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20th Century

Sentamu, John (1949- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
In 2005, John Tucker Mugabi Sentamu was installed as the Anglican Church’s Archbishop of York.  Sentamu was born on June 10, 1949, the sixth of 13 children of Rev. John and Ruth Walakira in a village outside Kampala, Uganda. Taught by British missionaries and expatriates who encouraged his intellectual development and ambitions, in 1971 he earned his law degree at Makerere University in Kampala. His practice of law in Uganda ceased when he was jailed and nearly beaten to death for having opposed President Idi Amin’s dictatorship. He fled to England in 1974 and began studying theology at Cambridge University where, after being ordained an Anglican priest in 1979, he was awarded the doctorate in theology in 1984.  

Having served as assistant chaplain at Selwyn College at Cambridge University and several stints as an Anglican parish priest, in 1996 Sentamu, a popular figure known for his “lively sermons” and allowing “music and dancing in the aisles,” was elevated to Bishop of Stepney in the Diocese of London.

Sources: 
Paul Vallely, “Sentamu: Next Stop Canterbury,”  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/dr-john-sentamu-next-stop-canterbury-7624760.html ; “John Sentamu Biography, Archbishop of York,” http://www.notablebiographies.com/newsmakers2/2006-Ra-Z/Sentamu-John.html; Tara Holmes, “John Sentamu: Breaking the Mould,” http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/people/johnsentamu_1.shtml 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Brown, Claude (1937- 2002)

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

Toomer, Jean (1894-1967)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Jean Toomer was born into an elite black family in Washington, D.C. in 1894. Abandoned by his father as a newborn and losing his mother to appendicitis as a teenager, Toomer spent his formative years in the home of his grandparents, P.B.S. and Nina Pinchback. P.B.S. Pinchback served as a state senator and governor of Louisiana during Reconstruction and nearly represented Louisiana in the United States Senate. After Redemption, Pinchback moved his family to Washington, D.C. where he opened a law firm.

After graduating from Dunbar High School, Toomer enrolled in the agriculture program at the University of Wisconsin but he remained there for less than a year. Between 1916 and 1919, Toomer attended the University of Chicago and took courses at various colleges including New York University, City College, and the Rand School of Social Science. He also sold cars in Chicago, taught physical education in Milwaukee, and worked as a New Jersey ship fitter.
Sources: 
Cynthia Earl Kerman and Richard Eldridge, The Lives of Jean Toomer: A Hunger for Wholeness (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1987); David Levering Lewis, When Harlem Was in Vogue (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981); Nellie McKay, Jean Toomer, Artist: A Study of His Literary Life and Work, 1894-1936 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Texas

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

Young, Whitney M., Jr. (1921-1971)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the
National Urban League
Whitney Moore Young, Jr. was born July 31, 1921 in Lincoln Ridge, Kentucky on the campus of Lincoln Institute where his father was President. Young received a Bachelor of Science degree from Kentucky State College for Negroes in 1941.

Upon graduation, Young joined the Army Specialist training program and was assigned to a road construction crew composed entirely of black soldiers led by Southern white officers. He was promoted from private to first sergeant three weeks after joining his unit. The promotion created resentment among both the black soldiers and white officers.  Young credited the controversy surrounding his rapid promotion as sparking his lifelong interest in racism and in fighting for civil rights.  

After World War II ended Young attended the University of Minnesota where he earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work.  He was hired to lecture at the university after his graduation.  Young then served as director of the National Urban League (NUL) branch in Omaha, Nebraska in the early 1950s.  In 1954 at the age of 33 Young was named Dean of the School of Social Work at Atlanta University.  Young became active in the Atlanta National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and in 1960 was elected president of the Georgia NAACP.
Sources: 
Dennis Dickerson, Militant Mediator: Whitney M. Young Jr. (Lexington, University Press of Kentucky, 1998); Nancy J. Weiss, Whitney M. Young, Jr., and the Struggle for Civil Rights (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989); http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/unitarians/young.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Selma, Alabama, (Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History

Alabama State Troopers Attack John Lewis at the Edmund Pettis Bridge
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Between 1961 and 1964, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) had led a voting registration campaign in Selma, the seat of Dallas County, Alabama, a small town with a record of consistent resistance to black voting. When SNCC’s efforts were frustrated by stiff resistance from the county law enforcement officials, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) were persuaded by local activists to make Selma’s intransigence to black voting a national concern. SCLC also hoped to use the momentum of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to win federal protection for a voting rights statute.
Sources: 
Clayborne Carson, et al, eds., Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader: Documents, Speeches, and Firsthand Accounts from the Black Freedom Struggle (New York: Penguin, 1991)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Marley, Bob (1945-1981)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Sources: 
Bob Marley Music, Inc.:  http://www.bobmarley.com; David V. Moskowitz, Bob Marley: A Biography (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2007); Timothy White, Catch a Fire: The Life of Bob Marley (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1983); Vivien Goldman, The Book of Exodus (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2006)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Mossell, Gertrude E.H. Bustill (1855-1948)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Gertrude E.H. Bustill Mossell was a teacher, author and journalist born on July 3, 1855 in Philadelphia. The daughter of Charles and Emily Bustill, she came from a prominent family. She attended public schools in Philadelphia and eventually the Institute for Colored Youth and the Robert Vaux Grammar School. Upon graduation, Bustill delivered the class oration entitled, “Influence.”

“Influence” so impressed African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Bishop Henry McNeal Turner, editor of the denomination’s newspaper, The Christian Recorder, that he published the oration there and invited Bustill to contribute poetry and essays to the newspaper.

During the 1870’s Bustill taught for seven years at public schools in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. She also simultaneously maintained her career in journalism; Bustill was a contributor to the Philadelphia Press, Philadelphia Independent and Philadelphia Echo on issues related to African American women.  Eventually she contributed to the New York Age, the Indianapolis World as well as the A.M.E. Church Review.

Sources: 
Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982); Roger Streitmatter, Raising Her Voice: African-American Women Journalists Who Changed History (Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky: 1994).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Hall, Adelaide (1901-1993)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 

Iain Cameron Williams, Underneath A Harlem Moon: the Harlem to Paris
Years of Adelaide Hall
(London: Continuum, 2002);
http://www.myspace.com/adelaidehall.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Nelson, Prince Rogers ("Prince," "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince") (1958-2016)

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

Prince Rogers Nelson, songwriter, singer, producer, and all-round musical icon, was born on June 7, 1958 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Music was a part of Prince’s family; his father, John Nelson, was a jazz pianist whose stage name was Prince Rogers, and his mother, Mattie Nelson, was a vocalist. Prince’s home life, however, was turbulent, and he left home at the age of 12 and was adopted into another family.

From a young age Prince began to teach himself many musical instruments, including the drums, bass, and guitar. While in high school he joined the band Grand Central along with Andre Anderson and Charles Smith (who was later replaced by Morris Day). Prince left school at age 16, by which point he had already begun helping to create what would become known as the “Minneapolis Sound,” characterised by industrial-sounding drum machines and synthesizer riffs.

Sources: 
Jason Draper, Prince: Life & Times (London: Jawbone Press, 2008); Alex Hahn, Possessed: The Rise and Fall of Prince (New York: Billboard Records, 2004); Craig Werner, A Change is Gonna Come: Music, Race, and the Soul of America (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006); Last.fm website, http://www.last.fm/music (2009).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sussex (England)

Baker, Augusta Braxston (1911-1998)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of South Carolina Center
for Children's Books and Literacy
Librarian, author, and storyteller Augusta Braxston Baker was the first African American woman to hold an administrative position with the New York Public Library (NYPL). She was a pioneering advocate of the positive portrayal of blacks in children’s literature, and beginning in the 1930s removed books with negative stereotypes from the NYPL shelves.

Baker was born in Baltimore, Maryland on April 1, 1911 to educators Winfort and Mabel Braxston. She graduated at age 16 from the all-black high school where her father taught, and in 1927 she entered the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Three years later she married James Henry Baker, Jr., and transferred to New York College for Teachers (now State University of New York at Albany), where she earned her BA in 1933 and a BS in library science in 1934.
Sources: 
Nancy Tolson, “Making books available: The role of early libraries, librarians, and booksellers in the promotion of African American children’s literature,” African American Review (Spring 1998); Nancy Tolson, Black children’s literature got de blues: The creativity of Black writers and illustrators (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2008); “The Augusta Baker Collection of African-American Children’s Literature & Folklore,” University of South Carolina Rare Books and Special Collections, http://www.sc.edu/library/spcoll/kidlit/baker.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Pratt, Geronimo (1947-2011)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt was a high ranking Black Panther Party (BPP) leader in Los Angeles, California who was targeted by the United States federal government’s domestic surveillance COINTELPRO program. He was accused and convicted of a murder and spent twenty-seven years in prison but the conviction was later vacated and he was released.

Geronimo Pratt was born on September 13, 1947 in Morgan City, Louisiana and had six siblings. His parents, Jack and Eunice Pratt, earned a living by operating a small scrap metal salvaging business. Geronimo was an exceptional student and played quarterback for the high school football team. In 1965, Pratt joined the Army and was sent to Vietnam. He served two tours in Vietnam with distinction, earning two Bronze Stars, a Silver Star, and two Purple Hearts. He was honorably discharged in 1968.
Sources: 
Jack Olsen, Last Man Standing: The Tragedy and Triumph of Geronimo Pratt (New York: Knopf, 2001); http://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-geronimo-pratt-20110603-story.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bryant, Ira B., Jr. (1904-1989)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Ira Babington (I.B.) Bryant, Jr., Ed.D., was an educator, author, researcher, and administrator from the Houston, Texas area.  Bryant was born October 18, 1904, in Crockett, Texas, to Ira B. Bryant, Sr., and Ellen Starks Bryant, both educators. In 1905, the family relocated to Caldwell, Texas, before settling in Houston in 1920. Ira, Jr., attended Colored High School in the city. While at Colored High School, Ellen Starks Bryant passed away and Ira, Sr., remarried and moved to Alabama, leaving Bryant and his two brothers, Cecil and Eugene, to finish their educations in Houston.

After graduating in 1924, Bryant worked on a ship based out of New Orleans, Louisiana in order to save money for college and to travel. The same year, he entered Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, completing a B.A. degree in 1928. In 1929, he moved back to Houston and gained a job teaching social science at Phillis Wheatley High School. During summers, he continued his education, earning an M.A. degree at the University of Kansas in 1932.  Bryant returned to Houston and married Thelma Scott, another teacher at Wheatley.  The couple moved into a newly-built house in Houston’s Third Ward.
Sources: 
Willie Lee Gay, "BRYANT, IRA BABINGTON, JR.," Handbook of Texas Online http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbrdt; Teresa Tompkins-Walsh, “Thelma Scott Bryant: Memories of a Century in Houston’s Third Ward,” The Houston Review (Fall 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bost, Eric M. (1952- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Ambassador Eric Bost is currently the assistant director of External Relations for the Borlaug Institute at Texas A&M University.  Bost, a native of Concord, North Carolina, attended the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill where he earned his Bachelor’s in Psychology in 1974.  In 1985, he received his Master’s degree in Special Education at the University of South Florida.  After graduate school, Bost held management positions in human services in various states as well as Washington, D.C.
Sources: 
The American Public Human Services Association, “Executive Governing Board,” APHSA, http://www.aphsa.org/content/APHSA/en/the-association/our-leadership-and-staff/LEADERSHIP/BOARD.html.
Affiliation: 
Morgan State University

Perry, Carrie Saxon (1931– )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Elected mayor of Hartford, the capital of Connecticut, in 1987 at the age of fifty-six, Carrie Saxon Perry became the first African American woman to serve as mayor of a major city in New England. Known for her unique broad-rimmed hats and combative approach, Perry was a formidable force serving in office from 1987 to 1993 before being defeated by the late Michael P. Peters in 1993.

Perry is widely recognized for easing racial tensions in Hartford; notably, in 1992 when many cities erupted after the acquittal of four white policemen in Los Angeles for the beating of Rodney King. Perry visited local black neighborhoods, urging restraint and respect, and they listened. Perry also devoted a great deal of time and energy to reducing the rampant drug trafficking and gang activity that was on the rise at the time.

Carrie Saxon Perry was born in Hartford in 1931. In 1949 she enrolled as a political science major at Howard University but left the institution in 1951 to raise a child.
Perry initially remained in Washington D.C., but following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and the nation’s growing involvement in the Vietnam War, as well as mounting racial tension, Perry returned to Hartford in 1966 and worked as a community activist.
Sources: 
The 1993 Elections: Connecticut; Mayor Perry Is Denied a Fourth Term by Voters in Hartford – http://www.nytimes.com/1993/11/04/nyregion/1993-elections-connecticut-mayor-perry-denied-fourth-term-voters-hartford.html;
Connecticut Public Casting Network, CPTV Interview: Carrie Saxon Perry
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Patton, Ernest “Rip” (1940– )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Ernest “Rip” Patton, Jr., a civil rights activist and a veteran of the Freedom Riders, was born in 1940 in Nashville, Tennessee. From a young age, Patton desired to see societal change due to his childhood memories of observing the harsh effects of racial segregation in his neighborhood.

Patton attended Tennessee State University in 1960 (then called Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial University) where he was a drum major in the marching band. His goal was to become a music teacher or band director. However, he was also eager for change in his hometown, and he put his music interests aside when he had an opportunity to fight for racial equality by joining the newly formed Nashville branch of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960.
Sources: 
“Learning from Freedom Rider, Ernest ‘Rip’ Patton Jr.,” Nashville Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com/learning-from-freedom-rider-ernest-rip-patton-jr/175246661/; Charles Hallman, “Freedom Rider Ernest Patton, Jr. shares untold story of Nashville’s importance to Civil Rights movement with Minnesotans,” Twin Cities Daily Planet, https://www.tcdailyplanet.net/freedom-rider-ernest-patton-jr-shares-untold-story-nashvilles-importance-civil-rights.html; Angela Tuck, “Fifty years later, members of the Freedom Riders recall their heroic stand against segregation and racist hatred,” Nashville Scene, http://www.nashvillescene.com/news/article/13038383/fifty-years-later-members-of-the-freedom-riders-recall-their-heroic-stand-against-segregation-and-racist-hatred.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Allensworth, California

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

Image Ownership: Public Domain
In 1908 four black men formed the California Colony and Home Promoting Association. The Association purchased 20 acres along the Santa Fe rail line from the Pacific Farming Company, at a railway stop called Solita. They divided this land into individual parcels to form the first town in California to be founded, financed, and governed by blacks. Soon after the town was founded the name was changed to Allensworth in honor of the association’s president Allen Allensworth, retired chaplain of the all-black 24th Infantry Regiment. With the success of its agricultural development and business enterprises, the town quickly grew.
Sources: 

Friends of Allensworth, San Diego Chapter:  http://friendsofallensworthsandiego.com/.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Singleton, John Daniel (1968- )

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

John Daniel Singleton, an Academy Award-nominated film director, producer and screenwriter, was born on January 6, 1968 in Los Angles, California.  Singleton was raised in South Central Los Angeles, a personal experience that can be seen in his films which often depict the impact of violence on inner-city residents.  

After graduating from high school in 1986, Singleton attended Pasadena City College and then the University of Southern California (USC) where he enrolled in its School of Cinematic Arts. While at USC he formed the African American Film Association and completed a six-month director’s internship on the Arsenio Hall Show.  Singleton also twice won the Jack Nicholson Award for Best Feature-Length Screenplays while at USC.  Before his graduation in 1990, he signed with Creative Artists Agency.

A year later, Columbia Pictures offered to purchase the screen rights to his college thesis Boyz N the Hood.  Singleton agreed but only if he were hired as the director of the film.  Boyz N the Hood received mixed critical reviews.  Nonetheless it received Academy Award nominations for Best Screenplay and Best Director.  In the latter category, Singleton at age 23, became the youngest person and first African American to receive that honor.  

Sources: 

A & E, December 2, 2008, http://www.biography.com/search/article.do?id=9542361; Harry A. Ploski, and James D. Williams. The Negro Almanac: A Reference Work on the African American. (Detroit: Gale Research Inc, 1989).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Holmes, Emory Hestus (1924-1995)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
“Won’t Bow to Bigots,” Jet Article on Emory Holmes, Jan. 7, 1960 
Dr. Emory Hestus Holmes, World War II veteran, social scientist, professor, and California civil rights leader, was born on November 17, 1924 in Birmingham, Alabama to David H. and Dora Catherine Holmes. He attended segregated schools in Alabama and, at the age of 17, joined the U.S. Army. During World War II he helped construct the Burma Road from India across northern Burma into China and was wounded in combat.  Decorated for his wartime valor, Holmes returned to the United States where he pursued his undergraduate and graduate education at Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee.
Sources: 
Frank Barnes, “Statement of Frank Barnes, President, NAACP, Southern California Area Conference,” Hearings Before the United States Commission on Civil Rights (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1960); David E.  Brady, “Emory Hestus Holmes; Civil Rights Activist,” Los Angeles Times, April 14, 1995; US Bureau of the Census, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1940): T627, 4,643 rolls, accessed online through http://ancestrylibrary.com on March 25, 2015.
Affiliation: 
University of California Center for Racial Studies

Acox, Jr., Clarence (1947- )

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

Clarence Acox, Jr. is an award-winning American jazz drummer and band director. Born in October 1947, he is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana.  Since his arrival in Seattle in 1971 he has become one of the most influential musical directors in the Pacific Northwest and one of the most successful in the nation. He is currently the director of the various jazz bands at Garfield High School in the central district of Seattle.

Sources: 
"Origin Records Artist Clarence Acox – Drums," Origin Records Artist Clarence Acox – Drums. The Origin Music Group, http://originarts.com/artists/artist.php?Artist_ID=146; Paul De Barros, "Clarence Acox | Jazz Journalists Association Awards." Clarence Acox | Jazz Journalists Association Awards. Jazz Journalists Association, http://www.jazzjournalists.org/clarence-acox.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Hoost, Petra (1976- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
At twenty years old, Petra Hoost, born January 16, 1976, in the city of Enkhuizen, Netherlands, became the first Afro-Dutch woman to win the Miss Netherlands pageant in 1996.  She went on to represent Netherlands at the Miss World pageant held in Bangalore, India, but didn't place. Hoost’s father is from Suriname, a former Dutch colony, and her mother is Dutch. Although the first visible minority woman to win a national beauty award in Netherlands, there appears to be no documented race related controversy as had plagued Miss Italy Denny Méndez the same year (1996).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Ford, James W. (1893-1957)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

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

Ford was born in Pratt City, Alabama in 1893. He attended Fisk University, where he was a star athlete and active in the campus politics. After graduation, he  served in France during World War I. In many ways an unlikely candidate for future leadership in the Communist Party, Ford's radicalization began after the war in Chicago when his efforts to find a job commensurate with his education were frustrated by racial discrimination. He settled for a position at the Chicago Post Office, joined the Postal Workers Union, and shortly thereafter the Communist Party.

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

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

Jackson, Mahalia (1911-1972)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Laurraine Goreau, Just Mahalia, Baby: The Mahalia Jackson Story (Waco: World Books, 1975).
Affiliation: 
Tuskegee University

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

Savage, W. Sherman (1890-1981)

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

Born on the Eastern Shore of Virginia on March 7, 1890, William Sherman Savage was forced to withdraw from primary school at age 11 to help his family in the fields, but he never gave up his dream of attaining a full education.  Finally finishing elementary school in Richmond and high school in Baltimore, he earned an A.B. from Howard University in 1917.  After teaching at high schools in North Carolina, Mississippi, and Oklahoma, Savage obtained a permanent teaching post at Lincoln University in Missouri in 1921, where he would remain for thirty-nine years.  Along the way, he took time off to earn an M.A. in History at the University of Oregon in 1925, and a Ph.D. from Ohio State University in 1934.  His was the first doctorate in History awarded by OSU to an African American and among the earliest awarded to any African American in History by a predominately white university.
Sources: 
Lorenzo Greene, “W. Sherman Savage,” Journal of Negro History (1981);  “Savage, William Sherman,” in W. A. Low and Virgil A. Clift, eds., Encyclopedia of Black America (New York: Da Capo Press, 1981); “African-American History,” Department of History, Ohio State University; Archives and Special Collections, University of Oregon.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Oregon

Looby, Z. Alexander (1899-1972)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Z. Alexander Looby was among the small cadre of African American lawyers who began practicing in the southern United States during the 1920s and 1930s. Often considered the “second generation of black attorneys,” these lawyers followed the first cadre of African Americans who began practicing in the 1880s.  They also provided much of the legal work that led to the dismantling of segregation in the late 20th Century.

Zephaniah Alexander Looby was born in Antigua, British West Indies in 1899 and immigrated to the United States in 1914 after the death of his father.  He earned a B.A. degree from Howard University and a law degree from Columbia University.  Looby came to Nashville, Tennessee in 1926 to work as an assistant professor of economics at Fisk University. Three years later he was admitted to the Tennessee bar and practiced in Memphis for three years.  In 1934 he married Grafta Mosby, a Memphis schoolteacher.  Around 1935 Looby returned to Nashville and helped found the Kent College for Law for African Americans.  
Sources: 
Linda T. Wynn, “Zephaniah Alexander Looby” in The Encyclopedia of Tennessee History and Culture edited by Carroll Van West (Nashville: Rutledge Hill Press, 1998); John Egerton, Oral history interview with Adolpho A. Birch, June 22, 2005, housed at the Nashville Public Library, Nashville, Tennessee.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Bridges Research

Negro Ensemble Company, The (1967- )

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
The Great MacDaddy with Phylicia Rashad and Victor Willis
Image Courtesy of the Negro Ensemble Company
The Negro Ensemble Company (NEC) was founded in New York City, New York during the summer of 1967, under the direction of actor Robert Hooks, actor, playwright, director Douglas Turner Ward, and producer, director Gerald Krone. From its beginning, NEC was criticized for its integrated administration (Krone was white), its grant from the Ford Foundation, its location in Greenwich Village, and its first season’s bill.

The genesis of the NEC can be traced to 1965 with the production of two one-act plays by Douglas Turner Ward, Happy Ending and Day of Absence, both satires. The plays ran for 15 months Off-Broadway and both were popular and critical successes. Robert Hooks was the producer, Krone the producer/manager, and Philip Meister the director.
Sources: 
Anthony Duane Hill, ed., An Historical Dictionary of African American Theater (Prevessin, France: Scarecrow Press, 2008).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Ohio State University

Scott, Robert “Bobby” (1947- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the U.S. House of 
Representatives Photography Office
Congressman Robert Cortez “Bobby” Scott was born on April 30, 1947 in Washington, D.C. but later resided in Newport News, Virginia.  Scott attended Harvard University and later graduated from the Boston College School of Law.

Scott, a Democrat, entered politics in 1978, running a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates representing Newport News.  In 1983 he was elected to the Virginia State Senate.  During his years in the Virginia Assembly, Scott sponsored legislation related to healthcare, education, crime prevention, economic development, consumer protection and social services.  One of his measures increased the Virginia minimum wage and another produced improvements in healthcare benefits for women, infants, and children.  Scott also sponsored legislation that created the Governor’s Employment and Training Council.  His sponsorship of the Neighborhood Assistance Act led to granting tax credits to businesses for donations made to approved social service and crime prevention programs
Sources: 
www.house.gov/scott/bio.shtml;                www.govtrack.us/congress/person.xpd?id.=400364
MIX Magazine, January 2006; Portfolio Weekly, December 23, 2003
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Norfolk State University

Drew, Charles R. (1904-1950)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Charles R. Drew, a renowned physician and medical researcher and the first black surgeon examiner of the American Board of Surgery, revolutionized medicine by creating a system that allowed the immediate and safe transfusion of blood plasma.

Born on June 3, 1904 in Washington, D.C. to Richard T. Drew and Nora Burrell, Drew grew up in the city. He attended Dunbar High School, where his excellence in academics and athletics earned him an athletic scholarship to Amherst College in Massachusetts.

After graduating from Amherst in 1926, he worked as Director of Athletics at Morgan College. In 1929, he attended medical school at McGill University in Canada, where he studied with Dr. Beattie and developed his interest in blood storage just before he graduated in 1933. In 1935, Drew returned to Washington D.C. to become a professor at Howard University’s medical school.

Sources: 

Spencie Love, One Blood: The Death and Resurrection of Charles R. Drew (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996); Chrisanne Becker, 100 African Americans who Shaped American History: Charles R. Drew (San Francisco: Blue Wood Books, 1995).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

House, Edward James (“Son”), Jr. (1902-1988)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Sources: 
Daniel Beaumont, Preachin' the Blues: The Life and Times of Son House (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011); Robert Palmer, Deep Blues (New York: Penguin Group, 1981); Gayle Dean Wardlow, Chasin’ That Devil Music (San Francisco: Miller Freeman Books, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Turner, Debbye (1965- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Debbye Turner (Bell), the third African American woman to win the Miss America crown, was born on September 19, 1965 in Honolulu, Hawaii. She is an American veterinarian, talk show host, and former beauty queen. She was Miss America 1990. Bell is the daughter of Frederick and the late Gussie Turner. Her father is a retired military lieutenant colonel and her late mother was a college counselor. Turner, who was raised in Jonesboro, Arkansas, was first runner up in the Miss Black Teenage World pageant in 1981. She participated in the Miss Arkansas state pageant three times placing first runner up twice.  Finally, she decided to try her luck at the Miss Missouri pageant. In 1989 she won the Miss Missouri title and competed in the September 1989 pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey where she won the Miss America crown.  
Sources: 
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); Karima Harris, “Miss America: From Vanessa Williams to Kimberly Aiken,” Ebony Magazine, January 1994; www.debbyeturner.com; Lynn Norment, “Back- to- Back Black Miss America’s,” Ebony, December 1990, 46-49; http://www.missamerica.org
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Russell, Edwin Roberts (1913-1996)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image courtesy of the South Carolina
African American Calendar
Born in Columbia, South Carolina on June 19, 1913, Edwin Roberts Russell was an African American chemist who worked on the Manhattan Project in World War II which produced the first atomic bombs and initiated the Nuclear Era.  The middle child of Nathan and Mary Russell, Edwin had one older brother, Nathan and three sisters, Henrietta, Marguerite, and Vivian.

Russell earned his B.S. degree in 1935 from Benedict College, an Historically Black College and University (HBCU) located in Columbia, South Carolina. Russell continued his education at Howard University where he earned an M.S. degree in chemistry in 1937.  Russell worked as an instructor in the Chemistry Department at Howard University from 1936 to 1942 before entering the University of Chicago to pursue a Ph.D. in surface chemistry.
Sources: 
Edwin Roberts Russell Bill, 4907. South Carolina General Assembly, 111th Session, 1995-96. http://schouse.gov/sess111_1995-1996/bills/4907.htm; Vivian Ovelton Sammons, Blacks in Science and Medicine (New York: Hemisphere Publishing, 1980); Howard University Chemistry Alumni Association. M.S. Graduates (Chronological). http://www.coas.howard.edu/chem/alumni/graduates_ms_chronological.html); An African-American Bibliography: Science, Medicine, and Allied Fields. http://historicaltextarchive.com/print.php?action=section&artid=49); The Faces of Science: African Americans in Science. https://webfiles.uci.edu/mcbrown/display/russell.html; Edwin Roberts Russell. http://scafricanamerican.com/honorees/view/1995/8/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
College of Wooster

Fox Lake, Angola, Indiana (1927- )

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History
Lake Homes at Fox Lake Resort
Image Ownership, Public Domain
Fox Lake, near Angola, Indiana, is a thriving resort community for African Americans.  Fox Lake took its name from its original owner Daniel Fox, who first claimed the land around the lake during the initial years of settlement of the region.  He established his land claim on May 18, 1836.

Like other black resorts of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Fox Lake resulted from Jim Crow segregation which prohibited African Americans from vacationing at white resorts.  On September 16, 1924, a group of white Fort Wayne businessmen acquired the land, and—designating themselves the Fox Lake Land Company—established their headquarters in nearby Marion, Indiana.  These men planned to market the land to an increasingly prosperous black community that had few places they could visit which could be considered independent resorts.  They advertised Fox Lake as the first and only resort in Indiana to cater to black families.  Promotional literature described the resort as “a place of their own where they could escape the heat of the cities and enjoy the pleasures of summertime activities.”
Sources: 
Claudia Polley, “Fox Lake: A Resort Like Many Others,” CRM [bulletin] (No. 2, 1997, p. 55); Bill Shaw, “Fox Lake Resort Was Haven for Blacks,” The Indianapolis Star; Lee Sauer, “African-Americans Found Safe Haven at Fox Lake,” Indianapolis Star; Fox Lake: Angola, Indiana, National Register of Historic Places website, African American History Month, 2002.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Ohio University

Myrick, Bismarck (1940- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Bismarck Myrick is a retired United States Ambassador to Lesotho from 1995 to 1998 and the Republic of Liberia from 1999 to 2002. Originally from Portsmouth, Virginia, Myrick has held multiple positions with the U.S. government over a number of decades.  

Myrick entered the U.S. Army in 1959 as a private and continued with the Army for the next 20 years. During the Vietnam War, Myrick saw intense combat (1968-1969) and as a result received a Meritorious Service Medal, the Purple Heart, several Bronze Stars, and the Silver Star.  In addition to Vietnam, the U.S. military deployed Myrick to Germany, South Korea, and Japan.
Sources: 
“Portsmouth native new ambassador to Lesotho,” Free Lance-Star, March 27, 1995, B2, http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1298&dat=19950327&id=kegyAAAAIBAJ&sjid=wAcGAAAAIBAJ&pg=2900,4997063; Jayne Thurber-Smith, “Veteran Spotlight: Ambassador (Ret.) Bismarck Myrick,” Citizen of Chesapeake,  March 10, 2013, http://thecitizenofchesapeake.com/2013/03/10/veteran-spotlight-ambassador-ret-bismarck-myrick/; “Biography: Bismark Myrick,” U.S. Department of State, http://2001-2009.state.gov/outofdate/bios/m/8829.htm; “Bismarck Myrick (1940-),” Office of the Historian, http://history.state.gov/departmenthistory/people/myrick-bismarck; “Faculty,” Old Dominion University, http://catalog.odu.edu/previous/2013-2014/undergraduate/faculty/.
Affiliation: 
Morgan State University

Bashen, Janet Emerson (1957- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Pubic Domain"
Janet Emerson Bashen is the founder and CEO of the Bashen Corporation, a private consulting group that investigates Equal Employment Opportunity complaints under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. She is the first African American woman in the United States to hold a software patent.

Born Janet Emerson in Mansfield, Ohio on February 12, 1957, Bashen grew up in a working class family. Early in her childhood, her family moved to Huntsville, Alabama, where her father worked as a garbage collector and her mother was the city’s first black woman emergency room nurse.

Bashen attended Alabama A&M until she married and relocated to Houston, Texas. She finished her degree in legal studies and government at the University of Houston and then continued her education at Rice University’s Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Administration. She also attended Harvard University’s “Women and Power: Leadership in a New World.”
Sources: 
“Janet Emerson Bashen,” The Bashen Corporation, http://www.bashencorp.com/founder/; “Bashen Corporation: Corporation History and Accolades,” The Bashen Corporation, 2016, http://www.bashencorp.com/corporate-history-and-accolades/; Mary Bellis, “Janet Emerson Bashen,” About.com: Money, http://inventors.about.com/od/blackinventors/a/bashen.htm; Samara Lynn, “How Janet Bashen Became a Software Pioneer,” Black Enterprise, Feb. 9, 2016, http://www.blackenterprise.com/technology/how-janet-bashen-became-a-software-pioneer/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Jones, Sharon Lafaye (1956–2016)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Rhythm and blues artist Sharon Lafaye Jones was born in Augusta, Georgia, on May 4, 1956. She was the youngest of six children born to Ella Mae Price Jones and Charlie Jones. The family moved to the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, in 1960. Jones graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1975 and then attended Brooklyn College. She was an avid and frequent gospel singer at her local church. She tried out at several talent shows, sang background vocals, and attempted a solo career but was unable to garner any contracts of her own. She spent most of her life as a corrections officer on Riker’s Island and as a guard for Wells Fargo Bank.

Jones was discovered at the age of forty in 1996 by Gabriel Roth and Philipe Lehman, owners of a French record label, Pure Records. She first recorded “Switchblade” and “The Landlord,” which were released on the album, Soul Tequila. She organized members from former Brooklyn bands, Anitbalas and the Mighty Imperials, to form her regular back-up band, the Dap Kings.  
Sources: 
Peter Andrew Hart, “Sharon Jones, Grammy Nominated Soul Singer, Dead at 60,” The Huffington Post (November 18, 2016), Lauren Schwartzberg, “Sharon Jones on Beating Cancer, and Her New Album “Give The People What They Want,” Vulture.Com, http://www.vulture.com/2014/01/sharon-jones-on-cancer-new-album.html; Adam Sweeting, “Sharon Jones Obituary; Powerful soul and funk singer with the Dap-Kings hailed for her stage presence,” The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/nov/20/sharon-jones-obituary.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Plainfield, N.J. Riot (1967)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
National Guardsmen on House-to-House Search
for a Sniper, Plainfield, New Jersey, 1967
Image Ownership: Public domain

The 1967 Plainfield, New Jersey, Riot was among the over 150 urban uprisings that transpired throughout the nation in the late 1960s. As with many other uprisings during this time, underlying resentments that had been mounting in neglected communities contributed to the civil unrest that occurred.

Frustrations and tensions had been rising in Plainfield due to banks practicing discriminatory lending, residential segregation of African Americans in the West End of the city, and the loss of jobs in the city. In addition, African Americans were subjected to harsh treatment by local law enforcement and the relationship between the two was dismal at best. These factors created a perfect storm of tension.  All that was needed was one incident to tip everything over the edge.

Sources: 
Annie Correal, “Plainfield Ponders the Legacy of Its Own Bloody ’67 Riots.” The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/22/nyregion/nyregionspecial2/22peoplenj.html; Mike Deak, “50 Years in Plainfield's History: From Devastating Riots to Long-Awaited Rebirth,” MY CENTRAL JERSEY, Courier News and Home Tribune, http://www.mycentraljersey.com/story/news/history/new-jersey/2017/07/16/50-years-plainfields-history-devastating-riots-long-awaited-rebirth/425401001/.; Peter Dreier, “Riot and Reunion: Forty Years Later,” The Nation, https://www.thenation.com/article/riot-and-reunion-forty-years-later/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Kansas

Brown, Elaine (1943- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
From 1974 to 1977, Elaine Brown was Chairwoman of the Black Panther Party.  As a Panther, Brown also ran twice for a position on the City Council of Oakland, California.  Since the 1970s she has been active in prison and education reform and juvenile justice.

Born in heavily black and impoverished North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1943, Brown attended a predominantly white experimental elementary school where she studied ballet and classical piano.  Brown’s childhood was starkly divided between the comfort of her schooling and the realities of her home life.  Following high school Brown entered Temple University but left the campus for Los Angeles, California before the end of her first year.  
Sources: 
Elaine Brown, A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story (New York: Pantheon Books, 1992); Robert O. Self, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003); Elaine Brown, The Condemnation of Little B: New Age Racism in America (Boston: Beacon Press, 2002); http://www.elainebrown.org/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Bishop, Ruby (1919 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Courtesy of Ruby Bishop
Ruby Carol Bishop is a legendary jazz performer in the Pacific Northwest.  Graced with ebullient humor, loving her adoring audiences, and always dressed in sparkly sequins, Bishop at 94 continues to play piano in Seattle nightclubs while belting out jazz standards.

Ruby Carol Cogwell was born on December 22, 1919 in Thurston County, Washington, the eighth child on the family farm. Dancing for country fairs at age five and mostly self-taught on a piano carted home by a brother, she led the Centralia Buccaneers Band at the age of 12.  After graduating from high school, her parents sent her to the University of Washington in Seattle where they hoped she would be trained as a pharmacist. Within a year she left the University to start her music career.
Sources: 
Kimberly M. Reason, “Ruby Bishop: 88 Years and Still Strong,” Earshot Jazz Magazine, 1988; Rachel Belle, “Seattle’s 92 Year-Old Jazz Legend Still Plays..,” Seattle Times (March 27, 2012); Michael Upchurch, “Ageless Ruby Bishop...” Seattle Times (February 1, 2009); Marianne Hanson, Personal Interview (June 30, 2014).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Golden West Hotel, Portland (1906–1931)

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The Golden West Hotel was the first hotel in Portland, Oregon, to serve black patrons. William D. Allen, an entrepreneur from Tennessee and prominent member of the local black community, founded the hotel in 1906 to serve African-American railroad workers who were denied accommodations elsewhere in the city. It operated for twenty-five years before the Great Depression caused its closure in 1931.

At the turn of the twentieth century, most black Portland residents lived in Northwest Portland, west of the Willamette River. It was in this area, at the corner of Broadway and Everett, that Allen launched the Golden West Hotel. Numerous other businesses catering to black customers lined nearby streets, and the Mt. Olivet Baptist Church stood next door.

In addition to offering one hundred hotel rooms, the Golden West also hosted several black-owned businesses, including: the Golden West Hotel Barbershop, owned by Waldo Bogle; A.G. Green’s Candy Shop, which the Portland Times called the “finest ice cream parlor and candy shop west of Chicago”; and George Moore’s Golden West Athletic Club with amenities, including a Turkish bath and a gymnasium.
Sources: 
Mt. Olivet Baptist Church website; http://www.mtolivet.com/pages/page.asp?page_id=164749. Central City Concern website; http://www.centralcityconcern.org/goldenwest/ “Golden West Hotel,” The Oregon Encyclopedia; https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/golden_west_hotel/
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Eyewitness to Terror: The Lynching of a Black Man in Obion County, Tennessee in 1931

New York Times Article on the Lynching of
George Smith, Obion County, April 1931.

In 1931 twelve year old Thomas J. Pressly witnessed the lynching of George Smith in Union City, the county seat of Obion County, Tennessee.  Now a University of Washington historian and Professor Emeritus, Dr. Pressley describes that lynching in the article below.   

When I was twelve years old, I saw the body of a young black man hanging from the limb of a tree where he had been hung several hours earlier. The lynching had taken place in April, 1931, in Union City, the county seat, of Obion County, in Northwestern Tennessee, not too far from the Kentucky line to the north, and from the Mississippi River to the west.

Summary: 
In this account University of Washington historian and Professor Emeritus Thomas J. Pressly recalls a lynching he witnessed when he was twelve years old.
Sources: 
Thomas J. Pressly, Seattle, Washington.  Thomas Pressly was born in 1919.
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

White, Walter F. (1893-1955)

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

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

Montford Point Marines (1942-1949)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Montford Point Marines, ca. 1944
Image Ownership:  Public Domain

With the beginning of World War II African Americans would get their chance to be in “the toughest outfit going,” the previously all-white Marine Corps.  The first recruits reported to Montford Point, a small section of land on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina on August 26, 1942.  By October only 600 recruits had begun training although the call was for 1,000 for combat in the 51st and 52nd Composite Defense Battalions. 

Sources: 
Gerald Astor, The Right to Fight: A History of African Americans in the Military (Novato, Ca.: Presidio Press, 1998); Gail Buckley, American Patriots (New York: Random House, 2001); Bernard C. Nalty, The Right to Fight: African-American Marines in World War II (Washington, D.C.: Center for Military History, The United States Army, 1985).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Sauvage, Roger (1917–1977)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Roger Sauvage was one the few pilots of African descent to fly in both the French and Russian Air Forces in World War II. Sauvage was born in Paris on March 26, 1917, the son of a white Frenchwoman, Marie Sauvage, and a black soldier from Martinique. Sauvage’s father was killed during World War I, leaving him to be raised by his mother. Like many young Frenchmen of the day, Sauvage was fascinated by aviation and the heroic French fighter pilots of World War I. His ambition became to join the French air force, the Armée de l'Air.
Sources: 

Thierry Bouclier, Les années Poujade: une histoire du poujadisme, 1953-1958 (Paris: Rémi Perrin, 2006); Gilles Bresson, Christian Lionet, “Le Pen”;  Sauvage Roger - Normandie Niemen; http://www.cieldegloire.com/004_sauvage.php; “Les pilotes de chasse français 1939-1945,” http://aerostories.free.fr /pil_cha_fr/sauvage/; Biographie de R. Sauvage http://www.normandieniemen.com/rubriques/histoNN/bios/sauvage/sauvage.php.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Watson, Diane Edith (1933- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Diane Edith Watson was born November 12, 1933 in Los Angeles, California and has spent the majority of her life in the Los Angeles area. Her father was a Los Angeles policeman and her mother worked nights at a post office after her parents divorced when Watson was seven.

In 1950 Watson graduated from Dorsey High School and obtained a bachelor’s degree in education from UCLA in 1956. Here she became friends and sorority sisters with fellow congresswoman Yvonne Braithwaite Burke, of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.  Eleven years later, at California State University at Los Angeles, Watson received her master’s degree. Watson received a doctorate in education from Claremont Graduate University in 1986.

In 1956 Watson became a public school teacher in Los Angeles and worked up the ranks to assistant principal in 1969.  During that time she held visiting teacher positions in France and Japan.  By 1971 Watson worked as a Los Angeles Unified School District health education specialist where she focused on mental health issues among the district’s 500,000 students.  
Sources: 

Dorothy Ehrhart-Morrison, No Mountain High Enough: Secrets of Successful African American Women (Berkeley: Conari, 1997).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Chicago Defender (1905- )

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The Chicago Defender was founded in 1905 by Robert Sengstacke Abbott.  Abbott published the first issue, a run of 300 copies, on May 6, 1905.  The Defender began as a four-page weekly handbill filled with local news and reproductions of clippings from other newspapers.  Abbott initially sold both subscriptions and advertising for the paper himself by going door-to-door throughout Chicago, Illinois.

Abbott used the Defender as a forum to attack racial injustice from the outset, and included a front-page heading on every issue that read, “American Race Justice Must Be Destroyed”.  The Defender was a leading advocate in the fight against racial, economic, and social discrimination.  It championed equal employment and fair housing for blacks, and boldly reported on lynchings, rapes, and black disfranchisement. What began as a four-page handbill had become by 1915 a popular local newspaper with a weekly circulation of 16,000.  
Sources: 
Aurora Wallace, Newspapers and the Making of Modern America (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2005); W. Augustus Low, ed., Encyclopedia of Black America (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1981); http://www.pbs.org/blackpress/news_bios/defender.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Cooper, John W. (1873-1966)

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

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

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

100 Black Men of America, Inc.

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
100 Black Men Organization in Nassau, The Bahamas
Image Courtesy of 100 Black Men of America, Inc.

100 Black Men of American Inc. is a civic organization dedicated to the improvement of quality of life in the African American community through fostering the development of young African American men.  In 1963, a group of African American men met in New York to discuss concerns about the cultural and financial obstacles that have limited the achievements of African Americans, particularly young males. Among these founders were David Dinkins, Robert Mangum, Dr. William Hayling, Nathaniel Goldston III, Livingston Wingate, Andrew Hatcher, and Jackie Robinson. These men eventually formed 100 Black Men.  They sought to nurture the intellectual development of black youth and enhance the economic empowerment of the African American community based on the following precepts: respect for family, spirituality, justice, and integrity.  Their programs include leadership development, youth mentoring, educational scholarships, health and wellness, and economic development.  

Sources: 

Official website: http://www.100blackmen.org/; Ervin Dyer, “100 Black
Men links teens to high tech,” Pittsburgh Post Gazette, August 27, 2001.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Robinson, Roscoe, Jr. (1928-1993)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Sources: 

Henry E. Dabbs, Black Brass: Black Generals and Admirals in the Armed Forces of the United States (Charlottesville, Virginia: Howell Press, 1997); Duane E. Hardesty, General Roscoe Robinson, Jr.: He Overcame the Hurdle of Segregation to Become the Army's First Black General (Ft. Belvoir: Defense Technical Information Center, 1988); http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/rrobinjr.htm

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Cabrini Green Housing Project, Chicago (1942 -2009)

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

The Cabrini-Green Housing Project was a Chicago (Illinois) Housing Authority (CHA) managed housing project located on the city’s Near North Side neighborhood.  The project was authorized by the Housing Act of 1937 which called for the construction of public housing as part of the effort to eliminate slums in major U.S. cities.  The Frances Cabrini Homes, completed in 1942, was the first major public housing project in Chicago and the first section of what would eventually be called the Cabrini-Green Project.   Its 586 units provided residence for soldiers temporarily stationed in Chicago during World War II and replacement housing for those who had formerly lived in the “Little Hell” neighborhood, the community demolished to allow construction of this project.   

Sources: 
D. Bradford Hunt, Blueprints for Disaster: The Unraveling of Chicago Public Housing (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2009); Brian J. Miller, “The Struggle Over Redevelopment at Cabrini Green, 1989-2004,” Journal of Urban History, 34:6 (Fall 2008); Arnold R. Hirsch, Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago, 1940-1960 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Staupers, Mabel Keaton (1890-1989)

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

Mabel Keaton Staupers, R.N., was instrumental in ending the United States Army’s policy of excluding African American nurses from its ranks in World War II. In 1948 Staupers also successfully lobbied for full integration of the American Nurses Association.

Mabel Keaton Staupers (née Doyle) was born in Barbados, West Indies on February 27, 1890 to Thomas Clarence Doyle and his wife, Pauline. In 1903 Doyle and her mother immigrated to New York City, New York, and Thomas Doyle joined them there a few years later. After gaining U.S. Citizenship in 1917, Doyle received her R.N. diploma from the Freedmen’s Hospital School of Nursing in Washington, D.C. In 1917 Doyle married James Max Keaton, a marriage that ended in divorce.

Sources: 
Andrew Salinas, "Mabel Keaton Staupers Papers, 1930-1977, Amistad Research Center, http://www.amistadresearchcenter.org/archon/?p=collections/findingaid&id=273&q=&rootcontentid=99685; Mabel Keaton Staupers (1890-1989) 1996 Inductee, American Nurses Association,  http://www.nursingworld.org/MabelKeatonStaupers.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Lloyd A. Barbee (1925-2002)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Attorney Lloyd Augustus Barbee was born August 17, 1925 in Memphis, Tennessee.  He was the youngest of three brothers from Earnest A. Barbee and Adelina Jenkins Gilliam, both from Mississippi.  Barbee attended LeMoyne College in Memphis and later went to law school at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he met his wife, Roudaba Bunting.  They married in 1954 and later divorced in 1959.  He graduated from Law School in 1956.   While in law school, he became President of Madison NAACP branch, where he fought for fair housing and led protests against racism. After obtaining his law degree, he worked as an attorney for the Wisconsin State Department of Labor. He later entered private practice and sued the State of Wisconsin for discrimination in housing.  In 1964, he successfully won the first housing discrimination case before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Gregory III v. Madison Mobile Homes Park.  
Sources: 
Private documents, films and notes, Lloyd A. Barbee Trust; Jack Dougherty, More than One Struggle: The Evolution of Black School Reform in Milwaukee (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004); “Lloyd A. Barbee Fighting Segregation Root and Branch,” Wisconsin Lawyer 77:4 (November 1968).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Short, Robert “Bobby” Waltrip (1924-2005)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Recording artist and three-time Grammy award nominee Bobby Short, a self-taught piano prodigy during his childhood, was regarded as the quintessential sophisticated cabaret and supper-club vocalist and piano player of his time.  Short, who learned to play piano by ear at the age of four, performed intimate renditions of American song standards over seven decades, and for 36 of those years, from 1968 through 2004, Short and his jazz combo had a long-term contract at the exclusive Café Carlyle in New York. Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, and Duke Ellington were Short’s favorite composers, and he was especially known for his interpretations of the sophisticated and witty compositions by Cole Porter. Short’s repertoire of African American songwriters included Eubie Blake, Billy Strayhorn, Fats Waller, Bessie Smith, and Andy Razaf.
Sources: 
Enid Nemy, “Bobby Short, Icon of Manhattan Song and Style, Dies at 80,” New York Times, March 21, 2005; Dennis McLellan, “Black Bobby Short, 80; Cabaret Performer Symbolized a Sophisticated Musical Era,” Los Angeles Times, March 22, 2005.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Harrison, Charles A. “Chuck” (1931– )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership:Public Domain"
Charles Harrison was one of the most prolific industrial designers of the twentieth century. One of only a handful of early African American industrial designers, he specialized in creating a variety of practical household goods emphasizing form and function. Harrison’s output of innovative consumer products was so prodigious that today it would be difficult to find a household in America without items exemplifying his utilitarian designs. In 1961 Harrison became the first black executive that Sears, Roebuck & Company ever hired at its headquarters in Chicago, Illinois.
Sources: 
Megan Gambino, “The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt honors the prolific industrial designer with its Lifetime Achievement Award,” smithsonian.com, December 17, 2008; Pamela Sherrod, “A Look At Chicagoans Who Helped Revolutionize Appliances And Fueled The Golden Era Of Design,” Chicago Tribune, November 21, 1993; http://artdept.nd.edu/news-and-events/events/2012/03/07/10032-industrial-design-guest-speaker-charles-harrison/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Walker, Quock (1753–?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
 Massachusetts in 1788mm
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Quock Walker, an American slave, sued for and won his freedom in June 1781 based on a new Massachusetts Constitution (1780) which declared all men to be born free and equal. Walker was born in central Massachusetts near the town of Barre in 1753 to slaves Mingo and Dinah who were Ghanaian-born. Walker is believed to be name Kwaku in Akan meaning ‘for boy born on Wednesday,’ a traditional day-naming practice among the Akan people.

In 1754 Walker’s entire family was bought by James Caldwell of Worcester County, Massachusetts. Walker was promised his freedom by Caldwell once he reached the age of twenty-five. Caldwell died, however, when Walker was ten, but Caldwell’s widow renewed the promise although changing the age of manumission to twenty-one. The widowed Mrs. Caldwell married Nathaniel Jennison in 1763 and died about 1772 when Walker was nineteen years old. When he turned twenty-one, Jennison refused to let him go. In 1781 Walker, at twenty-eight, ran away from Jennison and went to work at a nearby farm that belonged to Seth and John Caldwell, who were brothers of Walker’s former owner, James Caldwell. Jennison retrieved Walker and beat him severely as punishment for running away. Soon after, Walker sued Jennison for battery, and Jennison sued the Caldwell’s for enticing Walker away from him.

Sources: 
“Quock Walker,” Massachusetts Court System, http://www.mass.gov/courts/court-info/sjc/edu-res-center/jn-adams/the-quock-walker-case.html; “Quock Walker,” Slavery in the North, http://slavenorth.com/massemancip.html; “Quock Walker,” Public Broadcasting System, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part2/2h38.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Hale, Vasco De Gama (1915-2002)

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

Vasco De Gama Hale, educator, blinded veterans’ association organizer, and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) official, was born in Crawford, Mississippi, to Brotop and Jane Hale on February 16, 1915. His father, Brotop, toiled as a sharecropper for a short time before moving to West Virginia in the 1920s where he found work as a laborer in the coal mining areas of the Fairmont District.  While working for the Consolidated Coal Company, his father was ordained as a Baptist Minister and served as the presiding pastor of the Morning Star Baptist Church in Marion County for many decades.

Sources: 
Robert F. Jefferson Jr., “The Veteran’s Angle:” Ninety-Third Infantry Division Ex-GI Vasco Hale, Disability, and the NAACP’s Struggle for Fair Housing and Power in Post-World War II Hartford, Connecticut,” in The Routledge Handbook of the History of Race and the American Military, ed. Geoffrey W. Jensen (New York:  Routledge, 2016); “Obituary-Vasco De Gama Hale,” Arizona Daily Star (August 14, 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of New Mexico

Seattle School Boycott (1966)

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

On Thursday March 31 and Friday April 1, 1966, thousands of Seattle Public School students boycotted schools in the Central District, Seattle Washington’s African American community, to protest the de facto segregation that they believed was racially discriminatory.

Sources: 
Seattle Times and the Seattle Post Intelligencer (March and April 1966);
http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/school_boycott.htm ; Quintard Taylor, The Forging of a Black Community: A History of Seattle's Central District, 1870 through the Civil Rights Era (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Pitre, Clayton (1924- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Clayton Pitre (right) with Fellow Montford Point Marine
at White House Ceremony, June 2012
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Clayton Pitre is a long time Seattle, Washington-based community activist, former Chief Housing Developer for the Central Area Motivation Project (CAMP), and a retired Montford Point Marine.

Born on June 30, 1924 to Gilbert Pitre and Eugenie Lemelle, Clayton Pitre was the fourth child of seven siblings. He was born and raised in Opelousas in Saint Landry Parish, Louisiana. His father was a cotton and yam farmer, and his mother was a homemaker.  Pitre attended Catholic schools until the 9th grade when he gave up his education to work in various defense plants in early World War II Texas.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Griffin, Noah Webster Jr. (1946– )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Multi-talented Noah Griffin Jr. has had a concomitant many-faceted career:  historian, writer, newspaper columnist, radio and television talk show host, law editor, press secretary, campaign manager, lyricist, and vocalist. Griffin was born in San Francisco, California, on January 31, 1946, to Noah Webster Griffin Sr., an early civil rights pioneer, and Terressa E. Ballou, an educator.

Griffin and his brother, Gilbert, grew up in San Francisco’s Richmond District. Demonstrating an early love of music, Griffin began singing professionally at age seven with the San Francisco Boys Chorus (1953–1958). In 1955 he was the first black youngster to perform a solo with the San Francisco Cosmopolitan Opera in La Bohème. That same year, Griffin sang with the chorus at the opening of the original Disneyland in Anaheim, California. By the time he was twelve, Griffin had shared the stage with Paul Robeson, Leontyne Price, Johnny Ray, Nat “King” Cole, and performed in Carmen, Turandot, and Boris Godunov.

Griffin was student body president at George Washington High School (GWHS) in San Francisco. Before he graduated in 1963, Griffin became the first black athlete to letter in tennis in San Francisco High School sports, and he received GWHS’s Most Valuable Player in Tennis Award.
Sources: 
League of Women Voters of California Education Fund, “Full Biography for Noah W. Griffin,” March 2, 2004 Election; http://www.westfield.ma.edu/uploads/events/Noah%20Griffin%20Biography.pdf; Personal Email Correspondence from Noah Griffin to Olga Bourlin (April 18, 2016 - June 7, 2016).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Campbell-Brown, Veronica (1982– )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Veronica Campbell-Brown is a Jamaican track and field sprinter, who competes in 100- and 200- meter races. She is one of only nine athletes to win world championships at the youth, junior, and senior levels. Campbell-Brown’s personal best in the 100 meters (10.76) and 200 meters (21.74) ranks her among the all-time top ten in those events. She has earned a total of forty-six medals in her career (twenty-seven gold, sixteen silver, and three bronze).

Born on May 15, 1982, in Clarke’s Town, Trelawny, Jamaica, Campbell-Brown is one of nine children born to Cecil Campbell and Pamella Bailey. She showed early promise in athletics, sprinting to victory barefoot during a school sports day. Her athleticism and high academic marks earned her a scholarship at one of Jamaica’s prestigious high schools, Vere Technical.

In 1999 while still in high school, Campbell won gold and silver medals for the 100-meter sprint at the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) World Youth Games in Bydgoszcz, Poland. Competing at the 2000 Summer Olympics, the eighteen year old won her first Olympic medal, claiming silver in the 4x100 relay. 

Sources: 
“Veronica Campbell-Brown:Track and Field Athlete,” Biography.com: www.biography.com/people/veronica-campbell-brown-20888197;
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/200metres “Veronica Campbell-Brown: Profile,” IAAF.org, https://www.iaaf.org/athletes/jamaica/veronica-campbell-brown-134999;
“Veronica Campbell-Brown Bio, Stats, and Results,” Olympics at Sports. www.sports-reference.com › OLY Home › Athletes; “Veronica CAMPBELL-BROWN, Olympic Athletics:Jamaica-Olympics, https://www.olympic.org/veronica-campbell-brown.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

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

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

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

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

Savimbi, Jonas Malheiro (1934-2002)

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

Jonas Malheiro Savimbi, Angolan insurgent fighter and longtime leader of The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), was born in Munhango, Angola on August 3, 1934 to Helena Mbundu Savimbi and Loth Savimbi. Savimbi’s father was a railway stationmaster and part-time Protestant church worker. The local Catholic missions in then-Portuguese-occupied Angola were often in conflict with Loth Savimbi because of the effectiveness of his evangelizing.

Jonas Savimbi attended Protestant missionary schools where he thrived academically. In 1958, he was granted a scholarship from United Church of Christ to attend university in Lisbon, where he began his involvement in anti-colonial politics. The Portuguese secret police detained Savimbi thrice before he decided on finishing his schooling in Switzerland, first at Fribourg University, then Lausanne University, where in 1965 he completed his coursework with honors in political science and juridical sciences. Having begun his studies in medicine, Savimbi would refer to himself as “Doctor” thereafter.

Sources: 
“Savimbi, Jonas Malheiro,” in Norbert C. Brockman, ed., An African Biographical Dictionary (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 1994); “Jonas Malheiro Savimbi,” in Harvey Glickman, ed., Political Leaders of Contemporary Africa South of the Sahara : a Biographical Dictionary (New York: Greenwood Press, 1992); “Savimbi, Jonas Malheiro,” in W. Martin James, ed., Historical Dictionary of Angola (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Taylor, Alrutheus Ambush (1893-1955)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Fisk University Franklin Library's
Special Collections
A[lrutheus] A[mbush] Taylor, historian, was born in Washington D.C. where he also went through the public school system. He earned a B.A. degree from the University of Michigan in 1916 and taught at the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in Tuskegee, Alabama and at the West Virginia Collegiate Institute (now West Virginia State College) in Institute, West Virginia. In 1922, Carter G. Woodson brought this able young historian back to Washington D.C. to serve as a research associate with the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). Supported by a grant from the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Fund, Taylor began researching the role of African Americans in the South during Reconstruction.
Sources: 
W.A. Low and Virgil A. Clift, eds., Encyclopedia of Black America and Journal of Negro History as well as prefaces and introductions to the three Taylor monographs cited above.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Oregon

Kelly, Sharon Pratt Dixon (1944- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sharon Pratt Dixon was born on January 30, 1944 in Washington, D.C. to parents Carlisle Pratt and Mildred (Petticord) Pratt.  Carlisle was a Washington, D.C. Superior Court Judge.  Mildred Pratt died of breast cancer when Sharon was four years old.  Pratt’s father played a major role in her life by instilling certain values and encouraging her commitment to public service.  Sharon Pratt attended public schools in Washington, D.C. and graduated with honors from Roosevelt High School in 1961. 

Although she initially wanting to pursue an acting career, her father persuaded Pratt to attend Howard University where in 1965 she received a B.A. degree in Political Science.  She then enrolled in Howard University’s School of Law.  While in law school, she married Arrington Dixon in 1966 who later became a Washington, D.C. city councilmember.  In 1968 Dixon earned her law degree and gave birth to their first daughter, Aimee Arrington Dixon.  A second daughter, Drew Arrington Dixon, was born in 1970. 
Sources: 
Jessie Carnie Smith, Epic Lives: One Hundred Black Women Who Made a Difference (Detroit, Michigan: Visible Ink Press, 1993); http://www.exploredc.org/index.php?id=288; http://www.worldbook.com/features/whm/html/skelly.html; http://politicalgraveyard.com/bio/kelly8.html
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Johnson, Robert (1911-1938)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Robert Johnson was the eleventh child of Julia Major Dodds.  Born out of wedlock, Johnson did not take the Dodds name. He grew up with his mother in Hazlehurst, Mississippi but soon moved up to live with his father, Charles Dodds, in Memphis. Charles Dodds changed his last name to Spencer and so Robert was known in his younger years as Robert Spencer. Around 1918, Johnson moved to an area around Robinsonville and Tunica, Mississippi to rejoin his mother who had remarried. Not much is known about Johnson’s childhood other than he was always interested in music. People in the Delta who knew Johnson claimed played the diddley bow when he was younger. A diddley bow is wire attached to nails sticking out of houses. A person could then hit the wire with a stick and use an empty bottle that slides along the wire to change the pitch.
Sources: 
Peter Guralnick, Searching for Robert Johnson (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1989); Barry Lee Pearson and Bill McCulloch, Robert Johnson: Lost and Found (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004); Patricia R. Schroeder, Robert Johnson: Mythmaking and Contemporary American Culture (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004); Elijah Wald, Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Lucy, Autherine Juanita (1929- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Roy Wilkins, Autherine Lucy and Thurgood Marshall
at a Press Conference, March 2, 1956
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Born on October 5, 1929 in Shiloh, Alabama, Autherine Lucy was one of ten children in a family of farmers. Despite this modest background, Lucy would impact history as the first African American to integrate the University of Alabama. Lucy will also be remembered as the first black student in the history of desegregation to experience the anger of an organized mob.

Autherine Lucy attended high school at Linden Academy in Shiloh, graduating in 1947. She then attended all-black Selma University in Selma, Alabama before transferring to another black institution, Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama. In 1952, Lucy graduated from Miles College with a B.A. in English. Lucy’s next educational goal was to obtain a master’s degree in education at the University of Alabama.
Sources: 
Howell Raines, My Soul Is Rested, New York: Viking Press, 1988; The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr., http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/kingweb/about_king/details/560206.htm; Diane McWhorter, “The Day Autherine Lucy Dared to Integrate the University of Alabama,” Journal of Blacks in Higher Education Vol. 32 (Summer 2001); Darlene Clark Hine, Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia (New York: Carlson Publishing Inc., 1993).

McKinney, Nina Mae (1913-1967)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Ruth Harriet Louise

Nina Mae McKinney, one of the first African American leading actresses in Hollywood, was born Nannie Mayme McKinney in 1913. The Lancaster, South Carolina native was reared by her great-aunt, Carrie Sanders on the Estate of Colonel LeRoy Sanders, where her family had worked for many generations. She attended Lancaster Industrial School until the age of 13 before relocating to New York to live with her mother, Georgia Crawford McKinney. As an early teen, McKinney performed in Harlem’s nightclubs and eventually on Broadway in the Lew Leslie musical review, Blackbirds of 1928.

Her celebrity began at the age of 16 when director King Vidor, impressed by her vitality in Blackbirds of 1928, hired her to parlay her multi-talented abilities as an actress, dancer, and vocalist in the musical film, Hallelujah (1929). McKinney’s effervescent performance as the seductress, “Chick,” brought her immediate success. Yet despite rave reviews for her vivacious performance and a resulting five-year contract with MGM, McKinney’s career faltered during an era when Hollywood declined to position black actresses in dignified roles.

Sources: 

Louise Pettus, Sandlapper: The Magazine of South Carolina. “Lancaster’s Celebrated Film Star. 1999; Darlene Clarke Hine, Elsa Barkely Brown, et. al. Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, Volume 2 (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1993).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Barkley, Charles Wade (1963 - )

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

Charles Wade Barkley, born on February 20, 1963 in Leeds, Alabama will always be known for his excellent performance on the basketball court, but he is also trying to become known as a politician.  In 2014, Barkley will run as the Independent candidate for Governor of the state of Alabama.

Charles Barkley played college basketball at Auburn University between 1982 and 1984.  In 1984 he joined the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers.  Barkley played sixteen years in the NBA, mostly for the Phoenix Suns.  He retired in 2000 from the Houston Rockets.

Barkley has always been very well aware of political issues and has decided to address them by holding office.  Since he was born and raised in Alabama and attended college at Auburn University, he believes his political future is in that state.

Barkley first seriously considered running for Governor in 1995 in anticipation of the 1998 gubernatorial election.  He learned however that he needed to be a resident of Alabama for seven years before running for the top office in the state.  Barkley returned permanently to Alabama in 2006 to start planning his run for Governor in 2014.

Sources: 

Charles Barkley and Michael Wilbon, I May Be Wrong but I Doubt It (New
York: Random House, 2002); Campbell Brown, "Transcript: Charles Barkley
tells Brown 'racism is a cancer' - CNN.com." CNN.com - Breaking News,
U.S., World, Weather, Entertainment & Video News.
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/10/27/brown.barkley/index.html; "Gov.
Barkley? Sir Charles eyeing office in Alabama," ESPN: The Worldwide
Leader In Sports, http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=2531022.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Wilson, Margaret Bush (1919-2009)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Robert Joiner, “Margaret Bush Wilson, hailed as civil rights ‘giant’ dies at 90,” St Louis Beacon,  August 14, 2009; Patricia Sullivan, “Margaret Bush Wilson dies at 90. First Black woman to head the National NAACP Board,” The LA Times, August 15, 2009; www.thehistorymakers.com
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Taylor, Ruth Carol (1931- )

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

Journalist and nurse Ruth Carol Taylor became the first African American airline flight attendant in the United States when she joined Mohawk Airlines in 1958. While she is most commonly known for her achievement in the airline industry, she spent much of her career as an activist for minority and women’s rights.

Taylor was born in Boston, Massachusetts on December 27, 1931 to Ruth Irene Powell Taylor, a nurse, and William Edison Taylor, a barber. When Ruth was young, her family moved to a farm in upstate New York. She attended Elmira College in New York and in 1955 graduated from the Bellevue School of Nursing in New York City as a registered nurse. After working for several years as a nurse, Taylor decided to break the color barrier that existed in the career of airline stewardesses.

Sources: 
Kathleen Barry, Femininity in Flight: A History of Flight Attendants (Duke University Press Books, 2007); Betty Kaplan Gubert, et al, Distinguished African Americans in Aviation and Space Science (Westport, CT: Oryx Press, 2002); "First Black Flight Attendant Is Still Fighting Racism," Jet Magazine, May 1997: 40; Carol Taylor, The Little Black Book: Black Male Survival in America, or Staying Alive & Well in an Institutionally Racist Society (New York: Little Black Book, 1985).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Richmond, Cedric Levon (1973- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the
U.S. House of Representatives

Cedric Richmond is the U.S. Representative for Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes much of New Orleans. Richmond, a Democrat, won the post after more than a decade of service in the Louisiana House of Representatives.

Born September 13, 1973, his mother was a public school teacher and a small business owner, and his father died when he was seven years old.  Growing up in East New Orleans he played baseball at Goretti playground and was inspired by his coaches there, which later influenced him to coach Little League Baseball at Goretti starting in 1989, at the age of 16.

Sources: 
Douglas Brinkley, The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast (New York: Morrow, 2006); Ebony magazine, Vol. 56, No. 3 (Chicago, Illinois: Johnson Publishing Co. January 2001); https://richmond.house.gov/about.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Foxx, Anthony Renard (1971- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Anthony Foxx, the seventeenth United States Secretary of Transportation, was born April 30, 1971 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and raised by his mother, Laura Foxx, and grandparents James and Mary Foxx. He graduated from West Charlotte High School in 1989, and four years later received a Bachelor’s in history from Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina.  Foxx was the first African American student body president at Davidson College. In 1996 Foxx earned a law degree from the New York University School of Law as a Root-Tilden Scholar, the most prestigious public service scholarship at the University.

After law school Foxx worked for a brief period at Smith, Helms, Mulliss & Moore, a Charlotte law firm.  He then clerked for Judge Nathaniel R. Jones of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio. From there Foxx worked as a trial attorney for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice.  He also served as staff counsel to the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.

Sources: 
http://www.dot.gov/secretary; “Cabinet Post Caps Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx’s Steep Ascent,” CharlotteObserver.com, http://charlotteobserver.com/2013/06/27/4132361/senate-expected-to-confirm-anthony.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

LeMelle, Wilbert J., Sr. (1931-2003)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Wilbert J. LeMelle, Sr., was a scholar, development specialist, and ambassador to Kenya and the Republic of Seychelles between 1977 and 1980.  In both his academic and diplomatic work, LeMelle urged the United States to become more engaged in Africa, focusing on economic development and human rights issues.
Sources: 
Transcript, Ambassador Wilbert LeMelle Interview, 3 December 1998, by Richard Jackson for the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project.  Online: http://www.adst.org/OH TOCs/LeMelle, Wilbert.toc.pdf; Wilbert J. LeMelle, The First Development Decade in Africa: An Assessment. The African Economic Revolution and the Afro-American (Princeton: Princeton University, 1972); Wilbert J. LeMelle, “The Changing Role of the Planning Advisor in East Africa,” The African Review: A Journal of African Politics, Development and International Affairs 3 (1973); Wilbert J. LeMelle, “The OAU and Superpower Intervention in Africa,” Africa Today 35 (1988):
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Georgia Southwestern State University

The Penn Center (1862 - )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Laura Towne and the First Penn School Students in
an Outdoor Classroom, 1862
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Formerly The Penn School, The Penn Center is an African American cultural and educational center located on St. Helena Island, South Carolina.  In 1862 during the second year of the Civil War, the U.S. Navy captured the island from Confederate forces. With that capture, 32,530 enslaved African Americans suddenly found themselves free people. Northern abolitionists recognized the need to educate the freedmen and believed that what they did here would become a model for helping freedpeople become full citizens across the United States.  Abolitionists raised donations which were sent to the island and some Northerners arrived to oversee what would be one of the first examples of Reconstruction even as the Civil War continued.  The donations allowed schools to be set up to educate the ex-slaves.
Sources: 
Diane McMahon, “Penn Center: A South Carolina Historical Legacy, An American Cultural Treasure”, Pink Magazine, July 15 2005; Keith Schneider, “A Historic District in South Carolina Struggles to Preserve Black History,” New York Times, May 26, 1991), http://www.nytimes.com/1991/05/26/us/a-historic-district-in-south-carolina-struggles-to-preserve-black-history.html: Shaila Dwan, “Through Trying Times for Blacks, a Place of Peace,” New York Times, April 4, 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/1991/05/26/us/a-historic-district-in-south-carolina-struggles-to-preserve-black-history.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Girma, Haben (1988- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Haben Girma at the White House with President Barack Obama, July 20, 2015
Image Ownership: Public domain

Haben Girma, both blind and deaf, is a disability rights advocate and attorney who became the first deaf and blind graduate of Harvard Law School in Massachusetts when she graduated with a Juris Doctor degree (JD) in 2013.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

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

 

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

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

Bristow, Lonnie (1930- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
In 1995, Lonnie Bristow, a board-certified doctor of internal medicine, became the first African American President of the American Medical Association (AMA) in its 148 year history.  Bristow, the son of Lonnie Harlis Bristow, a Baptist minister, and Vivian Wines Bristow, a nurse, grew up in Harlem, New York where he attended public schools and entered Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia at the age of sixteen where he played quarterback on the varsity football team.  He left Morehouse after two years, joined the U.S. Navy for four years and then received his bachelor’s degree from the City College of New York in 1953.  Bristow earned his M.D. from New York University in 1957.  Growing up seeing his mother work as a nurse encouraged his interest in the medical profession.  After completing medical school he established an internal medicine practice in San Pablo, California.
Sources: 
Lisa C. Jones, “New American Medical Association President,” Ebony (August 1995); Joyce Jones, “Speechmaker or Catalyst for Change? – Dr. Lonnie Bristow Named President of the American Medical Association – Newspoints,” Black Enterprise (October 1994); http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2871400013.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Collin College

Taylor, Brice Union (1902-1974)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Born on July 4, 1902 in Seattle, Washington, Brice Union Taylor was an athlete who broke racial barriers for African American football players.  Brice Taylor is perhaps best known as the University of Southern California’s first All-American football player.

A descendant of the Shawnee Chief Tecumseh and African slaves, he was the youngest of ten children of Cyrus Taylor, a bricklayer.  Orphaned at age 5, Taylor was taken in and raised by the DiJulio family of Seattle.  Although he was born without a left hand, Taylor showed his athletic prowess while growing up in Seattle, Washington where he was a starring athlete in football and baseball. In 1922, Taylor was a running back for the Franklin High School football team in Seattle.  As Team Captain, he helped lead the team to the Washington State Championship. In 1923, Taylor was selected as the State of Washington High School Athlete of the year.

Taylor was offered scholarships from 17 east coast universities and eight Pacific Coast universities. He hoped to attend college at the University of Washington, but was not offered a scholarship.
Sources: 
Don Yaeger, Sam Cunningham, and John Papadakis. Turning of The Tide (New York: Center Street Publishers, 2006); Richard J. Shmelter, The USC Trojans Football Encyclopedia; (Raleigh, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2014); and Everett D. Gibson, A Portrait of Southern University History, Achievements, and Great Football Traditions (Indianapolis: Dog Ear Publishing, 2014).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Krystian Legierski (1978– )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Krystian Legierski, an LGBT activist, politician, lawyer, and entrepreneur, is the first openly gay person elected to public office in Poland. He was born on April 22, 1978, in the village of Koniakow in southwestern Poland. His mother is Polish and his father is from Mauritania. Legierski, known for his progressive political and social views, frequently discusses being brought up by his religious mother and grandmother in a traditionally conservative community. He notes, however, that both his family and his community have always been supportive of him. He graduated from the Faculty of Law and Administration at the University of Warsaw.
Sources: 
Krystian Legierski’s profile at the Warsaw City Council, http://www.radawarszawy.um.warszawa.pl/archiwum/rada/radni/Legierski/Strony/profil.aspx; Katarzyna Surmiak-Domanska, “Goral i Madame,” Gazeta Wyborcza - Du?y Format, January 1, 2006, reprint at: http://www.e-teatr.pl/pl/artykuly/20154,druk.html; Krystian Legierski’s official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Krystian.Legierski/timeline.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

McKay, Claude (1889-1948)

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

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

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

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

Louis [Barrow], Joe (1914-1981)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Joe Louis Barrow, known popularly as Joe Louis, was the second African American heavyweight boxing champion in the 20th Century.  Louis was born on May 13, 1914 in Chambers County Alabama to sharecropper parents Monroe and Lilly Reese Barrow.  He was the seventh of eight children and grandson of slaves.  In 1926 Barrow’s family, like thousands of southern African American families, migrated to Detroit. 

While only in his teens Barrow began boxing at Brewster's East Side Gymnasium in Detroit.   At 19, he entered the Golden Gloves finals in 1933 as a light heavyweight and eventually became the champion in his weight class.  Louis turned professional heavyweight boxer in 1934, dropping the name Barrow.   Louis won a remarkable 12 bouts in his first year as a professional. By 1935 his career had ascended quickly, earning him over $350,000 in purses when the average yearly salary in the United States during the Great Depression was about $1,200.  He gave generously to charities and friends. Louis soon became an icon for African Americans and a hero to many white Americans, as well.

Sources: 
Patrick Myler,  Ring of Hate: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling: The Fight of the Century (New York: Arcade Publishing, 2005); Richard Bak, Joe Louis: The Great Black Hope (New York: Perseus Publishing, 1998);  Lauren Rebecca Sklaroff, "Constructing G.I. Joe Louis: Cultural Solutions to the Negro Problem during World War II," The Journal of American History December 2002 http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/jah/89.3/sklaroff.html   (26 Feb. 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

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

Freedom Summer (June–August 1964)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Mississippi Freedom Summer Volunteers singing
We Shall Overcome, 1964
Image Courtesy of Herbert Randall Freedom Summer Photographs,
McCain Library and Archives, The University of Southern Mississippi
By 1964, the civil rights movement had scored numerous victories through boycotts, student sit-ins, and mass marches. The state of Mississippi, seen as the “stronghold of segregation,” was the next testing ground. In Mississippi, activists faced an entrenched system of segregation and white supremacy upheld by both vigilante violence and state-sanctioned repression.
Sources: 
Clayborne Carson et al, eds., The Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader: Documents, Speeches, and Firsthand Accounts from the Black Freedom Struggle (New York: Penguin, 1991); Doug McAdam, Freedom Summer (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988); The online curriculum of the Freedom Schools and primary source documents from Freedom Summer: http://www.educationanddemocracy.org/ED_FSC.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Poussaint, Alvin F. (1934 --)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Alvin Poussaint was born in East Harlem in New York City on May 15, 1934.  After graduating from Stuyvesant High School he received a Bachelor’s degree from Columbia College in 1956 and an M.D. from Cornell University in 1960.  Poussaint completed his postgraduate training at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Neuropsychiatric Institute, where he served as the chief resident in psychology from 1964 to 1965.   Between 1965 and 1967 Poussaint was the southern field director of the Medical Committee for Human Rights in Jackson, Mississippi.  With this organization Poussaint provided health care to civil rights workers and also worked on the desegregation of health care facilities throughout the South.  After leaving Mississippi he became an assistant professor at Tufts University Medical School.  Here he was the director of a psychiatry program in a low-income housing development.  Dr. Poussaint began teaching and researching at Harvard Medical School in 1969.  

Dr. Poussaint’s research interests include studies on the nature of grief, self-esteem, parenting, violence and the social adaptation of children of interracial marriages.  His first book, Why Blacks Kill Blacks (1972) explores the effects of White racism on Black psychological development.  He has also co-authored two other books, Raising Black Children and Lay My Burden Down, as well as numerous articles in professional journals.  

Sources: 

Jack Salzman, David Lionel Smith, and Cornell West, eds., Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (New York: Macmillan Library Reference USA Simon and Schuster Macmillan, 1996); W. Augustus Low and Virgil A. Clift, eds., Encyclopedia of Black America (New York: De Capo Press, 1981); Harvard Medical School: http://www.hms.harvard.edu/orma/poussaint/biography/html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Springfield Race Riot, 1908

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

In mid-August 1908, the white population of Springfield, Illinois hastily reacted to reports that a white woman has been assaulted in her home by a black man.  Soon afterwards another instance of an assault by a black man on a white woman was reported.  These incidents, coming within hours of each other, inflamed a gathering mob.

Springfield Police took into custody an African American vagrant, Joe James, for one of the assaults.  Another man, George Richardson, a local factory worker was arrested for the second assault.  A mob which had been forming since the news of the assaults was first announced now quickly assembled at the Sangamon County Courthouse to lynch the two men in custody. 

Unable to get the accused men whom the Sheriff announced had been moved to an undisclosed location, the mob turned its wrath of two other black men, Scott Burton and William Donegan, who were in the area.  They were quickly lynched. 

Sources: 
James L. Crouthamel, “The Springfield Race Riot of 1908,” The Journal of Negro History: Vol. 45, No. 3 (Jul., 1960), pp. 164-181; Herbert Shapiro, White Violence and Black Response (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1988); Roberta Senechal, The Sociogenesis of a Race Riot: Springfield, Illinois in 1908 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Kilpatrick, Kwame M. (1970--)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Kwame Kilpatrick & Christine Beatty
Image Ownership: Public Domain

In 2002, Kwame Malik Kilpatrick, at the age of 31, became the youngest person to be elected mayor of Detroit, Michigan.  Six years later in 2008, Kilpatrick resigned his post as mayor after his conviction for obstruction of justice stemming from a sex scandal involving the mayor and his chief of staff, Christine Beatty. Kilpatrick, married and the father of three sons, had an affair with Beatty, a divorced single mother and then committed perjury in a 2007 trial when he denied the relationship under oath.  Kilpatrick was forced to resign from his office and spent 120 days in jail as part of a guilty plea to the charges of obstructing justice.

Kilpatrick, the son of U.S. Representative Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Bernard Kilpatrick, former Chief of Staff for Wayne County Executive Edward H. McNamara, was born in Detroit on June 6, 1970.  Kilpatrick was the captain of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University’s football team.  He earned a B.A. degree in political science there.  He returned to Detroit and taught at the Marcus Garvey Academy.  

Sources: 

Can Kwame Kilpatrick Grow Up, Steven Gray/Detroit Thursday, Sep. 20, 2007, http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1663791,00.html; Kwame Kilpatrick, M.J. Stephey, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008, /www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1854335,00.html; Kwame Kilpatrick exits, with Barack Obama holding the door, Edward McClelland September 4, 2008, www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/09/04/detroit/; Resources for Elected Officials, DLC, Profile, May 15, 2003,100 To Watch :: 2003 The Next Generation of Leadership, www.ndol.org/ndol_ci.cfm?contentid=251633&kaid=104&subid=210.

Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Bambara, Toni Cade (1939-1995)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Toni Cade Bambara on a
Gahnaian Stamp
Originally named Miltona Mirkin Cade at birth, Toni Cade Bambara was a civil rights activist, writer, teacher, and filmmaker.  She was born in 1939 in Harlem, New York.  At the age of six, she changed her name to Toni, and in 1970 she added the surname Bambara after finding it among her great-grandmother’s belongings.    

Bambara earned her BA in theater arts/English at Queens College in 1959, the same year she published “Sweet Town,” her first short story.  She was a social investigator from 1959 to 1961, and then worked in the psychiatry department of New York City’s Metropolitan Hospital.  During that time she studied in Florence as well as Paris, and earned an MA degree from City College of New York in 1964.  In 1965, she was hired to teach English at the City University of New York’s fledgling SEEK program for economically-disadvantaged students.  While there, she published short stories and became interested in film production.  From 1969 to 1974 she was an associate professor of English at Livingston College.
Sources: 
Linda Janet Holmes and Cheryl A. Wall, Savoring the Salt: The Legacy of Toni Cade Bambara (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2007); Elizabeth Brown-Guillory, Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (Detroit: Macmillan Reference, 2006); Contemporary Authors (Detroit: Gale, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Galamison, Milton A. (1923-1988)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Milton Galamison (left) with Picketers in New York, Feb. 3, 1964
Image ©Bettmann/Corbis

Milton Arthur Galamison, minister and civil rights activist, was the leader of New York City’s school integration movement in the 1960s.  Born and raised in Philadelphia, where he experienced poverty and hostile racial relations that influenced his later activism, Galamison received a B.A. with honors at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1945. He began his activism in Brooklyn, where he was appointed minister to the Siloam Presbyterian Church in 1948. As a prestigious institution long associated with activist ministers, the church offered Galamison a platform for his future involvement in improving education for minority children in public schools.

In 1955, Galamison was elected chair of the education committee of the Brooklyn branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Under his  leadership, the branch became a noted advocate for working class black and Puerto Rican parents who fought for quality education for their children.

Sources: 
Clarence Taylor, “Robert Wagner, Milton Galamison, and the Challenge to New York City Liberalism,” Afro-Americans in New York Life and History 31:2 (July 2007); Alexander Urbiel, “City Schools as Mirrors of Modern Urban Life,” Journal of Urban History 27:511 (May 2001); Clarence Taylor, Knocking At Our Own Door: Milton A. Galamison and the Struggle to Integrate New York City Schools (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Calvin, Floyd Joseph (1902-1939)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Floyd Calvin was a journalist who also launched a newswire service and hosted the first black radio show during the Harlem Renaissance.

Calvin was born in 1902 to a school teacher and a farmer in Washington, Arkansas.  He graduated from Shover State Teacher Training College in Hope, Arkansas in 1920 and attended the City College of New York for another year after migrating to Harlem.

In 1922, after college, Calvin began working briefly as an associate editor of the Messenger, the political and literary magazine which many historians claim was at the heart of the Harlem Renaissance. There he worked with A. Philip Randolph and Chandler Owen, the founders of the magazine. In 1924 Calvin began working at the Pittsburgh Courier, which at the time was one of the two most widely circulated black newspapers in the country (the Chicago Defender was the other).  There, he was a writer and special features editor from 1924 to 1935 working in the New York office of the Courier.

In 1927, Calvin hosted a periodic radio talk show sponsored by the Courier.  It was broadcast on radio station WGBS, and it covered African-American-focused topics.  The show, the Courier Hour, was the first radio program ever sponsored by a black newspaper and the first radio talk program targeting an African American audience.
Sources: 
W. Augustus Low and Virgil A. Clift, eds., Encyclopedia of Black America (New York: Da Capo Press, 1981); Ryan Ellett, Uncovering Black Radio’s Roots: 1927 – 1929 (http://otrr.org).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Gorden, General Fred (1940- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
General Fred A. Gorden was the first black Commandant of Cadets, the officer in charge of the training, discipline, and physical condition of the Corps of Cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point.  The Commandant of Cadets position is second only to the position of Superintendent of the Academy.   

Born in Anniston, Alabama in 1940, Gorden’s family moved shortly afterward to Atlanta, Georgia.  Gorden was the fourth of five children and was raised by his childless aunt, who lived around the corner from his family.  When she moved to Battle Creek, Michigan to marry, he went with her.  There he attended the local high school and excelled in both academics and athletics.  He was in the National Honor Society and played on an all-city basketball team.

Gorden had been attending a local junior college in 1958 when he was notified about his appointment to West Point as a cadet.  He received the call from a lawyer from his hometown who in turn had been contacted by the area’s Congressman about the appointment.  Gorden was to be the only black cadet in his class.

Sources: 
Catherine Reef, African Americans in the Military (New York: Facts on File, 2010); Gail Lumet Buckley, American Patriots: The Story of Blacks in the Military from the Revolution to Desert Storm (New York: Random House, 2002); James Feron, “At West Point, Symbol of Change for Army,” The New York Times, October 28, 1987, http://www.nytimes.com/1987/10/28/nyregion/at-west-point-symbol-of-change-for-army.html; Angie Thorne, “One Man, One Family Makes a Difference,” March 4, 2009, retrieved from http://www.army.mil/article/17752/One_man__one_family_makes_difference/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Westerfield, Samuel Z. (1920-1972)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Ambassador Samuel Westerfield, his wife, Helene,
and Their Son, Samuel Westerfield III in Monrovia, ca. 1971.
Samuel Z. Westerfield, Jr., a Career Foreign Service Officer, was appointed ambassador to Liberia July 8, 1969 with the title of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. He died of a heart attack July 19, 1972 at the embassy in Monrovia. He died at the age of 52.

Westerfield was born in Chicago, Illinois on November 15, 1919 to Dr. Samuel Z.C. Westerfield and Rachael Weddleton Colquitt. His father was the first black student to graduate with a Ph.D. in Engineering from the University of Nebraska. Westerfield married Helene Bryant in 1945. She was an educator and a graduate of Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. They had two children: a daughter, Shelia, and a son, Samuel Z. Westerfield III.
Sources: 
Karl D. Gregory, “The Presentation of the Samuel Z. Westerfield Distinguished Service Award Posthumously to Dr. Samuel Z. Westerfield, The Review of Black Political Economy, June 1974, Vol. 4, Issue 3, pp 101-104; “Westerfield Changes Jobs at State Dept.,” Memphis World, Vol. 032, April 25, 1964;
http://www.gs.howard.edu/graduateprograms/economics.html; Jet Magazine, March 29-September 13, 1962.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Robinson, Sylvia (1936–2011)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Sylvia Vanderpool Robinson was an African American singer, songwriter, musician, record label executive, and record producer, best known for her work as founder and CEO of the Sugar Hill Records hip-hop label. She is credited for being the dynamic force behind two landmark hip-hop singles, “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugar Hill Gang released in 1980 and “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five in 1982.

Robinson was born in 1936 as Sylvia Vanderpool in New York City. She attended Washington Irving High School in lower Manhattan until the age of fourteen, when she debuted singing blues with trumpet player Hot Lips Page and began recording music in 1950 for Columbia Records under the name Little Sylvia.
 
In 1954 she teamed up with Mickey Baker, a guitarist from Kentucky, who taught her to play guitar. In 1956 the duo recorded the rock single “Love Is Strange” by Jody Williams and Bo Diddley, which reached No. 11 on the Billboard pop charts and topped R&B charts at the beginning of 1957. The duo split up in 1959, and later Sylvia married Joseph Robinson and resumed her solo career under the name Sylvia Robbins.
Sources: 
Sylvia Robinson: Pioneering Record Producer, Ushered in Era of Rap,  www.huffingtonpost.com/kate-kelly/sylvia-robinson-pioneerin_b_6894924.html;
Names You Should Know–In Music: Sylvia Robinson, http://teamugli.com/names-you-should-know-in-music-sylvia-robinson/; Sylvia Robinson, Pioneering Producer of Hip-Hop, Is Dead at 75, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/30/arts/music/sylvia-robinson-pioneering-producer-of-hip-hop-dies-at-75.html?_r=2; ‘Empire’ Writers to Pen Movie About the “Mother of Hip-Hop,” http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/empire-writers-pen-movie-mother-833206.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Jeter, Derek (1974- )

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

Throughout his 20 seasons in baseball, Derek Jeter established himself as a New York Yankees legend.  Growing up as a Yankee fan and having played his entire career with the franchise, his play was synonymous with the team’s success.  With on-field talent matching his charismatic demeanor, Jeter attracted fans throughout baseball.

Derek Sanderson Jeter was born on June 26, 1974 in Pequannock, New Jersey. Born to a black father and a white mother, Jeter moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan when he was four while his father attended Western Michigan University for his Ph.D. in psychology.  Growing up, Jeter excelled in sports, particularly basketball and baseball.  He played both sports at Kalamazoo Central High School, but would make his mark in baseball where in 1992 he would win national athletic honors such as “Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year” and USA Today’s “High School Player of the Year.”  In his senior year, he batted over .500 and struck out only once the entire season.

Sources: 
“Derek Jeter, Baseball Player (1974-)” https://www.biography.com/people/derek-jeter-189311; “Derek Jeter: American Baseball Player,” https://www.britannica.com/biography/Derek-Jeter; “Derek Jeter,” http://m.mlb.com/player/116539/derek-jeter.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

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

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

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Vancouver Branch

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

Vancouver, Washington Branch 1139 is the 1139th charter organization of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).  The Vancouver Branch was founded in 1943 during the surge in the African American population in the Portland, Oregon-Vancouver, Washington area in response to defense work in the three Kaiser Shipyards in the vicinity.  The Vancouver Branch was also founded 33 years after the creation of the national NAACP.  

Between 1940 and 1944, Vancouver's African American population increased from 18 to 8,825.  Since a number of blacks were segregated in wartime housing, a group of concerned citizens joined to create the local NAACP.  The Vancouver NAACP soon became involved with other groups such as the Vancouver Civic Unity League that meet to address racial segregation in housing.  Both the NAACP and the Civic Unity League wanted to ensure that permanent housing be available to African Americans who wanted to remain in the city after the end of World War II.

The Vancouver NAACP also addressed the large scale unemployment of African Americans in the area at the end of World War II.  The Branch conducted a survey in 1946 and found that even with substantial experience there were more African Americans unemployed then whites in the area.  The survey showed that 77% of the black family heads were unemployed.  

Sources: 

NAACP Branch 1139, December 5, 2008,
http://www.naacpvanc.org/branchhistory.html; Jack Salzman, David Smith,
and Cornel West, Ed., Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and
History
(New York: Publisher Simon & Schuster Macmillan, 1996)

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Lavizzo, Dr. Philip V. (1917-1972)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Photo Courtesy of Lavizzo Family"
Dr. Philip V. Lavizzo, one of the first African American doctors to practice surgery in the Pacific Northwest, was born in 1917.  Very little is known about his early life.  He graduated from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee and initially practiced medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana

While in New Orleans, Dr. Lavizzo developed a national reputation as a medical innovator. He coauthored “Observations on the General Adaptation of Syndrome: Surgery as Measured by the Eosinophil Response.” This prized paper was delivered at the first annual Charles Drew Memorial Forum in August 1951.

Sources: 
Philip Lavizzo and Matthew Walker, “Observations on the General Adaptation Syndrome: Surgery as Measured by the Eosinophil Response,” Journal of the National Medical Association 1952, Mar. Vol. 44, No. 2 (March 1952), pp, 87-96, found in http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2617112/; Thomas J. Ward, Black Physicians in the Jim Crow South (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle Central College

Abney, Veronica D. (1951- )

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

Veronica D. Abney is a training and supervising psychoanalyst with the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis (1991). She specializes in trauma associated with childhood sexual abuse and practices psychoanalysis and psychotherapy in Santa Monica, California and Los Angeles, California. She works with preteens, adolescents, and adults. Her client focus is African American and other ethnicities and includes bisexual, gay, heterosexual, transgender, and veteran. Her religious orientation is Jewish. Academically, Abney specializes in the history of African American psychoanalysts in the United States; diversity; and the psychodynamics of racism.

Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Córdoba Ruiz, Piedad Esneda (1955- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Politician, social and peace activist Piedad Córdoba was born in Medellin, Colombia, on January 25, 1955. She was the second of ten children of Zabulón Córdoba, an Afro-Colombian who rose from humble origins to become a sociology professor and university dean.  Her mother, blue-eyed blonde Lía Esneda Ruiz, married Zabulón as a teenager.

Their first child died in infancy. All nine of the surviving children became professionals including Córdoba, who as a young woman opened a bar to help finance the education of her younger siblings. She earned her law degree at the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in 1977.

Sources: 
Nicolas Villa Moya, “Piedad Cordoba: A Political Biography,” http://www.colombia-politics.com/piedad-cordoba-a-political-biography/ (April 24, 2014); “Profiles: Piedad Cordoba,” http://colombiareports.co/piedad-cordoba-1/ (December 31, 2011); Victoria Bruce, Karin Hayes, and Jorge Enrique Botero, Hostage Nation: Colombia’s Guerilla Army and the Failed War on Drugs (New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2010).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

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

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

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

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

Malcolm X (1925-1965)

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

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

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

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

Dellums, Ronald Vernie (1935- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Ronald Vernie Dellums was born on November 24, 1935 in Oakland, California to Willa Terry Dellums and Vernie Dellums. His father Vernie Dellums was a longshoreman, and his mother was a labor organizer.  As a child, Ron attended St. Patrick Catholic School in Oakland.  

After high school Ron Dellums served in the United States Marine Corps from 1954 to 1956 after he was denied the college scholarship he had sought.  After service in the Marines Dellums, with the help of the G.I Bill and an outside job, attended San Francisco State College where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1960.  This was followed by an M.A. in Social Welfare from the University of California at Berkeley in 1962.

In the same year Dellums began his career as a psychiatric social worker in the California Department of Mental Hygiene in Berkeley.  Dellums also taught at San Francisco State University and the University of California, Berkeley.  His work soon led him to become involved in community politics.  In 1967 at 32, Dellums was elected to the Berkeley City Council.  He quickly became known as the spokesperson for African American community affairs and for his radical political beliefs.  
Sources: 
Ronald Dellums, Lying Down with the Lions: A Public Life from the Streets of Oakland to the Halls of Power (Boston: Beacon Press, 2000); Bruce A. Ragsdale and Joel D. Treese, Black Americans in Congress, 1870- 1989 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office,1990); Maurine Christopher, Black Americans in Congress (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1976); http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=D000222
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Ebony Magazine

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History

Ebony Magazine, August, 1987
Image Courtesy of Ebony Magazine
Ebony, a pictorial news magazine published by Chicago, Illinois-based Johnson Publishing Company, first appeared in November 1945. Created by John H. Johnson, who modeled his publication after Life magazine, Ebony celebrated African American life and culture by depicting the achievements of black Americans. It honored black identity by portraying black life, refuting stereotypes, and inspiring readers to overcome racial and other barriers to success. John H. Johnson began his career with Negro Digest in 1942, and started Ebony three years later. Both magazines were so successful that in 1972 the Magazine Publishers Association selected Johnson “Magazine Publisher of the Year.” Negro Digest changed its name in 1970 to Black World but ultimately folded; today Johnson Publishing also produces Jet magazine.
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); Walter C. Daniel, “Ebony,” Black Journals of the United States (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1982): 159-164; “The Ebony Story,” Ebony 51 (November 1995): 80-86.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Brookins, Hamel Hartford (1926 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Courtesy of Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive,
Department of Special Collections,
Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA
The Reverend (now Bishop) Hamel Hartford Brookins became one of the leading black ministers and civil rights activists in Los Angeles in the 1960s.  Brookins arrived from Wichita, Kansas in 1960 to be the new pastor of the First African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Los Angeles.  Shortly after his arrival, Brookins helped form United Civil Rights Committee (UCRC).  Brookins and other members of the UCRC prodded city leaders on issues including housing, education and law enforcement.  Brookins’ efforts helped unite blacks in Los Angeles, at least temporarily, in the early 1960s around those issues.

One of Brookins’ earliest efforts was his involvement in securing representation on the Los Angeles City Council for African Americans.  Brookins played a key role in uniting black community support behind three candidates (Tom Bradley, Billy Mills and Gilbert Lindsay) all who were elected to the council in 1963.  Brookins and the UCRC also led unsuccessful efforts to end segregated schools and housing discrimination in California.
Sources: 
Robert Bauman, From Watts to East L.A.: Race and the War on Poverty in Los Angeles (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, forthcoming 2008); Robert Bauman, “The Black Power and Chicano Movements in the Poverty Wars in Los Angeles,” Journal of Urban History, 33:2 (January 2007), 277-295.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Washington State University, Tri-Cities

Paige, Roderick Raynor (1933- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Roderick Raynor Paige, the first African American and the first school superintendent to serve as the U.S. Secretary of Education, was born on June 17, 1933 in Monticello, Mississippi. The eldest of five children, Paige was born to his mother Sophie, a librarian, and father, Raynor C. Paige, a school principal and barber.

Roderick Paige attended segregated schools in Monticello where he saw the stark differences between the education and opportunities offered to white children and black children.  In 1951, Paige graduated from high school and enrolled at Jackson State College in Jackson, Mississippi. He was an honor student and football player there. In 1955, after he graduated with a B.A. in physical education, Paige began teaching at a high school in Clinton, Mississippi. However, not long after he started, he was drafted and joined the U.S. Navy. Before he left for Okinawa (Japan) to work as a medical corpsman, Paige married his college sweetheart, Gloria Crawford.
Sources: 
Roderick Paige, The War Against Hope: How Teachers’ Unions Hurt Children, Hinder Teachers, and Endanger Public Education (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2006); Donald R. McAdams, Fighting to Save Our Urban Schools—and Winning!: Lessons from Houston. (New York: Teachers College Press, 2000).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Negro Actors Guild of America (1937 - )

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History

The Negro Actors Guild of America was founded by African American actors in 1937.  The organization was established to try to eliminate the stereotyping of African Americans in theatrical and cinematic performances.  It also stressed the need for more realistic roles for people of color, helped foster the skills of African American actors, and worked to generate more acting opportunities for blacks. 

Fredi Washington, a black stage and film actress, who was resentful of the limitations of African Americans in the film industry, brought together other actors, including Leigh Whipper, Noble Sissle, W.C. Handy, and Dick Campbell, to found the Negro Actors Guild of America in New York City in 1937.  It was the first such organization of its kind in the nation.  Noble Sissle served as the organization’s first president, while Washington served as the Guild’s executive director and secretary. Washington dedicated much of her life to the organization, even sacrificing her acting career for the advancement and prosperity of the Guild.  Leigh Whipper succeeded Sissle in 1957 as the Guild’s president.  He later caused some controversy when he accused Otto Preminger, the director for the film, Porgy and Bess, of discriminating against African Americans.

Sources: 

Jonathan Dewberry, "Black Actors Unite: The Negro Actors Guild of
America: 1937–1982," Ph.D. dissertation, New York University, 1988.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Hurt, “Mississippi” John Smith (c. 1892-1966)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Mary Hurt-Wright,
Mississippi Hurt Museum/Foundation
Born in Teoc, Mississippi in 1892 but raised in Avalon, Mississippi, "Mississippi" John Hurt spent the majority of his life employed as a farm hand. Though he briefly recorded in the 1920s, it was not until the 1960s that his music was widely distributed and recognized. Hurt was known for his humble nature and his unique, soft style of blues.
Sources: 
Stefan Grossman, ed., Mississippi John Hurt (Los Angeles: Alfred Publishing, 2007); http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:wifuxq95ldke~T1; http://www.nps.gov/history/DELTA/BLUes/people/msjohn_hurt.htm

 

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Aiken, Kimberly (1975- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Image Courtesy of Miss America Organization

 

Sources: 
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); Millicent Reid, “Miss America Kimberly Aiken Talks About Coveted Crown,” People Magazine, May 9, 1994 , Vol.. 41, No. 17; Karima Haynes, “Miss America: From Vanessa Williams to Kimberly Aiken,” Ebony Magazine, January 1994; http://www.missamerica.org 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Coffey, Cornelius R. (1903-1994)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Cornelius Coffey was the first African American to establish an aeronautical school in the United States.  His school was also the only non-university affiliated aviation program to become part of the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP).  His pioneering efforts led to the integration of African American pilots into the American aviation industry.  

Cornelius Robinson Coffey was born in Newport, Arkansas on September 6, 1903.  In 1916, when he was 13, Coffey's first airplane ride sparked his interest in aviation.  Nine years later, in 1925, Coffey left Arkansas for Chicago, Illinois, to study auto mechanics.  Soon after he arrived, Coffey and another African American, John C. Robinson, founded the Challenger’s Air Pilot’s Association to support their attempts to enroll in aviation programs in the Chicago area.  At the time African Americans were denied entry into these programs.  Engaging in self-education, Coffey and Robinson built a one-seat airplane powered by a motorcycle engine. They then taught themselves to fly.  
Sources: 
Samuel L. Broadnax, Blue Skies, Black Wings: African American Pioneers of Aviation (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008); http://www.aeromuseum.org/exhibitsHistory_coffey.html;
http://www.airspacemag.com/history-of-flight/The-Other-Harlem-Airport.html?c=y&page=6;
Los Angeles Times website:  http://articles.latimes.com/1994-03-07/news/mn-30994_1_tuskegee-airmen; The Chicago Tribune website:  http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1994-03-04/news/9403040085_1_fellow-black-mechanic-mechanic-s-training-program-cornelius-coffey
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Arkansas Baptist College, Little Rock

Spraggs, Venice Tipton (1905-1956)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
The Chicago Defender Front Page, November 16, 1940
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Venice Tipton Spraggs served as the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Defender and was the first African American inducted into Theta Sigma Phi, a professional journalism fraternity.  Spraggs was born in 1905 in Birmingham, Alabama to Barbara Tipton.  She attended Spelman College and married William Spraggs, a presser from Birmingham, in 1924.  The couple had no children.
Sources: 
Helen W. Berthelot, Win Some, Lose Some: G. Mennen Williams and the New Democrats (Detroit: Wayne University Press, 1995); Cheryl Mullenbach, Double Victory: How African-American Women Broke Race and Gender Barriers to Help Win World War II (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2013); United States of America, Bureau of the Census, Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930, Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1930, Census Place: Birmingham, Jefferson, Alabama (roll 30, page 17A, Enumeration District 0098, Image 35.0, FHL microfilm 2339765).
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Sharpless, Mattie R. (1943- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
On October 1, 2001, President George W. Bush nominated Mattie R. Sharpless to be the next United States Ambassador to the Central African Republic. After confirmation by the U.S. Senate, Sharpless was at her post in the nation’s capital at Bangui by mid-December 2001.  Sharpless served in Bangui until June 2003.  Unlike most ambassadors who are either political appointees or career foreign service diplomats, Sharpless was a long term employee of the United States Foreign Agriculture Service, a section of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Sharpless was born in Hampstead, North Carolina on July 1, 1943 to James and Lecola Sharpless.  When Sharpless was 11, her father died. Her mother Lecola became a single parent and the sole provider for Mattie and her eight siblings.
Sources: 
Si Cantwell, “Hampstead native ready to brave the heat of diplomacy,” Star-News, January 15, 2002, B , http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1454&dat=20020115&id=7QJPAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Ux8EAAAAIBAJ&pg=5975,3907489; “Honorable Mattie R. Sharpless (Former U.S. Ambassador to the Central African Republic),” Ariel Foundation, http://www.arielfoundation.org/documents/AFI_Website_Bio_Sharpless.html; “NCCU News: U.S. Ambassador to speak at NCCU commencement,” North Carolina Central University,  http://www.nccu.edu/news/index.cfm?id=739CC7D7-C295-3D7D-E14563832B35C7AB.
Affiliation: 
Morgan State University

Elaine, Arkansas Riot (1919)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
African Americans Indicted For Participating in the
Elaine, Arkansas Riot
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
One of the last of the major riots of the “Red Summer” of 1919, the race riot in Elaine, Arkansas was also one of the deadliest. Though exact numbers are unknown, it is estimated over 200 African Americans were killed along with five whites during the white hysteria of a pending insurrection of black sharecroppers. Also known as the “Elain Massacre,” the violence, terror, and concerted effort to drive out blacks were so jarring that Ida B. Wells, a founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) published a short book on the riot in 1920. It was also widely reported in African American newspapers like the Chicago Defender and generated several public campaigns to address the fallout.
Sources: 
Becky Givan, "Elaine, Arkansas Race Riot of 1919," Global Mappings: A Political Atlas of the African Diaspora, Institute for Diasporic Studies at Northwestern University, http://diaspora.northwestern.edu/mbin/WebObjects/DiasporaX.woa/wa/displayArticle?atomid=603; Walter C. Rucker and James Nathaniel Upton, Encyclopedia of American Race Riots: Greenwood Milestones in African American History, Vol. 1 (Westport, Conn: Greenwood, 2007); Grif Stockley, "Elaine Massacre," Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture, Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=1102.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Nix, Jr., Robert Nelson Cornelius (1928–2003)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Robert Nix Jr. was the first African American to be elected to statewide office in Pennsylvania, and the first African American chief justice of any state supreme court in the nation. Nix was born on July 13, 1928, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the only child of Ethel Lanier and Robert Nix, Sr. His father, Philadelphia's first African American congressman, gave the eulogy in Congress for President John F. Kennedy.

Nix attended a Philadelphia public elementary school and graduated from Central High School in 1946 with the highest honors in his class. He attended Villanova University, majoring in philosophy and graduated as valedictorian in 1950 with his A.B. Nix then attended law school at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1953 with his J.D. He served in the United States Army from 1953 to 1955. Nix attended Temple University for postgraduate studies in business administration and economics.

Sources: 
“R.N.C. Nix Jr., 75, Groundbreaking Judge”, The NYTimes (August 26, 2003), http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/26/us/r-n-c-nix-jr-75-groundbreaking-judge.html; Larry Teitelbaum, “In Memoriam - Robert N.C. Nix Jr.,” Penn Law Journal (Spring 2004),  https://www.law.upenn.edu/alumni/alumnijournal/Spring2004/in_memoriam/nix.html; Offie Wortham, The Biography of Robert N.C. Nix Jr. (Chicago: TransCultural Awareness Institute, 2010).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Rice, Edward A., Jr. (1955- )

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

Retired 4-star Air Force General Edward A. Rice, Jr. was raised in Yellow Springs, Ohio, the son of Edward A. Rice, Sr., an Air Force major, and Josie Rice. He entered the United States Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he graduated with distinction and a bachelor’s degree in engineering sciences in 1978. He was the first African American at the Academy to be a Cadet Wing commander.

Sources: 
Tom Stafford, “Yellow Springs Grad, General, Gets Fourth Star,” Springfield News-Sun (February 24, 2011);  Beth Anschutz, “AETC Commander Retires After 35 Years of Service,” http://www.af.mil/About-Us/Biographies/Display/Article/104641/general-edward-a-rice-jr/; “General Edward A. Rice Jr” http://www.af.mil/About-Us/Biographies/Display/Article/104641/general-edward-a-rice-jr/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Ross, Michael K. (1941-2007)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Michael Ross with Washington
Governor Daniel J. Evans, ca. 1970
Image Ownership: Public Domain 
Michael K. Ross was a Washington State legislator, civil rights activist, and contractor who, although he worked from within established political channels, was not afraid to go against the grain to affect social change.
Sources: 
Charles E. Brown, “Civil-Rights Leader Was Never Afraid to Buck the Tide: Michael Ross Served as Legislator, Worked for Job-Opportunities,” The Seattle Times, 26 August 2007, B. 7; “Community Mourns the Loss of Michael K. Ross—Washington State’s Last Black Republican Legislator,” The Medium, August 2007.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Hall, Abram Thompson, Jr. (1851-1951)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Nicodemus, ca. 1880
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Abram Thompson Hall, Jr., a northern journalist, forced the organization of Graham County after arriving in Nicodemus, Kansas, the first all-black community on the high plains. The county’s rapidly increasing white population objected, but Kansas Governor John Pierce St. John acknowledged the validity of Hall’s petition for county status. Through receiving the appointment to complete the requisite organizational census, Hall became the first African American census taker in the United States.

Abram Thompson (A.T.) Hall, Jr., son of Abram Thompson Hall, Sr. and Joanna (Huss) Hall was born in Chicago in 1851. His father was the first African American licensed to preach in Chicago, and founded Quinn Chapel, the city’s first black church. Hall moved from Chicago, Illinois to Nicodemus in April 1878 with his friend and political ally, Edward P. McCabe. The two men were motivated by the opportunity to acquire Kansas land though the provisions of the Homestead Act. Upon arriving in unorganized Graham County, Hall and McCabe set up a law office and specialized in land location.

To the astonishment of local newspaper editors, Hall quickly established himself as the official correspondent from Graham County by sending letters and columns to newspapers throughout Kansas. Due to his skillful editorials, Hall shaped Kansan’s favorable perception of the Nicodemus colony.
Sources: 
Charlotte Hinger, “‘The Colored People Hold the Key’: Abram Thompson Hall, Jr.’s Campaign to Organize Graham County,” Kansas History 1 (Spring 2008); Colored Citizen (Topeka, KS) May 10, 1878, July 4, 1878; Chicago Conservator (Chicago, IL) December 26, 1882, September 8, 1883.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma (1909- )

Vignette Type: 
Churches
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Mount Zion Baptist Church, originally named Second Baptist Church, was founded in 1909 by an African American religious study group under the leadership of Reverend Sandy Lyons, and established on North Hartford street of Tulsa, Oklahoma. At first, the church didn’t have it’s own building and the congregation gathering in a small one room school in the North Hartford area. Later the church was officially renamed Mount Zion Baptist Church and the congregation decided to relocate the church building to what was then a vacant lot on North Elgin Street, while beginning the process of raising money to build a permanent edifice.  

After its founding by Reverend Sandy Lyons, congregation leadership changed multiple times as several pastors cycled through leading the church. Those leaders include: Rev. R. L. Leonard, C.L. Netherland, and Rev. Frank White. In 1914, leadership of Mt. Zion Baptist Church was handed to Reverend R. A. Whitaker.
Sources: 
"Our History," Mt Zion Baptist Church - Tulsa OK. Mount Zion Baptist Church, http://www.mtzionbc.org/about-us/.; G.W. Bill Miller, "Mount Zion Baptist Church, 1909, 1921, 1952." Mount Zion Baptist Church, 1909, 1921, 1952. http://historictulsa.blogspot.com/2009/11/mount-zion-baptist-church-1909-1921.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

The Pan-African Congresses, 1900-1945

 

Speakers at The Pan African Congress,
Brussels, Belgium,1921
Image Ownership: Public Domain

In the nearly half century between 1900 and 1945 various political leaders and intellectuals from Europe, North America, and Africa met six times to discuss colonial control of Africa and develop strategies for eventual African political liberation. In the article that follows, historian Saheed Adejumobi describes the goals and objectives of these six Pan African Congresses and assesses their impact on Africa.     

 

Pan-Africanist ideals emerged in the late nineteenth century in response to European colonization and exploitation of the African continent. Pan-Africanist philosophy held that slavery and colonialism depended on and encouraged negative, unfounded categorizations of the race, culture, and values of African people. These destructive beliefs in turn gave birth to intensified forms of racism, the likes of which Pan-Africanism sought to eliminate.

Summary: 
In the nearly half century between 1900 and 1945 various political leaders and intellectuals from Europe, North America, and Africa met six times to discuss colonial control of Africa and develop strategies for eventual African political liberation. In the article that follows, historian Saheed Adejumobi describes the goals and objectives of these six Pan African Congresses and assesses their impact on Africa.
Sources: 

Saheed A. Adejumobi, “The Pan-African Congress,” in Organizing Black America: An Encyclopedia of African American Associations, Nina Mjagkij, ed. (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 2001).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle University

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

Domingo, Wilfred A. (1889-1968)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

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

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

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

Black Panther Party

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Black Panther Party Members on the Steps of the Capitol Building,
Olympia, Washington, February 1969
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Philip S. Foner, ed., The Black Panthers Speak (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1970); Charles E. Jones, ed., The Black Panther Party (Reconsidered) (Baltimore: Black Classic Press, 1998); and Peniel E. Joseph, ed., The Black Power Movement: Rethinking The Civil Rights-Black Power Era (New York: Routledge, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Taubira, Christiane (Taubira-Delannon, Christiane) (1952- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Christiane Taubira is an economist, politician, and writer who was born on February 2, 1952 in Cayenne, Guyana.  Founding president of the Guyanese Walwari Party, she is also an author of a number of writings on the topic of slavery and political equality.  In May 2012 Taubira was appointed Minister of Justice of France in the Ayrault government under President François Hollande.
Sources: 
John Gaffney, The French Legislative and Presidential Elections of 2002 (Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate, 2004); Christiane Taubira, Mes météores: Combats politiques au long cours [My Meteors: Politics in the Long Term] (Paris: Flammarion, 2012); Christiane Taubira-Delannon, Égalité pour les exclus: le politique face à l'histoire et à la mémoire colonials [Equality for the Excluded: Politics in View of Colonial History and Memory] (Paris: Temps Présent, 2009).
Affiliation: 
Cleveland State University and Hamilton College

Freedom Rides (1961)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Freedom Riders Bus Burned near Anniston, Alabama, 1961
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Paula Giddings, When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America (New York: Perennial, 2001); David Halberstam, The Children (New York: Random House, 1998); and Lynne Olson, Freedom’s Daughters: The Unsung Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement From 1830 to 1970 (New York: Scribner, 2001).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Women’s Political Council of Montgomery

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Thelma Glass, one of the Founding Members
of the Women's Politcal Council
Image Courtesy of The Montgomery Advertiser
The Women’s Political Council (WPC) of Montgomery, Alabama was founded in 1946 by scholar and Alabama State College professor Mary Fair Burks. The Council was a political organization meant to fight the institutionalized racism of Montgomery, Alabama, and an organization that provided leadership opportunities for women.

Burks was inspired to form the organization after a traffic dispute involving a white woman resulted in her arrest.  In response she created a community organization that would teach local African Americans their constitutional rights and stimulate voter registration among them.  Within a week Burks found forty women to join the organization, which they named the Women’s Political Council.  They focused their efforts on the three areas of political action: education, and protest of segregated services.  Burks was elected as the organization’s first president, a position she held for the next four years.

Sources: 
Belinda Robnett, How Long? How Long? (New York: Oxford University Press 1997); http://www.montgomeryboycott.com/profile_glass.htm
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Carroll, Diahann (1935- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Diahann Carroll in Julia
Image Courtesy of ©Bettmann/CORBIS

Actress Diahann Carroll was born July 17, 1935 in the Bronx, New York but grew up in Harlem.  She received her education and her theatre training at Manhattan’s School of Performing Arts.

At the age of 19, Carroll received her first film role when she was cast as a supporting actress in the 1954 film Carmen Jones which starred Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte.  After her film debut Carroll starred in the Broadway musical House of Flowers.  In 1959 she returned to film in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess where she performed with an all-star cast that included Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis Jr., and Pearl Mae Bailey. 

In 1962 Carroll made history when she became the first African American woman to receive a Tony Award for best actress.  She was recognized for her role as Barbara Woodruff in the musical No Strings.  Another historical moment occurred when Carroll won the lead role for Julia in 1968, becoming the first African American actress to star in her own television series as someone other than a domestic worker.  The show also broke ground by portraying Carroll as a single parent.  She played a recently widowed nurse who raised her son alone.  In 1968 Carroll won a Golden Globe Award for “Best Actress in a Television Series” for her work in Julia.  One year later she was nominated for an Emmy Award for her role in the series. 

Sources: 
Carroll, Diahann, "Ebony's 60th Anniversary - From Julia To Cosby To Oprah Tuning In To The Best Of TV," Ebony 61:1(2005); "Keeping Up The Good Fight—Winning the Crusade Against Cancer, Diahann Carroll, Vocalist and Actress, "Vital Speeches of the Day” 67: 11 (2001); Diahann Carroll’s official website:  http://www.diahanncarroll.net/
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Wiggins, Charlie (1897-1979)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Charlie Wiggins, Indianapolis, Aug. 7, 1926
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Charlie Wiggins, known as “the Negro Speed King,” was an African American motor racing pioneer who competed in the segregated Midwest in the early decades of the 20th Century.  In addition, he was a highly skilled mechanic, often sought after by white racing drivers competing in the annual Indianapolis 500 Motor Race. Throughout his career Wiggins fought for the rights of black mechanics and drivers.

Born in 1897 in Evansville, Indiana, Charlie Wiggins grew up in a poor home; his father was a coalminer. After the death of his mother, Wiggins worked at a shoe shine stand outside a car repair shop where he was eventually hired as an apprentice in 1917.  His opportunity came when many of the white garage mechanics left to join the Army.  Wiggins was the first black mechanic in Evansville and quickly rose to become chief mechanic.

Wiggins and his wife, Roberta Sullenger, whom he married in 1917, left the area in 1922 for Indianapolis.  Two years later the couple opened their own garage and Wiggins quickly became that city's top mechanic.  In his spare time Wiggins assembled parts from auto junkyards to develop his own car, known as “the Wiggins Special.”

Sources: 

La Risa Lynch, "First Blacks in Sports; Charlie Wiggins: The Negro Speed King," Chicago Weekend, 34: 4 (Feb. 9, 2005); John Baburnich, "Charlie Wiggins-The 'Negro Speed King,' The American Boneyard, May 2004; http://www.evansville.net/user/boneyard/babs07.htm. 

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sussex (England)

Birmingham Black Barons

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

Christopher D. Fullerton, Every Other Sunday: The Story of the Birmingham Black Barons (Birmingham: R. Boozer Press, 1999); John Klima, Willie's Boys: The 1948 Birmingham Black Barons, the Last Negro League World Series, and the Making of a Baseball Legend (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2009); http://northbysouth.kenyon.edu/2000/baseball/BBB_intro.htm; http://encyclopediaofalabama.org/face/Article.jsp?id=h-1665

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Miles College [Fairfield] (1905-- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Miles College is a private, four-year Historically Black College and University (HBCU) located in Fairfield, Alabama, about six miles west of downtown Birmingham.  The school was founded in 1905 by the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (now called Christian Methodist Episcopal Church or CME Church), but its beginnings goes back to 1898, when the Alabama and North Alabama CME Church conferences petitioned for a higher education institution for blacks in the state.  The conferences’ petitions were granted in 1905 when Booker City High School was turned into a college.

In 1907, the college moved from Booker City, Alabama to its present campus in Fairfield under the leadership of its first president, James A. Bray.  The next year (1908), the school was named Miles Memorial College, in memory of ex-slave and minister, Bishop William H. Miles. In 1941, the Board of Trustees shortened the college’s name to Miles College.

In 1911, Miles awarded its first baccalaureate degrees.  Shortly afterwards it became co-educational.   The first woman to graduate, Willie Selden McDaniel, completed her requirements in May 1918.  
Sources: 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Williams, Mary Lou (1910-1981)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Mary Lou Williams was an African American jazz pianist, composer, and arranger who wrote hundreds of compositions and arrangements and recorded over one hundred records.  Williams was born as Mary Elfireda Scruggs on May 8, 1910 in Atlanta, Georgia, but grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She was one of eleven children, and taught herself to play piano at a very young age, performing her first recital at age ten. She became a professional musician at the age of fifteen, when she played with Duke Ellington and the Washingtonians. In 1925, she joined a band led by saxophonist John Williams, and married him in 1927.

Williams and her husband moved to Oklahoma City, where in 1929 John joined Andy Kirk's band, Twelve Clouds of Joy. Mary Lou Williams worked for a year as a solo pianist and a music arranger until she joined the band in 1930.  By that point she took the name "Mary Lou" and was recording jazz albums.  By the late 1930s Mary Lou Williams was now well known as a producer, composer, and arranger working for bandleaders Earl Hines, Benny Goodman, and Tommy Dorsey.
Sources: 
Tammy L. Kernodle, Soul on Soul: The Life and Music of Mary Lou Williams (Boston: Northeastern University, 2004); Linda Dahl, Morning Glory: a biography of Mary Lou Williams (New York: Pantheon Books, 1999); http://www.pbs.org/jazz/biography/artist_id_williams_mary_lou.htm;
http://newarkwww.rutgers.edu/ijs/mlw/intro1.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Basquiat, Jean Michel (1960 –1988)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of The Estate of Jean Michel Basquiat
Artist Jean Michel Basquiat was born on December 22, 1960 to a Puerto Rican mother, Matilde Andradas, and a Haitian father, Gérard Basquiat, who raised him in the Puerto Rican barrio of Park Slope in Brooklyn, New York. Fluent in English, Spanish, and French, Basquiat was a sensitive and creative middle-class child who railed against authority, refusing to finish high school and running away from home multiple times as a teenager to live in Washington Square Park in New York’s Greenwich Village.

Fifteen-year-old Basquiat began his artistic career as a graffiti artist in lower Manhattan under the pseudonym SAMO in 1976 and over the next three years he gained notoriety and fame. Basquiat and a friend, Al Diaz, invented SAMO (Same Old Shit) in an article for a school newspaper in 1977. It became Basquiat’s notorious graffiti signature on the streets of New York. SAMO brought Basquiat into contact with a variety of artists, including Keith Haring who facilitated his unofficial entry into the art world.

In 1978, Basquiat left home for good both penniless and homeless, living with various acquaintances when he could. He produced $1 punk-inspired postcards for sale on the street to earn money and created a band called “Gray” after the anatomy book “Gray’s Anatomy.” He also frequented the Mudd Club, a hotspot for rising stars such as Klaus Nomi, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, and Sid Vicious.
Sources: 
Leønhard Emmerling, Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1960-1988 (Los Angeles: Taschen, 2006); Eric Fretz, Jean-Michel Basquiat: A Biography (Denver: Greenwood Press, 2010); Phoebe Hoban, Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art (New York: Viking Press, 1998); Frederick H. Lowe, "Sale of Basquiat Painting at $48 Million-Plus Breaks His Record," The NorthStar News, 17 May 2013, available online at: http://www.thenorthstarnews.com/may-17-2013.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church (1835- )

Vignette Type: 
Churches
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee is one of three churches that evolved out of Nashville’s historic First Colored Baptist Church (1865-1891).  It traces its origins back to black members of First Baptist Church who first met to hold prayer services in 1835.  Up to that point Nashville’s black Baptists, both enslaved and free, worshiped at First Baptist Church which was founded in 1824.  Ten years after its founding about half of First Baptist Church’s congregation was African American.  

First Colored Baptist Mission began officially in 1841 as a quasi-autonomous branch of First Baptist Church. By 1847 black members were allowed to rent an old school building where they conducted services. Six years later in 1853, former slave Nelson G. Merry was ordained and became the unofficial pastor of the mission which by 1856 had 200 members.  

Sources: 
Bobby L. Lovett, The African American History of Nashville, Tennessee, 1780-1930 (Fayetteville, University of Arkansas Press, 1999); Mechal Sobal, “They Can Never Both Prosper Together: Black and White Baptists in Antebellum Nashville, Tennessee,” Tennessee Historical Quarterly 38:3 (Fall 1979); http://tntribune.com/uncategorized/mt-olive-missionary-baptist-church-celebrates-125th-years/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Eastern Kentucky University

Lucas, Florence V. (1916–1987)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Florence V. Lucas, lawyer, politician, NAACP leader, and songwriter, was born in 1916 in New York City, New York. She graduated from John Adams High School, Hunter College, and Brooklyn Law School. After graduating from law school in 1940, she became the first black woman from Queens to be admitted to the bar and the first black woman assigned murder cases in the Queens Borough Prosecutor’s Office. In 1941, however, she became the enforcement attorney for the Office of Price Administration (OPA) in the President Franklin Roosevelt Administration in Washington, D.C. 

In 1946 Lucas returned to New York, locating in the Jamaica section of Queens where she opened a private practice. In 1952 she became the secretary of the Queens Women’s Bar Association. By that point, she had decided as a courtesy to the community to represent young people accused of crimes on a pro bono basis. Lucas was elected president of the Jamaica, Queens NAACP in 1953. She later became director of the New York State Conference of the NAACP and state membership chair in 1957. During her tenure as membership chair, the Jamaica NAACP branch grew from 391 in 1953 to 3,600 members by 1959.

Sources: 
“Florence Lucas, Obituary,” New York Times, September 9, 1987, http://www.nytimes.com/1987/09/09/obituaries/florence-lucas-dead-at-71-worked-for-rights-division.html; The Crisis, February 1960.
Affiliation: 
University of Texas, El Paso

Lewis, David Levering (1936- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

The Montana Plaindealer, Helena (1906-1911)

Vignette Type: 
Misc
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
On  March 16, 1906, Joseph B. Bass printed the first issue of The Montana Plaindealer in Helena, Montana, a community that included more than 400 African Americans, or about 3% of the city’s population. Bass came to Helena a veteran newspaperman, having worked on the Topeka Plaindealer in Kansas for several years. Bass operated his paper at 17 South Main Street, assisted by Joseph Tucker, an African American printer and decade-long Helena resident. “This enterprise shall at all times strive for a greater Helena,” Bass wrote in his inaugural editorial, “and for mutual progress of all the people of the community, and for a greater activity of our people in the business world.”

The Montana Plaindealer featured community news, especially the activities of the St. James AME Zion Church and the Second Baptist Church, the two principal African American congregations in Helena. A staunchly Republican paper, the Plaindealer claimed it marshaled some 1,000 African American voters in Helena and western Montana to provide Republicans with key votes. The Plaindealer consistently advocated racial “uplift” through editorials that urged entrepreneurial accomplishment, cultural development, and civic engagement. The Plaindealer increasingly advocated Progressive political reform, including a commission form of city government and adoption of the initiative, referendum and recall in elections.
Sources: 
William L. Lang, “The Nearly Forgotten Blacks on Last Chance Gulch, 1900-1912,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly 70 (April 1979): 50-57
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Portland State University

Gabaldon, Nicolas Rolando ["Nick"] (1927-1951)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Surfing aficionados credit Nick Gabaldon as California’s first documented surfer of African and Mexican American descent. A skilled recreational surfer, his legacy has inspired many, including especially surfers of color, to consider him as a role model. Born Nicolas Rolando “Nick” Gabaldon, Jr. in Los Angeles, California to parents Cecilia and Nicolas Gabaldon Sr., he grew up in Santa Monica.

Graduating from Santa Monica (SAMO) High in 1945, Gabaldon was one of the few African American students matriculating at the school during this era. Gabaldon served in the United States Navy from 1945–1946. Upon returning home, he enrolled in Santa Monica College where he became an honor student and aspiring writer while he worked as a U.S. Postal Service letter carrier and resumed surfing.

As a teenager, Gabaldon began surfing in the Pacific Ocean at the Bay Street beach.  This beach was derogatorily called the “Inkwell” by Anglos referencing the skin color of the beachgoers who visited the area.  Gabaldon and other African Americans in Southern California, however, transformed the hateful moniker into a badge of pride.  
Sources: 
Rick Blocker, “Black Surfer Nick Gabaldon,” Legendary Surfers, February 2005, Surfing Heritage Foundation, http://files.legendarysurfers.com/blog/2005/02/black-surfer-nick-gabaldon.html; Jeff Ducols, “Black Surfers of the Golden State,” Surfer Magazine, August 1983, Vol. 24, No. 8: 96-101; Rick Grigg, Big Surf, Deep Dives and the Islands: My Life in the Ocean (Honolulu: Editions Limited, 1998).
Affiliation: 
University of California, Santa Barbara

Ramsey, George A. (1889–1963)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
George A. Ramsey, Seated Right, With Employees of the
Creole Palace

"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
San Diego businessman and community leader George Ramsey was born in Pasadena, California, one of eight children of George S. Ramsey, a railroad porter and barber, and Eva M. Ramsey. Most sources say that he arrived in San Diego in 1913 as the valet of a prominent amusement park developer, but Ramsey himself recalled selling newspapers on the streets of the city in 1904. At one time a stowaway and hobo, among other jobs he claimed to have tried as an energetic young man were ranch hand, boxing manager, bootblack, and salesman.

By 1916 Ramsey resided in downtown San Diego and had started a career managing bars, cafes, hotels, and boarding houses that catered mainly to African Americans, sometimes in partnership with other businesspersons like Anna Brown, a black woman with whom he controlled the Hotel Yesmar (Ramsey spelled backwards, later known as the Hotel Anita). During the early 1920s, he was prosperous enough to indulge his passion for breeding and racing horses and betting on them at Tijuana, Mexico’s Caliente Race Track. 

Sources: 
Centre City Development Corporation Downtown San Diego African-American Heritage Study (Mooney & Associates, 2004), https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/legacy/planning/programs/historical/pdf/surveydocs/africanamericanheritagestudy.pdf; Barbara Mounts, “Death Writes ‘30’ For Eagle‘s Ramsey,” California Eagle (January 24, 1963); Obituary, San Diego Union (January 21, 1963).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Beah, Ishmael (1980– )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Ishmael Beah is a Sierra Leonean author and human rights activist who rose to fame with his personal history, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Solider. Beah was born on November 23, 1980, in Mattru Jong, Bonthe District, Sierra Leone, in West Africa. The Sierra Leone Civil War started in March 1991 when Beah was ten years old. When he was twelve, the war affected him directly. Rebel forces attacked his home village of Mogbwemo, killing his parents.

Beah wandered as a refugee from place to place for nearly a year, both alone and with a small group of boys who included his older brother. Shortly after his brother was killed, Beah was recruited as a child soldier in the Sierra Leonean government army when he was just thirteen years old. Beah took part in numerous battles with the army, but in early 1996, at the age of fifteen, he was rescued from the military by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and placed in a rehabilitation home in Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital city. He spent eight months in the home before being sent to live with his uncle. In November 1996, he traveled to New York City to take part in United Nation’s First International Children’s Parliament, a conference that addressed the devastating impact of war on children in various nations around the world.  

Sources: 
Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (New York: Sarah Crichton Books, 2007); “Ishmael Beah,” Novel Guide, http://www.novelguide.com/a-long-way-gone/biography; “Ishmael Beah,” UNICEF, https://www.unicef.org/people/people_47890.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Clark, Kenneth (1914- )

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

Mboya, Thomas (Joseph Odhiambo) (1930-1969)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
“Mboya, Tom (Thomas Joseph Odhiambo),” in Norbert C. Brockman, ed., An African Biographical Dictionary (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 1994); “Tom Mboya,” in Anne Commire, ed., Historic World Leaders, volume 1 (Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1994).; “Tom Mboya,” in Harvey Glickman, ed., Political Leaders of Contemporary Africa South of the Sahara : A Biographical Dictionary (New York: Greenwood Press, 1992).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Caliver, Ambrose (1894-1962)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Ambrose Caliver was born in 1894 in Saltsville, Virginia and graduated from Knoxville College in Tennessee, earning his B.A. in 1915. One year later he married Everly Rosalie Rucker. After serving as a high school teacher and a principal, he was hired in 1917 by the historically black college of Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee to implement its vocational education program. Caliver rose through various positions at Fisk, finally being named dean in 1927. In the meantime, Caliver had earned his M.A. from the University of Wisconsin in 1920 and his Ph.D. from Columbia University’s Teacher’s College in 1930.
Sources: 
“Ambrose Caliver,” in Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, ed., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1983); http://www.knoxnews.com/kns/opinion_columnists/article/0,1406,KNS_364_4735988,00.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Patterson, Floyd (1935–2006)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Clay Moyle
Floyd Patterson was born on January 4, 1935 in Waco, North Carolina. A year later the family moved to Brooklyn, New York. Soft spoken and extremely shy, Patterson fell behind in school and at age ten was still unable to read or write. He became a frequent truant and after being caught stealing a number of times, his mother had him committed to Wiltwyck, a school for emotionally disturbed boys.  Patterson described his experience at Wiltwyck as a turning point in his life. Wiltwyck gave him a sense of belonging. He learned how to make friends, to read and write, and was also encouraged to take up boxing.

At age 14 Patterson began working out in a Manhattan, New York gym operated by the noted trainer Cus D’Amato. In 1950 he began boxing as an amateur and one year later captured the New York Golden Gloves middleweight championship.  He repeated the feat in 1952 before winning a gold medal in the 1952 Olympics held in Helsinki, Finland. Capitalizing on his Olympic success Patterson turned professional and worked his way up the ranks, while growing into the heavyweight fight category at a relatively light 180 pounds.  By the time the reigning heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano retired Patterson was a leading heavyweight contender.  He was matched to fight Archie Moore for the vacant title. Patterson knocked Moore out in the fifth round of their November 30, 1956 contest to become the youngest heavyweight champion in history at that time at 21 years of age.
Sources: 
Floyd Patterson, Victory Over Myself (New York: Bernard Geis Associates, 1962); New York Times, May 11, 2006; www.cyberboxingzone.com
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Burke, Selma Hortense (1900-1995)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Laurie Collier Hillstrom and Kevin Hillstrom, eds., Contemporary Women Artists (Detroit: St. James Press, 1999); Charlotte Striefer Rubinstein, American Women Sculptors: A History of Women Working in Three Dimensions (Boston: G. K. Hall & Company, 1990).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Binga, Jesse (1865-1950)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Jesse Binga's rise from relative poverty to become the wealthiest African American entrepreneur and banker in Chicago in the late 19th century earned him a national reputation. Binga was born on April 10, 1865, in Detroit to William W. Binga, a barber and native of Ontario, Canada, and Adelphia Lewis Binga, the owner of extensive property in Rochester and Detroit.  He dropped out of high school and at first collected rents on his mother’s property in Detroit.  He later moved to Seattle and Tacoma, Washington and then Oakland, California, working as a barber in each city.  Binga also worked as a Pullman porter and during that time acquired property in Pocatello, Idaho which he profitably sold.

Binga finally settled in Chicago in 1893.  His first real estate ventures were relatively modest. He began by purchasing run down buildings, repairing, and renting them. By 1908 Binga had built up enough wealth that he was able to establish a private bank.  Binga also married Eudora Johnson who provided him with additional assets and considerable social prestige.  As the African American population of Chicago began to grow in the first two decades of the 20th Century Binga opened the Binga State Bank in 1921 with deposits of over $200,000.  Within three years the bank had deposits of over $1.3 million. Binga, now the owner of a number of South Side Chicago properties was also a leading philanthropist.

Sources: 
Carl Osthaus, "The Rise and Fall of Jesse Binga, Black Banker,” Journal of Negro History (January 1973); "Jesse Binga" Chicago Tribune: Markers of Distinction. http://chicagotribute.org/Markers/Binga.htm;
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Norman, Maidie (1912-1998)

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

Maidie Norman, who appeared in more than 200 Hollywood films, was born in Georgia in 1912 to Louis and Lila Gamble. Her father was an engineer and her mother was a homemaker. Norman received a B.A. in Literature and Theatre Arts from Bennett College in North Carolina and later obtained an M.A. in Theater Arts from Columbia University in New York. While in New York, she met and married real estate broker McHenry Norman and the couple relocated to Los Angeles, where Norman began training at the Actors Laboratory in Hollywood.

Early in a career that spanned more than four decades, Norman appeared on several radio shows, including The Jack Benny Show and Amos n’ Andy, before gaining a bit role in the film The Burning Cross (1948). Shortly after her debut, Norman was regularly cast as a domestic in several film roles, but refused to deliver her lines using stereotypical speech patterns. Instead, she brought her background in theatricality to the studios where directors often empowered her to rewrite her film lines, infusing the character with more dignity and less broken English.

Sources: 

Donald Bogle, Blacks in American Film and Television (New York: Garland Publishing, 1988); “Maidie Norman,” Contemporary Black Biography. Volume 20 (Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group, 1998); Maidie Norman Papers, Center for Archival Collections, Bowling Green State University.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Bridges, Ruby (1954 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Ruby Bridges with U.S. Marshals
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Ruby Bridges became famous in 1960 as the six-year-old who, escorted by Federal marshals, integrated a formerly all-white school in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Bridges was born on September 8, 1954 in Tylertown, Mississippi, to Lucille and Abon Bridges. She was the firstborn of eight children. Her parents worked as sharecroppers then when she was four they moved to New Orleans in 1958. One year later Ruby began kindergarten at Johnson Lockett Elementary, a segregated school.

Two years after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling that called for integration of public schools, Federal District Court Judge J. Skelly Wright ordered that the New Orleans School Board formulate an integration plan for public schools. After four years of opposition, the school board chose to integrate two formerly all-white schools in the fall of 1960. Both schools, William Frantz and McDonough 19, were located in New Orleans's Ninth Ward. Bridges was one of a handful of African American children chosen to attend William Frantz Public School.
Sources: 

Ruby Bridges, Through My Eyes (New York: Scholastic, 1999): Jessie
Carney Smith, Black Firsts (Canton, Michigan: Visible Ink Press, 2003);
http://crdl.usg.edu.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Baker, Vernon (1919-2010)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Vernon Baker with President Bill Clinton, 1997
Image Courtesy of Wordpress.com
Vernon Baker, belated recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, was born on December 17, 1919 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. His father, Manuel Caldera, was a carpenter from New Mexico. His mother was named Beulah. At the age of four, Baker lost his parents in a car accident and he and his two sisters, Irma and Cass, were raised by his grandparents in Cheyenne and Clarinda, Iowa.  Baker graduated from high school in Clarinda, Iowa in 1937 and found the only available work for blacks locally at that time.  He was a shoe shine boy and later a railroad porter.

On July 26, 1941, five months before Pearl Harbor, Baker joined the U.S. Army as a private and trained as an infantryman at Camp Wolters, Texas.  When officers recognized his leadership capabilities he was allowed to attend Officer Candidate School. On January 11, 1943, Baker was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and assigned to the segregated 370th Regiment of the 92nd Infantry Division, one of two all-black divisions.  

In June 1944, the 92nd Infantry Division landed in Naples and initially experienced heavy fighting on its way to central Italy.  In October, Baker, while on night patrol, was wounded in an encounter with a German soldier.  Treated in a hospital near Pisa, Italy, he was reunited with his unit in December 1944.  
Sources: 
Vernon J. Baker, 1st ed., Lasting Valor (Jackson, Mississippi: Genesis Press, Inc., 1997); A&E Television Networks, “Vernon J. Baker” Biography.com, 2010, Accessed Dec 6, 2010; http://www.biography.com/articles/Vernon-J.-Baker-403080
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Blockbusting

Vignette Type: 
Misc
History Type: 
African American History
Hillcrest, Middle Class Neighborhood in
Northeast Washington, D.C.
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Blockbusting refers to the practice of introducing African American homeowners into previously all white neighborhoods in order to spark rapid white flight and housing price decline. Real estate speculators have historically used this technique to profit from prejudice-driven market instability.

After intentionally placing an African American homeowner onto a block, speculators solicited white owners with tales of impending depreciation. Fearful residents often sold their homes to these speculators well below market value. As white residents began to flee in great numbers, other white residents sold their homes at even lower prices, thus further depressing housing prices in a self-fulfilling prophecy.  
Sources: 
Kevin Fox Gotham, Race, Real Estate, and Uneven Development: The Kansas City Experience, 1900-2000 (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002); W. Edward Orser, Blockbusting in Baltimore: The Edmondson Village Story (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1994); Amanda L. Seligman, Block by Block: Neighborhoods and Public Policy on Chicago’s West Side (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Gulfside Assembly (1923- )

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History
Bathers in the Gulf of Mexico, Gulfside Assembly, ca. 1928
(Image Courtesy of the Schomburg Center, New York Public Library)
Gulfside Assembly was a segregated resort in Waveland, Mississippi, along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Unique among 20th century black resorts, it was created as a religious retreat owned by the Methodist Episcopal Church. The facility was founded by Robert E. Jones, the first African American bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, as the Gulfside Chautauqua Association.
Sources: 
http://gbgm-umc.org/resources/stories/gulfside.html; http://www.sejumc.org/templates/System/details.asp?id=59478&PID=986542; Andrew W. Kahrl, The Land Was Ours: African American Beaches from Jim Crow to the Sunbelt South (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Jordan, Mosina H. (1943- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Acting Deputy USAID Administrator James Kunder
Congratulates Agency Counselor Mosina H. Jordan
During her 2008 Retirement Ceremony
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
In 1995, career Foreign Service Officer Mosina H. Jordan was nominated by President Bill Clinton to serve as ambassador to the Central African Republic (CAR). After U.S. Senate confirmation she arrived in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic and presented her credentials on November 29, 1995.  
Sources: 
AllGov, “Central African Republic,” http://www.allgov.com/nations?nationID=3461; Craig W Larson, “From ‘Assured’ to ‘Quick’ Response 22D Meu Evacuates Americans from the Central African Republic,” pgs. 86-93, https://www.mca-marines.org/leatherneck/1996/07/assured-quick-response-22d-meu-evacuates-americans-central-african-republic#sthash.5jIOaOVX.dpuf; USAID, “Where in the World…: Jordan Steps Down,” http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNADM584.pdf.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

O'Neal, Shaquille Rashaun (1972– )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Shaquille Rashaun O’Neal is a retired American professional basketball player who is also an analyst on the TNT television program, Inside the NBA. During his career, O’Neal at 7 ft. 1 in. and weighing 325 pounds was one of the heaviest players in the National Basketball Association (NBA). O’Neal played for six teams throughout his nineteen-year NBA career, winning four championships, three with the Los Angeles Lakers and one with the Miami Heat.

O’Neal was born on March 6, 1972, in Newark, New Jersey, to Lucille O’ Neal and Joseph Toney, an all-state guard in high school who also played basketball at Seton Hall University. Tony struggled with drug addiction and was imprisoned for drug possession when O’Neal was an infant. Toney remained mostly out of O’Neal’s life and agreed to relinquish his parental rights to O’Neal’s stepfather, Philip A. Harrison who was a career army reserve sergeant.

Sources: 
“Shaquille Rashaun O’Neal,” Biography, http://www.biography.com/people/shaquille-oneal-9542515#early-life; “Shaquille Rashaun O’Neal” ESPN, http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/614/shaquille-oneal; “Shaquille Rashaun O’Neal” Encyclopedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Shaquille-ONeal.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Whitehead, Arch Colson “Colson” (1969- )

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

Born Arch Colson Whitehead on November 6, 1969, novelist Colson Whitehead spent his formative years in Manhattan, New York with his parents, Arch and Mary Anne Whitehead, who owned a recruiting firm, and three siblings. Of his childhood, he has said that he preferred reading science fiction and fantasy and watching horror films. He attended Trinity School in New York, NY, and later, Harvard University in Massachusetts where he studied English and Comparative Literature. At Harvard, Whitehead became friends with classmate Kevin Young, a poet and current director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. After graduating with a B.A. in 1991, Whitehead worked for the Village Voice as a music, book, and television critic. He left the paper in the late nineties and has since taught at several universities including Columbia, University of Houston in Texas, and Princeton in New Jersey. He is married to the literary agent, Julie Barer, with whom he has two children.

Sources: 
Bernard W. Bell, The Contemporary African American Novel: Its Folk Roots and Modern Literary Branches (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2005); Sanders I Bernstein, “Colson Whitehead ’91: One of Harvard’s Recent Authors Keeps It Real,” The Harvard Crimson. 16 Apr. 2009, http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2009/4/16/colson-whitehead-91-the-work-of/; Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Valerie A. Smith, et al., eds. The Norton Anthology of African American Literature (New York: Norton, 2014); Megan O’Grady, “Colson Whitehead on his Spectacular New Novel, The Underground Railroad,” Vogue. 18 Aug. 2016, http://www.vogue.com/article/colson-whitehead-the-underground-railroad-author-interview.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Puget Sound

Burton, Phillip (1915-1995)

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

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

Port Chicago Mutiny (1944)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Aftermath of Port Chicago Explosion
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The Port Chicago Mutiny involved African American enlisted men in the U.S. Navy who refused to return to loading ammunition after a disastrous explosion at Port Chicago, California on July 17, 1944 that destroyed the Liberty ship SS E.A. Bryan.  Sailors and dock workers were pressured by time and their superiors and were also using unsafe unloading methods.  These methods, all common practice on munitions docks at the time despite their danger, led to a munitions ship explosion that killed all the Navy men on the E.A. Bryan and many Navy dock workers on shore.  All told, 320 sailors, 202 of whom were African Americans, were instantly incinerated in the explosion.  The blast wave was so powerful it could be felt as far away as Boulder City, Nevada, 430 miles to the south and caused damage 48 miles away in San Francisco.  The force of the explosion launched massive chunks of debris, some of which fell almost two miles from ground-zero.  The falling debris injured another 390 people. The Port Chicago explosion was by far the worst disaster on home soil during World War II.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Anderson, Edward W. (1871–1953)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Entrepreneur, political organizer, and civilian pioneer, Edward William Anderson was born the son of former slaves, Wyatt and Fannie Anderson, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, September 26, 1871. He arrived in San Diego, California, in the mid-1890s with just $1.25 in his pocket but was confident in his ability to thrive as a business owner. His first successful venture was as owner, at age twenty-five, of IXL (I Excel) Laundry which grew to become the largest steam laundry in the region with thirty-five employees.  
Sources: 
Robert Fikes Jr., Biographical Sketches of the Presidents of the San Diego NAACP (San Diego NAACP, 2013); Richard Crawford, “Discrimination Takes Center Stage,” (April 14, 2010) at http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2010/apr/24/discrimination-takes-center-stage/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

John Abraham Godson (1970– )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
John Abraham Godson in the Polish Parliament
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
John Abraham Godson, a conservative politician, university lecturer, businessman, and former Pentecostal preacher, is the first person of African descent elected to public office in Poland. He was born on November 25, 1970, in Umuahia, Nigeria, as Godson Chikama Onyekwere. His father, Silvanus Nwokocha Onyekwere, was a teacher, high school principal, and Methodist preacher. His mother was an elementary school principal. Godson admits he was a troubled teenager and credits Christianity and joining the Church Of God in Christ for finding a sense of purpose in life. After graduating from the Abia State University (Uturu, Nigeria) with B.S. in agriculture in 1992, he was a researcher at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Ibadan. At the time, he decided to become a missionary, and in 1993, he chose an assignment in Poland. A year later he met his wife, Aneta. The Godsons have four children.
Sources: 
John Godson’s official website, http://www.johngodson.pl/index.html; Bianka Miko?ajewska, “John Godson: Pos?annik pos?em,” Polityka, December 15, 2010, http://www.polityka.pl/tygodnikpolityka/kraj/1511234,2,john-godson-poslannik-poslem.read; John Godson’s conversation with Hanna Gill-Piatek and Waldemar Marzec, “Godson: imigrant, pastor, radny,” Krytyka Polityczna, November 19, 2010, http://www.krytykapolityczna.pl/Serwissamorzadowy/GodsonImigrantpastorradny/menuid-1.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Brown, Cora Mae (1914-1972)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

Abele, Julian F. (1881-1950)

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

The legacy of architect Julian Francis Abele was brought into focus in the mid-1980s when in the midst of a student protest at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, his great grandniece reminded the campus community that her long unsung ancestor was responsible for the eleven original architectural drawings for the campus.  Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 21, 1881, Abele was the youngest of eight children born to Charles and Mary Adelaide Jones Abele. Throgh his mother he was a descendant of Rev. Absalom Jones, the founder of the Free African Society and St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. 

Sources: 

Dreck Spurlock Wilson, ed., African American Architects: A Biographical Dictionary 1865-1945 (New York: Routledge, 2004); https://www.philadelphiabuildings.org/pab/app/ar_display.cfm/21458; http://search.library.duke.edu/search?id=DUKE005758002.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

DuBois, William Edward Burghardt (1868–1963)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Derrick P. Aldridge, The Educational Thought of W.E.B. Du Bois: An Intellectual History (New York: Teachers College Press, 2008); David Levering Lewis, W. E. B. Du Bois, 1919-1963: The Fight for Equality and the American Century (New York: Holt Paperbacks, 2001).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

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

Powell, William J., and the Bessie Coleman Aero Club (1897-1942)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Second Lt. William J. Powell in France, 1917
Image Ownership: Public Domain

William J. Powell was born in Kentucky on July 27, 1897. His family soon moved to Chicago, Illinois where he attended school. In 1914 at the age of 17 Powell was accepted into the University of Illinois Engineering program. His studies were put on a temporary hiatus when World War I broke out and Powell left school to serve in the racially segregated 370th Illinois Infantry Regiment as a lieutenant.

After surviving a poison gas attack while in serving in France, Powell moved back to Illinois to finish his degree and to recuperate from the damage done to his health. Although he did complete his degree, his health was never the same and the gas attack most likely contributed to his early death.

Sources: 
William J. Powell and Von Hardesty, Black Aviator: The Story of William J. Powell (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994); Douglas Flaming, Bound For Freedom: Black Los Angeles in Jim Crow America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005); http://airandspace.si.edu/explore-and-learn/multimedia/detail.cfm?id=3008.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Lester, Julius (1939- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Julius Lester was born January 27, 1939 in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of a Methodist minister. Lester spent much of his childhood in Missouri, where in the 1940s and 1950s he dealt with southern attitudes about race and segregation before and during the Civil Rights movement. In 1960 Lester graduated from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee with a degree in English.

He then became politically active in the Civil Rights movement, going to Mississippi in 1964 as part of the movement called the Mississippi Summer Project.  Lester then began working full time for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) as head of its photography department in Atlanta, Georgia. SNCC was the most outspoken of civil rights groups at the time, and in the summer of 1966 coined the phrase black power, a cry millions of blacks across the United States responded to and adapted as their own.

Lester’s writing career began in 1967 when a publisher read his essay The Angry Children of Malcolm X, and offered him a contract to develop it into a book. The book, titled Look Out, Whitey! Black Power’s Gonna’ Get Your Mama, was published in 1968, and would be the first book to explain the term black power and place it in the context of African American history.
Sources: 
Julius Lester, On Writing for Children and Other People ( New York: Dial Books, 2004); Julius Lester, Lovesong: Becoming A Jew (New York: Arcade Publishing, 1988).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

McClendon, Rose (1884-1936)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Photography by Carl Van Vechten,
courtesy of The Van Vechten Trust

Rose McClendon was an African American actress born in South Carolina in 1884.  McClendon’s original name was Rosalie Virginia Scott.  Her parents were Sandy and Tena Scott.  In 1890 McClendon’s parents worked for a well established family as a housekeeper and coachman in New York City.  McClendon received her education through the public schools in New York where acting became her main focus of interest.

In October 1904 Scott married Henry Pruden McClendon who was trained as a chiropractor but who could only find work as a Pullman porter.  Together they moved from lower Manhattan to Harlem where McClendon was actively involved in the St. Mark’s African Methodist Episcopal Church often using her theatrical talent. 

After studying by scholarship at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts between 1916 and 1918, McClendon gave her first stage performance in 1919 in the play, Justice.  She would eventually perform in other productions including In Abraham’s Bosom, Porgy and Bess, and Deep River.  Along with McClendon’s acting and directing in 1935 she and Dick Campbell created the Negro People’s Theatre. 

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

Cleaver, Eldridge (1935-1998)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Kathleen and Eldridge Cleaver
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 

Eldridge Cleaver, Soul on Ice (New York: Dell Publishing Company, 1968); Eldridge Cleaver, Soul on Fire (New York: Word Books, 1978); Joseph Peniel E., Waiting ‘Til The Midnight Hour (New York: Henry Holt And Company, 2006).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Pierce, Samuel R., Jr. (1922-2000)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
President Ronald Reagan with Samuel R. Pierce, Jr.
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Lawyer, judge and businessman Samuel Riley Pierce, Jr., was the first African American partner in a major New York law firm, the first African American member of a Fortune 500 board, and one of the first African Americans to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.  His career ended when he was investigated for corruption while serving as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under President Ronald Reagan.

Pierce was born in 1922 in Glen Cove, New York.  He received a football scholarship to Cornell University.  After serving in World War II, where he was the only black American agent in the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Division of the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, he returned to Cornell and graduated with honors in 1947, then earned a J.D. from Cornell Law School and an LL.M. in taxation from New York University School of Law.

Sources: 
Jessie Carney Smith, Ed., Notable Black American Men, “Samuel R. Pierce, Jr.,” (Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Research, 1999); Samuel R. Pierce, Fiscal Conservatism: Managing Federal Spending (Washington, D.C.: Heritage Foundation, 1988); Philip Shenon, “Samuel R. Pierce, Jr., Ex-Housing Secretary, Dies at 78,” The New York Times (November 3, 2000; Robert L. Jackson, "Samuel R. Pierce Jr.; Reagan HUD Chief Was Investigated but Never Charged," Los Angeles Times (November 4, 2000).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Atlanta Race Riot of 1906

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

The Atlanta Race Riot or Atlanta Riot of 1906 was the first race riot to take place in the capital city of Georgia. The riot lasted from September 22 to September 24 and was the culmination of a number of factors, including lingering tensions from reconstruction, job competition, black voting rights, and increasing desire of African Americans to secure their civil rights.

Sources: 
David Fort Godshalk, Veiled Visions: the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot and the Reshaping of American Race Relations (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005); Rebecca Burns, Rage in the Gate City: The Story of the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2009); http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-3033.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Harris, Bernard A., Jr. (1956- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration (NASA)

Bernard Anthony Harris Jr. is a scientist, surgeon, astronaut, entrepreneur, and leader.  He is best known for having been the first African American to walk in space, and developing the non-profit known as the Harris Foundation.

Sources: 
J. Alfred Phelps, They Had A Dream: The Story of African-American Astronauts (Novato: Presidio Press, 1994); http://www.jsc.nasa.gov; http://www.theharrisfoundation.org.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Herring, James V. (1887-1969)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Oil Painting of James V. Herring
by James Porter, 1923
(Image Courtesy of Howard University)
James Vernon Herring was an influential American artist and teacher in the early twentieth century.  He played an integral role in devising new ways by which art would be viewed from both academic and commercial standpoints.  He was also an important figure in the promotion of works of little known African American artists.
Sources: 
Janet Gail Abbott, “The Barnett Aden Gallery: A home for diversity in a segregated city” (2013), retrieved from Udini: http://udini.proquest.com/view/the-barnett-aden-gallery-a-home-for-goid:304495536/; University of Maryland, “Artist Biographies” (2002), retrieved from Narratives of African American Art and Identity: http://www.driskellcenter.umd.edu/narratives/exhibition/artists/bio.htm#herr.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Morrow, John Howard (1910-2000)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
John Morrow was a teacher, scholar, and diplomat who became America’s first leader at two key postings, the West African country of Guinea, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

He was born John Howard Morrow on February 5, 1910 in Hackensack, New Jersey to John and Mary Hayes Morrow. After receiving his Bachelor’s degree (A.B., 1931) from Rutgers University, Morrow also earned his Master’s degree (M.A., 1942) and his Doctoral degree (Ph.D., 1952) both from the University of Pennsylvania. He also studied in France, receiving an advanced certificate from Sorbonne, University of Paris (1947).
Sources: 
Jet magazine, June 18, 1959; Time magazine, June 29, 1959; John H. Morrow, First American Ambassador to Guinea (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1968); U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian, “Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Volume XIV, Africa, Document 332.”
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training

Roundtree, Dovey Johnson (1914– )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Born Dovey Mae Johnson on April 17, 1914, in Charlotte, North Carolina, Dovey Johnson Roundtree is an African American civil rights activist, attorney, and ordained minister who won the 1955 Interstate Commission case on segregated bus terminals. She is the second oldest of four children born to James Elliot Johnson, a printer who worked in the local offices of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, and Lela Bryant Johnson, a domestic and seamstress.

Johnson attended Spelman College from 1934 to 1938 and then briefly taught school in South Carolina before moving to Washington, D.C., to seek employment in the burgeoning World War II defense industry. Because of her college education, however, Mary McLeod Bethune instead selected her to be among the forty African American women who would become the first to train as officers in the newly formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps.   

Following World War II and a nine-month assignment with the Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC), Johnson rekindled with William Roundtree a romance that had started at Spelman College. They married on Christmas Eve 1946 but the marriage lasted a year and in 1947 Dovey Mae Johnson Roundtree entered Howard Law School.
Sources: 
Dovey Johnson Roundtree and Katie McCabe, Justice Older than the Law: The Life of Dovey Johnson Roundtree (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2009); Martha S. Putney, When the Nation Was in Need: Blacks in the Women's Army Corps during World War II (Metuchen, New Jersey: Scarecrow Press, 1992); J. Clay Smith, Rebels in Law: Voices in History of Black Women Lawyers (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1998); Deborah Froling, “Summer Reading: Justice Older Than Law by Katie McCabe and Dovey Johnson Roundtree,” www.ms-jd.org/blog/article/summer-reading-justice-older-law-katie-mccabe-and-dovey-johnson-roundtree 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Valdes, Zelda Barbour Wynn (1901–2001)

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

Zelda Barbour Wynn Valdes was an African American fashion and costume designer. Valdes was the first black designer to open her own shop, which was the first black-owned business on Broadway in New York City, New York in 1948. Her designs have been worn by famous entertainers such as Dorothy Dandridge, Josephine Baker, Marian Anderson, Josephine Baker, Ella Fitzgerald, Mae West, Ruby Dee, Eartha Kitt, and Sarah Vaughan, among others.

Zelda Valdes was born on June 28, 1905, in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. She studied her grandmother’s work as a seamstress and also worked in her uncle’s tailoring shop. Valdes began working as a stock girl at a high-end boutique around 1920 and worked her way up to become the boutique’s first black sales clerk and tailor.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Singleton, Benjamin "Pap" (1809-1892)

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

 

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

United Construction Workers Association

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
UCWA march, Seattle, 1972
Image Ownership: Public Domain

The United Construction Workers Association (UCWA) was founded in 1970 by Tyree Scott, an electrician who had become a Seattle civil rights activist.  At the request of the American Friends Service Committee, Tyree Scott left the Central Contractors Association which he had created in 1968, to found the UCWA with the goal of uniting minority construction workers to promote their employment in the construction industry and prevent discrimination.  The UCWA negotiated on behalf of black workers, led protests, initiated lawsuits, and organized worker support groups.

Sources: 

Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project, “Special Section:
United Construction Workers Association,”
http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/ucwa.htm; Letter to UCWA members
from Lionel Hampton and Tyree Scott, 29 July 1970, Box 10, Location
C2785e, Accession # 5-45-001, Tyree Scott Papers, Archival Materials,
University of Washington Special Collections; American Friends Service
Committee, “An Issue Whose Time Has Come: Minority Employment in the
Seattle Construction Industry,” 5 February 1970, accessed online at
http://faculty.washington.edu/gregoryj/civilrights/idea.pdf.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Tacoma

Carter, Randolph Warren (1913-1970)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Courtesy of the Randolph Carter Family"
Civil rights leader and political activist Randolph Warren “Randy” Carter of Seattle, Washington, was born November 15, 1913 in Riverside, California to Charles and Hettie Carter, the youngest son of four boys. Carter was a track star in Riverside, receiving national recognition as the All Conference Track Champion in the National College competitions at San Diego State University in 1937.
Sources: 
"Randolph Warren Carter: Winning, Serving, Loving," (Seattle: The Randolph Carter Industrial Workshop Association, 1988); Sixty-Ninth Annual Commencement, University of Southern California, June 14, 1962; “Randolph Warren “Randy” Carter, ’38,” Plaque of the Whittier College Athletic Hall of Fame, 1981, Whittier College, Whittier, California.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Crenshaw, Kimberle Williams (1959- )

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

Kimberle Crenshaw is a Professor of Law and an advocate and educator for civil rights, race studies, constitutional law, and social inclusion. She currently teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), as well as Columbia University.

Crenshaw was born in Canton, Ohio in 1959 to Marian and Walter Clarence Crenshaw, Jr.. She attended Canton McKinley High School. Following her high school graduation, Crenshaw attended Cornell University, where she was a member of the Quill and Dagger senior honors society. She graduated from Cornell in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in government and Africana studies.

During her time at Cornell, Crenshaw began to realize that the gender aspect of race was underdeveloped in college curricula. She found that classes were taught with the subjects of race and gender being separate from one another. Although the concept of “intersectionality” was already being discussed in conversations about people’s identities and shaping experiences, the term was not formally recognized until Crenshaw introduced it to feminist theory in the 1980s.

Sources: 
“Kimberle Crenshaw”, TED Speakers. 2016. https://www.ted.com/speakers/kimberle_crenshaw; UCLA LAW, “Kimberle W. Crenshaw”, Faculty Profiles, https://law.ucla.edu/faculty/faculty-profiles/kimberle-w-crenshaw/; The African American Policy Forum (AAPF), “Kimberle Crenshaw”, About AAPF, January 2013.  http://www.aapf.org/2013/2013/01/kimberle-crenshaw?rq=kimberle%20crenshaw.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Murillo, Luis Gilberto (1967- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Sources: 
Lori Robinson, “Colombia’s Civil War, The Crisis, 108 (July-August-2001); “Mr. Luis Gilberto Murillo,” at http://www.zoominfo.com/s/#!search/profile/person?personId=51303074&targetid=profile; Carolina Garcia Arbelaez, “Luis Gilberto Arbelaez,” at http://lasillavacia.com/perfilquien/37412/luis-gilberto-murillo.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Hendrix, Jimi (1942-1970)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of Dagmar Dagmar

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

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

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

Collins, Marva (1936-2015)

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

Displeased with both the public and private schools in Chicago, Collins took $5,000 out of her pension to start the Westside Preparatory School in 1975 on the second floor of her home; two of her children and four students from the neighborhood were her first students. During her first year she enrolled children who had been labeled as being learning disabled and mildly retarded by the pubic school system. Marva, who was resolute in her educational approach, at the end of the first year had improved the educational level of her students by at least five grades. Her practice as an educator gained national attention as many of her graduates attended such universities as Harvard, Yale, and Stanford.

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

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

Conyers, Jr., John (1929- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Image Courtesy of John Conyers Jr.
John Conyers, Jr. was born on May 16, 1929 in Detroit, Michigan.  He attended public schools and graduated in 1947 from Northwestern High School.  After high school, he followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the United Automobile Workers Union  (UAW).  Conyers worked for the Lincoln Car Factory, where he became a director of education for UAW Local 900.

Conyers enlisted in the United States Army in August 1950 and became a second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers.  He was discharged from the army in 1954 after seeing combat in the Korean War.

Conyers returned to Wayne Sate University where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1957, and a Juris Doctor degree in 1958 from Wayne State University’s School of Law.  After passing the bar in 1959 Conyers began practicing law in his hometown, Detroit, Michigan.  

His brief stint in private practice was interrupted in 1958 when he became a legislative assistant to Fifteenth District Michigan Congressman John Dingell, Jr.  Conyers worked for Dingell until 1961 and then became a referee for the Michigan Workmen’s Compensation Department.  With the support of Congressman Dingell, 35-year-old John Conyers was elected to the United States Congress in 1964, representing Michigan’s Fourteenth Congressional District.     
Sources: 
Bruce A. Ragsdale and Joel D. Treese, Black Americans in Congress, 1870- 1989 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office,1990); Maurine Christopher, Black Americans in Congress (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1976); http://www.house.gov/conyers/news_biography.htm;
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Brown, Sterling A. (1901-1989)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The last of six children and the only boy born to the Rev. Sterling Nelson and Adelaide (Allen) Brown, Sterling Allen Brown graduated as the top student from Washington’s renowned Dunbar High School (1918).  His success enabled him to accept the token gesture of an academic scholarship Williams College annually extended to Dunbar’s valedictorian.  At this prestigious small, liberal arts school in Massachusetts, from 1918–1922, Brown set aside his own feelings of isolation and performed with distinction: election to Phi Beta Kappa his junior year, winning the Graves Prize for his essay “The Comic Spirit in Shakespeare and Moliere,” and receipt of highest honors from the English Department his senior year.  These accolades won for him a scholarship to study at Harvard University, where he graduated with an MA degree in English in 1923.
Sources: 
Sterling A. Brown, The Collected Poems of Sterling A. Brown (New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1980); Sterling A. Brown,  A Negro Looks at the South, eds. John Edgar Tidwell and Mark A. Sanders (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007); Joanne Gabbin, Sterling A. Brown: Building the Black Aesthetic Tradition (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1985); and Mark A. Sanders, Afro-Modernist Aesthetics and the Poetry of Sterling A. Brown (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Kansas

Browne, Theodore R. (c. 1910-1979).

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
A pioneer playwright, actor, author, and teacher, Theodore Browne was best known for his association with the Negro Unit of the Federal Theatre in Seattle Washington in the 1930s. He was also an original member of the American Negro Theatre (ANT) and one of the founders of the Negro Playwrights Company, both in New York. Brown was born in Suffolk, Virginia, and educated in the public schools of New York City. Browne received advanced degrees at the City College of New York (1941) and at Northeastern University (1944) in Boston.
Sources: 
Anthony Duane Hill, ed., An Historical Dictionary of African American Theater (Prevessin, France: Scarecrow Press, 2008).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Ohio State University

Spaulding, Charles Clinton (1874-1952)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Charles Clinton Spaulding, one of the most successful and influential African American businessmen of the 20th century, was born August 1, 1874 on a farm near Whiteville, North Carolina. His parents, Benjamin McIver and Margaret Moore Spaulding of free ancestry, were prosperous landowners and respected leaders in their community. As a young boy, Charles spent most of his time working on the farm. He did attend school but the educational possibilities were very limited in his community, so when he was twenty years old he moved to Durham to join his uncle, Aaron Moore. There he enrolled at Whitted School and gained his high school diploma in 1898 at the age of 23.
Sources: 
“Charles Clinton Spaulding” in Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed. 17 Vols. (Detroit: Gale Research, 1998); “Charles Clinton Spaulding” in Dictionary of American Biography, Supplement 5: 1951-1955 (New York: American Council of Learned Societies, 1977).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Domino, Antoine "Fats" (1928-2017)

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

Antoine "Fats" Domino, early rock and roll musician, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on February 26, 1928 to Antoine Domino, a former plantation worker, and Donatile Gros, a Creole of light complexion.  Fats, as he was soon called because of his weight, was raised in a large family of seven children including his four brothers and two sisters.  From a young age Fats was influenced by his father, a musician who played the banjo and fiddle.

At the age of ten, Domino began to play an old piano the family purchased, learning the instrument from his older brother-in-law Harrison Werrett, who had played in a New Orleans band.  Fats' passion for and expertise with the piano continued to grow.  When he was fourteen he quit school and went to work as a musician.  Learning songs from jukeboxes, Domino began playing at local bars and nightclubs.

Sources: 

Rick Coleman, Blue Monday: Fats Domino and the Lost Dawn of Rock ‘n’
Roll
(Cambridge: Da Capo Press, 2006); Rolling Stone, http://www.rollingstone.com/music/artists/fats-domino.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Gaston, A. G. (1892-1996)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Sources: 

A. G. Gaston, Green Power: The Successful Way of A. G. Gaston (Birmingham: Southern University Press, 1968); Carol Jenkins and Elizabeth Gardner Hines, Black Titan, A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire (New York: One World/Ballantine, 2003). 

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Charles, Suzette (1963- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Suzette Charles (born Suzette De Gaetano), the second African American woman to hold the crown of Miss America, was born in Mays Landing, New Jersey on March 2, 1963. She is the daughter of Charles Gaetano, a businessman, and Suzette (Burroughs) Gaetano, a music teacher. Charles represented New Jersey in the September 1983 Miss America Pageant held in Atlantic City, New Jersey at the time. Charles performed very well during the pageant competition. She won her preliminary competition in the talent division and finished first runner up to Vanessa Williams, Miss New York, who became the first black Woman to win the Miss America title on September 17, 1983.

When Williams was forced to relinquish the crown due to a scandal involving nude photographs, on July 24, 1984, Charles became the second black woman to wear the Miss America crown and fulfilled her duties for the remaining seven weeks of William's reign. This was the shortest time period served by any Miss America.
Sources: 
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); Susan Chira, “To First Black Miss America, Victory is a Means to an End,” New York Times, September 19, 1983, F10, A1.; http://missamerica.org/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Lincoln, Charles Eric (1924-2000)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Educator and Sociologist C. Eric Lincoln was born June 23, 1924 in Athens, Alabama.  After he was abandoned by his parents, Lincoln was raised by his maternal grandparents.  He attended the Trinity School in Athens, an institution created by the New England-based Congregational Church to meet the secondary education needs of African Americans in that community. While there Lincoln picked cotton to earn money to purchase his books and pay the three dollar per year tuition for his studies.  

Lincoln edited the Campus Chronicle, the Trinity school newspaper.  He also graduated as the valedictorian of his class in 1939.  After high school he moved to Chicago to continue his studies, working during the day and taking night classes at the University of Chicago.  In 1943 Lincoln was drafted into the United States Navy and served until the end of World War II.

In 1945 Lincoln moved to Memphis, Tennessee to enroll in Lemoyne College.  He received a BA in philosophy and sociology from the institution in 1947.  In 1954 he received his master’s degree in philosophy from Fisk University and a bachelor of divinity degree from the Chicago Divinity School two years later.  In 1957 Lincoln became an ordained minister.  Three years later, in 1960 received a Ph.D. in sociology and social ethics from Boston University.
Sources: 
C. Eric Lincoln, Coming Through the Fire: Surviving Race and Place in America (Durham: Duke University Press, 1996): “C. Eric Lincoln, Race Scholar, is dead at 75,” New York Times May 17, 2000, p. 26; “ C(harles) Eric Lincoln 1924-2000 Educator, sociologist, author, cleric,” Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 38 (Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale Group Inc., 2000), pp. 113-116; “Race, religion expert who taught at Duke dies at 75,” (Raleigh, N.C.) News and Observer May 15, 2000, p. A1    
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
North Carolina Central University

American Beach, Jacksonville, Florida (1936- )

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History
American Beach Welcome Sign
Image Ownership, Public Domain
American Beach, the only beach in Florida that welcomed black Americans and offered safe, secure overnight accommodations during Jim Crow segregation, was founded in 1935 by the Afro-American Life Insurance Company (AALIC) which was established in 1901 to provide the Jacksonville, Florida black community with life insurance.  The firm’s Afro-American Pension Bureau purchased a 33-acre piece of property at the beach on nearby Amelia Island, partly as an investment but also to provide it as a resort area for black Floridians who had been excluded from other beaches.  Abraham Lincoln Lewis, the President of Afro-American Life, ironically named the area American Beach because he and others felt that in the United States beach access should be open to everyone.
Sources: 
Russ Rymer, American Beach: How Progress Robbed a Black Town and Nation of History, Wealth, and Power (New York: Harper Perennial, 1999); American Beach Conceptual Planning Study, Prepared for American Beach, Inc., through funding from Amelia Island Company, Prepared by Landers-Atkins Planners, Inc., June 5, 1995; Marsha Phelts, An American Beach for African Americans (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Ohio University

Carter, W. Beverly (1921-1982)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
William Beverly Carter at Lincoln University,
1943

Ambassador William Beverly Carter is the first Ambassador-at-Large, and the second African American, to be appointed an ambassador by three Presidents. In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon appointed him ambassador to Tanzania. Four years later, President Gerald R. Ford named him ambassador to Liberia. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter appointed him U.S. Ambassador-at-Large.

Carter, born in 1921 in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, was raised in nearby Philadelphia after the age of four. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in biology from Lincoln University in 1944, and his Law degree from Temple University in 1947.  One of his Lincoln classmates was future Ghanaian head of state Kwame Nkrumah.

Sources: 
Celestine Tutt, “Ambassador William Beverly Carter, Jr,” (http://adst.org/OH%20TOCs/Carter,%20William%20Beverly%20Jr.toc.pdf); “Beverly Carter, 61; Held High Positions as a U.S. Diplomat,” (Obituary) New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/1982/05/11/obituaries/beverly-carter-61-held-high-positions-as-a-us-diplomat.html; U.S. State Department, “African American Chiefs of Mission,” http://www.state.gov/s/d/rm/rls/perfrpt/2008/html/112198.htm; Brian C. Aronstam, “Out of Africa,” Stanford Magazine, http://alumni.stanford.edu/get/page/magazine/article/?article_id=42098.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Coates, Ta-Nehisi (1975– )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Ta-Nehisi Coates is a writer, journalist, educator, and a national correspondent for The Atlantic. His articles, regarding such topics as social, political, and cultural issues, have been featured in national publications, including the Washington Post, Time, and The New Yorker. Coates’s works have addressed complex issues in American society like racial bias, urban policing, and racial identity, particularly in relation to the African American experience.
Sources: 
Terry Gross, “Ta-Nehisi Coates’ ‘Unlikely Road to Manhood’,” National Public Radio July 17, 2011, http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=100814580; Amy Goodman, “Ta-Nehisi Coates on Moving to Paris, #BlackLivesMatter, Bill Cosby, #OscarsSoWhite & More,” Democracy Now!, February 10, 2016, http://www.democracynow.org/2016/2/10/part_2_ta_nehisi_coates_on; “Ta-Nehisi Coates,” The MacArthur Foundation, September 28, 2015, https://www.macfound.org/fellows/931/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Wright, Marion Thompson (1902–1962)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Marion Thompson Wright, educator and historian, was the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in history in the United States. Wright was born on September 12, 1902, in East Orange, New Jersey, the daughter of Moses R. Thompson and Minnie Homes Thompson. Her parents separated, and her mother raised four children while working as a domestic servant in Newark, New Jersey.

Wright was one of only two black students at Barringer High School. At the age of sixteen, she married William Moss and the couple had two children, Thelma and James. Wright later separated from her husband and returned to high school where she graduated at the head of her class. She left her children with her husband to accept an undergraduate scholarship at Howard University in Washington D.C. Howard University, like most educational institutions at that time, did not accept married or divorced woman as students, so Wright hid her marital status. When she divorced sometime in the 1920s, her children remained with her mother. While at Howard, Wright became active in women’s and peace organizations and majored in sociology. She finished her undergraduate education in 1927, staying at Howard to earn a Master of Arts (M.A) in history and education the following year.

Sources: 
Maxine N. Lurie and Marc Mappen, “Marion Thompson Wright,” Encyclopedia of New Jersey (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press 2004.); Howard L. Green, Words That Make New Jersey History (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press 1995.); Pero Dagbovie, African American History Reconsidered (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2010).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

The Crusader (1918-1922)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Cover of the Crusader Magazine, n. d.
Image Ownership: Public domain

The Crusader was a black communist magazine established by journalist Cyril Briggs initially with the financial support of West Indian merchant Anthony Crawford in September 1918.  Briggs established The Crusader in response to and in support of President Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points that called for the “impartial adjustment of all colonial claims.”  Briggs, formerly of the Amsterdam News, embraced Africa’s right to self-determination and dedicated the magazine’s credo to “Africa for the Africans” and to a “renaissance of Negro power and culture throughout the world.”  The Crusader published articles based on African nationalism within a Progressive context which endorsed independent African economic development within the free market, and an end to European and Western colonization in Africa.

Sources: 
Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, Defying Dixie: The Radical Roots of Civil Rights, 1919-1950 (New York: W.W. Norton, 2009); Mark Solomon, The Cry Was Unity (Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 1998); Robert A. Hill, "Racial and Radical: Cyril V. Briggs, The Crusader Magazine, and the African Blood Brotherhood, 1918-1922," Introductory Essay to The Crusader, (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1987).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Southern New Hampshire University

Berry Lawson Case (1938)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Berry Lawson Headline, Seattle P.I., April 8, 1939
On March 26, 1938, Berry Lawson, a twenty-seven-year-old African American waiter staying at the Mt. Fuji Hotel located on Yesler Way in downtown Seattle, Washington, was reportedly asleep in a chair in the hotel lobby. He was spotted by three Seattle Police Department officers, who approached Lawson to arrest him for loitering. An altercation ensued, and ninety minutes later, Lawson was pronounced dead at City Emergency Hospital with a fractured skull. According to the Seattle Times, the three officers, Patrolmen F.H. Paschal, W.F. Stevenson, and P.L. Whalen, “declared Lawson apparently was under the influence of a stimulant and broke away from them and plunged headlong down a flight of stairs.”
Sources: 
“Three police get 20-year terms in death case,” The Seattle Times, June 19, 1938, p 3; Governor Martin pardons two police officers on April 8, 1939, for killing an African American, http://www.historylink.org/File/3477; Quintard Taylor, The Forging of a Black Community: Seattle’s Central District from 1870 through the Civil Rights Era (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle Central College

Campbell, Charles M. (1918-1986)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Hawaii State Senator Charles M. Campbell was born in North Carolina in 1918.  He grew up there and received an A.D. degree from North Carolina College in Durham.  He also received an M.A. degree from Howard University and a second M.A. from Columbia University.  

Campbell began his career by becoming the first black newscaster to do “straight broadcasting” in Philadelphia. He was the first black member of the Radio Television News Directors Association and became Vice President of Radio News Reel Television Working Press Association. 

Sources: 
Naomi Campbell, Interview  with Daphne Barbee-Wooten, June 1999; “Spreading Aloha through Civil Rights,” by Daphne Barbee-Wooten, Hawaii Bar Journal, October 1999; Miles M. Jackson, And They Came (Honolulu: Four Publishers Inc., 2001).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Cawthorne, Herb (1947– )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Herb Cawthorne in Portland Public School Classroom, ca. 1978
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Herb Cawthorne, teacher, community leader, and news reporter, was born in Omaha, Nebraska, to Roosevelt and Edythe Odrene Cawthorne in June 1947. He is the youngest of four children, including John, Elsa, and Edythe. He attended North Des Moines High School in Omaha from 1962 to 1966, and after a five-year gap, he began attending the University of Oregon where he studied communications and teaching.

Following graduation, Cawthorne taught communications, literature, speech, and writing at the University of Oregon. During this time, he also was the director for the Center for Self-Development, a place where low-income students could go to learn Basic English. In 1977 Cawthorne became the director of the Equal Opportunity Project at Portland State University, which assisted educationally-disadvantaged students, and the Office of Special Services where he counseled black students.

In 1980 Cawthorne was elected to the Portland Board of Education. He opposed the busing of African-American children to promote racial integration and instead worked to improve predominately black schools by providing them increased staff and funding. Cawthorne also became a local radio and television personality, hosting Here and Now, a popular weekly talk show that addressed social and political issues affecting Portland.  
Sources: 
Darrell Dawsey, “Jury Is Split on Urban League Chief’s 1st Year,” Los Angeles Times, September 02, 1988; Anna Macias, “Oregonian to Head Urban League: Hiring of Activist Ends Long Search by San Diego Chapter,” Los Angeles Times, July 02, 1987; Fred Lewis, “Herb Cawthorne Interview (2005, Heart of San Diego),” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OADCUGoiVyw.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Distant Whistles, Muted Flutes: Ada Wright in Glasgow, 1932

Ada Wright Welcomed By Glasgow Workers, July 4, 1932
Image Courtesy of Irene Brown

In the following account writer Irene Brown recalls through her father's photo the visit of Ada Wright, mother to Roy and Andy Wright, two of the nine Scottsboro Boys accused of rape in 1931.  Her account appears below.

Memories.  That’s all that’s left when someone dies.  I am lucky.  My parents left me good memories and they also left me hundreds of photographs.  One day, I came across a photo of my Dad’s that I must have seen before but somehow its significance had failed to register.  It was a press photo with the stamp ‘copyright The Bulletin,’ which was a sister paper of the Glasgow Herald, one of Scotland’s national newspapers.  It looked like the start of a demonstration which I assumed was in Glasgow as the photo had been taken by a Glasgow newspaper.  The crowd was made up of flat-capped working class men and bareheaded boys.  Two young men near the front were playing flutes.   One of these young men was my father, Duncan Brown.

Summary: 
In the following account writer Irene Brown recalls through her father's photo the visit of Ada Wright, mother to Roy and Andy Wright, two of the nine Scottsboro Boys accused of rape in 1931.  Her account appears below.
Sources: 
Susan D. Pennybacker, From Scottsboro to Munich : Race and Political Culture in 1930s Britain (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009); Glasgow Herald, July 5, 1932, p. 3, Daily Worker, July 7, 1932, pp. 1-2.
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

Still, William Grant (1895-1978)

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

Newton, Huey P. (1942–1989)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in Monroe, Louisiana, the youngest and seventh son, Huey P. Newton was named after Louisiana's populist governor in the 1930s, Huey Long.  Newton's parents moved to Oakland, California during World War II seeking economic opportunities.  Newton attended Merritt College, where he met Bobby Seale. At Merritt, Newton fought to diversify the curriculum and hire more black instructors.  He also was exposed to a rising tide of Black Nationalism and briefly joined the Afro-American Association.  Within this group and on his own, he studied a broad range of thinkers, including Frantz Fanon, Che Guevara, Mao Zedong, E. Franklin Frazier, and James Baldwin.
Sources: 
Huey P. Newton, To Die For The People: The Writings of Huey P. Newton (New York, Random House, 1972); Newton, War against the Panthers: A Study of Repression in America (New York: Harlem River Press, 1996); and Peniel E. Joseph, Waiting ‘til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) (1990- )

Entry Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
Global African History

Ignatius Muhambi & Ellen Chademana, Employees of
GALZ, Arrive in Court in Harare, Zimbabwe
After Their Arrest in 2011
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), founded in 1990, is one of the earliest and highly regarded LGBTI (Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender-Intersex) advocacy organizations in Southern Africa. GALZ is the country’s only gay rights group and the first one in the nation to start HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns. The organization also promotes gay rights in the Southern African region and encourages emerging LGBTI groups in other countries.

Sources: 
Violet Gonda, “HOT SEAT: GALZ on plight of Homosexuals in Zimbabwe,” SW Radio Africa (April 9, 2010), http://womennewsnetwork.net/2010/04/07/corrective-rape-zimbabwe/; http://www.galz.co.zw.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Motley, Marion (1920-1999)

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

 

Sources: 
Pro Football Hall of Fame, http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.jsp?player_id=156; Legends by the Lake: The Cleveland Browns at Municipal Stadium, http://archive.profootballweekly.com/content/archives/features_1999/keim_062999.asp
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Pittsburgh Courier (1907- )

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Mrs. Robert L. Vann, Publisher of the Pittsburgh Courier,
Presents a Gold Medal and NAACP Life Membership to
Indian Prime Minister Jawarhalal Nehru,
as NAACP Roy Wilkins Looks On, 1949, New York City
© Bettmann/Corbis
Sources: 
Andrew Buni, Robert L. Vann of the Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1974); Aurora Wallace, Newspapers and the Making of Modern America (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2005); http://www.pbs.org/blackpress/news_bios/courier.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Bailey, Pearl Mae (1918–1990)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Pearl Bailey, Between You and Me: A Heartfelt Memoir on Learning, Loving and Living (New York: Doubleday, 1989); Morgan Monceaux, Jazz: My Music, My People (New York: Knopf, 1994); Darryl Lyman, Great African-American Women (New York: Gramercy Books, 2000).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Moten, Etta (1901-2004)

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

Etta Moten, a multifaceted pioneer in the world of entertainment, was born in Weimar, Texas in 1901. She was raised as the only child of her parents, Freeman Moten, a Methodist minister, and his wife Ida Mae Norman. In 1915, Rev. Moten moved to Kansas City where Etta Moten began singing in church choirs.  

Moten married one of her school teachers at the age of 17 and had three children. She divorced her husband in 1924 and asked her parents to care for her children while she went on to attend the University of Kansas to study voice and drama. While at the University of Kansas, Moten briefly joined the Eva Jessy Choir in New York before her ambitions lead her to Hollywood where she immediately embarked upon a film career that enabled her to parlay her vocal and dramatic skills in a dignified manner.

Moten made her film debut as a widow (who sang the song My Forgotten Man) in the 1933 movie The Gold Diggers. The same year, she appeared in her sophomore and final film entitled Flying Down to Rio in which her moving vocal performance of The Carioca received positive reviews. Although she did not receive billing for subsequent film roles, Moten was one of the first singers to be employed as a dub for the voices of several other leading actresses, including Barbara Stanwyck and Ginger Rogers.

Sources: 

Joy B. Kinnon, “Etta at 100: Etta Moten Barnett, Pioneer Actress,
Singer and Activist Celebrates Centennial,” Ebony (December 2001); Joy
B. Kinnon, “A Diva for All Times,” Ebony (March 2004); Anonymous, "KU
Fine Arts Dean Connects with Alumna Etta Moten Barnett," Collage 2:1
(Spring 2000);  Stephen Bourne, “Etta Moten: Actress Who Broke the
Stereotype for Black Women in Hollywood,” The Independent (London),
January 7, 2004.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. (1911- )

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 

William L. Crump, The Story of Kappa Alpha Psi: A History of the Beginning and Development of a College Greek Letter Organization, 1911-1991 (Philadelphia: Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, 1991); Daniel Soyer, "Fraternities and Sororities," Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (New York: Macmillan Library Reference, 1996); Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated, 2002, http://www.afkapsi.com/History.html.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Johnson, Nellie Stone (1905-2002)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Social activist and black labor leader Nellie Stone Johnson was born Nellie Saunders Allen in Lakeville, Minnesota in 1905, the eldest daughter of an activist farmer, William R. Allen and a schoolteacher, Gladys Allen.  As a child, Nellie worked on her family’s farm near Hinckley, Minnesota.  On her way to and from school, she distributed flyers for the Non-Partisan League, a radical rural organization of which her father was a member.  

When she was 17, she left the farm for Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she finished high school through the GED program at the University of Minnesota in 1925.  She attended but did not graduate from the University of Wisconsin.  In 1931, Allen married Clyde Stone, an auto mechanic.  

During the Great Depression Stone worked for the Minneapolis Athletic Club.  Concerned about a pay cut food workers received in 1935, she helped found Local 665 of the Hotel and Restaurant International Union, of which she would become Vice-President.  While with the union Stone helped to start the first health and welfare program for food workers.  She was also the first woman to serve as vice-president of the Minnesota Culinary Council.  
Sources: 

Nellie Stone Johnson, Nellie Stone Johnson:  The Life of an Activist (St. Paul, MN:  Ruminator Books, 2000); Mary Christine Pruitt, “Women Unite! The Modern Women’s Movement in Minnesota” (Dissertation, University of Minnesota, 1988); Monica Bauerlein, "Nellie Stone Johnson: 19005-2002: Minneapolis Loses a Legendary Figure," City Pages, April 10, 2002.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Cain, Herman (1945- )

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

Herman Cain, Republican Party activist and 2012 Presidential candidate is also a newspaper columnist, popular radio talk show host in Atlanta, and former chairman and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, a Pillsbury subsidiary.  Cain was born on December 13, 1945 in Memphis, Tennessee, the son of Luther and Lenora Cain.

Cain graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia in 1967, with a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Mathematics. He received a Masters Degree in Computer Science from Purdue University, in 1971, while working as a mathematician for the U.S. Navy.   

In 1977 Cain joined the Pillsbury Company in Minneapolis. Within five years he had risen to the position of Vice-President of Corporate Systems and Services, making him, at 32, the youngest vice president in the history of the corporation. In 1982 he moved to the Burger King subsidiary of Pillsbury, where he gained a reputation for turning around struggling companies. Four years later Cain led a group of investors in purchasing faltering Godfather's Pizza from Pillsbury.    Rather than investing more money in marketing as traditional business models advised, he focused on improving service to customers. His strategy worked and Godfather’s became a success.  Cain stepped down as Godfather's CEO in 1996.

Sources: 
“Herman Cain: Possible ‘Dark Horse’ 2012 GOP Presidential Candidate,” http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/07/11/herman-cain-possible-dark-horse-2012-gop-presidential-candida/; American Visions, April/May 1995, p 41; New York Times, April 8, 1994, p. 18; January 8, 1995, p. 11; January 10, 1995, p. 15; July 28, 1996, p. 5; . Herman Cain's official website.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of North Texas

Lucas, Ruth Alice (1920-2013)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Ruth Alice Lucas, who overcame race and sex barriers back in 1968 by becoming the first African American woman to be promoted to the rank of full colonel in the United States Air Force, was born in Stamford, Connecticut on November 28, 1920. By the time she retired from the Service in 1970, Lucas remained the highest-ranking black woman in the Air Force. The Defense Meritorious Service Medal was among her military decorations.

Lucas was educated at what is now Tuskegee University in Alabama, studying on a scholarship and majoring in education with a minor in sociology. At the same time, she taught English at the school.

Shortly after graduation in 1942, Lucas joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) where she found herself among the few black women to attend what is now the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia. When the United States Air Force was formed in 1947, Lucas transferred from the Army to the new armed services branch.

The young Air Force officer transferred to Headquarters Far East Air Force Base in Tokyo, Japan from 1951 to 1954, where she became chief of the Awards Division; Lucas could be found teaching English to Japanese children and college students during her off-duty hours.
Sources: 
Megan McDonough, “Ruth A. Lucas, first black female Air Force colonel,” The Washington Post, April 27, 2013; Patricia Sullivan, “Air Force’s first African American female colonel buried,” The Washington Post, May 29, 2013; Air Force’s Education Expert, Ebony, November 1969.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

McAfee, Walter Samuel (1914-1995)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Walter Samuel McAfee, theoretical physicist, professor, and civil servant was born in Ore City, Texas to Susie and Luther McAfee on September 2, 1914.  His father, Luther McAfee, was a mechanic and carpenter, while his mother, Susie, was an educator.  McAfee earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics in 1934 from Wiley College, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Marshall, Texas. In 1937, he earned a Master’s of Science degree from Ohio State University.

With his Master’s degree, McAfee taught mathematics and biological sciences at a junior high school in Columbus, Ohio.  In 1941, He married Viola Winston, who was teaching French at the same junior high school.  
Sources: 

Jack Gould, “Contact with Moon achieved by radar in test by the army,” New York Times (25 January 1946); “McAfee named to Wiley's Science Hall of Fame,” ERADCOM Currents (May 1982); Robert Johnson, Jr., “Walter S. McAfee: Interviewed,” An Oral History of African Americans and the Development of Radar Defense Technology at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey (February 6, 1994); Carl A. Accardo, “Walter S. McAfee” (obituary), Physics Today 48(6), 72 (1995); Virginia Trimble, “Walter S McAfee” (obituary), Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society 30:4 (December 1998):1460-1461.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Boone Sr., Raymond Harold/ “Ray” (1938–2014)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Prominent Virginia journalist Ray Boone Sr. was born February 2, 1938, in Suffolk, Virginia.  His parents, foreign-born Japanese father, Tsujiro Miyanski, and mother, Leathia M. Boone, of mixed African and Native American descent, were banned from marrying in Virginia because of their different races. Yet they remained together, running a successful Asian-Soul Food restaurant until 1943.

Inspired by his parents’ belief that education crushed barriers of bigotry, and by a teacher who told him he wrote well, Boone won a county-wide poetry contest. Soon afterward, he started East Suffolk High School’s first newspaper and while there also wrote human interest stories in the “colored section” of a white daily newspaper, his hometown Suffolk News-Herald.

Sources: 
“Heritage marred by racial injustice…” (2014, June 5-7) Richmond Free Press. p. A4; Carrington, Ronald E. (2003, March 21), Interview with Raymond H. Boone (video recording) - Voices of Freedom: videotaped oral histories of leaders of the Civil Rights movement in Virginia. Virginia Commonwealth University/ James Branch Cabell Library, Special Collections and Archives, Richmond, Virginia; http://copylinemagazine.com/2014/06/09/richmond-free-press-farewell-to-ray-boone-crusading-editor-champion-journalist-dead-at-76/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Esposito, Giancarlo Giuseppe Alessandro (1958– )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Giancarlo Giuseppe Alessandro Esposito is a Danish-American actor and director best known for his portrayal of Gustavo “Gus” Fring on the AMC TV series Breaking Bad, for which he won the Best Supporting Actor in a Drama award and was nominated for an outstanding Supporting Actor in Drama Series award at the 2012 Primetime Emmy Awards. He is also well known for his roles in Spike Lee films:  School Daze, Do the Right Thing, and Mo' Better Blues.

Esposito was born on April 26, 1958, in Copenhagen, Denmark, to an Italian father, Giovanni Esposito, and African-American mother, Elizabeth Foster. His mother was an opera and nightclub singer from Alabama; his father was a stagehand and carpenter from Naples, Italy. Esposito was raised in Europe until the age of six when his family relocated to Manhattan, New York. He attended Elizabeth Seton College in New York and received a two-year degree in radio and television communications.

Sources: 
“Giancarlo Esposito,” Internet Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002064/; “Giancarlo Esposito,” All Movie, http://www.allmovie.com/artist/p22133; “Giancarlo Esposito,” Encyclopedia, http://www.encyclopedia.com/people/literature-and-arts/film-and-television-biographies/giancarlo-esposito.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Allen, Wendell James (1992-2012)

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

Wendell Allen, a 20-year old black male, was fatally shot on March 7, 2012 by New Orleans police officer Joshua Colclough during a drug raid in that city. Officer Colclough fired a single bullet into Allen's chest, killing him instantly.

Allen was the son of Natasha Allen and the late Wendell James. He was raised in New Orleans, Louisiana with his siblings, and attended Frederick Douglass High School. Allen was attending Navarro College in Texas, but had recently returned to New Orleans to be closer to his family, and was working for Richard's Disposal, a local garbage removal company.

The New Orleans Police Department opened its investigation leading to the raid after receiving a tip from a confidential informant about drugs being sold at the Allen residence. A sergeant and officer observed activity at the house and allegedly witnessed several exchanges taking place in the driveway of the home. These mutual exchanges were assumed to be drug deals and gave sufficient cause to raid the home.

Sources: 
Ramon Antonio Vargas, ”Family of Wendell Allen, fatally shot by NOPD while unarmed, sues city”, The Times Picayune, March 7, 2013; Edmund W. Lewis, “Cop in Wendell Allen Shooting Charged”, Louisiana Weekly, August 20, 2012, http://www.louisianaweekly.com/cop-in-wendell-allen-shooting-charged/; SovereignSon, “Marijuana raid leaves unarmed New Orleans man dead in his home”, Policestateusa.com, October 11, 2013, http://www.policestateusa.com/2013/wendell-allen-deadly-nopd-raid/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Smith, Nolle (1888-1982)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Nolle Smith, cowboy, politician, diplomat, was born on his parents’ ranch in Horse Creek, Wyoming in 1888 but grew up in Cheyenne where he graduated as valedictorian of his high school class at Cheyenne High School in 1907.  The son of a white father and African American mother, Smith attended the University of Nebraska where he studied engineering and math while playing football, and basketball and competing in track.  After graduation, Smith held engineering jobs briefly in Rock River, Wyoming and Denver, Colorado. In 1915, however, he was offered a job in Hawaii as an engineer with the Honolulu Department of Public Works. The following year he became Superintendent of Docks for Matson Navigation Company, a major shipping firm. In 1917 Smith married Eva Beatrice Jones, a childhood friend from Cheyenne who had moved to San Francisco, California.     
Sources: 
Bobette Gugliotta, Nolle Smith, Cowboy, Engineer, Statesman (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1971); Daphne Barbee Wooten and Miles M. Jackson, “Law and Politics in Hawaii” in Miles M. Jackson, ed., They Followed the Trade Winds: African Americans in Hawaii (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2004) pp. 128-130.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Hawaii

Allen, Debbie (1950- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Deborah “Debbie” Allen, dancer, choreographer, actress, director, and producer was born January 16, 1950 in Houston, Texas to Arthur Allen, a dentist and Vivian Ayers, a poet. Allen comes from a creative family: Allen’s brother “Tex” Allen is a jazz musician, and older sister Phylicia Rashad is an actress best known for her role as Claire Huxtable on The Cosby Show.  Allen began dancing at a very early age and at age 12 she auditioned for the Houston Ballet School, but was denied admittance because she was African American. Luckily, a Russian dancer who saw Allen perform was so impressed with her that he secretly enrolled her in the school where she eventually became one of the top students.

At age 16 Allen auditioned at the North Carolina School of the Arts but was told that she did not have the right body type for ballet, a common criticism given to many aspiring black ballerinas to exclude them from classical ballet. Allen was so devastated by her rejection that she put her dancing career on hold for several years.
Sources: 
Ashyia Henderson, “Debbie Allen," Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 42 (Farmington Hill, Michigan: Thomson/Gale, 2004); Kenneth Estell, “Debbie Allen,” The African American Almanac, 8th ed. (Farmington Hill, Michigan: Thomson/Gale, 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

DaCosta, A. Antonio (1902–1950)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain:
According to California state records, San Diego physician and businessman A. Antonio DaCosta was born in Canada on December 12, 1902; however, it is more likely that he was born and spent at least part of his youth in Birbese, British Guyana, where his family resided. Prior to arriving in San Diego in 1933, he obtained his medical degree from Howard University and married Margie Johnson in Brooklyn, New York, a union that produced two children and ended in divorce in 1943.

For the nearly two decades, DaCosta practiced medicine in San Diego. He was one of only two or three black physicians in the city. Initially, he used his earnings as a general practitioner serving the African American, Spanish-speaking American, and Portuguese American communities to fund real estate purchases and several successful business ventures, including ownership of a Mexican movie theater and one-third interest in one the port’s largest tuna boats, the Elena. He lived quietly with his son, John Antonio DaCosta, in a lavish hacienda-style ranch house on fifteen acres east of suburban Spring Valley. By the late 1940s, Da Costa and entrepreneur Edward W. Anderson were known to be the two wealthiest African Americans in the region.

Sources: 
Robert Fikes Jr., “Remarkable Healers on the Pacific Coast: A History of San Diego’s Black Medical Community,” Journal of San Diego History 57 (Summer 2011); “Rich Spring Valley Doctor Found Slain,” San Diego Union, April 17. 1950; “Son, 16, Accused in DaCosta Death,” Los Angeles Times, September 19, 1950.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Kissi, Emmanuel Abu (1938– )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Emmanuel Abu Kissi, a prominent convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), was born in 1938 in Abomosu, Ghana. He married Benedicta Elizabeth Bamfo in June 1970, and they are the parents of seven children. Kissi attended medical school in London, England, and there came into contact with missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as Mormons) and converted to the faith in February 1979, just eight months after the church lifted the restriction on black men receiving the priesthood.

Following completion of his medical training, Dr. Kissi returned to Ghana in 1979 and was surprised to learn that there was a sizable Mormon population (approximately 1,723 members) in the nation. On May 4, 1980, a small LDS congregation was officially organized in Accra, Ghana, and Kissi was sustained to lead the group as its first branch president. Dr. Kissi soon presided over several congregations, first as district president in 1982 and then as a counselor in the mission presidency