennessee to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1867, with her four children.  In Ohio, Gray supported the family by working as a seamstress and housing foster children. All the Gray children contributed to the family’s income. While in high school, Rollins worked as a seamstress and dressmaker and in the dental office of Jonathan and William Taft.  Ida Gray graduated from Gaines Public High School in 1887 when she was 20 years old.

Sources: 
Joan-Yevette Campbell, In Search of Respect and Equality (Lexington, Kentucky: Independent Publisher, 2013); Jesse Carney Smith, Black First: 4000 Ground-Breaking and Pioneering Historical Events (Canton, Michigan: Visible Ink Press, 2003); Gale Contemporary Black Biography: Ida Gray Nelson Rollins: http://www.answers.com/topic/ida-gray-nelson-rollins; Contemporary Black Biography, 2004 | Janet Stamatel, “Gray (Nelson Rollins), Ida 1867-1953," http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2874300038.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

McCabe, Edward P. (1850-1920)

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

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

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

Bricktown and Deep Deuce, Oklahoma City (1889- )

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

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

Williams, George Washington (1849-1891)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

George Washington Williams was a 19th century American historian most famous for his volumes, History of the Negro Race in America from 1619 to 1880; as Negroes, as Slaves, as Soldiers, and as Citizens (1882), and A History of the Negro Troops in the War of the Rebellion (1887).Williams was born in 1849 in Bedford Springs, Pennsylvania and lived there until 1864, when at the age of 14 and lacking virtually any education he left home to join the Union Army. Engaged by the soldier’s lifestyle, he followed this by fighting in Mexico in the overthrow of Maximilian.

Sources: 
John Hope Franklin, George Washington Williams (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985); Clyde N. Wilson, ed., American Historians, 1866-1912 (Detroit: Edwards Brothers, Inc., 1986), Linda Heywood, Allison Blakely, Charles Stith, and Joshua C.Yesnowitz, eds., African Americans in U.S. Foreign Policy: From the Era of Frederick Douglass to the Age of Barack Obama (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2015).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Mahdist Revolution (1881-1898)

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

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

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

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

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

Merrick, John Henry (1859-1919)

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

John Henry Merrick—insurance agent, entrepreneur, business owner—was born in Clinton, North Carolina on September 7, 1859. Merrick was born a slave; he lived with his mother Martha Merrick and a younger brother. With the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation his family was freed. When Merrick was twelve he and his family relocated to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He got a job as a helper in a brickyard which provided support for his family. At the age of eighteen Merrick moved to Raleigh, North Carolina where he began work as a hod carrier.  Merrick eventually became a brick mason and worked on the construction of Shaw University in Raleigh.  

Sources: 

Walter B. Weare, Black Business in the New South: A Social History of
the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company
(Urbana: University of
Illinois Press, 1973); Andrews, R. McCants “John Merrick. A
Biographical Sketch: Electronic Edition”
http://docsouth.unc.edu/nc/andrews/andrews.html;  "John Henry Merrick,"
in Jessie Carney Smith, Millicent Lownes Jackson and Linda T. Wynn,
eds., Encyclopedia of African American Business (Westport, Conn:
Greenwood Press, 2006)

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Harris-Stowe University (1857-)

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Hell Week for Alpha Pledges at Stowe College, St. Louis, ca. 1955
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Harris-Stowe University is a historically black college in St. Louis, Missouri.  It was also the first public teacher education institution west of the Mississippi River.  Harris-Stowe was originally two separate institutions: Harris Teachers College and Stowe Teachers College, which were merged together in 1954 to form Harris Teachers College.  

The older of the two, Harris Teachers College was created in 1857 by the St. Louis Board of Education to prepare white teachers for white elementary schools.  Harris was named after William Torrey Harris who had been a Superintendent of Instruction in the St. Louis Public Schools and also a United States Commissioner of Education.  In 1920, Harris Teachers College became an accredited four-year undergraduate college authorized to grant a Bachelor of Arts in Education Degree.
Sources: 
"Harris-Stowe State College: St. Louis, Missouri," I'll Find a War or Make One: A Tribute to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, ed. Juan Williams and Dwayne Ashley (New York: HarperCollins, 2007); http://www.hssu.edu/sp_content.cfm?wID=50&pID=478; Samuel L. Myers, "Harris-Stowe State College," in Encyclopedia of African-American Education, ed. Faustine Childress Jones-Wilson (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1996).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Elaw, Zilpa (1790? - ?)

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

The Pearl Incident

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The Pearl Incident in 1848 was the single largest recorded escape attempt by enslaved people in United States history. On April 15, 1848, 77 slaves attempted to flee Washington, D.C. by sailing away on a schooner called The Pearl. They planned to sail south along Potomac River and then north up the Chesapeake Bay, cross overland to the Delaware River and then to the free state of New Jersey, a distance of nearly 225 miles.

The mass escape attempt was organized by both black and white abolitionists in Washington, D.C.  Free blacks Paul Jennings, the former slave of President James Madison, and Paul Edmonson, whose wife and 14 children were still enslaved, were the initiators of the escape.  They enlisted the help of William Chaplin, a Washington, D.C. white abolitionist who in turn contacted Philadelphia abolitionist Daniel Drayton, Captain and owner of The Pearl, and pilot Edward Sayres.  Wealthy abolitionist Gerrit Smith of New York provided financial backing for the escape.  

Sources: 
Mary Kay Ricks, Escape on the Pearl: The Heroic Bid for Freedom on the Underground Railroad (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2008); Josephine F. Pacheco, The Pearl: A Failed Slave Escape on the Potomac (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

John Brown’s Christmas Raid into Missouri 1858

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

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

Carney, William H. (1840-1908)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Horton. Slavery and the Making of America. (New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2005); Jessie Carney Smith, editor. Black Firsts: 2,000 Years of Extraordinary Achievement.  (Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1994).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Downing, Henry Francis (1846-1928)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Henry Francis Downing was an author, playwright, consul and sailor. He was born in New York City in 1846, the son of Henry and Nancy Downing. His family maintained an oyster business that had been owned by his grandfather, Thomas Downing, a well known freeman.  His uncle was famed New York businessman and civil rights leader, George Thomas Downing.
Sources: 
Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982); Jeffrey Green, “Future Research,” Black Music Research Journal, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Autumn, 2001).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Smith, Amanda Berry (1837-1915)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

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

Savannah State University (1890- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Sisters Striving for Excellence:
Women's Organization at Savannah State University
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Savannah State University, a historically black university in Savannah, Georgia, is the oldest state supported black institution of higher education in the state of Georgia.  It was the first black public land grant college established in the state after the Morrill Act of 1890. Originally named the Georgia State Industrial College for Colored Youth, the school met in Athens, Georgia for less than a year before moving to a campus in Savannah in 1891, where it remains to this day.
Sources: 
Carlton E. Brown, "Carlton E. Brown, President, Savannah State University,” in The Future of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, edited by Carolyn O. Wilson Mbajekwe (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc, 2006); Toni Hodge-Wright, ed., The Handbook of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Seattle: Jireh & Associates, 1992); Julian B. Roebuck and Komanduri S. Murty, Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Their Place in American Higher Education (Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers, 1993); Savannah State University Official Website. www.savannahstate.edu; “Savannah State University.” New Georgia Encyclopedia Online. University of Georgia Press, 2005. www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-1428&sug=y .
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Jones, Richard Lee (1893-1975)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Richard Jones was a decorated military leader, serving in both World Wars I and II, and an early United States Ambassador.

Born Richard Lee Jones on December 21, 1893 in Albany, Georgia, Jones studied at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, receiving his Bachelor of Science degree (Circa 1914). He then studied law at the University of Illinois, until the outbreak of World War I, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army.  He served in the 317th Engineer Battalion and as a lieutenant in the Military Police (1917-1919).
Sources: 
Chicago Tribune, October 15, 1927, and October 18, 1970; Clovis E. Semmes, The Regal Theater and Black Culture (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006); U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian, “Foreign Relations of the United States, 1955-1957,” Volume XVIII, Africa, Documents 141, 145, and 146.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training

July, Johanna (1857?-1946?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Johanna July, a black Seminole, was born around 1857 in Nacimiento de Los Negros, the settlement established in northern Mexico following the emigration of Indian and black Seminoles from the Indian Territory in 1849.  

By 1870, the U.S. Army, desperate for translators and scouts familiar with the border country, employed the black Seminoles leading to their return to the United States. Most of them, including the July family, settled in or near Eagle Pass, Texas in 1871.  There Johanna July learned to tame horses and herd the family’s goats and cattle. With the death of her father, she worked the stock and continued to tame wild horses for the U.S. Army and area ranchers.

Johanna developed her own method of taming horses. She would lead a horse into the Rio Grande, swim up, grab the mane, and gently ease astride. As the horse tired from swimming, he lost the strength to buck.
Sources: 
Jim Coffey, “Johanna July: A Horse-Breaking Women,” Black Cowboys of Texas, Sara R. Massey, ed. (College Station, Texas A&M University Press, 2000), 73-84.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Crummell, Alexander (1819-1898)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Alexander Crummell, an Episcopalian priest, missionary, scholar and teacher, was born in New York City in 1819 to free black parents.  He spent much of his life addressing the conditions of African Americans while urging an educated black elite to aspire to the highest intellectual attainments as a refutation of the theory of black inferiority.

Crummell began his education at an integrated school in New Hampshire. He later transferred to an abolitionist institute in Whitesboro, New York where he learned both the classics and manual labor skills. However, after being denied admittance to the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church because of his race, Crummell was forced to study privately.  Nonetheless at the age of 25 he became an Episcopalian minister. 

From 1848 to 1853 Crummell lectured and studied in England.  He also graduated from Queens’ College, Cambridge University in 1853.  Crummell left England to become an educator in Liberia, accepting a faculty position at Liberia College in Monrovia.  From his new post, Crummell urged African Americans to emigrate to Liberia.
Sources: 
Jeremiah Moses, Alexander Crummell: A Study of Civilization and Discontent (Oxford University Press, 1989);
Pbs.org/wnet/aaword/reference/articles/Alexander_crummell.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Saunders, Prince (1775–1839)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Prince Saunders was a prominent advocate for the education of African Americans and for the colonization of African Americans in Haiti during his lifetime.  He was born in Connecticut and died in Haiti.

Prince Saunders was born around 1775 in Lebanon, Connecticut.  He was baptized in 1784 at Thetford, Vermont and was raised by Vermont lawyer George Oramel Hinckley.  Hinckley became Saunders’ sponsor from 1807 to 1808.  With Hinckley’s sponsorship, Saunders was able to attend Dartmouth College.  Dartmouth President John Wheelock in turn recommended Saunders, in 1808, to Unitarian minister William Ellery Channing who set him up to work among black students in Boston.

In November 1808, Saunders began his four-year career as a teacher of Boston’s African School.  In 1811, he became a secretary for the African Masonic Lodge while founding the Belle Lettres Society, an integrated literary group.

In 1815, Saunders negotiated with Abiel Smith, a wealthy merchant, to provide funds for other schools for blacks in Boston.  Smith eventually granted Saunders about $4,000 for the education of African American children in the city.  Other funds came from Smith’s estate after his death but by 1820 Boston city taxes helped support the schools.  It was at one of these schools that Saunders met Thomas Paul, a leading Boston Baptist minister.  
Sources: 
James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Horton, In Hope of Liberty: Culture, Community, and Protest Among Northern Free Blacks, 1700–1860 (New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997); White, Arthur O., “Prince Saunders: An Instance of Social Mobility Among Antebellum New England Blacks,” The Journal of Negro History 60:4 (Oct. 1975);
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Washington, Booker T. (1856-1915)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

St. Augustine’s University (1867- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History

 

African American Faculty Members at St. Augustine's College, 1902
Image Ownership: Public Domain

St. Augustine’s University is a private, four-year coeducational liberal arts college located in Raleigh, North Carolina. St. Augustine’s was founded in 1867, making it one of the oldest historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) in the United States.

St. Augustine’s University was originally founded as the St. Augustine Normal School and Collegiate Institute. The name of the school was changed to St. Augustine’s School in 1893, then to St. Augustine Junior College in 1919. The school’s status was upgraded to a four-year institute in 1927, and the name was changed one final time in 1928 to St. Augustine’s College.  It became St. Augustine's University.  On August 1, 2012, St. Augustine's College became St. Augustine's University. St. Augustine’s awarded its first baccalaureate degree in 1931, after being accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Sources: 
St. Augustine’s College Webpage, http://www.st-aug.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

Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church (c. 1830- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, located in Brooklyn, St. Clair County, Illinois, is one of the oldest still-operating historically African American church in the state of Illinois.

Many of the details surrounding Quinn Chapel’s history are uncertain and contradictory. Oral tradition in the church dates the congregation back to 1825, when a group began to meet in the home of John and Priscilla Baltimore, who was known as the “Mother of Black Brooklyn.”
Sources: 
Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua, America’s First Black Town: Brooklyn, Illinois, 1830-1915 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000); Brian Dolinar, ed., The Negro in Illinois: The WPA Papers (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013); John J. Dunphy, Abolitionism and the Civil War in Southwestern Illinois (Charleston: The History Press, 2011).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Fortes, Seraphim “Joe” (1865-1922)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain
Seraphim “Joe” Fortes was born in Barbados, West Indies. He was a seaman and came to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in 1885. There he worked as a barman at the Sunnyside Hotel. English Bay became his favourite spot as he loved the water and was an excellent swimmer. Every day he swam in the bay, and finally he gave up his hotel job to live in a little cottage on the shore where he became a well-known lifeguard.


Joe guarded the beach kindly, but firmly, and taught the children who came there how to swim. He is credited with rescuing over 100 lives of both children and adults who ventured too far and got in trouble. For his community service, the City of Vancouver made him a special constable. When Beach Avenue was being improved, Joe’s little cottage was moved beside the bandstand at Alexandra Park, and he lived there until he died. In 1924, a memorial drinking fountain was erected facing the beach where he had served as guardian and teacher for over twenty years. He is honoured as the first English Bay lifeguard after the Park Board decided to create such a post.

Sources: 
A Resource Guide on Black Pioneers in British Columbia (Victoria, B.C: The British Columbia Black History Awareness Society, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
British Columbia Black History Awareness Society

Coleridge-Taylor, Samuel (1875-1912)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Courtesy of the National
Museum of American History
Born on August 15, 1875 to a physician from Sierra Leone and an Englishwoman, musical composer and conductor Samuel Coleridge-Taylor grew-up in Holborn, England.  He revealed his musical talents at the age of five, began studying the violin at the age of seven, and entered the Royal College of Music in London at the age of fifteen.  By the mid-1890s, due largely to his association with the African American poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar and inspired by the London performance of the visiting Fisk Jubilee Singers from the United States, Coleridge-Taylor begin reflecting the African American experience in his music.

By 1898 when only 23 years of age, Coleridge-Taylor was commissioned to write his Ballade in A Minor for Britain’s Three Choirs Festival.  He is perhaps best remembered for Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast, the first of three parts based on poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha.  Coleridge-Taylor’s overture to this particular piece was drawn from the black American spiritual: “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen.”  
Sources: 
Kwame A. Appiah & Henry Louis Gates, Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 1999); see also African American Almanac (Detroit: Gale Research Group, 1994).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Paul, Thomas, Sr. (1773-1831)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Home of Thomas Paul, Boston
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Thomas Paul was the eldest of six sons born into a free Black family in Exeter, New Hampshire.   Educated at a Baptist school in Hollis, NH, Paul pursued a career in the ministry as did three of his brothers.  He enjoyed a reputation as an eloquent speaker and traveled throughout New England as a guest preacher.  In 1804, he received his ordination.  The following year, he married Catherine Waterhouse and had three children, Ann Catherine, Susan, and Thomas, Jr.

Shortly after moving his family to Boston, Thomas Paul, Sr. was installed as the first pastor of the First African Baptist Church in December in 1806.  He served this congregation until 1829, two years before his death.  

Paul was a leader in the movement to establish independent Black churches in the United States.  He assisted the Black Baptists in New York City in the establishment of the African Baptist Society, which later evolved into the Abyssinian Baptist Church.  Paul’s church took on several names between 1806 and the early 1830s, including the Independence Baptist Church, the Abolition Church, and, finally, St. Paul’s.  

During his ministerial career, the Rev. Paul also pursued foreign missionary work. In 1815, he traveled to Haiti under the auspices of the Massachusetts Baptist Society, where he stayed for six months.  Unable to communicate in French, Paul met with limited success in his ability to convert Haitians.
Sources: 
J. Marcus Mitchell, “The Paul Family,” Old Time New England, LXIII(Winter, 1973): 74-76, Rayford W. Logan and Winston, Michael R., eds. Dictionary of American Negro Biography (NY: Norton, 1982), 482-3, James Oliver Horton & Lois E. Horton, In Hope of Liberty: Culture, Community and Protest Among Northern Free Blacks, 1700-1860 (NY: Oxford Univ. Press, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Delaware State University [Dover] (1891-- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Deleware State University Library
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Delaware State University is a public historically black university with its main campus in Dover and two other campuses in Wilmington and Georgetown.  The school was established in 1891 as State College for Colored Students after passage of the Morrill Act of 1890 which gave land-grants to establish public colleges for African Americans.  Like many of the other schools designed under the Morrill Act, the college was racially segregated and focused mainly on teacher and agricultural training.  

The campus opened in 1892 and initially did not offer degrees but instead allowed students to study five majors leading to a baccalaureate degree.  Five years later, the school established a program leading to a teacher’s certificate, and the first class of certified teacher candidates graduated in May 1898.  After the beginning of the 20th century, courses also were offered in agriculture, mechanic arts, and domestic arts. Baccalaureate programs were first offered in 1932.   
Sources: 
Henry N. Drewry and Humphrey Doermann in collaboration with Susan H. Anderson, Stand and Prosper: Private Black Colleges and Their Students (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2001);  http://www.desu.edu/history; http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/hbcu-rankings; http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20957758/; http://www.dsuhornets.com/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Pretoria, South Africa (1855- )

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

Reid, Philip (1820-1892)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Statue of Freedom on the U.S. Capitol Dome
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Craftsman Philip Reid is best known as the enslaved African who worked on the casting of the Statue of Freedom which sits atop the Capitol building housing the United States Congress.  Reid is the most famous of the enslaved workers who comprised 50% of the workforce which built the structure that currently houses the United States Senate and House of Representatives.  
Sources: 
Ernest B. Furgurson, Freedom Rising: Washington in the Civil War (New York: Vintage, 2005); Jesse J. Holland, Black Men Built the Capitol: Discovering African-American History In and Around Washington, D.C. (Guilford, Connecticut: Globe Pequot, 2007); Wevonneda Minis, “Magazine Highlights Charleston Connection to Bronze Cast,” The Charleston Post and Courier, March 24, 2009, http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20090324/PC1205/303249915 ; Peter Zavodnyik, The Rise of the Federal Colossus: The Growth of Federal Power from Lincoln to F.D.R. (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2011).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Abel, Elijah (1810-1884)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Elijah Abel, early convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), was born on July 25, 1810 in Washington County, Maryland to Andrew and Delilah Abel, likely in bondage. There is some evidence that he used the Underground Railroad to escape slavery. He eventually found his way to the first settlement of the Latter-day Saints: Kirtland, Ohio. Church records indicate that he joined the Church.  On March 3, 1836, he was ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood, and was subsequently ordained (April 4, 1841) into the Quorum of the Seventy, the first person of African ancestry to join that group. This was a missionary designation and signified some power within the Church.
Sources: 
Newell Bringhurst, Saints, Slaves, and Blacks: The Changing Place of Black People within Mormonism (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1981); Margaret Young and Darius Gray, Standing on the Promises (trilogy) (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2000-2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Brigham Young University

Albina, Portland (1870- )

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Albina Neighborhood, 1962 (Oregon Historical Society)
"Image Ownership: Oregon Historical Society"
Albina is a neighborhood located in Northeast Portland, Oregon that for most of the 20th century was home to the majority of the city’s African American population. Before it was annexed into Portland in 1891, Albina was a rapidly growing city on the east side of the Willamette River from Portland. During the 1870s and 1880s, Albina’s population consisted mostly of new immigrants from Europe who worked at the Union Pacific Railroad terminal or on the docks. In the 1890s and 1900s, wealthy Portlanders from across the river began to purchase land in Albina. Most African American residents of Portland at the time rented homes or apartments on the west side of the river, closer to the city center.

By 1910, the black neighborhoods of northwest Portland were too crowded, and black Portlanders began to cross the river to look for homes, often choosing Lower Albina for its proximity to jobs at the docks or with the railroad. In response, the newer white neighborhoods of east Portland began adopting restrictive covenants, effectively confining African American home-seekers of east Portland to the Albina neighborhood.
Sources: 
Kimberley S. Moreland, History of Portland’s African American Community (1805 to the Present), City of Portland Bureau of Planning, 1993, https://multco.us/file/15283/download; Mark Friesen, “Graphic: Portland’s Central City Gets Whiter,” The Oregonian, April 30, 2011, http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2011/04/graphic_portlands_central_city_gets_whiter.html; Richard Ross, Ralph Ahselhn, and Malcolm Cross, Albina: Portland’s Ghetto of the Mind, KGW Broadcasting, 1967, http://legacy.kgw.com/story/features/2013/07/10/documentary-albina-portland-s-ghetto-of-the-mind-1967-/11775000/; Trudy Flores and Sarah Griffin, “The Albina Riot, 1967,” The Oregon Historical Society, 2002, http://oregonhistoryproject.org/articles/historical-records/albina-riot-1967/#.Vuh7AxIrKXQ; Tanya Hyatt Evenson, Sarah Griffith, and Amy E. Platt, “Albina Residents Picket Emmanuel Hospital,” Oregon Historical Society, 2002, http://oregonhistoryproject.org/articles/historical-records/albina-residents-picket-emanuel-hospital/#.VwFZ5Uc73d6; Karen J. Gibson, “Bleeding Albina: A History of Community Disinvestment, 1940-2000,” Transforming Anthropology, vol. 15, issue 1, 2007; Stuart McElderry, "Building a West Coast Ghetto: African-American Housing in Portland, 1910-1960," Pacific Northwest Quarterly, 92 (Summer 2001).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bridgetower, George (1780-1860)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Eighteenth and nineteenth century classical violinist George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower is perhaps now best remembered for his association with Ludwig von Beethoven, who composed his Kreutzer Sonata for the young Afro-European musician, and personally performed the sonata for violin and piano with Bridgetower. A copy of the sonata autographed by Beethoven is inscribed: “Sonata mulattica composta per il mullato.”

Sources differ on details of Bridgetower’s life. His birth date is variously given as 1778, 1779, or 1780, most likely February 29, 1780. It is known his mother was a Polish European, his father was of African ancestry, and he was born in Poland. While there are several versions of where his father came from – from Africa, or from Barbados - it is unquestioned that he was of African descent.
Sources: 
Percy A. Scholes, The Oxford Companion to Music, tenth edition edited by John Owen Ward (London: Oxford University Press, 1970); www.black-history.org.uk/prodigy.asp ; www.100greatblackbritons.com/bios/george_bridgetower.html; www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/features/blackeuro/bridgetowerbackground.html.
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Richmond, Bill (1763 – 1829)

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

 

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Allen, William G. (1820- ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Nineteenth-century lecturer and educator William G. Allen endured physical violence and barely escaped murder when he proposed marriage to the daughter of a white minister in upstate New York.  Their relationship later was the inspiration for a story about interracial love by author Louisa May Alcott, herself an abolition sympathizer.  

Born in Virginia in 1820, the son of a free mulatto mother and a Welsh father, Allen was orphaned as a young boy and adopted by a free African American family. His academic talents were noticed by New York philanthropist Gerrit Smith, who sponsored his education at the Oneida Institute, a progressive interracial school in upstate New York.  Allen graduated in 1844 and became editor of the National Watchman, a temperance and abolitionist paper for African Americans, and then clerked for the Boston law firm of Ellis Gray Loring.  While in Boston, he lectured on African American history and argued for a complete blending of the races.

Sources: 

Richard J. Blackett, “William G. Allen, The Forgotten Professor,” Civil
War History
, 26, 39-52 (March 1980); Sarah Elbert, The American
Prejudice Against Color
(Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2002);
Jack A. Garraty, American National Biography, Vol. 1 (New York: Oxford
Press, 1999); Jack Salzman, Encyclopedia of African-American Culture
and History, Volume 1
(New York: Macmillan Library Reference, 1996).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Wright, Richard R. , Sr. (1855-1947)

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

Richard Robert Wright Sr., college founder and banker, was born into slavery on May 16, 1855, near Dalton, Georgia. After the Civil War ended Wright’s mother moved with her son to Atlanta, Georgia where he attended the Storrs School, an institution founded by the American Missionary Association (AMA) to educate the children of the freedpeople.  Storrs was the forerunner of Atlanta University.  When retired Union General Oliver Otis Howard visited the school in 1868 and asked the students what message he should take to the North, Wright replied with the words, “Sir, tell them we are rising.”

Sources: 
June O. Patton, "'And the Truth Shall Make You Free': Richard Robert Wright, Sr., Black Intellectual and Iconoclast, 1877-1897," Journal of Negro History (Winter-Autumn, 1996): Alexa Benson Henderson, "Richard R. Wright and the National Negro Bankers Association: Early Organization Efforts Among Black Bankers, 1924-1942," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (January/April 1993); Clyde W. Hall, One Hundred Years of Educating at Savannah State College, 1890-1990 (Savannah: Clyde W. Hall, 1991), and August Meier and Elliot M. Rudwick, The Making of Black America: Essays in Negro Life & History, Volume 1 (New York: Athenaeum, 1969).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Hull, England

Edwards, Thyra J. (1897-1953)

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

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

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

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

9th Cavalry Regiment (1866-1944)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Ninth Cavalry at Fort Davis, Texas, ca. 1877
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The 9th Cavalry was one of the original six regiments of the regular U.S. Army set aside for black enlisted men.  These were authorized by Congress in the act of July 28, 1866 reorganizing the army for post-Civil War service, mainly against native peoples in the West.  Colonel Edward Hatch, an officer with no military experience prior to the Civil War but who distinguished himself as the commander of an Iowa cavalry regiment during the rebellion, was the 9th’s first commander.  Initial recruiting efforts centered on New Orleans and vicinity.  By February 1867, twelve companies were organized and on their way to Texas.

The regiment participated in numerous frontier campaigns, against the Comanche, the Ute, and most notably the Apache between 1877 and 1881.  In the early 1880s it also engaged in efforts to restrain settlers seeking to take up land in Indian Territory before that area was legally open.  In the 1870s the regiment was involved in the El Paso Salt War and in the 1890s it participated in efforts to restore order in the wake of the Johnson County, Wyoming Cattle War (1892) and railroad labor disputes (1894).  Colonel Hatch remained in command until his death at Fort Robinson, Nebraska in April 1889.  Forty-four of its soldiers were killed in action during this period, 28 against the Apaches.
Sources: 
Frank N. Schubert, Buffalo Soldiers, Braves and the Brass: the Story of Fort Robinson, Nebraska (Shippensburg, PA:  White Mane, 1993); Schubert, Black Valor:  Buffalo Soldiers and the Medal of Honor, 1870-1898 (Wilmington, DE:  SR Books, 1997).
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Gibbs, Jonathan (1827-1874)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born a freeman in Pennsylvania in 1827, Jonathan Gibbs was the son of Maria Jackson and the Methodist minister, Jonathan Gibbs.

Gibbs was originally trained as a carpenter until in 1848.  Then he became one of only two African Americans accepted at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.  After graduating four years later he enrolled in the seminary at Princeton University.  In 1852 Gibbs became an ordained minister to black Presbyterian congregations in New York and Pennsylvania.  

During the 1850s Gibbs was a political activist who fought of the rights of African Americans.  He aided with the Underground Railroad, campaigned for the expansion of black male suffrage in New York, joined the freedmen’s relief efforts and fought segregation on New York City streetcars.  Gibbs also served as vice president of the Pennsylvania State Equal Rights League.  When the Civil War broke out Gibbs supported black enlistment into the union army.  On January 1st 1863 he gave a rousing speech “A Day to Celebrate Emancipation” to the audience of  First African Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia praising the efforts of African Americans through past heroes like Crispus Attucks up to the African American’s role during the Civil War.  He also praised the recently announced Emancipation Proclamation which took affect that day.  
Sources: 
James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Horton, Hard Road to Freedom: The Story of African America.  (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2001); Josh Gottheimer, ed. Ripples of Hope: Great American Civil Rights Speeches.  (New York: Civitas Books, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Ray, Charles B. (1807-1886)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Charles Bennett Ray journalist, clergyman, and abolitionist was born in Falmouth, Massachusetts on December 25, 1807. He attended school in his hometown, and then in the 1830s he was given the opportunity by abolitionists to attend Wesleyan Seminary in Wilbraham, Massachusetts to study theology. He also studied in Middletown Connecticut at Wesleyan University, but left because of racial tension. Ray worked for five years on his grandfather’s farm, then later went on to learn the boot making trade. When he moved to New York City in 1832 he opened a boot and shoe store. Ray also became a Methodist minister.

In 1834 Charles Ray married Henrietta Green Regulus on October 27, 1836 she along with her newborn died while giving birth. Then in 1840 he married Charlotte Augusta Burroughs; they had seven children together.  Two daughters, Charlotte T. Ray and Florence Ray, became the first black female attorneys in the nation in the 1870s.

In 1833 Charles Ray joined the American Anti-Slavery Society and was a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad. He dedicated most of his life to the abolitionist movement. In 1837 Ray changed denominations and became a Congregational minister. Then in 1843 he joined the New York Vigilance Committee, which involved thirteen black and white men who assisted runaway slaves. In 1848 Ray became the corresponding secretary for the Committee and remained an active member for fifteen years.
Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982); The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 4, No. 4 (Oct., 1919), pp. 361-371 Publisher: Association for the Study of African-American Life and History, Inc.  Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2713446
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Cain, Richard H. (1825-1887)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

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

Johnson C. Smith University [Charlotte] (1867- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History

 

Students in Front of Biddle Hall,
Johnson C. Smith University
Image Courtesy of Johnson C. Smith University

Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU), founded on April 7, 1867, is one of the oldest predominantly African American universities in North Carolina.  The university was founded by three Presbyterian ministers, Rev. Samuel C. Alexander, Rev. Sidney S. Murkland, and Rev. Willis L. Miller and established under the auspices of the Committee on Freedmen of the Presbyterian Church, USA.  The university was originally for men only.  With approximately eight men, the first session of class was held on May 1, 1867. The University offered its first Bachelor of Arts degree in 1876.  Rev. Dr. Stephen Mattoon was the first President of Johnson C. Smith University from 1870 to 1886. The first African American President, Rev. Dr. Daniel Jackson Sanders, began his tenure in 1891.

Sources: 
Arthur A. George, Down Through the Years: Some Personalities Connected with the Establishment and Growth of Biddle University, now Johnson C. Smith University, Charlotte, North Carolina (Charlotte:  Johnson C. Smith University, 1961); Arthur A. George, 100 Years, 1867-1967: Salient Factors In The Growth and Development of Johnson C. Smith University, Charlotte, N. C.: A History (Charlotte:  Johnson C. Smith University, 1968);Inez Moore Parker, The Biddle-Johnson C. Smith University Story (Charlotte: Charlotte Publishing, 1975).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

Love, Nat (1854-1921)

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

 

Sources: 
Nat Love, The Life and Adventures of Nat Love: Better Known in the Cattle Country as “Deadwood Dick” (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1995); Robert M. Utley, editor. Encyclopedia of the American West  (New York: Random House, 1997); American National Biography,  http://www.anb.org.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/articles/home.html (login required).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

American Negro Academy (1897-1924)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
American Negro Academy Members
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Founded on March 5, 1897 in Washington, D.C. by 78-year-old Reverend Alexander Crummell, the American Negro Academy (ANA) was an organization of black intellectuals who through their scholarship and writing were dedicated to the promotion of higher education, arts, and science for African Americans as part of the overall struggle for racial equality. The American Negro Academy brought together persons of African ancestry from around the world and was the first society of blacks that would specifically promote the “Talented Tenth” ideas later articulated by founding member W.E.B. DuBois. An all-male organization, the ANA consisted of those with backgrounds in law, medicine, literature, religion, and community activism.  Their collective goal, however, was to “lead and protect their people” and to be a “weapon to secure equality and destroy racism.”
Sources: 
John F. Marszalek, Encyclopedia of African-American Civil Rights: From Emancipation to the Present (Greenwood Publishing Group, 1992).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Adams, Henry [Kentucky] (1802–1872)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Henry Adams was a prominent black Baptist minister and advocate for African American education who worked in Georgia and later in Louisville, Kentucky. Adams was born in Franklin County, Georgia in 1802.  He obtained a license to preach at the age of 18 and was ordained on October 29, 1825.  Adams preached for four years in Georgia and South Carolina.

Sources: 
Marion B. Lucas, A History of Blacks in Kentucky: From Slavery to Segregation, 1760 – 1891 (Kentucky Historical Society: University Press of Kentucky, 2003); George C. Wright, Life Behind a Veil: Blacks in Louisville, Kentucky 1865–1930 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Langston, Charles Henry (1817-1892)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Charles Henry Langston
(Ohio Historical Society)

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

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

Morehouse College [Atlanta] (1867- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Morehouse College Graduation, 2002
Image Ownership: Public Domain
A private, historically-black college for men, Morehouse College opened in 1867 to train former slaves to be Protestant ministers and educators. Today, Morehouse is one of five colleges in the Atlanta University Center, a complex that has included Morehouse’s sister school, Spelman College, as well as Clark Atlanta University, Morris Brown College, and the Interdenominational Theological Center. The affiliated Morehouse School of Medicine opened in 1975.
Sources: 
Morehouse Men, VHS (PBS Home Video, 1995); http://www.morehouse.edu; Benjamin Griffith Brawley, History of Morehouse College: Written on the Authority of the Board of Trustees (Atlanta: Morehouse College, 1917).
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

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

Wormley, James (1819-1884)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in Washington D.C. on January 16, 1819, James Wormley was the son of free-born citizens Lynch and Mary Wormley. As a young boy, Wormley’s first job was working with his family’s hackney carriage business. This job would help Wormley gain skills and an appreciation for hard work involved in business ownership which he put to good use in post-Civil War Washington.

After owning a successful restaurant, Wormley decided to purchase a hotel in 1871 which he called the Wormley House. Located near the White House, at the southwest corner of 15th and H Streets Northwest, Wormley House soon became popular among the wealthy and politically prominent in the nation’s capital.  Wormley’s experience as caterer, club steward, and traveler in Europe helped him to perfect his culinary skills while his keen eye for detail ensured that his hotel guests were satisfied during their stay. The hotel was most famous for its well-managed rooms, early telephone, and the dining room where Wormley served European-style dishes.
Sources: 
Sandra Fitzpatrick and Maria Goodwin, The Guide to Black Washington. (New York: Hippocrene Books, 1999); Nicholas E. Hollis, “A Hotel for the History Books” Washington Post, (March 18, 2001); http://www.culturaltourismdc.org/portal/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Straker, David Augustus (1842-1908)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
David Augustus Straker, author, lawyer, and politician, was born and raised in Bridgetown, Barbados, where he achieved success as a teacher and principal at St. Mary’s Public School.  In 1868 he moved to Kentucky, where he taught at a freedman’s school for one year.  He entered Howard University in 1869, graduating two years later with a degree in law.  

Straker returned to Kentucky but when he was unable to find work as a lawyer, he took a position as a postal clerk.  During this time he married Annie M. Carey and authored numerous editorials for Frederick Douglass’s New National Era, gaining him national exposure.  In 1875 he resigned his postal position to join a law firm in Charleston, South Carolina, where he and his wife relocated.  

A staunch Republican, Straker was first elected to public office in November, 1876 as the Orangeburg County Representative in the lower house of the state legislature.  Redeemer Democrats, however, refused to seat him and his fellow Republicans the following year as they anticipated the end of Reconstruction in the state.  Undeterred, Straker continued to run for office and was reelected by the citizens of Orangeburg County in 1878 and 1880 even as the Democrats continued to deny him his seat in the legislature.    
Sources: 
Eric Foner, Freedom’s Lawmakers: A Dictionary of Black Officeholders during Reconstruction (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993); Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982); Edwin S. Redkey, Black Exodus: Black Nationalist and Back-to-Africa Movements, 1890-1910 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1969).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Anderson, Caroline Still Wiley (1848-1919)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Caroline Still Wiley Anderson, physician and educator, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to William and Letitia Still.  Supporting his family through coal mining investments and a stove store, William Still, a prominent antebellum abolitionist, helped escaped slaves on the Underground Railroad.  He wrote about these fugitive slaves in his book The Underground Railroad.  

Caroline Still attended Mrs. Henry Gordon’s Private School, The Friends Raspberry Alley School, and the Institute for Colored Youth.  At sixteen, she went to Oberlin College where she was the only black woman in her class.  After graduating from Oberlin College’s Literary Course in 1868, Still moved back to Philadelphia to teach.  In 1869, she married Edward A. Wiley, a former Alabama slave, who she met at Oberlin.  Before Wiley’s death in 1873, they had two children, William and Letitia. Caroline Wiley left Philadelphia for Washington, D.C. and Howard University where she was hired to teach music, drawing, and elocution.

Once there she decided to become a medical doctor.  After attending Howard University Medical School for one term, Wiley transferred to the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1876.  She graduated in the spring of 1878 and then interned at Boston’s New England Hospital for Women and Children.  When she returned to Philadelphia in 1879, she became one of the state’s first black female doctors.
Sources: 
Margaret Jerrido, “Caroline Still Anderson,” in Notable Black American Women, ed. Jessie Carney Smith (Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1996); Darlene Clark Hine, “Co-Laborers in the Work of the Lord: Nineteenth-Century Black Women Physicians,” in ‘Send Us a Lady Physician’: Women Doctors in America, 1835-1920, ed. Ruth J. Abram (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1985);  Susan Wells, Out of the Dead House: Nineteenth Century Women Physicians and the Writing of Medicine (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2001).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Djibouti City, Republic of Djibouti (1888- )

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

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

Ray, Emma (1859-1930)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
For nearly thirty years, Emma Ray, who was born into slavery and raised in poverty in Missouri, ministered to the poor and homeless in Seattle slums along with her husband, L.P. They came to Seattle following the 1889 fire in order for L.P. to find work as a stonemason. Shortly after, they were converted in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Emma helped to found the Frances Harper Colored Unit of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union with fifteen women from the AME Church, and she served as its president. With her WCTU Unit, Emma visited the jail, holding religious services on Sunday afternoons. On Wednesday afternoons, she and “Mother” Ryther, who ran an orphanage in Seattle, visited prostitutes and held services in the brothels. Between 1900 and 1902, Emma and L.P. ran a mission in Kansas City, Missouri, for children living in poverty, providing clothes, meals, a warm place to gather in the winter, trips to the park in the summer, and weekly Sunday School.

The Rays eventually joined The Free Methodist Church and were licensed as Conference Evangelists. Under the auspices of the Free Methodists, they preached revival meetings in churches throughout the state of Washington. Emma’s autobiography, Twice Sold, Twice Ransomed, was published by the Free Methodist Publishing House in 1926.
Sources: 
Emma Ray, Twice Sold, Twice Ransomed (Seattle: Free Methodist Publishing House, 1926).
Affiliation: 
Seattle Pacific University

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

Powell, Adam Clayton, Sr. (1865-1953)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Adam Clayton Powell, Sr. was born on May 5 in Franklin County, Virginia to former slaves of African American, Native American, and German ancestry.  He was raised in a family of 17 children.

During his youth, Powell lived a reckless life filled with gambling.  At the age of 19, Powell experienced a religious conversion to Christianity at a revival meeting.  After failing to gain entrance into Howard University School of Law, he decided to study religion.  In 1888, he enrolled in a theology program at Wayland Seminary and College in Washington, D.C. earning his degree in 1892.

Sources: 
Charles V. Hamilton, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.: The Political Biography of an American Dilemma (New York: Athenaeum, 1991); Will Haygood, King of the Cats: The Life and Times of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1993); “Dr. A. C. Powell Sr., Minister, 88, Dead.” New York Times (June 13, 1953), 15.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

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

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

Anderson, George B. (? --?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

George B. “Spider” Anderson is considered one of the greatest African American jockeys in horse racing history.  There are no details available on George Anderson's early life, not even the place or date of his birth.

Anderson achieved his greatest accomplishment by being the first African American jockey to win the Preakness Stakes held at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland.  The Preakness Stakes is the 2nd stage of the Triple Crown series, between the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes in New York.

On May 10, 1889, the day of the race, Anderson struck one of his coaches, James Cook, across the head with a whip.  The reason for this altercation between the two remains unknown.  There is however speculation that because the 1889 Preakness Stakes only consisted of two horses; Buddhist, rode by Anderson, and Japhet, owned by former Maryland Governor Oden Bowie, there was tension between Cook, who was a friend of Governor Bowie, and Anderson.  There may have been words exchanged before the race which led to Anderson's attack.  Despite the altercation, Anderson was allowed to participate in the Preakness Stakes before receiving any punishment for his assault on Cook by authorities.

Anderson won the race riding Buddhist and easily beating Japhet.  Anderson finished the race with an astonishing time of 2:17.50 and became the 17th winner of the Preakness Stakes.

In 1891, Anderson had two other significant victories to his career, the Alabama Stakes at the Saratoga Race Course in Upstate New York and the Philip H. Iselin Handicap at the Monmouth Race Course in New Jersey.

Sources: 

Edward Hotaling, The Great Black Jockeys: The Lives and Times of the Men Who Dominated America's First National Sport (Rocklin, California: Forum, 1999); http://www.jimcrowhistory.org/scripts/jimcrow/sports.cgi?sport=Horseraci... Glenn C., Smith, "George "Spider" Anderson: First Black Jockey to Win the Preakness." Los Angeles Sentinel. 2000. HighBeam Research., http://www.highbeam.com.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

1st Louisiana Native Guard, CSA (1861-1862)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Map of New Orleans and Vicinity, 1861
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The 1st Louisiana Native Guard was the first official black regiment in the Confederate Army. The Guard was formed when Louisiana Governor Thomas Overton Moore accepted into the state militia a regiment of approximately 1,100 free African American men. When Governor Moore called for troops to defend Louisiana on April 17, 1861, a committee of ten prominent New Orleans free blacks called a meeting at the city's Catholic Institute on April 22 to pledge their loyalty to the Confederate cause. About 2,000 people attended the meeting including 1,500 free blacks who signed a militia muster roll.  
Sources: 
"America's Civil War: Louisiana Native Guards » History Net." History Net – From the World's Largest History Magazine Publisher. http://www.historynet.com/americas-civil-war-louisiana-native-guards.htm; Donald E. Everett, "Ben Butler and the Louisiana Native Guards, 1861-1862," The Journal of Southern History 24.2 (1958): 202-17. JSTOR. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2208874; James G. Hollandsworth, The Louisiana Native Guards: the Black Military Experience during the Civil War (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1995).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Waller, John Lewis (1850-1907)

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

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

Chicot County Race War of 1871

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Map of Chicot County, Arkansas, 1889
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
In late 1871, Chicot County, Arkansas, was taken over by several hundred African Americans led by state senator and county judge James W. Mason. The murder of an African American lawyer, Wathal G. Wynn, by three white men—John W. Saunders, Jasper Dugan, and Curtis Garrett—angered the black citizens of Chicot County, causing them to take the men from the county jail and kill them. The killings prompted many white residents to flee the county.  

The conflict began in December 1871 when Wathal G. Wynn, who, according to some sources, was James W. Mason’s brother-in-law and was killed in a store in Lake Village, the Chicot County seat. Wynn, one of the first graduates of the newly created Howard University Law School, had been admitted to the Arkansas Bar the previous September.

Sources: 
“Chicot County Race War of 1871,” The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=7615; Thomas A. Deblack, With Fire and Sword: Arkansas, 1861-1874 (Fayetteville: The University of Arkansas Press.2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

10th Cavalry Regiment (1866--1944)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The 10th Cavalry was one of the original six regiments of the regular army set aside for black enlisted men.  These were authorized by Congress in the act of July 28, 1866 reorganizing the army for post-Civil War service, mainly against native peoples in the West.  Colonel Benjamin Grierson, a music teacher with no pre-Civil War military experience, was the 10th’s first commander.  Grierson distinguished himself by leading a daring cavalry raid into Mississippi during General Grant’s Vicksburg campaign of 1863.   The regiment was organized at Fort Leavenworth and later Fort Riley, Kansas, with the last company assembled and in the field by October 1867.  It served under Grierson for more than twenty years, until his promotion to be brigadier general in November 1888.

The 10th served against the Cheyenne in Kansas at the end of the 1860s, then against the Kiowa and Comanche in Indian Territory, and in the Apache campaigns of the early 1880s.  It was involved in the pursuit of Geronimo in 1886, but did not take part in his capture.  Its only Medal of Honor recipient in the West, Sergeant William McBryar, received his award for 1890 operations against Apaches who resisted confinement to a reservation.  Nine of the 10th’s seventeen fatalities came against the Apache.
Sources: 
Edward L. N. Glass, The History of the Tenth Cavalry, 1866-1921 (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).

Church, Robert Reed, Sr. (1839-1912)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of
Tennessee State University
Robert Reed Church, Sr., was a millionaire business leader and philanthropist in Memphis, Tennessee.  Born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, on June 18, 1839, he was the product of an interracial union. His father was a steamboat captain, Charles B. Church, and his mother, Emmeline, was an enslaved seamstress who died when Robert was twelve years old.
Sources: 
Annette E. Church and Roberta Church, The Robert R. Churches of Memphis: A Father and Son Who Achieved in Spite of Race (Memphis: A.E. Church, 1974); Mary C. Terrell, A Colored Woman in a White World (Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2006; Lester Lamon, Black Tennesseans, 1900-1930 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1977); Robert A. Sigafoos, Cotton Row to Beale Street: A Business History of Memphis (Memphis: Memphis State University Press, 1979); The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Bassett, Ebenezer D. (1833-1908)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Ebenezer D. Bassett was appointed U.S. Minister Resident to Haiti in 1869, making him the first African American diplomat.  For eight years, the educator, abolitionist, and black rights activist oversaw bilateral relations through bloody civil warfare and coups d'état on the island of Hispaniola.  Bassett served with distinction, courage, and integrity in one of the most crucial, but difficult postings of his time.
Sources: 
Christopher Teal, Hero of Hispaniola: America's First Black Diplomat, Ebenezer D. Bassett (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2008).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State

Greener, Richard T. (1844-1922)

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

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

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

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

Campbell, Tunis Gulic (1812–1891)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Tunis Campbell was one of the most successful black politicians in the Reconstruction Era.  Born the eighth of 10 children to free black parents, John Campbell, a blacksmith and his wife (name unknown) in Middlebrook, New Jersey on April 1, 1812, Campbell trained for missionary work at an all-white Episcopal school in Babylon, New York.  He initially worked for the American Colonization Society but eventually rejected their efforts to shore up U.S. slavery by sending only free blacks to Liberia.  He then became an anti-colonization and abolitionist lecturer.   
Sources: 
Ira Berlin, Thavolia Glymph, Steven F. Miller, Joseph P. Reidy, and Leslie S. Rowland, Freedom: Volume 3, Series 1: The Wartime Genesis of Free Labour: The Lower South: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867/ Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation (Cambridge University Press; Reissue edition, July 26, 2012); Robin Kadison Berson, Marching to a Different Drummer: Unrecognized Heroes of American History (Greenwood Press: Westport, CT, 1994); E. Merton Coulter, “Tunis G. Campbell, Negro Reconstructionist in Georgia,” Georgia Historical Quarterly, 51:4 (December 1967).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

Yates, Josephine Silone (1852-1912)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Teacher, writer and civil rights activist Josephine Silone, the youngest daughter of Alexander and Parthenia Reeve-Silone, was born in Mattiluck on Long Island, New York in 1852.  At age eleven, Yates moved to Philadelphia to live with her uncle, Rev. J.B. Reeve, in hopes of finding greater educational opportunity. There she attended the Institute of Colored Youth run by Fannie Jackson Coppin. By the time Silone was old enough to attend high school, an aunt invited her to live and go to school in Newport, Rhode Island. Silone, the only black student in her class and the first to graduate from Rogers High School in Newport in 1877, was selected class valedictorian.  Silone’s high school teachers encouraged her to attend a university but instead she chose Rhode Island State Normal School, a teacher’s college and again graduated as the only African American student in 1879.

After passing the Rhode Island State Teacher Certification, Silone moved to Jefferson City, Missouri to begin teaching at Lincoln Institute (later Lincoln University) and to head the Department of Natural Sciences. She resigned in 1889 to marry Professor W.W. Yates, then the principal of the Wendell Phillips School in Kansas City.  Josephine Silone Yates, who also taught at the Phillips School, soon became known and admired as one of the best teachers in the state of Missouri.  
Sources: 
Daniel Wallace Culp, Twentieth Century Negro Literature: Or, A Cyclopedia of Thought on the Vital Topics Relating to The American Negro (Palo Alto, California:  J. L. Nichols & Company, 1902).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Jones, Scipio Africanus (1863–1943)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Scipio Africanus Jones was a prominent Arkansas African American defense attorney in the late 19th and early 20th century.  He opposed Arkansas’s Jim Crow laws and successfully argued cases before the United States Supreme Court between 1913 and 1925.  Known for his pro bono work for impoverished African American defendants, Jones became the leading attorney in Arkansas for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Scipio Africanus Jones was born in 1863 in Tulip, Arkansas, to a slave mother and an unknown father.  He attended school at Tulip in Dallas County.  While he was enrolled in school, he chopped cotton in order to support himself.  Jones graduated from Shorter College in North Little Rock in 1885.

While teaching in Arkansas’s all-black public school he studied law with three white Little Rock attorneys.  He passed the bar in 1899.  The following year he was admitted to the Arkansas Supreme Court.

In 1901, Jones argued two important civil rights cases before the Arkansas Supreme Court.  In both cases, Jones objected to the all-white composition of the juries.  In one case the Court overturned a lower court’s conviction.  In the second case the court ruled that there was no discrimination in jury selection.  Despite the mixed outcome Jones quickly emerged as the leading black attorney in Arkansas.  
Sources: 
Patricia Lantier, Arkansas (Arkansas: Gareth Stevens Publishing, 2006); Mark Robert Schneider, We Return Fighting: The Civil Rights Movement in the Jazz Age (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2002); John Clay Smith, Emancipation: The Making of the Black Lawyer, 1844–1944 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Reason, Charles Lewis (1818-1893)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

Spelman College [Atlanta] (1881- )

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

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

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

Healy, Bishop James Augustine (1830-1900)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
James Augustine Healy was the first born of ten children to Michael and Mary Eliza Healy on April 6, 1830 on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Michael Healy was a former Irish soldier who immigrated to America. He became a planter after the war of 1812. In 1829 he fell in love with Mary Eliza, a mixed-race domestic slave, whom he purchased from her former owner. At that time Georgia law prohibited interracial marriage, but both decided that they would base their marriage on love and not the law, to create a family of their own.

However, James and his siblings were still considered illegitimate and slaves at birth under Georgia law. These laws banned them from attending school within the state, so to receive an education James’s parents sent their children to Quaker schools in the north in the 1840s.
Sources: 
Jessie Carney Smith, Black First: 2,000 Years of Extraordinary Achievement (Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1994); Albert Sidney Foley, Bishop Healy: Beloved Outcast; The Story of a Great Priest Whose Life Has Become a Legend (New York: Farrar, Straus and Young, 1954).

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

McKaine, Osceola Enoch (1892-1955)

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

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

Riley, George Putnam (1833--1905)

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

 

Sources: 
Tacoma Daily Ledger, June 22, 1889, October 2, 1905. 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. pp.1, 6. Esther Hall Mumford, Seattle’s Black Victorians, 1852-1901 (Seattle: Ananse Press, 1980), 105-107.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

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

Tukulor Empire (1852-1864)

Entry Type: 
Places
History Type: 
Global African History

 

The Tukulor Empire
Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

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

Hampton University (1868-- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Hampton University, located on the shore of Chesapeake Bay in Hampton, Virginia, was founded in 1868 by Samuel Chapman Armstrong, the son of a prominent missionary family that settled in Hawaii in the early 1800s. Armstrong was enrolled at Williams College in Massachusetts when the Civil War began.  He volunteered for the Union Army, rose quickly in rank and was given command of an African American military unit.  By the end of the Civil War Armstrong had obtained the rank of Brevet General.
Sources: 
E. A. Talbot and F. G. Peabody, Peabody Education for Life: A History of Hampton Institute (New York: Doubleday 1969); Donald Lindsey, Indians at Hampton Institute, 1877-1923 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1944); Keith Schall, ed., Stony the Road: Chapters in the History of Hampton Institute (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1977).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Hawaii

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

25th Infantry Regiment (1866-1947)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
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 25th Infantry was created during a reduction in March 1869 by merging the 39th and 40th.  The consolidation took place at New Orleans, and the regiment was sent to Texas.  Colonel Joseph A. Mower was its first commander.  Colonel John Andrews, the longest serving commander, presided over the unit from January 1871 until his retirement on July 4, 1892.

The regiment stayed in Texas until 1880.  Then it moved to the northern plains, and served in the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Montana until the late 1890s.  At the beginning of the 1890s it became involved in the Pine Ridge campaign.  Later in the decade it served in labor disputes that pitted owners against the Western Federation of Miners, notably the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho Mining War of 1892.  The regiment also protected railroad property during the strike of 1894.  Its units were dispersed at several posts, until 1897, when all the companies of the regiment were assigned together for the first time, at Fort Douglas, outside Salt Lake City, Utah.

In 1896-1897, Company B of the regiment took part in a War Department test of the bicycle as a means of mobility for troops.  Lieutenant James A. Moss commanded the “bicycle corps,” whose test culminated with a summer-long ride from Fort Missoula, Montana, to St. Louis, Missouri, a distance of 1,900 miles.
Sources: 
John H. Nankivell, The History of the Twenty-fifth Regiment United States Infantry 1869-1926 (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

Coppin, Fannie Jackson (1837-1913)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Fannie Jackson was born a slave in Washington D.C. on October 15, 1837.  She gained her freedom when her aunt was able to purchase her at the age of twelve.  Through her teen years Jackson worked as a servant for the author George Henry Calvert and in 1860 she enrolled at Oberlin College in Ohio.  Oberlin College was the first college in the United States to accepted both black and female students.

While attending Oberlin College Jackson enrolled and excelled in the men’s course of studies.  She was elected to the highly respected Young Ladies Literary Society and was the first African American student to be appointed in the College’s preparatory department.  As the Civil War came to an end she established a night school in Oberlin in order to educate freed slaves.

Sources: 
Fanny Jackson Coppin, Reminiscences of School Life, and Hints on Teaching (Philadelphia: A.M.E. Book Concern, 1913); Ellen N. Lawson and Marlene Merrill, “The Antebellum ‘Talented Thousandth’: Black College Students at Oberlin Before the Civil War,” The Journal of Negro Education 87 (1983):390-402; http://www.oberlin.edu/news-info/02jun/discover_fannieJCoppin.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Day, Thomas (1801—ca.1861)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Thomas Day Secretary
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Thomas Day, master cabinetmaker and entrepreneur, was born in 1801 in Dinwiddie County in southern Virginia to free African American parents.  He had an outstanding career and achieved remarkable social standing during the state’s antebellum period.  By 1850, he operated the largest furniture business in the state. His furniture is still cherished today in private homes and museums primarily in North Carolina and Virginia.

Day’s early years were spent following in his father's footsteps in the cabinetry craft and from an early age he displayed proficiency in woodwork.  In 1823, Day moved to Milton, North Carolina.  Within a decade he had established himself as one of the South's most famous and celebrated furniture craftsmen. His work was widely recognized and he became sought after by plantation owners whose homes he embellished with stylish mantle pieces and stair railings, in addition to providing them with furniture.  He would craft pieces for two of North Carolina's governors and was awarded a commission to furnish the interior woodwork of one of the original buildings of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: Norton, 1982); http://www.thomasday.net
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Patterson, Mary Jane (1840-1894)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Educator Mary Jane Patterson is considered to be the first African American woman to receive a B.A. degree when she graduated from Oberlin College in 1862. A fellow Oberlin alumnus, Lucy Stanton Day Sessions, graduated twelve years earlier but was not in a program that awarded official bachelor’s degrees.

Although Patterson’s early years are unclear, it is believed that she was born into slavery in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1840. As a young girl, she arrived in Oberlin, Ohio with her family during the mid-1850s. In 1857 she completed a year of preparatory coursework at Oberlin College. Rather than transitioning into Oberlin’s two-year program for women, she enrolled in the school’s “gentlemen’s course,” a four-year program of classical studies that led to a Bachelor of Arts degree with high honors in 1862.
Sources: 
Jessie Carney Smith, ed., Notable Black American Women, Book 1 (Detroit: Gale Research, 1992); Dorothy Sterling, We Are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century (New York: W. W. Norton, 1984); Mary Gibson Hundley, The Dunbar Story (1870-1955) (New York: Vantage Press, 1965); “Mary Jane Patterson Residence,” Cultural Tourism DC, https://www.culturaltourismdc.org/portal/mary-jane-patterson-residence-african-american-heritage-trail.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

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

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

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

Vashon, George B. (1824-1878)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
George Boyer Vashon, attorney, scholar, essayist and poet, made noteworthy contributions to the fight for emancipation and education of blacks. He was born on July 25, 1824, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the third child and only son of an abolitionist, John Bethune Vashon. At the age of 16, Vashon enrolled in Oberlin Collegiate Institute in Ohio.  On August 28, 1844, Vashon earned his Bachelor of Arts degree with valedictory honors, becoming the college’s first black graduate. Five years later, Vashon was awarded a Master of Arts degree in recognition of his scholarly pursuits and accomplishments.  

After returning to Pittsburgh, he studied law under Judge Walter Forward, a prominent figure in Pennsylvania politics. After two years of reading law, Vashon applied for admission to the Allegheny County bar. His application was denied on the grounds that colored people were not citizens.  This inequitable act led to Vashon’s decision to emigrate to Haiti. Before leaving the United States, Vashon went to New York to take the bar examination, which he successfully completed on January 10, 1848, thus becoming the first black lawyer in New York.
Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: Norton, 1982); Benjamin Griffith Brawley, Early Negro American Writers (Salem: Ayer Publishing, 1968); Paul N. D. Thornell, “The Absent Ones and the Providers: A Biography of the Vashons,” Journal of Negro History, 83:4 (1998).
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

Fisk University (1866- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
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

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 S