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20th Century

Metcalfe, Ralph Harold (1910-1978)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Ralph Metcalfe, was an outstanding U.S. sprinter, track coach, and politican born in Atlanta and raised in Chicago. During Metcalfe’s years as a student at Marquette University (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), 1932 through 1934, he was arguably the world’s fastest human. His strong finishes earned him four Olympic medals (gold, 2 silver, and bronze), eight Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) titles, and six National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) titles from 1932 through 1936. Perhaps Metcalfe’s most interesting moments in track were not his wins but his virtual dead heat second place finishes in the 100 meter dash at the 1932 and 1936 Summer Olympics at Los Angeles and Berlin to rivals Eddie Tolan and Jesse Owens, respectively. Throughout Metcalfe’s amateur track career he held the 100 meter dash record at 10.30 in 1934, tying it at least eight times; and he also tied the 200 meter dash world record of 20.6 seconds. Metcalfe’s lone Olympic gold medal was won in 1936 when he ran as part of the famed 4 x 100 relay team which featured Jesse Owens. After this event Metcalfe retired from track, graduated from Marquette, and attended the University of Southern California (USC), earning a Masters in 1939.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Day, Ava Speese (1912-1988)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in 1912, Ava Speese (Day) traveled with her family in 1915 to homestead in Cherry County, Nebraska.  Taking advantage of the Kincaid Homestead Act of 1904, the Speese family, Charles and Rosetta Meehan Speese and their nine children, were among forty African American families who made land claims throughout the county. Some of the settlers founded a small town they named DeWitty after a local black store owner.  

Years later, Ava Speese wrote about her life in the Sand Hills of Nebraska, an account that would provide a rare glimpse into African Americans on the Nebraska frontier.  Ava’s narrative recalled a difficult life for African Americans in north central Nebraska but she also described a resourceful and vital community.  Like most homesteaders of the era, the Speeses lived in a sod home which originally consisted of one room but which grew as the family prospered.  She recalled many a night watching her mother bake bread and sew their clothing by hand.  Learning to be resourceful, Ava and her siblings made toothbrushes out of burnt corn cobs, and natural herbs were used to ward off colds and the flu. Ava Speese attended two one room, wood frame schools in Cherry County where she learned to value education.   
Sources: 
Sod House Memories, Vol. I-IV, ed. Frances Jacob Alberts (Hastings, Neb.: Sod House Society, 1972), Vol. 3:253-267; Forrest H. Stith, Sunrises & Sunsets For Freedom, p. 26-36; http://www.nebraskahistory.org/lib-arch/research/manuscripts/family/ava-day.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Jones, Quincy Delight, Jr. (1933- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Quincy Delight Jones, Jr. was born in Chicago's South Side on March 14, 1933 but grew up in Bremerton and Seattle, Washington.  While in elementary school Jones picked up the trumpet, and his skill with the instrument led him to receive a scholarship to Berklee College of Music.  However, he dropped out of Berklee after he was given an offer to go on the road with bandleader Lionel Hampton.  After his time with Hampton, Jones began work as a freelance arranger.  He also traveled the world with the Dizzy Gillespie band as well as Harold Allen's jazz musical Free and Easy.  Jones then settled in New York and went to work for Mercury Records.  Jones advanced at Mercury and in 1964 he became the first African American to hold the position of vice president of a white-owned record company.

During the 1960s and 1970s Jones worked as a social activist, supporting such programs as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Operation Breadbasket in Chicago.  He also joined the board of Rev. Jesse Jackson's People United to Save Humanity (PUSH).  Jones also helped form the Institute for Black American Music in an effort to bring more appreciation to African American music and culture.
Sources: 
Gerald Early, "Quincy Jones: The Story of an American Musician," American Masters.  PBS.org, http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/database/jones_q.html ; Quincy Jones, The Autobiography of Quincy Jones (New York, New York: Doubleday, 2001); "Quincy Jones Biography," The Academy of Achievement: A Museum of Living History.  2006. http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/jon0bio-1
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Jordan, Michael J. (1963- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Michael Jordan in the Air
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Michael Jordan, National Basketball Association (NBA) superstar, was born February 17, 1963 in Brooklyn, New York, the son of James R. and Deloris Jordan. Soon after his birth, the family moved to Wilmington, North Carolina. Jordan became a standout athlete at Laney High School despite being rejected for the school’s varsity basketball team the first season he tried out. He grew four inches taller over the following year, made the team and became an All-American during his senior year at Laney.

Jordan played college basketball at the University of North Carolina where under coach Dean Smith’s tutelage he established a reputation as a clutch player when he made a game winning shot against Georgetown in the 1982 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship game. This reputation would follow him into the NBA when he left school before his senior year to play professionally for the Chicago Bulls.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University-Fresno

Luper, Clara (1923-2011)

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

Clara Mae Luper was born in Okfuskee County, Oklahoma, to Ezell and Isabell Shepard on May 3, 1923.  She attended all-black schools and was bussed several miles to Grayson High School where she graduated in a class of five.  After graduating from the segregated Langston University, Luper became the first African American student to enroll in the history department at the University of Oklahoma, earning a master’s degree in 1951.

Luper was one of the early leaders in the civil rights movement in Oklahoma during the 1950s.  She taught history in various Oklahoma City public schools for forty-one years and became the sponsor of the Oklahoma City NAACP Youth Council.  In 1958, working with this group, she led the earliest “sit-ins” in Oklahoma and some of the first in United States.  Through these protests she and other civil rights activists succeeded in integrating many public facilities in Oklahoma City and across the state by 1964.

Sources: 
Linda W. Reese, “Clara Luper and the Oklahoma City Civil Rights Movement,” in Quintard Taylor and Shirley Ann Moore, eds., African American Women Confront the West: 1600-2000 (Norman, OK:  University of Oklahoma Press, 2003); “Oklahoma Civil Rights Icon Clara Luper Dies at 88,” http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110609/ap_on_re_us/us_obit_luper
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Young, Coleman A. (1918-1997)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Coleman Young arrived in Detroit with his family when he was five.  The Colemans settled in the working class neighborhood of Black Bottom (East Detroit), where his father operated a dry cleaning business and his mother was a schoolteacher.  Early in his life Coleman suffered various forms of racial discrimination from denial of scholarships to a racially motivated firing at an automobile plant.

During the Second World War, Coleman was one of the Tuskegee Airmen, serving as a bombardier-navigator, but he was discharged after demanding service at an all-white officers club in Indiana.  After the war he returned to Detroit, where he worked as a union organizer, and campaigned for Progressive Party presidential candidate Henry Wallace in 1948.  His activism with the leftist Progressive Party drew the hostility of mainstream labor leaders like UAW president Walter Reuther. Young lost his union position and later gave defiant testimony to the House Un-American Activities Committee.  Blacklisted by the labor establishment, he went through intense personal difficulties, and was married and divorced twice.  
Sources: 
Wilbur C. Rich, Coleman Young and Detroit Politics: From Social Activist to Power Broker (Detroit: Wayne State University, 1998); The Coleman Young Foundation, www.cayf.org/bio_cay.htm ; A Life Remembered, www.is.wayne.edu/mnissani/elephant/young.htm , Mayor Coleman Young Tribute, www.metrotimes.com/archives/young/intro.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Montgomery College (Maryland)

Donowa, Arnold Bennett (1896-196?)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

Trinidad-born dental surgeon and Spanish Civil War veteran Arnold Donowa was born in December 1895 and earned his D.D.S. from Howard University in 1922.  Donowa worked at the Royal College of Dental Surgeons in Toronto as well as the child-oriented Fosythe Clinic in Boston before returning to Howard in 1929 as dean of its new College of Dentistry.  After two years, Howard resigned to start a private practice in Harlem.

Sources: 
Danny Duncan Collum (editor) and Victor A. Berch (chief researcher), African Americans in the Spanish Civil War: “This Ain’t Ethiopia, But It’ll Do” (New York, New York: G.K. Hall & Co, 1992); Clifton O. Dummett, “The Negro in Dental Education,” The Phylon Quarterly, 13.2 (4th Quarter, 1959); William L. Katz, Fraser M. Ottanelli, and Christopher Brooks, “African Americans in the Spanish Civil War,” Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives at New York University (https://www.alba-valb.org >, November 2006); William R. Scott, “Black Nationalism and the Italo-Ethiopian Conflict 1934-1936,” The Journal of Negro HistoryMississippi to Madrid (Seattle, Washington: Open Hand Publishing, 1989). 63.2 (April, 1978); James Yates,
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Davis, Benjamin, Jr. (1903-1964)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

A major figure in Harlem community politics and the Communist Party during the 1930s and 1940s, Benjamin Davis, Jr. was born into a prominent African American family in Atlanta, Georgia in 1903. He migrated north to Massachusetts to attend college at Amherst, where he was an all-American football player, and in 1932 graduated from Harvard Law School. After returning to Atlanta to practice law, Davis rose to national prominence as the lead attorney for Angelo Herndon, a black Communist charged under an archaic slave law with inciting insurrection after he attempted to organize unemployed workers. The experience radicalized Davis, who was impressed with the Communist Party's commitment to racial justice and joined the Party during the trial.

Amid threats on his life in the aftermath of the Herndon trial, Davis moved to Harlem in 1934 where he replaced Cyril Briggs as editor-in-chief of the Harlem Liberator. Davis' arrival was part of a larger transition in Harlem Communist Party leadership as the first generation of black Communists, led by West Indian-born nationalist revolutionaries like Briggs and Richard Moore, gave way to American-born blacks like Davis and James Ford who advocated more rigid Party discipline and closer, more pragmatic alliances with white workers.

Sources: 
Mark Naison, Communists in Harlem during the Depression (Chicago:  University of Illinois Press, 1983), 109-111, passim; Naison, "Davis, Benjamin, Jr.," in Mary Jo Buhle, Paul Buhle, and Dan Geogakas, eds. Encyclopedia of the American Left (New York:  Garland Publishing, 1990), 183-184; Mark Soloman, The Cry Was Unity:  Communists and African Americans, 1917-1936 (Jackson:  University of Mississippi Press, 1998), 219-220, passim.
Contributor2: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Tucker, C. DeLores (1927-2005)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 4, 1927 to Reverend Whitfield and Captilda Nottage, C. DeLores Tucker attended the highly competitive Philadelphia High School for Girls and then matriculated to Temple University where she studied finance and real estate. In 1951 she married businessman William Tucker and became an activist who at the time was counted among the 100 most influential black Americans. 

A successful realtor during the 1950s, Tucker became involved in civil rights activities.  In the 1960s she served as an officer in the Philadelphia NAACP and worked closely with the local branch president and activist Cecil Moore to end racist practices in the city’s post offices and construction trades.  Tucker gained national prominence when she led a Philadelphia delegation on the celebrated Selma to Montgomery march with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  By the decade’s end, Tucker’s expertise as a fund raiser for the NAACP, coupled with her Democratic Party affiliation, enabled her to be appointed chair of the Pennsylvania Black Democratic Committee.  

Sources: 
Darlene Clark Hine, Elsa Barkley Brown, Rosalyn Terborg-Penn (eds.) Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1993); Notable Black American Women, Thompson/Gale, 1993; New York Times, November 7, 2005.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of California, Los Angeles

Tobias, Channing H. (1882-1961)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

Channing H. Tobias acquired fame through his work with the YMCA.  Born in Augusta, Georgia on February 1, 1882 to Fair and Bell Robinson Tobias, young Channing received his bachelor’s degree from Paine College in 1902.  Tobias left Georgia to study religion at Drew Theological Seminary in Madison, New Jersey.  After spending time at the University of Pennsylvania, Tobias returned to Paine and served as a professor of Biblical Literature.  Meanwhile, Tobias received a doctorate in Divinity from Gammon Theological Seminary. 

As early as 1905 Tobias joined the YMCA and eventually became Secretary of the National Council.  He also served the organization as the student secretary for the International Committee.  In 1923 Tobias was appointed Senior Secretary in the Department of Interracial Services within the Colored Work Department, a position he held for twenty-three years.  As head of the Interracial Services Division, Tobias strenuously endeavored to enhance race relations in the United States and abroad.  As a member of the Executive Committee of the National Interracial Conference and as the associate director of the Commission on Interracial Cooperation, Tobias campaigned to promote interracial cooperation and redress racial grievances.  His crowning public achievement in interracial affairs occurred when he became a delegate and speaker at the 1926 World Conference in Finland.

Sources: 
“Channing H. Tobias: An Inventory of His Papers;” “YMCA Colored Work Department;” and “Phelps-Stokes Fund Names Southerner President and Negro Director,” Journal of Negro Education, November 21, 1945, 255-256.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of California, Los Angeles

95th Engineer Regiment

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

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

The African American-manned 95th Engineer Battalion (General Service) was formed in April 1941 at Fort Belvoir, Virginia as part of the U.S. Army buildup preceding World War II.  Unlike many construction units, the 95th received considerable training, participating in the Carolina Maneuvers and receiving practical experience at Camp AP Hill, Virginia, and Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  Expanded to regimental size following Pearl Harbor, it was sent to Canada in June 1942 to assist in building the Alcan Highway.

In the 1930s military planners had identified the need for a highway linking Alaska to the continental United States, but it took World War II to jumpstart construction on a scheme “likened to building the Panama Canal.”  The 95th Engineers joined four white and two other black regiments already working in the rugged terrain of Alaska and northern British Columbia.  Although the enlisted soldiers were almost entirely African American, the officers were mostly white and military mail censors encountered several tales of discrimination.  There was also evidence of racism in the way projects were assigned to units, such as when the 95th was ordered to give its heavy equipment to the less experienced but white 341st Engineers and function in a support role for that organization.

Sources: 
Ulysses Lee, The Employment of Negro Troops (Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, 1966); Lael Morgan, “Writing Minorities out of History: Black Builders of the Alcan Highway,” Alaska History, 7:2 (Fall, 1992); Heath Twichell, Northwest Epic: the Building of the Alaska Highway (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992).

 

Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Henderson, Fletcher Hamilton, Jr. (1897-1952)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Born December 18, 1897 to a middle class family in Cuthbert, Georgia, Fletcher Henderson grew up to become one of the key figures in the development of the form and style of the large jazz orchestra.  Despite the fact that he grew up in a family devoted to music and practiced constantly, he graduated from Atlanta University with a degree in mathematics and chemistry.  After moving to New York in 1920, however, Henderson found that a color barrier stood against his chances of becoming a chemist, and so it was at this time that he turned to his musical skills to make a living.

After a short time Henderson became a music director for Black Swan Records, and through this work he was able to assemble some of New York’s best musicians to start his own band.  In 1924 Henderson began playing in the Roseland Ballroom, and over the next ten years he helped transform the Roseland into a premier venue for jazz in New York while his band became known as the greatest jazz orchestra in the city.

Sources: 
Alyn Shipton, Jazz Makers: Vanguards of Sound  (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

369th Infantry Regiment “Harlem Hellfighters”

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
American Battle Monuments Commission, 93d Division: Summary of Operations in the World WarThe Employment of Negro Troops (Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, 1966); Bernard C. Nalty, Strength for the Fight: A History of Black Americans in the Military (New York, New York: The Free Press, 1986); Emmett J. Scott, Scott’s Official History of the American Negro in the World War (Chicago, Illinois: R.L. Phillips Publishing Company, 1919). 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Belafonte, Harry (1927- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of ©Bettmann/CORBIS

Born March 1, 1927 as Harold George Belafonte Jr. in Harlem, New York, Belafonte grew from being a troubled youth to an award winning entertainer and world renowned political activist and humanitarian.  In 1944 Belafonte joined the Navy in order to fight in World War II, and although Belafonte was never sent overseas, after the war ended he was able to use the G.I. Bill to pay for a drama workshop at the New School for Social Research in Manhattan alongside fellow students Marlon Brando and Sidney Poitier. 

Belafonte's career as an entertainer had a rocky start, but in the 1950s he found great success.  In the first half of 1956 alone Belafonte had three top-ten albums, the most notable being Calypso, which spent 31 weeks at number one and helped him gain the title King of Calypso. Music was not his only successful endeavor in entertainment; Belafonte also became well known for his works on film, television, and Broadway.

Sources: 
James Robert Parish and Michael R. Pitts, Hollywood Songsters:  Singers Who Act and Actors Who Sing (New York: Routledge, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Bell, James ["Cool Papa"] (1903-1991)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

James Thomas Bell was born May 17, 1903, in Starkville, Mississippi. Playing baseball as a 19 year-old rookie Bell earned the nickname “Cool Papa” after proving to his older teammates that he was not intimidated by playing professionally in front of large crowds. Signing with the St. Louis Stars in 1922, Bell entered professional baseball as a pitcher, reportedly throwing a wicked curveball and fade-away knuckleball.

The speed of Bell would become apparent when he beat the Chicago American Giants Jimmy Lyons in a race for the title of “fastest man in the league.” He immediately switched to center field, where he would play shallow and always manage to run down long hits. Bell stayed with the Stars until 1930 when the league disbanded, and led them to league titles in 1928 and 1930.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Baskett, James (1904-1948)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

James Baskett, the first male African American to win an Academy Award, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on February 16, 1904.  After high school Baskett planned to study pharmacy, but after he was offered a small part in a show in Chicago his career path was forever changed.  Baskett continued to take small roles in Chicago plays for a time, but later he went to New York City and joined the Lafayette Players Stock Company, where he stayed for many years.

Baskett first appeared on film in a feature role in Harlem is Heaven, and continued on in such films as Policy Man and Straight to Heaven.  Baskett was not confined to film and theater; he also played Gabby Gibson, a slick-talking lawyer on the popular radio program Amos 'n' Andy.

Sources: 
Edward Mapp, Americans and the Oscar (Lanham, Maryland: The Scarecrow Press, Inc, 2003); Henry T. Sampson, Blacks in Black and White: A Source Book on Black Films.  (Metuchen, N.J: The Scarecrow Press, Inc, 1995).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Ford, James W. (1893-1957)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

James W. Ford was Special Organizer of the Communist Party's Harlem section and the most prominent black Communist in the nation during the 1930s and early 1940s. Perhaps more than any other figure, Ford symbolized the Party's efforts to build a united front between African Americans and the white working class.

Ford was born into a middle-class home in Chicago in 1903. He attended Fisk University, where he was a star athlete and active in the campus politics. After graduation, he served in France during World War I. In many ways an unlikely candidate for future leadership in the Communist Party, Ford's radicalization began after the war when his efforts to find a job commensurate with his education were frustrated by racial discrimination. He settled for a position at the Chicago Post Office, joined the Postal Workers Union, and shortly thereafter the Communist Party.

Ford rose quickly in Party ranks during a period when the CP was placing increased emphasis on promoting black leaders. He joined the American Negro Labor Congress in 1926 and sojourned in the Soviet Union in the late 1920s. In 1929, he was chosen to head the International Trade Union Committee of Negro Workers and a year later became head of the Negro Department of the Trade Union Unity League. In 1932 he joined William Z. Foster on the CP's presidential ticket, becoming the first African American to be nominated for Vice President of the United States. He would run alongside CP presidential nominee Earl Browder in 1936 and again in 1940.

Sources: 
Mark Naison, Communists in Harlem during the Depression (Chicago:  University of Illinois Press, 1983), 95-111, passim; Mark Soloman, The Cry Was Unity:  Communists and African Americans, 1917-1936 (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 1998), 216-217, passim
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Brown, James Nathaniel ["Jim"] (1936- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

James Nathaniel Brown was born February 17, 1936, in St. Simon Island, Georgia. A talented athlete from an early age, Brown earned 13 letters playing a variety of sports at Manhasset High School in New York.

Brown attended Syracuse University in New York where he played football, basketball, ran track, and played lacrosse. As a senior in 1956-7, Brown was a unanimous All-American in football and a second-team All-American in lacrosse, and remains the only athlete to be inducted into the NCAA Hall of Fame for both sports, as well as the NFL Hall of Fame.

The Cleveland Browns selected Jim Brown as their number one pick in the 1957 NFL draft, and the rookie would capture the league rushing title, Rookie of the Year honors, as well as earn the league Most Valuable Player award. Over the next eight years, Brown would lead the league in rushing seven more times, be elected to every Pro Bowl, and win another Most Valuable Player award in 1965.  Some of his most notable records include career rushing yards (12,312) and average gain per attempt (5.2 yards). In nine seasons as a premier fullback, he never missed a game.

Sources: 
Pro Football Hall of Fame, http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.jsp?player_id=33; Schwartz, Larry. Jim Brown Was Hard to Bring Down. ESPN.com Special, http://espn.go.com/classic/biography/s/Brown_Jim.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Hendrix, Jimi (1942-1970)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Legendary self-taught, left-handed guitarist Jimi Hendrix was born and raised in Seattle, Washington, the son of Lucille Jeter Hendrix and Al Hendrix.  Jimi grew up in poverty but he loved science fiction, art, nearby Lake Washington and music, especially the R&B masters, Chuck Berry and Ray Charles. By high school he was an accomplished guitarist.  Hendrix left high school to join the 101st Airborne so he could jump out of airplanes.

After his stint with the U.S. Army Jimi resumed his musical career and eventually played with some of the best rhythm and blues bands in the U.S. at the time.   In early 1964 he moved to New York, was hired by the Isley Brothers, and then he toured with Little Richard and Ike and Tina Turner.  By 1965 he set off on his own as Jimi James and the Blue Flames.  Hendrix applied blues harmony to rock progressions and played psychedelic rock solos in the middle of blues classics. By 1966 he had mastered techniques of sound distortion by using a fuzz box that made a “light string sound heavy and a heavy string sound like a sledgehammer” and by overdriving his amplifier. He played the guitar with his teeth, behind his back and under his legs.

Sources: 
Charles R. Cross, Room Full of Mirrors, A Biography of Jimi Hendrix (New York: Hyperian, 2005); Mary Willix, Jimi Hendrix Voices from Home  (Seattle: Creative Forces Publishing, 1996); Bill Milkowski, “Jimi the Composer,” Guitar World, March 1988; James A. Hendrix, My Son Jimi (Seattle: AIJ Enterprises, 1999); Harry Shapiro & Caesar Glebbeek, Electric Gypsy, (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990);  Nelson George, The Death of Rhythm and Blues (New York: Pantheon Books, 1988).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Neil, John Jordan "Buck" (1911-2006)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil was born November 13, 1911, in Carrabelle, Florida.  Working with his father on a Florida celery farm when he was 13, the young O’Neil said to himself “Damn. There’s got to be something better than this.” After traveling to West Palm Beach to see Rube Foster’s baseball team at the Royal Poinciana Hotel, O’Neil decided baseball was going to be his way out.

O’Neil’s professional career began in 1937 with a short stint with the Memphis Red Sox. Later that season O’Neil would sign with the Kansas City Monarchs, where he would spend the rest of his playing career. In 1942 O’Neil led the Monarchs in a four-game sweep of the Homestead Grays in the league championship, batting with a .353 average. In two different seasons, 1940 and 1946, O’Neil won the league batting title, hitting .345 and .350.

In 1948 O’Neil replaced Frank Duncan as manager of the Kansas City Monarchs. As a manager and scout, O’Neil sent more African Americans to the Major Leagues in his career than any other individual, including future Hall-of-Famers like Ernie Banks and Lou Brock. O’Neil was renowned for his knowledge of the game, but also for his leadership of younger players, and he never lost a contest when selected to manage a team in the All-Star games of 1950, 1953, 1954, and 1955.

The only break in O’Neil’s baseball career came with a two year tour with the United States Navy from 1944 to 1945. In 1956, O’Neil was hired as a scout by the Chicago Cubs, and in 1962 the Cubs made him the first African American manager of a major league team.

Sources: 
Ken Burns, Baseball. PBS Interview, http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/baseball/shadowball/oneil.html
Kansas City Star, Special Collection—Buck O’Neil, http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/sports/special_packages/oneil/ Negro League Baseball Museum, http://nlbm.com/ ; Negro League Baseball Players Association, http://www.nlbpa.com/o_neil__john_jordan_-_buck.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Lloyd, John Henry "Pop" (1884-1965)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

John Henry "Pop" Lloyd was born April 25, 1884, in Palatka, Florida. Reportedly discovered by baseball legend Rube Foster, Lloyd would begin his professional career with the Cuban X-Giants, where fans would give him the nickname “El Cuchara” (“The Shovel”) due to his steady hands and ability to grab any ground ball coming at him. His tremendous play at shortstop would be matched by only one other player, Hall-of-Famer Honus Wagner, who declared “it is a privilege to have been compared to him.”

Beginning play in America in 1910 for Fosters Chicago Leland Giants, Lloyd was an amazing all-around player. On offense in the “deadball” era of baseball, Lloyd hit with skilled accuracy, but could deliver power when needed. On defense, Lloyd was the most dominating shortstop in the Negro Leagues, whose quickness and intensity could not be matched.    

In 1918 Lloyd became player-manager of the Brooklyn Royal Giants, and spent the next few years jumping around teams until settling with the Hilldale Daisies in 1922. The next year Lloyd batted a sensational .418 and lead Hilldale to the inaugural pennant of the Eastern Colored League. He would move after that season, however, to the Bacharach Giants due to reported disputes with management.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Gibson, Joshua ["Josh"] (1911-1947)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Josh Gibson was born in Buena Vista, Georgia, on December 21, 1911. He moved to Pittsburgh in 1924 when his father found work in a steel mill.  He played baseball for company teams in the area but began his career with the Negro League when he signed with the Pittsburgh Crawfords. He played for the Crawfords from 1927 to 1929 and from 1932 to 1936.  In an era of segregation, Josh Gibson was known as the “Black Babe Ruth.”  Josh gained legendary status during his lifetime by regularly hitting baseballs 500 feet or more.  He is credited with hitting almost 800 homeruns in his 17 year baseball career with a lifetime batting average of at least .350.  No one else in the Negro Baseball League had a higher batting average and slugging percentage.

Sources: 
Mark Ribowsky, Josh Gibson: The Power and Darkness (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Augusta State University

Stout, Juanita Kidd (1919-1998)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

“If I had nine lives, I’d want to be a lawyer every day of every one, I enjoy it so.”  With this sensibility and love for the legal system, Juanita Kidd Stout made the correct decision in choosing her life’s work.  Juanita Kidd Stout established a reputation long before she left Oklahoma to resettle in Philadelphia and become a prominent judge. 

Born an only child to educators Henry and Mary Kidd on March 7, 1919 in Wewoka, Oklahoma, Juanita learned to read at age 2 and remained a stellar student when she attended the segregated public schools in her hometown.  Juanita gained from the experience of having excellent black teachers, and won numerous prizes at school and agricultural exhibitions for her scholarship and creativity.  At age 16 she left for Lincoln University in Jefferson, Missouri.  While at Lincoln, she joined Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and personally observed black attorney Charles Hamilton Houston argue Gaines v. Missouri in the state supreme court.  Later, she transferred to the University of Iowa and earned a bachelor’s degree in music in 1939.  At the time she was one of a mere 2% of black adults holding a four year college degree.  Three years later Juanita Kidd married Charles Otis Stout. By the end of the decade Juanita Kidd Stout held two law degrees from Indiana University and moved to Washington, D.C. where she became the administrative secretary to Charles Hamilton Houston.

Sources: 
Amy Kapp, “Biographical Sketch of Juanita Kidd Stout,”(Unpublished Document, January 8, 2002); V. P. Franklin, “Juanita Kidd Stout,” Darlene Clark Hine, Elsa Barkley Brown, Rosalyn Terborg-Penn (eds.) Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of California, Los Angeles

Paige, Leroy Robert "Satchel (1906-1982)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Leroy “Satchel” Paige and David Lipman, Maybe I’ll Pitch Forever: A Great Baseball Player Tells the Hilarious Story Behind the Legend (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993); Donald Spivey, “If You Were Only White: The Life of Leroy “Satchel” Paige (Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 2012), Larry Tye, Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend (New York: Random House, 2009), and William Price Fox, Satchel Paige’s America (New York: Fire Ant Books, 2005);.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Augusta State University

Farrakhan, Louis Abdul (1933- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Louis Abdul Farrakhan was born on May 11, 1933 in Bronx, New York as Louis Eugene Walcott.  Walcott, who grew up in Roxbury, Massachusetts, excelled as a musician, singer and track star.  He attended a Boston-area school for gifted children and was given national exposure at age 14 when, as one of the first African Americans to appear on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour, he won the competition for that episode.  After high school Walcott attended Winston-Salem Teachers College for two years and then worked as a calypso guitarist-singer. Walcott joined the Nation of Islam (NOI) in 1955 and changed his name to Louis X and later Louis Farrakhan.  Initially he was a follower of Malcolm X, but became a competitor in the period before Malcolm’s assassination in 1965.

When longtime Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad died in 1975, his son, Wallace D. Muhammad, took control of the organization and repudiated many of his father’s teachings and began the process of integrating the NOI into the orthodox Muslim community, Louis Farrakhan and other NOI followers were displeased with the organization’s new direction.  In 1978, Farrakhan and the dissidents reestablished the Nation of Islam.

Sources: 
Kwame A. Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience, (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 1999), 732, 33; Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua and Clarence Lang, “Providence, Patriarchy, Pathology: Louis Farrakhan's Rise & Decline,” New Politics, vol. 6, no. 2 (new series), whole no. 22, Winter 1997. http://www.wpunj.edu/~newpol/issue22/chajua22.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Johnson, Earvin "Magic" (1959 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Black Enterprise Magazine

Earvin Johnson, Jr. was born on August 14, 1959, in Lansing, Michigan. Johnson was given the nickname “Magic” by a Lansing newspaper reporter who watched the 15 year-old score 36 points, grab 16 rebounds and give 16 assists in a game at Lansing Everett High School. As a senior, Johnson led his school to a 27-1 record along with the state championship.

Wanting to remain close to home, Johnson attended Michigan State University in East Lansing. As a sophomore in 1979, Johnson was named an All-American. That season Johnson led his team to victory over Larry Bird’s Indiana State team in one of the most storied NCAA Championship games ever.

Johnson was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers as the number one overall draft pick in 1979, and he would stay there his entire career. In the 1980 NBA Finals, the rookie Johnson took the place of the injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in game six, and proved his versatility by scoring 42 points. That game won the Championship for the Lakers, and won Johnson his first of three NBA Finals Most Valuable Player awards. When he retired in 1991, Johnson had set a new NBA record for career assists with 10,141, passing NBA legend Oscar Robertson’s mark set in the 1960s, although his record would be broken by John Stockton in 1995.

Sources: 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

National Negro Congress (1935 - 1940's)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
National Negro Congress Leaders Presenting Petition to End
Racial Discrimination in the U.S. to UN Officials, 1945
Image Courtesy of UN Photo Library
(Downloading or Copying this Image is Not Permitted)
Embodying the Communist Party's turn from Third Period sectarianism to Popular Front coalition building, the National Negro Congress (NNC) was the culmination of the Party's Depression-era effort to unite black and white workers and intellectuals in the fight for racial justice, and marked the apex of Party prestige in African American communities.

The NNC grew out of discussions initiated by Communist delegates to the Joint Committee on National Recovery's (JCNR) conference in May 1935 on the economic status of African Americans under the New Deal. John P. Davis and Communist Party leader James Ford stressed the need to consolidate the strength of disparate organizations dedicated to fighting racial discrimination. The JCNR conference concluded by forming a committee of sixty prominent activists charged with organizing a National Negro Congress the following year.

Sources: 
Mark Naison, Communists in Harlem during the Depression (Chicago:  University of Illinois Press, 1983); Paul Buhle, "National Negro Congress" in Mary Jo Buhle, Paul Buhle, and Dan Geogakas, eds. Encyclopedia of the American Left (New York:  Garland Publishing, 1990); Mark Soloman, The Cry Was Unity:  Communists and African Americans, 1917-1936 (Jackson:  University of Mississippi Press, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Simpson, O. J. (1947- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: 
Public Domain

Orenthal James Simpson was born July 9, 1947, in San Francisco, California. A troubled youth, poor grades and violent behavior kept Simpson from earning any college scholarship offers while attending high school. Simpson was highly recruited, however, after breaking several junior college records, and he would earn a scholarship to the University of Southern California.

In his second season at USC, Simpson set NCAA records for rushing yards in a season (1709) and carries (355) on his way to winning the national championship. Simpson won the 1968 Heisman Trophy by the largest voting margin ever.

The Buffalo Bills selected Simpson as the number one overall pick in the 1969 NFL draft. The first three NFL seasons were uneventful for the young Simpson, as coaches were hesitant to make Simpson a star. Beginning in 1972, however, Simpson’s abilities would not be ignored, as he led the league in rushing for four out of five seasons from 1972-1976. In 1973 Simpson won the NFL Most Valuable Player award while breaking the record for rushing yards in a season with 2003, and he remains the only player to rush for over 2000 yards in a fourteen game season.  After he retired from professional football Simpson pursued a moderately successful acting career. 

Sources: 
Pro Football Hall of Fame, http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.jsp?player_id=195
Larry Schwartz, Before Trial, Simpson Charmed America. ESPN.com Special, http://espn.go.com/classic/biography/s/simpson_oj.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Charleston, Oscar (1896-1954)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Oscar Charleston was born October 14, 1896, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Growing up as a batboy for the local Indianapolis ABC’s, Charleston was a runaway who joined the Army at age 15. Stationed in the Philippines, Charleston was given the opportunity to play baseball and run track for the Army, where he ran the 220-yard dash in 23 seconds. While there, Charleston was allowed to play in the usually all-white Manila League.

Returning home in 1915, Charleston played for his hometown ABC’s. In one of many public outbursts resulting from his infamously bad temper, Charleston was suspended during his rookie season for arguing with an umpire, and was held on a $1000 bond. The next season, Charleston had a crucial role in the ABC’s Black World Series win over the Chicago American Giants, batting .360 in seven of the ten games.

After short stints with various teams from 1918-1920, Charleston would return to the ABC’s after the forming of the Negro National Leagues. In 1921, Charleston led the League in hitting (.426), triples (10), home runs (14), and stolen bases (28). Often compared to greats like Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth, Charleston dominated the League with his combination of hitting for both power and accuracy, his tremendous speed both in the outfield and while base running, and for his trademark intensity.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Powell, Adam Clayton, Jr. (1908-1972)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

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).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Locke, Alain (1886-1954)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Alain Locke, The New Negro: An Interpretation (New York: New York, Albert and Charles Boni Press, 1925); Leonard Harris, ed., The Philosophy of Alain Locke: Harlem Renaissance and Beyond (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989); Jeffrey Stewart C., “Alain Leroy Locke at Oxford: The First African-American Rhodes Scholar,” The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education 31:1 (2001):12-117.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Cleage, Albert, Jr. (Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman) (1911-2000)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Albert Cleage, jr., or Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman, Black Nationalist and civil rights activist, was one of the most prominent black religious leaders in America. Agyemen preached a form of nationalism within the black community that stressed economic self-sufficiency and separation that relied on a religious awakening among black people. 

Albert Cleage, Jr. was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on June 13, 1911.  Cleage graduated from Wayne State University in 1937, earning a B.A. in sociology, and a M.A. in Divinity from Oberlin School of Theology in 1943.  Cleage married Doris Graham and had two daughters. Cleage and Graham later divorced in 1955.  Cleage ran for governor of Michigan in 1962 under the Freedom Now Party, and was a candidate in the Democratic primary for U.S. Representative from Michigan, 13th District, in 1966. Cleage later changed his name to Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman.  

Sources: 
“Albert Cleage,” in African American Encyclopedia, Michael Williams, ed., (New York: 1989); “Albert Cleage,” in Encyclopedia of American Culture and History, Colin Palmer, ed., (New York: 2006); http://www.pbs.org/thisfarbyfaith/people/albert_cleage.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Los Angeles City College

Canady, Alexa (1950- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Alexa Canady was the first woman and the first African American to become a neurosurgeon. She was born in Lansing, Michigan in 1950 to parents who were graduates of black colleges – her father from the Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry and her mother from Fisk University. She and her brother were the only black students at the local schools where she graduated as a National Achievement Scholar in 1967. Canady entered the University of Michigan as a math major, but when the opportunity arose, she transferred into the school’s pre-med program. She graduated in 1971 and was accepted into Michigan’s College of Medicine where she graduated magna cum laude in 1975. Canady interned at New Haven Hospital, Yale’s primary teaching hospital, before she became America’s first female and first black neurosurgeon as a resident at the University of Minnesota.

Sources: 
http://www.gale.com/free_resources/whm/bio/canady_a.htm., Jessie Carney Smith, ed., Notable Black American Women (Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1992).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Ailey, Alvin (1931-1989)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of Alvin Ailey, Photo by Eric N. Hong

Alvin Ailey was born in Rodgers, Texas during the Great Depression. He overcame racism, poverty, and homophobia to become one of the most celebrated choreographers in American history. His single, teenage mother, Lula Ailey, washed clothes, picked cotton, and worked in domestic service in various Texas towns. In Milano, Texas, Ailey attended Mount Olive Baptist Church, spending joy-filled hours that would shape his signature masterpiece, Revelations, 24 years later.

Following the westward migration during World War II, mother and son moved to Los Angeles. Ailey graduated from Jefferson High School in South Central, where he became interested in dance through fieldtrips and personal excursions to Central Avenue, a thriving home to African American clubs, theaters and performance venues.  During their junior year, Carmen de Lavallade, a classmate who also became an influential dancer and choreographer, introduced him to the Lester Horton‘s dance studio.

Ailey attended college briefly, but he soon returned to performing in Horton’s Dance Theatre. In 1953, Horton died suddenly and twenty-three year old Ailey became the company’s artistic director. Ailey danced in the film Carmen Jones, before making a major impact in a Broadway musical late in 1954, partnering his old friend, de Lavallade. With choreography by George Balanchine and Herbert Ross, the short lived House of Flowers was a milestone in the young dancer’s career.

Sources: 
Thomas De Frantz, Dancing Revelations: Alvin Ailey’s Embodiment of African American Culture (New York: Oxford University Press. 2004); Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater webpage: http://www.alvinailey.org
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Oregon

Baraka, Amiri (1934-2014)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Amiri Baraka

Everett Leroi Jones, poet, playwright, activist, and educator, was born on October 7, 1934, in Newark, New Jersey to Coyt Leverrette Jones and Anna Lois Jones.  He attended primary and secondary schools in Newark and in 1954 he earned a B.A. in English from Howard University.  Jones joined the military that same year, serving three years in the Air Force as a gunner. 

Following his honorable discharge, Jones he settled in Greenwich Village in lower Manhattan where he socialized with Beatnik artists, musicians, and writers.  While living in the Village, he also met and married Hettie Cohen, a Jewish writer.  The couple co-edited the progressive literary magazine Yugen.  They also founded Totem Press, which published the works of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and other political activists.

Sources: 

Peniel E. Joseph, Waiting ’Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2006); Kwame A. Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 1999), 181; http://www.amiribaraka.com/

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Durem, Ramón (1915-1963)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Spanish Civil War veteran and militant poet Ramón Durem was born in Seattle, Washington, in 1915 of mixed heritage.  Leaving home at fourteen, he briefly served in the U.S. Navy before suffering a leg injury that forced his discharge.  He then worked as a laborer until enrolling at the University of California in Berkeley where he joined the Communist Party in 1931.  A radical from an early age, it is hardly surprising that Durem volunteered to join the Loyalist cause in Spain.

Durem departed the United States in March 1937 and was wounded in the Brunete Offensive of that year.  During his long recuperation at the American hospital in Villa Paz, Durem met and married a Brooklyn nurse named Rebecca Schulman.  Durem returned to the front in 1938 and participated in the Ebro Offensive.  In October, around the same time Rebecca was having his first child (named Dolores for La Pasionaria) in New York, Ramón marched in Barcelona’s farewell parade.  He was expatriated in December.

Sources: 
Danny Duncan Collum and Victor A. Berch, African Americans in the Spanish Civil War: “This Ain’t Ethiopia, But It’ll Do” (New York, New York: G.K. Hall & Co, 1992); Ray Durem, Take No Prisoners (London, UK: Paul Breman, 1971); Peter Wyden, The Passionate War (New York, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Alexander, Raymond Pace (1897-1974)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
H. Viscount Nelson, Black Leadership Responds to Crisis: The Great Depression in Philadelphia (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of California, Los Angeles

O'Reilly, Salaria Kee (1913-1991)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Born 13 July 1913 in Akron, Ohio, Salaria Kee was orphaned in her infancy and raised by family and friends.  After high school, she resolved to become a nurse but was denied by three nursing schools on account of her race.  Leveraging connections to Eleanor Roosevelt, the Harlem Hospital School of Nursing accepted her application and Kee moved to New York City.  Graduating in 1934, she worked as head nurse in the terminal ward of the Sea View Hospital for the treatment of tuberculosis.

When Italy invaded Ethiopia in late 1935, Kee joined a group of Harlem nurses collecting medical supplies for the Ethiopians.  Like many other African American anti-fascists, Kee shifted her support to the Spanish Republic with the rise of Franco.  Her efforts to join the Red Cross in Spain were rejected, again due to her race, but she soon found a place in the American Medical Bureau contingent in support of the International Brigades and departed the United States in March 1937.

A devoted Catholic, she felt it was her duty to go. While assigned to the American hospital at Villa Paz, she met and later married John Patrick O’Reilly, an Irish volunteer in the International Brigades.  As one of a very small number of African American women in Spain on behalf of the Republic, she inspired a highly-promoted pamphlet entitled “A Negro Nurse in Republican Spain” in which several details of her life were altered to support a political agenda.

Sources: 
Bob August, “Salaria Kea and John O’Reilly: Volunteers Who Met and Wed in Spain, 1938,” Cleveland Magazine (1975); Danny Duncan Collum (editor) and Victor A. Berch (chief researcher), African Americans in the Spanish Civil War: “This Ain’t Ethiopia, But It’ll Do” (New York, New York: G.K. Hall & Co, 1992); John Gerassi, The Premature Anti-Fascists: North American Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939: an Oral History (New York, New York: Praeger Publishers, 1986). William L. Katz, Fraser M. Ottanelli, and Christopher Brooks, “African Americans in the Spanish Civil War,” Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives at New York University (<https://www.alba-valb.org >, November 2006).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Garland, Walter Benjamin Stephen (1913-197?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Veteran of the Spanish Civil War and World War II, Walter Garland was born in New York City on 27 November 1913.  After serving in the U.S. Army for two years, he enrolled at Brooklyn College where he studied mathematics.  Garland joined the Communist Party in 1935 and became active in the National Negro Congress.  When the International Brigades formed to fight for Republican Spain, Garland volunteered , sailing for France in January 1937.

Sources: 
Danny Duncan Collum (editor) and Victor A. Berch (chief researcher), African Americans in the Spanish Civil War: “This Ain’t Ethiopia, But It’ll Do” (New York, New York: G.K. Hall & Co, 1992); William L. Katz, Fraser M. Ottanelli, and Christopher Brooks, “African Americans in the Spanish Civil War,” Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives at New York University (<https://www.alba-valb.org >, November 2006); James Yates, Mississippi to Madrid (Seattle, Washington: Open Hand Publishing, 1989).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

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

Singleton, Benjamin "Pap" (1809-1892)

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

 

Sources: 
Nell Irvine Painter, Exodusters: Black Migration to Kansas after Reconstruction (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1976); Quintard Taylor, In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West 1528-1900 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1998); "The "Exodusters" Movement" in The African-American Mosaic: A Library of Congress Resource Guide to the Study of Black History & Culture,  http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/african/afam009.html; Lin Frederickson, "He Was Once a Slave" on the Kansas Memory Blog of the Kansas Historical Society, http://www.kansasmemory.org/blog/post/73490075
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Central Area Motivation Program (1964- )

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
In the spring of 1964, before Congress passed the Economic Opportunity Act, a group of Central Area residents and friends created a comprehensive anti-poverty proposal which was presented in the autumn of 1964 at a mass meeting called by the Seattle Urban League and the Central Area Community Council. The meeting led to the formation of the Central Area Citizens Committee (CACC) which in turn steered the proposal through local and federal bureaucracies. Once War on Poverty legislation was enacted by Congress, the Central Area Motivation Program was launched.  The first three staff members were hired in August 1965, in anticipation of the arrival of federal funds.

CAMP was the first community-inspired program in the country to receive funding from the Office of Economic Opportunity in 1965.  It now holds the distinction of being the oldest surviving independent agency launched in that era.  In its first years, CAMP became the service arm of the Seattle Civil Rights Movement. It grew to over 300 employees in the summer of 1967 and encompassed a huge corps of hundreds of volunteers. CAMP launched over 25 pioneering community service initiatives including an array of employment and training programs for the poor.   Through its programs CAMP developed a broad network of cooperative community groups.
Sources: 
Ivan King, The Central Area Motivation Program: A Brief History of a Community in Action (Seattle, CAMP, 1990)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
former Executive Director, Central Area Motivation Program

Sims, Carl (1911-1974)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Carl Sims was born in Bremond, Texas.  He moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1927.  Not long after migrating to Phoenix, he became a gardener and a painting contractor.  Despite having only an eighth grade education, Sims would eventually work for the (Arizona) Maricopa Country Highway Department, and secure a position as Deputy Sheriff of Maricopa County.  Sims became very active in Phoenix’s small African American community before and immediately following World War II, and he proved himself to be an adept Democratic agent for progressive political and social change in Arizona.  

In 1950 he and attorney Hayzel B. Daniels were the first African Americans elected to the Arizona legislature.   In 1951 Sims was one of only 36 black state legislators in the U.S, and Arizona was one of only 15  states that had African American legislators.  The only other western states that had black legislators were California (2), Colorado (2) and Washington (1).  Sims would serve six terms in Arizona’s House of Representatives.  As a lawmaker he called for the improvement and expansion of Arizona’s highways, school taxation equalization, and school integration.
Sources: 

Matthew C. Whitaker, Race Work: The Rise of Civil Rights in the Urban West. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005).
 


Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Arizona State University

Stokes, Charles Moorehead (1903-1996)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Charles Moorehead Stokes, one of three sons of Rev. Norris Jefferson Stokes and Myrtle Garner Stokes, was born on February 1, 1903 in Pratt, Kansas. He graduated from the University of Kansas Law School in 1931 and soon after opened his law practice in Pratt but later moved to Topeka to serve as an assistant attorney for the Kansas Commission of Revenue and Taxation.  

Stokes said he became a Republican as a young man because he father was and always reminded him that Lincoln freed the Slaves, while the Democrats were the Confederacy at the time.  He said he became a lawyer to have a skill so that he would not be broke and dependent upon the charity and benevolence of others, like his father had been as a minister during the Depression and Jim Crow eras.

Charles M. Stokes moved his law practice to Seattle in 1943.  When Stokes arrived in Seattle, the state had fewer than five black attorneys. He also served as vice president of the Young Republican National Federation.  
Sources: 
HistoryLink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, “Stokes, Charles Moorehead (1903-1996)” (by Mary T. Henry) http://www.historylink.org/;  Andre’ S. Wooten, “Charles Stokes Passes at 93, Afro-Hawaiian News, Feb.  1997 http://attyandrewooten.com/page41.html; Stephanie Stokes Oliver, Song for My Father: Memoir of an All-American Family (New York: Atria-Simon and Schuster, 2004).  
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Himes, Chester (1909-1984)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Photograph by Carl Van Vechten,
Courtesy of the Van Vechten Trust
Chester Himes was an important writer of fiction and autobiography. Although Himes’s most widely read novels were detective stories set in Harlem, his first two published novels reflected his experiences in Los Angeles, where he lived from 1940 until 1944.


A native of Missouri, Himes spent most of his childhood in southern towns and cities where his father taught in the mechanical departments of African American colleges. He graduated from high school in Cleveland, Ohio. After a 1928 robbery Himes spent seven and one-half years in prison. While in prison he published fiction in a number of newspapers and magazines, including Esquire. Frustrated by employment discrimination in Ohio as the United States mobilized for World War II, Himes decided to move to Los Angeles.

Sources: 
James Sallis, Chester Himes: A Life (New York: Walker & Company, 2001); Michael Marsh, “Chester Himes,” http://authors.aalbc.com/chesterhimes.htm .
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Western Washington University

Young, Andrew (1932 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership, Public Domain
Andrew Young, Jr., came into prominence as a civil rights activist and close associate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during the modern civil rights movement in the United States.  Young worked with various organizations early in the movement, but his civil rights work was largely done with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) where he served as an executive director and later executive vice president.  Young served on the Board of Directors until 1972.

Young was born into a prosperous upper-middle-class family on March 12, 1932 in New Orleans, Louisiana to Daisy Fuller, a school teacher, and Andrew Jackson Young, Sr., a Howard University-educated dentist.  Young, Sr. moved the family from Franklin, Louisiana to New Orleans.  Young, Sr., believed the move was necessary to take advantage of educational opportunities for Andrew and his younger brother Walter Young (b. 1934).
Sources: 
Andrew Young, Andrew Young: An Easy Burden: The Civil Rights Movements and the Transformation of America, (New York: Harper-Collins, 1996); Adam Fairclough, To Redeem the Soul of America: The Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Martin Luther King, Jr. (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1987); Elizabeth Heath, “Young, Andrew,” Africana: The Encyclopedia of African and African American Experience, Eds., Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates (New York: Preseus, 1999);
www.andrewyoungfoundation.org.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Los Angeles City College

Moore, Archie (1913-1998)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of Tracy Callis

One of the great light heavyweights of all time, Archie Moore, a.k.a., the “Old Mongoose,” was born under the name of Archibald Wright on December 13, 1913 in Benoit, Mississippi. Archie turned professional in 1936, originally operating in the middleweight ranks, but ultimately moving up into the light heavyweight class by 1945. He fought a total of 222 recorded bouts over more than 27 years in the ring. He campaigned against most of the toughest men in the business during his long career, posting 187 wins, including 132 knockouts, against only 23 losses and 11 draws.

Moore campaigned for 16 years before gaining an opportunity to fight for a world championship. On December 15, 1952 he became the Light Heavyweight Champion of the World at age 39, defeating Joe Maxim by a decision in fifteen rounds, thereby becoming the oldest light heavyweight champion in history. He defeated Maxim twice in rematches and was nearly unbeatable as a light heavyweight, successfully defending the title nine times, and holding it for almost a decade before finally being stripped of it in February of 1962 for failing to defend the title within the required period of time.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Ashe, Arthur (1943-1993)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership, Public Domain
Arthur Robert Ashe Jr., legendary tennis player, human rights activist, and educator, was born on July 10, 1943, in Richmond, Virginia, to Arthur Sr. and Mattie Cunningham Ashe.  At the age of four, he began playing tennis at Brook Field, a black-only park where his father worked as caretaker.
Sources: 
ArthurAshe.org, http://www.arthurashe.org/; Arthur Ashe and Arnold Rampersand, Days of Grace: A Memoir (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993); Herbert G. Ruffin, “Arthur Ashe” in Matthew Whitaker, Icons of Black America (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2011); Richard Steins, Arthur Ashe: A Biography (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Bontemps, Arna (1902-1973)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Hoping for a much better life outside the racially oppressive South and Alexandria, Louisiana where Arnaud Wendell Bontemps was born, the middle class Bontemps family moved to the Watts community just south of Los Angeles.  They soon abandoned Catholicism and became devout Seventh Day Adventists.  Bontemps’ mother was a schoolteacher and his father, a bricklayer, was determined to have the family assimilate into the dominant white culture.  In 1923, Bontemps graduated from Pacific Union College, an Adventist school in California, and found work in the US Post Office.  He next used his church connections to secure a teaching job at the Harlem Academy in New York City in 1924.
Sources: 
Kirkland C. Jones, Renaissance Man from Louisiana: A Biography of Arna Wendell Bontemps (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992); Robert E. Fleming,“ Arna Wendell Bontemps (1902-1973): http://www.blacksdahistory.org/arna-bontemps.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Schomburg, Arturo Alfonso (1874-1938)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, writer, activist, collector, and important figure of the Harlem Renaissance was born in Saturce, Puerto Rico. His mother, a black woman, was originally from St. Croix, Danish Virgin Islands, and his father was a Puerto Rican of German ancestry. Schomburg migrated to New York City in 1891. Very active in the liberation movements of Puerto Rico and Cuba, he founded Las dos Antillas, a cultural and political group that worked for the islands’ independence. After the collapse of the Cuban revolutionary struggle, and the cession of Puerto-Rico to the U.S., Schomburg, disillusioned, turned his attention to the African American community. In 1911, as its Master, he renamed El Sol de Cuba #38, a lodge of Cuban and Puerto Rican immigrants, as Prince Hall Lodge in honor of the first black freemason in the country. The same year, he also founded the Negro Society for Historical Research. In 1922 he was elected president of the American Negro Academy.

Sources: 
Jesse, Hoffnung-Garskof, “The Migrations of Arturo Schomburg: On Being Antillano, Negro, and Puerto Rican in New York, 1891-1938,” Journal of American Ethnic History, vol. 21, no 1 (November 2001): 3-49; Elinor Des Verney Sinnette, Arthur Alfonso Schomburg, Black Bibliophile and Collector: A Biography (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1988).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Mays, Benjamin (1895-1984)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Benjamin E. Mays, Born to Rebel: An Autobiography (New York: Scribner, 1971); Lerone Bennett, Jr., "Perspectives – Benjamin E. Mays: The Last of the Great Schoolmasters," in Ebony, 59, no. 11 (2004); William M. Banks, Black Intellectuals: Race and Responsibility in American Life (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1996).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Tacoma

Fraser-Reid, Bertram O. (1934- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

In the early 1990s Bertram Oliver Fraser-Reid was being touted as the first person of African descent to have a serious chance at winning the Nobel Prize in a branch of science.  In fact, this native of Coleyville, Jamaica, born February 23, 1934, was nominated for the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1998.  Fraser-Reid was awarded his B.Sc. (first-class honors) and M.Sc. degrees at Queen’s University in Canada in 1959 and his Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Alberta in 1964.  From 1964 to 1966 he was a postdoctoral fellow at Imperial College, the University of London where he studied under Nobel Laureate Sir Derek Barton.  He was a chemistry professor at the University of Waterloo from 1966 to 1980, at the University of Maryland from 1980 to 1982, and from 1985 until his retirement in 1996 he was Professor of Chemistry at Duke University. 

In retirement Fraser-Reid founded the non-profit Natural Products/Glycotechnology Research Institute Inc., operating in Pittsboro, North Carolina, dedicated to studying carbohydrate chemistry/biology that relates to tropical parasitic diseases in Third World countries and specifically targeting the development of a carbohydrate-based vaccine to fight malaria.  Some of Fraser-Reid’s earlier work focused on transforming sugars into complex noncarbohydrate compounds and linking sugars into biologically active compounds to produce oliogosaccharides which could impact the combating of devastating diseases.

Sources: 
American Men & Women of Science. 21st Ed. Vol. 2. (Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 2003). CBFSA News (December-March 1990).
http://www.takingitglobal.org/express/panorama/article.html?ContentID=5431.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Woodson, Carter G. (1875-1950)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Ancella Bickley Collection,
West Virginia State Archives
Historian Carter G. Woodson was born to poor, yet land-owning, former slaves in New Canton, Virginia on December 19, 1875.  During the 1890s, he hired himself out as a farm and manual laborer, drove a garbage truck, worked in coalmines, and attended high school and college in Berea College, Kentucky—from which he earned a B.L. degree in 1903.  In the early 1900s, he taught black youth in West Virginia.  From late 1903 until early 1907, Woodson worked in the Philippines under the auspices of the US War Department.  Woodson then traveled to Africa, Asia, and Europe and briefly attended the Sorbonne in Paris, France.  In 1908, he received an M.A. degree in History, Romance languages, and Literature from the University of Chicago.  In 1912, while teaching in Washington, D.C., he earned his doctorate in history from Harvard University. 
Sources: 
Pero Gaglo Dagbovie, The Early Black History Movement, Carter G. Woodson, and Lorenzo Johnston Greene (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2007); Jacqueline Goggin, Carter G. Woodson:  A Life in Black History (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1993); and Pero Gaglo Dagbovie, “Willing to Sacrifice”:  Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Black History, and the Carter G. Woodson Home (Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, 2010).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Michigan State University

Owen, Chandler (1889-1967)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
"Chandler Owen," in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience, Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds. (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 1999); William M. Banks, Black Intellectuals: Race and Responsibility in American Life (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1996).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Tacoma

Houston, Charles Hamilton (1895-1950)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Charles Hamilton Houston, a renowned civil rights attorney, was widely recognized as the architect of the civil rights strategy that led to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 decision, Brown v. Board of Education.  He was also a mentor to Thurgood Marshall who successfully litigated the pivotal Brown case.

Houston was born on September 3, 1895 in Washington, DC to parents William Houston, an attorney, and Mary Houston, a hairdresser and seamstress. He attended M Street High School (later Dunbar High School) in Washington, DC. Following graduation, he enrolled at Amherst College in Massachusetts where he was the only black student in his class. Houston was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, the national honor society there. Upon graduating in 1915, he was selected to deliver that year’s valedictory address.

After graduating from Amherst, Houston returned to Washington.  He joined the U.S. Army in 1917 and was trained in the all-black officers training camp in Fort Des Moines, Iowa in 1917. Houston was later deployed to France. While there, Houston and his fellow black soldiers experienced racial discrimination which deepened his resolve to study law.
Sources: 
William M. Banks, Black Intellectuals: Race and Responsibility in American Life (New York, London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1996); Rawn James, Jr., Root and Branch: Charles Hamilton Houston, Thurgood Marshall, and the Struggle to End Segregation (New York, Berlin, London: Bloomsbury Press, 2010); Carole Boston Weatherford, Great African-American Lawyers: Raising the Bar of Freedom (Berkeley Heights: Enslow Publishers, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent historian

Brown, Claude (1937- 2002)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Claude Brown and Anthony Machi, Manchild Revisited A Commentary by Claude Brown (Alexandria, Va., PBS Video, 1987); Rebecca Carroll, Swing Low: Black Men Writing (New York: Carol Southern Books, 1995); Renford Reese, American Paradox: Young Black Men (Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press, 2004).
Contributor: 

McKay, Claude (1889-1948)

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

Harlem Renaissance writer Festus Claudius McKay was born on September 15, 1889, in Sunny Ville, in the Clarendon Hills of Jamaica, to peasant farmers Hannah Ann Elizabeth Edwards  and Thomas Frank McKay. Young Claude was tutored by his elder schoolmaster brother, Uriah Theodore McKay, who introduced him to a library dominated by the ideas of the great free thinkers, particularly Thomas Huxley and Herbert Spencer. While working in Kingston as a constable, McKay became the protégé of Walter Jekyll, a British aristocrat and anthropologist who also placed his personal library at Claude McKay’s disposal.    

McKay published his first two volumes of poetry, Songs of Jamaica (1912) and Constab Ballads (1912), written in the island’s rich dialect, before migrating to America to study agronomy at Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and later at Kansas State University. By 1917, however, he was no longer in college and living in Harlem. 

Sources: 
Wayne Cooper, ed., The Passion of Claude McKay (New York: Schocken Books, 1973); Wilfred D. Samuels, Five Afro-Caribbean Voices in American Culture, 1917-1929 (Boulder: Belmont, 1977).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Utah

Brown, Cora Mae (1914-1972)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Cora Mae Brown was part of a generation of African American women who translated   their community work into political struggle during the first half of the twentieth century.  Born in 1914 in Bessemer, Alabama, Brown’s family migrated to Detroit, Michigan when she was eight years old.  There she was nurtured by a lively community of female activists who encouraged her to attend Fisk University after her graduation from Cass Technical High School.  At Fisk she studied with the renowned sociologist, E. Franklin Frazier, and graduated with a degree in sociology.

Upon her return to Detroit Brown obtained one of the few white-collar jobs available to black women in Detroit’s public sector, as a social worker in the Women’s Division of the Police Department.  Working closely with the community during the Great Depression and into the war years, Brown aided and encouraged young African American women during a tumultuous time.  In the early 1940s Brown began attending Wayne State University Law School.  Upon her graduation in 1948 Brown began to explore the possibility of running for public office.  The 1940s had seen an increasingly powerful political coalition between organized labor and civil rights advocates in Detroit.  Brown hoped to take advantage of this alliance.

Sources: 
Cora M. Brown Papers, Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library; Victoria W. Wolcott, Remaking Respectability: African-American Women in Interwar Detroit (University of North Carolina Press, 2001).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Rochester

Briggs, Cyril (1888-1966)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Cyrill Briggs and Charlene Mitchell, 1960
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Cyril Briggs was a pioneering civil rights activist, journalist, black nationalist, and member of the American Communist Party. Born in 1888 on the Eastern Caribbean island of Nevis, Briggs immigrated to New York City in 1905 and joined a burgeoning community of radical West Indian intellectuals in Harlem. In 1912 be was hired at the New York Amsterdam News where he voiced support for World War I and Woodrow Wilson's anti colonial doctrine of self-determination, which he saw as validating his own radical vision of African American self-rule. Further radicalized in the wake of World War I and the Russian Revolution, Briggs started publishing his own periodical, the Crusader, in September 1918 and one month later founded the African Blood Brotherhood (ABB).  Incorporating Marxist class-consciousness under the banner of "Africa for Africans," the Crusader and the ABB became vehicles for Briggs' distinctive merger of interracial revolutionary socialism with black nationalism and anti colonialism. 

Sources: 
Mark Solomon, The Cry Was Unity: Communists and African Americans, 1917-1936 (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Miller, Doris [“Dorie”] (1919-1943)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership, Public Domain
World War II war hero Doris “Dorie” Miller was born in Waco, Texas on October 12, 1919 to Conery and Henrietta Miller who were farmers just outside the city.  Miller grew to 6 feet 3 inches, weighed over 200 pounds, and played football at Waco’s A.J. Moore Academy.  He dropped out of school at the age of 17 and enlisted in the US Navy in 1939 at the age of 20.  He was made a mess attendant, one the few positions available to African Americans at the time.  Miller was eventually elevated to Cook, Third Class and assigned to the USS West Virginia stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Miller was doing laundry as a mess attendant aboard the West Virginia on December 7, 1941, when it was subjected to a surprise attack by Japanese forces.  After hearing a loud and urgent summons to battle, Miller, who made his way from below deck to the ship’s bridge, saw Japanese fighter planes attacking US Naval forces, and the harbor already engulfed in flames.  He ran to an antiaircraft station, only to find it shattered by a Japanese torpedo.  Miller then pulled a captain and several of his crewmates to safety under heavy enemy fire.
Sources: 
Darlene Clark Hine, William C. Clark and Stanley Harrold, The African American Odyssey, Combined Volume  (New York: Prentice Hall, 2003); Matthew C. Whitaker, Peace Be Still: Modern Black America from World War II to Barack Obama (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2014).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Arizona State University

Frazier, E. Franklin (1894-1962)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Edward Franklin Frazier, the most prominent African American sociologist of the 20th Century, was born on September 24, 1894 and died on May 17, 1962. Best known for his critical work on the black middle class, Black Bourgeoisie (1957), Frazier was also a harsh critic of Jim Crow as the great inhibitor of the American Dream for the “American Negro.”

Frazier was born to James H. and Mary Clark Frazier. His father worked as a bank messenger and his mother was a housewife. Both parents stressed the worth of education as a path to freedom and as an instrument to fight for social justice.  

Sources: 
Anthony M. Platt, E. Franklin Frazier (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1991); August Meier and Elliot Rudwick, Black Historians and the Historical Profession, 1915-1980 (Urbana/Chicago, University of Illinois Press, 1986).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Fresno

Miles, Elijah Walter (1934- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Even before finishing graduate school Elijah Walter Miles had a record of civil disobedience in support of civil rights objectives.  Born in Hearne, Texas on May 4, 1934, Miles received his bachelor’s degree from the Prairie View A&M University in 1955.  A two-year stint as an officer in the U.S. Army preceded graduate study at Indiana University where he was in the forefront of a campaign to desegregate public accommodations in the city of Bloomington. 

After receiving his doctorate in political science at Indiana University in 1962 Miles taught for three years as a professor at Prairie View and directed a successful boycott of white-owned businesses in nearby Hempstead, Texas.  Later, during his one-year stay at the University of North Carolina, Miles agitated for better off campus housing. 

Miles arrived at San Diego State University in 1967, and at the time was the institution’s only African American professor.  Gracious, loyal, and affable but fearless, Miles immersed himself in the affairs of the city and the university, oftentimes working effectively behind the scenes to bring about change.  Off campus he became chairman of the board of the San Diego Urban League.  He was also a member of the San Diego Blue Ribbon Commission for Charter Review and was appointed to a panel of the California Board of Education.  Miles was chairman of the board of the San Diego Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and served on the organization’s national board. 

Sources: 
Who’s Who Among Black Americans (Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1991);
Robert Fikes, Jr., The Black In Crimson and Black: A History and Profiles of African Americans at SDSU (San Diego: SDSU Library and Information Access, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Brooke, Edward (1919- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain


Edward William Brooke III is the first African American to be elected by popular vote to the United States Senate.  Brooke, an African American, Protestant Republican, won elective office in the overwhelmingly white, Catholic, Democratic state of Massachusetts and emerged as a leader in the US Senate.  Edward Brooke III, the son of Helen (Seldon) Brooke and Edward W. Brooke, was born October 26, 1919 in Washington, D.C.  Brook's father, Edward, earned a law degree at the Howard University School of Law and later served as an attorney with the US Veterans Administration. 
After his graduation from Howard University in 1941, Edward Brooke III served as an officer in the Army with the all-African American 366th Combat Infantry Regiment.  He fought in Italy during World War II and won a Bronze Star for leading an attack on a German artillery battery.  While in Italy, he met his first wife, Remigia Ferrari-Scacco. After serving as a combat officer, Brooke entered Boston University Law School and graduated in 1948.

Sources: 

Edward Brooke, Bridging the Divide: My Life (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press; 2006); "Edward Brooke" in the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress (http: //bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index = B000871); “The Senate: An Individual Who Happens to be a Negro,” Time Magazine, Feb. 17, 1967.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Haynes, Elizabeth Ross (1883-1953)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: 
Public Domain

In the early twentieth century Progressive era reformers largely ignored the needs of African American women.  Lacking settlement houses and other resources African American reformers such as Elizabeth Ross Haynes turned to one of the few institutions available to them, the YWCA.  Ross Haynes was at the forefront of developing institutional resources for young African American women seeking better employment and living conditions.  Born in Lowndes County, Alabama in 1883, Elizabeth Ross obtained a sterling education culminating with an A.B. from Fisk University in 1903.  She later moved north to New York City where she served as the YWCA’s student secretary for work among black women from 1908 to 1910.  In that capacity she met and married the prominent sociologist George E. Haynes, who co-founded the National Urban League.

Like many African American women Ross Haynes continued her reform work after the birth of her son, George Jr., in 1912.  She continued working with the YWCA, promoting the establishment of new branches to help female migrants find employment and job training.  Recognizing her activism, in 1922 the Y.W.C.A. appointed Haynes to its new Council on Colored Work.  The following year she earned an M.A. in sociology from Columbia University and became the first African American women appointed to the YWCA’s national board.

Sources: 
Victoria W. Wolcott, Remaking Respectability: African-American Women in Interwar Detroit (University of North Carolina Press, 2001); Paula Giddings, When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America ((Bantam Books, 1984); Darlene Clark Hine, editor, Black Women in America: A Historical Encyclopedia (Carlson Publishing, Inc., Brooklyn, New York, 1993), 548-49.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Rochester

Scott, Emmett J. (1873-1957)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Emmett J. Scott and Booker T. Washington
Image Ownership: Public Domain

A native of Houston, Texas, Emmett J. Scott garnered a reputation as Booker T. Washington’s chief aide.  He was also the highest ranking African American in the Woodrow Wilson’s Administration.  The son of ex-slaves, Scott was born in 1873.  In 1887, he entered Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, eventually leaving school in his third year.  Soon he worked at the Houston Post, first as a sexton, and later as a copyboy and journalist. In 1893 Scott, along with Charles N. Love and Jack Tibbit, formed the Texas Freeman, Houston’s first African American newspaper.  Scott also worked for Galveston, Texas, politician and labor leader, Norris W. Cuney. 

Scott caught the attention of Booker T. Washington, who hired him in 1897.   For the next eighteen years, Scott served Washington as a confidant, personal secretary, speech writer, and ghostwriter; in 1912, he became Tuskegee’s treasurer-secretary.  Scott advocated Washington’s philosophy of constructive accommodation over immediate social integration.  Scott and New York Age editor T. Thomas Fortune helped Washington found the National Negro Business League (NNBL) in 1900. 

Sources: 
Thelma Scott Bryant, Pioneering Families of Houston (Early 1900s) as Remembered by Thelma Scott Bryant (Houston: n. p., 1991); Maceo Crenshaw Dailey, Jr., “The Business Life of Emmett Jay Scott,” Business History Review, 77 (Winter 2003), 57-68; Barbara L. Green, “Emmett Jay Scott,” in The New Handbook of Texas, Vol.. 5 (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1996), 935.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Sam Houston State University

Randolph, Asa Philip (1889-1979)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
A. Philip Randolph with Eleanor Roosevelt
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Asa Philip Randolph, born on April 15, 1889 in Crescent City, Florida, was one of the most respected leaders of the American Civil Rights movement in the twentieth century.  Randolph was a labor activist; editor of the political journal the Messenger, organizer of the 1941 March on Washington which resulted in the establishment of the Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC), and architect of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. 

Randolph was the son of Rev. James William Randolph, a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and Elizabeth Robinson Randolph, a seamstress.  The family moved to Jacksonville two years after his birth.  In 1907, Randolph graduated as the valedictorian of Cookman Institute in East Jacksonville, Florida, and worked a series of menial jobs while pursuing a career as an actor. He moved to New York in 1911, and after reading W.E.B. Du Bois' The Souls of Black Folk decided to devote his life to fighting for African American equality. In 1914, Randolph married Lucille E. Green, a Howard graduate and entrepreneur whose economic support allowed Randolph to pursue Civil Rights full-time. The couple did not have any children.

Sources: 
Andrew E. Kersten, A. Philip Randolph: A Life in the Vanguard (Lanham, MD: Roman & Littlefield, 2006); Cynthia Taylor, A. Philip Randolph: The Religious Journey of an African American Labor Leader (New York: NYU Press, 2006); Paula Pfeffer, A. Philip Randolph, Pioneer of the Civil Rights Movement (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1996).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Tacoma

Holland, Endesha Ida Mae (1944-2006)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Dr. Endesha Ida Mae Holland was born into abject poverty in Greenwood, Mississippi. She experienced extreme racism, lack of options, and little support to change her life. As a teenager she quit school, turned to prostitution and theft as a way to make it in the world she knew – a world that included being raped by a neighbor, multiple “fathers” and broken dreams.

Her first time in jail was as a teenager having dropped out of school and turned towards a life of prostitution and theft. She was sentenced to thirty days in the county jail – but this wouldn’t be the last time. She went to prison on assault and battery charges after having married, given birth, and found her husband cheating. When she was released from prison, her options were narrow and she returned to “streetwalking” – the life she knew.

This time, the man she pursued was active in SNCC. Holland pursued him all the way back to SNCC offices where she was introduced to the Civil Rights Movement. Ms. Holland would go to jail many times in her future, not for streetwalking but for protesting with the Movement. One these trips included the state penitentiary with other Civil Rights activists. After thirty-three days, she was released and shortly thereafter met Dr. Jackson and Dr. King.

Contributor2: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle University, Antioch McGregor University

Jones, Eugene Kinkle (1885-1954)

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

Eugene Kinkle Jones was one of the seven founders or Jewels of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and Executive Director of the National Urban League during its early formative period.  Jones was born in 1885 in Richmond, Virginia.  His father, Joseph was a former slave but his mother, Rosa was born free.  Jones attended Wayland Academy, a high school arm of Virginia Union University where his father, Joseph Jones was a professor and his mother Rosa was a teacher.  Upon graduation from high school, Jones entered Virginia Union, earning an undergraduate degree in 1905.

Jones then enrolled in graduate school at Cornell University in 1906 at the age of 21, at first majoring in engineering but later transferring to sociology.  While at Cornell he was one of seven founders of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the first black Greek letter organization founded in 1906.  Jones was instrumental in pushing the other founders toward creating a fraternity.  He graduated from Cornell in 1908 with an M.A. in sociology. 

Jones then taught at the University of Louisville from 1908 to 1909 and then was a high school instructor at Louisville High School from 1909 to 1911. Jones married Blanche Rubie Watson in 1909 and the couple had two children.  

Sources: 
Kwame Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); National Urban League History, National Urban League, www.nul.org/history.html; Twelfth Census of the United States, Schedule No. 1.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Los Angeles City College

Barnes, Emery (1929-1998)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Social worker, politician and professional football player Emery Barnes spent much of his life helping the disadvantaged in society and working for worldwide human rights and world peace.  Barnes was first elected to the British Columbia legislature in 1972 and was elected Speaker of the Legislature in 1994, serving in the provincial legislature until 1996. He was the first black person to hold the position of Speaker in any Canadian province.

Barnes was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on December 15, 1929. At the age of 12 he and his family moved to Oregon. During his high school years in Oregon he became an outstanding athlete, excelling in high jump, track and field.  He was an alternate high jumper for the 1952 U.S. Olympic Track and Field team. He also played football at the University of Oregon, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree. In 1954 he was drafted by the National Football League (NFL), to play for the Green Bay Packers. After a relatively short NFL career he moved to the Canadian Football League and the British Columbia (B.C.) Lions in 1957.
Sources: 
The British Columbia Black History Society, A Resource Guide on Black Pioneers in British Columbia (Victoria: The British Columbia Black History Awareness Society, 1997); Lorraine Murray, "Reflections on Emery Barnes," http://www.darrenduncan.net/archived_web_work/voices/voices_v1_n3/emery_barnes.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Smith, E. Russell "Noodles" (? - 1952)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
E. Russell "Noodles" Smith, so named because he always kept enough money for a bowl of noodles after a night of gambling, is considered to be "the father – or perhaps the midwife - of Seattle jazz." He arrived in Seattle during the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exhibition in 1909 with $17,000 that he claimed was won during a three night gambling spree. With a mind for business and a keen eye on the purse strings, he amassed a fortune from gambling, real estate, and bootlegging and he dominated the nightclub scene that formed the backdrop for Seattle jazz from the 1920s to the 1940s. The list of people who stayed and played in "Noodles"-owned establishments include some of the greatest names in jazz—Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Louis Jordan and Eubie Blake, to name a few.
Sources: 
Paul de Barros, Jackson Street After Hours, The Roots of Jazz in Seattle (Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 1993)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Albrier, Frances Mary (1898-1987)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
In 1938 Frances Mary Albrier became the first woman elected to the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee.  She also founded the East Bay Women’s Welfare Club whose goal was to get black teachers hired in the Berkeley schools.  This campaign saw success with the hiring of Ruth Acty in 1943.   Albrier’s political involvement was driven by the reality that African Americans were “taxpayers without any representation in the city government or the schools of Berkeley.  That was the message I wanted to get over to them.”   In 1942 Frances Mary Albrier challenged racial and gender barriers in wartime Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond.  She completed a welding course with twice the required hours because “I felt I had to be better because I was a black woman,” passed the welder’s test “with flying colors,” but her application was rejected by the Boilermakers Union in the shipyards because Kaiser “had not yet set up an auxiliary [union] for Negroes.”  Bowing to Albrier’s threat of a lawsuit and pressure from the African American community, the Richmond union agreed to accept her dues and transfer them to an auxiliary in an Oakland shipyard.  
Sources: 
Shirley Ann Wilson Moore, To Place Our Deeds: The African American Community in Richmond, California, 1910-1963, (Berkeley: University of California Press: 2000).
Affiliation: 
California State University, Sacramento

Raines, Franklin (1949- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Courtesy of Benjamin Mchie
Franklin Raines was born in Seattle on January 14, 1949, and graduated from Franklin High School in Seattle.  From here, he went to Harvard and graduated in 1971 with a B.A. in Government.  He was awarded the prestigious Rhodes scholarship and attended Oxford University for two years, returning to Harvard to earn a law degree in 1976.

Raines was hired into President Carter’s administration as the assistant director of the White House Domestic Policy Staff.  When Carter lost his reelection bid, Raines was hired as an investment banker by a Wall Street company.  He moved on to become the vice chairman at Fannie Mae.  After five years, President Clinton asked him to return to government work, and Raines accepted a decrease in salary of more than $300,000 to become the director of the Office of Management and Budget where he worked to find compromises in the budget process between the Democratic executive and the Republican Congress.
Sources: 
Charles Whitaker, “Franklin Raines: First Black Head of a Fortune 500 Corporation,” Ebony, April 2001, p. 106-112; Alton Hornsby, Jr. & Angela M. Hornsby, From the Grassroots: Profiles of Contemporary African American Leaders, p.175-176.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Atkins, Hannah Diggs (1923-2010)

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

 

Sources: 
Paul English, “One Shot Transforms Woman’s Life,” The Sunday Oklahoman, November 28, 1999; Hannah Diggs Atkins Obituary, http://www.newsok.com/first-black-woman-elected-to-oklahoma-house-dies/article/3469633.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Northwestern Oklahoma State University

McDaniel, Hattie (1895-1952)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Hattie McDaniel Receives Oscar at the
Academy Awards Ceremony, 1940
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Hattie McDaniel is best known as the first black Oscar winner.  She won the award on February 29, 1940, for Best Supporting Actress for her role as “Mammy” in Gone With the Wind. McDaniel's career began three decades earlier.  She gave her first public performances as a grade school student in Denver, Colorado. Her father, Henry McDaniel, traveled through Colorado with his own minstrel show, but would not allow his daughter to accompany him and her brothers Otis and Sam.  McDaniel was allowed to perform locally with the traveling minstrel shows staged at East Turner Hall in Denver.  In 1910, when she won the Women’s Christian Temperance Union’s recitation contest with her rendition of “Convict Joe.”  The audience gave her both a standing ovation and the Gold Medal.  Although only a sophomore, McDaniel insisted that she wanted to perform and convinced her parents that she should quit school to join her father’s show.  She developed a talent for writing songs and dancing.  She also had an excellent singing voice.   
Sources: 
Carleton Jackson, Hattie: The Life of Hattie McDaniel (Lanham, New York: Madison Books, 1990); Thomas L. Riis, Just Before Jazz: Black Musical Theater in New York, 1890 to 1915 (Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution, 1989).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Colorado Historical Society

Beauchamp, Henry (1933-2013)

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

Born November 9, 1933 in Clinton, Louisiana to a farming family, Henry Beauchamp, Jr., was the youngest of Henry Clay, Sr., and Cornellia Beauchamp’s seven children.  Shortly after Henry’s 13th birthday his family moved to Yakima where he received his secondary education. Henry married his long time friend, Wilma Jean Mitchell in 1955 and they were blessed with three children.

Although beginning work as a journeyman brick mason, Henry’s talent to build with brick and mortar soon evolved to building institutions to help people. First seeing the need for a multi-service community center in Yakima, but with no fund raising experience, he nonetheless inspired a group of supporters who raised over $550,000, and the Southeast Yakima Community Center opened in 1971.  The center was then the largest anti-poverty community action center in central Washington.

Meeting Dr. Leon Sullivan, founder of the Opportunity Industrialization Centers of America (OIC) was a transformative moment for Beauchamp.  With branches around the world, OIC’s mission is to eliminate unemployment, poverty and illiteracy. The 100th OIC center soon opened in Yakima and Beauchamp became its Executive Director. Under his leadership it has evolved to become the largest OIC in America with services provided in eight cities in Washington state.

Affiliation: 
Independent Historians

Cayton, Horace Roscoe, Jr. (1903-1970)

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

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Horace Roscoe Cayton, Jr., was the son of Horace and Susie Cayton and the grandson of Hiram R. Revels, the first black U.S. Senator. After graduation from Seattle's Franklin High School and the University of Washington, Cayton attended the University of Chicago. It was in Chicago that his career as a sociologist was defined. He was "determined to learn all there was about the Negro community." Teaching assignments at Tuskegee and Fisk University broadened his knowledge.


Returning to Chicago after his teaching sojourns, one of his first in-depth research efforts was interviewing black policemen on Chicago's police force. His first book, written in collaboration with economics professor George S. Mitchell, was Black Workers and the New Unions. Cayton and Clair St. Drake, a social anthropologist, co-authored Black Metropolis which was published in 1945. The book was based largely on data collected from a major research project ostensibly developed to investigate juvenile delinquency but was, in reality, a vehicle to study the social structure of Chicago's entire black community (Cayton-Warner Research Project). Still considered a landmark study, Black Metropolis won the Anisfield-Wolf Award for best book published on race relations.

Sources: 
Horace R. Cayton, Long Old Road (New York: Trident Press, 1965); Margaret Walker, Richard Wright Daemonic Genius: A Portrait of the Man, A Critical Look at His Work (New York: Warner Books, 1988).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Association for African American Historical Research and Preservation (AAAHRP)

Haynes, Inez Maxine Pitter (1919-2004)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Inez Maxine Pitter Haynes, the middle sibling of the Pitter sisters, was born February 06, 1919 to Edward A. Pitter and Marjorie Allen Pitter, in Seattle, Washington.  In 1936 she graduated from Garfield High School and entered the University of Washington as a pre-nursing major, later changing to sociology.  As with her sisters, she had struggled in the University of Washington both because of the Great Depression and racial discrimination.  

While both of her sisters experienced similar challenges, Inez Pitter suffered the added component of skin color. She was brown-skinned, while they were both fair-skinned.   The College of Nursing refused to admit her because of her race.  The Dean of Nursing insisted that as an African American she could not stay in the same room as white nurses in Harborview Hall, the required dormitory for nursing students, and thus could not complete the program.  
Sources: 
Juana R. Royster Horn, “The Academic and Extracurricular Undergraduate Experiences of Three Black Women At The University of Washington 1935 To 1941,” (Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Washington, 1980)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Nicholas Brothers

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Fayard Nicholas (1914-2006)
Harold Nicholas (1921-2000)

Fayard and Harold Nicholas, whose careers spanned over six decades, made up one of the most beloved dance teams in the history of dance, The Nicholas Brothers. They were best known for their unforgettable appearances in more than 30 Hollywood musicals in the 1930s and 1940s including Down Argentine Way (1940), Sun Valley Serenade (1941) and Stormy Weather (1943). Their artistry, choreographic brilliance, and unique style -- a smooth mix of tap, jazz, ballet and acrobatic moves -- entertained and astonished vaudeville, theatre, film and television audiences all over the world.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle University

Padmore, George (1901-1959)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

A journalist, radical activist, and theoretician, George Padmore did more than perhaps any other single individual to shape the theory and discourse of Pan-African anti-imperialism in the first half of the twentieth century.

Born Malcolm Nurse in Trinidad in 1901, Padmore moved to the United States in 1925 to study at Fisk and Howard Universities. In 1928 he dropped out of Howard's law school and joined the American Communist Party. Quickly rising in Party ranks as an expert on race and imperialism, Padmore moved to Moscow in 1929 to head the Comintern's International Trade Union Committee of Negro Workers and to edit the Negro Worker. In 1931 he published the influential pamphlet, The Life and Struggles of Negro Toilers. In 1933 the Comintern suspended publication of the Negro Worker and disbanded the Trade Union Committee of Negro Workers, prompting Padmore to split acrimoniously with the Party. In subsequent years Padmore would become a fervent anti-Communist, denouncing the Comintern's alleged manipulation of black freedom struggles in his 1956 book Pan-Africanism or Communism? However, throughout his life he continued to unite with activists and trade unionists on the radical left around the issue of anti-colonialism.

Sources: 
Peggy Von Eschen, Race Against Empire:  Black Americans and Anticolonialism, 1937-1957 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Schuyler, George (1895-1977)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Photograph by Carl Van Vechten,
courtesy of The Van Vechten Trust


George Samuel Schuyler, conservative columnist, was born in Providence, Rhode Island on February 25, 1895 to George Francis and Eliza Jane Schuyler. Upon his father’s death in 1898, George and his mother moved to Syracuse, New York. In 1912, at age 17, George enlisted in the Army, serving in the all-black 25th US Infantry.  Eventually he achieved the rank of Lieutenant. Despite his status as an officer, Schuyler went AWOL in 1918 in response to the systemic racism he experienced in the Army.  He  was captured in Chicago and imprisoned for nine months for desertion.

Following his release, Schuyler worked odd jobs in New York, joining the Socialist Party of America and the anti-Marcus Garvey organization, Friends of Negro Freedom.  During this time he submitted articles and editorials to the newly created, socialist-oriented Messenger magazine. He eventually wrote a regular column for The Messenger, entitled “Shafts and Darts: A Page of Calumny and Satire.”  By 1924 he was also writing a weekly column for The Pittsburgh Courier, one of the two largest black newspapers in the United States at the time.

Sources: 
Oscar R. Williams, George S. Schuyler: Portrait of a Black Conservative (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2007); Troy Kickler, “George S. Schuyler: Black Conservative, Intellectual, and Iconoclast.” http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig7/kickler2.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Florida

Carver, George Washington (1864?-1943)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
George Washington Carver began life inauspiciously on the frontier of southwestern Missouri. Born a slave, the precise date, indeed, even the year, is unknown. He never knew either of his biological parents, but was raised by his former owners as if he were their own. A sickly child, his workload on the Carvers’ farm was reasonably light. Consequently, he spent much of his childhood wandering through fields and woods where he developed an affinity for the natural world. Faced with limited educational opportunities, he left Missouri for Kansas, where he graduated from high school. After a try at homesteading on the western plains of Kansas, he found his way to Iowa where he enrolled at the Iowa Agricultural College in Ames. Recruited by Booker T. Washington to head up Tuskegee’s Agricultural Department, Carver left the Midwest for Alabama’s cotton belt shortly after he became the first African American to secure an advanced degree in agricultural science.
Sources: 
Linda O. McMurry, George Washington Carver: Scientist and Symbol (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981), and Mark Hersey, “Hints and Suggestions to Farmers: George Washington Carver and Rural Conservation in the South,” Environmental History 11 (April 2006), 239-268 available online at http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/eh/11.2/hersey.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Kansas

Gong Lum v. Rice (1927)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History

In this constitutional case, the U.S. Supreme Court, composed entirely of Bok Guey (whites), adjudged Hon Yen (Chinese) to be in the same social classification as Lo Mok (blacks).  The Supreme Court’s decision permitted the state of Mississippi to define Martha Lum as a member of the “colored races” so that “white schools” could remain segregated.  The origins of “Lotuses among the Magnolias” involved southern planter’s fears that emancipation had spoiled their newly freed slaves.  The question posed by planters was whether the freed people would work without the sting of the lash. Planters answered by recruiting Chinese labor and by 1900 the majority of coolie labor came from the “Sze Yap” or Four Counties district southwest of Canton in South China. 

By the 1920s a thriving Chinese community had developed in Mississippi which now included school age children.  In 1924, Rosedale Consolidated High School forced Martha Gong Lum, daughter of a prosperous Chinese grocer, to leave school because of her ethnicity.  The Gong Lums sued but the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled, “Chinese are not white and must fall under the heading, colored races.”  On appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Gong Lums listened as the high court justices agreed with the Mississippi court and stated, “Similar laws (of segregation) have been enacted by Congress under its general power…over the District of Columbia as well as by…many of the States…throughout the Union, both in the North and South.”

Sources: 
Malik Simba, “Gong Lum v. Rice: The Convergence of Law, Race, and Ethnicity,” in American Mosaic: Selected Readings on America’s Multicultural Heritage, eds. Young I. Song and Eugene C. Kim; James Loewen, Lotus among the Magnolias: The Mississippi Chinese, Jackson, MI; Mississippi University Press, 1960.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Fresno

Brooks, Gwendolyn (1917-2000)

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

Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks, born June 7, 1917 in Topeka, Kansas, moved to Chicago, Illinois where she was reared and launched her literary career.  Marrying Henry Blakely in 1939, the couple had two children. 

Brooks's formal education consists of an associate degree in literature and arts from Wilson Junior College but she has also received over seventy honorary degrees from several leading universities.  In her early years, Brooks served as the director of publicity for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Chicago.

Individual poems published in the Chicago Defender during her high school years preceded Brooks's first collection of poetry, A Street in Bronzeville (1945). This book focused on “community consciousness.”  Brooks's Annie Allen was published in 1949 with a focus on “self-realization” and “artistic sensibility” of a young black woman.  That volume made her the first African American to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize in poetry.  The Bean Eater, her third book, was released in 1960. 

Sources: 
Carol F. Bender and Annie Allen, Masterplots 4th ed. Literary Reference Center (Pasadena: Salem Press, 2010); Charles M. Isreal and William T. Lawlor, Cyclopedia of World Authors 4th ed.  Literary Reference Center (Pasadena: Salem Press, 2004); Henry Taylor and Harold Bloom,  “Gwendolyn Brooks: An Essential Sanity,”  Bloom’s Modern Critical Views: Gwendolyn Brooks  (New York: InfoBase Publishing, 2000): 161-179.
Affiliation: 
Jefferson State Community College, Alabama

Haywood, Harry (1898-1985)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

A radical theoretician, anti-colonialist, labor organizer, and civil rights activist, Harry Haywood was one of the most prominent and influential African American Communists of the twentieth century.  Haywood, the son of former slaves, was born in South Omaha, Nebraska in 1898. He migrated to Chicago after serving in World War I and organized community defense during the 1919 Chicago race riot. In 1922 he joined the African Blood Brotherhood and in 1925 became an official member of the CPUSA.

Sources: 
Harry Haywood, Black Bolshevik: Autobiography of an Afro-American Communist (Chicago: Liberator Press, 1978); Mary Jo Buhle, Paul Buhle, and Dan Geogakas, eds., Encyclopedia of the American Left (New York: Garland Publishing, 1990), 297-298.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Scott, Hazel (1920-1981)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Hazel Scott was born on June 11, 1920, in Port of Spain, Trinidad.  In 1924, Scott and her parents migrated to Harlem, New York, where Hazel, a musical prodigy, studied classical piano with Paul Wagner, a Juilliard professor.  In the late 1930s and early 1940s her career blossomed, as she became a regular performer earning a weekly salary of $4,000 at New York’s elegant dinner club Café Society.  Her husband Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. once fondly referred to her as the “darling of Café Society.”

In 1938 her talent brought her to Broadway, where she performed in the musicals Singing Out the News and, four years later, Priorities of 1942.  The 1940s were thrilling years for Scott, with appearances in major Hollywood productions like Something to Shout About, I Dood It, and The Heat’s On in 1943, Broadway Rhythm in 1944, and Rhapsody in Blue in 1945. Scott distinguished herself from other black actors by refusing to play the traditional roles, such as maids and prostitutes, offered by movie executives to black actresses.  Instead, Scott made cameo appearances in movies playing the piano.

Sources: 
Donald Bogle, Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films (New York: The Continuum Publishing Company, 2001); Adam Clayton Powell, Adam by Adam: The Autobiography of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (New York: Dial Press, 1971).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Armstrong, Henry (1912-1988)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Henry Jackson Jr., better known as Henry Armstrong, was born on December 12, 1912, in Columbus, Mississippi to a sharecropper of black, Indian and Irish descent, and a mother who was a full-blooded Iroquois Indian. At age four his family moved to St. Louis, where he was raised by his grandmother and father after his mother died. It was on the streets of St. Louis that young Henry learned to defend himself from gangs and first displayed a natural affinity for fighting.

While Henry dreamed of going to college to become a doctor he was forced to become the head of the household at the young age of 18 when his father’s health deteriorated and he was no longer able to work. Turning to boxing, Henry failed to qualify for the upcoming Olympics, and began his professional boxing career in 1931 under the name of Melody Jackson. He later adopted the last name of a friend, and changed his last name to Armstrong.

Sources: 
www.henryarmstrong.net; www.hbhof.com/armstrong.htm; http://coxscorner.tripod.com/armstrong.html; Bert Sugar, 1982 ‘100 Years of Boxing’, 2002 Ring Magazine Annual (Vol. 2).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Julian, Hubert Fauntleroy (1897-1983)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Hubert Fauntleroy Julian, nicknamed the Black Eagle, was born in Trinidad on January 5th, 1897. In 1922, when he was 25 years old, he flew over parades in support of Marcus Garvey. He subsequently took flying lessons from Air Service, Inc., and purchased a plane to fly to Africa. After flying to Roosevelt airfield, when he attempted to depart in July 1924, the plane crashed and burned. He survived and spent the next month in a Long Island hospital. In 1929, he did succeed in a Trans-Atlantic flight two years later than Charles Lindberg.

Sources: 
Elliot Bastien and Sandra Bernard-Bastien, World Class Trinidad & Tobago: An Area of Abundance—Profiles of Performance (Sekani Publications: Port of Spain, 2006); www.worldclasstnt.com [under construction].
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historians

Gloster, Hugh (1911-2002)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Hugh Gloster (left) with Student Frank T. Bozeman at Morehouse Graduation, 1986
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Dorothy Granberry, Dr. Hugh Gloster Interview, Atlanta, GA 1990; William Banks, Black Intellectuals: Race and Responsibility in American Life  (New York: W.W. Norton, 1996).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Bridges Research

Robinson, Ida Bell (1891-1946)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Ida Bell Robinson grew up in Pensacola, Florida, the seventh of twelve children born to Robert and Annie Bell. After her conversion as a teenager at an evangelistic street meeting, she led prayer services in homes. In 1909 she married Oliver Robinson, and they soon relocated to Philadelphia for better employment opportunities. She did street evangelism in Philadelphia under the auspices of The United Holy Church of America. In 1919, the church ordained her and appointed her to a small mission church, where she was successful in pastoral ministry and itinerant evangelism.

Sources: 
Priscilla Pope-Levison, Turn the Pulpit Loose: Two Centuries of American Women Evangelists (2004).
Affiliation: 
Seattle Pacific University

Johnson, James Weldon (1871-1938)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

James Weldon Johnson, composer, social critic, and civil rights activist, was born of Bahamian immigrant parents in Jacksonville, Florida on June 17, 1871.   Instilled with the value of education by his father, James, a waiter, and teacher-mother, Helen, Johnson excelled at the Stanton School in Jacksonville. In 1889 he entered Atlanta University, graduating in 1894.  

In 1896, Johnson began to study law in Thomas Ledwith’s law office in Jacksonville, Florida.  In 1898, Ledwith considered  Johnson ready to take the Florida bar exam.  After a grueling two hour exam, Johnson was given a pass and admitted to the bar.  One examiner expressed his anguish by bolting from the room and stating “Well, I can’t forget he’s a nigger; and I’ll be damned if I’ll stay here to see him admitted.” In 1898, Johnson became one of only a handful of black attorneys in the state. 

Johnson, however, did not practice law.  Instead he became principal at the Stanton School in Jacksonville where he improved the curriculum and added ninth and tenth grades.  Johnson also started the first black newspaper, The Daily American, in Jacksonville.  With his brother Rosamond, who had been trained at the England Conservatory of Music, James W. Johnson’s interests turned to songwriting for Broadway.

Sources: 
Eugene Levy, James Weldon Johnson: Black Leader, Black Voice (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973); Herbert Aptheker, “DuBois on James Weldon Johnson,” Journal of Negro History, 58 (July 1967); James W. Johnson, Black Manhattan (New York: Da Capo, 1991); James W. Johnson, Along This Way (New York: Penguin Books, 1990); V.P. Franklin, Living Our Stories, Telling Our Truths: Autobiography and the Making of the African-American Intellectual Tradition (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Fresno

McAllister, Jane Ellen (1899-1996)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Dr. Jane McAllister was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, on October 24, 1899. Born into a time of overt racism that severely limited black opportunity, McAllister’s family managed to escape poverty’s grip and join the small percentage of middle-class African American families in early 20th century Mississippi. Her father’s work as a mail carrier, and her mother’s position as a school teacher, enabled the McAllister family to avoid the cyclic economic problems of the occupations that most African Americans were forced to pursue like sharecropping and domestic service.

Dr. McAllister flourished in school, graduating from high school at age 15 and from Talladega College in Alabama in 1919 where she became the youngest Talladega graduate by earning her degree at the age of 19. This groundbreaking pattern continued into 1929 when Jane Ellen McAllister became the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. from Columbia University. From there, Dr. McAllister chose to share her wealth of knowledge with others, teaching psychology and education at Southern University, Grambling State, Fisk College, Virginia State and Dillard among others until her retirement in 1970. Dr. McAllister died in January 1996, at the age of 96.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle University

Rogers, J. A. (1880-1966)

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

Self-trained historian, novelist, and journalist Joel Augustus Rogers spent most of his life debunking pseudo-scientific and racist depictions of people of African ancestry while popularizing the history of persons of black people around the world. Rogers was born September 6, 1883 in Negril, Jamaica. He and his siblings were raised, after their mother passed, by their schoolteacher father, Samuel John Rogers.  Rogers emigrated to the United States in 1906 and Joel Rogers became a naturalized citizen in 1917.  Rogers lived briefly in Chicago before eventually settling in New York City.  

Sources: 
W. Burghardt Turner, “J.A. Rogers: Portrait of An Afro-American Historian,” Black Scholar (January-February, 1978); Malik Simba, “Joel Augustus Rogers: Negro Historian in History, Time, and Space,” Afro-Americans in New York Life and History, vol. 30, no.2 , July 2006; Thabiti Asukile, "Joel Augustus Rogers: Black International Journalism, Archival Research, And Black Print Culture," Journal of African American History (Special Issue "To Be Heard in Black and White: Historical Perspective on Black Print Culture"), Vol. 95, Nos. 3-4 (Summer-Fall 2010); Thabiti Asukile, "J. A. Rogers on ‘Jazz at Home’ and Jazz in Paris during the Jazz Age,” The Black Scholar: Journal of Black Studies and Research Black Issues, Vol. 40, No. 3 (Fall 2010).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University-Fresno

Dancy, John Campbell, Jr. (1888-1968)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

John Campbell Dancy, Jr.

Sources: 
John C. Dancy, Sands Against the Wind: The Memories of John C. Dancy (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1966); Richard W. Thomas, Life for Us is What We Make It: Building Black Community in Detroit, 1915-1945 (Indiana UP, 1992); Victoria W. Wolcott, Remaking Respectability: African-American Women in Interwar Detroit (University of North Carolina Press, 2001).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Rochester

Hope, John (1868-1936)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
 John Hope, a native of Augusta, Georgia, began his illustrious career in 1894 as a faculty member at Roger Williams University in Nashville, Tennessee where he taught natural science, Latin and Greek.  He also coached the school’s football team.  This future President of Morehouse College graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.  He was much loved and respected by his students as evidenced by at least one of them honoring him by nam
Sources: 
Ridgley Torrence, The Story of John Hope (New York: Macmillan Company, 1948); Dorothy Granberry, “John Hope” The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture (Nashville: Rutledge Hill Press, 1993); John Hope Archives, Morehouse University Library, Atlanta, Georgia.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Bridges Research

Cotter, Joseph Seamon, Sr. (1861-1949)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 Joseph Seamon Cotter, Sr., the father of poet-playwright Joseph Seamon, Jr., distinguished himself as a playwright, poet, author, and educator. Cotter was born in Bardstown, Kentucky in 1861, but was reared in Louisville. He was one of the earliest African American playwrights to be published. His father, Michael J. Cotter, was of Scots-Irish ancestry, and his mother, Martha Vaughn, was an African American. Cotter, Sr. married Maria F.

Sources: 
Anthony Duane Hill, ed., An Historical Dictionary of African American Theater (Prevessin, France: Scarecrow Press, 2008).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Ohio State University

Granger, Lester Blackwell (1896-1976)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Lester Blackwell Granger was a social worker and civil rights and labor rights activist best known for leading the National Urban League (NUL) from 1941 to 1961.  Granger was born on September 16, 1896, in Newport News, Virginia, to William “Ran” Randolph and Mary Louise Granger; William, a Barbadian immigrant, was a medical doctor.  Determined to live in a racially-tolerant community where educational opportunities were available to black people, the Grangers raised Lester and his five brothers in Newark, New Jersey.  Lester Granger earned a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College in 1918 after serving in the US Army as artillery lieutenant during World War I.
Sources: 
http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/about/blogs/african-american-studies-beinecke-library/2010/09/01/lester-blackwell-granger-papers; http://ivy50.com/blackhistory/story.aspx?sid=2/5/2007; http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/encyclopedia/enc_granger_lester_blackwell/; Susan Altman and Joel Kemelhor, The Encyclopedia of African-American Heritage (New York: Checkmark Books, 2001); Kwame Anthony Appiah, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African American Experience (New York: Perseus, 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Cotter, Joseph Seamon, Jr. (1895-1919)

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

John Seamon Cotter, Jr., a talented playwright, journalist, and poet, was born and reared in Louisville, Kentucky. The son of journalist, playwright, poet, teacher and community developer Joseph Seamon Cotter, Sr., the younger Cotter’s education began with his sister Florence Olivia teaching him to read. Cotter graduated from Louisville’s Central High School in 1911, where his father was the school principal and his teacher. His mother, Maria F. Cox, was also a teacher at the school. Cotter attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee for two years before being stricken with tuberculosis, a disease that earlier claimed the life of his sister Florence in 1914.  

Joseph Cotter, Jr., completed a collection of one-act plays and poetry during the last seven years of his life. He also wrote one play, On the Fields of France, a protest play in one act which was published in 1920 after his death.  It followed the last hours of two American army officers, one black, one white, both mortally wounded, who ultimately died hand in hand on a battlefield in northern France wondering why they could not have lived in peace and friendship in the United States.  Cotter wrote two other plays, The White Folks’ Nigger and Caroling Dusk which were never published.  Cotter died of tuberculosis in Louisville in 1919 at the age of 24.

Sources: 
Anthony Duane Hill, ed., An Historical Dictionary of African American Theater (Prevessin, France: Scarecrow Press, 2008).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Ohio State University

Clark, Kenneth (1914- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Kenneth and Mamie Clark
Image Ownership: Public domain
In the late 1930s sociologist Kenneth Clark and his wife and collaborator, Mamie Phipps Clark, began to study the self-image of black children. The Clarks were among the first to describe the “harm and benefit” thesis in the area of civil rights and desegregation law.  Attorney Thurgood Marshall and the National association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) legal team used the Clark’s social science studies known as the “doll tests” in numerous legal challenges to the Jim Crow system of segregation. 
Sources: 
David J. Amor, Americana: Forced Justice: School Desegregation and the Law (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995); The African American Almanac, 9th ed. (Detroit: Thomson-Gale, 2003); The Encyclopedia of the African American Experience, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); Judson Knight, Encyclopedia of Psychology, 2001.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Los Angeles Community College

Smith, Kirke (1865-1935)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Kirke Smith was born July 22, 1865 in Montgomery County, Virginia. He graduated from Berea College in1894 and earned an M.A. degree from the University of Michigan.  In 1894, Smith became the Superintendent of the Lebanon Colored Schools and the following year, Superintendent of Principals in the Lebanon, Kentucky school system, a post he held for fifteen years.  During this period he also became an ordained minister.

On January 12, 1904, Democratic representative Carl Day, of Breathitt, Kentucky, introduced House Bill 25, “An Act to prohibit white and colored persons from attending the same school.”  The so-called Day Bill was aimed at Berea College since separate public schools for blacks and whites had been the law in the state for some time. After a  lawsuit to defend its interracial educational policy was defeated in the courts, Berea raised funds to establish a new school for blacks. From 1910-1912, the trustees employed Rev. Kirke Smith and Rev. James Bond, the grandfather of Julian Bond, to raise money for the new school which would be named Lincoln Institute.

Sources: 
John A. Harding, Fifty Years of Segregation: Black Higher Education in Kentucky, 1904-1934 (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1997); Eric A. Smith, "Discovering History Through Genealogy: Kirke Smith and the Founding of Lincoln Institute,” Afro-American Genealogical & Historical Society of Chicago Newsletter  23:4 (June 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Afro-American Genealogical & Historical Society of Chicago

Hughes, Langston (1902-1967)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Poet, novelist, playwright, librettist, essayist, and translator, Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri in 1902. His parents separated before Langston was born and he spent his preadolescent years with his maternal grandmother in Lawrence, Kansas. After his grandmother’s death, Langston settled down in Cleveland, with his mother, his stepfather, and younger brother.

Hughes was fiercely independent from an early age. When his mother and brother followed his stepfather, who occasionally left the family in search of higher wages, Langston decided to stay in Cleveland by himself in order to finish high school. He also had a volatile relationship with his father, a lawyer and general manager of an American company in Mexico. Rather than acquiesce to his domineering father’s demands that he pursue a degree in mining engineering, Langston moved to New York and enrolled in Columbia University. Hughes quit Columbia after a year and decided to acquire a more worldly education. In 1922, he began a four-year stint as a ship crewman, during which he traveled to, and spent considerable time in, western Africa, Paris, and Italy. In 1926, he enrolled in Lincoln University and earned a liberal arts degree in 1930.
Sources: 
Faith Berry, Langston Hughes: Before and Beyond Harlem (Westport, Ct.: L. Hill, 1983); Nathan Huggins, Harlem Renaissance (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971); Arnold Rampersad, The Life of Langston Hughes 2 vols. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986-88).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Texas at Austin

Hampton, Lionel L. (1908-2002)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Billie Holiday and Lionel Hampton
at Metropolitan Opera House
Courtesy of ©Bettmann-Corbis

Lionel Leo Hampton, bandleader, jazz percussionist and vibraphonist, was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1908.  Hampton and his mother Gertrude moved to Chicago after the death of his father, Charles Hampton, a promising pianist and singer, in World War I.   At the age of 15 Hampton began his career as a drummer in the Les Hite Band.  The band relocated to Los Angeles in the late 1920s and became a regular attraction at the city’s Cotton Club. 

During a 193o recording session at NBC studios in Los Angeles Louis Armstrong and Hampton teamed to record jazz albums featuring Hampton on the vibraphone which would become his signature instrument.  By the mid-1930s the “King of Vibes” joined the Benny Goodman Orchestra which was one of the first racially integrated jazz acts.  By the 1940s Hampton left Goodman to form the Lionel Hampton Orchestra. 

Sources: 
Lionel Hampton with James Haskins, Hamp: An Autobiography (1989); Frank Tirro, Jazz: A History (1993); http://www.uidaho.edu/hampton/bio.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Fresno

Wright, Louis T. (1891-1952)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain
Louis Tompkins Wright, medical researcher, war hero and political activist, was born to former slaves in La Grange, Georgia.  He earned a bachelor’s degree from Atlanta’s Clark University in 1911 and a medical degree from Harvard University Medical School in 1915.  Wright’s activism began at Harvard where he missed three weeks of medical school to join NAACP picket lines protesting The Birth of a Nation.  Wright returned to his studies, however, and graduated fourth in his class in 1915.

Louis Wright served in France as a physician and Captain in the U.S. Army in World War I.  There he successfully implemented life-saving treatments and suffered exposure to poison gas that led to both a Purple Heart and a lifelong respiratory illness.  Upon his return to the United States he moved to New York City where in 1919 he became the first African American appointed to the surgical staff at Harlem Hospital.  Wright protested the dilapidated conditions of the hospital, raised its patient care standards, improved the professionalism of its staff, and brought the institution to national eminence.  He began publication of the scholarly Harlem Hospital Bulletin and established the hospital’s medical library in 1934. During the 1930s Wright authored columns for the NAACP magazine Crisis, where he challenged the contention that biological factors caused African Americans to harbor more syphilis and infectious diseases than the general population. 

Sources: 
“Louis Tompkins Wright,” in W. Augustus Low & Virgin A. Cliff, Encyclopedia of Black America (New York: Da Capo Press, 1981); “History of Medicine: The Wright Stuff,” American Legacy Magazine 10:3 (Fall 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

League of Struggle for Negro Rights (1930-1936)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History

The League of Struggle for Negro Rights (LSNR) was the primary civil rights organization of the American Communist Party (CP) during the early-to-mid 1930s. Founded in St. Louis in 1930 after the dissolution of the American Negro Labor Congress, the group established regional branches throughout the nation, but was most active in Harlem and Chicago, Illinois. B.D. Amis was the LSNR's first General Secretary, followed by Harry Haywood. In 1934, Langston Hughes was appointed as honorary president and served in that capacity until the organization disbanded in 1936.

Sources: 
Mark Soloman, The Cry Was Unity:  Communists and African Americans, 1917-1936 (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Anderson, Marian (1897-1993)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Raymond Arsenault, The Sound of Freedom: Marian Anderson, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Concert that Awakened America (New York: Bloomsbury Press_, 2009); Russell Freedman, The Voice that Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights (New York: Clarion Books, 2004)
Affiliation: 
University of Kansas

Bethune, Mary Jane McLeod (1875-1955)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership:  Public Domain
Mary McLeod Bethune was a prominent educator, political leader, and social visionary whose early twentieth century activism for black women and civil rights laid the foundation for the modern civil rights era.  Inspired by leaders such as Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Josephine St. Pierre-Ruffin, Bethune mobilized African American women’s organizations to challenge racial injustice and demand first class citizenship.
Sources: 
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/eleanor/peopleevents/pande05.html; http://www.nps.gov/mamc/historyculture/people_marymcleodbethune.htm; Mary McLeod Bethune, Mary McLeod Bethune: Building a Better World, Essays and Selected Documents (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001); John Hope Franklin (ed.), Black Leaders of the Twentieth Century (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982), 191-220; Darlene Clark Hine (ed.), The African-American Odyssey (New York: Prentice Hall, 2011).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Reynolds, Melvin Jay “Mel” (1952- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Politician, scholar and professor, Mel Reynolds was born on January 8, 1952, in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, to parents J.J. and Essie May Reynolds.  Reynolds attended John Marshall High School on the Westside of Chicago where he developed impressive academic credentials.  He then enrolled in Chicago City College and later completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Philosophy from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana in 1974. In 1979, Reynolds won a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University in England. Reynolds also graduated from Roosevelt University in Chicago, were he became a political science professor. While on the faculty he created the Community Economic Development Education Foundation.

Reynolds, a rising star in Illinois’ Second Congressional District, defeated incumbent Congressman Gus Savage in 1992 and served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 1995.

In August of 1994, Reynolds was indicted for having sex with Beverly Heard, a 16 year old campaign volunteer.  In November of 1994, Reynolds, who claimed that the charges were racially motivated, was re-elected.  However, he was later convicted on 12 counts of sexual assault, obstruction of justice and solicitation of child pornography. Groups such as the National Organization for Women called for the voluntary resignation of Reynolds. On October 1, 1995, he resigned his seat.

Sources: 
Clinton Commutation Grants, January 2001, University of Pittsburgh Law School; Interview with Mel Reynolds, Chicago Reporter, January 2001.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Afro-American Genealogical & Historical Society of Chicago

Larsen, Nella (1891-1963)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain
Nella Larsen, nurse, librarian, and, writer, was born Nella Marie Larsen in Chicago in 1891 to a Danish mother and a black West Indian father.  Knowing little about her father after his death when she was two years old, she was reared in the home with her mother, remarried to a Danish man, and her half-sister.  Larsen attended school in all white environments in Chicago until 1906-1907, when she moved to Nashville, Tennessee to attend high school at Fisk University’s Normal School.  This was her introduction to a predominantly black environment.

After completing the year at Fisk, Larsen journeyed to Denmark where she spent three years (1909-1912) with relatives and audited courses from the University of Copenhagen.  Returning to the United States, she entered a three-year course of study at Lincoln Hospital Training School for Nurses in New York City.  Larsen later practiced nursing from 1915 to 1921 at John A. Andrew Hospital and Nurse Training School in Alabama and the City Department of Health in New York. On May 3, 1919, Larsen married Dr. Elmer Samuel Imes, a black physicist who became the chairman of the Physics Department at Fisk University.

Sources: 
Thadius M. Davis, “Nella Larsen,”  Afro-American Writers From the Harlem Renaissance to 1940, in Trudier Harris-Lopez and Thadius M. Davis, eds.,  Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol.  51, Literary Resource Center (Detroit: Gale Research, 1987); Shelia Smith McKay, “Nella Larsen: Overview,”  in Jim Kamp, ed.,  Reference Guide to American Literature, 3rd edition (Detroit: St. James Press, 1994); Jacquelyn Y. McLendon, “Nella Larsen,” in Valerie Smith, Lea Baechler, and A. Walton Litz, eds.,  African American Writers (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1991).
Affiliation: 
Jefferson State Community College, Alabama

Cox, Oliver Cromwell (1901-1974)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, to a middle-class family, Oliver Cromwell Cox was one of nine children of Virginia Blake and William Raphael Cox.  Influenced by his father, who was determined that his children further their education, Oliver traveled to the United States at the age of 18 with the aim of becoming either a doctor or a lawyer.   In 1929 he completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Law from Northwestern University.  He had planned to return to Trinidad to live but was stricken with poliomyelitis and would walk with crutches for the rest of his life, which he spent in the United States.   Undeterred by his physical condition, he earned a M.A. in economics and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago before holding professorships at Wiley College, the Tuskegee Institute, Lincoln University, and Wayne State University  where he amassed a prolific record of scholarship and a reputation as a  demanding and challenging pedagogue.

Sources: 
Herbert M. Hunter and Sameer Y. Abraham, Race, Class, and the World System: The Sociology of Oliver C. Cox (New York, NY: Monthly Review Press, 1987).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Los Angeles

Law, Oliver (1900-1937)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
William Loren Katz and Marc Crawford, The Lincoln Brigade: A Picture History (New York: Apex Press, 2001); William Loren Katz, “Fighting Another Civil War,” American Legacy (Winter 2002); http://www.alba-valb.org/curriculum/index.php?module=2
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Egypt, Ophelia Settle (1903-1984)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

In the late 1920s, Ophelia Settle Egypt conducted some of the first and finest interviews with former slaves, setting the stage for the Works Progress Administration’s (WPA) massive project ten years later. Born Ophelia Settle in 1903, she was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and a researcher for the black sociologist Charles Johnson at Fisk University in Nashville.

Over the course of her career Settle helped expose the infamous Tuskegee study of syphilis among black sharecroppers, and played a leading role in Charles Johnson’s "Shadow of the Plantation" study of the sharecropper system. As the Depression wore on, she left Fisk to assist with relief efforts in St. Louis. She accepted a scholarship from the National Association for the Prevention of Blindness to study medicine and sociology at Washington University, where, as a black woman, she was required to receive all her lessons from a tutor. She also became head of social services at a hospital in New Orleans, and five years later conducted research for James Weldon Johnson, about whom she wrote a children's book. Egypt was a social worker in southeast Washington, D.C., and for eleven years was the director of the community’s first Planned Parenthood clinic, which was named for her in 1981.

Ophelia Settle Egypt died in Washington, D.C. in 1984.She was 81.

 

Sources: 
Ann Allen Shockley Interview with Mrs. Ophelia Settle Egypt conducted December 12, 1972 at Mrs. Egypt’s home in Washington, D.C., Fisk University Oral History Program, 1972; www.naswfoundation.org/pioneers/e/egypt.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

DePriest, Oscar (1871-1951)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
S. Davis Day, “Herbert Hoover and Racial Politics: The De Priest Incident.” Journal of Negro History 65 (Winter 1980); Charles Branham, “Oscar DePriest,” The Encyclopedia of Chicago (Chicago: The Newberry Library, 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Robeson, Paul (1898-1976)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Paul Robeson is best known as a world famous athlete, singer, actor, and advocate for the human rights of people throughout the world. Over the course of his career Robeson combined all of these activities into a lifelong quest for racial justice. He used his deep baritone voice to communicate the problems and progress associated with black culture and community, and to assist the labor and social movements of his time. He sang for multiracial and multiethnic peace and justice in twenty-five languages throughout the United States, Europe, and Africa.
Robeson was born in Princeton, New Jersey on April 9, 1898, to Reverend William Drew Robeson, the pastor of Princeton’s Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church, and Maria Louisa Bustill Robeson.  His mother was from a prominent local mixed-race family and his father was a former slave who escaped from a plantation before the Civil War. Robeson was the youngest of four children.

Robeson’s mother died when he was six and his father struggled to care for the two youngest children. By 1912 the family had moved to Somerville, New Jersey where the young Robeson already was a standout athlete and stage performer.  He also preached in his father’s church.
Sources: 
Paul Robeson, Here I Stand (New York: Beacon Press, 1958); Martin Duberman, Paul Robeson (New York: New Press, 2005); Paul Robeson Jr., The Undiscovered Paul Robeson, An Artist’s Journey, 1898-1939 (New York: Wiley, 2001); Paul Robeson Jr., The Undiscovered Paul Robeson, Quest for Freedom, 1939-1976 (New York: Wiley, 2010).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Arizona State University

Murray, Pauli (1910-1985)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 

Pauli Murray, Song in a Weary Throat: An American Pilgrimage (New York: Harper and Row, 1987); Elaine Sue Caldbeck, “A Religious Life of Pauli Murray: Hope and Struggle,” Ph.D. dissertation, Northwestern University, 2000; http://www.wvu.edu/~lawfac/jelkins/lp-2001/murray.html; http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAmurrayA.htm

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Ellison, Ralph (1913-1994)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born on March 1, 1913 in Oklahoma City, Ralph Waldo Ellison entered the world with a name that almost presumed for him a literary career. But his road to and in literature would be torturous. Many of the initial comforts enjoyed by Ellison vanished when his father died in 1916. His mother worked long and hard to insure that Ralph Ellison had an education, but the family existed in precarious economic circumstances. When an opportunity arose for Ralph to escape from home, he jumped at it, enrolling in 1933 as a music student at Tuskegee Institute. While Ellison learned much about music at the school, he also spent an immense amount of time and energy devouring modern literature at the school library.

Like many young black men with literary aspirations, Ellison headed to Harlem in 1936, to make it as a writer. Possessed with tremendous confidence, Ellison quickly made friends with some of the leading lights in the African American literary constellation. During the period of the 1930s, Ellison was associated with the Communist Party, when that organization appeared for many African Americans as a natural ally in the fight for civil rights and as supportive of black writers. Like his friend and initial mentor Richard Wright, Ellison came to chafe at the political discipline imposed by the party, and he had by the 1940s separated himself from it.
Sources: 
Arnold Rampersad, Ralph Ellison: A Biography (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007); George Cotkin, Existential America (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003); Kenneth W. Warren, So Black and So Blue: Ralph Ellison and the Occasion of Criticism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003); Jerry Gafio Watts, Heroism and the Black Intellectual: Ralph Ellison, Politics, and Afro-American Intellectual Life (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Cal Poly

Lawrence, Jacob & Gwendolyn Knight

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Jacob Lawrence, born in 1917 in Atlantic City, N.J., moved to New York City at age thirteen.  Gwendolyn Knight, born in 1913, in Barbados, West Indies, arrived in the U.S. at age seven, and spent her first years in St. Louis.  She arrived in New York City on the threshold of her teens.  Knight and Lawrence met in the mid 1930s in Charles Alston’s Harlem Community Art Center, a place where young artists found mentors and a compatible working space.  During the late 1930s Jacob and Gwen worked with artist/sculptor Augusta Savage. The sculptor played a key role in bringing Jacob Lawrence and Gwen into the WPA program which established their lives as professional artists.  In 1940 Jacob Lawrence was awarded a Julius Rosenwald Fellowship to complete his Migration of the Negro Series.  Gwen continued to work with Augusta Savage but she also devoted time to help Jacob prepare the boards (for the Migration Series) in his studio at 33 West 125th street, an unheated space he shared with a number of artists including painter Romare Beardon and writer Claude McKay.
Sources: 
Michelle DuBois and Peter T. Nesbett, Jacob Lawrence Catalogue Raisonne (University of Washington Press, 2000);  Conkelton/Thomas, Never Late for Heaven: The Art of Gwen Knight Lawrence, 2003, www.Jacobandgwenlawrence.org.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Artist and Art Historian

Somerville, John Alexander (1882-1973)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John Alexander Somerville emigrated to the United States from Jamaica around 1900.  He and his wife, Vada Watson Somerville, were both graduates of the University of Southern California School of Dentistry.  Graduating with honors in 1907, he was the first black graduate, and his wife was later the first black woman graduate.  In 1914, only three years after its founding in New York City, New York, the Los Angeles branch of the NAACP was created at the home of John and Vada Somerville.  His first major business venture, the Somerville Hotel, was a principal African American enterprise on Central Avenue, in the heart of the Los Angeles African American community.  When it opened in 1928 it was one of the most upscale black hotels in the United States, and counted a number of African American celebrities among its guests.
Sources: 
John A. Somerville Biographical Sketch: http://www.jamaicaculture.org/; Douglas Flamming, Bound for Freedom: Black Los Angeles in Jim Crow America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005) 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Montgomery College (Maryland)

Washington, Kenneth S. ["Kenny"] (1918-1971)

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

Kenneth S. Washington was one of the first black college football stars on the West Coast and one of two African Americans to reintegrate the National Football League (NFL) when he joined the Los Angeles Rams in 1946. His stardom as a running back began at Abraham Lincoln High School in his native Los Angeles. After graduation, Washington played as a tailback at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), from 1937 to 1939. This was a time when only a dozen blacks were numbered collectively among players on white college football teams—all outside the South. At UCLA, Washington found himself teamed with three other African American football players—athletic greats Jackie Robinson, Woody Strode, and with one other who was a substitute player—an unprecedented number of black athletes on a single team. Despite leading the nation in total offense in 1939 and rushing for 1,914 yards in his college career, Washington was snubbed as contender for first team All-American, the postseason East-West Shrine Game, and the NFL during the peak of his career.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Bridges, Leon (1932- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Leon Bridges is recorded as the founder of the second African American-owned firm in Seattle. He was born on August 18, 1932 in Los Angeles, California. In high school he was told by a counselor that he couldn't become an architect because he was black, and then while a student in high school he met his mentor, famed African American architect, Paul Williams.

While a student at UCLA, Bridges was drafted into the military in 1952, and was stationed in Japan. While a soldier, he continued to study architecture. He earned his bachelor's of architecture degree from the University of Washington in 1960.

Bridges began working in Seattle architecture firms while still a student at the University of Washington and received his first job in 1956 as a draftsman. Bridges worked for the architecture firm Gotteland and Kocarski and designed Catholic churches and buildings in Seattle.

After becoming a registered architect in 1962, Bridges formed his own firm, Leon Bridges AIA in 1963. His first project was designing a building for the Seattle YMCA. In 1966, he formed a partnership with colleague Edward Burke and they worked together until 1972 when Bridges relocated his firm to Baltimore.
Sources: 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Bankhead, Lester Oliver (1912-1997)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Lester Oliver Bankhead was among a handful of pioneering black architects in Los Angeles in the 1950s.  Although he faced the racial prejudice of his time, he was able to obtain work from Hollywood celebrities, such as actor Lorne Greene of the television series Bonanza; Kelly Lang, a well-known Los Angeles news anchor; and H.B. Barnum, noted music producer and arranger for Frank Sinatra and Smokey Robinson & the Miracles.

Lester Bankhead, the eldest of six children, was born on April 20, 1912, in Union, South Carolina.  His parents were John Hayes Bankhead and Pearl Eugenia Eskew.  Bankhead had hoped to attend Tuskegee Institute, but the lack of financial support forced him to seek training elsewhere.  He wrote to Voorhees College in Denmark, South Carolina, and was later enrolled in 1937.  Bankhead stated that he graduated from Voorhees with a degree in agriculture and a certificate in carpentry in 1941.  

After graduating from college, Bankhead was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942.  Upon completion of basic training his unit was ordered to assist in the liberation of North Africa.  After being discharged from the Army, Bankhead moved Los Angeles and settled within the Central Avenue community.  He attended the Los Angeles City College, Otis Art Institute, and Los Angeles Trade Technical College.  Bankhead worked various jobs and eventually began his own practice in the 1950s.
Sources: 
http://www.nilekingdoms.org/bio.htm ;Interview with Lester Bankhead by Wesley Henderson, Los Angeles, California, 1992, University of California at Los Angeles Oral History Program; Wendel Eckford, “Lester O. Bankhead,” in African American Architects: A Biographical Dictionary 1865-1945, Dreck Spurlock Wilson, Editor (New York, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Los Angeles City College

Ragsdale, Lincoln J., Sr. (1926-1995)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Dr. Lincoln J. Ragsdale, Sr. was a leading activist in the battle for civil rights in Arizona.  After graduating from Tuskegee flying school in Alabama in 1945, he relocated to Luke Air Field in Litchfield Park, Arizona, becoming one of the first black pilots to serve at that installation.  

Ragsdale believed that it was his “Tuskegee experience” that emboldened him and gave him direction.  “It gave me a whole new self-image,” he maintained.  He “remembered when we [Tuskegee Airmen] used to walk through black neighborhoods right after the war, and little kids would run up to us and touch our uniforms.  ‘Mister, can you really fly an airplane’ they’d ask.  The Tuskegee airmen gave blacks a reason to be proud.”  Their service also gave the 2.5 million black veterans of World War II incentive to believe that they could achieve much more in their communities and the nation.
Sources: 
Matthew C. Whitaker, Race Work: The Rise of Civil Rights in the Urban West  (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005); Lincoln Ragsdale, Sr., interview by Mary Melcher, April 8, 1990, Phoenix.  Tape recording. Arizona Historical Foundation, Hayden Library, Arizona State University, Tempe; Lincoln Ragsdale, Sr. and Eleanor Ragsdale. Interview by Dean E. Smith, April 4 and November 3, 1990, Phoenix. Transcript. Arizona Collection, Hayden Library, Arizona State University, Tempe.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Arizona State University

White, Lulu B.(1900-1957)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Lulu Belle Madison White, civil rights activist in the 1940s and 1950s, devoted most of her adult life to the struggle against Jim Crow in Texas.  She campaigned for the right to vote, for equal pay for equal work, and for desegregation of public facilities.  

Born in 1900 in Elmo, Texas to Henry Madison, a farmer, and Easter Madison, a domestic worker, Lulu Belle Madison White received her early education in the public schools of Elmo and Terrell, Texas.  She graduated from Prairie View College where she received a bachelor’s degree in English in 1928. After marrying Julius White and teaching school for nine years, White resigned her post to devote full time service to the Texas National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in its campaign to eliminate the state’s all-white Democratic primary.
Sources: 
Merline Pitre, In Struggle against Jim Crow: Lulu B. White and the NAACP 1900-1957 (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas Southern University

Sul-Te-Wan, Madame (Nellie Conley) 1873-1959

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Madame Sul-Te-Wan was born on September 12, 1873 as Nellie Conley in Louisville, Kentucky where her widowed mother worked as a laundress.  Madame Sul-Te-Wan was a pioneering stage and film actress who became one of the most prominent black performers in Hollywood during the silent film era.  Her career spanned more than seventy years and she is best known as the first African American actress contracted to appear in D.W. Griffith’s groundbreaking and racist cinematic epic, Birth of a Nation (1915).    

Madame Sul-Te-Wan’s interest in performing was awakened when she delivered laundry to Louisville’s Buckingham Theater where the white actresses who were her mother’s customers often invited young Nellie in to watch the shows.  Two white actresses, Mary Anderson and Fanny Davenport, wrangled an audition for her at a talent contest at the Buckingham which the youngster won.  Moving to Cincinnati, Ohio with her mother, Madame Sul-Te-Wan worked in dance troupes and theater companies throughout the East and Midwest billed as “Creole Nell.” She later formed her own musical performing company, The Black Four Hundred. She reconstituted the group as the Rair Back Minstrels and toured the East Coast to great acclaim.
Sources: 
Shirley Ann Wilson Moore, “Your Life is Really Not Just Your Own,” in Lawrence B. De Graaf, Kevin Mulroy, and Quintard Taylor (eds.), Seeking El Dorado: African Americans in California  (Los Angeles: Autry Museum of Western Heritage and Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2001).
Affiliation: 
California State University, Sacramento

Stewarts, McCants (1877-1919)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in Orangeburg, South Carolina on July 11, 1877, McCants Stewart, the eldest son of the southern black leader, T. McCants Stewart, was molded from childhood by his father for leadership in both his family and in the African American community. McCants spent his formative years in Orangeburg, where his parents taught at Claflin University, an historically black college. From there, he, along with his younger brother Gilchrist, attended Tuskegee Institute. After graduating from Tuskegee, McCants enrolled in the University of Minnesota Law School, where he earned a law degree in 1899. He relocated to Portland, Oregon in 1902, against the advice of his father, where he prepared to practice law.
Sources: 
Albert S. Broussard, African American Odyssey: The Stewarts, 1853-1963 (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas A&M University

Streeter, Mel (1931-2006)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Mel Streeter was born in Riverside, California in 1931. He attended the University of Oregon on a basketball scholarship and was the second African-American basketball player at Oregon after declining an offer by legendary basketball coach John Wooden to attend UCLA, because UCLA did not have an architecture program. Streeter graduated with a bachelor's degree in architecture in 1955.

At the University of Oregon, Streeter was enrolled in the United States Army ROTC program. After serving as a second lieutenant in the transport unit at Ft. Lawton from 1955 to 1957,  he stayed in Seattle to raise a family and tried finding work at local architectural firms. He struck out 22 times before he finally found work with Paul Hayden Kirk and Fred Bassetti.

In 1967, Streeter opened the third black-owned architecture firm in Seattle. In the 1970s, he teamed with Paul Dermanis to form Streeter/Dermanis. By the early 1990s, the two partners had split and Streeter created Streeter & Associates Architects. The firm is known for projects such as Auburn City Hall, the Federal Aviation Administration Regional Headquarters and several buildings at Naval Station Everett.
Sources: 
“Architect, 'life mentor' Mel Streeter dead at 75” by Sam Bennett, Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce, June 15, 2006 and “Streeter, pioneering architect, dead at 75” by Athima Chansanchai, Seattle Post Intelligencer, Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Mathews, Meredith (1919-1992)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Meredith Mathews, born in Thomaston, Georgia, received his B.S. degree from Wilberforce University in Ohio and pursued graduate studies at Ohio University.   He began a lifelong association with Young Men’s Christian Association in 1937 as Director of the Spring Street YMCA in Columbus, Ohio and continued his professional career with the organization in Oklahoma City and McAlester, Oklahoma.

Mr. Mathews arrived in Seattle in October 1957, as Executive Director of the East Madison YMCA.  The fund raising and business management skills he had developed in Oklahoma were used to expand services, memberships and programs at the Seattle branch.  A new facility was built in 1965 after a successful Capital Funds Campaign under his leadership.  He was appointed Associate Executive of the Pacific Northwest Area Council of YMCAs in 1965.  In 1971 he was named Regional Executive of the Pacific Region of YMCAs and was responsible for oversight of 126 facilities and programs in 11 states.  He retired after 39 years of outstanding service to the YMCA. 

Community groups as well as the YMCA awarded him for his service and for his leadership.  Hundreds of people considered him a role model and an inspiration to them when they were children.  In December 1993, the YMCA of Greater Seattle Board of Directors named the East Madison YMCA the Meredith Mathews East Madison YMCA.  Two years later his name was placed in the YMCA Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. 
Sources: 
Mary T. Henry, Tribute: Seattle Public Places Named for Black People (Seattle: Statice Press, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Moulin Rouge

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Dancers on stage at the Moulin Rouge, 1955
Image Ownership: Public Domain 

The Moulin Rouge opened in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1955 and became the first racially integrated hotel-casino in the city.  The new casino, built by white businessmen, attracted a sizable number of African American entertainers who realized they no longer would have to stay in segregated rooming houses on the Westside, the city’s black community.  

Sources: 
"Moulin Rouge: A Stroll Down Memory Lane," Videocassette, Emcee: Bob Bailey. Moulin Rouge Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, October 3, 1992; Dave Toplikar, "In ‘sad moment,’ Moulin Rouge demolition moves forward Remaining structures to be razed so historic property can be redeveloped" Las Vegas Sun, 21 July 2010; J. Frank Wright, ed., The Moulin Rouge Hotel: History in the Making (Las Vegas: The Moulin Rouge Preservation Association, 1996).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Brown, Odessa (1920-1969)

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

 

Odessa Brown, for whom the Children’s Clinic in Seattle is named, was born April 30, 1920, in Des Arc, Arkansas.  She moved to Seattle in 1963 after receiving training as a licensed beautician at the C. J. Walker Beauty School in Chicago.  A mother of four, she supported her family by working as Community Organizer for the Central Area Motivation Program beginning in 1965, and as a beautician.  Brown was a staunch supporter of a health care facility for children in the Central Area.  She worked tirelessly in this mostly African American neighborhood to make residents aware of the health needs of the area and to express these needs to the planners at Seattle Model Cities, a federally-funded anti-poverty agency. 

Odessa Brown was a quiet, private person but when she spoke people listened, particularly when it concerned health care for children.  Her efforts persuaded Seattle Model Cities to develop a children’s clinic to serve the city’s Central District.  During her campaign for the clinic, few friends or associates were aware of her battle with leukemia which she had fought during her years as a CAMP community organizer.  Brown died on October 15, 1969.  When the time came to name the children’s clinic after it opened its doors in 1970, there was never a question but that it be named the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic.

Sources: 
Odessa Brown (1920-1969)

Mary T. Henry, Tribute: Seattle Public Places Named for Black People (Seattle: Statice Press, 1997).


Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Logan, Rayford W. (1897-1982)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Leading 20th Century black historian Rayford Whittingham Logan was born on January 7, 1897 in Washington, D.C.  to working class parents,  Arthur C. and Martha Whittingham Logan.   Rayford Logan spent his formative years in Washington, D.C.  While in high school, he was taught by Carter G. Woodson.  A bright student, Logan was honored with a scholarship to Williams College where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1917.  Immediately, he joined the U.S. Army in World War I and like many black veterans of that era, was disillusioned as he witnessed the racism perpetrated against black troops by white officers.  

Sources: 
Kenneth Janken, Rayford W. Logan and the Dilemma of the African-American Intellectual (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press 1993); August Meir and Elliott Rudwick, Black History and the Historical Profession, 1915-1980 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986); Rayford Logan, What the Negro Wants (South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press 1944); Rayford Logan, The Betrayal of the Negro (Cambridge: De Capo 1965), Rayford Logan, “Nat Turner: Fiend or Martyr?” Opportunity 9 (November  1931): 337-39.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Fresno

Wright, Richard (1908-1960)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Michel Fabre, The Unfinished Quest of Richard Wright (New York:  William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1973); James Gregory, The Southern Diaspora (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005); “Richard Wright,” Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 5 (Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Research, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Abbott, Robert Sengstacke (1870-1940)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in 1870 to formerly enslaved parents, Abbott attended Hampton Institute in Virginia and then went on to graduate from Kent Law School (now Chicago-Kent College of Law) in 1899. In May 1905 he started publishing the Chicago Defender. In the early years he personally sold subscriptions to the paper and advertising by going door to door.

The paper attacked racial injustice, particularly lynching in the south. The Defender did not use the words "Negro" or "black" in its pages. Instead, African Americans were referred to as "the Race" and black men and women as "Race men and Race women." Many places in the south effectively banned the paper, especially when, during World War I, Abbott actively tried to convince southern blacks to migrate to the north. Abbott managed to get railroad porters to carry his papers south and he ran articles, editorials, cartoons — even train schedules and job listings — to convince the Defender’s southern readers to come north. The “Great Northern Migration,” as it was called in the Defender, resulted in more than one million blacks migrating north, about 100,000 of them coming to Chicago. The Defender was passed from person to person, and read aloud in barbershops and churches. It is estimated that at its height each paper sold was read by four to five African Americans, putting its readership at over 500,000 people each week.

Sources: 
Roi Ottley, The Lonely Warrior; The Life and Times of Robert S. Abbott (Chicago: Regnery Co., 1955);
Kwame A. Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 1999);
http://www.pbs.org/blackpress/news_bios/defender.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Hayes, Roland (1887-1976)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

The son of former slaves, Roland Hayes, born June 3, 1887 in Curryville, Georgia, became the first African American male to become an internationally acclaimed concert vocalist.  As a youth, he sang in his Baptist church and on street corners for tips before attending Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee where he performed and toured with the famed Fisk Jubilee Singers, an experience that eventually landed him in Boston.  Working odd jobs, by 1915 Hayes had saved up enough money to rent Boston’s Symphony Hall and give his first recital to an audience stunned by his masterfully executed selection of Negro spirituals, lieder and arias by Schubert, Tchaikovsky, and Mozart.  Continuing to act as his own promoter and manager, Hayes next toured the United States and England where in 1920 he performed for King George V and Queen Mary and studied lieder with Sir George Henschel. 

Returning to the United States in 1922, Hayes was flattered by glowing reviews following concerts in Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, and at New York City’s Carnegie Hall.  He took additional voice lessons and there were several more tours of Europe, including a stop in the Soviet Union and a command performance for Queen Mother Maria Christina of Spain.  A rather brutal racial incident in 1942 in Rome, Georgia involving Hayes and his family persuaded him to leave his home in the segregated South.

Sources: 
MacKinley Helm, Angel Mo and Her Son, Roland Hayes (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1942);  American National Biography. Vol. 10. Oxford University Press, 1999. Internet Source: http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?path=/TheArts/Music/Classical/IndividualArtists-2&id=h-1671
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Wilkins, Roy (1901-1981)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership, Public Domain
Roy Wilkins, one of the leading US civil rights activists of the twentieth century, was born in St. Louis, Missouri.  Wilkins’ mother died of tuberculosis when he was four; he and his siblings were then raised by an aunt and uncle in a poor but racially integrated neighborhood in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Sources: 
Sondra Kathryn Wilson, In Search of Democracy: The NAACP Writings of James Weldon Johnson, Walter White, and Roy Wilkins (1920-1977), (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999); National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, “NAACP History: Roy Wilkins,” http://www.naacp.org/pages/naacp-history-Roy-Wilkins, accessed January 1, 2014; Tim Brady, “Remembering Roy Wilkins,” University of Minnesota Alumni Association Newsletter (November-December, 2005), http://www.minnesotaalumni.org/s/1118/content.aspx?sid=1118&gid=1&pgid=1528, accessed January 1, 2014; Roy Wilkins, Standing Fast: The Autobiography of Roy Wilkins, (New York: Da Capo Press, 1994).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Arizona State University

Martin, Sallie (1895-1988)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain
 

A gospel singer and arranger, Sallie Martin was born near Atlanta, Georgia.  In her early twenties she began singing in a church choir in Cleveland, and, by 1929, had moved to Chicago and joined a chorus directed by Thomas Dorsey, later known as the Father of Gospel Music.  With him, in 1933, Martin co-founded the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses.  During the remainder of the 1930s, she served as Dorsey’s song demonstrator and bookkeeper, singing and selling his compositions at churches and conventions.  In some churches Martin encountered resistance, “because, you see, they didn’t like the idea of you having rhythm…but I got saved patting my feet…it would be impossible for me to just absolutely stand still and sing.” 

Sources: 
Darlene Clark Hine, ed. Black Women in America: an Historical Encyclopedia (Brooklyn, NY: Carlson Publishing Inc., 1993); James Standifer,  Interview with Sallie Martin, 1981. African American Music Collection, University of Michigan School of Music, at http://www.umich.edu/~afroammu/standifer/martin.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Whitworth College

Drake, John Gibbs St. Clair (1911-1990)

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

John Gibbs St. Clair Drake was an American anthropologist and sociologist and the founding Director of Stanford University’s African and African American Studies Department in 1968.  Drake was born in Suffolk County, Virginia on January 2, 1911.   Drake’s father immigrated to the United States from the Barbados in 1904, and studied at the Virginia Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, and upon graduation became a Baptist Preacher. Drake’s mother, Bessie, was a devout churchwoman born in Virginia. When his parents divorced Drake moved to live with his father in Staunton, Virginia.  A few years later Drake accompanied his father to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1916 when the Rev. Drake continued ministering to his African American congregants who migrated north.  Drake later returned to Staunton, Virginia to live with his mother, who had separated and later divorced his father in 1924.

Sources: 
George Clement Bond, "A Social Portrait of John Gibbs St. Clair Drake: An American Anthropologist," American Ethnologist (November 1988); Fourteenth Census of the United States, Schedule No. 1.; Kwame Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Los Angeles City College

Robinson, "Sugar" Ray (1921 - 1989)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

“Sugar” Ray Robinson is generally acknowledged as the greatest pound for pound fighter in boxing history. Born Walker Smith, Jr. on May 3, 1921 in Ailey, Georgia, he moved to New York City with his mother at the age of 12. It was there the underage aspiring boxer became known as Ray Robinson when he borrowed an Amateur Athletic Union membership card from a friend by that name in order to qualify for a Golden Gloves tournament. When his future trainer, George Gainford, watched him box for the first time and commented that his style and fluid motions were “sweet as sugar” he became known as “Sugar” Ray Robinson.

An exceptionally gifted fighter, Robinson turned professional in 1940 at age 19 and reeled off 40 consecutive victories before suffering a loss against future middleweight champion, Jake LaMotta, whom he ultimately ended up defeating in four of their five meetings. Astonishingly, Robinson would go on to win 91 successive bouts after his first defeat, including wins over Tommy Bell on December 12, 1946 for the World Welterweight Title, and LaMotta on February 14, 1951 for the World Middleweight Title, before losing the second time in his career to Randy Turpin later that year in London, England.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Dorsey, Thomas A. (1899-1993)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Born into a preacher’s family in rural Georgia, Thomas Dorsey began playing the family organ at age six.  At eight he started writing his own music, and by 13, was playing piano in Atlanta, accompanying some of the famous jazz artists of the day.  In 1916, Dorsey moved to Chicago to study at the Chicago School of Composition and Arranging.  Although his beginnings were in the jazz and blues tradition, he was also influenced by music he heard through his religious affiliations.  His first attempts to combine the two styles, which he called the “gospel song,” were met with resistance, however, because of their heavy blues influence.  “Several times I have been thrown out of some of the best churches,” Dorsey remembered in a 1980 interview.  “But they just didn’t understand.”

Sources: 
Michael W. Harris, The Rise of Gospel Blues (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992); James Standifer, Interview with Thomas Dorsey, 1980. African American Music Collection, University of Michigan School of Music, at http://www.umich.edu/~afroammu/standifer/dorsey.html .
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Whitworth College

Marshall, Thurgood (1908-1993)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Thurgood Marshall was an American civil rights activist with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States.  He is remembered as a lawyer who had one of the highest rates of success before the Supreme Court and the principal counsel in a number of landmark court cases.  Marshall won 29 of the 32 cases he argued before the high court. 

Marshall was born on July 2, 1908 in Baltimore, Maryland, the great-grandson of a slave.  His father, William Marshall, a railroad porter, instilled in him an appreciation of the Constitution at an early age. When young Marshall got in trouble at school he was required to memorize sections of the US Constitution.   His mother, Norma Arica Williams, an elementary school teacher for 25 years, placed great emphasis on his overall scholarship. 

Sources: 
Mary L. Dudziak, Exporting American Dreams: Thurgood Marshall's African Journey ( New York: Oxford University Press, 2008); Carl T. Rowan, Dream Makers, Dream Breakers: The World of Thurgood Marshall ( New York:  Welcome Rain Publishers, 2002);  Mark Tushnet, Making Civil Rights Law: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court, 1956-1961 ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1994);  Mark Tushnet, Making Constitutional Law: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court, 1961-1991 ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1997); Juan Williams, American Revolutionary (Broadway, VA: Broadway Publishers: 2000).  
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle University

Tuskegee Airmen

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Tuskegee Airmen at Army Air Base, Ramitelli,
Italy, March, 1945 (U.S. Army Archives)

Over the past seven decades the exploits of the Tuskegee Airmen have been celebrated, occasionally mythologized, and used as a recent reminder of the patriotism and heroism of African Americans in times of national crisis.  Mounting pressure by black leaders such as union activist A Philip Randolph, NAACP chief executive Walter F. White, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and the black press to increase their presence in all branches of military service eventually persuaded a reluctant War Department to allow for the training of blacks as fighter pilots (initially no training for bomber crews) at an isolated field at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, thus preempting contact with white trainees. 

Sources: 
Von Hardesty, Black Wings: Courageous Stories of African Americans in Aviation and Space History (New York: HarperCollins, 2008);Lawrence P. Scott, Double V: The Civil Rights Struggle of the Tuskegee Airmen (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1994); Charles W. Dryden, A-Train: Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman (Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 1997); http://tuskegeeairmen.org/pages/2/index.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment (1932-1972)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Acting on the presumption that rural southern blacks were generally more promiscuous and syphilitic than whites, and without sufficient funding to establish an effective treatment program for them, doctors working with the Public Health Service (PHS) commenced a multi-year experiment in 1932. Their actions deprived 400 largely uneducated and poor African Americans in Tuskegee, Alabama of proper and reasonable treatment for syphilis, a disease whose symptoms could easily have been relieved with the application of penicillin which became available in the 1940s.  Patients were not told they had syphilis nor were they provided sufficient medication to cure them.  More than 100 men died due to lack of treatment while others suffered insanity, blindness and chronic maladies related to the disease.

Sources: 
James H. Jones, Bad Blood: The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment (New York: Free Press, 1993); Carol A. Heintzelman, “The Tuskegee Syphilis Study and Its Implications for the 21st Century,” at:  http://www.socialworker.com/tuskegee.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Thomas, Vivien (1910-1985)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Described as the “most untalked about, unappreciated, unknown giant in the African American community,” by Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr., Vivien Thomas received an honorary doctorate from Johns Hopkins University in 1976, and while this was undoubtedly memorable, the decades which preceded this moment were equally unforgettable. In Nashville, Tennessee, this high school honors graduate dreamed of becoming a physician. Thomas, a skilled carpenter, saved for seven years to pay for his education. However, he lost his savings during the Great Depression.  Beginning in 1930, he worked at Vanderbilt University's Medical School as a laboratory assistant to Alfred Blalock, a white physician who became a pioneer in cardiac surgery. Blalock mentored Thomas and taught him to conduct experiments.
Sources: 
Vivien Thomas, Pioneering Research in Surgical Shock and Cardiovascular Surgery: Vivien Thomas and His Work with Alfred Blalock (Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985); www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/partners/today/t_views.html
Affiliation: 
University of Kansas

Thurman, Wallace (1902-1934)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Wallace Thurman was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on August 16, 1902 to Beulah and Oscar Thurman.  He was reared by his maternal grandmother, Emma Jackson, who was among the founders of Calvary Baptist Missionary Church—the first black church in Utah.  Young Thurman lived for a time in Boise, Idaho, Chicago, and Omaha before returning to Salt Lake City when he was 12.  Despite his family’s residence in a state politically and culturally dominated by the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormon), Thurman was recognized for his brilliance at West High School and the University of Utah, where he was a pre-med major. In 1922, he transferred to the University of Southern California to study journalism but dropped out without receiving a degree.   While in Los Angeles he worked at the post office where he met aspiring novelist Arna Bontemps. Thurman and Bontemps worked together on The Pacific Defender, a black newspaper, and they started an artistic journal, Outlet.

Relocating to Harlem in 1925, in part as a result of his friendship with Bontemps, Thurman founded a second magazine, The Looking Glass, and became managing editor of The Messenger, the journal of Harlem’s radical Socialists led by Asa Philip Randolph.  Thurman also worked as a ghost writer for the magazine True Story.  In 1928 Thurman became the first black reader at Macaulay, a major New York publishing company.

Sources: 

Langston Hughes, The Big Sea (New York: Hill and Wang, 1940); Eleonore van Notten, Wallace Thurman’s Harlem Renaissance (Atlanta: Rodopi, 1994); Lawrence T. Potter, Jr., “Wallace Thurman,” in Encyclopedia on African American Writers, Wilfred D. Samuels, ed. (New York: Facts on File, 2007).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Utah

White, Walter F. (1893-1955)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Walter Francis White was a leading civil rights advocate of the first half of the twentieth century.  As executive secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from 1931 to 1955, he was one of the major architects of the modern African American freedom struggle.

White, whose blond hair and blue eyes belied his African American ancestry, was born in Atlanta, Georgia on July 1, 1893, the fourth of seven children.  His parents, George W. White, a graduate of Atlanta University and a postal worker, and Madeline Harrison White, a Clark University graduate and school teacher, were solidly middle class at the time when the vast majority of Atlanta blacks were working class.
Sources: 
“Walter White (1893-1955),” The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project (Washington, D.C.: George Washington University), http://www.gwu.edu/~erpapers/teachinger/glossary/white-walter.cfm, accessed January 1, 2014; Walter F. White, A Man Called White: The Autobiography of Walter White (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995); The New Georgia Encyclopedia:
http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-747.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Arizona State University

Domingo, Wilfred A. (1889-1968)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

The Jamaican born Wilfred A. Domingo was part of an influential community of West Indian radicals active in Harlem's New Negro movement in the early 20th century. A member of the Socialist Party and a journalist by trade, Domingo contributed to Cyril Briggs' Crusader and A. Philip Randolph's Messenger, along with a host of other community publications. He became the first editor of Marcus Garvey's New World and played a key role in shaping Garvey's race-conscious, nationalist ideology. However, as a class-conscious member of the Socialist Party, Domingo clashed with Garvey's capitalist orientation and ultimately broke with the UNIA. At the same time, Domingo was frustrated with the Socialist Party's failure to make African American rights a priority and drifted toward Briggs' more militant African Blood Brotherhood, which was closely aligned with the Communist Party in the early 1920s.

In the 1930s Domingo became increasingly focused on his homeland and the issue of Jamaican independence. In 1936 he cofounded the Jamaica Progressive League in Harlem, which agitated for Jamaican self-rule, universal suffrage, unionization, and the organization of consumer cooperatives. Domingo returned to Jamaica in 1938 to join Norman Manley's People's National Party and served as vice-chair of the Trades Union Advisory Council. After returning to New York in 1947, Domingo broke with the PNP. Wilfred A. Domingo died in Harlem in 1968.

Sources: 
Mary Jo Buhle, Paul Buhle, Dan Georgakas, eds., Encyclopedia of the American Left (New York:  Garland Publishing, 1990).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Still, William Grant (1895-1978)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Considered by many as the dean of African American composers, William Grant Still, the son of educators, was born in Woodville, Mississippi on May 11, 1895.  His father, a musician who once taught music at Alabama A&M College, died when he was an infant; his mother, a schoolteacher, moved to Little Rock, Arkansas.  Those nearest to him encouraged his early fascination with music and musical instruments, particularly the violin.  At age 17 his stepfather, a railway office worker, introduced him to opera via a record and phonograph, which for him was a transformative experience.  At M.W.
Sources: 
Catherine P. Smith, William Grant Still: A Study in Contradictions (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000); Verna Avery, In One Lifetime (Fayetteville: The University of Arkansas Press, 1984); “William Grant Still (1895-1978),” on AfriClassical.com website at: http://chevalierdesaintgeorges.homestead.com/Still.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Steele, Jr., Percy H. (1920--2002)

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

 

Born in 1920 in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, Percy Steele was one of eight children. Steele graduated from North Carolina Central College in Durham, North Carolina, after which he attended Atlanta University, where he completed a Master’s degree. From 1945 to 1946, he was a staff member and organization secretary for the Washington, D.C. Urban League.

Sources: 
Albert S. Broussard, Percy Steele,  Jr., and the Urban League: Race Relations and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Post-World War II San Diego,  California History (Fall, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas A&M University

Burton, Phillip (1915-1995)

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

Philip Burton was a Seattle lawyer for more than 40 years, a voice for the disadvantaged, and a fighter for reforms to end discrimination in education, housing and employment.  His legal actions led to the desegregation of Seattle Public Schools.  Fighting for civil rights was his lifelong activity and began in the late 1940s when, as a law student at Washburn School of Law, he brought suit against the City of Topeka for discrimination in the city-owned movie theaters and public swimming pools.  He worked on the initial filing of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case in Topeka which was eventually argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.  The ruling abolished segregation in public schools. 
Sources: 
HistoryLink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History “Philip Burton (1915-1995)” by Mary T. Henry), http://www.historylink.org/
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Barnett, Powell S. (1883-1971)

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

Powell S. Barnett was a child when his father arrived in Roslyn to work in the coal mines.  Seeing no future in mining, Powell left for Seattle in 1906, and quickly found work. Years later, after working in construction and for hotels, he served as a clerk for State Senator Frank Connor.  Barnett retired in 1971 as a maintenance man at the King County Courthouse.  He was a leader in the community and directed much of his energy toward improving race relations and civic unity.  In 1967, he organized the Leschi Improvement Council (a neighborhood organization), led in organizing the East Madison YMCA, and chaired a committee that revised the Seattle Urban League, thus saving its membership in the Community Chest. 

Barnett was instrumental in uniting blacks and whites in the YMCA and the USO.  As a tuba player, he was the first black person to become a member of the once all-white Musicians Union, Local 76.  He was a star baseball player who organized the semi-pro baseball Umpires Association of Seattle and secured its affiliation with the National Association of Umpires. He also assisted Japanese Americans who had been displaced during World War II. In 1949 a 4.4 acre park in Seattle was named in his honor.
Sources: 
Historylink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, “Powell S. Barnett (1883-1971)” (by Mary T. Henry) http://www.historylink.org/
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Hayes, Ralph (1922-1999)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Ralph Hayes grew up poor in rural, segregated Cairo, Illinois, the fourth of twelve children. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and then transferred to the University of Washington, where he earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees in political science. In 1950 he married Elaine Ishikawa, who was his wife for 49 years. As a couple they embraced local activism and joined the Christian Friends for Racial Equality where, as Editor-in-Chief of the newsletter, Ralph wrote about national civil rights news and Japanese American issues stemming from WWII.

In 1956 Hayes became the second African American academic teacher hired by Seattle School District. He taught history and government classes in public high schools for thirty years at West Seattle, Garfield and Franklin (in Seattle) and Newport (in Bellevue).  He also taught evenings at Edison Technical College and Bellevue Community College.  For eight summers beginning in 1966, Hayes was a teacher and later director of the Upward Bound program at the University of Washington.
Sources: 
Obituary by Carole Beers, Seattle Times, 5/13/99; Obituary by Judd Slivka, Seattle Post Intelligencer, 5/21/99; “Historians Honored with 1990 Governor’s Ethnic Heritage Awards,” Mark Boyar, Northwest Ethnic News, June 1990; Elaine Ishikawa Hayes statement in Mary Willix, ed., Remembering Ralph Hayes (Creative Forces Publishing, 2007); Mary Willix, Ibid.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Blackwell, Robert “Bumps” (1918-1985)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Bumps Blackwell with Quincy Jones
on Trumpet
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Robert "Bumps" Blackwell was a musician, producer and composer who worked with the top names in early jazz and rock and roll.  Blackwell was born in Seattle on May 23, 1918.  By the late 1940s his Seattle-based "Bumps Blackwell Junior Band" featured Ray Charles and Quincy Jones, and played with artists like Billie Holiday, Cab Calloway and Billy Eckstine. He moved to Los Angeles in the early 1950s and hired on with Art Rupe's Specialty Records.

In 1955, Blackwell flew to New Orleans to record Little Richard (Richard Penniman), a singer who they hoped would become the next Nat King Cole. During a break in the tepid recording session everybody headed to a nearby bar where Mr. Penniman started banging out an obscene club song on the piano. "Daddy Bumps" knew he had a hit so he brought in a local songwriter to clean up the lyrics. "Tutti-Frutti, good booty" became "Tutti Frutti, all rootie," and Little Richard became a star. Bumps wrote or co-wrote other early rock hits including "Good Golly Miss Molly," "Long Tall Sally," and "Rip It Up."
Sources: 
Paul de Barros, Jackson Street After Hours: The Roots of Jazz in Seattle (Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 1993); http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:cr5j8qmtbt04~T1
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Miller, Rosalie Reddick (1925-2005)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Dr. Rosalie Reddick Miller was the first African American woman dentist to practice in the State of Washington.  She was born on December 29, 1925 in Waycross, Georgia.  She attended the all-black public schools in Columbus, Georgia and in 1946 received a B. A. degree from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee.    She enrolled at Meharry Medical College and received her D.D.S. in 1951.  Returning to Columbus, she took over her father’s dental practice and her husband, Dr. Earl V. Miller-- who she married in 1947-- began a practice of general medicine. 

During the early 1950s and before the civil rights movement, Miller and her husband fought discrimination and segregation in Nashville.  She was an active participant in the struggle for voting rights and spearheaded a voter registration movement among blacks in the city.   After moving with her husband in 1957 to the University of Iowa, she received a certificate in periodontology and he received board certification in urology.  Rosalie Miller served on the faculty teaching dental hygiene.  In 1959 the Millers moved to Seattle. 
Sources: 
Historylink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, “Miller, Dr. Rosalie Riddick (1925-2005) by Mary T. Henry; http://www.historylink.org/ (accessed February 25, 2004)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Flowers, Ruth Cave (1902-1980)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in Colorado Springs in 1902, Ruth Cave began her notable career in unpromising circumstances.  Her parents were divorced before she was born, and her mother died when she was 11, leaving Ruth and her sister Dorothy in the care of her 60 year old grandmother, Minnesota Waters in Cripple Creek, Colorado.  Ruth, her sister and her grandmother lived and worked in Boulder Colorado from 1917 to 1924.  

In 1924, Ruth Cave became one of the first African American women to graduate from the University of Colorado.  However, discrimination prevented her from finding a position in the West, and she was forced to leave Boulder for the segregated South to find a teaching job.  She taught French and Latin at Claflin College in South Carolina from 1924-28, returning to Boulder in 1929-30 to care for her grandmother and get an M.A. from the University of Colorado in French and Education.  She then moved to Washington, D.C. and taught at Dunbar High School from 1931 to 1945.  While there she attended Robert F. Terrell Law School at night and received her law degree in 1945.  
Sources: 
Susan Armitage, “The Mountains Were Free and We Loved Them,” in Quintard Taylor and Shirley Ann Wilson Moore, eds., African American Women Confront the West (Norman:  University of Oklahoma Press, 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Washington University

Temple, Ruth Janetta (1892-1984)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Dr. Ruth Janetta Temple was born in Natchez, Mississippi in 1892. After her father’s death, the Temple family moved to Los Angeles, California in 1904 where her mother worked as a practical nurse and Ruth cared for her five siblings.  Temple’s interest in medicine surfaced when her brother was seriously injured in a gunpowder explosion.  She recalled that “at that time I thought that women were nurses.  I didn’t know they were doctors.  When I learned that women were doctors, I said `Ah, that’s what I want to be’.”  In 1913 Ruth Temple was invited to speak to the Los Angeles Forum, an African American cultural and political organization established in 1903.  She so impressed Forum members, especially  prominent black activist, T.W. Troy,  that  they “became deeply interested in my potential,” and “did the unprecedented thing” of sponsoring  her with a five-year scholarship to the College of Medical Evangelists (which is now Loma Linda University).  
Sources: 
Darlene Clark Hine, Elsa Barkley Brown, Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, vol. 2, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994), 1156-1157.
Affiliation: 
California State University, Sacramento

Smith, Samuel J. (1922-1995)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Samuel J. Smith, a Washington State Legislator and Seattle City Councilmember was born on July 21, 1922, in Gibsland, Louisiana.  Listening to speeches by Franklin Roosevelt broadcast on radio in the early 1930s persuaded young Smith that he wanted a future in politics.

Sam Smith first came to Seattle via the U.S. Army in 1942.  After World War II service in the Pacific as a Warrant Officer, he returned to the city, married his childhood sweetheart and attended college, first at Seattle University and then at the University of Washington where he got a B.A. in economics.  Smith, a member of Mt. Zion Church, took a job at Boeing Aircraft where he worked for 17 years while raising a family of six.

Smith first ran for the legislature in 1956, losing to incumbent Republican Charles Stokes.  Two years later he again challenged Stokes and won, remaining in the legislature for nearly a decade.  In Olympia, the state capital, Sam Smith gave the emerging civil rights movement in Washington a respected voice as well as a vote in the House of Representatives.  Smith left the legislature in 1967 to run for a seat on the Seattle City Council.  He won, becoming the first African American elected to that body.  In 1968, he introduced Ordinance 96619, the law that prohibited discrimination in housing.
Sources: 
“Sam Smith,” Interview, Oral History Project, Washington State Library, Tumwater, Washington.  Interviews of Sam Smith by Shelby Scates for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Seattle Argus, 1965-1977.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Preddy, Sarann Knight (1920- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image ownership: Public Domain
Sarann Knight migrated to Las Vegas in 1942, settling with her husband in the Westside African American community.  Preddy first sought employment on Jackson Street, the black business district, and soon became a Keno writer in the Cotton Club.  Preddy moved to Hawthorne, Nevada with her husband and purchased her first gaming venture, a nightclub for blacks offered to her for $600.00.  Borrowing the money from her father, Preddy renamed the enterprise the Tonga Club, and operated it for seven years. With club ownership she became the first black woman to own a gaming license in Nevada.  

Sarann returned to Las Vegas in 1955 and one year later went to work at Jerry’s Nugget as an experiment.  The NAACP had been told that Jerry’s Nugget would hire a black dealer if they could send in a qualified person.  Sarann accepted the challenge, intending to work at the North Las Vegas casino for six months.  She stayed there for seven years.  

Preddy went back into business for herself as the owner and operator of The People’s Choice Casino. She then purchased the famed Moulin Rouge.  Since its 1955 opening and closing, the resort had passed through several owners never realizing the success that it had enjoyed in its heyday.  The problems continued despite Preddy’s best efforts. The Rouge was closed in the late 1990s.  The famed hotel casino burned to the ground in 2003.
Sources: 
Claytee D. White,  An Interview with Sarann Preddy.  Las Vegas Women in Gaming and Entertainment Oral History Project, 1998.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Nevada Las Vegas

Sinclair Park, Kitsap County, Washington (1943-1948)

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image ownership: Public Domain

Bremerton, Washington became a major employment center during World War II when the Puget Sound Navy Yard expanded to meet wartime production demands.  Nearly 80,000 workers were recruited to the yards, including 10,000 African Americans.  Many of the first black arrivals were assigned to Sinclair Park, a segregated housing project on a plot of land overlooking the Sinclair Inlet on the Kitsap Peninsula.  Although segregated by residence, these black workers performed vital tasks for the Navy including rebuilding a “US Pacific fleet after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.” Among the early residents was 11-year-old Quincy Jones who arrived with his father from Chicago.
Sources: 

Bill Richardson, “University and Community/University and Heritage: The Forum UNESCO Initiative,” http://depts.washington.edu/uwtfan/papers/Richardsonpaper2.htm Sinclair Park Presents Black History: The Black Historical Society of Kitsap County Presents Sinclair Park—A Snapshot of An African American Community the 1940s. http://www.ci.bremerton.wa.us/articles.php?id=618

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Cayton, Susie Revels (1870-1943)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Susie Sumner Revels, a daughter of Hiram Revels, the first U.S. Senator of African descent, arrived in Seattle, Washington from Mississippi in 1896. Her reason, she stated, during a 1936 Washington Pioneers Project interview, was "the man she was going to marry was here." He was Horace Roscoe Cayton, publisher of The Seattle Republican. The two were married on July 12, 1896.

Susie Revels Cayton soon became a leader in Seattle’s black community. She was named associate editor of The Seattle Republican and, later, contributing editor of Cayton’s Weekly. She was an active member of cultural and social organizations designed to improve the conditions of African Americans, including the "Sunday Forum," a group of black Seattleites that met on a regular basis. Along with three other black women, Susie Cayton founded the Dorcus Charity Club in response to an urgent plea to help a set of abandoned twins. The club continued its charitable work for years.
Sources: 
Ed Diaz, ed., Horace Roscoe Cayton: Selected Writings- Volumes 1-2. (Seattle: Bridgewater-Collins, 2002); Quintard Taylor, The Forging of a Black Community: Seattle’s Central District from 1870 through the Civil Rights Era (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Association for African American Historical Research and Preservation (AAAHRP)

The Advocate, Portland, Oregon (1903-1936)

Vignette Type: 
Misc
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
"With this issue The Advocate makes its initial bow to the Portland public as an independent, non-partisan, non-sectarian weekly newspaper for the intelligent discussion and authentic diffusion of matter appertaining to the colored people, especially of Portland and the State of Oregon.”  

These words heralded the debut of The Advocate on Saturday, 5 September 1903. Founded by Edward D. Cannady and nine colleagues, most of whom worked for the Hotel Portland, the weekly newspaper featured birth and death announcements, hotel and society news, and general good news about the race. In addition, articles and editorials about segregation, lynching, employment opportunities and other issues kept the realities of Jim Crow laws and the pressing need for civil rights on the local, state, and national agenda.  

Beatrice Cannady, who assumed much of the responsibility for running the paper after the couple married in 1912, stated that she used the newspaper to challenge sociopolitical attempts to deprive black people of their rights as citizens, to deny black people their humanness, and to degrade their African cultural heritage.
Sources: 
Kimberley Mangun. “Beatrice Morrow Cannady and The Advocate: Building and Defending Oregon’s African American Community, 1912-1933," Ph.D. dissertation, University of Oregon, 2005.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Utah

Brownsville Affray, 1906

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
In July 1906, the U.S. Army stationed three companies of the all-black Twenty-Fifth Infantry at Fort Brown, Texas, adjacent to Brownsville.  In recent years, southern Texas and the border region had seen periodic disturbances between American soldiers and local Chicanos who resented the military's presence.  Soon after their arrival, black soldiers began complaining of police harassment and civilian discrimination.

On the night of August 13, a group of unidentified men fired more than a hundred shots into private homes and businesses near the fort, killing a young bartender.  A well-organized citizens' group accused the black infantrymen, prompting a U.S. Inspector General's investigation directed by Major Augustus Penrose.  Penrose later concluded that a handful of soldiers had knowledge of the shooting, but the shooters' identities could not be discovered because the black troops refused to answer investigators' questions.  On November 6, claiming a "conspiracy of silence" to protect their guilty comrades, President Theodore Roosevelt announced the dishonorable discharges of 167 men in Companies B, C, and D.  To avoid further trouble with border residents, Fort Brown and neighboring Ringgold Barracks were closed in October.
Sources: 
James N. Leiker, Racial Borders: Black Soldiers along the Rio Grande (College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Johnson County Community College, Kansas

Vanport, Oregon (1942-1948)

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Vanport, Oregon was the largest WWII federal housing project in the United States, and as such, attracted national attention to the region.  At its peak, Vanport was home to over 42,000 residents, making it the second largest population center in the state.  The housing project was “hidden” beyond Portland’s city limits. For many long-time Portland residents, Vanport was known as the “Negro Project” despite the fact that African Americans were no more than 25% of residents at any given time.

Portland had become, in early 1941, one of the major shipbuilding centers in the United States.  The primary shipbuilder, Henry J. Kaiser, fearful that workers would leave the area due to a lack of housing, purchased 648 acres of land outside of Portland city limits to build a wartime housing complex.  City officials were unhappy with Kaiser’s independent approach, but the contractor had become impatient with the inevitable slowness of municipal government.

Construction began in August 1942 and before Christmas the first families were moving into apartments.  Despite the fact that Vanport was built with federal funds and constructed after Executive Order 8802, local officials enforced de facto segregation.  In Vanport, only three sections, a total of 50 buildings were allotted to black residents.  Moreover Vanport was one of only two housing projects in the Portland area that accepted any blacks.
Sources: 
Rudy Pearson, “African Americans in Portland, Oregon, 1940-1950: Work and Living Conditions – A Social History” (Ph.D. Dissertation, Washington State University, 1996) Manley Maben, Vanport (Portland: Oregon Historical Society Press, 1987).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
American River College, Sacramento

Marsh, Vivian Osborne (1897-1986)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Vivian Osborne Marsh was a community activist and government official, becoming one of the most influential African Americans in the San Francisco area.  She was born in Houston, Texas, on September 5, 1897.  When she applied to the University of California Berkeley, because of her southern schooling she was required to take several entrance exams despite high grades.  Her excellent results on the entrance exams helped to discontinue this policy of discriminating against southern applicants.  She received both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Anthropology, becoming among the first African Americans to receive a master’s degree from UC-Berkeley.
Sources: 
“Vivian Osborne Marsh,” Notable Black American Women, Book 2, Gale Research, 1996, reproduced in Biography Resource Center, 2006.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Alvin Ailey Dance Theater

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Judith Jamison, Dancing Spirit (New York: Doubleday. 1993); Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Webpage: www.alvinailey.org .
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Oregon

Williams, Chancellor J. (1898-1992)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Prominent in the pantheon of Afrocentric scholars is Chancellor James Williams, the son of a former slave, born on December 22, 1898 in Bennettsville, South Carolina.  Williams earned both his bachelor’s degree in education and master’s degree in history at Howard University where he began teaching in 1946.  He completed his Ph.D. in sociology at American University in 1949 and did research at Oxford University, the University of London, the University of Chicago, the University of Iowa and, in 1956, University College in Ghana.  

Williams is best known for his book The Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of a Race From 4500 B.C. to 2000 A.D. (Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1971) in which he attempted to repair the reputation of sub-Saharan Africans prior to the conquests of Europeans by pointing out the achievements of African people and the bias of white academics who would distort knowledge of their great past. What is less known about Williams is that long before he penned his history texts he asserted himself as an American writer unfettered by the burden of race.  His “flirtation with universality” resulted in what he called a “562-page white life novel,” The Raven which was published in 1943.  The novel, based on the life of Edgar Allan Poe, was praised in the New York Times as a work of “extraordinary quality.”  
Sources: 
Dictionary of Literary Biography: Afro-American Writers, 1940-1955 (Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1988); Contemporary Authors. Vol. 142, (Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1994); Robert Fikes, Jr. “The Persistent Allure of Universality African American Authors of White Life Novels,” Western Journal of Black Studies, 20 (Winter 1996), 221-226; http://www.cwo.com/~lucumi/williams.html .
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Bell, Charles B., Jr. (1928-2010)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Mathematician Charles Bernard Bell, Jr., one of the leading African American mathematicians of the twentieth century, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in August 20, 1928.  At age 19 he graduated from Xavier University 1947 and earned his Ph.D. in mathematics from Notre Dame University in 1953.  From 1951 to 1955 he worked as a research engineer at Douglas Aircraft Company.  An assistant professor at Xavier University for two years, he then spent a year at Stanford University as a research associate.  

In 1958 Bell became the second African American professor hired at San Diego State University, thus one of rare black professors at a predominantly white campus in that era.  He even served as advisor to the nearly all white student organization Interfaith Council.  On leave from SDSU between 1964 and 1966, Bell traveled abroad to the Mathematics Institute of Amsterdam, the University of Madrid, the University of Vienna, the Institute of Statistics at the University of Paris (France), the University of Erlangen (Germany), and the Mathematics Conference in Moscow (former USSR).  
Sources: 
American Men & Women of Science, 22nd Ed. Vol. 1 (New York: Bowker, 2005);
Robert Fikes, Jr., The Black in Crimson and Black: A History and Profiles of African Americans at SDSU (San Diego: SDSU Library & Information Access, 2004);
http://www.maa.org/summa/archive/Bell_CB.htm
http://www.math.buffalo.edu/mad/PEEPS/bell_charlesb.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Bates, Daisy (1914-1999)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The image is burned into the collective American consciousness: In September 1957 nine African American children walk into the all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Surrounding them is a jeering mob. Outside the frame stood Daisy Bates, whose fierce tenacity in pursuit of school integration led to this momentous day.

By fall 1957, Bates was an experienced civil rights activist. Publisher, along with her husband L.C. Bates, of the African American Arkansas State Press, she also was president of the Arkansas state conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).        

Bates’ childhood experiences fueled her activism, particularly the murder of her mother, killed resisting an attempted rape by three white men in her hometown of Huttig, Arkansas. As a newspaper owner, Bates channeled her anger toward social change. During and after World War II, the State Press documented violence and harassment directed at African American soldiers stationed at Fort Robinson, a dozen miles from Little Rock.
Sources: 
Daisy Bates, The Long Shadow of Little Rock (New York: David McKay, 1962);
Kathleen Cairns, Front-Page Women Journalists (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003); Jessie Carney Smith, ed., Notable Black American Women (Detroit: Gale Research, 1992); Daisy Bates papers, University of Arkansas, http:// libinfo.uark.edu/special collections            
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Campbell, Clive/DJ Kool Herc (1955- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
DJ Kool Herc was the earliest major figure to emerge from the mid-70's Bronx music scene that would eventually come to be known as Hip-Hop. Born Clive Campbell in Kingston, Jamaica, Herc immigrated to New York City and was exposed at an early age to both American and Jamaican musical traditions. Influenced by soul, rock, funk, reggae and dancehall, DJ Kool Herc staged parties that spawned a global youth culture, rooted in the African American experience.

As a teenager Campbell borrowed his father's massive sound system to throw block parties that brought together his west Bronx community, often until dawn. DJ Kool Herc didn't invent hip-hop's musical aesthetic as much as he unearthed it, buried in the drum breaks of soul and funk records. Realizing that dancers became most energized during the parts of songs where the sole instrumentation was percussion, Herc used two copies of the same record to endlessly loop a beat, driving the dance-floor crazy. During performances, to further excite the crowd, Herc’s crew of hype-men, in the style of Jamaican dancehall toasting, would recite rhymes over the microphone, pioneering the art of rapping. These innovations would gain Herc notoriety across the five boroughs, leading him to club performances around the city for a wide spectrum of audiences.
Sources: 
Jeff Chang, Can't Stop, Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation (New York: Picador Press, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Till, Emmett (1941-1955)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Fourteen year old Emmett Till was born in Chicago, Illinois, and lived there with his mother until his atrocious murder in Money, Mississippi, during the summer of 1955, just one year after the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education.  Emmett was a fun-loving and free-spirited teenager who left his home in the north to visit his great-uncle’s family in Mississippi. Although his mother warned him to be careful, Emmett was clearly unaware of the etiquette of race relations in the south and the legacy of lynching, for after buying goodies at a local grocery store with his cousins, Emmett left the store flippantly saying, “Bye baby,” to the white female clerk.

Soon after the incident, Roy Bryant, the clerk’s husband and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, appeared at Mose Wright’s home. Wright, Emmett’s 64-year-old great-uncle, and his wife pleaded with the armed men.  Still, they kidnapped Emmett and later lynched him. They slashed out one of Emmett’s eyes and tied a 75-pound cotton gin fan around his neck. Emmett was beaten, shot in the head, and thrown into the Tallahatchie River. The men were acquitted. Emmett’s remains were returned to Chicago and displayed in an open casket funeral. The lynching became international news with approximately 50,000 people attending the funeral services. Three months later, the Montgomery Bus Boycotts began.  Four months later, the culprits admitted to the lynching in a Look magazine article and received $4,000 for their story.
Sources: 

Christopher Metress, The Lynching of Emmett Till: A Documentary Narrative
(Virginia: The University of Virginia Press, 2002); www.watson.org/~lisa/blackhistory/earlycivilrights/emmett.html

Affiliation: 
University of Kansas

Morial, Ernest Nathan (1929-1989)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in New Orleans, Ernest Morial grew up in the city’s Seventh Ward.  His father was a cigar maker and his mother was a seamstress.  Graduating from Xavier University, a historically black Catholic institution, he became the first African American to receive a law degree from Louisiana State University.  Battling segregation in the courtroom, he was elected president of the local NAACP chapter, and later elected to the Louisiana State legislature, becoming the first black member since Reconstruction.  Later, he became the first Juvenile Court judge, and the first Circuit Court of Appeals judge of his race in Louisiana.   
Sources: 
Edward M. Meyers, Rebuilding America’s Cities (New York, 1986); Arnold Hirsch and Joseph Logsdon, Creole New Orleans: Race and Americanization (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1992).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Montgomery College (Maryland)

Charles, Ezzard Mack (1921-1975)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Ezzard Charles, also known as “The Cincinnati Cobra,” was a quiet, modest individual who went on to become a relatively unheralded world heavyweight champion. Born in Lawrenceville, Georgia on July 7, 1921, Ezzard moved to Cincinnati at the age of nine to live with his grandmother. He began boxing as an amateur in his teens and won the AAU National middleweight title in 1939. He turned professional in March of 1940. His early bouts were against the top middleweights and light heavyweights in the world. A clever boxer, over the course of his professional career he defeated many of boxing’s greatest fighters including Charley Burley, Joey Maxim, Archie Moore (three times), “Jersey” Joe Walcott, Gus Lesnevich, and Joe Louis.

His professional career was interrupted for two years in 1944 and 1945 when he served a stint in the army during World War II.  Upon the completion of his service he returned to boxing in 1946 and defeated Archie Moore, Lloyd Marshall, and Jimmy Bivins to earn a number two ranking in the light heavyweight class. He fought a total of five light heavyweight champions, defeating four of them, but never received an opportunity to fight for the division’s title. Despite this, many consider him one of the greatest light heavyweight fighters of all time on the basis of his record in that weight class.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Faucette Jr., John M. (1943-2003)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Joseph Faucette
One of the less known of the tiny group of African American science fiction writers and one of the first black authors to publish in that genre, John M. Faucette, Jr. grew up in New York’s Harlem.  A contemporary of the celebrated black science fiction writer Samuel Delany, another Harlem resident, Faucette graduated from the Bronx High School, attended the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn where he majored in chemistry, and later studied writing at New York University’s School of Continuing Education.  

While a college freshman Faucette penned his first science fiction novel, Warriors of Terra, inspired by the gang wars in Harlem, which was published in 1970 by Belmont Books.  His story of a purple-skinned swordsman in The Age of Ruin (Ace, 1968) was his favorite character because, he said, it “satisfied the rebel in me.”  Faucette wanted to showcase black heroes in his work and complained that white readers and white publisher were reluctant to accept them.  Violent conflict and revenge were often-repeated themes in his novels such as Crown of Infinity (Ace, 1968) and Seize of Earth (Belmont Books, 1968).  Faucette also published the mainstream urban novel Disco Hustle (Holloway House, 1976) and short stories in Artemis Magazine and AIM Magazine.  Faucette died in January 2003.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Freeman, Fillmore (1936-- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
With expertise in the mechanisms and kinetics of the oxidation of transitions metals and in agricultural chemistry, Fillmore Freeman has become one of the three most frequently cited African American chemists in the nation (the other two being Donald J. Darensbourg at Texas A&M University and Joseph S. Francisco of Purdue University), according to a survey conducted by the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.  

Born on April, 1936 in Lexington, Mississippi, Freeman earned his bachelor of  science degree from historically black Central State University in 1957 and his Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry from Michigan State University in 1962.  From 1962 to 1964 he worked as a research chemist with a private firm and from 1964 to 1965 was a National Institutes of Health (NIH) fellow at Yale University.  Later, he was an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation fellow, a Fulbright-Hays senior research scholar, a visiting professor at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysical Chemistry in West Germany and at the University of Paris, and an adjunct chemistry professor at the University of Chicago.  
Sources: 
American Men & Women of Science, 22nd Ed. Vol. 2 (2005); Kirstina Lindgren, “Irvine Researcher Get $507,750 Grant,” Los Angeles Times, 15 May 1991; “News and Views,” Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, Issue 35 (April 2002); http://www.chem.uci.edu/people/faculty/ffreeman/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Wiggins, Forrest Oran (1907-1982)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Forrest Oran Wiggins was born in 1907 to Charles and Cora Cosby Wiggins. A native of Vincennes, Indiana, Wiggins attended public schools in Vincennes and Indianapolis. In 1928 Wiggins received his B.A. from Butler University and in the following year earned a certificate in French from the Sorbonne. Wiggins would go on to teach French and well as philosophy on various college campuses. He received his Master’s (1929) and Ph.D. (1931) in philosophy with both degrees earned from University of Wisconsin.

Wiggins became the first African American to teach at University of Minnesota. Wiggins was one of only four African American philosophers that by 1950 had regular faculty posts on predominantly white colleges. A long time member of the American Philosophical Association, Wiggins came to Minnesota highly recommended as a scholar and teacher. When Wiggins arrived in the Twin Cities, he had considerable teaching experience, having been an instructor for13 years at a number of black institutions including: Morehouse College, Howard University, Johnson C. Smith, North Carolina Central, and Louisville Municipal College. Despite his credentials and experience, Wiggins was hired at the rank of (untenured) instructor.
Sources: 
Dick Bruner, “Around the U.S.A., The Wiggins Case” The Nation (March 22, 1952) p. 2; Clark Johnson, “Biographical Sketch of Forrest Oran Wiggins” in the Forrest Oran Wiggins Papers, University of Minnesota Archives (November 2003).
Affiliation: 
Michigan State University

McCain, Franklin Eugene (1941-2014)

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

Franklin McCain grew up in Washington, D.C. but returned to his native North Carolina to attend college at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. McCain and his roommate, David Richmond, had followed the progress of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama and felt that they should do something to contribute to the movement for social change. On Monday February 1, 1960 McCain joined the rest of the “A & T Four” (Joseph McNeil, Ezell Blair, Jr. and Richmond) in sitting-in at a segregated F.W. Woolworth lunch counter. The following day, two dozen students from North Carolina A & T and Bennett College joined the protest. By the end of the week 3,000 students were picketing in downtown Greensboro. The movement rapidly spread to fifty-four cities in nine other southern states.

Sources: 
Frye Gaillard, The Greensboro Four: Civil Rights Pioneers (Charlotte, N.C.: Main Street Rag Publishing Co., 2001); William H. Chafe, Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980).
Contributor2: 
Affiliation: 
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and Johnson C. Smith University, respectively

Vaughan, George L. (1885-1950)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
George L. Vaughn was a black lawyer and civic leader in St. Louis, Missouri best known for representing J.D. Shelley and Herman Willer in the landmark civil rights case Shelley v. Kraemer (1948). Born to former slaves and raised in Kentucky, Vaughn graduated from Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee, and earned a law degree from Walden University in Nashville, Tennessee. After serving in the Army as first lieutenant in World War I, he practiced law in St. Louis. Vaughn was a prominent member of the Democratic Party in the 1930s and 1940s and a Justice of the Peace in St.
Sources: 
“George L. Vaughn,” Legal Encyclopedia: Legal Biographies, http://www.answers.com/topic/george-l-vaughn-2 ; Shelley v. Kramer, 334 U.S. 1 (1948), http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=334&invol=1
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Claremont Graduate University

Wiley, George Alvin (1931-1973)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
George Wiley was born in New Jersey in 1931 and raised in Warwick, Rhode Island.  Wiley earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Rhode Island in 1953 and his Ph.D. in chemistry at Cornell in 1957. Afterwards he accepted a post-doctoral position at the University of California, Los Angeles. Wiley taught at the University of California, Berkeley and at Syracuse University. At Syracuse, he founded the local Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) chapter, fighting for the integration of public schools and equal opportunities in housing and employment.  

In 1964 Wiley left academia to work full time with CORE as the associate national director, second in command to national director James Farmer. After an unsuccessful attempt to become the national director after Farmer, he left CORE and created his own group called the Poverty/Rights Action Center (P/RAC) in Washington, D.C. Under the influence of two Columbia University School of Social Work professors, Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward, Wiley sought to promote racial justice by providing economic opportunities for the poor. In June 1966, he organized several demonstrations that led to the formation of the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO).
Sources: 
Nick Kotz and Mary Lynn Kotz, A Passion for Equality: George Wiley and the Movement (New York: W. W. Norton, 1977); Guida West, The National Welfare Rights Movement: The Social Protest of Poor Women (New York: Praeger, 1981); Premilla Nadasen, Welfare Warriors: The Welfare Rights Movement in the United States (New York: Routledge, 2005); “George Alvin Wiley,” Discoverthenetworks.org, http://www.discoverthenetwork.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=1769
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of California, San Diego

Saddler, Joseph/Grandmaster Flash (1958 - )

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Although he will more than likely be remembered best for releasing “The Message,” the first rap song to delve into social commentary about the plight of African Americans in the inner-city, Grandmaster Flash was also the original technological virtuoso of the early hip-hop movement to emerge from the Bronx borough of New York in the 1970s. A child of Barbadian immigrants, Flash was driven by the mechanical imperfections of his immediate predecessors’ equipment to create new, home-made mixing tools. Along with his technological savvy, an obsessive drive for rhythmic perfection led him to essentially create the art form of ‘turntablism,’ the use of the record player as a musical instrument.

Beginning in 1977, Grandmaster Flash began to make his name in the Bronx for the wide range of technological tricks he used to electrify the party. Though DJ Kool Herc was the first to loop the percussive break-beat of a record, his technique was, in Sadler’s mind, sloppy and lacked precision in terms of keeping time with the rhythm of the beat. Flash created a cross-fader to improve upon Herc’s innovations, dubbing his style the “Quick Mix Theory,” which also incorporated a virtuoso 13-year-old named Grand Wizard Theodore’s technique of scratching a record back and forth for musical effect. As well, Flash’s routine also utilized a new electronic percussion machine called the beatbox to great effect.
Sources: 
Jeff Chang, Can't Stop, Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation (New York: Picador Press, 2005); Steven Hager, “Afrika Bambaataa’s Hip-Hop,” in Raquel Cepeda, ed., And It Don’t Stop: The Best American Hip-Hop Journalism of the Last 25 Years (New York: Faber and Faber Inc., 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Debas, Haile T. (1937- )

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People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Praised as one of the world’s most distinguished academic physicians, from 1993 to 2003 Dr. Haile Tesfaye Debas served as Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco.  Prior to becoming dean, for six years he was chairman of the Department of Surgery at UCSF.  

Born in Asmara, Eritrea on February 24, 1937, he graduated from the University College in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, earned his medical doctorate at McGill University, and worked at the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Washington before arriving at UCSF in 1987.  

Renowned as a researcher and credited with nearly 40 scientific papers, Debas was elected president of the International Hepato-Biliary-Pancreatic Association in 1991.  He was also a director of the American Board of Surgery, and a fellow of both the American College of Surgeons and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  At UCSF he revamped the medical school’s curriculum to focus on training medical students and established the Academy of Medical Educators which was renamed in his honor.
Sources: 
American Men & Women of Science, 21st Ed. Vol. 2. (New York: Bowker, 2003); http://www.cure.med.ucla.edu/PDF/Debas.pdf
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Baird, Harry (1931-2005)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
The physical presence that black British actor Harry Baird brought to the movie screen was largely a consequence of the United Kingdom going through the birthing pain of racism during the 1950s and 1960s.  Born in Guyana, this premier black actor was no Paul Robeson, but Harry Baird carried with him a presence that spoke to Britain’s patronizing advancement out of the stone-age of colonial imperialism.
Sources: 
Donald Bogle, Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies & Bucks (New York: Continuum, 1992); Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) title search by key word, “Harry Baird”; Tom Milne, ed., The Timeout Film Guide, Penguin Books, 3rd Edition, 1992.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Wilkins, J. Ernest, Jr. (1923-2011)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the University of Chicago

Jesse Ernest Wilkins, Jr. is often described as one of America’s most important contemporary mathematicians. At 13, he became the University of Chicago’s youngest student. Wilkins continued his studies there, earning bachelor, master, and doctorate degrees in mathematics. When he finished his Ph.D. at 19, he was hailed by the national press as a “negro genius.”

Wilkins was born in Chicago, Illinois on November 27, 1923 to Lucile Beatrice Robinson Wilkins who held a master's degree and taught in the Chicago Public School system.  His father, J. Ernest Wilkins, a prominent attorney, was assistant Secretary of Labor during the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration. 

After completing his Ph.D., Wilkins taught mathematics for one year at Tuskegee Institute (1943-1944) before being recruited to work at the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago where he contributed to the Manhattan Project.  Wilkins worked there between 1944 and 1946.

Sources: 
Nkechi Agwu and Asamoah Nkwanta, “Dr J Ernest Wilkins, Jr.: The Man and His Works (Mathematician, Physicist and Engineer)” in Nathaniel Dean, ed., African Americans in Mathematics (Providence, RI: American Mathematical Society, 1997), 195-205; J.J. O’Connor, and E. F. Robertson. “Jesse Ernest Wilkins, Jr.” The MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive April 2002. University of St. Andrews, Scotland. 11 July 2006. < http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/Wilkins_Ernest.html >; Johnny L. Houston, “Jesse Wilkins.” National Association of Mathematicians Newsletter: Fall Issue, 1994. http://www.maa.org/summa/archive/WilkinsJ.htm >.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Redding, J. Saunders (1906-1988)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
James Thomas Saunders Redding was born in Wilmington, Delaware in 1906 to Lewis Alfred Redding and Mary Ann Holmes.  Redding earned a bachelor of philosophy (Ph.B.) in 1928 and later a master of arts (M.A.) in 1932 from Brown University.  Redding also earned the right to Phi Beta Kappa honors but the racial climate of the time did not permit him to receive the distinction until 1943.  He later attended Columbia’s graduate school from 1933-34.  

Redding’s career as an educator included both historically black and white colleges and universities.  John Hope hired Redding as an instructor at Morehouse College (1928-31).  He later taught at Louisville Municipal College (1934-36), Southern University, Baton Rouge (1936-38), and served as head of the English Department; Elizabeth City State College (1938-43).  He worked at Hampton Institute (1943-55), as professor of literature and creative writing. He was a member of the faculty at George Washington University (1968-69), and the first African American to hold the rank of professor in the College of Arts & Sciences and the first to hold an endowed chair at Cornell University (1970).  He was a Guggenheim Fellow (1944-45, 1959-60).  
Sources: 
Steven J. Leslie and Alexis Walker, “Redding, Jay Saunders,” in Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (Detroit, 2006); Helen R. Houston, “J. Saunders Redding,” in Notable Black Men in America (Detroit, 1999); Saunders Redding, No Day of Triumph (1942), and On Being Negro in America (New York, 1951).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Los Angeles City College

Baldwin, James (1924-1987)

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

James Arthur Baldwin, fiction writer, essayist, dramatist, and poet, was born on August 2, 1924 in Harlem, New York during the Harlem Renaissance. After graduating from DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx in 1942, he began his formal career as a writer.  Baldwin was inspired by Richard Wright, despite his being called to the ministry at age fourteen in the Pentecostal faith and church dominated by his father, David Baldwin. 

Although James Baldwin emerged as a major American literary voice by 1953 when he published his first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, his candid and militant essays found in Nobody Knows my Name (1961) and The Fire Next Time (1963) identified his writing with the emerging Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Baldwin stood with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, when the civil rights leader delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Sources: 
Warren Carson, “James Baldwin.” Encyclopedia of African American Literature. Edited by Wilfred D. Samuels (New York: Facts on File, 2007); David Leeming, James Baldwin (New York: Knopf, 1994).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Utah

Lu Valle, James E.(1912-1993)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Olympic athlete and scientist James Ellis Lu Valle was born in San Antonio, Texas on November 10, 1912 but grew up in Los Angeles where he made use of a library card even before entering elementary school.  Academics was always uppermost in his mind despite the fact that as a track star at the University of California at Los Angeles – and not on athletic scholarship - he won the bronze medal in the 400-meter dash at the historic 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany. Upon graduating Phi Beta Kappa, Lu Valle was elected the first president of UCLA’s Graduate Student Association and earned his master’s degree in chemistry.  Studying under the renowned Linus Pauling, Lu Valle obtained his doctorate at the California Institute of Technology in 1940 then briefly taught chemistry at Fisk University.  
Sources: 
American Men & Women of Science. 16th Ed. Vol. 4. (New York: Bowker, 1986); http://www.aafla.org/6oic/OralHistory/OHLuValle.pdf
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Jay, James M. (1927-2008)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Microbiologist James Monroe Jay was born in Fitzgerald, Georgia on September 12, 1927.  Following service in the U.S. Army during World War II he earned his bachelor’s degree at Paine College (cum laude), then his master’s in 1953 and Ph.D. in bacteriology and biochemistry at Ohio State University in 1956.  After postdoctoral work at OSU he began four years of teaching at Southern University.  He spent the balance of his full-time teaching career (1961 to 1994) at Wayne State University.  Jay continues his scientific investigations -- primarily focused on E. coli -- in a laboratory at his home in Henderson, Nevada and is an adjunct professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

Jay has published nearly 70 research papers but he is best known for his classic, internationally popular textbook Modern Food Microbiology (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold) which has enjoyed seven editions since it first appeared in 1970.  It has been published in Spanish, Hindi, Malaysian, and Chinese. An expert in the history of blacks in the sciences, who has tried to encourage their entry into science-related careers, he has also published the 87-page Negroes in Science: Natural Science Doctorates, 1876-1969 (Detroit: Balamp Publishing, 1971).

Sources: 
Notable Black American Scientists (Detroit: Gale Research, 1990); African Americans in Science, Math, and Invention (New York: Facts On File, 2003); http://www.asm.org/news/index.asp?bid=16394
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Khazan, Jibreel/ Ezell Blair Jr. (1941- )

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People
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African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
One of the original Greensboro Four who took part in the Woolworth sit-ins. It is reported that as a nine year old he boasted to friends that he would “one day drink from the white people’s fountains and eat at their lunch counters.” Blair was the most uncertain of the four who decided to stage the Woolworth protest, and recalls calling his parents to ask their advice. They told him to do what he must and to carry himself with dignity and grace. He never strayed very far from the example of his parents, who were active in the civil rights movement, or the lessons of the people he had known as a child growing up in the south.

A Greensboro native, Blair graduated from Dudley High School and received a B.S. in sociology from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University in 1963. While a student at A & T he was elected to attend the meeting at Shaw University in Raleigh at which the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was formed. Blair was president of the junior class, the student government association, the campus NAACP and the Greensboro Congress for Racial Equality. He attended law school at Howard University for almost a year before a variety of maladies forced him out.  Blair then moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he became a member of the New England Islamic Center in 1968 and took on his present name of Jibreel Khazan.
Sources: 
Frye Gaillard, The Greensboro Four: Civil Rights Pioneers (Charlotte, N.C.: Main Street Rag Publishing Co., 2001); William H. Chafe, Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980).
Contributor2: 
Affiliation: 
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and Johnson C. Smith University, respectively

Clarke, John Henrik (1915-1998)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John Henrik Clarke, historian, black nationalist and Pan-Africanist, was a pioneer in the formation of Africana studies in the United States.  Principally a self-trained historian, Clarke dedicated his life to correcting what he argued was the prevailing view that people of Africa and of African decent had no history worthy of study.  Over the span of his career Clarke became one of the most respected historians of African and African American history.

Clarke was born on New Year’s Day, 1915, in Union Springs, Alabama.  He described his father as a “brooding, landless sharecropper,” who struggled to earn enough money to purchase his own farm, and his mother as a domestic.  Clarke’s mother Willie Ella (Mays) Clarke died in 1922, when he was about seven years old.
Sources: 
John Henrik Clarke, “Portrait of a Liberation Scholar;” Henrik Clarke, in Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Africana (New York, Basic Civitas Books, 1999); http://www.africawithin.com/clarke/dr_clarke.htm ; http://www.library.cornell.edu/africana/
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Los Angeles City College

Braun, Carol Moseley (1947- )

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People
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African American History
Carol Moseley Braun was born in Chicago, Illinois on August 16, 1947. She attended the Chicago Public Schools and received a degree from the University of Illinois in 1969.  She earned her degree from the University of  Chicago Law School in 1972.

Moseley Braun served as assistant prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago from 1972 to 1978. In the latter year she was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives and served in that body for ten years. During her tenure Moseley Braun made educational reform a priority. She also became the first African American assistant majority leader in the history of the Illinois legislature.  Moseley Braun returned to Chicago in 1988 to serve as Cook County Recorder of Deeds.

Capitalizing on the public furor over the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill controversy and in particular the way in which Hill was treated by U.S. Senators, Carol Moseley Braun upset incumbent Senator Alan Dixon in the Illinois Democratic Primary in 1992 and went on to become the first female Senator elected from Illinois and the first African American woman in the U.S. Senate.  During her term in the U.S. Senate (1992-1998) Moseley Braun focused on education issues.  She served on the Senate Finance, Banking and Judiciary Committee; the Small Business Committee; and the Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.
Sources: 
LaVerne McCain Gill, African American Women in Congress: Forming and Transforming History (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1997); David Kenney, An Uncertain Tradition: U.S. Senators from Illinois, 1818-2003 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois Press, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Afro-American Genealogical & Historical Society of Chicago

Tillmon, Johnnie (1926-1995)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Johnnie Tillmon was born in Scott, Arkansas, in 1926. A migrant sharecropper’s daughter, she moved to California in 1959 to join her brothers and worked as a union shop steward in a Compton laundry. Tillmon organized workers and became involved in a community association called the Nickerson Garden Planning Organization which was established to improve living conditions in the housing project.

Tillmon became ill in 1963, and was advised to seek welfare. She was hesitant at first, but decided to apply for assistance to take care of her children. She immediately learned how welfare recipients were harassed by caseworkers who went to their apartments looking for evidence of extra support and who designated how they should spend money. In order to fight against this dehumanized treatment, Tillmon organized people on welfare in the housing project and founded one of the first grassroots welfare mothers’ organizations called ANC (Aid to Needy Children) Mothers Anonymous, in 1963. When a former CORE activist, George Wiley, brought together local welfare recipients’ groups and transformed them into a national movement, ANC Mothers joined the movement and became a part of the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO). Tillmon quickly emerged as a leader and became a chairperson of the NWRO. Together with other welfare mothers, she struggled for adequate income, dignity, justice, and democratic participation.
Sources: 
Johnnie Tillmon, “Welfare is a Women’s Issue,” Ms Magazine (Spring, 1972): 111-16; Guida West, The National Welfare Rights Movement: The Social Protest of Poor Women (New York: Praeger, 1981); Premilla Nadasen, Welfare Warriors: The Welfare Rights Movement in the United States (New York: Routledge, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of California, San Diego

McNeil, Joseph Alfred (1942- )

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
One of the four North Carolina Agricultural & Technical freshmen who initiated the Sit-In Movement at Greensboro, North Carolina. A native of North Carolina, Joseph McNeil saw Greensboro’s race relations as a mirror image of the social structure of most southern cities. McNeil recalls having discussed the issue of segregation with community members like local businessman, Ralph Johns, in the weeks before the initial protest.

McNeil -- along with Franklin McCain, Jibreel Khazan (Ezell Blair, Jr.), and David Richmond --  had grown frustrated with the idea that patience and long suffering alone would allow Blacks to prosper. In their Scott Hall Dormitory rooms the young men read books about Gandhi, studied the writings of W.E.B. Du Bois, and debated the merits of direct action. On January 31st 1960, they agreed to stage a public act of non-compliance with segregation. The following afternoon the four met at the A & T campus library and walked together to Woolworth drug store where they broke the law by sitting at a segregated lunch counter. A national chain, Woolworth stores would feel the effects of the protest beyond Greensboro. McNeil later recalled feeling a deep sense of relief during the first day of the Sit-In campaign.
Sources: 
Frye Gaillard, The Greensboro Four: Civil Rights Pioneers (Charlotte, NC: Main Street Rag Publishing Co., 2001); William H. Chafe, Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980).
Contributor2: 
Affiliation: 
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and Johnson C. Smith University, respectively

Applegate, Joseph R. (1925-2003)

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People
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African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
It is believed that linguist Joseph Roye Applegate spoke as at least 13 languages and had reading knowledge of several others.  He was born to parents who operated a boarding house in Wildwood, New Jersey on December 4, 1925.  When his family moved to Philadelphia he interacted with Yiddish and Italian schoolmates and thus developed a fascination with languages. Applegate entered Temple University in 1941 where he made the varsity fencing team and did well in modern dance.  Work interrupted his studies but he persisted and earned a Ph.D. in linguistics at Temple in 1955.  Between 1946 and 1955 Applegate taught Spanish and English in vocational schools and high schools in Philadelphia and was active in teacher unionization.  

Upon completing his doctorate he was hired by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to assist in its modern languages department’s efforts to adapt electronic methods of language translation.  In 1956 he was appointed assistant professor in the department teaching German, English to foreign students, and in 1959 was appointed director of MIT’s new language laboratory.  
Sources: 
Obituary. The Washington Post (22 October 2003); Directory of American Scholars (New York: Bowker, 1982); http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/1997/applegate-0205.html ; http://www.upenn.edu/gazette/0504/0504obits.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Jackson, Mahalia (1911-1972)

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People
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African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Quintessential gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, born on October 26, 1911 to an impoverished family in New Orleans, Louisiana, was immediately exposed to the mélange of musical styles brimming from the city.  Though influenced by jazz and blues, she was drawn to gospel music and firmly established herself as a gospel singer.  Her father was a Baptist minister, and she sang fervently in the gospel choir after moving to Chicago as a teen.   

In 1929, Jackson met legendary composer Thomas A. Dorsey and toured with him for fourteen years.  She used her commanding contralto voice to move her audiences in the United States, Europe, Africa, and Asia.  She met Indira Gandhi while performing in India, and performed for two U.S. presidents, Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy.  Her mighty voice became part of the Civil Rights Movement, for she sang at the historic March on Washington and at the funeral of her friend, Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the 1950s, Mahalia Jackson performed at Carnegie Hall and at the Newport Jazz Festival, becoming the first gospel performer to do so.  She was a Grammy award winner and was inducted into both the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Months after collapsing at her final performance in Munich, Germany, she died in Chicago at the age of 60.
Sources: 
Laurraine Goreau, Just Mahalia, Baby: The Mahalia Jackson Story (Waco: World Books, 1975); www.galegroup.com/free_resources/bhm/bio/jackson_m_htm
Affiliation: 
University of Kansas

Malcolm X (1925-1965)

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

Malcolm X, one of the most influential African American leaders of the 20th Century, was born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska on May 19, 1925 to Earl Little, a Georgia native and itinerant Baptist preacher, and Louise Norton Little who was born in the West Indian island of Grenada.  Shortly after Malcolm was born the family moved to Lansing, Michigan.  Earl Little joined Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) where he publicly advocated black nationalist beliefs, prompting the local white supremacist Black Legion to set fire to their home.  Little was killed by a streetcar in 1931. Authorities ruled it a suicide but the family believed he was killed by white supremacists.

Sources: 
Robert L. Jenkins and Mafanya Donald Tryman, The Malcolm X Encyclopedia (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002); Eugene V. Wolfenstein, The Victims of Democracy: Malcolm X and the Black Revolution (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981); Karl Evanzz, The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X (New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1992); Malcolm X with Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X (New York: Grove Press, 1965).   
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Fresno

Collins, Marva (1936- )

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

Marva Collins was born in Monroeville, Alabama to Bessie and Henry Knight where her father, who had an indelible impact on her, was one of the richest black men in town.  She attended segregated schools, and contrary to many views, these institutions were often places where students received a superior education that was rooted in high expectations and community support.  To this end, Collins developed her well-noted teaching philosophy and approach directly from her teachers in segregated settings.  Building on the communal expectation for educational excellence she graduated from Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia then taught two years in Alabama before teaching 14 years in Chicago.

Sources: 
Marva Collins and Civia Tamarkin, Marva Collins’ Way (Los Angeles: J.P. Teacher, Inc. 1982); http://www.marvacollinspreparatory.com/history.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Los Angeles

Jackson, Maynard, Jr. (1938-2003)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The great-grandson of slaves, Maynard Jackson, Jr. was born in Dallas, Texas, on March 23, 1938.  His father, Maynard Jackson, Sr., was a leading figure in the 1930s campaign for black voting rights in Dallas and a founder of Democratic Progressive Voter’s League in 1936.  His mother, Irene Dobbs Jackson, was a professor of French at Spelman College who desegregated the Atlanta city library system.  His aunt Mattiwilda Dobbs was the first African American to sing at the La Scala Opera in Milan, Italy.  When Maynard was seven years old his father, a clergyman, moved the family to Atlanta, Georgia, where he assumed pastorship of the Friendship Baptist Church.
Sources: 
Gary Pomerantz, Where Peachtree Street Meets Sweet Auburn (New York: Scribner’s, 1996); “Former Atlanta Mayor Dies,” Michigan Daily, June 23, 2003; New Georgia Encyclopedia, “Maynard Jackson, 1938-2003”: http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/government-politics/maynard-jackson-1938-2003.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Scott, Nathan A. (1925-2006)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
It would be difficult to find a more formidable and respected African American scholar who has had so little visibility among African American intellectuals as Nathan Alexander Scott, Jr. Born in Cleveland, Ohio on April 24, 1925, Scott finished his B.A. at the University of Michigan in 1944 and his Ph.D. in religion from Columbia University in 1953. In 1946 he was hired as dean of the chapel at Virginia Union University. From 1948 to 1955 he taught humanities at Howard University. An ordained priest in the Episcopal Church, from 1955 to 1977 Scott taught at the University of Chicago where in 1972 he was elevated to Shailer Mathews Professor of Theology and Literature. In 1976 he and his wife, Charlotte H. Scott, a business professor, simultaneously were hired as the first black tenured professors at the University of Virginia. There Scott was William R. Kenan Professor of Religious Studies and became chairman of the religious studies department in 1980.  He retired in 1990.  
Sources: 
William D. Buhrman. “A Reexamination of Nathan Scott’s Literary Criticism in the Context of David Tracy’s Fundamental Theology” Unpublished dissertation, Marquette University, 2004; Who’s Who in America (Marquis Who’s Who, 1992); Contemporary Authors (Gale Research, 1987). Vol. 20 and Directory of American Scholars  (The Gale Group, 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

National Welfare Rights Organization (1966-1975)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO) was created in the mid-1960s to fight for greater assistance and control over welfare regulations. The group was active from 1966 to 1975; at its height in 1969 it had a membership of as many as 25,000 people, with thousands more participating in NWRO protests. The majority of the members were African American women.

In the 1950s, politicians and journalists drew attention to the rapid increases in the welfare rolls, especially among African American single mothers. Punitive laws were passed to decrease the number of recipients and the size of their welfare grants. Considering their poverty and out-of-wedlock birth rates, African American women were actually underrepresented on the welfare rolls. Nonetheless because many of them were concentrated in the major cities, in the public’s mind, the face of the typical welfare recipient was black.  

Welfare recipients started organizing in the early 1960s in response to these politically motivated attacks. In 1966 civil rights activist George Alvin Wiley organized several demonstrations for the poor and brought together a number of local organizations into the NWRO. The organization had four goals: adequate income, dignity, justice, and democratic participation.
Sources: 
Lawrence Neil Bailis, Bread or Justice: Grassroots Organizing in the Welfare Rights Movement (Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 1974); Guida West, The National Welfare Rights Movement: The Social Protest of Poor Women (New York: Praeger, 1981); Premilla Nadasen, Welfare Warriors: The Welfare Rights Movement in the United States (New York: Routledge, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of California, San Diego

Nichols, Nichelle (1932- )

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

Nichelle Nichols was born as Grace Nichols on December 28, 1932 in Robbins, Illinois.  Discovered by Duke Ellington at the age of 15, she began her career as a singer touring the country with his band.  After the tour was over, Nichols worked in Los Angeles as a model, stage actress, and in small roles on television.  In 1966, she landed her most famous role as Lieutenant Uhura in the Star Trek series.  As Lt. Uhura, she portrayed the communications officer in the popular series and shared the first interracial kiss on television with William Shatner.  Nichelle Nichols planned to leave the show after the first season to return to the stage, but a meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led her to change her mind.  King explained that her role was the first on television to show a black person as intelligent, proud, and beautiful, someone everyone needed to see and know.  Nichols stayed in her role through the end of the series and in the successive movies.  

Sources: 
Katherine Martin, Those Who Dare (New World Library, 2004); www.nss.org/about/bios/Nichols.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Collins, O'Neill R. (1931-1989)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The eighth child of a cotton farmer, O’Neil Ray Collins, born March 9, 1931 in Opelousas, Louisiana, rose to become one of the most distinguished African American botanists, a world renowned expert on slime-mold genetics.  Upon completing his bachelor’s degree in botany at Southern University in 1957, Collins acquired his master’s in 1959 and doctorate in 1961 at the University of Iowa where he was grounded in mycology under the tutelage of Constantine Alexopoulos.  His Ph.D. thesis confirmed his exciting discovery of myxomycete mating types.  

From 1961 to 1963 Collins was an instructor at Queens College during which time he discovered multiple mating-type alleles in Didymium.  In 1963, Collins taught at Southern University, then for the next six years he was a professor at Wayne State University.  In 1969 he joined the faculty at the University of California at Berkeley where he became Associate Dean of the Graduate Division and was chairman of the committee that evaluated the new Ethnic Studies program.  Also as dean he oversaw the creation of the Graduate Minority Program which would be instrumental in attracting minority race students and helping them succeed at the university.  
Sources: 
Obituary. San Francisco Chronicle, 11 April 1989; American Men & Women of Science. 14th Ed. Vol. 2 (New York: Bowker, 1979). http://content.cdlib.org/xtf/view?docId=hb7c6007sj&doc.view=frames&chunk.id=div00007&toc.depth=1&toc.id=
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Weaver, Robert Clifton (1907-1997)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Robert C. Weaver Standing Next to
President Lyndon B. Johnson as he is Introduced as the
First African American Nominee for a Cabinet Post
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"

Robert C. Weaver was a noted economist and administrator. From 1966 through 1968, he was the first African American cabinet official, serving as the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Weaver was born and raised in Washington D.C. From 1929 through 1934, he attended Harvard University, earning economic degrees at the Bachelor of Science, Masters’, and Ph.D. levels. As an administrator, Weaver worked as an adviser to the Secretary of the Interior (1933-37), special assistant for the Housing Authority (1937-40), and an administrative assistant with the National Defense Advisory Commission (1940). During the Second World War, he worked in several capacities concerned with mobilizing black labor into industrial employment contracted by the federal government.

Sources: 
The Columbia Encyclopedia (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005); http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-weaver-r1.html ; http://search.eb.com/blackhistory/article-9076375
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Bragg, Robert H. (1919- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The career of Robert Henry Bragg was highlighted by his success in employing x-ray techniques to reveal the structural makeup and electrical properties of carbon and composite materials.  The son of a union organizer and a seamstress, he was born in Jacksonville, Florida on August 11, 1919.  With the separation of his parents Bragg went to Chicago to live with his uncle who encouraged him to become an engineer.  Following military service in World War II he earned a bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. in physics at the Illinois Institute of Technology, upon completion of which he began work at Lockheed Missiles & Space Company analyzing carbon based materials with potential for use in space flight.  
Sources: 
T. A. Heppenheimer, “Robert Henry Bragg.” In Notable Black American Scientists (Detroit: Gale, 1999); Ray Spangenburg and Kit Moser, African Americans in Science, Math, and Invention (New York: Facts on File, 2003).
http://www.math.buffalo.edu/mad/physics/bragg_roberth.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Trench, Robert K. (1940-- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
 
While a professor of biology at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Robert Kent Trench earned the reputation as the world’s leading expert on corals and their symbiotic algae, more specifically strains of zooxanthellae adaptation to certain coral species.  Born on August 3, 1940 in Belize City, British Honduras, he studied at the University of the West Indies, Oxford University, and the University of California at Los Angeles where he earned his doctorate with a dissertation on invertebrate zoology in 1969.  

Trench’s areas of expertise encompassed coral reef ecology, physiology, biochemistry, phylogenetics of symbiosis, and intercellular recognition phenomena.  He taught for four years at Yale University before arriving at UC Santa Barbara in 1976.  The author of several dozen scientific papers, in 1994 his groundbreaking description of metabolite flux from kleptochloroplasts to host won him the coveted Miescher-Ishida Prize for outstanding contribution to the field of endocytobiology.  A member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Society of Limnology and Oceanography, Trench retired from university teaching in the year 2000.
Sources: 
American Men & Women of Science. 14th Ed. Vol. 7 (1979).
http://www.globalcoral.org/corals_and_coral_reefs.htm

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Turner, Rufus P. (1907-1982)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The unusual academic career of Rufus Paul Turner, born on Christmas Day 1907, was foreshadowed when the then 15-year-old Houston, Texas native began experimenting with crystal devises.  At age 17 he wrote the first of his nearly 3,000 articles, mostly having to do with radio electronics, which were published in magazines, encyclopedias and edited books, and as trade papers and house organs.  Some of his publications were translated into foreign languages.  

Turner’s fascination with the emerging technology of radio communication initially led him to publish articles and pamphlets on crystal diodes and, later, with the announcement of the transistor in 1948, Turner began making his own experimental devises using germanium diodes.  His May 1949 article “Build a Transistor” in Radio-Electronics, and his May 1956 article in Popular Electronics titled “Transistors Probable With a Punch” were widely read benchmark publications encouraging amateur radio construction.  
Sources: 
James A. Page and Jae Min Roh, Selected Black American, African, and Caribbean Authors (Littleton, Co.: Libraries Unlimited, 1985);
Directory of American Scholars. 6th Ed. (New York: R. R. Bowker, 1974).
http://users.arczip.com/rmcgarra2/pe051956.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Philander, S. George (1942- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Samuel George Harker Philander is Knox Taylor Professor of Geosciences at Princeton University.  Born in Caledon, Republic of South Africa on June 25, 1942, he received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Cape Town in 1962 and his Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard University in 1970 with a thesis titled “The Equatorial Dynamics of a Homogeneous Ocean.”  After completing a year as a fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology he spent six years as a research associate in the Geophysics Fluid Dynamics Program at Princeton University where in 1990 he became a professor in the Department of Geosciences.  

Philander has been a visiting professor at the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, a distinguished visiting scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology, a consultant to the World Meteorological Organization in Switzerland, and a trustee of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.  
Sources: 
American Men & Women of Science. 21st Ed. Vol. 5. (New York: Bowker, 2003); http://www.aos.princeton.edu/faculty/philander.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Adams, Victoria Jackson Gray (1926-2006)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in Hattiesburg, Virginia on November 5, 1926, Victoria Jackson Gray Adams became one of the most important Mississipians in the Civil Rights Movement.  Her activities included teaching voter registration courses to domestics and sharecroppers, opening of the Freedom Schools during Mississippi’s Freedom Summer of 1964, and serving as a National Board Member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  Ms. Gray began service as the field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1962.  

After graduation from high school, Ms. Gray began her education at Wilberforce University but was unable to finish due to lack of tuition funds. She later completed her education and became qualified as a teacher through her studies at the Tuskegee Institute and Jackson State College.  In addition to being a teacher, she traveled the country as a lecturer and served as campus minister to Virginia State University.  Gray called herself a “spiritual and social activist.”
Sources: 
The Victoria Jackson Gray Adams Papers in the Civil Rights in Mississippi Digital Archives; http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/artic.html
http://www.childrensdefense.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=8001
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Antioch McGregor University

Wallace, Walter L. (1927- )

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People
History Type: 
African American History
 Sociologist Walter L. Wallace was born in Washington, D.C. on August 21, 1927.
Sources: 
Contemporary Authors. Vols. 81-84. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1979.
Who’s Who in America (Marquis Who’s Who, 1992).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Bambaataa, Afrika (1957- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

One of hip-hop culture's most influential pioneers, Afrika Bambaataa was the first to articulate an ideology for the emerging youth culture, using the music to illustrate hip-hop's expansive potential as a global movement. As a DJ and recording artist, Bambaataa embraced every musical genre to establish hip-hop as an aesthetic form based on juxtaposition and appropriation. As a leading spokesman for the hip-hop generation, Bambaataa delineated the four elements of hip-hop as rapping, DJing, breakdancing and graffiti-writing, giving the manifold trends of late seventies minority youth in New York City a definitive coherence.

From his childhood in the Bronx River Projects, Bambaataa was a natural leader and by his early teens he rose to command ranks in the neighborhood’s dominant youth gang. As his focus moved to throwing parties around the neighborhood, he was blessed with an instant following, which only grew as his recognition as the borough’s preeminent DJ became widespread. In 1982, along with his crew of MCs and DJs, the Soul Sonic Force, Bambaataa released “Planet Rock,” one of the most influential early hip-hop songs, which is also credited as one of the leading inspirations for the forthcoming electronic musical genres.

Sources: 
Jeff Chang, Can't Stop, Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation (New York: Picador Press, 2005); Steven Hager, “Afrika Bambaataa’s Hip-Hop” in Raquel Cepeda, ed., And It Don’t Stop: The Best American Hip-Hop Journalism of the Last 25 Years (New York: Faber and Faber Inc.).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Bharucha-Reid, Albert T. (1927-1985)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Born Albert Turner Reid in Hampton, Virginia, November 13, 1927, this world-renowned mathematician earned his bachelor’s degree at Iowa State University in 1949 but never completed a graduate degree in his chosen field.  Despite this, he immediately found work as a research assistant and statistician at the University of Chicago, Columbia University, and the University of California at Berkeley. Early in his career Reid published papers on mathematical biology. 

Sources: 
R. Garcia-Johnson, “Albert Turner Bharucha-Reid” in Notable Black American Scientists (Detroit: Gale, 1999); Ray Sprangenburg and Kit Moser, African Americans in Science, Math, and Invention (New York: Facts on File, 2003). http://www.math.buffalo.edu/mad/PEEPS/bharucha-reid_a_t.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Gibson, Althea (1927-2003)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Owneship: Public Domain

Althea Gibson, a sharecropper’s daughter from Silver, South Carolina, entered the world of sports when segregation severely limited opportunities for African Americans.  In 1930, Althea and her parents moved to Harlem. There she became part of a vibrant community which helped to nurture her talents.  She played community sports and eventually met mentors who would change her life.

Dr. Walter Johnson, a physician from Virginia and a dynamic member of the black tennis community became both a mentor and patron.  He supported Althea as she distinguished herself as an incredible player, winning the American Tennis Association (ATA) tournaments, the all-black association, ten consecutive years.  In 1950, she became the first African American permitted to compete in the Forest Hill (N.Y.) National Grass Court Championship.

Sources: 
http://womenshistory.about.comlibrary/bio/blbio_gibson_althea.htm ; Frances Clayton Gray and Yanick Rice Lamb, Born to Win: The Authorized Biography of Althea Gibson (Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2004).
Affiliation: 
University of Kansas

Richmond, David Leinail (1941-1990)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

One of the original Greensboro four who took part in the Woolworth sit-ins, David Leinail Richmond is often described by those who were closest to him as “gentle, intelligent, generous to a fault, and able to take a stand.” He was born in Greensboro and graduated from Dudley High School. At North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College (now University) he majored in business administration and accounting. He got married while still at “A&T” and was immediately faced with the demands of his classes and the needs of his family, as well as the curious celebrity that went with the movement.

David Richmond began to fall behind in his class work, cutting back on his course load, and as time went by he left A&T before receiving his degree. After leaving A&T, he became a counselor-coordinator for the CETA program in Greensboro. He lived in the mountain community of Franklin for nine years, then returned to Greensboro to take care of his parents and work as a housekeeping porter for Greensboro Health Care Center. In 1980, the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce awarded him the Levi Coffin Award for “leadership in human rights, human relations, and human resources development in Greensboro.” He was married and divorced twice and has two children with Yvonne Bryson.

Sources: 
Frye Gaillard, The Greensboro Four: Civil Rights Pioneers (Charlotte, N.C.: Main Street Rag Publishing Co., 2001); William H. Chafe, Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980).
Contributor2: 
Affiliation: 
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Johnson C. Smith University

Brown, James (1933-2006)

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

Born May 3, 1933, into poverty in racially segregated Barnwell, South Carolina, James Brown became the most assertively black rhythm and blues singer ever accorded mainstream acceptance before audiences throughout the world.  

Arrested for breaking and entering at age 15, Brown’s early run-ins with the authorities served as his initiation into the rough edges of the black experience that were eventually reflected in both his pleading ballads and aggressive in-your-face funk.  Brown’s rough musical style and sensual, suggestive lyrics are even credited with ushering in the age of Hip-Hop. His almost primal renditions of “Please, Please, Please,” his first hit in 1956, and later “Bewildered” and “Prisoner of Love” contrasted vividly with the serene and controlled deliveries of artists such as Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis and Dionne Warwick.

Sources: 
Peter Shapiro, Rough Guide to Soul and R&B (London, England: Penguin Books, 2006).  Also read Michael Haralambos, Soul Music: Birth of a Sound in Black America (DaCapo Press, 1985)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Crogman, William H. (1841-1931)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

William H. Crogman was born on the West Indian island of St. Martin’s in 1841.  At age 12 he was orphaned; by age 14, he took to the sea with B.L. Bommer where he received an informal but international education as he traveled to such places as Europe, Asia, and South America. After the urging of Mr. Bommer, in 1868 he entered Pierce Academy in Massachusetts.  Throughout his schooling experience he was an exceptional and advanced student.  At Pierce he was considered the top student as he mastered in one quarter what usually took students two quarters to complete. Later as a student of Latin at Atlanta University, he completed the four-year curriculum in three years.

Sources: 
William H. Crogman Talks for the Times (Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1971).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Los Angeles

Dawson, William Levi (1886-1970)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
William Levi Dawson was a well-known Chicago, Illinois lawyer who became one of the city’s most influential politicians.  His career paralleled the rising significance of African Americans in the Democratic Party.  Dawson was born in Albany, Georgia on April 26, 1886.  Little is known of his formative years.  In 1912, Dawson graduated magna cum laude from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee.  Shortly afterwards he migrated to Chicago where he studied law at Northwestern University.  Once the United States entered World War I in 1917, Dawson joined the US Army and was soon commissioned a second lieutenant with the 365th Infantry when it served in France.  Dawson returned to the United States in 1919, passed the Illinois Bar Exam, and the following year began the practice of law in Chicago.
Sources: 

Bruce A. Ragsdale & Joel D. Tresse, Black Americans in Congress 1870-1989 (Washington: US Government Printing Office, 1990); James Q. Wilson, “Two Negro Politicians: An Interpretation.”  Midwest Journal of Political Science 4, November 1960: 346-69.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Dawson, William Levi (1898-1990)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
William Levi Dawson was an African American composer, choir director, and professor specializing in black religious folk music.  He was born on September 26, 1899, in Anniston, Alabama to Eliza Starkey and George Dawson, the first of their seven children.  His father, a former slave, was an illiterate day laborer.  In 1912, Dawson ran away from home to study music full-time as a pre-college student at the Tuskegee Institute (now University) under the tutelage of school president Booker T. Washington.  Dawson paid his tuition by being a music librarian and manual laborer working in the school’s Agricultural Division.  He also participated as a member of Tuskegee’s band and orchestra, composing and traveling extensively with the Tuskegee Singers for five years; he had learned to play most of the instruments by the time he graduated from the high school division in 1921.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Trotter, William Monroe (1872-1934)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
William Monroe Trotter was a major early twentieth century civil rights activist known primarily for launching the first major challenge to the political dominance of Tuskegee Institute founder Booker T. Washington and as an inspiration for the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).  Trotter was also the founder of the Boston Guardian (1901), the National Negro Suffrage League (1905), the Niagara Movement (1905), and the Negro American Political League (1908).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Eureka Villa\Val Verde

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

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

In 1924 a group of prominent Los Angeles African Americans, led by actor and real estate developer Sidney P. Dones and including Norman O. Houston, Joe and Charlotta Bass, Hattie S. Baldwin among others, bought 1,000 acres in Santa Clarita Valley forty miles north of the city to build a vacation resort for African Americans. These investors, who called their proposed community Eureka Villa, envisioned a resort area of cabins located on half-acre lots, free from the prejudices and restrictions of the city. The resort featured a community house, tennis courts, baseball fields, hiking trails and a nine-hole golf course. It was an immediate success with buyers from nearby states, and as far away as Chicago and Cleveland, buying lots and planning to build permanent residences. While Eureka Villa was never exclusively African American, they were the predominant owners of the restaurants, inns and stores in the area.

In 1939 the residents changed the name of their resort community back to Val Verde (Spanish for Green Valley), the original name of a nearby gold-rush boom-town. In June 1940 actress Hattie McDaniels presided over the opening of a $125,000 Olympic-sized pool complete with a bathhouse built with the assistance of the WPA. That same year a beauty contest was held for young women where “you don’t have to be beautiful in the usually accepted way, for the girls will be judged for Negroid type.”

Sources: 
The Chicago Defender (misc. columns 1925 – 1947); http://www.scvhistory.com/scvhistory/signal/worden/lw072496.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Webb, Wellington E. (1941- )

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

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Wellington Webb was born in Chicago in 1941.  He came to Denver at a very early age and before entering politics he was a forklift operator. Webb’s public service career began in 1972 when he was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives. In 1977, he was selected by President James Carter to serve as regional director of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Then in 1981, Colorado Governor Richard Lamm appointed Webb to his cabinet as Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies. In 1987, he was elected as the Denver City Auditor.

In 1991, Webb became the first African American mayor of Denver.  He won reelection twice, serving a total of twelve years. During his tenure he named the first Hispanic police chief, the first African American fire chief and the first Hispanic Clerk and Recorder.  He also oversaw the construction of Denver International Airport and ensured that many of its concessions would be operated b women and minority entrepreneurs.  Mayor Webb hosted nearly 200,000 people from around the world to celebrate World Youth Day with Pope John Paul II on August 11-15, 1993, and in 1997 welcomed President Clinton and eight world leaders at the Denver Summit of the Eight, the annual economic summit.

Sources: 
Wallace Yvonne Tollette, Colorado Black Leadership Profiles (Denver: Western Images Publications, 2001); Wellington E. Webb: A Tribute to 12 Years. (A Commemorative Booklet), Urban Spectrum Newspaper, 2003.
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Rumford, William Byron, Sr. (1908-1986)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in Courtland, Arizona, William Byron Rumford, Sr., the younger of the two sons of a housemaid, arrived in Los Angeles, California with his mother and stepfather in 1915.  His family returned to Arizona where he shined shoes, sold newspapers, and graduated from a segregated George Washington Carver High School in Phoenix in 1926.  After finishing his studies at Sacramento Junior College, in 1931 he earned his pharmacy degree at the University of California at San Francisco.  His marriage to Elsie Carrington in 1932 produced two sons and a daughter.
Sources: 
Lawrence P. Crouchett, William Byron Rumford, The Life and Public Services of a California Legislator (El Cerrito, CA: Downey Place Pub. House, 1984); “Legislator for Fair Employment, Fair Housing, and Public Health: William Byron Rumford” (Earl Warren Oral History Project), http://www.oac.cdlib.org/view?docId=hb8n39p2g3&query=&brand=oac4.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Steele, Willie S. (1923-1989)

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

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

 

Olympic athlete Willie Samuel Steele was born in El Centro, California on July 14, 1923.  At age 4 his family moved to San Diego where he graduated from Herbert Hoover High School in 1940.  While attending San Jose State University he was drafted into the U.S. Army and became a decorated veteran of World War, II having served in the invasion of Italy.  Returning to San Diego, in 1946 he entered San Diego State University (then San Diego State College) where he played basketball, football, and as a track star won two NCAA and one AAU broad jump championships in the late 1940s. 

Steele’s crowning achievement occurred in the 1948 Olympic Games in London where, despite an injured leg, he won a gold medal in the broad jump with a leap of 25 feet 8 inches.  In the wake of his Olympic triumph the 1949 school yearbook was dedicated to Steele.  That same year he signed a contract to play halfback for the Los Angeles Rams but only performed in some exhibition games before being cut from the team. 

Soft-spoken and unpretentious, Steele was the epitome of the student-athlete and he was a popular speaker at social and civic functions.  He was inducted into the Hall of Champions in San Diego’s Balboa Park.  Steele found steady employment in Oakland, California as a director in the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.  A year after he retired Steele died of cancer on September 19, 1989.

Sources: 
Obituary. San Diego Union (24 September 1989), A-30; Robert Fikes Jr. The Black in Crimson and Black: A History and Profiles of African Americans at SDSU (San Diego: SDSU Library and Information Access, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Strode, Woodrow Wilson Woolwine ["Woody"] (1914-1994)

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

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Born July 28, 1914, in Los Angeles, California, Woody Strode (Woodrow Wilson Woolwine Strode) was first of the star football athletes to become a successful film actor.   He and Kenny Washington integrated the NFL, and Strode played for the L.A. Rams in 1946 before moving to the Canadian Football League in 1948.   He also did professional wrestling and reportedly tussled with the renowned Gorgeous George.

Sources: 
Donald Bogle, Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies & Bucks (New York: Continuum, 1992);  Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) title search by key word, “Woody Strode”; The Timeout Film Guide, edited by Tom Milne, Penguin Books, 3rd Edition, 1992.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Cooper, Anna Julia Haywood (1858-1964)

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

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

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

Anna Haywood married George A.G. Cooper, a teacher of theology at Saint Augustine’s, in 1877.  When her husband died in 1879, Cooper decided to pursue a college degree. She attended Oberlin College in Ohio on a tuition scholarship, earning a BA in 1884 and a Masters in Mathematics in 1887. After graduation Cooper worked at Wilberforce University and Saint Augustine’s before moving to Washington, D.C. to teach at Washington Colored High School. She met another teacher, Mary Church (Terrell), who, along with Cooper, boarded at the home of Alexander Crummell, a prominent clergyman, intellectual, and proponent of African American emigration to Liberia.

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

Rustin, Bayard (1910-1987)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Walter Naegle
Bayard Rustin was one of the most important, and yet least known, Civil Rights advocates in the twentieth century. He was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania and raised by his maternal grandparents. His grandmother, Julia, was both a Quaker and an active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Quakerism, and NAACP leaders W.E.B. Du Bois and James Weldon Johnson, who were frequent visitors, proved influential in Rustin's life.  

Rustin attended Wilberforce University (1932-1936) and Cheyney State Teachers College (1936), in each instance without graduating. After completing an activist training program conducted by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), he moved to Harlem, New York in 1937. In Harlem, he enrolled at the City College of New York, began singing in local clubs with black folksingers including John White and Huddie Ledbetter, became active in the efforts to free the Scottsboro Boys, and joined the Young Communist League, motivated by their advocacy of racial equality.
Sources: 
John D'Emilio, Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2004); Jervis Anderson, Bayard Rustin: Troubles I've Seen (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997); James Haskins, Bayard Rustin: Behind the Scenes of the Civil Rights Movement (New York: Hyperion, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Tacoma

Quarles, Benjamin A. (1904-1996)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Benjamin A. Quarles was born in Boston, where his father worked as a subway porter.  In his twenties, Quarles enrolled at Shaw University, the oldest historically black college in the South, where he earned a B.A. in 1931.  From Shaw, Q