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20th Century

De la Cruz, Véronique (1974- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Beauty contest winner, designer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Véronique de la Cruz is best known as the first woman of African ancestry to be selected as Miss France.  De la Cruz was born in the small city of Saint-François on the French Caribbean Island of Guadeloupe on November 3, 1974.  De la Cruz enjoyed the beach as a child and spent much of her time there with her friends, a leisure pursuit which would eventually help determine her career path.  She graduated with honors from secondary school at the age of 17 and then enrolled in a college in France to study political science.  Whether she graduated is unknown.  
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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.

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

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/topic/Robert_Clifton_Weaver.aspx.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Civil Rights Congress (1946-1956)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Paul Robeson & Civil Rights Congress Picketing
the White House, August, 1948
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Founded in Detroit, Michigan in 1946, the Civil Rights Congress (CRC) arose out of the merger of three groups with ties to the Communist Party USA:  the International Labor Defense (ILD), the National Negro Congress, and the National Federation for Constitutional Liberties. Embodying the spirit and tactics of all three of its predecessors, the CRC concentrated on legal defense and mass political action on behalf of victims of legal frame-ups. It briefly became a major force in post-WWII battles for civil rights for African Americans, and civil liberties for white and black labor movement radicals, before becoming a victim of Cold War anticommunism and government repression. Former ILD secretary William Patterson led the group throughout its existence.
Sources: 
Gerald Horne, Communist Front? The Civil Rights Congress, 1946-1956 (Rutherford:  Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1987); Horne, "Civil Rights Congress," in Mary Jo Buhle, Paul Buhle, and Dan Georgakas, eds., Encyclopedia of the American Left (New York: Garland Publishing, 1990), 134-135.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Anderson, Ernestine (1928-2016)

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

The career of Seattle-based jazz vocalist Ernestine Anderson is noteworthy both for its prolific output of more than 30 albums, and the more than 60-year span of her career. Born in Houston, Texas on November 11, 1928, as a child she joined her father and grandmother in the gospel choir of her local church. At 12 she won a regional talent competition. In 1943, her first gig was with the band of trumpeter Russell Jacquet.

With her family she moved to Seattle, Washington in 1944. At 18, she toured with the Johnny Otis big band; at 20, she married and began her own family. Throughout her career, she alternated returning to Seattle to be with children and family, with periods of going out of town or country to focus on her career.

In 1952, famed big band leader Lionel Hampton had an opening for a new singer. With the encouragement of her husband, Anderson auditioned, backed up by the Ray Charles trio, then in Seattle. She was hired, and toured with the band for 15 months; fellow Seattle native Quincy Jones was in the trumpet section. When the band began a European tour, she returned to Seattle and spent time raising her children. Returning to her career, she performed at the first Monterey Jazz Festival in 1958. During a successful tour in Sweden, she recorded her first solo album, later released by Mercury Records under the title “Hot Cargo.” An August 4, 1958 cover of Time magazine followed, and she was named the “Best New Vocal Star” by Down Beat magazine in 1959.

Sources: 
Paul De Barros, Jackson Street after Hours: the Roots of Jazz in Seattle (Seattle, Washington: Sasquatch Books, 1993); http://www.ernestineanderson.com; http://www.npr.org/programs/jazz.
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Vivian, Cordy Tindell “C.T.” (1924- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Rev. C.T. Vivian & Sheriff Jim Clark at
Selma, 1965

Image Ownership: Public Domain 

The life of the Revered C.T. Vivian is practically the story of the modern black freedom struggle.  Vivian actively participated in the Nashville desegregation movement, Freedom Rides, Birmingham, Selma, Chicago, and other chapters of the fight for equal rights.

Born Boonville, Missouri on July 28, 1924, Vivian moved with his mother to Macomb in rural west-central Illinois a few years later.  Vivian spent his formative years there, in a tiny black community, graduating from high school in 1942.  He soon enrolled at Western Illinois University, also in Macomb, though he moved to Peoria before finishing his degree.

In 1947 Vivian participated in his first civil rights protest, successfully desegregating Peoria’s lunch counters.  Also while in Peoria, Vivian met and married Octavia Geans of Pontiac, Michigan. They are still married and had six children together; Vivian also has a child from an earlier relationship. 

Sources: 
C.T. Vivian, Black Power and the American Myth (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1970); Lydia Walker, Challenge and Change: The Story of Civil Rights Activist C.T. Vivian (Alpharetta, Georgia: Dreamkeeper Press, 1993);
http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/about_king/encyclopedia/vivian_ct.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Western Illinois University

Newark Riot (1967)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The Newark Riot of 1967 which took place in Newark, New Jersey from July 12 through July 17, 1967, was sparked by a display of police brutality. John Smith, an African American cab driver for the Safety Cab Company, was arrested on Wednesday July 12 when he drove his taxi around a police car and double-parked on 15th Avenue.  According to a police report later released to the press, the police claimed that Smith was charged with “tailgating” and driving in the wrong direction on a one-way street.  Smith was also charged with using offensive language and physical assault.

A witness who had seen Smith’s arrest called members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the United Freedom Party, and the Newark Community Union Project.  These civil rights leaders were given permission to see Smith in his 4th Precinct holding cell.  After noticing his injuries inflicted by the police, they demanded that he be transported to a hospital.  Their demands were granted and Smith was moved to Beth Israel Hospital in Newark.
Sources: 
Tom Hayden, Rebellion in Newark (New York: Random House, 1967); Donald L. Horowitz, “Racial Violence in the United States,” Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 37:3 (Dec. 1983)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Redding, Otis (1941-1967)

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

Otis Redding was one of the great American soul singers, who, although only enjoying a short career due to his early death in a plane crash at the age of 26, has been described as the embodiment of soul and one of the most important cultural icons of the civil rights movement.

Otis Ray Redding, Jr., son of sharecropper Otis Redding, Sr., and Fannie Mae Redding, was born on September 9, 1941, the fourth child of six, near Dawson, Georgia.  The next year the family moved to Macon, Georgia. From an early age Otis’s passion lay in music, drawing inspiration from fellow Macon entertainer Little Richard Penniman.  By the time he was ten Redding was singing with a choir at Vineville Baptist Church and playing drums in a gospel group.  At age eleven Redding participated in a local talent show, eventually winning 15 monthly contests in a row.

In 1958 at the age of 17 Redding started his professional singing career.  He briefly toured with the “Pat Tea Cake” band before forming his own band, “The Pinetoppers” in 1959, with well known Macon guitarist Johnny Jenkins. The Pinetoppers performed Elvis Presley songs and country music songs in the Macon area.  They also toured on the “Chitlin’ circuit,” a network of black nightclubs throughout the Southeast and the white frat house circuit across the Deep South.

Sources: 

Scott Freeman, Otis!: The Otis Redding Story (New York:  St. Martin's
Griffin Press, 2001); Rhino Records, Los Angeles, Otis!: the definitive
Otis Redding
[sound recording], (1993).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sussex (England)

Abbott, Cleveland Leigh (1892–1955)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Image Courtesy of Lilah Morton Pengra
Cleveland Leigh Abbott was born December 9, 1892 in Yankton, South Dakota. He is most remembered for his coaching career at Tuskegee Institute (now University) in Alabama.

Abbott was the son of Elbert and Mollie Brown Abbott who moved to South Dakota from Alabama in 1890. He graduated from Watertown High School, Watertown, South Dakota, in 1912 and then from the South Dakota State University at Brookings in 1916. Abbott earned 14 varsity athletic awards during his collegiate career.
In 1916 Cleveland Abbott married Jessie Harriet Scott (1897–1982). They had one daughter, Jessie Ellen, who in 1943 became the first coach of the women’s track team at Tennessee State University in Nashville.

Abbott served as a First Lieutenant in the 366th Infantry, 92nd Division in World War I.  He saw action at the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in 1918. Abbott was later a commissioned officer in the Army Reserve.  (The US Army Reserve Center at Tuskegee is now named the Cleveland Leigh Abbott Center.)

Sources: 

“Obituary,” The Huronite (Huron, South Dakota, June 5, 1955, p. 1);  A. Dunkle and V. Smith, The College on the Hills: A Sense of South Dakota State University History (Brookings, SD: SDSU Alumni Association, 2003); Ruth Hill, Black Women Oral History Project (Westport, CT: Meckler, 1990); Charles Johnson, African Americans and ROTC (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2002); Monroe Mason and Arthur Furr, The American Negro Soldier with the Red Hand of France (Boston: Cornhill Co., 1920).

 

Contributor: 

Wortham, Anne (1941 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Anne Wortham
Anne Wortham, a prolific academic who has opposed aspects of the traditional civil rights movement, was born on November 26th 1941 in Jackson, Tennessee. The first of five children, she was raised in the segregated South where her parents instilled in her religious beliefs and the importance of education, self-reliance and self-improvement. As a youngster Wortham took piano lessons and developed a life-long interest in classical music and opera as a result of listening to radio broadcasts of performances of the Metropolitan Opera.  Her mother died when she was ten years old, and Wortham adopted the homemaker role and cared for her family while attending school and graduating high school as an honor student.
Sources: 
Anne Wortham, The Other Side of Racism: A Philosophical Study of Black Race Consciousness (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1981); Karen Reedstrom, “Interview with Anne Wortham” Full Context Magazine, March 1994; Patrick Cox, “I’m not Supposed to Exist,” Reason Magazine August 1984; Clarence Thomas, “With Liberty…for all,” Lincoln Review, Winter-Spring, 1982.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Bath, England

Knox, William Jacob, Jr. (1904-1995)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Harvard University Archives,
HUD 325.25
Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts on January 5, 1904, William Knox is remembered for two achievements.  He was among a handful of black scientists to work on the top secret Manhattan Project, which produced the atom bomb during World War II, and following the war he held a key development position at the Kodak Corporation, a major manufacturer of camera equipment.

Knox was the oldest of three brothers born to William and Estelle Knox. The elder Knox was a clerk at the U.S. postal service in New Bedford.  All of the brothers attended Harvard University as undergraduates with William graduating from the institution in 1925.  All three Knox brothers would go on to earn Ph.D.s.  The middle son, Everett, studied history.  The youngest son, Lawrence, studied chemistry and, during World War II, joined his eldest brother on Manhattan Project research.    
Sources: 
Jessie Parkhurst Guzman, et al., Negro Year Book: A Review of Events Affecting Negro Life, 1941-1946 (Tuskegee Institute, Alabama: Dept. of Records and Research, 1947); Patricia Carter Sluby, The Inventive Spirit of African Americans: Patented Ingenuity (Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 2004); Ray Spangenburg and Kit Moster, African Americans in Science, Math, and Invention (New York: Facts on File, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Case Western Reserve University

Duke, George (1946-2013)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
George Duke was a musician who covered a number of genres including bebop, R&B, jazz fusion, funk, and alternative rock. As performer, arranger, composer, producer, and educator for five decades, he worked with a wide variety of performers and among his many achievements was his induction into the Soul Music Hall of Fame in 2012.

Born January 12, 1946 in San Rafael, California, Duke grew up first under the influence of the gospel music of the local Baptist church. He decided on a musical future when his mother took him to a Duke Ellington concert.  After watching Ellington and his band perform, four year old Duke declared that he would do the same one day, saying “That’s who I’m going to be!”  His mother saved to provide a  piano and piano lessons, and in the process initiated his life-long devotion to music.
Sources: 
Matt Pierson, “George Duke Biography,” soultracks.com (February 2007); Scott Simon, “George Duke Puts His Stamp on Funk”, Interview, NPR Radio (August 30, 2008); Eric Sandler, “George Duke: A History of Funk & Soul” revive-music.com (September 12, 2011); William Yardley, “George Duke, Keyboardist Who Crossed Genre Boundaries, Dies at 67,” NYTimes.com (August 6, 2013)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Adams, Alma Shealey (1946-)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Congresswoman Alma Shealey Adams currently represents North Carolina’s 12th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives.  She is the 100th woman elected to that legislative body and the second African American woman, after Eva Clayton, to represent North Carolina in the U.S. Congress.  
Sources: 
"Alma Adams for Congress: About Alma," http://almaadamsforcongress.com/about; "Full Biography: Congresswoman Alma Adams, December 11, 2014, http://adams.house.gov/about/full-biography; Alice Ollstein, "Meet Alma Adams, Who Becomes The 100th Woman In Congress Today," ThinkProgress, November 12, 2014, http://thinkprogress.org/election/2014/11/12/3591247/alma-adams-100th-woman-congress/.
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Ellison, Marvin (1966– )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Marvin Ellison is the current CEO of J.C. Penney. He is the first African American CEO of the company in its one-hundred-fourteen-year history, and as of 2016 is one of only six African American CEOs to run a Fortune 500 company. J.C. Penney ranks two hundred fiftieth of the Fortune 500 corporations.

Ellison was born in 1966 in Haywood County, Tennessee, and grew up in Brownsville, a small town about sixty miles northeast of Memphis, Tennessee. He was born to working-class parents and was the middle child of seven siblings. Neither his mother nor father graduated from high school, although his father had stable employment as a door-to-door insurance salesman.

Ellison’s early life was marked by poverty and the limitations of living in rural and impoverished Haywood County, Tennessee. Despite this, Ellison was accepted into the University of Memphis as a business major in 1984. During his five and a half years at the University of Memphis, he worked various odd jobs in order to pay his tuition and support himself. These jobs included graveyard shifts at a convenience store, janitorial work at a women’s department store, and driving a plumbing supplies truck in the summer. Ellison graduated with a Business Administration degree in Marketing. He later earned his MBA at Emory University.
Sources: 
Maria Halkias, “Marvin Ellison’s Story is Classic J.C. Penney,” The Dallas Morning News, June 22, 2015, http://www.dallasnews.com/business/retail/20150622-marvin-ellisons-story-is-classic-j.c.-penney.ece; Angela Wilson, “J.C. Penney Appoints its First Black CEO, Marvin Ellison,” Uptown, October 14, 2014, http://uptownmagazine.com/2014/10/jcpenney-first-black-ceo-marvin-ellison/ “JCPENNY Names Marvin Ellison President and CEO-Designee,” Company News, October 13, 2014, http://ir.jcpenney.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=70528&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1976923; David Thomas, “Former Brownsville Resident is JCPenney CEO, The Jackson Sun, November 19, 2015, http://www.jacksonsun.com/story/news/2015/11/19/former-brownsville-resident-jcpenney-ceo/76074334/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Pierce, Harold E. (1922–2006)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Harold E. Pierce Jr. was an internationally renowned American dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon known as “The Father of Black Cosmetic Surgery.” He pioneered surgical techniques for the treatment of keloids, laminar dermal reticulotomy, hair transplants, cosmetic facial surgery, chemical facial peeling, and dermabrasion in people of color.

Pierce was born on April 4, 1922, in Philadelphia to Mary Leora Bellinger Pierce and Harold Ernest Pierce Sr. He is the older of two sons. His brother, Honorable Lawrence W. Pierce, became a federal judge in New York. Pierce’s mother died when he was seven years old, and his grandparents, Lillian A. Willets and Warren Wood Pierce of Bridgeton, New Jersey, raised him. While he was still young, Harold was not close with his father, and as an adult, visited him in Harlem. His father had retired as a laboratory assistant from New York State Department of Mental Hygiene.

Sources: 
Gayle Ronan Sims, “Harold E. Pierce Jr., 84, Dermatologist, Surgeon,” Philly-archives. November 04, 2006, http://articles.philly.com/2006-11-04/news/25406168_1_dermatology-medical-degree-surgeon,  “Harold E. Pierce Obituary,” Ryan Mortuary & Crematory, http://www.ryanmortuary.com/obits/2008/pie80414.html; Jennifer Phillips, “Harold E. Pierce Jr., 84, Surgery Pioneer,” Philadelphia Tribune, October 31, 2006, http://search.proquest.com.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/docview/337843061?accountid=14784&rfr_id=info:xri/sid:primo.
Contributor: 

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

Rice, Claudius William (1892?-1973)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Claudius W. Rice was a political activist and labor leader in Houston, Texas from the 1920s through the 1940s.  He was the owner of Negro Labor News, president of the Texas Negro Business Association, and advocate of Booker T. Washington and the Tuskegee philosophy of self help.

Rice was born in 1897 to Mary and Ezekiel Rice in Haywood County, Tennessee. Formally educated in the rural schools of Haywood County, in 1909 he moved to the city of  Jackson, Tennessee and worked as a domestic servant while enrolled in the Lane College high school department.

Rice then moved to Houston, Texas, and by 1914 was giving lectures to local blacks about their patriotic duty to support the United States if it entered World War I.  Rice's patriotic fervor lessened however after touring the Deep South and witnessing firsthand the racial discrimination African Americans faced.  He then began his quest to eliminate discrimination and racism.

While in Houston, Rice became an entrepreneur, using his position to rally local blacks into challenging discrimination and focusing attention on the unfair treatment of the region’s black workforce. He stirred controversy within the black and white Houston communities in his encouragement for blacks to “organize in a solid bloc” and use racial solidarity as an effective weapon to challenge their plight.
Sources: 
Ernest Obadele-Starks, Black Unionism in the Industrial South (College Station, TX: TAMU Publishing, 2001); Ernest Obadele-Starks, “Black Workers, the Black Middle Class, and Organized Protest along the Upper Texas Gulf Coast, 1883-1945,” in The African American Experience in Texas: An Anthology, Bruce A. Glasrud and James Smallwood, eds. (Lubbock, TX: 2007).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

The African American Academy (1991–2009)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
In the late 1970s after two decades of school desegregation efforts in Seattle, Washington, school administrators and parents of black children began to notice that average academic test scores for African American students began to lag behind those of white and Asian pupils in almost every grade level and despite varied socioeconomic backgrounds. As a consequence, reformers both inside and outside the Seattle Unified School District began to focus on cultural differences in teaching and learning styles for black children as well as the absence of African American teachers and in particular African American male teachers.

Sources: 
Emily Heffter, “Seattle Schools Would Like to Break Out in Bright Spots,” Seattle Times, September 23, 2006 , p. B1; Jerry Large, “Architect Left Legacy of his Creative Genius: Mel Streeter,” Seattle Times, June 15, 2006, p. B4; Jeffrey Zane, “America, Only Less So: Seattle’s Central Area, 1968-1996,” (PhD dissertation, University of Notre Dame, 2001); Nile Thompson, Building for Learning: Seattle Public School Histories, 1862-2000, (Seattle: Seattle Public Schools, 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle Central College

Banda, Dr. Hastings Kamuzu (c. 1896-1997)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Kevin Shillington, Encyclopedia of African History (New York: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2005); Marshall Cavendish Corporation, Peoples of Africa (New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2001); http://www.answers.com/topic/hastings-kamuzu-banda.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Patient Zero: Thomas Eric Duncan and the Ebola Crisis in West Africa and the United States

 

Thomas Eric Duncan at a Party in
Monrovia, Liberia, 2011
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
In the following article Dr. Clarence Spigner, Professor of Public Health at the University of Washington, Seattle, describes the life of the first patient to die of Ebola on U.S. soil and the larger crisis of Ebola in West Africa.  He views it as a consequence of a long history of disease, poverty, and underfunded health care systems in the West African nations of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia which are at the center of the 2014 epidemic. 

On September 20, 2014, a forty-two year-old Liberian native, Thomas Eric Duncan, arrived in Dallas, Texas from a plane flight that originated in Monrovia, Liberia.  Duncan came to the United States ostensibly to reunite with his estranged teenaged son and the boy’s mother, Louise Troh, who had at one time been his girlfriend in Liberia.  Troh and her son lived in Dallas.

Summary: 
In the following article Dr. Clarence Spigner, Professor of Public Health at the University of Washington, Seattle, describes the life of the first patient to die of Ebola on U.S. soil and the larger crisis of Ebola in West Africa as a consequence of a long history of disease, poverty, and underfunded health care systems in the West African nations of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia which are at the center of the 2014 epidemic.
Sources: 
CDC: Centers for Disease Control, Outbreak Chronology (Ebola Virus Disease). www.cdc/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/history/chrononology.html; CIA Fact Book. www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook;  Aryn Baker, “Racing Ebola: What The World Needs To Do to Stop the Deadly Virus,” Time Magazine, 84:14 (October 13, 2014); Mary Dobson, The Story of Medicine: From Bloodletting to Biotechnology (London: Quercus, 2013); Joseph L. Graves, The Emperor’s New Clothes: Biological Theories of Race at the Millennium (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2003); Wolter Kluwer, ed., Nurses’ Quick Check: Disease, 2nd Edition (New York:  Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2009); and Michael Oldstone, Viruses, Plagues & History: Past, Present and Future (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Till, Emmett Louis (1941-1955)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Emmett Till was a fourteen year-old African American boy who was tortured and killed in Money, Mississippi in 1955 after allegedly insulting a white woman.  Born in Chicago, Illinois, Till lived with his mother, Mamie Till. His father, Louis Till, died while serving in the U.S. Army in Italy in 1945. In the summer of 1955, Till went to visit with his 64-year-old great-uncle Mose Wright and family. Before leaving home, Till’s mother instructed him to follow Southern customs and mind his manners, but having grown up in a Northern city like Chicago, Till was unaware of the legacy of lynching and the rigid social caste system in the South. 
Sources: 

“The Murder of Emmett Till,” The American Experience, pbs.org; Ruth Feldstein, “I Wanted the Whole World to See’: Race, Gender, and Constructions of Motherhood in the Death of Emmett Till” in Not June Cleaver: Women and Gender in Postwar America, 1945-1960, Joanne Jay Meyerowitz, ed., (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994); Mamie Till Bradley, “Speech given at Bethel A.M.E. Church, Baltimore, Maryland, Oct. 29, 1955,” in Women and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965, eds., Davis W. Houck and David E. Dixon, (Oxford: University Press of Mississippi, 2009).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Walker, A'Lelia (1885–1931)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
A’Lelia Bundles, On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker (New York: Scribner, 2001); Nancy Kuhl, Intimate Circles:  American Women in the Arts (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003; http://www.madamcjwalker.com/bios/alelia-walker/
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Tamayo Méndez, Arnaldo (1942- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Brigadier General Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez, a Cuban of African descent, was the first black astronaut in space.  Tamayo Méndez was born in Guantánamo, Cuba on January 29, 1942.  Orphaned at the age of one year, he was ultimately adopted by foster parents Rafael Tamaya and Esperanza Méndez.  He began working at the age of 13, shining shoes and vending vegetables.  He later became a carpenter’s apprentice.

During the Cuban Revolution in the late 1950s, he joined the Association of Young Rebels, which had protested against the Batista regime.  He also joined the Revolutionary Work Youth Brigades.

Tamayo Méndez attended the Rebeldi Technical Institute where he took a course for aviation technicians in December 1960.  After training as an aviation technician, he resolved to become a pilot.  From April 1961 to May 1962, he took a one-year course of study at Yeisk Higher Air Force School in the Soviet Union, where he trained to fly the MiG-15 fighter jet.
Sources: 
Robert Fikes Jr., “First Black Astronaut: Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez,” Baltimore Afro-American (Feb. 25, 1986); Gordon R. Hooper, The Soviet Cosmonaut Team: a Comprehensive Guide to the Men and Women of the Soviet Manned Space Programme (Woodbridge, Suffolk, England : GRH Publications, 1986); Michael Cassutt, Who’s Who in Space: The First 25 Years (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1987);
"Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez," Diario Granma. URL:  http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/secciones/candidatos/prov-14.htm;
"Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez," Encyclopedia Britannica Online, URL: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1509108/Arnaldo-Tamayo-Méndez.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Asante, Molefi Kete/Arthur Lee Smith Jr. (1942- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Molefi Kete Asante (Arthur Lee Smith, Jr.), an educator, was born in Valdosta, Georgia, the son of Arthur Lee and Lillie B. (Wilson) Smith. In 1964 he received a B.A. degree (cum laude) from Oklahoma Christian College.  He was awarded an M.A. degree the following year from Pepperdine College.  In 1968 he earned a Ph.D. degree from the University of California at Los Angeles.  

While at Southwestern Christian College, Asante met Essien Essien, a Nigerian scholar, who inspired Asante to learn more about Africa.  After completing his undergraduate degree, Smith undertook studies of African languages and literature. He began to visit Africa frequently and spent a year on the continent in 1982, while serving as director of the English language journalism curriculum at the Zimbabwe Institute of Mass Communications.
Sources: 
Alton Hornsby, Jr. and Angela M. Hornsby, “From the Grassroots” Profiles of Contemporary African American Leaders (Montgomery, Alabama: E-Book Time LLC, 2007), p. 12-14.
Affiliation: 
Morehouse College

Thomas, Clarence (1948- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of the U.S. 
Supreme Court

Clarence Thomas, the second African American to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, was born in Pin Point, Georgia, a small community south of Savannah.  His mother, Leola Williams, a single parent, raised Thomas until he was seven.  He and his brother, Myers, were sent to Savannah where they were raised by their maternal grandfather, Myers Anderson. To help his grandsons to survive in the Jim Crow South, Anderson, a Democrat, local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) member, and recent convert to Catholicism, instilled in them a discipline and pride that would counterpoint the harshness of southern racism.  Thomas remembers that after purchasing a new truck, his grandfather removed the heater because he believed its use would make the boys lazy.

Sources: 
Clarence Thomas, My Grandfather’s Son: A Memoir (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2007); Ken Goskett, Judging Thomas: The Life and Times of Clarence Thomas (New York: William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2004); William Grimes, “The Justice Looks Back and Settles Old Scores,” New York Times, Wednesday, October 19, 2007, B1; David Savage, “In rulings, little hint of his meager start,” Los Angeles Times, Sunday, October 28, 2007, A22; Jeffrey Toobin, “Unforgiven: Why is Clarence Thomas so Angry?” New Yorker, November 12, 2007.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Fresno

Smith, Harry Clay (1863-1941)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society

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

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

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

Mahal, Taj (Henry St. Claire Fredericks) (1942- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Blues, jazz, and folk musician Taj Mahal was born Henry St. Claire Fredericks in Harlem, New York on May 17, 1942.   He was raised in Springfield, Massachusetts by musically gifted parents. Mahal's father was a jazz musician and his mother a gospel singer.  As a child, Mahal learned how to play various instruments, such as the piano, harmonica, clarinet, and guitar.

Mahal attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst during the early 1960s. He played in the institution's band, the Electras. Mahal became a blues performer who specializes in a variety of musical genres, including country blues, reggae, jazz, rhythm and blues, ragtime and folk music. As a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and composer, he plays the guitar, harmonica, and banjo. Mahal has traveled the globe, and has learned to fuse different nontraditional forms of music into blues.

Sources: 

Robert Santelli, The Big Book of Blues (New York: Penguin Books, 1993); Taj Mahal and Stephen Foehr, Taj Mahal: Autobiography of a Bluesman (London: Sanctuary Publishing, 2002).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Hunton, Addie Waites (1866-1943)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Addie Hunton with Black Troops in
France in World War I
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Educator, race and gender activist, writer, suffragist, and political organizer, Addie Waites Hunton was born in Norfolk, Virginia on June 11, 1866, to Jesse and Adeline Waites.  After her mother died when she was very young, she moved to Boston, Massachusetts to live with her maternal aunt.  

Hunton earned her high school diploma at Boston Latin School and in 1889 became the first black woman to graduate from Spencerian College of Commerce in Philadelphia. In 1893, she married William Alphaeus Hunton, who had spearheaded the establishment of services for blacks in the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in the city.  Soon after their marriage the couple moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where Addie worked as a secretary at Clark College and helped her husband with his YMCA work.  In the wake of the Atlanta Race Riots (1906), the Huntons moved to Brooklyn, New York.  They had four children but only two survived infancy.
Sources: 
Christine Lutz, “Addie W. Hunton:  Crusader for Pan-Africanism and Peace,” in Portraits of African American Life Since 1865, ed. Nina Mjagkij (Wilmington, DE:  Scholarly Resources, Inc., 2003), 109-127; Darryl Lyman, Great African American Women (New York:  Random House, 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Naylor, Gloria (1950-2016)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Gloria Naylor, a major 20th century writer of African American literature, was born on January 25, 1950 in New York City, New York to Roosevelt and Alberta Naylor. She was born just six weeks after her parents moved to the city from Robinsville, Mississippi, to escape the racially segregated South.  It is that combination of her family's Southern roots and her on upbringing in the urban North that influenced her writing.

Sources: 
Charles E. Wilson Jr. "Gloria Naylor: A Critical Companion" in Kathleen Klein, ed., Critical Companions to Popular Contemporary Writers (New York: Greenwood Press, 2001);  "Gloria Naylor" in Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, Volumes 1 &2, (Brooklyn, New York: Carlson Publishing ,1993); https://aalbc.com/authors/gloria.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Herman, Alexis Margaret (1947-- )

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

Alexis Herman, US Secretary of Labor, political activist, civic leader, social worker, and entrepreneur, was born on July 16, 1947 in Mobile, Alabama to politician Alex Herman and educator Gloria Caponis.  Herman graduated from Heart of Mary High School in Mobile in 1965 and enrolled in Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin, and then Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama before transferring to St. Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology in 1969.  She joined the Gamma Alpha Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta during her college years and supported this sorority throughout her career.

Sources: 
http://www.washingtonspeakers.com/speakers/speaker.cfm?SpeakerId=3178; http://www.dol.gov/oasam/programs/history/herman.htm; http://www.toyota.com/about/diversity/diversity_advisory_board/alexis_herman.html; http://encore.utep.edu/iii/encore/search/C__Salexis%20herman__Orightresult__U1?lang=eng&suite=cobalt
Affiliation: 
University of Texas El Paso

Perry, Cynthia Shepard (1928- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Cynthia Shepard Perry, a Republican and 25 year career diplomat, has served three Republican presidents. President Ronald Reagan appointed her as Chief of Education and Human Resources of the U.S. Agency for International Development where she served from 1982 to 1986, and named her Ambassador to Sierra Leone from 1986 to 1989. 

President H.W. Bush appointed her ambassador to Burundi where she served from 1989 to 1993.  President George W. Bush appointed her as U.S. Executive Director of the African Development Bank in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, and Tunis, Tunisia in 2001.  As director, she promoted microlending projects for small start-up loans, especially for women. In addition, she analyzed African loan requests for schools, bridges, and projects to reduce poverty.
Sources: 
Council of American Ambassadors, http://www.americanambassadors.org/; “George Bush,  Nomination of Cynthia Shepard to be United States Ambassador to Brunei,” Nov. 7, 1980, The American Presidency Project, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/; Charles Stuart Kennedy, “Ambassador Cynthia Perry,” Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, Foreign Affairs Oral History Project, March 21, 1999; Cynthia Shepard,  All things Being Equal: A Woman’s Journey  (New York: Stonecrest International, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle Central College

The Moore’s Ford Lynching (July 1946)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
On July 14, 1946, four African American sharecroppers were lynched at Moore’s Ford in northeast Georgia in an event now described as the “last mass lynching in America.” Yet the killers of George Dorsey, Mae Murray Dorsey, Roger Malcolm, and Dorothy Malcolm were never brought to justice. The violence and public outcry surrounding the event reflected growing African American challenges to Jim Crow in the post-World War II years as well the failures of state and federal authorities to address racial inequality and violence in the South.  
Sources: 
Laura Wexler, Fire in a Canebrake: The Last Mass Lynching in America (New York: Scribner, 2003);  Wallace H. Warren, "'The Best People in Town Won't Talk': The Moore's Ford Lynching of 1946 and Its Cover-Up," in Georgia in Black and White: Explorations in the Race Relations of a Southern State, 1865-1950, ed. John C. Inscoe (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1994);  Mark Auslander, “Touching the Past:  Materializing Time in Traumatic ‘Living History’ Re-enactments,” Signs and Society 1 (March 2013), 161-83.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Georgia Southwestern State University

Davis, Charles A. (1922–2016)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Charles A. Davis was a journalist, founder of one of Chicago’s first African-American-owned public relations agencies, commercial real estate developer, and noted civic and social leader. Davis was born on September 29, 1922, in Mobile, Alabama, the fourth of five children of Robert and Clara Mae Davis. His family moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1924 when his father was assigned an Atlanta Life Insurance Company in the city. Davis’s father died in 1930 and his mother died a year later in 1931, both from tuberculosis. Davis and his siblings were sent to live in Chicago with their material grandfather, Charles Robert Williams, a Pullman porter.

Davis graduated from DuSable High School and after graduation went to work as a bellhop at the largest black-owned hotel in the city, Bronzeville’s Grand Hotel. While working there, he came in contact with many notable African-Americans, including National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) leaders Walter White, Roy Wilkins, W.E.B. DuBois, and Dr. Metz Lochard of the Chicago Defender. Davis worked briefly as a Pullman porter on the Milwaukee Road line before being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943 and serving as a technical sergeant in the Philippines.

Sources: 
“Charles Davis,” Chicago Defender, http://chicagodefender.com/2016/09/22/memorial-to-honor-charles-a-davis-noted-business-leader-and-chicago-defender-veteran/; “Charles Davis,” The Chicago Crusader, http://chicagocrusader.com/memorial-service-scheduled-noted-african-american-business-leader-charles-davis/; “Charles Davis,” Chicago Tribute Obituaries, http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/chicagotribune/obituary.aspx?pid=181489742.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Woodson, Waverly Bernard, Jr. (1922-2005)

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

World War II hero Waverly B. “Woody” Woodson was born August 3, 1922 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Waverly B. Watson Sr., a postal carrier. The historical record reveals nothing about his mother. A pre-med student at Lincoln University when World War II started, Waverly left during his sophomore year to enlist in the U.S. Army on December 15, 1942.

Despite completing Officer Candidate School in Anti-Aircraft Artillery (AAA), he was informed there were no positions for blacks as officers in AAA. He was instead steered into medic training and was assigned to the racially segregated 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, a black unit that specialized in strategically positioning balloons in battle areas to destroy enemy aircraft.

Sources: 
Linda Hervieux, Forgotten: The Untold Story of D-Day’s Black Heroes, at Home and at War (Harper Collins, 2015); “Woodson, Waverly – Enclosed Docs sent to Army” at http://stateside.digitalnewsroom.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Woodson-Waverly-Enclosed-Docs-Sent-to-Army-11.5.15.-No-PR.pdf; John Chambers, “Lincoln University Honors a World War II Hero” at http://www.chestercounty.com/2015/03/13/64967/lincoln-university-honors-a-world-war-ii-hero.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Beaumont Race Riot, 1943

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Shipyard Warkers, Beaumont, Texas, ca. 1943
Image Ownership: Public Domain

The Beaumont Race Riot of 1943 was sparked by racial tensions that arose in this Texas shipbuilding center during World War II.  The sudden influx of African American workers in industrial jobs in the Beaumont shipyard and the subsequent job competition with white workers forced race relations to a boiling point.

The riot itself exploded on June 15, 1943 with most of the violence ending a day later.  White workers at the Pennsylvania Shipyard located in Beaumont, Texas confronted black workers after hearing that a local white woman had accused a black man of raping her.  The woman who made the accusation was later unable to identify her attacker from the number of black inmates held at the city jail.

Sources: 
James S. Olson, “Beaumont Riot of 1943,” The Handbook of Texas Online, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/BB/jcb1.html (accessed 11 June, 2008); Glen Yeadon and John Hawkins, The Nazi Hydra in America: Suppressed History of a Century (Joshua Tree: Progressive Press, 2007).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Gideon, Russell S. (1904-1985)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Russell S. Gideon was a Seattle, Washington businessman, pharmacist, and pioneer in the development of senior housing.  From 1977 until his death in 1985, he was recognized yearly by Ebony magazine as one the nation’s 100 most influential black citizens.  He was a respected community leader, and a man of great energy and charm.  Gideon used these personal attributes to advantage in pursuing many humanitarian and business interests.
Sources: 
Mary T. Henry, Tribute: Seattle Public Places Named for Black People (Seattle: Statice Press, 1997); Mary Henry, “Russell Gideon,” http://www.historylink.org/_content/printer_friendly/pf_output.cfm?file_id=238; Elizabeth James House, http://capitolhousing.org/our/properties/buildings/ejsh.php.org.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

African Americans and the Manhattan Project, Richland, WA (1942-1945)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Black Workers at Hanford, 1944
Image Ownership: Public domain

Between the years of 1942 and 1944 around fifteen thousand blacks and fifty thousand whites were recruited to the Manhattan/ Hanford Project in Richland, Washington. The federal government required government contractor, DuPont, to keep the number of black construction workers on the project between 10 percent and 20 percent of the total workforce. The 20 percent limit was imposed because the federal government believed white workers would protest if black employees accounted for a larger percentage. Black worker participation in this project in the Pacific Northwest was driven by both President Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 8802, issued on June 25, 1941, which prohibited racial discrimination in employment by any private firms that received federal contracts and more generally by the wartime labor shortage. Regardless of the reason for the recruitment of black workers, they, along with other DuPont construction workers, provided the essential labor for building the facilities in which the plutonium for the first atomic bombs was produced.

Sources: 
Annette Cary, “Exhibit chronicles hard life for blacks at WWII Hanford,” Tri-City Herald (Feb 2016); Annette Cary, “Segregation has been a hard habit to break in Tri-Cities,” Tri-City Herald (March 2007); Annette Cary, “Black pioneers of early Hanford honored,” Tri-City Herald (Feb 2005); Annette Cary, “Segregated Labor,” Tri-City Herald (Feb 2002); Charles Mudede, “Black Americans Came to Washington State from Around the Country to Help Build the Atomic Bomb,” The Stranger (Dec 2015), “African Americans and the Manhattan Project,” http://www.atomicheritage.org/history/african-americans-and-manhattan-project.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Drogba, Didier (1978-- )

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

Didier Yves Drogba Tebily, international soccer star, was born March 11, 1978 in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast). His early childhood was spent in poverty. In an attempt to improve their son’s life, Didier’s parents sent him to France when he was just 5 years old to live with his uncle Michel Goba, an international soccer player also from the Ivory Coast. After a short three year stint in France, Didier returned to the Ivory Coast to live with his parents. But his stay would be short lived due to struggles at home. Both his parents had lost their jobs, so once again to escape poverty Didier moved to France to live with his uncle in the suburbs of Paris in 1991. In 1993 his parents followed Didier to France allowing the 15 year old to reunite with his family.The traveling over much of the course of his youth was difficult on Didier, but his hard times would become easier with the assistance of soccer.

Sources: 
John McShane, Didier Drogba: Portrait of a Hero (London: John Blake, 2007), http://www.didierdrogba.com.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Revolutionary United Front (1991–2002)

Entry Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The Revolutionary United Front (RUF) was a rebel army that fought in the Sierra Leone Civil War, 1991–2002. The RUF was created by Foday Sankoh along with allies that included Abu Kanu, Rashid Mansaray, and most of the Mende ethnic group in the southern and eastern provinces of the country. They also received crucial support from Charles Taylor from Liberia both when he led a rebel group in that nation and when he became the country’s ruler.

The RUF was at first popular among Sierra Leoneans who resented the corrupt Freetown political elite which had dominated politics in that nation. Not identifying with any ethnic group or region, they initially promised free education and healthcare and an equitable sharing of diamond revenues mined in their region. They adopted the slogan, “No more Slaves, No More Masters. Power and Wealth to the People.”  

Yet the RUF gave little indication of what sort of government they wanted to replace the regime of Sierra Leonean President Joseph Saidu Momah. Instead they developed a reputation of cruel violence inflicted on the civilian population in the decade-long war, including rape, torture, kidnapping, and mutilation, all designed to spread terror among the population. They were also known for their extensive use of child soldiers.

Sources: 
“Revolutionary United Front,” Encyclopedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Revolutionary-United-Front; “Revolutionary United Front,” Global Security, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/ruf.html; Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (New York: Sarah Crichton Books, 2007).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

Kadalie, Clements (1896-1951)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Clements Kadalie, an early South African trade unionist and political activist, was born in April 1896 in Nkhata Bay District in Nyasaland (now Malawi). His parents Musa Kadalie Muwamba had two sons with Clements the youngest. Kadalie graduated in 1913 at age seventeen from Livingstonia, a mission school administered by Church of Scotland missionaries. He was certified to teach elementary school and assigned to district schools in the region. Kadalie taught school for five years but like many of his contemporaries he was attracted by the much higher wages paid in South Africa and decided to move there.

In 1918 he settled in Cape Town, South Africa where he befriended Arthur F. Batty, a white trade unionist and political activist. Batty viewed the poorly-paid African working class as a prime target for continued exploitation unless they unionized. He urged Kadalie to create such a union. Kadalie responded by founding the Industrial and Commercial Union (ICU) in 1919, the first major black union in South Africa.
Sources: 
Clements Kadalie, My Life and the I.C.U.: The Autobiography of a Black Trade Unionist in South Africa (London: Cass, 1970); D. D. Phiri, I See You: Life of Clements Kadalie, the Man South Africa, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Namibia Should Not Forget (Blantyre, Malawi: College Publishing Company, 2000);  Encyclopedia of World Biography (Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2009); http://v1.sahistory.org.za/pages/people/bios/kadalie-c.htm; http://overcomingapartheid.msu.edu/people.php?id=122.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Ali, Muhammad (1942-2016)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Muhammad Ali, arguably the most famous professional boxer in the 20th Century and the only fighter to win the heavyweight championship three times, was born Cassius Clay in 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky, to Cassius Marcellus Clay, Sr. and Odessa Grady Clay.  At the age of 12 Clay began training as a boxer.  During his teen years he won several Golden Gloves titles and other amateur titles.  At the age of 18 he won a gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy and then turned professional.  In one of the most famous boxing matches of the century, Clay in 1965 stunned the world by beating apparently invincible world heavyweight champion Sonny Liston in six rounds.

Sources: 
David Remmick, King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the Rise of an American Hero (New York: Vintage Books, 1999); Hana Yasmeen Ali, The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life's Journey (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004); Kwame A. Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Blackwell, Lucien E. (1931- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Lucien E. Blackwell, U.S. Congressman and labor official, was born in Whitset, Pennsylvania.  He attended West Philadelphia High School, but left before obtaining his diploma.  Blackwell also served in the United States Armed Forces during the Korean War, and received the National Defense Service Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, a Meritorious Unit Commendation, and the Good Conduct Medal.  
Sources: 
Alton Hornsby, Jr. and Angela M. Hornsby, “From the Grassroots” Profiles of Contemporary African American Leaders (Montgomery, Alabama: E-Book Time LLC, 2007), pp. 26-28.
Affiliation: 
Morehouse College and University of Mississippi

Collins, Cardiss (1931- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the U.S. House of Representatives 
Photography Office
Cardiss Robertson Collins was born September 24, 1931 in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Findley Robertson and Rosa Mae Robertson.  At the age of 10 her family relocated to Detroit and she spent the rest of her childhood there, eventually graduating from the Detroit High School of Commerce. After high school Collins attended Northwestern University in Chicago and later became a stenographer with the Illinois Department of Labor. She was promoted several times until she reached the position of revenue auditor for the Illinois State Department of Revenue.

Through her husband, George Collins, and his involvement in politics, Collins became a Democratic Party activist in Chicago. She served as a committee member of the city’s Twenty-fourth Ward Democratic Organization among other community organizations. She was highly visible during George Collins campaigns for Illinois’s Seventh Congressional seat and stayed involved after he won the election. After George Collins passed away in a plane crash near Chicago’s Midway Airport in 1972, a special election was held to fill his seat. Cardiss Collins was nominated by the Democratic Party and easily won the seat left vacant by her husband on June 5, 1973 which she held continuously until 1997.
Sources: 
“Cardiss Collins” in Women in Congress, 1917-2006 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2006);”Cardiss Collins” in Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1989 (Washington, D.C: Government Printing Office, 1991).
http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=C000634
http://www.stennis.gov/Congressional%20Bios/cardiss_collins.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Savage, Augustus Alexander, “Gus” (1925 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the U.S. House of
Representatives Photography Office
Augustus Alexander Savage, later better known as “Gus”, was born in Detroit, Michigan, on October 30 1925. Savage attended public schools in Chicago and graduated from Wendell Phillips High School in 1943 before joining the United States Army. He served until 1946 before earning a B.A. degree in philosophy from Roosevelt University in 1951 and attending Chicago-Kent college of Law from 1952 to 1953. In the 1940s, Savage was a fulltime organizer for the Progressive Party of former Vice President Henry A. Wallace and also a promoter of programs for Paul Robeson, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Hon. Elijah Muhammad.  Savage began a career as a journalist in 1954 and became the editor of The America Negro Magazine, the assistant editor of the Illinois Beverage Booster, and finally in 1965 he began to edit and publish the Chicago Weekend and Citizen Newspapers.
Sources: 
Bruce A. Ragsdale, Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1989 (Washington: U.S. Government) Printing Office, 1990; www.bioguide.congress.gov ; Alton Hornsby, Jr. and Angela M. Hornsby, “From the Grassroots”: Profiles of Contemporary African American Leaders (Montgomery, Alabama: E-BookTime LLC, 2006)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Fontaine, William Thomas (1909-1968)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 

Bruce Kuklick, Black Philosopher, White Academy: The Career of William
Fontaine
(Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Pennsylvania

Silvera, Frank (1914–1970)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Frank Silvera as Don Sebastian Montoya in the High Chaparra
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Frank Silvera was an important 20th Century actor, director, producer, and teacher.  Born on July 24, 1914 in Kingston, Jamaica, he grew up in Boston, Massachusetts and went on to study law at Northeastern University Law School. He later attended Boston University, Old Vic School, and the Actors Studio before moving to New York City, New York to pursue acting.

Sources: 

Garland Thompson, “Who was Frank Silvera?” The Frank Silvera Writers'
Workshop Foundation, Inc
. http://www.fsww.org/whois.html; “Frank
Silvera” Internet Movie Database.  (Imdb.com Inc: 2009)
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0798826/; David Ragan, Who’s Who In
Hollywood
(New Rochelle, NY: Arlington Press, 1976); Edward Mapp,
Directory of Blacks in the Performing Arts (Metuchen, NJ: 1978).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

TransAfrica Forum (1977- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
TransAfrica President Bill Fletcher, actor Danny Glover
and Other Delegates Attending Meeting in Venezula, 2004
Image Ownership: Public Domain

TransAfrica was organized on July 1, 1977, as a non-profit organization that sought to give aid to predominantly black nations. Any concerns that dealt with the economy, politics, and society in nations, including Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America, were monitored by the organization. It especially pooled its efforts against the apartheid in Africa, initiating letter-writing campaigns, hunger strikes, and protest marches.

Randall Robinson, the executive director, Herschelle Challenor, and Willard Johnson, created the foundation of the organization and were the main figures who guided TransAfrica. The organization’s goal to help those nations varied from taking legal actions to raising the awareness of people around the world. In 1984, during the Reagan Administration, Robinson and other supporters founded the Free South Africa Movement, which resulted in over 5,000 people being arrested for protesting in front of the South African Embassy. Then in 1986, President Reagan, known for his support of the apartheid, had his veto of the Anti-Apartheid Act overturned, which resulted in the law of imposing economic sanctions on South Africa to pass.

Sources: 
http://www.transafricaforum.org/; Randall Robinson, South Africa and the United States: the declassified history (New York: New Press: W.W. Norton, 1993); Nina Mjagkij, Organizing Black America: An Encyclopedia of African American Associations (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 2001).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Churchville, John (1941- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John Elliott Churchville is a civil rights activist and black nationalist who founded Philadelphia's Freedom Library Community Project, which would become the Freedom Library Day School.

Born in Philadelphia in 1941, Churchville attended Simon Gratz High School, and, on graduation, began studying music education at Temple University. He dropped out in 1961 to become a jazz musician, and moved to New York, where he met Malcolm X at the Nation of Islam headquarters in Harlem.

Inspired by Malcolm’s black nationalism, Churchville attended the Inter-Collegiate Conference on Northern Civil Rights at Sarah Lawrence College in April 1962, where he was recruited to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Despite disagreeing with the Committee’s integrationist philosophy, Churchville joined its field staff and traveled south to Georgia and Mississippi to register voters. His experience in Freedom Schools, helping blacks in Greenwood, Mississippi pass the state’s literacy test, inspired him to see education as crucial to the civil rights movement.
Sources: 
Matthew Countryman, Up South: Civil Rights and Black Power in Philadelphia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006); John Elliott Churchville, LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/johnelliottchurchvillephd; Paul M. Washington and David Gracie, Other Sheep I Have: The Autobiography of Father Paul M. Washington (Philadelphia: Temple University Press,1994).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sydney, Australia

Williams, Camilla (1919-2012)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Indiana University
Professional opera singer Camilla Williams was born October 18, 1919 in Danville, Virginia to Fannie Carey Williams and Cornelius Booker Williams. The youngest of four siblings, Williams began singing at a young age and was performing at her local church by age eight. At age 12, she began taking lessons from a Welsh singing teacher, Raymond Aubrey, but because of Jim Crow laws the lessons had to be conducted in private in Aubrey’s home.

After high school, Williams attended Virginia State College for Negroes, now Virginia State University, in Petersburg, Virginia. She graduated in 1941 with a bachelor’s degree in music education. After graduation, Williams taught 3rd grade and music at a black public school in Danville. In 1943, fellow Virginia State College alumni paid for the gifted singer to move to Philadelphia and study under influential voice coach Marion Szekely-Freschl. Williams began touring in 1944 and during one concert in Stamford, Connecticut she met Geraldine Farrar, a respected soprano opera singer and the original star of the New York Metropolitan Opera’s Madame Butterfly. Farrar was so impressed with Williams’ voice that she soon took her under her wing and became her mentor. Farrar even helped Williams to sign a recording contract with RCA Victor and to break into the highest levels of American opera.  
Sources: 
Veronica A. Davis, Inspiring African American Women of Virginia (New York: IUniverse, 2005); http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/03/arts/music/camilla-williams-opera-singer-dies-at-92.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bennet, Rodney D. ( 19??- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Rodney D. Bennett is the current president of the University of Southern Mississippi. He is the institution’s tenth president, and the first African American president of a predominantly white college or university in Mississippi. His presidency was announced February 7, 2013, and he assumed his office on April 1 of that year. However, three days after his appointment, a tornado struck the Hattiesburg, Mississippi campus, and he began to direct the cleanup and rebuilding efforts in the interim. Bennett in his current position is responsible for all facets of campus life and administration. His stated primary focus is improving the school’s overall graduation rate of 49% in six years though better advising and counseling to current students and potential students about the requirements for success. The university has 16,000 students with black students comprising 31% of the campus enrollment.

Dr.

Sources: 
https://www.usm.edu/about/administration/president;  Pearl Stewart, “Bennett More Than a ‘First’ at Southern Mississippi,” Diverse, July 22, 2013, http://diverseeducation.com/article/54794/;  Jeff Amy, “UGA's Bennett Chosen as First Black President of Mississippi University,” Athens Banner-Herald, Thursday, February 7, 2013, http://onlineathens.com/uga/2013-02-07/ugas-bennett-chosen-first-black-president-mississippi-university; Caron Blanton, “College Board Announces Bennett as Preferred Candidate for Southern Miss President,” Southern Miss Now, 2/01/2013, http://www.usm.edu/news/article/college-board-announces-bennett-preferred-candidate-southern-miss-president;  Katherine Mangan, “New Chief Works to Rebuild Injured Campus,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 22, 2013, https://chronicle.com/article/For-U-of-Southern/138669/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Floyd, Elson S. (1956–2015)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Elson S. Floyd was the first African American president of three universities, a visionary leader, and a skilled statesman.

Elson Sylvester Floyd was born on February 29, 1956, in Henderson, North Carolina. He was raised in this racially segregated town where his father, Elson, was a bricklayer, and his mother, Dorothy, worked in a tobacco factory. The family lived in poverty, and neither parent graduated from high school, but the Floyds taught their four boys the value of education, including their eldest, Elson.
Sources: 
Kathrine Long, “WSU’s late President Floyd leaves lasting legacy of accomplishments,” Seattle Times, June 24, 2015, http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/wsus-late-president-floyd-leaves-lasting-legacy-of-accomplishments/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=article_bottom; Nina Culver, “WSU President Elson Floyd dies after battle with cancer,” The Spokesman Review, June 20, 2015, http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2015/jun/20/wsu-president-elson-floyd-loses-cancer-battle/; “WSU President Elson S. Floyd Leaves Unparalleled Education Legacy,” WSU Office of the President, http://president.wsu.edu/eflo/obituary.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Washington State University

Jeffries, Willie (1937– )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Willie Jeffries and the South Carolina State University
Football Team
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Willie Jeffries is a former American football player and coach. Jeffries served as the head football coach at South Carolina State University for nineteen seasons in two stints (1973–1978, 1989–2001), five seasons at Wichita State University (1973–1983), and five seasons at Howard University (1984–1988). Jeffries was the first African American coach of a NCAA Division I-A football program at a predominantly white college where he coached at Wichita State.

Jeffries was born on January 4, 1937, in Union, South Carolina, to Irene and John Jeffries, a house painter. He started his coaching career as assistant coach in 1960 at Barr Street High School in Lancaster, South Carolina. From 1968 to 1971, Jeffries was a defensive line coach for the North Carolina A&T Aggies football team. In 1972 he became an assistant coach at the University of Pittsburgh.

The first of Jeffries’s stints with the South Carolina State Bulldogs Football team came in 1973 when he was named head coach. During his time there, he won his first two Black College National Championships (1976 and 1977) and four Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Championships.

Sources: 
“Willie Jeffries,” Black American Web, http://blackamericaweb.com/2016/01/12/little-known-black-history-fact-willie-jeffries/; “Willie Jeffries,” Medal of Honor Bowl, http://www.mohbowl.com/hall-of-famer-willie-jeffries-to-guide-medal-of-honor-bowls-american-team/; “Willie Jeffries,” National Football Foundation, http://www.footballfoundation.org/Programs/CollegeFootballHallofFame/SearchDetail.aspx?id=90194.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Dawkins, Darryl (1957-2015)

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

Darryl Dawkins (also known as Chocolate Thunder—a name music legend Stevie Wonder gave him), was born in Orlando, Florida, on January 11, 1957. Born to Harriet James and Frank Dawkins, he was raised by his grandmother, Amanda Celestine Jones, in Orlando where he attended Maynard Evans High School. In 1975, he became the first player ever drafted out of high school directly into the National Basketball Association (NBA). Dawkins was drafted in the first round, going fifth overall in the NBA draft.

During his high school career, as a 6-foot-10-inch senior, Dawkins averaged thirty-two points and twenty-one rebounds per game, making him one of the most heavily recruited players in the country. University basketball powerhouses such as the University of Kentucky, University of Florida, and Kansas University all wanted him, but he decided to forgo college and go straight into the draft, where he was selected by the Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) 76ers. When he was drafted, Dawkins signed what was then a record-setting seven-year contract worth $1 million.

Sources: 
Darryl Dawkins and Charley Rosen, Chocolate Thunder: The Uncensored Life and Times of Darryl Dawkins (New York: Sports Media Publishing, 2003); Andre Williams, "Dawkins Does Not Regret Heading to NBA 25 Years Ago He Left Maynard Evans High School in 1975 to Help His Family Make It through Financial Difficulties," Morning Call, June 25 2000, http://articles.mcall.com/2000-06-25/sports/3302093_1_54th-nba-draft-draft-day-high-school; and Ohm Youngmisuk, "Legendary Dunker Darryl Dawkins Dies," ESPN, August 27, 2015, http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/13526002/darryl-dawkins-dies-age-58.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Reed, George Robert (1939- )

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

Born on October 2, 1939 in Vicksburg, Mississippi, George Robert Reed is a former American College football and Canadian Football League (CFL) player. Reed is considered one of the premier fullbacks to play in the CFL. Reed played for the Saskatchewan Roughriders for 13 seasons, from 1963 until his retirement in June of 1975.

Reed, whose family moved to Renton, Washington, played football at Washington State University both as fullback and linebacker between 1959 and 1963.  After his graduation in 1963 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education, he came to Canada to play professional football with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Regina, Saskatchewan. As a professional football player George Reed amassed numerous awards such as the Schenley Award for the Most Outstanding Player and set records including most rushing yards (16,116) for all of professional football.  His jersey, # 34, is permanently retired in the Canadian Hall of Fame and Museum in Hamilton, Ontario.

Sources: 
CFL.ca Network: Official site of the Canadian Football League; Graham Kelly, The Grey Cup (Red Deer, Alberta: Johnson Gorman, 1999); Graham Kelly, Green Grit: The Story of the Saskatchewan Roughriders (Toronto: HarperCollins, 2001) Canadian Football League facts, figures and records (Toronto: Canadian Football League, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Daniels, Preston A. (1945- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Preston Daniels, the first African American elected Mayor of Des Moines, Iowa, was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1945.  Shortly afterwards his parents moved to Des Moines and he grew up in the Chesterfield section of southeast Des Moines, a working-class area also known as the “southeast bottoms.”   

After graduating from high school in 1963 he served four years in the United States Army, and was honorably discharged at the rank of Sergeant. Daniels returned to Des Moines and received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from Drake University in 1971.  Daniels also obtained his Master of Science Degree in Health Science from the same institution in 1972.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Dawson, Daisy Lee Tibbs (1924-2013)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Courtesy of the Dawson Family"
Daisy Tibbs Dawson, a Seattle, Washington peace activist and educator, is the only African American to be memorialized in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima, Japan. Tibbs was born in Toney, Alabama on July 27, 1924 to Calvin and Martha Tibbs.  At a very early age, her parents died, leaving her and her two siblings in the care of their maternal uncle, Robert Tibbs and his wife, Mary Leslie. She attended segregated public schools during her primary years and then attended a private black high school, Trinity High School, established by white Presbyterian missionaries. Tibbs worked in order to pay for her tuition.  She took classes from a diverse cohort of faculty that included both black and white teachers and a Japanese music instructor who was interned by U.S. authorities after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Sources: 
Floyd W. Schmoe, Japan Journey (Seattle: Seattle Silver Quoin Press, 1950); Daisy Dawson interviewed by Jonathan Houston on April 27, 2009, transcript (Daisy Tibbs Dawson Family Private Collection); “Mission to Hiroshima,” Ebony Magazine, Jan.1950; “Daisy Lee Tibbs Dawson,” Obituary, The Seattle Times, May 28, 2013.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Koné, Malamine (1971– )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Clothing entrepreneur Malamine Koné, was born in Mali on December 21, 1971, but now lives near Paris, France. He is most famous for creating the sport-clothing brand Airness in 1999. Fifteen years later, the clothing line is one of the most popular in France.

While growing up in an impoverished village not far from Bamako, the capital city of Mali, Koné worked as a shepherd, responsible for searching for ponds and grass for cattle in the semi-arid Sahel region that covers most of Mali. Because of his parents’ poverty, he did not attend school and often relied on his grandparents for food. His mother and father decided to immigrate to France in the late 1970s, initially leaving young Koné behind. In 1981 at the age of 10, he was reunited with his parents in Seine Saint-Denis, a suburb north of Paris.   
When he arrived in France, he could not speak French, had never experienced a winter, and had never attended school. In his first two years in the country, he attended a special school designed for immigrants to France and then enrolled in a regular French academy. Over time, he became an excellent pupil and graduated from a university. His goal at that time was to enter the Paris Police Department and eventually become a police administrator.  
Sources: 
“Les 100 Personnalités de la diaspora africaine”, in Jeune Afrique, n° 2536-2537, August 16-29, 2009
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Paris

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, New York 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.

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

Charles, Ray (1930-2004)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Ray Charles Robinson, a talented musician, singer and composer, was one of the first African American artists to merge the blues with gospel to pave the way for rhythm and blues (R&B) music.  Robinson was born September 23, 1930 in Albany, Georgia.  At five he began to go blind and by the age of seven his sight was completely gone.  In order to help teach him to be self-sufficient his mother sent Robinson to the St. Augustine School for the Deaf and Blind, a racially segregated school in Florida.  There he learned to read music in Braille as well as to play both classical and jazz music on the piano.

Robinson’s mother passed away when he was 15 years old. Now on his own, he decided to move to Seattle, Washington where he continued his musical development.  By 1948 he had become a professional musician, shortening his name to Ray Charles, and forming his own trio. Before his 20th birthday Robinson had become a local sensation in the bars and clubs along Seattle’s Jackson Street.  
Sources: 
Eleanora E. Tate, Black Stars: African American Musicians (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2000); "Ray Charles" American Masters.  PBS.org.
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/database/charles_r.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Pickens, William (1881-1954)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of The History Cooperative
William Pickens was born January 15, 1881 in Anderson County, South Carolina. His parents were liberated slaves who migrated to Arkansas when he was a young boy.  Young Pickens worked in cotton fields and in sawmills while attending the local segregated public school.  Pickens entered Talladega College in Alabama in 1898 and left four years later as the school’s most illustrious graduate in its history. In 1902 he entered Yale University in Connecticut and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa where he won the Henry James Ten Eyek Prize over thirty seven competitors in 1903.  Pickens became an expert linguist and graduated from Yale with a second B.A. degree in classics in 1904.  In 1905 Pickens married Minnie Cooper McAlpine. The couple had three children.  
Sources: 
William Pickens, Bursting Bonds (Boston: Jordan & More Press, 1923); William M. Brewer, The Journal of Negro History 39:3 (July 1954): 242-244: Sheldon Avery, Up from Washington: William Pickens and the Negro Struggle for Equality (Newark, University of Delaware Press, 1989).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Johnson, John Harold (1918-2005)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in Arkansas City, Arkansas on January 19, 1918, publisher, philanthropist, businessman, entrepreneur, John H. Johnson became the leading 20th Century publisher of African American news magazines. Johnson moved to Chicago in 1932 where he attended school and graduated with honors in 1936.  He attended the University of Chicago and Northwestern University but did not complete his degree. Over his lifetime, Johnson received numerous honorary degrees, including five doctorates.
Sources: 
Bruce A. Glasrud and Laurie Champion, "Ebony," in Encyclopedia USA, edited by Donald W. Whisenhunt, vol. 25, 139-143 (Gulf Breeze, Florida.: Academic International Press, 1998); A. James Reichley, “How John Johnson Made It,” Fortune 77 (January, 1968), 152-153; 178-180; John H. Johnson, Succeeding Against the Odds ( Chicago: Amistad Publishing, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Paterson, David A. (1954- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
David Paterson Sworn in as Lt. Governor
of New York, January 2007
Image Ownership: Public Domain

David A. Paterson, sworn in as Governor on March 17, 2008, is the first legally blind American Governor, the first black Governor of New York State, and only the fourth black Governor of any state.

Sources: 
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/p/david_a_paterson; http://www.ny.gov/governor/indes-ltgov.html; http://www.sipa.columbia.edu/academics/directory/dp417-fac.html; www.news24.com.
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Jones, Frederick McKinley (1893-1961)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Courtesy of: Minnesota Historical Society
Frederick McKinley Jones was a prolific early 20th century black inventor who helped to revolutionize both the cinema and refrigeration industries.  Over his lifetime, he patented more than sixty inventions in divergent fields with forty of those patents in refrigeration. He is best known for inventing the first automatic refrigeration system for trucks.

Jones was born on May 17, 1893 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  His mother died when he was nine, and he was forced to drop out of school.  A priest in Covington, Kentucky, raised him until he was sixteen.

Upon leaving the rectory, Jones began working as a mechanic’s helper at the R.C. Crothers Garage in Cincinnati.  Jones would spend much of his time observing the mechanics as they worked on cars, taking in as much information as possible.  These observations, along with an insatiable appetite for learning through reading helped Jones develop an incredible base of knowledge about automobiles and their inner workings. Within three years his skills and love for cars had netted him a promotion to shop foreman.  By nineteen, he had built and driven several cars in racing exhibitions and soon became one of the most well know racers in the Great Lakes region.
Sources: 
James Michael Brodie, Created Equal: The Lives and Ideas of Black American Innovators (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1993); Otha Richard Sullivan and James Haskins, African American Inventors (New York: Wiley, 1998); Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: Norton, 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Carlos, John (1945-- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Tommie Smith and John Carlos,
Mexico City, 1968
Image Ownership: Public Domain

John Carlos is best known for his black-gloved fist salute on the winner’s podium (with Tommie Smith) at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Carlos was born and raised in Harlem, New York.  He was a promising student-athlete in high school who, following graduation, attended East Texas State University (ETSU) on a track and field scholarship. After a year at ETSU, Carlos transferred to San Jose State University (SJS).

Carlos attended SJS during the late 1960s at the time of the “revolt of the Black athlete” which was symbolized by the University canceling its opening day football with University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) on September 18, 1967 due to a boycott of black student athletes.  At the time, Carlos was a world-class sprinter and student-member of the SJS United Black Students for Action (UBSA).

As a track and field athlete Carlos was not directly affected by the student boycott of the football game.  He continued to successfully compete and was chosen for the American Olympic team that would participate in the Mexico City Games in 1968.

Sources: 

Harry Edwards, The Revolt of the Black Athlete (New York: the Free Press, 1970); HBO, Fists of Freedom: The Story of the '68 Summer Games (1999); Herbert G. Ruffin II, Uninvited Neighbors: Black Life and the Racial Quest for Freedom in the Santa Clara Valley, 1777-1968 (Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Dissertation Publishing, 2007); USA Track & Field, Inc (URL: http://www.usatf.org/halloffame/TF/showBio.asp?HOFIDs=195).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

West, Togo D., Jr. (1942- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Togo D. West Jr., attorney and government official, was born on June 21, 1942 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina to Togo D. West, Sr. and Evelyn Carter West. In 1959 he graduated as valedictorian from Atkins High School in that same city.   In 1965, West enrolled at Howard University, earning his B.S. degree in electrical engineering.  He switched to law and earned a J.D. degree from Howard University Law School in 1968, graduating first in his class.  After he completed law school, West clerked for a federal judge in the Southern district of New York.  

During the early 1970s, West served in the United States Army as a judge in the Judge Advocate General Corps.  For his outstanding military service, West earned both the Legion of Merit award and the Meritorious Service Medal.  Government officials recognized West’s distinguished military service and in 1973, he was appointed by President Gerald Ford as Deputy Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice.  In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed West as general counsel to the Navy and in 1979, West served as Deputy Secretary to the Secretary of Defense and general counsel to the Department of Defense from 1980 to 1981.

In 1981, West retired from government to become managing partner of the Washington, D.C. law firm, Patterson, Belknap, Webb, and Tyler.  In 1990, West became the senior vice president for the Arlington, Virginia-based Northrop Corporation, a military aircraft manufacturer.

Sources: 
Mary Kalfatovic, “West, Togo D. Jr.” Contemporary Black Biography (Detroit: Gale Research, 1998); Washington Post, November 22, 1996, p. l; November 23, 1996, p.9; http://www.nytimes.com/2000/07/11/us/va-secretary-resigning.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Desire Housing Project, New Orleans, Louisiana (1956-2001)

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History
Desire Housing Project, 1956
Image Courtesy of Louisiana Division/City Archives,
New Orleans Public Library
The Desire Housing Project was a Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) managed project located in the city’s largely African American Desire neighborhood, part of the Upper Ninth Ward. Authorized by the Housing Act of 1949, construction of the Desire project began in 1949 and was completed by 1956. Cut off from the rest of the city by the Industrial Canal, Florida Canal, and railroad tracks on all four sides, the segregated project contained 262 two-story buildings featuring 1,860 apartments, making it at the time one of the largest public housing sites in the country. By the 1960s, the Desire project housed more than 13,000 residents on a plot of land slightly less than 100 acres in size, making it the area with the greatest population density in New Orleans, Louisiana. Two elementary schools, Robert R. Moton and Johnson Lockett, were included in the construction of the Desire Housing Project. Many of those who moved into the housing project had been displaced by urban renewal projects elsewhere in the city.   
Sources: 
Kent B. Germany, New Orleans After the Promises: Poverty, Citizenship, and the Search for the Great Society (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2007); Rachel Breunlin and Helen A. Regis, “Putting the Ninth Ward on the Map: Race, Place, and Transformation in Desire, New Orleans,” American Anthropologist 108:4 (December 2006); http://www.datacenterresearch.org/pre-katrina/orleans/7/16/snapshot.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of New Orleans

Smith, Barbara (1946- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the City of Albany, 
New York
Beginning in the 1970s, Barbara Smith broke new ground as a black feminist, lesbian, activist, author, and book publisher of women of color.  She and her twin sister, Beverly Smith, were born on December 16, 1946 in Cleveland, Ohio.  Their mother, Hilda Smith, maternal grandmother, and a great aunt raised the girls there.  Smith’s activism started in high school when she participated in boycotts, marches and civil rights protests in the 1960s.

Education remained a high priority in the household.  As the first member of the Smith family to graduate from college, their mother, Hilda, expected the twins to do likewise.  She died when the twins were nine years old, and consequently Smith’s grandmother and aunt continued to stress the importance of learning and education.  Barbara Smith earned her B.A. from Mount Holyoke College in 1969 and her MA in 1971 from University of Pittsburgh.  She completed all but the dissertation (ABD) in her doctoral studies at the University of Connecticut (1981).
Sources: 
Paul Grondahl, “She’s Barbara Smith, Mover and ‘Maker’: Councilwoman to be Featured in New Video on Women’s Movement,” Times Union (April 5, 2012); Candace LaBalle, “Barbara Smith,” Gale Contemporary Black Biography, http://www.answers.com/topic/barbara-smith#ixzz1wWRbZ4kp; http://www.makers.com/barbara-smith.
Contributor: 

Lawson, Gerald “Jerry” Anderson (1940-2011)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Computer game innovator Gerald “Jerry” Anderson Lawson was born in Brooklyn, New York on Dec. 1, 1940, and grew up in Queens. His parents, both blue collar workers, encouraged his intellectual pursuits. Lawson’s father was a longshoreman by profession and a voracious reader of science books,  Lawson’s mother was a city employee, and also president of the PTA at the nearly predominantly white school Lawson attended.

As a boy Lawson pursued a number of scientific interests, ham radio and chemistry among them. As a teenager Lawson earned money repairing television sets. During the 1960s Lawson attended both Queens College and the City College of New York, but never received a degree. His interest in computing led him in the 1970s to Silicon Valley's Homebrew Computer Club, where he and Ron Jones were the only black members. While with the club Dawson crossed paths with Apple Computer Inc.’s founders, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. During this period Lawson invented an early coin-operated arcade game, Demolition Derby.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Jerrick, Walter Fitzgerald (1894-1953)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Walter Fitzgerald Jerrick, prominent Philadelphia, Pennsylvania physician and founder of The Pyramid Club was born in Georgetown, British Guiana, on March 21, 1894. He attended the public schools there until October 12, 1908, when he came to the United States and enrolled at Downingtown School in Philadelphia.

In 1909 Jerrick entered Lincoln University, in Pennsylvania. While there he pledged recently founded Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and in 1912 became a charter member of Nu Chapter.  After his graduation from Lincoln University in 1913, he enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. He graduated in 1919 with his Doctor of Medicine degree.

Jerrick received a fellowship and decided to pursue additional training abroad.  He received postgraduate training in 1920-1921 at the University of Paris, France, the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and at St. Mary's Hospital in London. Once back in Philadelphia, he established an office in South Philadelphia.  He also became an associate gynecologist at the Joseph Price Hospital in the city.

Sources: 
Histories, “Origins of Rho Chapter,” Alpha Phi Alpha, Rho Chapter, 1914, http://rho1914.com/histrho.htm; Temple University, Charles Blockson Collection, http://digital.library.temple.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15037coll17/id/740/; Howard Heartsfield Studio/Gallery, http://howardheartsfieldgallery.com/the-pyramid-club.html; Kia Gregory, “Legacy of a clubhouse Philly's Pyramid Club, a beloved, revered hangout for black professionals” (February 11, 2010), http://articles.philly.com/2010-02-11/news/25219730_1_membership-professionals-african-american.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Hernandez, Aileen Clarke (1926– )

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People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Civil, Women’s, and Union Rights Activist Aileen Clarke Hernandez was born Aileen Clarke to Jamaican immigrant parents on May 23, 1926, in Brooklyn, New York. Her mother, Ethel Louise Hall, was a theatrical seamstress, and her father, Charles Henry Clarke, was a brush maker for the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) founded by Marcus Garvey. Clarke attended elementary school at P.S. 176 and Bay Ridge High School where she graduated as salutatorian, school newspaper editor, and vice president in 1943. She then enrolled at Howard University where her instructors included Alain Locke, E. Franklin Frazier, Howard Thurman, Ralph Bunche, Sterling Brown, Charles Hamilton Houston, Thurgood Marshall, and James Nabrit. Clarke graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in 1947. Later that same year, Clarke married Alfonso Hernandez, but the marriage dissolved just four years later. The couple had no children.
Sources: 
African American Women’s Institute, AAWI Profiles, “Aileen C. Hernandez,” http://www.gs.howard.edu/women/aawi/hernandez.htm; Linda Napikoski, “Aileen Hernandez: The Work of a Lifelong Activist,” http://womenshistory.about.com/od/feminists/a/aileen_hernandez.htm; Joan Oleck, “Aileen Clarke Hernandez,” http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2871500032.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Lewis, Raymond Anthony, Jr. (1975- )

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

Raymond Anthony Lewis Jr. is a retired American football player who spent his entire professional career with the Baltimore (Maryland) Ravens of the National Football League (NFL). Lewis played college football for the University of Miami (Florida) where he earned all-American honors. After college, Lewis was drafted by the Ravens in the first round of the 1996 NFL Draft where he played the position of middle linebacker. During Lewis’s NFL career, he was a thirteen-time Pro Bowler, two-time Super Bowl Champion, seven-time first team All-Pro, and two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Lewis was born May 15, 1975, in Bartow, Florida. His mother, Sunseria, was just sixteen at the time of his birth, and his father, Elbert Ray Jackson, was absent for most of his life. Lewis, the oldest of four siblings, attended Kathleen High School in Lakeland, Florida, where he was an all-American linebacker and wrestling star. After high school, Lewis enrolled at the University of Miami in Miami, Florida, in 1992 where he was a member of the Miami Hurricanes football team. During his time with the Hurricanes, he was an all-American and a runner-up for the Butkus Award as the nation best linebacker.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Maxey, Carl (1924-1997)

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People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Carl Maxey grew up in an orphanage and became a leading attorney, civil rights activist, and champion of the underdog.  He was adopted by a Spokane, Washington, couple immediately following his birth in Tacoma but ended up in the Spokane Children's Home after his adoptive father disappeared and his mother died.  When Maxey was twelve the Home's Board decided it would no longer care for African American children and he was placed in the Spokane County Juvenile Detention Center. Years later, he said "So if you wonder where some of my fire comes from, it comes from a memory that includes this event."
Sources: 
Bill Morlin, “Spokane Loses a Champion: Carl Maxey ? 1924?1997: He Defended Civil Rights and Controversial Clients,” The Spokesman?Review, July 18, 1997, p. A1; Marsha King, “Maxey Was An Inspiration: Black Attorney’s Example of Activism Cherished,” The Seattle Times, July 18, 1997; "Carl Maxey (1924-1997)," Equal Justice Newsletter, April 1999 (http://www.courts.wa.gov/programs_orgs/pos_mjc/?fa=pos_mjc.display&fileID=new9904#A4);HistoryLink.orghttp://www.historylink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "Maxey, Carl (1924-1997)" (by Jim Kershner) and "Senator Henry Jackson overwhelmingly defeats peace candidate Carl Maxey in the Democratic primary on September 15, 1970." .
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
HistoryLink.org

Broussard, Allen E. (1929-1996)

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People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
As a young activist, Allen Broussard fought for racial justice, equal opportunity, and civil liberties.  Those campaigns inspired him to study the law.  He connected with the community throughout his career as an attorney, judge, and committee member.  Broussard authored key opinions on the death penalty and the environment while on the California Supreme Court.  He is best known as the dissenting liberal judge on the California Supreme Court at a time when the state's voters had removed most of the liberal judges on the bench.

Broussard was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana in 1929 to Eugenia and Clemiere Broussard.  The family moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1945 at the end of World War II in search of greater opportunities.  There Eugenia worked as a seamstress and Clemiere as a longshoreman.  

In 1945 Broussard enrolled in San Francisco City College where he served as student chapter president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).  His chapter was part of a citywide effort to get the first African American high school teacher and policeman hired by the City of San Francisco.  He also helped to secure union jobs that had previously been closed to African Americans.  
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Deep Greenwood (Tulsa), Oklahoma (1906–)

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma, grew into the most famous and prosperous black urban community in the United States during the early 1900s. Dubbed the “Negro Wall Street” by educator Booker T. Washington, this community had a flourishing population that included both a working class and a middle class of prosperous citizens.

After the Civil War, most of the all-black townships that had been established in the United States were located in Indian and Oklahoma Territories. One of those townships, Greenwood, was created in 1906 by one of Tulsa’s earliest pioneers, O.W. Gurley, who had come from Arkansas to Oklahoma in the 1889 Land Rush. A black educator and entrepreneur who gained wealth by speculating in land, Gurley purchased forty acres on the northern outskirts of Tulsa, which itself had been incorporated only eight years earlier in 1898. Gurley sold his land to African Americans who soon developed a small community. Tulsa grew rapidly because of the oil boom in the surrounding countryside and by 1910 annexed Greenwood.
Sources: 
Scott Ellsworth, Death in a Promised Land: The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1982); Brandon Weber, “Ever Heard Of ‘Black Wall Street’?” Progressive Inc., http://www.progressive.org/news/2016/02/188570/ever-heard-%E2%80%98black-wall-street%E2%80%99; “Black Wall Street: The True Story,” Black Holocaust Society Inc., http://www.blackwallstreet.freeservers.com/The%20Story.htm; Greenwood Cultural Center, http://www.greenwoodculturalcenter.com/black-wall-street; “Black Wall Street – The Tulsa “Riot” of 1921,” Education for Life Academy, http://www.educationforlifeacademy.com/Black_Wall_Street_Study_Guide_EFLA.pdf; J. Kavin Ross, “A Conspiracy Of Silence,” This Land, http://thislandpress.com/2011/09/06/a-conspiracy-of-silence/; Dan Rutherford, “The Glory of Greenwood,” BH Media Group, Inc., http://www.tulsaworld.com/archives/the-glory-of-greenwood/article_75801376-0fc8-5525-aeb3-3eb1d6bc1256.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Sankara, Thomas (1949-1987)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Thomas Sankara, political leader of Burkina Faso in the 1980s, was born on December 21, 1949 in Yako, a northern town in the Upper Volta (today Burkina Faso) of French West Africa. He was the son of a Mossi mother and a Peul father, and personified the diversity of the Burkinabè people of the area. In his adolescence, Sankara witnessed the country’s independence from France in 1960 and the repressive and volatile nature of the regimes that ruled throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
Sources: 

Pierre Englebert, Burkina Faso: Unsteady Statehood in West Africa (Boulder: Westview Press, 1996); Thomas Sankara, Thomas Sankara Speaks: The Burkina Faso Revolution, 1983-87 (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1988); Victoria Brittain, “Introduction to Sankara and Burkina Faso,” Review of African Political Economy, No. 32 (April 1985).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Johnson, Earvin "Magic" (1959 - )

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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

Bragg, Robert H. (1919- )

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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

Reagon, Bernice Johnson (1942- )

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Bernice Johnson Reagon, singer/composer, cultural historian, author, and producer, was born on October 4, 1942 in Dougherty County, Georgia, to Reverend Jessie Johnson and Beatrice Johnson. The third child of eight, she began singing at the age of five in her father’s church. As a high school senior in 1959 she served as secretary to the youth chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

In 1959 Johnson entered Albany State College in Georgia, where she majored in music. While there, she became one of the student leaders in the Albany Movement, serving as student representative on the Executive Committee. In December 1961 Johnson and 600 other African Americans were arrested for demonstrating against segregated facilities. As a result of their activism, Johnson and 38 fellow students were suspended by the college.

In 1962 Johnson became a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Field Secretary, joining SNCC’s Freedom Singers on their first national tour. After her marriage in 1963 to fellow SNCC member, Cordell H. Reagon, and the birth of their children, Toshi and Kwan, Reagon resumed her studies at Spelman College, graduating in 1970.  She then went on to do graduate work in history at Howard University, completing her doctoral dissertation on the songs of the Civil Rights Movement.
Sources: 
Jessie Carney Smith, Epic Lives: One Hundred Black Women Who Made a Difference (Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1993); http://www.bernicejohnsonreagon.com/.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Anderson, Garland (1886-1939)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
A pioneer playwright and moralistic philosopher of constructive thinking, Garland Anderson was the first African American known to have a serious full-length drama produced on Broadway in New York. Active in the theatre for over 10 years during the 1920s and 1930s, he achieved national prominence as “the San Francisco Bellhop Playwright.”

Garland Anderson was born in Wichita, Kansas.  He completed only four years of formal schooling before the family moved to California. Working as a bellhop in a San Francisco hotel, he often shared his optimistic philosophy of life with guests who encouraged him to write about his ideas. Anderson believed an individual might achieve anything in life through faith.
Sources: 
Garland Anderson, Uncommon Sense: The Law of Life in Action (London: L.N Fowler & Company 1933); Anthony Duane Hill, ed., An Historical Dictionary of African American Theater (Prevessin, France: Scarecrow Press, 2008)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Ohio State University

Basie, Count (William Allen “Count” Basie) (1904-1984)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
A jazz pianist and bandleader, Count Basie was one of the leading musicians of the Big Band “Swing” era. His Count Basie Orchestra was formed in 1936, and featured singers such as Billie Holliday, and notable musicians including Lester Young, Jo Jones, and Walter Page. The band lasted for many decades, outliving Basie himself.  
Sources: 
Susan Altman, The Encyclopedia of African-American Heritage (New York: Facts on File, 1997); Charlotte Greig, Icons of Black Music (San Diego, California: Thunder Bay Press, 1999); http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/jazz/home/.
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Jones, Scipio Africanus (1863–1943)

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

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

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

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

Orangeburg Massacre (1968)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Image courtesy of ©Bettmann-Corbis

The Orangeburg Massacre took place in Orangeburg, South Carolina at South Carolina State University on February 8th, 1968. This horrific incident which ended with three young men, Samuel Hammond, Henry Smith, and Delano Middleton, killed and 27 other students wounded, was the worst example of violence on a college campus in South Carolina’s history.

The incident began when approximately 200 students gathered on February 6 to protest the segregation of black patrons at the nearby All Star Bowling lane. The first demonstration proceeded without incident.  The following night many of the students returned to resume the protest but in this instance fifteen of them were arrested. The third night, February 8th, tensions were already running high on both sides from the previous night’s arrests.

Sources: 

Jack Bass and Jack Nelson, The Orangeburg Massacre, (Macon: Mercer University Press, Second Edition 2003).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Taylor, Koko (Cora Walton), (1928-2009)

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

Koko Taylor, dubbed the ‘Queen of the Blues,’ was one of the most revered female blues singers in history. She was born Cora Walton on September 28, 1928 in Bartlett, Tennessee to sharecropper parents who nicknamed her Koko for her love of chocolate. It was on the plantations where she grew up that she developed her love of music, listening to the gospel of the churches and artists such as Memphis Minnie and Bessie Smith.

By the age of 11, Walton was orphaned and she continued to pick cotton, receiving little formal education, until moving to Memphis to clean houses. In 1952, Walton and her future husband Robert ‘Paps’ Taylor moved to Chicago with only “35 cents and a box of Ritz crackers,” (in their own words). In Chicago, Koko, now Mrs. Robert Taylor, continued to clean houses, but increasingly became absorbed with Chicago’s blues scene and she began to sing with the local bands of the nightclubs.

Sources: 
Koko Taylor Official Website, www.kokotaylor.com, (Koko Taylor, 2004-2009); Guardian newspaper Official Website, guardian.co.uk, (Guardian News and Media Limited 2009).


Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sussex, England

Battle, Kathleen (1948- )

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People
History Type: 
African American History
American soprano Kathleen Battle was born on August 13, 1948 in Portsmouth, Ohio. Battle’s father was a steelworker and her mother was an active participant in the gospel choir at the family’s local African Methodist Episcopal Church. Battle attended Portsmouth High School and upon graduation was awarded a scholarship to the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. She received a bachelor’s degree in music education in 1970, and an M.A. degree the following year.  After graduation, Battle taught music to 5th and 6th graders at inner city public schools in Cincinnati. She also continued to study voice privately which furthered her interest in singing.

In 1972, Kathleen Battle began her professional singing career at The Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. She continued to sing in several other orchestras in New York, Los Angeles, and Cleveland. Shortly after, in 1973, Battle received a grant from the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund which allowed her to continue pursuing a career in music. In 1975 she made her opera debut as “Rosina” in Rossini’s II Barbiere di Siviglia with the Michigan Opera Theatre.

Battle won numerous awards in the 1980s and 1990s including the 1985 Laurence Olivier Award for “Best Performance in a New Opera Production” for her work with the Royal Opera in London. She won five Grammy Awards between 1986 and 1993. Battle also won an Emmy for “Outstanding Individual Achievement in Classical Music/Dance Programming and Performance” for her work with the Metropolitan Opera for their Silver Anniversary Gala.
Sources: 
“Kathleen Battle, The Official Website” Available at: http://www.kathleenbattle.com. 9 June 2010, Clyde T. McCants, American Opera Singers and their Recordings: Critical Commentaries and Discoveries (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2004), “Kathleen Battle Biography” Available at: http://www.biography.com. 9 June 2010.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Quarterman, Lloyd Albert (1918-1982)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born May 31, 1918 in Philadelphia, Lloyd Albert Quarterman, a chemist, was one of the few African American scientists and technicians to work on the Manhattan Project, the top secret effort to design and build the atomic bomb during World War II.

Quarterman developed an interest in chemistry from a young age partly by using toy chemistry sets his parents gave him.  He attended St. Augustine's College in Raleigh, North Carolina where he developed a reputation as a scholar and star football player.  After receiving his bachelor's degree from St. Augustine’s in 1943, he was quickly recruited by the War Department to work on the Manhattan Project.  Though he was only a junior chemist on the project, Quarterman had the opportunity to work closely with Enrico Fermi at the University of Chicago and with Albert Einstein at Columbia University.  

Quarterman was a member of the team of scientists who isolated the isotope of uranium (U 238) necessary for the fission process, which was essential to the creation of the atom bomb.  Once the war ended, he continued to work at the University of Chicago’s laboratory hidden beneath the campus football stadium during the war and later rebuilt in a Chicago suburb and renamed the Argonne National Laboratory.  After the war, Quarterman returned to school and earned a master of science from Northwestern University in 1952. He would return to Argonne and remain at the national laboratory for the next thirty years.
Sources: 
Ray Spangenburg and Kit Moster, African Americans in Science, Math, and Invention (New York: Facts on File, 2003); Julius H. Taylor, et al., The Negro in Science (Baltimore: Morgan State University, 1955); Ivan Van Sertima, Blacks in Science: Ancient and Modern (New Brunswick: Transaction Books, 1991); Stephane Groueff, The Manhattan Project: The Untold Story of the Making of the Atomic Bomb (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1967).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Case Western Reserve University

Harding, Rosemarie Florence Freeney (1930-2004)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Vincent and Rosemarie Harding
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Rosemarie Florence Freeney Harding was a tireless teacher, social worker, civil rights leader, and healer. She was especially known for her deep spirituality and commitment to nonviolence. The youngest of nine siblings, Harding was born in Chicago, Illinois on July 24, 1930 to Dock Freeney, Jr. and Ella Lee Harris Freeney. Both parents and her large, extended family haled from Southwest Georgia. She married Vincent G. Harding in 1960 in Chicago. The couple had two children, Rachel and Jonathan.
Sources: 
Rosemarie Freeney Harding as told to Rachel E. Harding, “There was a Tree in Starkville…,” Sojourners (February 2012), http://sojo.net/magazine/2012/02/there-was-tree-starksville; Rose Marie Berger, “I’ve Known Rivers: The Story of Freedom Movement Leaders Rosemarie Freeney Harding and Vincent Harding,” Sojourners, online archive (http://sojo.net/press/ive-known-rivers); “Rosemarie Florence Freeney Harding,” Biography/Obituary, Veterans of Hope, http://www.veteransofhope.org/connect-wisdom/mama-rose/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Reddick, Eunice S. (1951- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Eunice S. Reddick, an American diplomat and United States Ambassador to the Republic of Niger, was born in 1951 in New York City, New York. Reddick received her Master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International Affairs in 1975 and then worked for several years at the Africa-America Institute in New York City, New York and Washington, D.C.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Carruthers, George (1939- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The physicist and inventor George Carruthers, known for inventing the ultraviolet camera and spectrograph, was born on October 1, 1939 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Dr. Carruthers is the oldest of four siblings. Carruthers’s father, George Carruthers, Sr., died when Carruthers was only 12 years old. However, before his death the senior Carruthers, a civil engineer in the United States Army, played a significant role in Carruthers’s budding interest in science. For example, Carruthers had built his own telescope from cardboard tubing and mail-order lenses from the money he had made as a delivery boy at the age of 10 years old.

Following the loss of his father, Carruthers’s mother, Sophia Carruthers, moved the family to Chicago, Illinois in search of employment.  She eventually worked for the U.S. Postal Service. Carruthers’s love for science remained strong, eventually becoming one of only a handful African American students to attend Chicago’s Englewood High School. During his time at Englewood, Carruthers won three science fair awards.

Sources: 
Kamau Rashid, Jacob H. Carruthers and the African-Centered Discourse on Knowledge, Worldview, and Power (London: Pluto Press, 2004); George Carruthers, Rocket Observation of Interstellar Molecular Hydrogen (Washington, D.C.: E.O. Hulburt Center for Space Research, 1970); Donna McKinney, NRL’S Dr. George Carruthers Honored with National Medal of Technology and Innovation (Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Research Laboratory, 2013).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Flory, Ishmael (1907–2004)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Ishmael Flory was a civil rights activist, trade union organizer, and Communist Party (CPUSA) leader in Illinois. Flory was born on July 4, 1907, the youngest of nine children to Samuel and Leola Hancock Flory in Lake Charles, Louisiana. In 1918 the Flory family moved to Los Angeles, California, where he attended and graduated from Jefferson High School in 1926. After high school, Flory entered the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1927 but left college to work in real estate and as a Pullman porter. He joined the Dining Car Employees Union when he became a dining-car chef.
Sources: 
“Ishmael Flory,” Chicago Tribute, http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2004-02-12/news/0402120131_1_civil-rights-dining-car-pullman; “Ishmael Flory,” Revolvy, https://www.revolvy.com/main/index.php?s=Ishmael%20Flory.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Mathews, Meredith (1919-1992)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Prominent social and civic leader in African American Seattle, Washington, Meredith Mathews was born in Thomaston, Georgia on September 14, 1919.  He attended public schools in Georgia and then moved to Ohio for college.  He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Wilberforce University in Xenia, Ohio in 1931.  He then pursued graduate studies at Ohio University.  

In 1937 Mathews began a lifelong association with Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) as Director of the racially segregated Spring Street YMCA in Columbus, Ohio.  He continued his professional career directing similar YMCAs in Oklahoma City and McAlester, Oklahoma.
Sources: 
Mary T. Henry, Tribute; Seattle Public Places Named for Black People (Seattle: Statice Press, 1997); East Madison YMCA Dedication Program, 1965; Dave Birkland, “Meredith Mathews, Longtime YMCA Executive Devoted to Helping Others,” Seattle Times, March 19, 1992.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Howell, Lembhard Goldstone (1936- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Courtesy of Lembhard Howell
Lembhard G. Howell is a prominent Seattle attorney practicing in Seattle since 1966. Howell’s career has been dedicated to seeking justice for individuals who have been injured and unfairly treated. Howell was the first African American to serve on the board of governors of the Association of Trial Lawyers.  In 1984 he was elected chairman of the Washington State Delegation to the Democratic National Convention.  He has also argued cases in the Washington Supreme Court and is admitted to the United States Supreme Court.

Howell was born in Glengoffe, St. Catherine, Jamaica on May 2, 1936, to Daisy Iona Howell and Cleveland Alexander Howell. His mother brought him to New York in October 1946 along with his brother, Grover, and sister Elaine. Howell earned a bachelor’s degree in History, with Honors, from Lafayette College in 1958. After serving on active duty in the Navy, he earned a law degree from New York University in 1964.

Howell’s career began as a law clerk for the Washington State Supreme Court followed by working as an assistant Washington State Attorney General. His first law firm, Miller & Howell, was formed in 1969 with former Congressman John Miller, becoming Miller, Howell & Watson, before Howell began his own firm in 1973.
Sources: 
Geov Parrish, “Rebel With An Assortment of Clauses,” Washington Super Lawyers (June 2010); Michael Conant, “Defense Lawyer Loves to Get on Your Case: Lem Howell Asks the Questions that Others Refuse To," Seattle P-I (March 5, 1989); http://howelllembhardg1.qwestoffice.net.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bahutu Manifesto (1957)

Entry Type: 
Events
History Type: 
Global African History
Map of Rwanda
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The Bahutu Manifesto, drafted by nine Rwandan Hutu intellectuals in 1957, was a political document that called for Hutu ethnic and political solidarity, as well as the political disfranchisement of the Tutsi people.  It served as the political pretext for the Rwandan Genocide of 1994.  Underscoring the need for Hutu self-preservation amid decades of discrimination by Tutsis, the document denounced the privileged status afforded to the Tutsi minority under the German and Belgian colonial regimes.

On July 1, 1962, Rwanda was granted independence from Belgium.  Up until this time, the Tutsi minority was favored by both the German colonial regime (1894-1919) and the Belgian colonial regime (1919-1962), both of which granted de facto rule to the Tutsi monarchy in exchange for recognition of their authority.  Believing that the lighter-skinned Tutsi people were racially superior to the Hutu, the German and Belgian regimes greatly exaggerated the preexisting occupational and socioeconomic divisions existing between the two groups.
Sources: 
Kevin Shillington, Encyclopedia of African History (New York: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2004); Dixon Kamukama, Rwanda Conflict: Its Roots and Regional Implications (Kampala: Fountain, 1993); Catherine Newbury, The Cohesion of Oppression: Clientship and Ethnicity in Rwanda, 1860-1960 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

The Best of Reclaiming Kin: Helpful Tips on Researching Your Roots

Reclaiming Kin Bookcover
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Genealogist Robyn Smith discusses the “roots” of her new book, The Best of Reclaiming Kin: Helpful Tips On Researching Your Roots.” The book is a compilation of posts from the popular website that focus on teaching family historians genealogical research skills and introducing them to records and resources. Ms. Smith has a special focus on slavery and researching the enslaved.  She describes that focus in the article below.

I have been researching my family and other African American families for almost 18 years. Six years ago I decided to develop and author a genealogy “blog” based upon my research. While initially I imagined a forum to share my discoveries and document my research, the voice of the teacher in me became louder and transformed the blog into a platform to teach genealogical skills and best practices and to highlight various ways to use records to solve family puzzles.

Summary: 
<i>Genealogist Robyn Smith discusses the “roots” of her new book, The Best of Reclaiming Kin: Helpful Tips On Researching Your Roots.” The book is a compilation of posts from the popular website that focus on teaching family historians genealogical research skills and introducing them to records and resources. Ms. Smith has a special focus on slavery and researching the enslaved.  She describes that focus in the article below.</i>
Sources: 
Robyn Smith, The Best of Reclaiming Kin: Helpful Tips On Researching Your Roots (Elkridge, Maryland: Robyn N. Smith, 2015); Reclaiming Kin Website, http://www.reclaimingkin.com.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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)

Julian, Percy Lavon (1899-1975)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
A native of Montgomery, Alabama and grandson of slaves, Percy Lavon Julian was a trailblazer in the chemical sciences.  His parents Elizabeth Lena Adams, a school teacher, and James Sumner Julian, a railroad mail clerk who loved mathematics, raised six children, all of whom pursued a college education.  Two sons became physicians and three daughters received M.A. degrees.

After attending public school in Montgomery, Julian moved to Greencastle, Indiana in 1916 to enroll at DePauw University. While at DePauw he was named a member of the Sigma Xi honorary society and Phi Beta Kappa.  In order to finance his college education, he worked as a waiter and a ditch digger.  Julian was selected as the class valedictorian upon his graduation in 1920.  After completing his undergraduate degree, Julian was determined to earn a doctoral degree in chemistry despite the racism at the time which often kept African Americans from pursuing graduate degrees in all but a handful of universities.  
Sources: 
Bernhard Witkop, Percy Lavon Julian, A Biographical Memoir (Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 1999); Sibrina Collins and Robert Lichter, “The Legacy of Dr. Percy Julian Celebrated at the 232nd ACS Meeting,” NOBCChE News OnLine, 2006, 36(4), 13-14.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Raymond, Guadalupe Victoria Yolí (1936-1992)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Guadalupe Victoria Yolí Raymond, known popularly as “La Lupe,” was a Cuban and Cuban American singer and dancer.  She was born in San Pedrito, a locality within Santiago de Cuba, Oriente Province, Cuba on December 23, 1936.

Yolí grew up in an impoverished family.  Her parents divorced when she was nine, and thereafter she lived with her father and stepmother.  In 1955, her family moved to Havana, where she won a radio contest as a teenager.

She began singing in Havana during the 1950s, achieving popularity by 1957.  In 1958, she finished a teaching degree and began teaching in Havana.  In the same year she married Eulogio Reyes and they formed a musical trio, Los Tropicuba.  In 1960, she divorced Reyes and began her solo career.  She was successful enough to eventually buy her own club in Havana.

Yolí, however, ran afoul of the Cuban Revolution.  In 1961, she was summoned to a radio station and ordered to leave the nation.  Her style of performing, deemed “Lupismo,” was now considered unacceptable.  Her performance style has been described in terms of both a liberated sexuality and of religious possession, specifically pertaining to Santería.
Sources: 
Frances R. Aparicio and Wilson A. Valentín-Escobar, “Memorializing La Lupe and Lavoe: Singing Vulgarity, Transnationalism, and Gender,” Centro Journal 16.2 (Fall 2004); Jon Pareles, “La Lupe, a Singer, Is Dead at 53; Known as 'Queen of Latin Soul',” New York Times (March 7, 1992); Vernon W. Boggs, Salsiology: Afro-Cuban Music and the Evolution of Salsa in New York City, (New York: Excelsior Music Publishing Company, 1991); Frances R. Aparicio, Listening to Salsa: Gender, Latin Popular Music, and Puerto Rican Cultures (Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press and University Press of New England, 1998); Jeanne Schmartz, “La Lupe,” Women in Salsa, Master Thesis in Musicology, by Jeanne Schmartz (University of Amsterdam, 2009). URL: http://www.academia.edu/1790527/women_in_salsa_final_version_small; Vanessa Knights, “Tears and Screams: Performances of Pleasure and Pain in the Bolero,”  Queering the Popular Pitch, edited by Sheila Whiteley and Jennifer Rycenga (New York, NY: Routledge, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Arrington, Richard (1934- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Richard Arrington, the first African American mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, was born in Livingston, Alabama on October 19, 1934 to sharecroppers.  He received a Bachelor's degree from Miles College (Alabama), a M.A. in Biology from the University of Detroit in Michigan, and a Ph.D. in Zoology and Biochemistry from the University of Oklahoma

Before becoming mayor of Birmingham in 1979, Arrington taught at his alma mater, Miles College, the University of Alabama, and the University of Oklahoma.  He also served for nine years as the Executive Director of the Alabama Center of Higher Education, a consortium of eight black colleges in the state of Alabama. From 1971 to 1979, he was a member of Birmingham's city council.
Sources: 
Alton Hornsby, Jr. and Angela M. Hornsby, “From the Grassroots” Profiles of Contemporary African American Leaders (Montgomery, Alabama: E-Book Time LLC, 2007), p. 11-12.
Affiliation: 
Morehouse College/University of Mississippi

Southern Negro Youth Congress (1937-1949)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Members of the Southern Negro Youth Congress
Meet with Idaho Senator Glen Taylor, 1947
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The Southern Negro Youth Congress (SNYC) was formed in 1937 by young people who had attended the National Negro Congress (NNC) in Chicago, Illinois in 1936 and wanted to implement its call for action. These young leaders, including veteran activists James Jackson, Helen Gray, Esther Cooper, and Edward Strong, gathered in Richmond, Virginia in 1937 and formed the SNYC.  They initially established their headquarters in Richmond before moving it to Birmingham, Alabama in 1939.  SNYC had the support of prominent black adult leaders including Mary McCloud Bethune, Paul Robeson, Charlotte Hawkins Brown, A. Philip Randolph, and W.E.B. DuBois.

The first SNYC conference was held in Richmond, Virginia on February 13 and 14, 1937 at the Fifth Baptist Church.  Five hundred thirty-four delegates from across the South attended the meeting including individuals from almost every historically black college as well as delegates representing YMCA branches and chapters of the Girl and Boy Scouts across the region. One international delegate, a young woman from China, also attended.  Like its parent organization, the National Negro Congress, SNYC also included Communists among its members.

Sources: 
W.E.B. DuBois, “Behold The Land,” Freedomways 4 (Winter 1964); Patricia Sullivan, “Five Decades of Activism,” Journal of the Southern Regional Council 12:1(1990); Johnetta Gladys Richards, “The Southern Negro Youth Congress; A History, 1937-1949” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Cincinnati, 1987).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Francisco State University

East St. Louis Race Riot, 1917

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Mob Stopping Street Car, East St. Louis Riot, July 2, 1917
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The city of East St. Louis, Illinois was the scene of one of the bloodiest race riots in the 20th century.  Racial tensions began to increase in February, 1917 when 470 African American workers were hired to replace white workers who had gone on strike against the Aluminum Ore Company.

The violence started on May 28th, 1917, shortly after a city council meeting was called.  Angry white workers lodged formal complaints against black migrations to the Mayor of East St. Louis.  After the meeting had ended, news of an attempted robbery of a white man by an armed black man began to circulate through the city.  As a result of this news, white mobs formed and rampaged through downtown, beating all African Americans who were found.  The mobs also stopped trolleys and streetcars, pulling black passengers out and beating them on the streets and sidewalks.  Illinois Governor Frank O. Lowden eventually called in the National Guard to quell the violence, and the mobs slowly dispersed.  The May 28th disturbances were only a prelude to the violence that erupted on July 2, 1917.
Sources: 
Allen D. Grimshaw, “Actions of Police and the Military in American Race Riots,” Phylon 24:3 (3rd Qtr, 1963); Robert A. Hill, ed., The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers, Vol. I, (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1983); Elliot M. Rudwick, Race Riot at East St. Louis: July 2, 1917 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1964).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Wilson, Arthur Dooley (1886-1953)

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

Arthur Dooley Wilson, best remembered for his popularization of the hit song “As Time Goes By” in the 1942 film classic Casablanca, was born in Tyler, Texas in 1886. Around 1913, he moved to Manhattan, New York, where he performed with the honorable James Reese Europe’s 369th U.S. Infantry “Hell Fighters” Band. After Lieutenant Europe was fatally stabbed by one of his own band members, Wilson formed his own band and toured abroad in London, UK and Paris, France, playing ragtime on the alto sax before returning to the United States in 1930 to embark on an acting career.

Sources: 

Donald Bogle, Blacks in American Film and Television: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland, 1988), Katz Ephraim, The Film Encyclopedia (New York: Cromwell, 1979); Thomas Cripps, Slow Fade to Black: The Negro in American Film (New York, Oxford University Press, 1977); Arthur  Wilson, The Texas Handbook Online, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fwibk.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Homestead Grays (1912-1950)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History

Homestead Grays (1912-1950<div class=

Sources: 

Brad Snyder, Beyond the Shadow of the Senators: The Untold Story of the Homestead Grays and the Integration of Baseball (Chicago: Contemporary Books, 2003); James A. Riley, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1994): http://www.nlbpa.com/homestead_grays.html

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

hooks, bell / Gloria Jean Watkins (1952- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Writer, teacher, and cultural critic bell hooks was born Gloria Jean Watkins on September 25, 1952, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, to a poor working class family.  Her father, Veodis Watkins, was a janitor for the local post office, and her mother, Rosa Bell Watkins, was a homemaker, raising Gloria and her six siblings.

Gloria Watkins attended racially segregated public schools in Hopkinsville as a child.  She performed poetry readings for her church community and was heavily influenced by her great-grandmother, Bell Hooks, who was known for her sharp opinions.  As a writer, she chose the pseudonym, bell hooks, in tribute to her mother and great-grandmother.  She decided not to capitalize her new name to place focus on her work rather than her name, on her ideas rather than her personality.

Watkins attended Stanford University on scholarship.  She graduated in 1973 and went to The University of Wisconsin at Madison, where she earned a Master’s degree in English literature in 1976.  In 1983, she obtained her Ph.D. at the University of California-Santa Cruz, having completed her dissertation on the work of novelist Toni Morrison.
Sources: 
Lara E. Dieckmann, “bell hooks,” in Significant Contemporary American Feminists: A Biographical Sourcebook, ed. Jennifer Scanlon (Westport, CT:  Greenwood Press, 1999); bell hooks, Bone Black:  Memories of A Girlhood (New York:  Henry Holt and Company, 1996).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Berry, Edwin C. “Bill” (1910- 1987)

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

 

Image From the Urban League of
Portland Records

Civil rights activist Edwin C. “Bill” Berry was affiliated with the Urban League for over 30 years and served as executive director of the Chicago Urban League from 1956 to 1970. When he arrived in Chicago he denounced the city’s segregationist practices and drove anti-discrimination legislation in the city and state. He was a leader of the Chicago Freedom Movement.

Edwin Berry was born on November 11, 1910 in Oberlin, Ohio to John A. Berry, an attorney, and Kitty Berry, a homemaker. He was one of five children. At the age of six Berry’s father died. Kitty struggled to make ends meet, working as a boarder, seamstress and cook.

Edwin Berry grew up in Oberlin and attended Oberlin College on an academic scholarship. In 1935 he moved to Pittsburg and graduated from Duquesne University in 1938 with a degree in education. Berry began his career with the Pittsburgh Urban League as group work secretary. 

Sources: 
Lerone Bennett, Jr., “North’s Hottest Fight for Integration.” Ebony Magazine 31:8 (March 1962); Jerry Crimmins, "Bill Berry, Ex-Urban League Director, Civil Rights Activist,” Chicago Tribune, May 14, 1987; Darrell Millner, On the Road to Equality: A Fifty Year Retrospective (Portland: The Urban League of Portland, 1995); Arvarh E. Strickland and Christopher Robert Reed, History of the Chicago Urban League (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1966).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of California, Santa Barbara

Thomas, Harry K., Jr. (1956- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Though born in New York City, New York’s Harlem community, Harry Keels Thomas, Jr. was raised in a middle-class neighborhood in Queens where most parents were civil servants.   His mother was a social worker and his father, a World War II veteran, operated small businesses.  Thomas finished Brooklyn Technical High School and graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in Worchester, Massachusetts in 1978 with a degree in political science.  Upon earning a master’s degree in urban planning at Columbia University, he was employed for three years as an urban planner in the South Bronx.
Sources: 
Joyce Xi, “An Interview with Harry K. Thomas, US Ambassador to the Philippines,” http://thepolitic.org/an-interview-with-harry-k-thomas-u-s-ambassador-to-the-philippines/; Michelle M. Murphy, “Alumnus Carries Spirit of Holy Cross to Bangladesh,” http://www.holycross.edu/departments/publicaffairs/hcm/03fa/features/feature4.html ; Ray Butch Gamboa, “Getting to Know H.E. Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr.,” http://www.philstar.com/business/2012-06-23/820335/getting-know-he-ambassador-harry-k-thomas-jr
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Holmes, Oscar W., Jr. (1916–2001)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Oscar Wayman Holmes Jr., the first African American commissioned officer in the United States Navy and its first black aircraft pilot, was also the first black air traffic controller. Born January 31, 1916, he was the son of Oscar Sr. and Grace Holmes of Dunbar, West Virginia. After completing Garnet High School in Charleston, West Virginia, Holmes graduated from West Virginia State College in 1938. He later received a master’s degree in chemistry at Ohio State University in 1939. Holmes taught chemistry at Claflin College, a historically black school in Orangeburg, South Carolina, from 1937 to 1940.
Sources: 
Robert J. Schneller Jr., “Oscar Holmes: A Place in Naval Aviation,” Naval Aviation News, (January-February 1998; Terry Kraus, “Oscar Holmes: He Broke Three Color Barriers, But Few Knew,” at http://www.faa.gov/about/history/people/media/Oscar_Holme_article.pdf; Dionne Irving, “Longtime Mitchellville Resident Dies, Leaving Aviation Legacy,” at http://ww2.gazette.net/gazette_archive/2001/200149/bowie/news/82815-1.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Clark Memorial United Methodist Church (1865– )

Vignette Type: 
Churches
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Courtesy of Lee S. Perkins"
Clark Memorial United Methodist Church is the oldest black United Methodist Church (UMC) in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1865 the Methodist Episcopal Church sent Bishop Davis W. Clark to Nashville to reorganize the Negro mission at Andrew Chapel, located on Franklin Street in South Nashville. The church’s name was changed to Clark Chapel and would undergo several name changes in keeping with denominational changes and Bishop Clark’s death in 1871. Initially, the church was racially integrated.

In the same year that Bishop Clark came to the church, later named Clark Chapel, he became the first president of the Freedman’s Aid Society that established the society’s first school in the basement of the church. The school experienced so much growth and success that it had to move. It became Central Tennessee College and later changed to Walden University. Meharry Medical College began as a department at Walden in 1876, before becoming an independent institution in 1915.
Sources: 
Jim Carrier, A Traveler’s Guide to the Civil Rights Movement (Orlando: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004); http://www.clarkumcnashville.org/1865-2015; Martin Luther King Jr., The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. Vol. 7: To Save the Soul of America, January 1961–August 1962 (Oakland, Ca: University of California Press, 2014); Jay S. Stowell, Methodist Adventures in Negro Education (New York: The Methodist Concern, 1922).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Cuevas, Reynaldo (1992-2012)

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

Twenty-year-old Reynaldo Cuevas's life was horribly cut short by an NYPD officer as he fled an armed robbery in his place of business. Cuevas was born on January 6, 1992 in the Dominican Republic. The son of Ana and Reynaldo Cuevas, his family came to the United States when he was a child to become citizens and establish a business.

On September 7, 2012, Cuevas and his uncle, Felix Mora, were inside their Bronx, New York store, Natalie Grocery, about to close for the evening. At about 2 a.m., armed robbers came bursting through the front door, holding Cuevas and his uncle hostage as they ransacked the register and store while stuffing a backpack. Mora was able to push the silent alarm before being attacked.  Cuevas had only been working for his Uncle Felix for a few months. He was trying to save money to bring his three-year-old daughter from the Dominican Republic to be with him. Cuevas was also in the process of enlisting in the military in the hopes of joining his sister, Nicole Cuevas, who was already enlisted in the Marines.

Sources: 
Patrick Wall, “Family of slain bodega worker Reynaldo Cuevas sues NYPD,” Dnainfo.com, March 8, 2013, https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20130308/morrisania/family-of-slain-bodega-worker-reynaldo-cuevas-sues-nypd; Matthew Lysiak and Corky Siemaszko, “Bronx bodega shooting victim Reynaldo Cuevas was 'a smart kid' preparing to enlist,” New York Daily News, September 7, 2012, http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/bronx-bodega-shooting-victim-reynaldo-cuevas-smart-kid-preparing-enlist-article-1.1154384; Ben Kochman, “Relatives of Bronx bodega worker killed by cops during 2012 robbery want to know why he was shot,” New York Daily News, May 12, 2016, http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/bronx-bodega-worker-family-answers-cops-killing-article-1.2635335.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

93rd Infantry Division (1942-1946)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
93rd Infantry Soldiers in Japanese Territory, Bougainville
Island, New Guinea, May 1, 1944. 
Image Courtesy of U.S. Army Archives

Activated on May 15, 1942, at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, the U.S. Ninety-third Infantry Division was the first segregated division-size infantry unit mobilized during the Second World War.  Composed of White general staff officers and African American junior officers and enlisted men, the Ninety-third was made up of the draftee 369th and the veteran 368th and the 25th Infantry Regiments along with an assortment of field battalions and companies. 

After its formation, the division conducted its basic training at Fort Huachuca, before heading to Louisiana during the spring of 1943 where the unit staged field operations against the Eighty-fifth Infantry Division during the Third Army Maneuvers.  In late 1943, the Ninety-third moved westward to California where the unit went through desert training exercises before departing from the United States for the South Pacific Theater of Operations in January, 1944.

Sources: 
Robert F. Jefferson, Fighting for Hope:  African American Troops of the 93rd Infantry Division in World War II and Postwar America (Baltimore:  The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Xavier University (Ohio)

Ray, Charles Aaron (1945- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Ambassador Charles Aaron Ray was born in Center, Texas in 1945. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in 1972 from Benedictine College in Atchinson, Kansas, and his Master’s of Science from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and a Master’s of Science in National Security Strategy from the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.

Ray joined the U.S. Army in 1962, and earned a commission of second lieutenant in 1965. In 1982, he retired from the military with the rank of major, after having served for 20 years. While in military service, Ray received two Bronze Star medals and the Armed Forces Humanitarian Service Award. During that time he did tours of duty in Vietnam, Germany, Okinawa (in Japan), and South Korea.
Sources: 
“Charles Ray,” http://harare.usembassy.gov/amb_ray.html; “In Their Own Write,” The Foreign Service Journal, November 2013; Charles Ray Blog, http://charlesaray.blogspot.com/p/about-me-if-you-dare-venture-where.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Morgan State University

Thompson, Klay Alexander (1990- )

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

Klay Alexander Thompson is a professional basketball player in the National Basketball Association (NBA) who plays for the Golden State Warriors. Thompson was born February 8, 1990 in Los Angeles, California to Mychal Thompson, a former NBA player, and Julie Leslie Thompson, a former volleyball player.

Thompson’s family moved to Lake Oswego, Oregon when he was two years old. There he met and became childhood friends with Kevin Love, another future NBA star. Thompson’s family later returned to California, settling in Landera Ranch where Thompson attended Santa Margarita Catholic High School in nearby Rancho Santa Margarita, California. Thompson played for the Santa Margarita Catholic High School basketball team helping them go to the Division III championship where they lost.  Nonetheless Thompson was named Division III state player of the year, league MVP, first-team Best in the West, and an EA Sports Second Team All-American, all significant honors for a high school basketball player.

Sources: 
“Klay Thompson,” Success Story, https://successstory.com/people/klay-thompson; “Klay Thompson,” Article Bio, http://articlebio.com/klay-thompson; “Klay Thompson,” Washington State Cougars, http://www.wsucougars.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=2318; “Klay Thompson,” National Basketball Association, http://www.nba.com/players/klay/thompson/202691; “Klay Thompson,” Basketball Reference, https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/t/thompkl01.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Weah, George (1966- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

George Manneh Oppong Ousman Weah, born in the slums of Monrovia, Liberia on October 1, 1966, is considered one of the best soccer players on the African continent.  For much of his youth, he was raised by his grandmother, Emma Klonjlaleh Brown, who provided for Weah while allowing him to pursue his dreams of becoming a professional soccer player.

Weah played for Monrovia teams including the Young Survivors, Bongrange Company, Mighty Barolle, and Invincible Eleven before leaving Africa for Europe.  In 1987, at the age of 21, Weah signed for the French Ligue 1 giants, AS Monaco.  Throughout his career at the club Weah scored 55 goals in 155 appearances from 1987 to 1992.  From Monaco he played on a series of other European teams including Paris St. Germain (1992-1995), AC Milan (1995-1999), Chelsea (1999-2000), Manchester City (2001) and Olympic Marseille (2001-2002).  Over his 15-year career in Europe, Weah amassed an astonishing 172 goals.

Sources: 

Henry Winter, “On The Spot: George Weah,” London (?) Daily Telegraph, January 22, 2000; Michael Lewis, “Guiding light: player, coach, and financier, George Weah means everything to Liberian soccer--and Liberia means everything to Weah,” Soccer Digest Magazine, January 2002.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

The Sierra Leone Civil War (1991–2002)

Entry Type: 
Events
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The Sierra Leone Civil War was an armed conflict in the West African country of Sierra Leone from 1991–2002. The war began on March 23, 1991, when the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) under Foday Sankoh, with support of Liberian rebel leader Charles Taylor and his group, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NFPL), attempted to overthrow the government of Sierra Leonean President Joseph Momah. The Sierra Leone Civil War was one of the bloodiest in Africa resulting in more than fifty thousand people dead and half a million displaced in a nation of four million people. The conflict was particularly violent and long because both the RUF and the Sierra Leone government were often funded by “blood diamonds” mined with slave labor.

During the first year of the war, the RUF took control of the diamond-rich territory in eastern and southern Sierra Leone. On April 29, 1992, President Joseph Momah was ousted in military coup led by Captain Valentine Strasser who created the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC). Strasser said the corrupt Momah could not resuscitate the economy, provide for the people of Sierra Leone, and repel the rebel invaders.

Sources: 
Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (New York: Sarah Crichton Books, 2007); “The Sierra Leone Civil War,” BBC News, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-14094419; Greg Campbell, Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Deadly Path of the World’s Most Precious Stones (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

University of Nigeria (1960- )

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

The University of Nigeria is a federally-controlled public university located in southeastern Nigeria. The university has three campuses: Nsukka (the main campus), Enugu, and Ituku-Ozalla. It was the first university opened by newly independent Nigeria.  Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first President of Nigeria, was one of the university’s pioneer supporters. Azikiwe, who studied at Lincoln and Howard Universities in the United States in the 1920s, envisioned an institution patterned along the lines of American colleges and universities.

In 1955 while Nigeria was still a British Colony, the Colonial Assembly passed legislation authorizing the creation of a university in eastern Nigeria during the period when Azikiwe was then Premier of the Eastern Region.  Soon afterwards an invitation was sent to the United States and the United Kingdom to send advisors to help in the planning of the campus and curriculum of the new institution.

Sources: 
Official Website:  http://unn.edu.ng/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Fletcher, Arthur (1924-2005)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Arthur Fletcher is perhaps best known as the Father of Affirmative Action for his authorship of the Revised Philadelphia Plan, which required federal government contractors to hire ethnic minorities.

Sources: 
Author interview of Arthur Fletcher (Washington, June 4, 2003); Arthur Fletcher, The Silent Sellout: Government Betrayal of Blacks to the Craft Unions (New York: Third Press, 1974); Kevin Merida, “The Firm Founder of Affirmative Action,” The Washington Post (June 13, 1995, p. C1); Michelle O'Donnell, “Arthur Fletcher, G.O.P. Adviser, Dies at 80,” The New York Times (July 14, 2005, p. C17).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Austin, Richard Henry (1913-2001)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Michigan Department
of Transportation

Richard Henry Austin was born on May 6, 1913 in Stouts Mountain, Alabama, the son of Richard H. and Leila (Hill) Austin.  Austin shined and sold shoes while studying at the Detroit Institute of Technology at night.  After graduating from the Institute in 1937, he became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in 1941 (the first African American to do so in Michigan), and founded his own accounting firm.  Austin then helped other blacks in the Detroit area form businesses, foundations, and civic groups.

Richard Austin also became very active in political and civil rights groups in Detroit.  In 1969, he was almost elected the city’s first black mayor.  He led in the primary but was defeated by a margin of 51 to 49 percent in the general election.  Two years later, however, Austin garnered a 300,000 vote majority over his opponent to become Michigan’s first African American Secretary of State.  He was subsequently reelected four times.

Sources: 
Alton Hornsby, Jr. and Angela M. Hornsby, “From the Grassroots” Profiles of Contemporary African American Leaders (Montgomery, Alabama: E-Book Time LLC, 2007).
Affiliation: 
Morehouse College and University of Mississippi

Moseley-Braun, Carol (1947- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the U.S. House of
Representatives Photography Office
Carol Moseley-Braun is a former United States Senator from Illinois. Her 1993 election marked the first time in history that a black woman or a black Democrat had ever been elected to the U.S. Senate. Moseley-Braun was born in 1947 in Chicago. She graduated from the University of Illinois and the University Of Chicago School Of Law and was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1973. She worked as a prosecutor for the U.S. attorney for three years and then served, in 1978, in the Illinois House of Representatives where she rose to the rank of Assistant Majority Leader by 1988. In 1989 she was appointed Recorder of Deeds, which was also the first time a woman or black person had held an executive position in the Cook County government.
Sources: 
William L. Clay, Just Permanent Interests; Black Americans in Congress 1870-1992 (New York: Amistad Press Inc., 1993); http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/nation/2003-09-22-braun-announces_x.htm;
http://www.npr.org/programs/specials/democrats2004/braun.html;
http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=m001025
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Nix, Robert Nelson Cornelius, Sr. (1898-1987)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Robert Nelson Cornelius Nix, Sr. was born on August 9, 1905 in Orangeburg, South Carolina, where his father, Nelson, was dean of South Carolina State College. Nix graduated from Townsend Harris High School in New York City, and then from Lincoln University in Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1921. In 1924, he received his law degree from University of Pennsylvania and began practice in Philadelphia the following year. Nix became active in Democratic politics and was elected a committeeman from the Forty-fourth Ward in 1932. From 1934 to 1938 he held a series of positions in a private law firm, in the Pennsylvania State Department of Revenue as special deputy attorney general, and in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as special assistant deputy attorney general.  In 1956 he was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

After Representative Earl Chudoff resigned his Fourth Congressional District seat to become a Philadelphia judge, Nix defeated two opponents in a special election to fill the vacancy and was sworn on May 20, 1958.  Nix was the first African American to represent Pennsylvania in the House of Representatives.
Sources: 
Bruce A. Ragsdale, Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1989 (Washington: U.S. Government) Printing Office, 1990; www.bioguide.congress.gov
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. (1961- )

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

The Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. (PNBC) was founded in 1961, following several years of internal disagreements over the governing structure and civil rights stance of the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc. (NBCUSA). In 1957 several Baptist pastors were expelled from the NBCUSA when they challenged President Joseph Harrison Jackson’s tenure. Jackson believed the president of the NBCUSA should remain in office as long as he was fit to do so. The expelled pastors wanted to impose a four year term limit.

Many of the NBCUSA members who opposed Jackson’s life long term supported the election of Gardner C. Taylor as president of the NBCUSA. These men, also know as “Team Taylor,” included Martin Luther King Sr., Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, and Benjamin E. Mays. Taylor failed to win the 1961 convention election prompting their defection from the NBCUSA.

One of the "defectors," Rev. L. Venchael Booth, proposed a new convention that would embrace the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King Jr. and other Baptist ministers. Thirty-three delegates from fourteen states met in Cincinnati, Ohio and formed the Progressive National Baptist Convention. Rev. T.M. Chambers was elected its first president. The PNBC’s cornerstone issues included civil rights, social justice, and progressive thought, all repudiations of the conservative philosophy of NBCUSA president Jackson.

Sources: 

Sources: www. pnbc.org; Albert A. Avant, The Social Teaching of the
Progressive National Black Convention, Inc.
(New York: Garland
Publishing, Inc., 2001); African American Almanac (Detroit: Gale
Research Inc., 1997).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Keppard, Freddie (1890–1933)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Pioneer jazz musician Freddie Keppard was one of the most famous cornet players of the early 20th Century.  Born February 27, 1890 in New Orleans, Keppard came from a musical family which included his brother Louis Keppard, who also became a professional musician playing the piano and tuba. Freddie Keppard began his musical career with the mandolin, followed by the violin, accordion, and finally finding his passion with the cornet.  At the age of 16 he organized the Olympia Orchestra to showcase his talents and perform throughout New Orleans. 

Keppard became part of the migration of Creole jazz musicians to the West Coast in the first two decades of the 20th Century.  After traveling to Los Angeles, he founded the Original Creole Orchestra in 1912.  The Orchestra introduced New Orleans jazz to a wider audience and quickly became one of the most popular acts on the West Coast.  By 1919 it had a following in large cities across the United States.  As his popularity rose, the Victor Talking Machine Company eventually offered Keppard the chance to be one of the first to record the new jazz sound. Keppard refused the recording offer saying he was fearful people would “steal his stuff.”   

Sources: 
David Dicaire, Jazz Musicians of the Early Years, to 1945 (North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc., 2003); Eileen Southern, Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African American Musicians (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1983); http://www.redhotjazz.com/keppard.html (Accessed November 20, 2009).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

WGPR-TV (1975–1995)

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

WGPR-TV (Where God’s Presence Radiates) was the first television station in the United States owned and operated by African Americans. The station, located in Detroit, Michigan, was founded by William Venoid Banks. WGPR-TV marketed toward the urban audience in Detroit, Michigan, which in that market meant programming for the African American community.  

WGPR-TV first aired on September 29, 1975 on channel 62 in Detroit, Michigan.  Station founder William Venoid Banks was a Detroit attorney, minister and prominent member of the International Free and Accepted Modern Masons, an organization he founded in 1950. The Masons owned the majority of stock in WGPR-TV. The station initially broadcast religious shows, R&B music shows, off-network dramas, syndicated shows and older cartoons.

It was Banks’ vision that WGPR-TV provide African Americans with crucial training and experience in the television industry, allowing many local blacks the opportunity to work "behind the camera" in producing, directing and other roles which placed content on air. The station aired some locally-produced programming including Big City News, The Scene, and Arab Voice of Detroit.

Sources: 
Gordon Castelnero, TV Land Detroit (University of Michigan Press, 2006); Dan Holly, “The Battle to Keep Detroit’s WGPR,” Black Enterprise 25/8 (March, 1995): 19-20; Toby Miller, Television: Critical Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies (London: Routledge, 2003); Yahya R. Kamalipour and Theresa Carilli, Cultural Diversity and the U.S. Media (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Dett, R. Nathaniel (1882-1943)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
From precocious five-year-old piano player in the 1890s to internationally known choral director, composer, concert pianist, and poet, R. Nathaniel Dett became champion for preservation of the black spiritual which he called authentic American folk music: He dedicated his life to finding a musical form to bridge the gap between the music’s simple origins and its concert performance.

Robert Nathaniel Dett was born October 11, 1882 in Drummondville, Ontario, Canada, a town founded prior to the American Civil War by fugitive slaves from the U.S.  His early experience included absorbing spirituals his grandmother sang, playing piano in church, and studying piano locally. He then majored in piano and composition at Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio.  In 1908 Dett was its first African American to graduate from Oberlin after winning Phi Beta Kappa honors. His formal education continued throughout his life including studies at Harvard University where his 1920 essay “Negro Music” won a prize. In 1932 he received a Master’s degree from the Eastman School of Music (1932).

In 1911 Dett published his only book of poetry, The Album of the Heart.  Three years later he began touring as a concert pianist and soon after was widely acclaimed by critics.  In 1916 he married Helen Elise Smith, a pianist and the first black graduate of the Damrosch Institute of Musical Art (later Juilliard School of Music.)
Sources: 
Anne Key Simpson, Follow Me: The Life and Music of R. Nathaniel Dett (Metuchen, New Jersey: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1933); Dominique-Rene de Lerma, The Collected Piano Works of R. Nathaniel Dett (Miami: Summy-Birchard, 1973); “Biography R. Nathaniel Dett,” Performing Arts Encyclopedia, Library of Congress, August 26, 2011; Jon Michael Spencer, “R. Nathaniel Dett’s Views on the Preservation of Black Music,” The Black Perspective in Music (Autumn 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

The Chicago Bee (1926–1946)

Vignette Type: 
Misc
History Type: 
African American History
Architectural Drawing of the Chicago Bee Building, 1929
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The Chicago Bee was an African American newspaper founded to compete with the Chicago Defender, then the largest black-owned newspaper in the United States.  The Bee’s founder, banker, and food and cosmetics manufacturer, Anthony Overton, wanted a publication that would replace his now defunct Half Century Magazine, a home and homemaker publication targeting African American women who consumed his products. Overton had used Half Century Magazine to promote his line of black-oriented cosmetics for men and women and he envisioned a similar role for the Bee.  
Sources: 
Adam Langer, “The Chicago Bee: Cornerstone of the Black Metropolis, Chicago Patterns, http://chicagopatterns.com/chicago-bee-cornerstone-of-the-black-metropolis/
Christopher C. Reed, The Rise of Chicago's Black Metropolis, 1920-1929 (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2011); J. Pinkerton and R.H. Hudson, “The Chicago Bee,” Encyclopedia of the Chicago Literary Renaissance (New York: Facts On File, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bailey, D’Army (1941-2015)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
D’Army Bailey, The Education of a Black Radical, A Southern Civil Rights Activist’s Journey, 1959–1964 (Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press, 2009); Linda Block, “Lifelong fight for civil rights,” Worcester: Telegram & Gazette, February  2, 2009); Jim Keogh, “A Radical Life,” Clark Voices-Clark University Magazine (January 2011); Bill Dries, “Circuit Court Judge D’Army Bailey Dies at Age 73,” (Memphis Daily News, July 13, 2015). 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Booth, Katie (1907–2005)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the History Makers
Katie Booth was an African American biomedical chemist and community activist. She was born on May 23, 1907, in Gulfport, Mississippi, to Joseph Patterson and Ida Coffye. She attended a one room school in her church through the eighth grade. She then graduated from the Gulfport School for Coloreds High School in 1929.

The Presbyterian Board of Education sent Booth to be trained in education at Arkadelphia Academy in Arkansas. She remained at that institution for ten years and then received a scholarship to attend Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas, where she studied general chemistry. She graduated in 1940.

Booth moved to Chicago, Illinois, during World War II to work in the defense industry. She took a job as a chemist at Doehler-Javis, a die casting company plant. While there, she started classes at the Illinois Institute of Technology.  She was the only African American person in her graduating class, receiving a degree in industrial chemistry. She also began work as an assistant chemist in the Department of Pharmacology at the Chicago Medical School. While there, she conducted research on preventive health measures. Booth’s main interest was in children’s health and prenatal care, but she also worked on treatments for sickle cell anemia.

Soon after moving to Chicago, Booth married Robert Booth. He fought in World War II, but eight years after it ended, he died from his war injuries. The couple had no children.
Sources: 
“Katie Booth,” The History Makers, http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/katie-booth-39, “Katie Booth,” Pinterest, https://www.pinterest.com/pin/240379698838751719/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Washington, Ora Mae (1898-1971)

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

Ora Mae Washington was the first prominent African American athlete to dominate two sports, tennis and basketball.  Born on January 23, 1898, in Caroline County, Virginia, she was the daughter of James “Tommy” and Laura O. Young-Washington.   Washington’s family moved north in search of opportunity around 1912 and settled in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Sources: 
“Ora Mae Washington,” Findagrave.com, 11/19/2012, https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=100912113;  “Ora Washington (1899-1971) Historical Marker,”  http://explorepahistory.com/hmarker.php?markerId=1-A-35A; Femi Lewis, “5 Outstanding Black Women Tennis Champions,” ThoughtCo.com, 06/28/2017, https://www.thoughtco.com/top-african-american-women-in-tennis-45324; Jennifer H. Lansbury, 04/01/2014, “A Spectacular Leap: Black Women Athletes in Twentieth-Century America,” University of Arkansas Press, pp. 24-41.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Thompson, Noah (1878-?)

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

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Accomplished journalist and activist Noah Thompson became one of the most influential leaders in Los Angeles, California during the early twentieth century. Born in Baltimore, Maryland on June 9, 1878, Thompson fled Baltimore as a young adult in search of success in the United States’ burgeoning urban centers. After rising to prominence in Los Angeles as a dedicated journalist and real estate investor, Thompson utilized his social, political, and economic gains to promote the improvement of black Angelenos.

Like many African Americans at the end of the nineteenth century, employment opportunities encouraged Thompson to migrate to Chicago, Illinois. While working in various industrial sectors, he took courses at Greg’s Business College. In 1909, Thompson accepted a position at Booker T. Washington’s Educational Institute and moved to Tuskegee, Alabama. After learning about the economic success of the emerging black community in Los Angeles, California, Thompson fled to Los Angeles in 1911.

Sources: 
Beasley, Delilah. The Negro Trail-Blazers of California. Los Angeles: Times Mirror Print and Binding House, 1919; Taylor, Quintard. In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West, 1528-1990. New York: W.W. Norton, 1998; Flamming, Douglas. Bound For Freedom: Black Los Angeles in Jim Crow America. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Wilson, Russell Carrington (1988- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
On February 2, 2014, 26-year-old Russell Carrington Wilson led the Seattle Seahawks football team to a Superbowl Championship over the Denver (Colorado) Broncos in Superbowl XLVIII.  Wilson, in only his second year with the Seahawks, became the second African American quarterback (after Doug Williams) to lead his team to victory in the annual National Football League (NFL) championship game.  He was also the quarterback who led the Seahawks to their first Superbowl win in the team’s 38 year history.

Russell C. Wilson was born November 29, 1988 in Cincinnati, Ohio to Harrison Benjamin Wilson III, an attorney, and Tammy T. Wilson, a legal nurse consultant. He has two siblings: Harrison IV and Anna. Wilson started playing football at the age of four, encouraged by his father who had been a standout college player at Dartmouth College and who briefly played in the NFL preseason with the San Diego (California) Chargers in 1980.  Benjamin Wilson III died on June 9, 2010 at age 55 due to complications from diabetes.     

Sources: 
Ken Tysiac, “Father’s Dream Inspires Pack’s Wilson,” The Raleigh News and Observer, August 22, 2010; Danny O’Neil, “Russell Wilson’s Rise to NFL Starter no Surprise for Those Who Know Him,” Seattle Times, http://seattletimes.com/html/seahawks/2019088051_seahawks07.html; Arlene Hamilton Stewart, “I Do, I Do: Ashton Meem + Russell Wilson,” Richmond Times Dispatch, April 8, 2012; Dexter Rogers, “Russell Wilson Becomes Second African-American QB to Win Superbowl,” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dexter-rogers/russell-wilson-becomes-se_b_4719940.html.
Contributor: 
Contributor2: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle University & Independent Historian

Bailey, William H. “Bob” (1927–2014)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Dr. William H. “Bob” Bailey, Las Vegas entertainer, entrepreneur, and civil rights activist, was born in Detroit, Michigan, on February 14, 1927, to John and Margaret Bailey. Bailey received a B. A. in Business Law at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, sometime in the late 1940s or early 1950s.  He later attended the School of Radio and Television in New York City and engaged in specialized studies at the Columbia Theater. He also took classes in real estate and land law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Bailey was in the first graduating class of the Institute of Minority Business Education at the Howard University School of Business in Washington, D.C. He received his Doctorate of Human Letters from National University, San Diego, California, in 1987.

Bailey first arrived in Las Vegas in 1955 to perform at the Moulin Rouge, the first racially integrated hotel and casino in Nevada. When it closed later that year, he remained in the city and soon afterward engaged in civil rights work. He joined the Las Vegas branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and led the effort to integrate other casinos. 
Sources: 
Claytee White Interview with Alice Key, Las Vegas, Nevada, February 17, 1997; Claytee White Interview with Bob Bailey, Las Vegas, Nevada Oral History Research Center at UNLV Libraries, 1997; Grant Sawyer, Hang Tough! Grant Sawyer: An Activist in the Governor’s Mansion (Reno: University of Nevada Oral History Program, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Diallo, Rokhaya (1978- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Born in Paris, France in April 1978, from Senegalese parents, Rokhaya Diallo most famous as a French feminist and antiracist activist. She is also a journalist for radio and TV.

First educated in the public schools of Paris, she moved at 11 with her parents (her father was a mechanic and her mother was a sewing instructor) to the Paris suburb of La Courneuve.  She was an exceptional student and graduated in 2002 from Pantheon – Sorbonne university with a master degree in international law and a commerce school diploma.  

After graduation Diallo took a position with IBM in Paris.  She soon quit her position, however, and returned to the university where she earned another master’s degree in TV and radio distribution and marketing.  After graduation she soon found a job working for Canal + TV station and RTL radio.  Today she works as an animator in French media.
Sources: 
Rockhaya Diallo, Racisme: Mode d’Emploi (Paris: Larousse. 2011); Rockhaya Diallo, La France est une et muliculturelle, (Paris: Fayard, 2012); Rockhaya Diallo, Comment parler de racism aux enfants (Paris: Le Baron Perché, 2013); Rockhaya Diallo Moi, Raciste? Jamais! Scènes de racism ordinaire (Paris: Flammarion, 2015).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Paris

Brown, Ronald H. (1941-1996)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Alma Brown Interview:  http://www.idvl.org/thehistorymakers/Bio484.html; Stephen A. Holmes, Ron Brown:  An Uncommon Life (New York:  Wiley & Sons, 2001); Tracey L. Brown, The Life and Times of Ron Brown (Pittsburgh:  William Morrow, 1998); Godfrey Hodgson, “Obituary:  Ron Brown,”  The Independent (April 5, 1996); Cheryl McCullers, “A Natural Born Leader,” Library of Congress Information Bulletin (Nov. 2000) http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/0011/rbrown.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Clayton, Eva (1934- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Charles Christian, Black Sage: The African American Experience (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1995); Alston Hornsby, Jr. and Angela M. Hornsby, From the Grassroots (Montgomery, Alabama: E-Book Time LLC, 2006); bioguide.congress.gov; www.answers.com
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

761st Tank Battalion (1942-45)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Able Company, 761st Tank Batalion Crossing the Seille River
in France, Nov. 9, 1944
Image Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Defense

The 761st Tank Battalion was formed in the spring of 1942 and was the first African American tank battalion to see combat in the Second World War. Commanding this battalion was a white Lt. Colonel, Paul L. Bates.  As the unit fell under the scrutiny of other white officers who were critical of blacks as soldiers and especially as tankers, Bates pushed the 761st in its quest for excellence. 

Sources: 

Charles W. Sasser, Pattons’ Panthers: the African American 761st Tank Battalion in World War II (New York: Pocket Books, 2004); Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII’s Forgotten Heroes.  (New York: Broadway Books, 2004); Ulysses Lee, The Employment of Negro Troops (Honolulu: University Press of the Pacific, 2004).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Robinson, Bill “Bojangles” (1878-1949)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Bill Robinson was born in Richmond, Virginia on May 25, 1878 to Maxwell and Maria Robinson.  Due to the death of both of his parents when he was an infant, Bill and his younger brother Percy were brought up by his grandmother.  As a young child, Bill was given the nickname of “Bojangles” although Robinson himself was unsure of the origin of the name. 

Sources: 
Susie Box, “National Tap Dance Day: Resonating Far and Wide” The International Tap Association Newsletter 4:1 (May-June, 1993), James Haskins and N.R. Mitgang, Mr. Bojangles: The Biography of Bill Robinson (New York: W. Morrow, 1988); Henry Louis Gates and Cornel West, eds., The African-American Century: How Black Americans Have Shaped Our Country (New York: Free Press, 2000); http://www.tapdance.org/tap/people/bojangle.htm.  
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Napier, James Carroll (1845-1940)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
James Carroll Napier, a 19th century Nashville businessman and civil rights leader, was born near Nashville, Tennessee on June 9, 1845 to William C. and Jane E. Napier who were both free blacks.  Napier attended a private school for free black children in Nashville and then in 1859 enrolled in predominately black Wilberforce College before transferring to integrated Oberlin College.   

Napier left Oberlin College in 1867 without a degree and returned to Nashville, Tennessee.   Drawn to opportunities available to him in the emerging Reconstruction era, he served as the commissioner of refugees and abandoned lands in Davidson County under the Freedmen’s bureau for a year.  He then moved to Washington, D.C. to become the first African American to hold the position of State Department Clerk.  Encouraged by John Mercer Langston, the Dean of the Howard University Law School, Napier enrolled in Howard where he received a Bachelor in Law (LL.B) in 1872.  He moved back to Nashville to start his own practice.  There he married Nettie Langston, the only daughter of John Mercer Langston, in 1878.  They had one adopted daughter, Carrie Langston Napier.
Sources: 
Darlene Clark Hine, Ed.  Black Women in America: The Early Years, 1619-1899.  (New York: Facts on File, Inc, 1997); Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1982)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Johnson, Charles S. (1893-1956)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of the Fisk University
Franklin Library's Special Collections

Charles Spurgeon Johnson, one of the leading 20th Century black sociologists, was born in Bristol, Virginia on July 24, 1893. After receiving his B.A. from Virginia Union University in Richmond, he studied sociology with the noted sociologist Robert E. Park at the University of Chicago, Illinois where he earned a Ph.D.  in 1917.  Initially a friend of historian Carter G. Woodson, he did collaborative work with the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History until his relationship with Woodson deteriorated. 

Sources: 

August Meier and Elliot Rudwick, Black Historians and the Historical Profession, 1915-1980 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986); Earnest W. Burgess, Elmer A. Carter, and Clarence Faust, “Charles S. Johnson, “Social Scientist, Editor, and Educational Statesman,” Phylon, 17 (Winter, 1956); Joe M. Richardson, A History of Fisk University-1865-1946 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1980) ; Patrick J. Gilpin, “Charles S. Johnson, An Intellectual Biography” (Ph.D.  Dissertation, Vanderbilt University, 1973).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Fresno

National Urban League (1910 - )

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The National Urban League (NUL) was formed on October 11, 1910, to help African American migrants assimilate into urban life.  The NUL began with the merger of three smaller groups, The National League for the Protection of Colored Women, The Committee for Improving the Industrial Conditions for Negroes in New York, and the Committee on Urban Conditions Among Negroes in New York, all dedicated to helping Americans urban newcomers mainly from the South, expand their employment, housing, healthcare, and educational opportunities.  Its first Executive Secretary, George E. Haynes (1910-1917) established its guiding principle, promote positive interracial interaction by persuading whites that they should work with African Americans for mutual advantage.
Sources: 
Nancy J. Weiss, The National Urban League, 1910-1940 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1974) Jesse T. Moore, Jr., A Search for Equality: The National Urban League, 1910-1960 (University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University, 1981); Nina Mjagkij, Organizing Black America: An Encyclopedia of African American Associations (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 2001); http://nul.iamempowered.com/who-we-are/mission-and-history.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bullard, Eugene James ["Jacques"] (1895-1961)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of
National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
Eugene James (Jacques) Bullard, the first African American combat aviator, was known as the “black swallow of death” for his courage during missions. He led a colorful life, much of it in Europe.

Bullard was born in Columbus, Georgia, on October 9, 1895, the seventh child of Josephine Thomas and William O. Bullard. Eugene received a minimal education but learned to read, a key to his later successes. After witnessing the near-lynching of his own father and other racial violence, Bullard ran away from home in 1906. In Atlanta, he joined a group of gypsies and traveled with them, tending and learning to race their horses.

In 1912 as a teen, Bullard stowed away on German merchant ship bound for Aberdeen, Scotland. For the next two years, he performed in a vaudeville troupe and supported himself as a prizefighter in Great Britain and elsewhere in Europe. He first appeared in Paris, his long-time destination, at a boxing match in November 1913.
Sources: 
Craig Lloyd. “Eugene Bullard (1895-1961).” New Georgia Encyclopedia. 01 October 2014. Web. 30. August 2015. Craig Lloyd, Eugene Bullard: Black Expatriate in Jazz-age Paris (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2000); P.J. Carisella, James W. Ryan, and Edward W. Brooke, The Black Swallow of Death: The Incredible Story of Eugene Jacques Bullard, The World's First Black Combat Aviator (Boston: Marlborough House, 1972); William A. Shack, Harlem in Montmartre: A Paris Jazz Story Between the Great Wars (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001); “Eugene Bullard," Contemporary Black Biography. Vol. 12 (Detroit: Gale, 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Allen, Will (1948 -)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Will Allen
Will Allen, son of a sharecropper, former professional basketball player, ex-corporate sales leader and now farmer, is recognized as one of the preeminent thinkers of our time on agriculture and food policy. Allen is the founder and CEO of Growing Power, Inc., a farm and community food center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is widely considered the leading authority in the expanding field of urban agriculture.

Will Allen was born on February 8 in 1949 in Rockville, Maryland.  He grew up on a small farm where his parents had moved after sharecropping in South Carolina. He attended the University of Miami at Coral Gables, Florida where he played basketball, graduating in 1971 with a B.A. That same year he turned professional and joined the Baltimore Bullets but never did play in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He briefly played in the American Basketball Association (ABA) with The Floridians. The remainder of his professional basketball career was spent in Belgium.

Sources: 
Will Allen, The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities (New York: Gotham Books, 2012); “Will Allen: Urban Farmer,” MacArthur Foundation, 2008, http://www.macfound.org/fellows/70/; Elizabeth Royte, "Street Farmer," The New York Times Magazine, July 1, 2009; Growing Power, Inc., http://www.growingpower.org/; Roger Bybee, "Growing Power in an Urban Food Desert," Yes! Magazine, February 13,2009; Van Jones, "Will Allen," TIME Magazine, May 10, 2010.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent historian

Brunson, Claude (1958- )

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

Born in Auburn Alabama in 1858, Claude Brunson was raised in a town with a long history of racial segregation in public accommodations and education.  Recalling his grandmother’s history, he notes that during her adolescence, blacks were not allowed to attend medical school in the state. Yet on August 17, 2013, Dr. Claude Brunson became the first African-American President–elect of the Mississippi State Medical Association, which means he is slated to become president of the Association one year from that date.

Brunson graduated from Auburn High School and, after spending one year at Auburn University in 1976-1977, he joined the United States Navy where he became a hospital corpsman. The Navy gave him the opportunity to spend four years doing health associated work, including performing medical inspections. Brunson credits his naval experience with inspiring him to pursue a career in medicine. Prior to his enlistment, he had never met an African American physician.

Sources: 
Dustin Cardon, "Dr. Claude Brunson," Jackson Free Press, Oct. 22, 2013, http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2013/oct/22/dr-claude-brunson/; "Mississippi Medical Association Names Dr. Claude Brunson President-Elect," The NorthStar News & Analysis, February 28,  2014, http://www.thenorthstarnews.com/fullstory/story/mississippi-medical-association-names-dr-claude-brunson-president-elect; http://www.alabamamedicalalumni.org/clientuploads/newsletters/Informal_Rounds_Fall2012_LR.pdf.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bean, Maurice Darrow (1928-2009)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
In 1977, career diplomat Maurice D. Bean was nominated by President Jimmy Carter to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Burma (in 1989 the military government changed the name of the country to Myanmar). Bean was born on September 9, 1928, in Gary, Indiana. His father Everett worked as a laborer for the U.S. Steel Corporation; his mother Vera was a housewife.

Bean attended racially segregated schools in Gary and graduated from Howard University in 1950 with a B.A. in Government. A year later, Bean’s career in the U.S. Foreign Service began when he was assigned to work with the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA) in Indonesia. From 1951 to 1956, he served in Djakarta, the nation’s capital, as clerk, assistant program officer, and program analyst for the ECA.

Sources: 
“Maurice Darrow Bean,” 1930 & 1940 United States Federal Census; and U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 http://www.ancestry.com/; Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, “Jimmy Carter: ‘United States Ambassador to Burma Nomination of Maurice D. Bean,’ August 15, 1977” http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=7959; United States Office of the Federal Register, “Jimmy Carter: 1977” (1981) http://quod.lib.umich.edu/p/ppotpus/4732130.1977.002?rgn=main;view=fulltext.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Arnett, Bishop Benjamin William (1838–1906)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Benjamin W. Arnett was an African American administrator, minister, and politician. He was born a free man in Brownsville, Fayette County, Pennsylvania, on March 6, 1838. The grandson of Samuel and Mary Louise Arnett, he was half African American, three-eighths Scottish, one-sixteenth Native American, and one-sixteenth Irish. Near his hometown, he attended a one-room schoolhouse that was taught by his father's brother, Ephram Arnett.

In his youth, Arnett worked as a wagon boy, a waiter, and a stevedore loading and unloading wagons on the docks. While Arnett was working on a steamboat, he suffered an ankle injury that caused a tumor and later amputation in March of 1858. He received a teacher’s certificate on December 19, 1858, and became the first and for a while the only teacher in Fayette County. For ten months during the 1864–1865 school year, he taught and served as principal in a Washington, D.C. school, afterward returning to Brownsville to teach for another two years.
Sources: 
“Dedication of a Church,” The Indianapolis Freeman, September 3, 1898; Lawrence S. Little, Disciples of Liberty (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2000); Larry E. Rivers, Canter Brown, Laborers in the Vineyard of the Lord: The Beginnings of the AME Church in Florida, 1865–1895 (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2001); Warren Van Tine & Michael Pierce, Builders of Ohio (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Rice, Raymell Mourice (1987- )

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

Raymell Mourice Rice, who is also known as Ray Rice, is a former American football running back who played his entire professional career with the Baltimore (Maryland) Ravens of the National Football League (NFL). Before joining the NFL in 2008, he played college football at Rutgers University. Rice also won a Super Bowl championship with the Ravens at the end of the 2012 NFL Season.

Ray Rice was born on January 22, 1987, in New Rochelle, New York, to Janet Rice and Calvin Reed. Rice never knew his father who was killed in a drive-by shooting when Rice was year old in 1988. Rice grew close to a cousin, Myshaun Rice-Nichols, who was killed by a drunk driver when Rice was ten.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Chase, James E. (1914-1987)

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

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

James Everett Chase, businessman and politician, was born the youngest of seven children in Wharton, Texas in 1914.  He attended high school in Ballinger, Texas.  During the Great Depression, Chase became an enrollee at a Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) camp in El Paso.  Upon completion of his CCC service, he migrated to Spokane, Washington with fellow Texans, Elmo Dalbert and Harry Blackwell.  In 1934, when Chase first arrived in Spokane after hoboing across the west, he found a job shining shoes at a white barbershop.  

In 1942 Chase married Eleanor Barrow, the granddaughter of 19th century Spokane black pioneer and entrepreneur Peter Barrow.  The Chases had a child Roland.  During World War II, James Chase’s employment situation improved.  He repaired military vehicles at Spokane’s Geiger Air Field and in 1945 partnered with Elmo Dalbert to open Chase and Dalbert Body and Fender, an automotive body repair shop.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s Chase served at different times as president and vice president of the Spokane Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).  While at the helm of the branch, Chase brought Rosa Parks in as a guest speaker in 1956 and through the media he addressed local civil rights abuses in employment and housing.  

Sources: 
Chris Peck, “Jim Chase: He's Ready; Is Spokane?” Spokesman Review, October 29, 1981; Dorothy Powers, “Jim and Eleanor Chase Gave Spokane a Great 2-for-1 Bargain," Spokesman Review, November 17, 1985; Aldore Collier, “The Mayor Few People Know,” Ebony, August 1984: 122-126; “Statement of Votes Cast, 1981,” Spokane County Auditor, Elections Division.  Held by Washington State Archives, Eastern Region Archives; Quintard Taylor, Interview with James and Eleanor (Barrow) Chase, 2 November 1972.  Black Oral History Interviews, 1972-1974.  Held in the Washington State University Libraries – Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections.  See also:  http://www.wsulibs.wsu.edu/holland/masc/xblackoralhistory.html; http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?displaypage=output.cfm&file_id=8788.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Albina Ministerial Alliance (ca. 1964- )

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

The Albina Ministerial Alliance is an umbrella group that represents 125 churches in North and Northeast Portland, Oregon. It was founded in the early 1960s by two ministers, Rev. John Jackson and Rev. O.B. Williams. The majority of churches represented in the Albina Ministerial Alliance (AMA) are composed of predominantly African American congregations.  The AMA was founded to provide a greater voice to the people of color in Northeast Portland whose needs were and are often overlooked by city and civic leaders.  The Alliance sponsors programs that focus on community health.  It also remains active in efforts to expose unjust treatment towards members of the community.  The AMA began as a group of all-male African American pastors. Though some of them were initially hostile towards including women, today the Alliance includes women pastors and white pastors.
Sources: 
http://www.oregonlive.com; http://www.albinaministerialcoalition.org; Hearing on the Reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974. Hearing before the Subcommittee on Human Resources of the Committee on Education and Labor. House of Representatives, One Hundred Second Congress, Second Session (Portland, OR) (http://www.eric.ed.gov).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Healy, Michael Augustine (1839–1904)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Michael Augustine Healy was an American captain in the United States Revenue Cutter Service, which is commonly known now as the United States Coast Guard. As such, he was the first African American officer in the Coast Guard. Healy was known primarily for enforcing federal law along the Alaskan coastline in the late nineteenth century, as well as rescuing whalers, shipwrecked sailors, and others in need.

Michael A. Healy was born in Macon, Georgia, on September 22, 1839. His father, Michael Morris Healy, was an Irish immigrant planter who was born in 1795 and moved to Jones County, Georgia, in 1818 where he eventually acquired one thousand five hundred acres of land through a land lottery and purchase. Michael Healy became one of the more successful plantation owners in the county partly because of the forty-nine enslaved people who worked on his plantations. One of the enslaved was Mary Eliza Smith who became his wife and later the mother of Michael A. Healy. According to slave law at the time, Michael Augustine Healy was technically born into slavery, prompting his father to send him North for his education and future.

Sources: 
“Captain Michael A. Healy, USRCS,” http://www.uscg.mil/history/people/HealyMichaelindex.asp; James O’Dell, “Revenue Captain Michael A. Healy, USRCS,” http://www.uscg.mil/history/people/Healy_ODell_Article.asp.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Chilembwe, John (c. 1871-1915)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
John Chilembwe and Family
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Thomas Price, Independent African: John Chilembwe and the Origins, Setting and Significance of the Nyasaland Native Uprising of 1915 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1969); http://harvardmagazine.com/2005/03/john-chilembwe.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Walrond, Eric (1898-1966)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Eric Walrond was an Afro-Caribbean-American fiction writer and journalist of the Harlem Renaissance era.  Born December 18, 1898, in Georgetown, British Guyana, Walrond would write short stories with the interwoven themes of immigration, racial pride, and discrimination as he captured the early urban experience of Caribbean-born immigrants in America during the 1920s.  Although Walrond’s work has been largely overlooked, his book, Tropic Death (1926) is considered a major contribution to the cultural and literary style of the Harlem Renaissance.

Sources: 
Louis J. Parascandola, ed., “Winds Can Wake up the Dead” (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1998); David L. Lewis, The Portable Harlem Renaissance Reader (New York: Viking, 1994); David L. Lewis, Harlem was in Vogue (New York: Penguin Books, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Noah, Yannick (1960- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Yannick Noah is a former professional tennis player who is best known as the winner of the French Open in 1983 and later as the captain of the French Davis Cup and Fed Cup teams.  After his tennis career ended Noah became a well-known pop singer and co-founder of Fête le Mur in 1996, a charity organization for underprivileged children.

Noah was born in Sedan in northern France on May 18, 1960.  His father, Zacharie Noah, was a prominent soccer player from the Cameroons who won the French Cup while playing for Sedan.  His mother, Marie-Claire Perrier, was a former captain of France’s basketball team and a teacher in Sedan.   

In 1963, the Noah family, which now included Yannick and his two sisters, Isabelle and Nathalie, moved to Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon. Here Noah discovered his passion, tennis.  In 1971 when Noah was 11, his talent and energy impressed American tennis player Arthur Ashe who was on a visit to Cameroon.  Before leaving Yaoundé, he gave young Noah his tennis racket.
Sources: 
“Yannick Noah,” Association of Tennis Professionals, http://atpworldtour.com/Tennis/Players/N022.aspx; Yannick Noah Official Website, http://www.yannicknoah.com/; “Yannick Noah,” International Tennis Hall of Fame, https://www.tennisfame.com/hall-of-famers/yannick-noah; Yannick Noah Biography as a pop musician, Radio France Internationale, http://www.rfimusique.com/artiste/chanson/yannick-noah/biographie.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Emeritus Professor, University of Paris

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)
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

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

Howard, Perry Wilbon (1877-1961)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Perry Wilbon Howard was one of the shrewdest and most enduring Southern black politicians of the early 20th Century.  Howard was a dominant figure in Mississippi Republican politics for half of the twentieth century.  For thirty-five years between 1924 until shortly before his death in 1961 at the age of eighty-four, Howard served as Republican national committeeman from Mississippi.  
Sources: 
Sources: McMillen, Neil, “Perry W. Howard, Boss of Black-and-Tan Republicanism in Mississippi, 1924-1960,” The Journal of Southern History 80:2 (May 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Gilpin, Charles Sidney (1878-1930)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Charles Sidney Gilpin, an actor, singer, and vaudevillian dancer, was the most successful African American stage performer in the early 20th Century.  He is best known for his portrayal of Brutus Jones in Eugene O’Neill’s The Emperor Jones. A Richmond, Virginia, native, Gilpin attended St. Francis School, a Catholic institution for colored children, until age 12, and served as a printer’s assistant at the Richmond Planet (c. 1890-1893). Gilpin married three times. His first wife was Florence Howard (married c. 1897). He met his second wife, Lillian Wood, when he was with the Lafayette Players. His third wife was Alma Benjamin Gilpin.

Gilpin showed great promise early on as a singer appearing in amateur theatricals in Richmond. He went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the early 1890s, where he worked briefly for the Philadelphia Standard, but was let go after some employees complained about working with a Negro.
Sources: 
Anthony Duane Hill, ed., An Historical Dictionary of African American Theatre (Prevessin, France: Scarecrow Press, 2008); John T. Kneebone, “’It Wasn’t All Velvet’: The Life and Hard Times of Charles S. Gilpin, Actor,” Virginia Cavalcade 38 (Summer 1988)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Ohio State University

Coleman, Ornette (1930-2015)

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

It may be impossible today to understand fully the shock and outrage which alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman's 1959 arrival in New York caused within the jazz community.  Coleman's innovations freed his quartet from traditional structures of form, chordal harmony, tonality, and rhythm, and though his work has sharply divided opinion, he is widely acknowledged as having transformed the way in which jazz is heard and performed.

Born in 1930 in Fort Worth, Texas, Coleman began playing tenor saxophone in rhythm and blues (R&B) bands, his own style rooted in the bebop idiom.  Though undocumented, his early development suggests something unique – Coleman was assaulted and his tenor saxophone destroyed after a particularly off-putting dance solo in Baton Rouge.  In 1949 Coleman settled in Los Angeles where he worked as an elevator operator and independently studied music theory.  On the alto saxophone, which remains his primary voice, Coleman developed a plaintively raw and vocalized tone, exploring micro-tonalities and speech-like cries.  In Los Angeles Coleman befriended drummers Ed Blackwell and Billy Higgins, as well as trumpeter Don Cherry, all of whom would later become mainstays in Coleman’s ground-breaking Atlantic quartets.  In 1958 Coleman found a willing partner in pianist Paul Bley, and with Higgins, Cherry, and bassist Charlie Haden the quintet recorded a live performance at the Hillcrest Club, The Fabulous Paul Bley Quintet.  

Sources: 
Valerie Wilmer, As Serious as Your Life (London: Serpent's Tail, 1992); Peter Niklas Wilson, Ornette Coleman: His Life and Music (Berkeley: Berkeley Hills Books, 1999); Richard Cook and Brian Morton, The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (Eighth Edition) (London: Penguin Books, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Barber, J. Max (1878-1949)

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

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

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

Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing, Birmingham (1963)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing took place on September, 15 1963. Four young girls, Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Addie Mae Collins, were killed in the racially motivated attack by the Ku Klux Klan against an African American church active in the ongoing civil rights campaign in Birmingham, Alabama.

The attack was meant to disrupt black community activists who had been demonstrating for weeks for an end to segregation in the city. It had the opposite effect. Because the four young girls killed were on their way to a basement assembly hall for closing prayers on a Sunday morning, the national public’s anger and revulsion at the slaughter of children at a place of worship helped build support in the John Kennedy administration for civil rights legislation. Twenty-two others were injured, many of them children that had been in the same group as the girls.
Sources: 

Birmingham Public Library Digital Collection: http://www.bplonline.org/resources/Digital_Project/SixteenthStBaptistBomb.asp; NPR Forty Years Later, Birmingham Still Struggles with Violent Past, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1431932.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Williams, Vanessa (1963- )

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

Vanessa Lynn Williams was born in Tarrytown, New York on March 18, 1963. She is the daughter of Helen and the late Milton Williams who were music teachers. She has a younger brother, Christopher, who is also an actor.  Williams was the first African American woman to win the Miss America title on September 17, 1983. Interestingly, her parents put “Here she is: Miss America” on her birth announcement that they sent out to friends, twenty years earlier.

During her childhood, Williams took music lessons, learning to play the piano and French horn.  Singing, however, was her first love. After graduating from Horace Greeley High School in Tarrytown in 1981, she attended Syracuse University where she majored in theater arts. It was also at this time that Williams began to compete in a number of beauty pageants. In 1983, she won the Miss Greater Syracuse pageant, followed by the title of Miss New York and eventually the title of Miss America 1984.

Sources: 
Suzanne Freedman, Vanessa Williams (Philadelphia:  Chelsea House Press, 2000); Elwood Watson and Darcy Martin, There She Is, Miss America: The Politics of Sex, Beauty and Race in America’s Most Famous Pageant (New York: Palgrave McMillan, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Harris, Lorenzo [“Rennie”] (1963- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Rennie Harris, hip hop dancer, artist, teacher, artistic director, choreographer, and founder of Rennie Harris Puremovement (RHPM), was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1963. At the age of 15, Harris began teaching workshops and classes at universities around the country, educating the public of the relevance of street dances from any cultural origins. He is the recipient of the Kennedy Center Master of African American Choreography award, the 2007 Governor’s Artist of the Year Award (Pennsylvania), the 2007 United States Artist Fellowship Award, and has been highlighted in Rose Eichenbaum’s Masters of Movement: Portraits of America’s Great Choreographers (2007).

A life-long Philadelphia resident, Harris formed RHPM in 1992 to counteract the commercialized stereotypes the mass-media industry presents of hip hop dance and culture. RHPM was founded on the conviction that hip hop dance provides a medium of expression for  new generations to move beyond the boundaries of racial, religious, and economic differences through the power of original movement expression. Through his choreographic works for RHPM, Harris uses the ever-evolving style of hip hop street dance to reflect the distinct dance and movement impulses of current generations, while simultaneously representing the distinctive African American traditions of the past.
Sources: 
Brenda Dixon Gottschild, “Prince Scarekrow & the Emerald City,” Dance Magazine (February 2007); Heidi Henderson, ed., Growing Place: Interviews with Artists, 25 Years at the Bates Dance Festival (Lewiston, ME: Bates Dance Festival, 2007); http://www.rhpm.org/index.php
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Guinier, Ewart (1910-1990)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Schomburg Center
for Research in Black Culture

Ewart Guinier, labor activist and political candidate, was the first chairman of Harvard University’s Afro-American Studies Department. Born in Panama in 1910, Guinier migrated to the United States in 1925 and attended high school in Boston, Massachusetts. After his acceptance into the Harvard University Class of 1933, Guinier was denied a scholarship because he allegedly did not submit a photograph with his application and because of his race he was not permitted to reside in the all-white dormitories. Guinier nonetheless started classes at Harvard but dropped out in 1931 due to the high tuition costs.  He transferred to the City University of New York where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1935.  He later received his master’s degree from Columbia University in 1939 and his law degree from New York University in 1959.

Sources: 
Ewart Guinier, “Impact of Unionization on Blacks,” Proceedings of the Academy of Political Science, 30:2 (Dec. 1970): 173-181; http://www.nytimes.com/1990/02/07/obituaries/ewart-guinier-79-who-headed-afro-american-studies-at-harvard.html; http://www.nypl.org/archives/3674; http://mvgazette.com/article.php?22763.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Lafayette Players, The (1915-1932)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History

Sources: 
Frank Cullen, Vaudeville Old & New: An Encyclopedia of Variety Performers in America (New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2007); Francesca Thompson, Drop Me Off in Harlem.  Retrieved February 17, 2014, from artsedge.kennedy-center.org/interactives/harlem/themes/lafayette.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Cook, Will Mercer (1903-1987)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Will Mercer Cook served as the United States ambassador to the Republic of Niger from 1961 to 1964. Cook directed U.S. economic, social, and cultural programs in Niger, which included the Peace Corps. During the mid-1960s he also became the special envoy to Gambia and Senegal.

Will Mercer Cook was born on March 30, 1903, in Washington, D.C., to Will Marion Cook, a composer and Abbie Mitchell Cook, an actress and classical singer.  Cook had one sibling, Abigail, an older sister. During his childhood, he frequently traveled with his family as they performed at various venues throughout the United States and abroad.  Jazz superstar Duke Ellington lived on the same block in Cook’s middle class Washington, D.C. neighborhood.    

Sources: 
Mercer Cook and Dantes Bellegarde, eds., The Haitian American Anthology: Haitian Readings from American Authors (Port-au Prince, Haiti: Imperimerie de l’Etat, 1944); “Will Mercer Cook, 84, Ambassador, Educator, Dies,” Jet, 73 (October 26, 1987);
Office of the Historian -Department History - People – Cook, Mercer: http://www.history.state.gov.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Knoxville Race Riot (1919)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Maurice Franklin Mays, Central Figure in the
Knoxville Riot
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The Knoxville Race Riot in Knoxville, Tennessee, was one of several race riots that took place in the “Red Summer” of 1919. The so-called “Red Summer” of 1919 was a series of violent riots, predominantly whites against blacks, which lasted from May until October of that year and resulted in an estimated six hundred deaths across the nation.

The riot began on August 30, 1919, when an intruder entered the home of Bertie Lindsey, a twenty-seven-year-old white woman, and shot her while she was asleep in her bed. The only witness was Lindsey’s twenty-one-year-old cousin, Ora Smyth, who soon after the intruder left their Knoxville home, stealing a purse on his way out, ran next door to the house of a city policeman. One of the officers investigating the crime scene, Andy White, immediately accused Maurice Mays.
Sources: 
Becky Givan, “Knoxville, TN, Race Riot of 1919,” The Institute for Diasporic Studies, Northwestern University, http://diaspora.northwestern.edu/mbin/WebObjects/DiasporaX.woa/wa/displayArticle?atomid=604; William Bruce Wheeler, “Knoxville Riot of 1919,” AASLH, https://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/entry.php?rec=753; Dave Tabler, “Knoxville’s Red Summer of 1919” Appalachian History, August 2015, http://www.appalachianhistory.net/2015/08/knoxvilles-red-summer-of-1919.html; Matt Lakin, “Maurice Franklin Mays: Died claiming innocence but conviction stands,” Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com/news/local/maurice-franklin-mays-died-claiming-innocence-but-conviction-stands-ep-361162421-357180621.html; Femi Lewis, “The Red Summer of 1919,” About.com, http://afroamhistory.about.com/od/segregation/p/The-Red-Summer-Of-1919.htm; Donald F. Paine, “Race and Murder in Knoxville, 1919 – The Trials of Maurice Mays”, Tennessee Bar Journal, https://archive.org/stream/MAYS01/MAYS-01_djvu.txt.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Johns, Vernon Napoleon (1892–1965)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Vernon Napoleon Johns was an American minister and civil rights activist. Johns was best known as the predecessor to Martin Luther King Jr. as pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, from 1948–1953. Johns was born in Darlington Heights, Prince Edward County, Virginia, on April 22, 1892, to Willie Johns, a farmer, peddler, and Baptist preacher, and Sallie Branch Price Johns.

Johns worked on the farm, growing up and was a voracious reader of western classical thought. He graduated from the Boydton Institute and Virginia Theological Seminary and College in 1915 and then attended Oberlin Seminary. While at Oberlin, Johns, who was highly respected by his fellow students and the faculty, was chosen to give the annual student oration. After graduating from Oberlin in 1918, Johns attended the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Theology. After studying there, he moved to various congregations in Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. In 1926 he became the first African-American to have his work published in Best Sermons of the Year.

In 1927 Johns married Altona Trent, a pianist and music teacher who became a professor at what is now Alabama State University.  The couple would later have six children, three sons and three daughters.

Sources: 
“Vernon Johns,” Biography, http://www.biography.com/people/vernon-johns-21402221#synopsis; “Vernon Johns,” Martin Luther King Jr. and The Global Freedom Struggle, http://kingencyclopedia.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/encyclopedia/enc_johns_vernon_18921965/; “Vernon Johns” in Ralph E. Luker, Historical  Dictionary of the Civil Rights Movement (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 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

Robinson, Jack (Jackie) Roosevelt (1919–1972)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
When Jackie Robinson took the field on April 15, 1947 wearing a Brooklyn Dodgers uniform, he became the first African American in over fifty years to play on a major league baseball team. In the process, he broke through baseball’s color line that had relegated African American players to the segregated Negro Leagues.

Jack Roosevelt Robinson, the youngest of five children, was born in Cairo, Georgia on January 31, 1919 to sharecroppers Jerry and Mallie Robinson. When Jack was a year old his father deserted the family, and Mallie Robinson relocated her family to Pasadena, California where Jack grew up. Robinson’s athletic ability was apparent from an early age. In high school he participated in five sports: basketball, football, baseball, tennis and track. He continued to play multiple sports at Pasadena Junior College, where he graduated in 1939, and then at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Sources: 
Jackie  Robinson and Alfred Duckett, I Never Had It Made: An Autobiography of Jackie Robinson (New York: Harper, 2003); Arnold Rampersand, Jackie Robinson: A Biography (New York: Knopf, 1997); Jackie Robinson: Baseball’s Barrier Breaker, http://www.jackierobinson.com/; John Vernon, “Jim Crow, Meet Lieutenant Robinson: A 1944 Court-Martial,” Prologue Magazine, Vol. 40, No. 1 (Spring 2008); http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2008/spring/robinson.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Zion Preparatory Academy (1982–2004)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
From the 1960s to the 1980s, Seattle, Washington public school pupils and their parents, as well as the school board and the courts, were involved in a series of contentious and highly controversial attempts to desegregate the city’s public schools racially. The impact of these efforts were especially felt among African American students who participated in programs that sent them to schools throughout the city and those who remained in predominantly segregated institutions. Because of this instability, one local religious leader, Bishop Eugene Drayton, pastor of the Zion United House of Prayer, founded Zion Preparatory Academy in 1982.  

Sources: 
Sami Edge, “Financial Pressures force Zion Prep to shut its doors,” Seattle Times, August 31, 2015;  Joe Haberstroh, “The Zion Family: They Shower Kids With Love and Respect,” Seattle Times, January 21, 1990; Eric Pryne, “Zion Prep Sells Its Campus, $5M Deal,” Seattle Times, November 26, 2009, p. A24; Jeffrey Zane, “America, Only Less So: Seattle’s Central Area, 1968-1996,” (PhD dissertation, University of Notre Dame, 2001).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle Central College

Rwandan Genocide (1994)

Entry Type: 
Events
History Type: 
Global African History
Rwanda Massacre
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Beginning on April 7, 1994 and lasting until mid-July of the same year, the Rwandan Genocide was the government-mandated killing of Tutsis and Hutu political moderates.  Having commenced in the capital city of Kigali, the violence spread rapidly throughout the Rwandan countryside where, in less than 100 days, an estimated 20 percent of the Tutsi population of Rwanda was slain.

In 1959 a Belgian-backed Hutu coup d’état deposed the Tutsi monarch, King Kigeli V Ndahindurwa, prompting an estimated 130,000 Tutsi civilians to flee to neighboring Burundi, Tanzania, and Uganda amid anti-Tutsi violence by the Hutu.  Proclaiming their right to return, in 1987 Ugandan Tutsi refugees formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which included a formidable military wing.
Sources: 
Kevin Shillington, Encyclopedia of African History (New York: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2004); Gerard Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide (London: Hurst, 1995); Dixon Kamukama, The Rwanda Conflict: Its Roots and Regional Implications (Kampala: Fountain, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Firefight: The Century-Long Battle to Integrate the New York City Fire Department

Wesley Williams (right) and Unidentified Firemen in Front of
Engine 55, ca. 1920 

"Image Courtesy of The Schomburg Center"
In the following article Ginger Adams Otis, a staff writer at the New York Daily News and a longtime city reporter, describes her more-than-decade-long research following the evolution of a landmark civil rights case brought by the Vulcan Society, a determined group of activist black New York City firefighters. In 2005 the Vulcan Society sued the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) and the then-Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, for racial discrimination. The lawsuit was settled in the Vulcans’ favor in 2010. It took until 2013, however, for hiring to begin again. At the same time, the city and FDNY challenged the part of the ruling that found them guilty of intentional discrimination. The parties were getting ready to take that particular claim to trial again when Mayor Bill De Blasio came to power in 2014. Within three months, the city reached an accord with the Vulcans to settle the intentional discrimination lawsuit. While following the case, Adams discovered the incredible stories of the first African Americans who joined the fire department, beginning with William Nicholson who joined the department in 1889. Otis wrote Firefight: The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York’s Bravest to describe the history of black firemen in the New York City Fire Department.  
Summary: 
In the following article Ginger Adams Otis, a staff writer at the <i>New York Daily News </i>and a longtime city reporter, describes her more-than-decade-long research following the evolution of a landmark civil rights case brought by the Vulcan Society, a determined group of activist black New York City firefighters. In 2005 the Vulcan Society sued the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) and the then-Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, for racial discrimination. The lawsuit was settled in the Vulcans’ favor in 2010. It took until 2013, however, for hiring to begin again. At the same time, the city and FDNY challenged the part of the ruling that found them guilty of intentional discrimination. The parties were getting ready to take that particular claim to trial again when Mayor Bill De Blasio came to power in 2014. Within three months, the city reached an accord with the Vulcans to settle the intentional discrimination lawsuit. While following the case, Adams discovered the incredible stories of the first African Americans who joined the fire department, beginning with William Nicholson who joined the department in 1889. Otis wrote Firefight: The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York’s Bravest to describe the history of black firemen in the New York City Fire Department. 
Sources: 
Ginger Adams Otis, Firefight: The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York’s Bravest (New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2015)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

Granville, Evelyn Boyd (1924- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Evelyn Boyd was born in Washington, D.C. on May 1st, 1929, the second daughter of William and Julia Boyd.  Though she was raised by a single working class mother and attended segregated schools, Boyd became the second black woman in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics.  She credits the quality and dedication of the teachers at Dunbar High School who nurtured her interest in mathematics and science and prepared her for advanced study.  Boyd graduated as valedictorian and, with the help of her aunt and a scholarship, she enrolled in Smith College in Massachusetts in 1941.  
Sources: 
Diann Jordan, Sisters in Science: Conversations with Black Women Scientists on Race, Gender and Their Passion for Science (West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 2006);  Evelyn Boyd Granville, "My Life as a Mathematician," Sage: A Scholarly Journal of Black Women 6:2 (1989). Retrieved from http://www.agnesscott.edu/LRIDDLE/WOMEN/granvill.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Johnson Sirleaf, Ellen (1938- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
When Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was inaugurated the 24th president of the Republic of Liberia on January 16, 2006, she became Africa’s first democratically elected female head of state.  Her election reflected the hope and belief that African nations could embrace participatory democracy.

Ellen Euphemia Johnson was born in Monrovia, Liberia on October 29, 1938, to Jahmale Carney Johnson, an attorney descended from a Gola chief, and Martha Dunbar, a mixed-race (Kru and German) teacher.  Johnson grew up with one sister and two brothers.  

From 1948 until 1955, Johnson studied accounting and economics at the College of West Africa in Monrovia.  In 1956, she married James “Doc” Sirleaf.  Over the next few years, while Doc worked as a teacher at the Booker Washington Institute, a vocational high school in Liberia, she was a homemaker.

Sources: 
"Ellen Johnson Sirleaf" in John Middleton and Joseph Calder Miller, eds., New Encyclopedia of Africa, vol. 3 (Detroit: Thomson/Gale, 2008); Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa's First Woman President (New York: Harper, 2009); Government of the Republic of Liberia website: http://www.emansion.gov.lr/2content.php?sub=121&related=19&third=121&pg=sp.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Aggrey, Orison Rudolph (1926- )

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

U.S. Ambassador Orison Rudolph Aggrey was born in Salisbury, North Carolina, the son of James Emman Kwegyir, an African immigrant who became an American college professor, and Rose Rudolph (Douglass) Aggrey, an African American woman. He earned a B.S. degree from Hampton Institute, where he graduated as valedictorian in 1946, and an M.S. in journalism from Syracuse University (New York) in 1948. After encountering difficulty in obtaining a reporting post with a major white daily newspaper in 1950, he applied for a position with the information and cultural branch of the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. Despite his high scores on the Civil Service entrance examinations, he also encountered difficulty with his application. Aggrey was offered a post only after George L. P. Weaver, who was then assistant Secretary of Labor for international affairs (and one of the most important blacks in the administration of President Harry S.

Sources: 
Alton Hornsby, Jr. and Angela M. Hornsby, “From the Grassroots” Profiles of Contemporary African American Leaders (Montgomery, Alabama: E-Book Time LLC, 2007), p. 1-3.
Affiliation: 
Morehouse College/University of Mississippi

Parker, Charles Jr., "Charlie" (1920-1955)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Alto saxophonist Charlie Parker was the most influential jazz musician to follow Louis Armstrong, and one of the music’s few true revolutionaries.  The style he helped to create, called bebop, or bop, established jazz as an intellectual music that was no longer viewed merely as entertainment.   

Parker was born August 29, 1920, and grew up in Kansas City, Missouri.  He began playing alto and baritone horn in high school before switching to alto saxophone.  His talents were not immediately evident – he was once laughed off the bandstand at a jam session for playing in the wrong key.  He began practicing zealously, and soon came under the tutelage of saxophonist Buster Smith, and important early influence.  He spent weeks learning the recorded solos of Lester Young.
Sources: 
Ross Russell, Bird Lives! (New York: Charterhouse, 1973); Ross Russell, Jazz Styles in Kansas City and the Southwest (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1971); Dizzy Gillespie with Al Fraser, To Be or Not to Bop (New York: Doubleday, 1979); James Patrick, “Parker, Charlie”, Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (Accessed 6 January 2008), http://www.grovemusic.com .
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Carnegie Hall

Mitchell, Clarence M., Jr. (1911-1984)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Clarence Mitchell, Jr. with President Lyndon Baines Johnson
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. the chief lobbyist for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from 1950 to 1978 played a central role in winning passage of the landmark civil rights legislation that transformed the nation in the 1950s and 1960s.  Clarence Mitchell was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 8, 1911.  He was the third of ten children of Clarence Maurice Mitchell and Elsie Davis Mitchell.  Clarence’s brother Parren Mitchell, eleven years younger, would become the first African American from Maryland elected to the United States House of Representatives.

Mitchell grew up in a working-class neighborhood that was more ethnically diverse than most segregated Baltimore neighborhoods of the era.  After graduating from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, he went to work for a hometown newspaper, the Baltimore Afro-American.  As a young journalist Mitchell reported on lynchings and he first testified in Congress in 1933 in support of an anti-lynching bill.  In 1938, Mitchell married Juanita Jackson, a fellow Baltimorean who had founded a youth civil rights group and then headed the NAACP’s youth program.  The Mitchells had four sons.  After working for the Urban League and various federal agencies, Mitchell joined the NAACP in 1946 as labor secretary in its Washington Bureau.  
Sources: 
Denton L. Watson, Lion in the Lobby: Clarence Mitchell, Jr.’s Struggle for the Passage of Civil Rights Laws (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1990); Luther Brown, “Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr.: ‘The 101st Senator,’” The New Crisis, 105:6 (December 1998), pp. 10-13; http://www.oldwestbury.edu/faculty_pages/watson/mitchellpapers.htm; http://www.clarencemitchellpapers.com.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
HistoryLink.org

Rowan, Carl T. (1925–2000)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Carl Rowan with President
Lyndon B. Johnson
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Carl Thomas Rowan was a diplomat, author, reporter, and broadcaster. He was the first black deputy Secretary of State, and the first black director of the United States Information Agency (USIA).

Rowan was born August 11, 1925, in the mining town of Ravenscroft, Tennessee.  When he was a baby his family moved to McMinnville, Tennessee, because his parents thought its lumberyards offered more opportunity. His father, Thomas, stacked lumber for construction, and his mother, Johnnie, cleaned houses, cooked, and did laundry for wealthier families. They had five children. The Rowan family home had no electricity, running water, telephone, nor even a clock. One of young Carl's teachers encouraged him to read and write as much as possible, even going to the library for him because, as a black person, Rowan wasn't allowed to check out books for himself. He graduated at the top of his high school class.

Sources: 

Carl Rowan, Breaking Barriers: a Memoir (Boston: Little, Brown 1991); Cynthia Kirk, “Carl Rowan: The Life Story of an Influential Newsman,” People in America, Voice of America (May 14, 2005); J.Y. Smith, “Columnist Carl Rowan Dies at 75,” The Washington Post, Sept. 24, 2000; p. A1.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Payton, Walter Jerry (1954-1999)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 

Jane Mersky Leder and Howard Schroeder, Walter Payton (Mankato, Minn.: Crestwood House, 1986); Walter Payton and Don Yaeger, Never Die Easy: The Autobiography of Walter Payton (New York: Villard, 2000); http://www.bearshistory.com/lore/walterpayton.aspx

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Frazer, Victor O. (1943- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Victor O. Frazer, attorney and politician, was born May 24, 1943 in Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands to Albert Frazer and Amanda Blyden.   He graduated from Charlotte Amalie High School in 1960.  In 1964, he earned a B.A. degree from Fisk University. In 1971, he received his J.D. from Howard University Law School and subsequently was admitted to legal bars of New York, Maryland, District of Columbia, and Virgin Islands.

In 1974 Frazer began his law career in Washington, D.C. at the Office of the Corporation Counsel (later known as the Office of the Attorney General of D.C.).  He later served as a lawyer for the Interstate Commerce Commission and the U.S. Patent Office.

In 1987 he served as general counsel for the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority.  Frazer’s congressional interest developed while working as an administrative assistant for California Representative Mervyn Dymally and as a special assistant for Michigan Representative John Conyers.

Sources: 
“Victor O. Frazer,” Who’s Who Among African Americans; Politics in America, 1996 (Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 1995): 1476; Black Americans in Congress website, http://baic.house.gov/member-profiles/profile.html?intID=72; Almanac of American Politics, 1996 (Washington, D.C.: National Journal Inc., 1995), 1483.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Bumbry, Grace (1937- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Peter Bailey, “Grace Bumbry: Singing is Terrific, but Living is an Art,” Ebony Magazine, 29:2, Dec. 1973; http://www.stlouiswalkoffame.org/inductees/grace-bumbry.html; Elizabeth Nash, Autobiographical Reminiscences of African-American Classical Singers, 1853-Present: Introducing Their Spiritual Heritage into the Concert Repertoire (New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 2007).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Johnson, Yvonne Jeffries (1942- )

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

Yvonne Jeffries Johnson, the first African American mayor of Greensboro, North Carolina, was born on October 26, 1942 in Greensboro to Ruby Jeffries.  She graduated from Dudley High School in 1960 and Bennett College in 1964, with a BA in Psychology.  She then enrolled in Howard University and received a Graduate Fellowship in 1965.  In 1978 Johnson received a Master of Science degree in Guidance Counseling from North Carolina A&T University.

Sources: 
Personal interview with the author, June 2011, http://www.greensboro-nc.gov/index.aspx?page=104; Personal resume.
Affiliation: 
University of Texas, El Paso

Wanda L. Nesbitt (1956-- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Wanda L. Nesbitt holds the rank of Career Minister in the U.S. Foreign Service.  She joined the United States Foreign Service in 1981. She was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Madagascar by President George W. Bush and served in that capacity from 2001 to 2004.  President Bush appointed her ambassador to Cote d’Ivoire where she served from 2007 to 2010.  In 2010 President Barack Obama appointed her ambassador to Namibia.   

Her previous Consular assignments included Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti (1982-1983); Paris, France (1983-1985); Kigali, Rwanda (1997-1999), and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (1999-2001).
Sources: 
Noel Brinkerhoff, “Ambassador to Namibia: Who is Wanda Nesbitt?” AllGov.com, July 10, 2011; Wanda L. Nesbitt, “Jonas Savimbi and UNITA’s Struggle for Independence in Angola,” National War College, Washington, D.C, 1997, U.S. Department of State Archive, Jan. 20, 2001 to 2009, www.State.gov; “U.S. Ambassador Reacts to Editorial Opinion” Africa News Service, Feb. 3, 2012, “U.S. Ambassador to Cote D’Ivoire,” State Magazine, Dec. 2, 2007; “U.S. Signs Open Skies Agreement with Madagascar,” Africa News Service, March 12, 2004.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle Central College

Williams, Lieutenant Colonel Eldridge F. (1917-2015)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Lieutenant Colonel Eldridge F. Williams was one of the first trainers of Tuskegee Airmen.  Williams was born in Harris, Washington County, Texas on November 2, 1917, the son of cotton sharecroppers Ora and E.D. Williams who eventually moved to Kansas. Williams finished high school and enrolled in Western University, near Kansas City, Kansas where he received a Business Administration Degree in 1936. He later received a second degree in Education from Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana, in August, 1941, and a Master’s Degree from the University of Michigan.  

When the first Army Air Corps program to train African Americans to fly and maintain aircraft was established at Tuskegee, Alabama in 1940, Williams applied for flight training the following year.  He was rejected for poor eyesight by an Army physician who opposed the “Tuskegee Experiment” and wrote “Negro. Re-examination is NOT recommended.” After that rejection, Williams was sent to an all-black infantry unit at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for combat engineer training. Two weeks into training he was moved to an office when it was discovered that he could type 90 words a minute. His office skills allowed him to become a 1st Sergeant and, after two attempts, he was finally selected for Officer Training School (OCS) in Miami Beach in 1942.

Sources: 
Tuskegee Airman Inc., A Brief History, http://tuskegeeairmen.org/explore-tai/a-brief-history/; Charles Moseley, ”South Florida honors an American hero-Tuskegee Airman Lt. Colonel Eldridge Williams, on his 96th birthday,” Westside Gazette, October 31, 2013, Harper Garrett and Jessica Garrett Modkins, Miami's Richmond Heights (Columbia, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2013).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Walden University (1865–1925)

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Women at Walden University, No Date
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Walden University was a historically black co-educational college in Nashville, Tennessee. It was founded in 1865 as a school for freedmen under the sponsorship of northern Methodist Episcopal Church missionaries. In late 1865, the Reverend A.A. Gee and others began classes for freedmen in Andrew Chapel M.E Church (now Clark Memorial M.E. Church). In 1866 the classes were moved to the old Confederate gun factory on College Street (now Third Avenue South). After the first Nashville public schools opened in September of 1867, the school was charted as Central Tennessee College, under the leadership of Reverend W.B. Crichlow. The school’s board of trustees attempted to purchase land on Rutledge Hill, but the white residents around the area obtained a court order to block the sale. In 1868 Central Tennessee College purchased property on Maple Street (now First Avenue South) where the Bureau of Freedom, Refugees and Abandoned Lands (Freedman’s Bureau) helped finance the construction of two brick buildings.
Sources: 
“Walden University,” Tennessee State University Archives, http://library3.tnstate.edu/library/DIGITAL/digitizing.html; “Walden University,” Internet Archive, https://web.archive.org/web/20080724102626/http://www.tnstate.edu/library/digital/walden.htmlBobby L. Lovett, Walden University (1868-1925) A Profile of African Americans in Tennessee History (Nashville: Tennessee State University, 1996).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

Ernest C. Tanner (1889-1956)

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

 

Sources: 

Jack Edward Tanner Papers, Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma,
Washington; Portland Oregonian, November 1, 1908, ILWU, “The ILWU Story”
at: https://www.ilwu.org/history/the-ilwu-story/

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Whitworth University

Farris, Judge Jerome (1930- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Jerome Farris, Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, was nominated for appointment by President Carter July 12, 1979.  Judge Farris took Senior Status on March 4, 1995.  

Judge Farris was born in Birmingham, Alabama on March 4, 1930.  He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree with department honors in mathematics at Morehouse College, then added a Master of Social Work degree at Atlanta University in Georgia.  He later earned his Juris Doctor degree at the University of Washington, where he was a member of the Law Review, the Oval Club, and served as president of the Law School Student Body and is a member of the Order of the Coif.  He worked as a Juvenile Probation Officer while earning his law degree.     
Sources: 
“Judge Jerome Farris,” Ninth Circuit Biography; Justices and Judges of the United States Courts, Administrative Office of the Courts, 2006 edition.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
United States District Court Judge

Durant, Kevin Wayne (1988- )

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

Kevin Wayne Durant is a professional basketball player for the National Basketball Association (NBA) who played for the Oklahoma City Thunder (formally known as Seattle Supersonics) and who now plays for the Golden State Warriors in California.

Durant was born September 29, 1988, in Washington, D.C. to Wanda Durant and Wayne Pratt.  Durant’s father abandoned the family when he was still an infant, leaving his mother and grandmother, Barbara Davis, to raise him. Durant’s father later returned to his life when Durant was 13 years old.

Sources: 
“Kevin Durant,” Biography, https://www.biography.com/people/kevin-durant-20929909; “Kevin Durant,” JockBio, http://www.jockbio.com/Bios/Durant/Durant_bio.html; “Kevin Durant,” Kevin Durant, http://kevindurant.com/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Selassie, Haile Gebre (1973-)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Haile Gebre Selassie is regarded by many observers as the greatest Ethiopian long-distance runner of all time. He was born in the province of Arsi in central Ethiopia and was inspired by runners Abebe Bikila and Miruts Yifter. As a child he was said to have run 20 kilometers every day going to and from school. At age 16, without any formal training, he entered the Addis Ababa marathon and finished in 2:42.

Selassie rose to international prominence in 1992 when he won the 5K and 10K world junior championships. In 1993, at the Stuttgart (Germany) world championships, he won gold in the 10K and silver in the 5K competition. Haile set his first world record in 1994 by breaking the six-year-old world record of Said Aouita.

Sources: 

Saheed A. Adejumobi, The History of Ethiopia (Westport: Greenwood Press, 2007).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle University

Braithwaite, Eustace Edward Ricardo (1912–2016)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Eustace Edward Ricardo Braithwaite, more commonly known as E.R. Braithwaite, was a Guyanese-born British-American novelist, writer, teacher, and diplomat. He was best known for his stories of social conditions and racial discrimination against black people. He was the author of the 1959 novel, To Sir, With Love, which was later made into a 1967 film with the same name, starring Sidney Poitier and Lulu Kennedy Cairns.

Braithwaite was born in Georgetown, Guyana, on June 27, 1912. Both of his parents were educated at Oxford University. His father ran a gold-and-diamond-mining company, and his mother was homemaker. Braithwaite attended Queen College Guyana, a secondary school located in Georgetown, the nation’s capital.  He then briefly studied at the College of New York (now known as the City University of New York) before joining the Royal Air Force in 1940 where he served as a flight pilot during World War II.

Sources: 
“E.R. Braithwaite,” British Library, https://www.bl.uk/people/e-r-braithwaite; “E.R. Braithwaite,” The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/13/books/e-r-braithwaite-author-of-to-sir-with-love-dies-at-104.html; E.R. Braithwaite, To Sir, With Love (London: The Bodley Head, 1959).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

Ahmadu Bello University (founded 1962)

Entry Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
Global African History
Ahmadu Bello University (founded 1962)
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Founded on October 4, 1962, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) is a public university located in Zaria, Kaduna State in northern Nigeria. With over 35,000 students, it is the largest university in sub-Saharan Africa and the second largest on the African continent after the University of Cairo in Egypt. The institution was originally founded as the University of Northern Nigeria but was renamed in honor of the Sardauna of Sokoto, Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello, who was the first premier of northern Nigeria and the university’s first chancellor. Bello was murdered by Army officers on January 15, 1966 during Nigeria's first military coup.

Sources: 
Ten Years: The First Decade of Ahmadu Bello University, October 1962 - October 1972, and History of Ahmadu Bello University (Zaria, Ahmadu Bello University Press, 1972); Official Website: http://www.abu.edu.ng/index.php; http://www.abu.edu.ng/about/philosophy.php; http://www.abu.edu.ng/about/history.php, Brief History of Ahmadu Bello University: http://www.widernet.org/nigeriaconsult/abu.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Johnson, Jack (1878-1946)

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

Jack Johnson, the first African American and first Texan to win the heavyweight boxing championship of the world, was born the second of six children to Henry and Tiny Johnson in Galveston on March 31, 1878.  His parents were former slaves.  To help support his family, Jack Johnson left school in the fifth grade to work on the dock in his port city hometown.  In the 1890s Johnson began boxing as a teenager in "battles royal" matches where white spectators watched black men fight and at the end of the contest tossed money at the winner.

Johnson turned professional in 1897 but four years later he was arrested and jailed because boxing was at that time a criminal sport in Texas.  After his release from jail he left Texas to pursue the title of “Negro” heavyweight boxing champion. Although he made a good living as a boxer, Johnson for six years sought a title fight with the white heavyweight champion, James J. Jeffries.  Jeffries denied Johnson and other African American boxers a shot at his title and he retired undefeated in 1904. 

Sources: 
Jack Johnson, Jack Johnson is a Dandy (New York: Chelsea House, 1969); Al-Tony Gilmore, "Bad Nigger!" The National Impact of Jack Johnson (Port Washington: Kennikat Press, 1975); Thomas R. Hietala, The Fight of the Century: Jack Johnson, Joe Louis and the Struggle for Racial Equality (Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2002); http://www.pbs.org/unforgivableblackness/about/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Alexander, Clifford L., Jr. (1933-)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the U.S. Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission
 
Clifford L. Alexander Jr. was born in New York City on September 21, 1933, the son of Clifford L. and Edith (McAllister) Alexander.  Alexander received a Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, from Harvard University (1955) and a L.L.B. degree from the Yale University Law School in 1958.  In 1959, Alexander became Assistant District Attorney for New York County.  From 1961 to 1962, he became the Executive Director of the Manhattanville Hamilton Grange Neighborhood Conservation Project (1961-62).

Alexander left the private practice of law in New York City in 1963 to become a Foreign Affairs Officer in the National Security Council (NCS) in Washington D.C.  The next year, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed him as a Special Assistant to the President; then, in succession, Associate Special Counsel and Deputy Special Counsel to the President.  From 1967 to 1969, Alexander served as chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC).  In 1968, he was also named a special representative of the President, with the rank of ambassador.  In this capacity, he led the U.S. delegation to ceremonies marking the independence of Swaziland.  After Alexander left the EEOC, he returned to the private practice of law.  
Sources: 
Alton Hornsby, Jr., Angela M. Hornsby, “From the Grassroots” Profiles of Contemporary African American Leaders (Montgomery, Alabama: E-Book Time LLC, 2007), pp. 6-7.
Affiliation: 
Morehouse College and University of Mississippi

Hall, Katie Beatrice (1938-2012)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of the U.S. House of
Representatives Photography Office

Democratic representative Katie Hall was elected to the United States Congress in 1983. Born in Mound Bayou, Bolivar County, Mississippi in 1938, she attended Mississippi Valley State University and Indiana University before teaching in the public schools of Gary Indiana. Hall was elected to the Indiana State Legislature in 1972, and then to the Indiana State Senate in 1974, a position she was continually reelected to until 1983 when she campaigned for Congress from Indiana’s First Congressional District which is mostly Gary and the northwestern corner of the state.

Hall was nominated to run as a representative by the Democratic Party when Congressman Adam Benjamin died in office in 1982 shortly after winning reelection. Through a well organized six week campaign, Hall achieved an impressive 60% of the votes in the 1983 special election to become First District Representative, winning 97% of the black vote and a surprising 51% of the white vote.

Sources: 
William L. Clay, Just Permanent Interests; Black Americans in Congress 1870-1992 (New York: Amistad Press Inc., 1993); Bruce A. Ragsdale and Joel D. Tresse, Black Americans in Congress 1870-1989 (Washington, D.C. United States Congress, House, 1990); http://www.jstor.org/view/00318906/ap010103/01a00010/0?frame=noframe&userID=80d05fb1 [at] washington [dot] edu/01c0a80a6a00501cdb8f6&dpi=3&config=jstor; http://www.avoiceonline.org/mlk/
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Mfume, Kweisi (Frizzel Gray) (1948 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the U.S. House of
Representatives Photography Office
Kweisi Mfume was born as Frizzel Gray in Baltimore, Maryland on October 24, 1948, the eldest of four children.  Gray experienced a troubled childhood with the abandonment of his father and death of his mother as well as economic instability, but made a successful return to his academic studies in 1971.

Gray legally changed his name to Kweisi Mfume, “conquering son of kings”, in the early 1970s.  He obtained his GED, and began his studies at the Community College of Baltimore, where he served as the head of its Black Student Union and the editor of the school newspaper. He attended Morgan State University in Baltimore where he graduated magna cum laude in 1976 with a Bachelor of Urban Planning degree. Mfume then received an M.A. degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1984.

In 1979 Mfume was elected to the Baltimore City Council in 1979.  While on the city council, Mfume helped enact legislation which divested Baltimore of investments in companies doing business in South Africa.

In 1985 when Maryland’s Seventh Congressional District Representative Parren J. Mitchell announced his retirement from Congress, Kweisi Mfume ran for the seat the following year and was successful in both the primary and general election.  
Sources: 
Bruce A. Ragsdale, Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1989 (Washington: U.S. Government) Printing Office, 1990); www.bioguide.congress.gov; M. Elizabeth Paterra, Kweisi Mfume: Congressman and NAACP Leader (Berkeley Heights, N.J: Enslow, 2001).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Hayes, Isaac (1942-2008)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Stax Museum
of American Soul Music

Academy Award-winning composer and musician Isaac Hayes, Jr. was born to Isaac Sr. and Eula Hayes on August 20, 1942 in Covington, Tennessee. Hayes began his career at the age of 20 when he joined Stax Records as a studio musician. By the late 1960s he was a songwriter/producer, crafting hit singles for Sam and Dave and other Stax acts.

A year after emerging as a solo artist, Hayes’s debut album Hot Buttered Soul (1969) took soul music in a new direction – incorporating spoken segments (he called raps), fewer, longer songs accompanied by orchestras, and eccentric album covers that featured what was to become Hayes’s signature shaved head and gold chains upon his bare chest.

Although his success in the music industry continued with his follow up album Black Moses, Hayes simultaneously pursued a film and television career. In 1971, Hayes created the score for the film Shaft. Recording the sound track in just four days, Shaft rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Pop Chart and garnered a Grammy and an Academy Award for Best Song and Best Score in 1972, making Hayes the first African American composer to win an Oscar. He also appeared in films such as Shaft (1971); Truck Turner (1974), his only starring role.

Sources: 

Isaac Hayes Biography, http://www.filmreference.com/film/84/Isaac-Hayes.html; “Isaac Puts Chef Behind Him,” New York Post, January 24, 2007; The Vancouver Sun (12 August 2008); http://www.isaachayes.com/myframes.html.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Davis, Ernie (1940-1963)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Ernie Davis with the Heisman Trophy, 1961
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Ernie Davis is best known for being one of the greatest football players in college football history and the first black person to win the Heisman trophy. In the process, Davis became an icon for an integrated America and for African Americans achieving the American Dream in a manner similar to Jackie Robinson desegregating Major League Baseball in 1947.

Sources: 

Robert C. Gallagher, The Express: The Ernie Davis Story (New York: Ballantine Books, 2008); Universal Pictures, The Express: The Ernie Davis Story (2008); Syracuse University, Ernie Davis: A Tribute to the Express (URL: http://cuse.com/sports/2006/1/10/daviserniebio.aspx); Syracuse University, “The Legend of 44” (URL: http://www.cuse.com/sports/2006/1/18/fb44bios.aspx); and Gary and Maury Youmans, The Story of the 1959 Syracuse University National Championship Football Team (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2003).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Freedomways (1961-1985)

Vignette Type: 
Misc
History Type: 
African American History
Freedomways Cover, 1979
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Freedomways was the central theoretical journal of the 20th century black arts and intellectual movement in the United States.  From its opening issue in the spring of 1961, it invited historians, sociologists, economists, artists, workers, and students to write on African American history, heritage, and culture.  The brainchild of Louis Burnham and Edward Strong, it was shepherded by W.E.B. Du Bois -- who edited the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP’s) The Crisis -- and his wife Shirley Graham Du Bois served as the first general editor.  The journal was impacted most profoundly by the thought of Du Bois and Paul Robeson and from its founding displayed a decisively activist tone.

Sources: 
Martin Luther King, Freedomways: A Quarterly Review of the Negro Freedom Movement (New York: Freedomways Associates, 1968); Esther Cooper Jackson and Constance Pohl, Freedomways Reader: Prophets in Their Own Country. Interventions--theory and contemporary politics (Boulder: Westview Press, 2000); Ian Maxwell Rocksborough-Smith, "Bearing the Seeds of Struggle: Freedomways Magazine, Black Leftists, and Continuities in the Freedom Movement." MA Thesis, Simon Fraser University, 2006.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Doley, Harold, Jr (1947- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Harold and Helena Doley and Son in Front of
Madam C.J. Walker Mansion.
Image Courtesy of
Ambassador Harold E. Doley, Jr.


Ambassador Harold E. Doley, Jr is the founder of Doley Securities, LLC, the oldest African American owned investment banking firm in the nation. Doley is the only African American to have owned a seat on the New York Stock Exchange.

Born on March 8, 1947 Harold Doley was one of two boys born to Harold, Sr., a grocer and Kathryn Doley in New Orleans, LA. The Doley family has lived in Louisiana since 1720. The Doley’s had been free people before the Civil War and enjoyed the relatively liberal racial atmosphere of New Orleans as compared to other parts of the Southern United States.  Nonetheless they were always well aware of the disadvantages they faced. Amb. Doley attended segregated schools in the Louisiana area before matriculating at Xavier University in New Orleans where he majored in Accounting and Business Administration and started an investment club. He graduated from the Harvard University Graduate School of Business’s Owner/President Management Program an Executive Education Program.

Sources: 
New York Times, December 26, 1976, p. 13, September 18, 1994, p. F3, April 11, 1996, p. C1; David Oblender, Contemporary Black Biography, Vol.26 (Farmington Hills, Michigan: Cengage Gale, 2001); Lawrence Otis Graham, Our Kind of People: Inside America's Black Upper Class (New York: HarperCollins, 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Verrett, Shirley (1931-2010)

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

Shirley Verrett was a distinguished mezzo-soprano and soprano opera singer. Born in New Orleans on May 31, 1931, one of five children to strict Seventh Day Adventists, her father was a successful building contractor. She came from a musical family, her mother often sang in the house and her father occasionally worked as a choir director. Her parents encouraged her talent, but they disapproved of opera and hoped that she would pursue other interests.  The family moved to Los Angeles where Verrett grew up.

Verrett was passionate about music but after high school, with her father’s support, she became a real estate agent. After selling houses for few years, Verrett realized that her life could only be fulfilled by pursuing singing. With help from her vocal instructor, she appeared on Arthur Godfrey’s program Talent Scouts in 1955. From this appearance she was awarded a scholarship at The Julliard School, where she studied for five years with Anna Fitziu and Marion Szekely Freschl.  Verrett made her operatic debut in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia in 1957.  The following year she made her New York City Opera debut as Irina in Kurt Weill’s Lost in the Stars.  Her European debut came in 1959 when she performed in Nabokov’s Rasputin’s Tod in Cologne, Germany.

Sources: 
Elizabeth Nash, Autobiographical Reminiscences of African-American Classical Singers (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2007); Anthony Tommasini, “Shirley Verrett, Opera Singer of Power and Grace, Is Dead at 79,” New York Times (November 6, 2010); Barry Millington, “Shirley Verrett Obituary,” The Guardian (November 8, 2010); Shirley Verrett dies at 79; acclaimed mezzo-soprano," Los Angeles Times, Associated Press (November 7, 2010), retrieved November 7, 2010; http://www.shirleyverrett.com/
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Marable, Manning (1950-2011)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
William Manning Marable was an influential social commentator, writer, and professor of political science, public affairs, history, and African American studies.   He was born on May 13, 1950 in Dayton, Ohio to James and June Morehead Marable. Previously married twice, he married anthropologist Leith Mullings in 1996, and the couple remained married until his death. He had three children; Malaika Marable Serrano, Sojourner Marable Grimmett, and Joshua Manning Marable.
Sources: 
Barbara Ransby, "Manning Marable 1950-2011,"?Race & Class? 53 (2011); William Grimes, "Manning Marable, Historian and Social Critic, Dies at 60," The New York Times,  April 1, 2011; Paul Hond, "Manning Marable's Living Legacy," Living Black History: Manning Marable's Message for the World, Columbia University, 2011; http://news.colgate.edu/2012/04/former-colgate-professor-manning-marable-wins-pulitzer.html/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

James, Sylvester (1947-1988)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Sylvester James, American singer and songwriter, was born in the Watts section of Los Angeles, California to Sylvester James and Letha Weaver on September 6, 1947.  He grew up with his mother and stepfather Robert Hurd, as well as five siblings: John James, Larry James, Bernadette Jackson, Bernadine Stevens, and Alonzo Hurd.  Raised attending the Palm Lane Church of God and Christ in Los Angeles, James became a young gospel star performing at churches and conventions across California.

James graduated from Jordan High School in Los Angeles in 1969.  He studied interior design for two years at Leimert Beauty College, Los Angeles and also studied archeology, working at the Museum of Ancient History at the La Brea Tar Pits.  During this time, he co-founded the recording group, the Disquotays.

After moving to San Francisco in 1967, he joined the Cockettes, a theater troupe, singing jazz and blues standards of the 1920s and 1930s; in November 1971, the Cockettes performed at the Anderson Theater in New York City’s East Village.  Sylvester made his debut album on the Blue Thumb label with Lights Out (1971), followed in 1973 by Sylvester and Bazaar.  In 1976, Sylvester hired the singers Martha Wash and Izora Armstead-Rhodes. Record producer Harvey Fuqua discovered the group and signed them with Fantasy Records which produced the album Sylvester in 1977.  
Sources: 
Jake Austen, “Sylvester,” Roctober 19 (1997), http://www.roctober.com/roctober/greatness/sylvester.html; David Masciotra, “Queen of Disco: The Legend of Sylvester,” popmatters (12 February 2013), http://www.popmatters.com/column/167895-queen-of-disco-the-legend-of-sylvester/; Joshua Gamson, The Fabulous Sylvester: The Legend, the Music, the 70s in San Francisco (New York City: Henry Holt and Co., 2005); Luca Prono, “Sylvester (1946-1988),” Encyclopedia of Gay and Lesbian Popular Culture (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2008), pp. 252-254. “Sylvester James Discography,” http://www.discogs.com/artist/16794-Sylvester
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Counts, Dorothy (1942– )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Dorothy Counts was one of the first black students admitted to the Harry Harding High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, as part of the initial effort to desegregate schools in that city. After the four days of harassment by white students that she faced alone, her parents, Dr. and Mrs. Herbert Counts, withdrew her from the school over concern for her safety. When the other three black students withdrew as well, the attempt at desegregation failed.

In 1956 forty black students applied to transfer to white schools across the state, despite the implementation of the Pearsall Plan proposed by the North Carolina Advisory Committee on Education (The Pearsall Committee) to delay desegregation in the state in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling of racial segregation as unconstitutional in Brown v Broad of Education (1954). Charlotte, North Carolina, since the beginning of the twentieth century, was completely segregated. That segregation included all of its public schools, public accommodations, and neighborhoods. During the summer of 1957, however, the Charlotte School Board agreed to voluntary desegregation to avoid federal- or state-ordered mandates.
Sources: 
“Dorothy Counts,” Charlotte Magazine, http://www.charlottemagazine.com/Charlotte-Magazine/August-2010/Where-are-They-Now/Dorothy-Counts/; “Dorothy Counts,” The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com/latest-news/article10455449.html; “Dorothy Counts” Beyond Black and White, http://www.beyondblackwhite.com/dorothy-counts-brave-sense-duty/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Louima, Abner (1966- )

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

Abner Louima, an activist against police brutality, is unfortunately best known for being brutalized, sexually assaulted, and savagely beaten by New York Police Department officers in 1997.

Louima was born in 1966 in Thomassin, Haiti, the oldest of his parents’ four children. His father worked as a tailor and his mother was a homemaker. In the early 1980s, members of Louima’s family began to relocate to New York City to escape the political turbulence in Haiti. Louima remained in Haiti long enough to finish his education. He eventually received a degree in electrical engineering from the Ecole Nationale des Arts Métiers in Port-au-Prince, the nation’s capital. In 1991, he immigrated to New York City and worked at a variety of places including a car dealership and a leather bag manufacturer. In addition, Louima took a handful of English classes at nearby Kingsborough Community College. He eventually settled into a job as a security guard.

Sources: 
Sewell Chan, "The Abner Louima Case, 10 Years Later," The New York Timeshttps://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/08/09/the-abner-louima-case-10-years-later/?_r=0/hmtl; David M. Herszenhorn, "Family Describes a Readily Friendly Man," The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/1997/08/13/nyregion/family-describes-a-readily-friendly-man.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FLouima%2C%2BAbner/hmtl; Julian Kimble, "A Recent History of NYPD Brutality," Complex, http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2013/01/a-recent-history-of-nypd-brutality/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Kansas

Scott, Tyree (1940-2003)

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

Tyree Scott was a Seattle civil rights and labor leader who opened the door to women and minority workers in the construction industry.  Scott was born in Hearne (Wharton County), Texas and before moving to Seattle in 1966, he served in the U. S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War.  His father was an electrician in Seattle who found that jobs in the construction industry were off limits to blacks, limiting his ability to compete for large contracts.  In 1969, when Seattle’s Model Cities Program was attracting large federal contracts, the anti-poverty agency encouraged black contractors to organize in order to gain access to them.

Sources: 
Mary T. Henry, “Tyree Scott (1940-2003),” HistoryLink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, http://www.historylink.org/ ; Quintard Taylor, The Forging of a Black Community: Seattle’s Central District form 1870 through the Civil Rights Era (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Davis, Doris A. (1935- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Doris A Davis Sworn in as Mayor of Compton, 1973
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
In 1973 at the age of 37, Doris A. Davis became the second African American mayor of Compton, California after defeating the incumbent, Douglas Dollarhide, the city’s first black mayor. Davis served as mayor of Compton, a Los Angeles bedroom suburb of 78,547 in 1970, from 1973 to 1977.  With her election Davis became the first black woman mayor of a city of more than 50,000 residents.  
Sources: 
Luci Horton, "Her Honor the Mayor," Ebony, Sept. 1973; Jean D. Murphy, "Doris Davis Running Hard and Fast," Los Angeles Times, September 23, 1973; "Coast City Turns to Black Woman," New York Times, Jun 10 1973;  http://daisychilddevelopmentcenter.com/founder/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Ross, Fordie (1914–2014)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Courtesy of  Madeline Crowley
Seattle businessman and civic activist Fordie Ross was born on April 21, 1914, in Tishomingo, Oklahoma, to Miles and Sophia Ross. He was one of six children in a family of devout Presbyterians. Ross attended Bishop College in Marshall, Texas, and Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas. After graduation, he worked in Oklahoma City at Calvary Baptist Church.

Ross married Thelma Smiley on Oct. 23, 1943, and that marriage lasted over seven decades. They had one daughter, Edwina, before moving from Oklahoma to Seattle in 1952.  Ross came to Seattle to work for a local black newspaper, The Northwest Monitor, but the paper closed before his arrival. Despite having no employment, Ross joined Grace Presbyterian Church (later Madrona Grace Presbyterian Church) and became socially active in the small African American community.  

In 1952 Ross convinced the manager of National Cash Register (NCR) business machines to take him on in sales, despite the company having no openings at the time. He also worked at John Valley Realty before joining the United Way where he eventually served as director of the Operational Emergency Center for over twelve years. As director, he oversaw programs that provided food for the poor and a job-training program for disadvantaged youth. Ross worked from 1977 to 1990 as director of the Northwest Community Services Food Banks and then retired while continuing community service.
Sources: 
“Seattle Stories, The Coach at the Cemetery,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Seattle-stories-The-coach-at-the-cemetery-9132758.php#photo-10733214; “Celebrating a Life Well Lived Fordie Edward Ross,” Facts Newspaper, https://www.facebook.com/201270962837/photos/a.422387087837.199478.201270962837/10152556403282838/; “Walkability helps older adults stay healthy, studies say, Seattle Times, http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20070613&slug=neighborhoods13m;  “Fordie Ross,” People of the Central Area - http://centralareacomm.blogspot.com/2013/07/fordie-ross-former-moderator-madrona.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Ruben Um Nyobè (1913–1958)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Ruben Um Nyobè is a little known but major figure in the African independence campaign.  He was the first African political leader to claim independence for his country before the General Assembly of the United Nations. He is called the “black Hô Chi Minh” by some authors and “Mpodol” (spokesman) for his country, Cameroon.

Um Nyobè was born at Song Mpeck in the Cameroon on April 10, 1913, when it was still a colonial possession of Germany. His first education came in Presbyterian Church primary schools, and he was baptized in 1921 as a Presbyterian. While he was in school, colonial administration of Cameroon was transferred from recently-defeated Germany to France and Great Britain at the end of World War I. Eventually, Nyobè and other Cameroonian nationalists sought to reunite the now divided territory.
Sources: 
J.A. Mbembe, La naissance du maquis dans le sud du Cameroun (The birth of the Maquis in the Southern Cameroon) (Paris: Karthala, 1996); R. Um Nyobè, Le problem national Kamerunais (The Kamerunian national problem), Edited by J.A. Mbembe (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1984); http://www.bonaberi.com/article.php?aid=1544.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Rhodes University, South Africa

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. 

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

Warren M. Washington (1936- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Meteorologist Warren Morton Washington was born in Portland, Oregon on August 28, 1936.  He earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees at Oregon State University, and his Ph.D. in meteorology at Pennsylvania State University in 1964.  He began his professional career as a research assistant at Penn State.  From 1968 to 1971 he was an adjunct professor of meteorology and oceanography at the University of Michigan.  In 1972 he began long-term employment at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado where in 1987 he became Director of the Climate and Global Dynamics Division of NCAR.  When Washington was elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering in 2002 he was praised as a scientist of international renown who pioneered “the development of coupled climate models, their use on parallel supercomputing architectures, and their interpretation.”  Most significant has been his work in climate modeling that helps measure increasing greenhouse gas emissions in the Earth’s atmosphere.  
Sources: 
American Men & Women of Science. 19th Ed. Vol. 7 (New York: Bowker, 1995);
www.ucar.edu/.../staffnotes/0203/washington.html ; www.ucar.edu/.../staffnotes/0206/washington.html .
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Burroughs, Nannie Helen (1883-1961)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Nannie Helen Burroughs was born in Orange, Virginia on May 2, 1879 to parents John and Jennie Burroughs.  Young Burroughs attended school in Washington, D.C. and then moved to Kentucky where she attended Eckstein-Norton University and eventually received an honorary M.A. degree in 1907.

Despite the absence of a college degree, Burroughs sought a teaching position in Washington, D.C.  When she did not receive it, she moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and became associate editor of The Christian Banner, a Baptist newspaper.  Burroughs returned to Washington, D.C. where, despite receiving a high rating on the civil service exam, she was refused a position in the public school system.  Burroughs took a series of temporary jobs including office building janitor and bookkeeper for a small manufacturing firm, hoping to eventually become a teacher in Washington, D.C.  She then accepted a position in Louisville as secretary of the Foreign Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention.
Sources: 
Darlene Clark Hine, Elsa Barkley Brown, and Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, Black Women in America: an Historical Encyclopedia (University of Michigan: Carlson Publishing Company, 1993); Darryl Lyman, Great African-American Women (New York: Jonathan David Publishers, Inc., 2005); http://www.toptags.com/aama/bio/women/nburroughs.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Cleage, Pearl (1948- )

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

Born on December 7, 1948 in Springfield, Massachusetts to well known black nationalist minister Albert Buford Cleage (later Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman) and school teacher Doris Graham Cleage, Pearl Cleage grew up in Detroit, Michigan and entered Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1966 to study playwriting. She transferred to Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia where she earned a B.A. in 1971.  Prior to finishing her education at Spelman, Pearl Cleage married Atlanta politician Michael Lomax in 1969.  She and Lomax later divorced in 1979.  Cleage served as the press secretary and speechwriter to Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson between 1974 and 1976.  

Sources: 
Jessie Carney Smith, Ed., Notable Black American Women (New York: Gale Research, 1976); website: http://www.pearlcleage.net/.
Affiliation: 
Los Angeles City College

Towns, Edolphus (1934- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Office of
Representative Edolphus Towns
Currently in his 13th term in Congress, Edolphus Towns is a Democratic Representative from the State of New York.  Towns was born in Chadbourn, North Carolina on July 21, 1934, and attended the public schools of Chadbourn before graduating with a B.S. degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University in 1956. After graduating he served for two years in the U.S. Army and then taught in several New York City public schools, Fordham University, and Medgar Evars College. He received his master’s degree in social work from Adelphi University in 1973.

Between 1965 and 1975 Towns worked as program director of the Metropolitan Hospital and as assistant administrator at Beth Israel Hospital. He was also employed by several Brooklyn area healthcare and youth and senior citizen organizations.

In 1972 Towns was elected Democratic state committeeman in Brooklyn.  Four year later, in 1976, he became the first African American Deputy Borough president of Brooklyn, a position he held until 1982. That same year Representative Frederick W. Richmond resigned from the House.  Towns won the vacated seat in the November election.   
Sources: 
http://www.house.gov/towns/bio.shtml; Bruce A. Ragsdale and Joel D. Treese, Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1989 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1990).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Williams, Smokey Joe (1886-1946)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born Joseph Williams in Sequin, Texas on April 6, 1886, Smokey Joe Williams (also known as Cyclone Joe Williams) has been argued to be one of the greatest of the black baseball pitchers. In 1952, when the Pittsburgh Courier asked a panel of black veterans and sports writers to name the best black pitcher of all time, Smokey Joe Williams was the winner 20-19, over Satchel Paige. He stood 6’ 5” with a variety of power pitches but was best known for his fastball. He began to pitch around the San Antonio region in 1905 and compiled a record of 28-4. In 1907, he played for the San Antonio Broncos as a pitcher-outfielder, winning 20 and losing 8. In 1909, when Rube Foster, “The Father of Black Baseball,” brought his Leland Giants through San Antonio, he saw Williams pitch against Foster’s team and was amazed at his arresting speed, Williams and his team beat the Giants 3-0. When the Giants left, they took Williams north with them.

On October 24, 1912, Williams faced the National League champion New York Giants in an exhibition game. The Giants were coming off from a World Series loss against the Boston Red Sox. Williams shut out the Giants with only four hits for a 6-0 victory. By 1913, Williams won four and lost one against the white big leaguers.  At a time when professional baseball was not integrated and black teams were considered semi-pro, the victory over the Giants gave Williams and his team considerable national exposure.
Sources: 
John B. Holway, Negro League Pioneers (Connecticut: Meckler Books, 1988); Robert Peterson, Only the Ball was White (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970); Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982)
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