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Civil Rights Activists

Harding, Vincent Gordon (1931-2014)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Vincent Harding

Vincent G. Harding, civil rights leader, teacher, scholar, engaged citizen, and seeker was especially noted for his close association with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his decades of social justice work. Harding was born on July 25, 1931 in Harlem. His mother Mabel Harding was one of the most influential people in his life. In 1960, he married Rosemarie Freeney Harding (1930-2004) in Chicago, Illinois. The couple had two children, Rachel and Jonathan.

Sources: 
Rose Marie Berger, “I’ve Known Rivers: The Story of Freedom Movement Leaders Rosemarie Freeney Harding and Vincent Harding,” Sojourners, online archive (www.sojo.net). Vincent Harding, interview with Tisa M. Anders, Denver, Colorado, April 19, 2008.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

1964 Chicago Riots (August 1964)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Woman Carried Away by Police in Dixmoor Race Riot
Image Ownership: Public domain

The Chicago Race Riot of 1964 was actually centered in Dixmoor, Illinois, a suburb southwest of the city.  By 1960 Dixmoor had less than 4,000 residents. Of that population over 50 percent of its residents were black. A large portion of Dixmoor’s black population were recently arrived migrants from Mississippi, Tennessee, and other southern states. This increase in population placed a heavy strain on the struggling black community.  Like African Americans nationwide, Dixmoor’s black residents were twice as likely to face poverty as local whites, and almost three times as likely to become unemployed.  Local whites often promoted discrimination in employment and housing segregation.  These practices intensified racial tensions between black and white Dixmoor residents which reached a boiling point in 1964.

Sources: 
Ron Grossman, “The Gin Bottle Race Riots,” The Chicago Tribune, November 25, 2014,  http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-ferguson-gin-bottle-race-riot-dixmoor-flashback-tbd-jm-20141125-story.html; History.com, “Great Migration,” History.com, http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/great-migration.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Chisholm, Shirley (1924-2005)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm, an advocate for the rights of people of color and for women's rights, became in November 1968 the first black woman elected to the United States Congress.  Four  years later she became the first black person to seek a major party’s nomination for the U.S. presidency when she ran for the Democratic Party nomination.

Chisholm represented New York’s Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn and when initially elected, was assigned to the House Agriculture Committee, which she felt was irrelevant to her urban constituency. In an unheard-of move, she demanded reassignment and got switched to the Veterans Affairs Committee. By the time she left that chamber, she had held a place on the prized Rules and Education and Labor Committees.

Sources: 
Sources: W. A. Low and Virgil A. Clift, eds. Encyclopedia of Black America (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1981); Jessie Carney Smith, ed. Black Firsts: 4000 Groundbreaking and Pioneering Historical Events (Canton, Missouri: Visible Ink Press, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Fox, Richard K. (1925- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Ambassador Richard Kenneth Fox served as U.S. Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago during the Jimmy Carter Administration.  Fox was born on October 22, 1925 in Cincinnati, Ohio. After a stint in the U.S. Navy from 1944 to 1946, he enrolled at Indiana University and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from that institution in 1950. Two years later, in 1952, he earned his graduate degree in social psychology from Indiana University.

Fox had hoped to pursue a career as a reporter at a major newspaper but given the racial discrimination in the early 1950s he changed his career path and worked instead with civil rights groups such as Minnesota Fair Employment League and the Urban League in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Sources: 
“Ambassador Richard Fox,” The American Academy of Diplomacy, August 17, 2009, http://www.academyofdiplomacy.org/; Frank Thompson, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Jimmy Carter (Washington, D.C., Government Printing Office, 1978).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Randolph, Asa Philip (1889-1979)

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

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

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

Fauntroy, Walter E. (1933- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the U.S. House of
Representatives Photography Office
Reverend Walter E. Fauntroy, pastor, Congressional representative, and civil rights activist, was born in Washington, D.C., on February, 6, 1933. The son of Ethel Vines Fauntroy and William Thomas Fauntroy, who worked in the U.S. Patent Office, Walter Fauntroy graduated from Dunbar High School in 1952. He earned a B.A. degree in History from Virginia Union University in 1955 and then a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Yale University Divinity School in 1958. While at Yale, Fauntroy married Dorothy Simms on August 3, 1957. They have two children, Marvin Keith and Melissa Alice. Also during this time, Fauntroy met fellow theological students Martin Luther King Jr. and Wyatt Tee Walker. 

In 1959, Fauntroy became pastor of the New Bethel Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., succeeding his mentor, Reverend Charles David Foster, who had just passed away. The following year Martin Luther King and Wyatt Tee Walker asked him to become the District of Columbia (DC) branch director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).  Fauntroy accepted and became the civil rights organization’s lobbyist in Congress until 1970.
Sources: 

Bruce A. Ragsdale & Joel D. Treese, Black Americans In Congress 1870-1989 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1990); Walter Fauntroy Home Page, http://www.walterfauntroy.com/curriculumvitae.html; Raymond Pierre Hylton,  "Fauntroy, Walter Edward" in African American National Biography edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Oxford African American Studies Center, http://www.oxfordaasc.com.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/article/opr/t0001/e1070
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

Tutu, Bishop Desmond Mpilo (1931 - )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Sources: 

Academy of Achievement website: http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/tut0bio-1; Website Nobelprize.org:  http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1984/tutu-bio.html; Dickson A. Mungazi, In the Footsteps of the Masters: Desmond M. Tutu and Abel T. Muzorewa (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2000).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sussex, England

Branton, Leo, Jr. (1922-2013)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Legal and civil rights activist Leo Branton, Jr. was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas on February 17, 1922 to Leo Branton, Sr., and Pauline Wiley.  His father ran a family-owned taxicab business and his mother was a school teacher. Branton received a bachelor’s degree from Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee in 1942. He served in a segregated unit of the United States Army during World War II.
Sources: 
Yussuf Simmonds, “Leo Branton, Jr.,” Los Angeles Sentinel, May 1, 2008; Elaine Woo, “Leo Branton, Jr., 1922-2013. Lawyer took on unpopular cases,” Los Angeles Times, April 26, 2013; Benjamin Todd Jealous, Memorandum to NAACP Units and State Conferences, January 2012, www.naacp.org.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Los Angeles

Coltrane, John William (1926-1967)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John William Coltrane emerged as one of the most innovative and influential jazz musicians of the 20th century. Born in Hamlet, North Carolina on September 23, 1926, the son of John Robert and Alice Blair Coltrane, he grew up in High Point, North Carolina where his grandfather, Rev. William W. Blair, an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) minister, was one of the community leaders.  John Coltrane's childhood attendance at his family's black church shaped the spiritual dimensions of his musical orientation.  Following his father's death and the family’s sudden impoverishment, he and his mother moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1943 to ensure he would have a proper education.  Coltrane’s mother Alice worked as a domestic servant while nurturing her son's musical interest and encouraged him to enroll at the Ornstein School of Music.  
Sources: 
Lewis Porter, John Coltrane: His Life and Music (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1998); C.O. Simpkins, Coltrane: A Biography (Baltimore, Maryland: Black Classic Press, 1975).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle University

Afro-American Council (1898-1907)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Afro-American Council Annual Meeting,
Oakland, California, 1907
Online Archive of Ca., Bancroft Library
Sources: 
Cyrus Field Adams, The National Afro-American Council, Organized 1898, A History (Washington, D.C.: Cyrus F. Adams, 1902); Alexander Walters, My Life and Work (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1917); Emma Lou Thornbrough, "The National Afro-American League, 1887-1908," Journal of Southern History 27:4 (November 1961); Nina Mjagkij, Organizing Black America (New York: Garland Publishing Inc., 2001); Colin Palmer, Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (New York: Thomson Gale, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Cayton, Revels (1907-1995)

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

Revels Cayton, born in Seattle, Washington, was the son of Horace and Susie Cayton, and the grandson of U.S. Senator Hiram Revels. As a highly respected labor leader, he served as Secretary-Treasurer of the San Francisco District Council of the Maritime Federation of the Pacific and, later, the business agent for the Marine Cooks and Stewards Union.

Sources: 
Chicago Defender, November, 23, 1940, December 22, 1945; June 8, 1946; Robert A. Hill, The FBI’s Racon: Racial Conditions in the United States during World War II (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1995); San Francisco Examiner, November 7, 1995
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Association for African American Historical Research and Preservation (AAAHRP)

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

Jones, Elaine R. (1944- )

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

Elaine Jones, the first woman to administer the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense and Education Fund (NAACP-LDF), was born in Norfolk, Virginia on March 2, 1944, the daughter of a railroad porter and a school teacher. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1965 and a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1970, becoming the first African American to graduate from that school.

After graduation Jones turned down a job offer with a Wall Street (New York) law firm to join the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, earning thirty percent less than she had been offered by the other firm. The LDF was founded in 1940 by Jones’s mentor and former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall to provide legal assistance to the nation’s Civil Rights Movement. It became independent of the NAACP in 1957.

Sources: 

Alton Hornsby, Jr. and Angela M. Hornsby-Gutting, From the Grassroots: Profiles of Contemporary African American Leaders (Montgomery: E-BookTime LLC, 2006).

Contributor: 

Williams, Hosea (1926-2000)

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

Born on January 5th, 1926 in Attapulgus, Georgia, Hosea Williams became a prominent civil rights activist and war hero. Unfortunately, his mother died in childbirth and his father was never in the picture, so Williams was raised by his grandfather, Turner Williams. Williams encountered racism early in his life. At fourteen he was forced to run away from his grandfather’s farm in Georgia to avoid a lynching for befriending a young white girl.

Sources: 
“Hosea Williams,” Biography.com, https://www.biography.com/people/hosea-williams-21415939;“International Civil Rights: Walk of Fame,” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, October 25 2015, https://www.nps.gov/features/malu/feat0002/wof/Hosea_Williams.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Edwards, Thyra J. (1897-1953)

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

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

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

James, Charles A. (1922- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Ambassador Charles A. James was born in 1922 in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he attended public schools.  After high school, James enrolled at Westchester State Teachers College in Pennsylvania (now Westchester University) where he studied for one year before enlisting in the U.S. Navy during World War II where he served for three years.  James received his B.A. from Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont in 1949 and an LL.B. from Yale Law School in New Haven, Connecticut in 1952.  In 1977, Middlebury College conferred an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree on Ambassador James for his lifetime of public service.
Sources: 
Ambassador Charles A. James, Interviewed by Jerry Lames, October 19, 2006, YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kn93K5P_dek; Jerry Lames, “Biographical Summary of Charles A. James,” October 25, 2006, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/livingincebu/conversations/topics/4181; Brian E. Schwimmer, Anthropology and the Peace Corps: Case Studies in Career Preparation (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Holland, Endesha Ida Mae (1944-2006)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

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

Contributor2: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle University, Antioch McGregor University

Sharpton, Alfred Charles “Al” (1954- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

 

Sources: 
Jay Mallin, Al Sharpton, Community Activist: Great Life Stories (New York: Franklin Watts, 2007), Al Sharpton with Anthony Walton, Go and Tell Pharaoh: the Autobiography of the Reverend Al Sharpton (New York: Doubleday, 1996); "Alfred Sharpton" in Anthony Appiah & Henry Louis Gates, eds. Africana : the Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience (New York : Basic Civitas Books, 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Tacoma

Berry, Edwin C. “Bill” (1910- 1987)

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

 

Image From the Urban League of
Portland Records

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

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

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

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

Muholi, Zanele (1972-)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Courtesy of Zanele Muholi
Zanele Muholi is one of the most prominent lesbian activists in South Africa and a world-renowned, award-winning photographer. She is a trailblazer with her images of black lesbians in candid yet intimate poses. She challenges the manner in which black women’s bodies have heretofore been represented in documentary photography. Muholi describes her work as visual activism and an important component in helping create post-apartheid equality.

Muholi was born in 1972 in Umlazi, Durban in the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa to Ashwell Banda Muholi and Bester Muholi. She is one of five children. Muholi’s 2008 photographic exhibit, “‘Massa’ and Mina(h),” chronicled the life and story of her mother who worked for 42 years as a domestic housekeeper for the same family.
Sources: 
Gabi Ngcobo, “Zanele Muholi,” ArtThrob (December 2006); Claire Breukel, “Depicting an Existence So Far Violently and Blaringly Erased” (interview), Hyperallergic (January 17, 2012); Matt McCann, “Theft Stalls, but Does Not Stop, A Project,” The New York Times (May 23, 2012); http://www.zanelemuholi.com/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent historian

Coleman, Wanda Evans (1946-2013)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Wanda Evans Coleman was an American poet and writer who won critical acclaim for her avant-garde work, but remained relatively unknown to a broader audience. Her 30 year literary career included a myriad of poetry and fiction publications.

Born and raised in the Watts section of Los Angeles, California on November 13, 1946, Coleman was the daughter of George and Lewana (Scott) Evans. Her father was an ex-boxer and long-time friend and sparring partner of Light Heavyweight Champion Archie Moore.  He also ran a sign shop during the day and worked the graveyard shift as a janitor at RCA Victor Records. Her mother worked as a seamstress and as a housekeeper for Ronald Reagan, among other celebrities.

When she was 13, her first poem was published in a local newspaper. As teenagers she and her brother worked for their father in his home-based publishing company, an experience that prepared her for a career as a freelance writer.
Sources: 
Priscilla Ann Brown and Wanda Coleman, "What Saves Us: An Interview with Wanda Coleman," retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3300711 (2003); Justin D. Gifford, Wanda Coleman, Emory “Butch” Holmes II, “Harvard in Hell”: Holloway House Publishing Company, Players Magazine, and the Invention of Black Mass-Market Erotica (2010), Poetry Foundation, Wanda Coleman biography, retrieved from, http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/wanda-coleman (2015); Elaine Woo, "Wanda Coleman dies at 67; Watts native, L.A.'s unofficial poet laureate," Los Angeles Times.com, http://articles.latimes.com/2013/nov/23/local/la-me-wanda-coleman-20131124-1; Wanda Coleman, The Riot Inside Me: More Trials & Tremors (New Hampshire: Black Sparrow Books, 2005).
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

Sutton, Percy (1920-2009)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Percy Sutton, attorney, politician, civil rights activist, and businessman, was born on November 24, 1920 in San Antonio, Texas to school teachers Samuel and Lillian Sutton.  Percy Sutton attended Prairie View A&M University, Tuskegee Institute, and Hampton Institute.  In 1942 Sutton joined the military.  He became a skilled World War II pilot, serving as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen.  He also earned combat medals as an intelligence officer.

In 1950 Sutton earned a law degree from Brooklyn College Law School.  He returned to the military during the Korean War, but after his honorable discharge at the end of the conflict in 1953 he opened a law firm in New York City's Harlem district.  During the peak of the civil rights movement, Sutton became a nationally recognized civil rights attorney representing political activists such as Malcolm X.

Sutton also entered the political scene in the 1960s.  He became a leader in the Harlem Clubhouse, a political group that controlled Democratic politics in Harlem.  Soon after joining he formed a powerful alliance with other black politicians including future New York City mayor David Dinkins, Congressman Charles Rangel, and Basil Paterson who eventually served as the first black Secretary of State for New York and whose son, David Paterson, became the state's first black governor in 2008.
Sources: 
Peter Goldman, The Life and Death of Malcolm X (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1979); Notable Black American Men (Detroit: Gale, 1998); Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News, June 18, 1996; March 15, 2003; New York Times, August 5, 1997; May 11, 1998; August 16, 2002, p. B3.

 

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Brown, George L. (1926-2005)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Although George L. Brown was born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas, he played a significant roll in Colorado politics for nearly twenty-five years.  Following his graduation from the University of Kansas with a degree in journalism in 1950, Brown moved to Denver where he worked as a reporter and editor for The Denver Post.  He continued working for the Post after being appointed to the Colorado senate in 1955, and he covered the civil rights movement in the south during the 1960s. Voters returned him to office for another four terms.

In 1975 Colorado Democrats selected Brown run for lieutenant governor on the same ticket as gubernatorial candidate Richard Lamm. Both Brown and Lamm were elected.  Brown and Mervyn Dymally, who was elected lieutenant governor of California on the same day, became the first African Americans to hold the post of lieutenant governor in the 20th century.

Brown’s term as one of the nation’s first 20th century black lieutenant governors did not go smoothly, however.  He first pardoned a man convicted of murder while Governor Lamm was on vacation. The governor also withheld part of Brown’s salary for overspending his budget, prompting the lieutenant governor to initiate a lawsuit against Colorado’s chief executive.  The resulting bad press led to Brown’s loss in the 1979 Democratic primary election.
Sources: 
The History Makers at www.historymakers.com; The Political Graveyard at www.politicalgraveyard.com; obituary, “First Black to Hold Statewide Office in U.S.,” Los Angeles Times, April 1, 2005 at www.latimes.com
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Colorado Historical Society

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

Harris, Barbara C. (1930- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Church
of Alban the Martyr,
Diocese of Long Island

Religious leader Barbara Clementine Harris was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Walter and Beatrice (Price) Harris on June 12, 1930. After graduating from the Charles Morris Price School of Advertising and Journalism, she joined Joseph V. Baker Associates, Inc., a black-owned public relations firm in Philadelphia. She became president of the company in 1958 but left ten years later to become director of the Community Relations Department of the Sun Oil Company.

Meanwhile, Harris, an Episcopalian, was a volunteer at her church and in local jails and prisons. In 1960 she joined the activist Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia. That church had become a center for the civil rights movement then evolving in Philadelphia, supported both local protests and the national movement. Harris led a church delegation that marched with Dr. Martin Luther King in Selma in 1965. Three years later the church hosted a national convention of the Black Panther Party (BPP), which attracted ten thousand people.

Sources: 

Alton Hornsby, Jr. and Angela M. Hornsby-Gutting, From the Grassroots: Profiles of Contemporary African American Leaders (Montgomery: E-BookTime LLC, 2006); “Biography of Bishop Harris,” Episcopal Diocese of Washington, http://www.edow.org/diocese/bishops/harris_bio.html.

Contributor: 

Tometi, Opal (1984- )

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

Writer, activist, and immigration rights advocate Opal Tometi is best known as one of the three founders of the Black Lives Matter movement.  Tometi, born in 1984 to Nigerian parents who had illegally immigrated to the United States, grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and is the oldest of three children. Tometi considers herself to be a transnational feminist because of her parents’ immigrant status.

In 2005, Tometi graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Arts in history and a Masters of Arts in communication and advocacy. While in college, Tometi volunteered for an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) project that monitored the actions of those who worked to keep illegal immigrants out of the United States.

Sources: 
“Opal Tometi,” http://opaltometi.com/meet-opal-tometi/; “Opal Tometi,” Discover the Networks, A Guide to the Political Left, http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=2672; “Opal Tometi” UpClosed, https://upclosed.com/people/opal-tometi/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Current, Gloster Bryant (1913-1997)

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

Gloster B. Current, former NAACP Director of Branch and Field Services, and member of the “old guard” of NAACP Civil Rights activists, was born in 1913 and grew up in Detroit, Michigan.  He received his bachelor’s degree from West Virginia State University and his Master’s Degree in public administration from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan and shortly thereafter would begin his involvement with the NAACP that would continue for the rest of his life.

Sources: 
Sources: “Gloster B. Current,” The New Crisis (Oct 1997); “Gloster B. Current Obituary,” Jet Magazine (July 21 1997); Felicia Thomas-Lynn , “Takes Five; Gloster B Current Jr,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (February 27, 2005);
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Pinckney, Clementa C. (1973-2015)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Clementa Carlos "Clem" Pinckney, was an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) pastor, South Carolina State Senator, and rising star in the national Democratic Party. On June 17, 2015, he and eight local black leaders were assassinated in Charleston, South Carolina, during Bible study at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that Pinckney pastored.

Raised in the liberation theology tradition, Pinckney seamlessly intersected his faith with civil rights activism and public policy. Born on July 30, 1973, in Beaufort, South Carolina to John and Theopia (Stevenson) Pinckney, young Pinckney in 1987 followed in the path of his great-grandfather, Rev. Lorenzo Stevenson, and uncle, Rev. Levern Stevenson, and began apprentice preaching in St. John AME Church in Ridgeland, South Carolina. Four years later during his freshman year at the AME-run Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina, Pinckney became a preacher and freshman class president. He also gained valuable exposure to the South Carolina legislature as a page at the Statehouse. By Pinckney’s junior year, these experiences set the foundation for his becoming the palmetto state’s emerging star in electoral politics. While at Allen University Pinckney joined Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.

Sources: 
Rebecca Lurye, “Sen. Clementa Pinckney mourned in Jasper County hometown,” in Beaufortgazzete.com http://www.islandpacket.com/2015/06/18/3801166/sen-clementa-pinckney-mourned.html; Eugene Scott, “The shooting victim Obama mentioned by name,” in CCN Politics http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/18/politics/south-carolina-church-shooting-clementa-pinckney/; CBSNews, “Charleston shooting suspect charged with 9 counts of murder,” http://www.cbsnews.com/news/charleston-shooting-suspect-dylann-roof-charged-with-nine-counts-of-murder/; Todd C. Frankel, “Clementa Pinckney, preacher and legislator, spoke out for justice,” The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/pastor-and-state-senator-remembered-for-preaching-calls-for-justice/2015/06/18/793c0162-15cc-11e5-89f3-61410da94eb1_story.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Jeffrey, George S. (1830-1906)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Although he never held public office, George S. Jeffrey barber, orator, and post-reconstruction civil rights leader, emerged as one of the most important African American political figures in late 19th Century Connecticut.  Jeffrey was born in Middletown, Connecticut in 1830, to free parents George W. and Mary Ann (Campbell) Jeffrey. By 1851, Jeffrey settled in Meriden, Connecticut and became a successful barber. Nine years later he married Martha Agnes Williams who by the late 1870s established a successful hairdressing emporium.

Sources: 
Colleen Cyr, George Jeffrey and the Insurance Bill of 1887 (October 2003); Meriden Public Library, vertical file collection; Eric A. Smith, Blacks in Early Connecticut, Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society Inc., National Conference, Washington, D.C. (October 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society, Inc.

Loudin, Frederick J. (1840-1904)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Fisk University Franklin
Library's Special Collections
Frederick J. Loudin, teacher, impresario, manufacturer and Fisk Jubilee Singer, had a bass voice the likes of which no one would hear again until the emergence of Roland Hayes and Paul Robeson. At thirty-four, he would become the oldest member of the Fisk Jubilee Singers’ third troupe: a towering, self-assured printer and music teacher from Portage County, Ohio.
Sources: 
Andrew Ward, Dark Midnight When I Rise: The Story of the Jubilee Singers Who Introduced the World to the Music of Black America (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Reddick, Lawrence Dunbar (1910-1995)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Department of
Special Collections, W.E.B DuBois
Library, University of Massachusetts
Amherst
During his life historian Lawrence Dunbar Reddick used his scholarly expertise to fight for civil rights.  Born in Jacksonville, Florida, on March 3, 1910, Reddick received his Bachelor’s and Master’s in history from Fisk University in 1932 and 1933, respectively.  He went to the University of Chicago to earn his PhD in history, which he completed in 1939.  That same year he married Ella Ruth Thomas to whom he was married for 57 years.  

Before Reddick received his PhD, he had begun his career as a historian and activist.  In 1934 he led the Works Project Administration slave narratives project at Kentucky State College which collected 250 slave testimonies and interviews by other former slaves in Kentucky and Indiana.  By 1936 Reddick was hired at Dillard University in New Orleans.  
Sources: 
“Dr. Lawrence Dunbar Reddick, historian and biographer, 85, dies,” Jet, 52 (October 1995); August Meier and Elliot Rudwick, Black History and the Historical Profession: 1915-1980 (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1986); David Christopher Brighouse, "Reddick, Lawrence Dunbar," African American National Biography, edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Oxford African American Studies Center, http://www.oxfordaasc.com/article/opr/t0001/e2365.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Nkom, Alice (1945- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Courtesy of Alice Nkom

Alice Nkom broke barriers for women by becoming the first female barrister in her country of Cameroon. She is also well known among Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) activists worldwide because of her legal advocacy for gay rights.

Nkom was born in 1945 in Poutkak, Cameroon in West Africa to Martin Nkom Bayi and Alice Ngo Bikang. She was one of eleven children. Nkom pursued higher education in France at the University of Toulouse (1963-1964) and completed her studies at the Federal University of Cameroon (1968). In 1969 at the age of 24 she became Cameroon’s first female attorney.  Throughout her law career Nkom has defended low income and vulnerable people, including political prisoners, street children and women. Since 1976, she has been a stakeholder in one of the most prestigious law firms in Cameroon. After seven years of marriage, Nkom went through a divorce in 1979. She has two children, Charles and Stephane, and eight grandchildren.

Sources: 
Mark Canavera, “Leading Cameroonian Gay Rights Activist Fears Arrest,” Huffington Post (January 9, 2011); Stephen Gray, “Interview: Alice Nkom and Jonathan Cooper on the future of criminalization,” Pink News (November 18, 2011); Email correspondence between Stephane Koche and Tisa Anders, June 19, 2012;
http://www.dev.humandignitytrust.org/uploaded/Alice_Nkom_Launch_speech.pdf.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent historian

Tolbert, James Lionel (1926-2013)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Civil rights advocate and entertainment attorney James Lionel Tolbert was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on October 26, 1926 to Albert Tolbert and Alice Young Tolbert. His father was a chauffeur and his mother came from a prominent musical family. One of his uncles was noted tenor saxophonist Lester Young. Tolbert was sent at age 10 with his older sister and brother to Los Angeles, California, to receive musical training from their grandfather, Willis Young, a leading jazz educator who schooled him on the trumpet.
Sources: 
Sentinel New Service, “James L. Tolbert Succumbs,” May 10, 2013, http://lasentinel.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=11113;  Valerie J. Nelson, “James Tolbert, 1926-2013. He pressed Hollywood on civil rights,” Los Angeles Times, May 12, 2013; William Yardley, “James L. Tolbert, 86, an Early Lawyer to Black Hollywood, Dies,” New York Times, May 25, 2013.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Los Angeles

Davis, Danny K. (1941- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Danny K. Davis was born in Parkdale, Arkansas on September 6, 1941, the son of a sharecropper. He received a B.A. in history from Arkansas A.M. & N. College in 1961 and then moved to Chicago.  In 1968 he earned an M.A. from Chicago State University and a Ph.D. degree from the Union Institute and University in Cincinnati, Ohio.

After becoming involved in the Chicago civil rights movement in the 1960s, Davis served as a consultant for many public service organizations and as an educator in area universities. He was executive director of the Greater Lawndale Conservation Commission, director of training at the Martin Luther King Neighborhood Health Center, and executive director of the Westside Health Center. He also was an Alderman of the 29th ward on the Chicago City Council and served on the Cook County Board of Commissioners. In 1991 he made an unsuccessful run for mayor of Chicago.  Five years later in 1996, he decided to run for the Congressional seat on Chicago’s west side.  Davis was elected to represent Chicago’s 7th District and has served in Congress since then.
Sources: 
http://www.thehistorymakers.com/programs/dvl/files/Davis_Dannyf.html; http://www.house.gov/davis/biography.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Fauset, Crystal Bird (1894–1965)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Crystal Bird Fauset with Eleanor Roosevelt
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Eric Ledell Smith, "Crystal Bird Fauset Raises Her Voice for Human Rights," Pennsylvania Heritage 13: 1 (Winter 1997)34-39; Nancy Joan Weiss, Farewell to the Party of Lincoln: Black Politics in the Age of FDR (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983); American Friends Service Committee website, afsc.org (Philip Clark); Explorepahistory.com (2009, WITF).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sussex (England)

James & Lydia Sims

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
James & Lydia Sims with their twins,
Donald and Ronald, 1948
Image Ownership: Public Domain

During World War II, Lydia Sims moved from Newark, New Jersey, to Spokane with her husband, James Sims, an Army Air Force soldier stationed at Geiger Airfield.  At the end of the war, the Sims family decided to remain in Spokane.  For 10 years they lived in the Garden Springs housing project, a complex in west Spokane inhabited primarily by former military families. There they raised their sons, James McCormick and twins Ron and Donald.  Lydia Sims’s political views were strongly influenced by racial discrimination, which she vehemently opposed. In the 1960s, as a student at Eastern Washington University, she participated in a movement to desegregate schools in Cheney, Washington.  Later, she served on the state’s Human Rights Coalition, the League of Women Voters, the Human Rights Council, and the Washington State Advisory Committee of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.  
Sources: 

“Few Employers Permit Racism, Bureau Decides,” Spokane Daily Chronicle, March 1, 1957; “Discrimination Rating Denied by Negro Leader,” Spokane Daily Chronicle, March 2, 1957; “Reverend Sims is Elected Action Council Chief,” Spokane Daily Chronicle, March 20, 1969; http://www.historylink.org/essays/output.cfm?file_id=8007 ; ttp://www.metrokc.gov/exec/backgrnd.htm ; ttp://www.metrokc.gov/exec/news/2000/0627001.htm, On the death of Lydia Sims see Spokesman Review, June __, 2012.  

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Wonder, Stevie (Steveland Morris) (1950- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of
©Bettmann-Corbis
Grammy Award winning artist Stevie Wonder, one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, was born May 13, 1950 in Saginaw, Michigan. An excess of oxygen and a disorder affecting his retina called retinopathy resulted in him being born blind.  In 1954 his mother Lula moved all six of her children to Detroit, Michigan.

Stevie began singing and dancing at a young age in his church. He developed an ear for music rapidly. By the age of nine he was playing the piano, harmonica, and conga drum. When Stevie Wonder was 12 years old he was discovered by Ronnie White, a member of the Motown group the Miracles. White brought young Stevie to a Motown Record Company audition. Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown, was soon amazed by his talents and renamed him "Little Stevie Wonder."
Sources: 
Kwame A. Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2004); http://www.steviewonder.net/; http://www.steviewonder.org.uk/
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Ferris, William Henry (1874-1941)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

William Henry Ferris was born in New Haven, Connecticut on July 20, 1874 to David Henry, a volunteer for the Union Army during the Civil War, and Sarah Anne Jefferson Ferris. After high school, Ferris attended Yale University, where he was heavily influenced by polymath William Graham Sumner – a staunch Social Darwinist who firmly believed that the privileged social classes owed nothing to the underprivileged ones.  

After graduating in 1895, William Ferris worked as a freelance writer and lecturer and studied for the ministry at Harvard Divinity School until 1899.  In 1900, he received a Master of Arts in Journalism from Harvard, and went on to teach at Tallahassee State College in Florida and Florida Baptist College (1900-1901) and Henderson Normal School and Kittrell College in North Carolina (1903-1905).  

In 1905, Ferris served a five-year term as Pastor of the Congregational Church in Wilmington, North Carolina.  In 1910, after being ordained a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, he engaged in mission work in Lowell and Salem, Massachusetts.  

Sources: 

Kevin K. Gaines, Uplifting the Race: Black Leadership, Politics and Culture in the Twentieth Century (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1996); “William Henry Ferris,” The Journal of Negro History, 26:4 (Oct., 1941), pp. 549-550; Rayvon Fouche, Black Inventors in the Age of Segregation (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 2003).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Ortique, Revius Oliver, Jr. (1924-2008)

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

Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr., civil rights attorney, civil rights activist and leader, judge, and Supreme Court justice, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana to Revius Oliver Ortique and Lillie Edith Long on June 14, 1924. He had a younger brother named Calvin J. Ortique. Ortique and his wife Miriam Marie Victorianne Ortique had a daughter named Rhesa Marie McDonald.

Sources: 
“Revius Ortique Jr.,” Ancestry Library. https://www.ancestrylibrary.com/family-tree/person/tree/31826012/person/19550282340/facts (login required); “Revius Ortique Jr. Obituary,” Legacy – Memorial Websites, 2008. http://memorialwebsites.legacy.com/ReviusOrtique/Homepage.aspx; “In Memoriam Revius Ortique Jr.,” Louisiana Supreme Court, 2008. https://www.lasc.org/community_outreach/in_memoriam/ortique_revius.asp.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Horne, Frank Smith (1899-1974)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Gail Lumet Buckley, The Hornes: An American Family (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1986); Jack Salzman, David Lionel Smith and Cornel West, Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996); Hans Ostrom and J. David Macey Jr., The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature (Westport: Greenwood Press, 2005); Victor A. Kramer and Robert A. Russ, Harlem Renaissance Re-examined (New York: Whitston Publishing Co., 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bowers, Thomas J. (1823-1885)

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

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

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

Haywood, Harry (1898-1985)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

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

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

Laney, Lucy Craft (1854-1933)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Georgia
Women of Achievement
Lucy Craft Laney, educator, school founder, and civil rights activist, was born in Georgia on April 13, 1854 in Macon, Georgia to free parents Louisa and David Laney.   David Laney, a Presbyterian minister and skilled carpenter, had purchased his freedom approximately twenty years before Lucy Laney’s birth.  He purchased Louisa’s freedom shortly after they were married. Lucy Laney learned to read and write by the age of four and by the time she was twelve, she was able to translate difficult passages in Latin including Julius Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic War.
Sources: 
Asa C. Griggs, “Notes: Lucy Craft Laney,” Journal of Negro History 19 (January 1934); Mary M. Marshall, “’Tell Them We Are Rising!’ Black Intellectuals and Lucy Craft Laney in Post Civil War Augusta, Georgia” (Ph.D. dissertation, Drew University, 1998); Gloria Taylor Williams-Way, “Lucy Craft Laney, ‘The Mother of the Children of the People’: Educator, Reformer, Social Activist” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of South Carolina, 1998): Barbra McCaskill, Post-Bellum, Pre-Harlem: African American Literature and Culture, 1877 (New York: New York University Press, 2006); https://www.biography.com/people/lucy-craft-laney-9372857.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Nixon, E.D. (1899-1987)

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

McKaine, Osceola Enoch (1892-1955)

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

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

Williams, Robert F. (1925-1996)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of California Newsreel
Robert F. Williams was a militant civil rights leader whose open advocacy of armed self-defense anticipated the movement for "black power" in the late 1960s and helped inspire groups like the Student National Coordinating Committee, the Revolutionary Action Movement, and the Black Panther Party.
Sources: 
Timothy B. Tyson, Radio Free Dixie:  Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1999); Robert F. Williams, Negroes With Guns (Detroit:  Wayne State University Press, 1962).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Taliaferro, Raphael “Ray” ( 1939- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of
Raphael Taliaferro
Ray Taliaferro, the first black talk show host on a major American radio station, was born on February 7, 1939 and grew up in the Hunters Point district of San Francisco. His talk radio career began in 1967 at San Francisco’s KNEW station and shortly thereafter he also began his career in television, hosting a show on KHJ-TV.

Taliaferro was to become successful in both forms of media, his career progressing as he became news anchor at San Francisco’s KRON-TV. When he joined KGO radio in 1977 he was also asked to co-host KGO-TV’s AM weekend program. However it was through talk radio, and particularly his daily program, “The Early Show” on KGO radio which began in 1986, that Taliaferro made his name. Discussing topics ranging from contemporary politics, culture, and current events, Taliaferro often airs his liberal views. Through his strong criticisms of President George W Bush and consistent endorsement of Barack Obama during the 2009 Presidential election, Taliaferro has also earned a reputation as one of the most prominent left wing radio talk show hosts in America. Taliaferro has received high commendation from the media and journalist community and was awarded the Black Chamber Life Award in 1994 by the San Francisco Black Chamber of Commerce.
Sources: 
KGO Radio official website: http://www.kgoradio.com/showdj.asp?DJID=3450; Absoluteastronomy.com:http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Ray_Taliaferro#encyclopedia.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sussex

Gibbs, Mifflin Wistar (1823-1915)

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

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

Sanchez, Sonia (1934- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 

Kwame A. Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2004);
http://voices.cla.umn.edu/vg/Bios/entries/sanchez_sonia.html;
http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/276
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Booker, Cory (1969- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Cory Booker Celebrates His Election as Newark's Mayor,
May 9, 2006
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Born in Washington, D.C. on April 27, 1969, Cory Booker is currently the United States Senator from New Jersey. Booker was raised in Harrington Park, New Jersey, a mostly white town where his parents Cary and Carolyn Booker, former civil rights activists and pioneer black executives at IBM, settled down. He attended Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan. Following his graduation he enrolled at Stanford University in California where he earned a B.A. in political science as well an M.A. in sociology. Booker played varsity football at Stanford and was named to the 1991 All-Pacific Ten Academic Team.  Booker was awarded a Rhodes scholarship, one of few student athletes to do so, and went on to study at The Queens College in Oxford, England where he garnered his third degree, Honors History in 1994.

Sources: 

Cory Booker, The First 100 Days: Newark, 100 Day Plan Report (Newark: Newark Public Information Office, 2006); Kendra Field, Race, Identity, and Legitimacy in Context: Cory Booker v. Sharpe James (Cambridge, Mass.: John F. Kennedy School of Government, 2002); http://corybooker.com/; David Segal, "Urban Legend How Cory Booker Became Newark's Mayor: By Being Almost Too Good to Be True" The Washington Post, July 3, 2006; Kate Zernike, "Booker, Winning Rocky Senate Bid, Gets a Job to Fit his Profile," New York Times, October 16, 2013.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Davis, John Preston (1905-1973)

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

John Preston Davis was a prominent African American author, journalist, lawyer, civil rights leader, and co-founder of the National Negro Congress (1935-1946), an organization that was dedicated to the advancement of African Americans all over the country during the Great Depression. Davis was born on January 19th, 1905, in Washington D.C. He graduated from the elite, albeit segregated, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in 1922.

Sources: 
World Heritage Encyclopedia, “John P. Davis,” World Heritage Encyclopedia, http://www.self.gutenberg.org/articles/John_P._Davis; John Preston Davis Papers, http://archives.nypl.org/scm/20561#overview; “John P. Davis Dies at 68, Negroes Congress Officer,” The New York Times, September 12, 1973.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Hamer, Fannie Lou (1917-1977)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public domain
Fannie Lou Hamer was a grass-roots civil rights activist whose life exemplified resistance in rural Mississippi to oppressive conditions. Born on October 6, 1917 in Montgomery County, Mississippi, to a family of sharecroppers, she was the youngest of Lou Ella and Jim Townsend’s twenty children.  Her family moved to Sunflower County, Mississippi in 1919 to work on the E. W. Brandon plantation.

Hamer’s activism began in the 1950s when she attended several annual conferences of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership organized by Dr. T.R.M. Howard, a wealthy businessman and civil rights leader in the all-black town of Mound Bayou, Mississippi.  There, Hamer encountered prominent civil rights leaders such as Thurgood Marshall of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Michigan Congressman Charles Diggs.
Sources: 
Chana Kai Lee, For Freedom’s Sake: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1999); Kay Mills, This Little Light of Mine: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer (New York, New York: Dutton, 1993); http://www.fembio.org/english/biography.php/woman/biography/fannie-lou-hamer/.
Affiliation: 
Tuskeegee University

Bailey, D’Army (1941-2015)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

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

Barnett, Ida Wells (1862-1931)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Linda O. McMurry, To Keep the Waters Troubled: the Life of Ida B. Wells, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998); John Hope Franklin and August Meier, Black Leaders of the Twentieth Century (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Hampton, Fred (1948-1969)

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

Fred Hampton, deputy chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, was born on August 30, 1948 and raised in the Chicago suburb of Maywood, Illinois where he attended Proviso East High School. In high school he excelled in academics and athletics. Afterwards Hampton enrolled in the Developmental Institute at the YMCA Community College in Chicago and then enrolled in a prelaw program at Triton Junior College in River Grove, Illinois.

Sources: 
Peniel E. Joseph, Waiting ’Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2006); Huey P. Newton, War against the Panthers: A Study of Repression in America (New York: Harlem River Press, 1996); John Kifner, “Police in Chicago Slay 2 Panthers,” New York Times, December 5, 1969; John Kifner, “Panthers Say an Autopsy Shows Party Official was Murdered,” New York Times, December 7, 1969; Stan Greenbuam email to author, November 25, 2017.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Davis, John Aubrey, Sr. (1912-2002)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Educator and civil rights advocate John A. Davis, Sr. began his career in activism in the 1930s as leader of the New Negro Alliance, which pressured businesses to hire black employees. Two decades later he assisted with the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case. He also was chairman of the department of political science at City College of New York.

John Aubrey Davis was born in Washington D.C. on May 10, 1912 to John Abraham Davis and Gabrielle Dorothy Beale Davis. He is best known for serving between 1953 and 1954 as the principal researcher on the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case. Working alongside lead counsel and future Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall as well as over 200 other academics, Davis gathered legal and historical facts for argument for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense and Educational Fund's team of attorneys.
Sources: 
Martin Kilson, "Political Scientists and the Activist-Technocrat Dichotomy: The Case of John Aubrey Davis," in W. C. Rich, ed., African American Perspectives on Political Science (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2007); Wolfgang Saxon, "John A. Davis, 90, Advocate in Major Civil Rights Cases.” The New York Times, December 21, 2002.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Michigan State University

Barr, Epsy Campbell (1963- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Epsy Campbell Barr is a black Costa Rican politician and trained economist.  In 2000 she became one of the founders of the Citizen’s Action Party (CAP), a group of leftist politicians who challenged the then ruling political party.  She later ran for President of Costa Rica in 2010 and 2014 under the CAP banner. Campbell Barr is currently a member of the Costa Rican Legislative Assembly.

Epsy Campbell Barr, the granddaughter of Jamaican emigrants to Costa Rica, was born on July 4, 1963 to Shirley Barr Aird and Luis Campbell in the capital city of San Jose.  She comes from a family of five daughters and two sons. As a young university student, Campbell Barr married and had her two daughters, Narda and Tanisha. She lived in the Caribbean for ten years but returned to Costa Rica, graduating as an economist from the Latin University of Costa Rica (1998). She also has an M.A. in Development Cooperation from the Foundation for Cultural and Social Science in Spain (2008).
Sources: 
Epsy Campbell Bar, “CV,” http://www.aciamericas.coop/CR2008/conclusiones/expositores/CV/EpsyCampbell.pdf;   Epsy Campbell Barr, “Political Empowerment of Afro-Descendent Women,” http://www.buildingglobaldemocracy.org/content/political-empowerment-afro-descendent-women; “Epsy Campbell Barr; CR’s Next President?” The Costa Rican Times, http://www.costaricantimes.com/epsy-cambell-barr-costa-ricas-next-president/14245.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

Simone, Nina (1933-2003)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in Tyron, North Carolina in 1933, Nina Simone began playing the family piano at the age of three.  Her mother Mary Kate Waymon, a minister and choir director at a Methodist church in Tyron, interpreted her daughter’s gift as a God-given talent.  Waymon began to study piano at age six with Muriel Massinovitch, an English pianist and Bach devotee married to a Russian painter husband. Waymon credited “Miss Mazzy” for teaching her to understand Bach; she credited Bach for dedicating her life to music. The lessons were paid for by family friends including a white couple in the town.  Eunice’s father, John Divine Waymon, had been an entertainer before he chose to move his family to Tyron, a North Carolina resort town, and set up a barbershop and dry cleaners to support his family. In her autobiography – I Put a Spell on You, the Autobiography of Nina Simone – Waymon describes her relationship with her father as loving and supportive and Tyron as “uncommon” for a southern town because blacks and whites lived together in a series of circles around the center of town, which allowed them to mingle and form friendships.

Sources: 
Nina Simone, I Put a Spell on You, the Autobiography of Nina Simone (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Capo Press,1993); Sylvia Hampton, David Nathan, and Lisa Simone Kelly, Nina Simone: Breakdown and Let it All Out (London: Sanctuary Publishing Limited, 2004); Jody Kolodzey, “Remembering Nina Simone,” Culture, May 5, 2003; Adam Shatz, “Nina Simone Obituary,” The Nation, May 19, 2003; Roger Nupie, Dr. Nina Simone Biography: http://www.ninasimone.com.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

Scott, Tyree (1940-2003)

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

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

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

Height, Dorothy Irene (1912-2010)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Darlene Clark Hine, Elsa Barkley Brown, Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, eds., Black Women in America: an Historical Encyclopedia (Carlson Publishing Company, 1993); http://www.naswfoundation.org/pioneers/h/height.htm; www.ncnw.org/about/height.htm; Dorothy Height Obituary, Seattle Times, April 21, 2010.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Hill, Thomas Arnold (1888-1947)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Thomas Arnold Hill, early leader of the National Urban League, was born in 1888 in Richmond, Virginia to Reuben and Irene Robinson Hill.  He studied at Richmond Business School and received his Bachelor of Art degree at Virginia Union University in 1911.  Hill then studied sociology and economics at New York University.

In 1914, Hill was hired by the New York City branch of the National Urban League (1912) where he worked as personal secretary of Eugene Kinkle Jones. He soon joined forces with Jones and fellow League workers to create additional leagues in neighboring cities.

With the onset of the Great Migration during World War I, Hill recognized the need for a local affiliate in Chicago, a common destination for many of the migrants.  In 1917, he opened the Chicago Urban League and served as its first executive secretary.  During the bloody Chicago Race Riot (1919), Hill transformed the Chicago office into an emergency center to help mollify anger, improve race relations, provide assistance to those adversely affected, and disseminate information.

Sources: 

Nancy Weiss, The National Urban League, 1910-1940 (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1974), p. 176-201; “T. Arnold Hill,” The Journal of
Negro History, Vol. 32, No. 4
(Oct. 1947), pp. 528-529; Rayford Logan
and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography
(New York: W.W. Norton, 1982); Arvah E. Strickland, History of the
Chicago Urban League
(Urbana and London: The University of Illinois
Press, 1966), p. 26-28.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Jemison, Theodore Judson (1918-2013)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Rev. T. J. Jemison With Students at Southern
University Who Had Just Been Released From
Jail for Civil Rights Protest, 1960
Image Ownership: Public domain
Sources: 
Paul Vitello, “Rev. T.J. Jemison, Civil Rights Leader Who Organized Early Boycott, Dies at 95,” New York Times, November 22, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/23/us/rev-t-j-jemison-civil-rights-pioneer-dies-at-95.html; W. Carter Weptanomah, Born to Be President: The Story of the Life of Dr. T.J. Jemison, president, National Baptist Convention (Baltimore: Gateway Press;  1984).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Stewart, Maria W. Miller (1803-1879)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Maria W. Stewart's Publication "Meditations"
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Maria W. Stewart, best known as one of the earliest female public speakers, was born Maria Miller in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1803. Her parents’ first names and occupations are not known. Stewart was orphaned by age five and became an indentured servant, serving a clergyman until she was fifteen. She also attended Connecticut Sabbath schools and taught herself to read and write.

In 1826 Miller married James W. Stewart. Her husband, a shipping agent, had served in the War of 1812 and had spent some time in England as a prisoner of war. With her marriage, she became part of Boston’s small free black middle class and soon became involved in some of its institutions including the Massachusetts General Colored Association, which worked for immediate abolition of slavery.  When James W. Stewart died in 1829, the white executors of her husband’s will took her inheritance through legal actions, leaving her penniless.
Sources: 
Marilyn Richardson, Maria W. Stewart, America’s First Black Woman Political Writer: Essays and Speeches, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987); Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment (New York: Routledge Classics, 2008); Darlene Clark Hine, Black Women in America: The Early Years, 1619-1899 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Wall, Fannie Franklin (c. 1860-1944)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Early 20th Century East San Francisco (California) Bay civic leader and activist, Fannie Franklin Wall, was born in Gallatin, Tennessee, in 1860  She married Archy H. Wall, a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army who also later worked for the San Francisco Post Office.  They had two daughters, Lillian and Florence, and one son Clifton.  During the Spanish-American War, Archy Wall was transferred from Silver City, New Mexico to the Presidio in San Francisco and the family moved with him, ultimately settling in Oakland on Sixtieth Street.
Sources: 
Dona L. Irvin, “Fannie Franklin Wall,” Notable Black American Women, Book II.  Ed. by Jessie Carney Smith (Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1996); Marta Gutman, “Under Siege: Construction and Care at the Fannie Children’s Home and Day Nursery,” Working Paper No. 56 (Berkeley, CA: Center for Working Families, University of California, Berkeley, September 2002), https://workfamily.sas.upenn.edu/sites/workfamily.sas.upenn.edu/files/imported/new/berkeley/papers/56.pdf; Frances Mary Albrier and Malca Chall, “Frances Mary Albrier,” an interview of Frances Mary Albrier by Malca Chall, conducted 1977-1978, in The Black Women Oral History Project edited by Ruth Edmonds Hall (Westport, CT: Meckler Publishing, 1991).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Johnson, James Weldon (1871-1938)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

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

Sullivan, Leon Howard Jr. (1922-2001)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Reverend Leon Howard Sullivan Jr. was a successful minister, civil rights advocate, humanitarian and corporate leader known for his creation of the Opportunities Industrialization Centers of America and the Sullivan Principles to promote political reform in South Africa.  

Leon Sullivan was born in Charleston, West Virginia on October 16, 1922.  He attended racially segregated schools in Charleston and then received a basketball and football scholarship at predominately black West Virginia State College.  A foot injury ended his athletic career and forced Sullivan to work in a steel mill to pay for college tuition.

At the age of 18, Leon Sullivan became a Baptist minister. Three years later Sullivan met Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., who convinced him to move to New York City to attend the Union Theological Seminary.  Sullivan was enrolled there between 1943 and 1945.  Two years later he received a Master’s degree in Religion from Columbia University.  Rev. Sullivan served briefly at Rev. Powell’s assistant at Abyssinian Baptist Church and then became pastor of First Baptist Church of South Orange, New Jersey.  In 1950 Sullivan became pastor of Philadelphia’s Zion Baptist Church, remaining there until 1988.  While at Zion the church’s membership increased from 600 to over 6,000.
Sources: 
The Leon H. Sullivan Foundation, http://www.thesullivanfoundation.org/gsp/default.asp; OIC of America Inc, http://www.oicofamerica.org/; Rev. Leon Sullivan: A Principled Man, www.revleonsullivan.org.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Robert Charles Riots (1900)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Drawing of Robert Charles in the
New Orleans Daily Picayune, July 27, 1900
Image Ownership: Public Domain

The Robert Charles Riots began when whites in New Orleans, Louisiana became infuriated after Robert Charles, an African-American, shot several white police officers on July 23, 1900. A manhunt for Charles began after he fled after an altercation with New Orleans police officers. The race riots lasted over four days and claimed 28 casualties, including Charles.

Robert Charles came to New Orleans from Mississippi and was a self-educated, articulate activist.  He believed in self-defense for the African-American community and encouraged African-Americans in the United States to move to Liberia to escape racial discrimination.

Sources: 
William Ivy Hair, Carnival of Fury: Robert Charles and the New Orleans Race Riot of 1900 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1976); Joel Williamson, The Crucible of Race: Black-White Relations in the American South Since Emancipation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Diallo, Rokhaya (1978- )

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

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

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

Johnson, Raymond L., Sr. (1922-2011)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Raymond Johnson and Family in Los Angeles, 1961
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Sources: 
Elaine Woo, “Raymond L. Johnson Sr. dies at 89; lawyer, civil rights activist,” Los Angeles Times, January 9, 2012; “Tuskegee Airman and Civil Rights Icon Atty. Raymond L. Johnson, Sr. Succumbs,” Los Angeles Sentinel, January 12, 2012; Andie Parrish, “Raymond L.  Johnson, Sr.,” January 20, 2012, www.findagrave.com.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Los Angeles

Mitchell, Parren James (1922-2007)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Parren James Mitchell was a civil rights activist, the first African American elected to Congress from the South since 1898, and a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.  Born in 1922, Mitchell grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and attended public schools there.  His father was a waiter and his mother a homemaker.  Mitchell was one of ten children in a family dedicated to civil rights.  His brother Clarence Mitchell would go on to become the chief lobbyist for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  Several nephews would enter state politics and Maryland voters knew the family as the “black Kennedys.”

After high school Mitchell served as an officer in World War II, and was wounded in Italy.  He came home and graduated from Morgan State College in 1950.  After college, the University of Maryland denied him admission to do graduate work, setting up a program for him to study off campus.  Mitchell sued the university, gained admission, and earned a masters degree in sociology in 1952.  During the 1950s Mitchell also fought to integrate public facilities in Maryland.  After graduate school, Mitchell worked as a probation officer and an official in Baltimore city administration.  He taught briefly at Morgan State College before launching an unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 1968.
Sources: 

“Crusader for Justice Dies at 85,” Baltimore Sun, 29 May 2007; Jacqueline Trescott, “‘One of God’s Angry Men’: He’s Parren Mitchell, Black Caucus Chief,” The Washington Post, 23 September 1977, C1; Douglas Martin, “Parren Mitchell, 85, Congressman and Rights Leader, Dies,” The New York Times, 30 May 2007.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

Central Area School Council (1969-1975)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Central Area School Council Election
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The Central Area School Council (CASC) was formed in 1969 at a time when community control of public schools was considered by many local activists as a more effective strategy than school integration in improving the performance of African American students.  Activists argued that with decentralization and community control, Seattle, Washington’s black residents would be able to control the education of their children.  The Seattle School Board relented to community pressure and established the Central Area School Council (CASC) to provide that control.
Sources: 
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); Jeffrey Gregory Zane, “America, Only Less So? Seattle’s Central Area, 1968-1996, (Ph.D. Thesis, University of Notre Dame, 2001); Richard C. Hunter. “The Role of Parents under NCLB,” in Richard C. Hunter and Frank Brown, Eds.  No Child Left Behind and Other Federal Programs for Urban School Districts. (New York: Elesvier, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Travis, Dempsey Jerome (1920- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Dempsey Jerome Travis is a civil rights activist, business leader, military veteran, and author. From the inception of his first realty company to his time serving three presidential administrations, Travis has served in both local and national theaters of private and civic life.

Born 1920 in Chicago, Illinois, Dempsey Travis attended Roosevelt University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1949. He then applied and was accepted into the School of Mortgage Banking at Northwestern University where he pursued an M.B.A. and graduated two decades later in 1969. Between 1949 and 1953, Travis founded Travis Realty Company, Travis Insurance Company, and Sivart Mortgage Company all in Chicago. He also created Urban Research Press in 1969 which published books on African American history and politics including Chicago Sun Times: An Autobiography of Black Chicago, An Autobiography of Black Jazz, and An Autobiography of Black Politics.
Sources: 
Alston Hornsby Jr. and Angela M. Hornsby, From the Grassroots: Profiles of Contemporary African American Leaders (Montgomery, Alabama: E-Book Time LLC, 2006); www.dempseytravis.com
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

National Urban League (1910 - )

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

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

Gibson, Kenneth A. (1931- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Newark Museum
Kenneth Allen Gibson, the first African American mayor of Newark, New Jersey, was born in 1931 in the town of Enterprise, Alabama.  He graduated from high school in Enterprise in 1950 and joined the U.S. Army as a civil engineer.  He remained in the Army until 1958. After his discharge, he took a job as a New Jersey State Highway Patrol trooper while simultaneously attending Newark College. Gibson graduated with a B.S. in Civil Engineering in 1963.

After college Gibson took an engineering position for the Newark Housing Authority where he oversaw urban renewal projects from 1960-1966. In 1966, he became Newark’s chief structural engineer. He was also the head of Newark’s Business and Industry Coordinating Council and served as vice president of the United Community Corporation, which fought poverty in Newark during that time.
Sources: 
Colin Palmer, Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History (Missouri: Thomson Gale, 2006); Alston Hornsby Jr. and Angela M. Hornsby, From the Grassroots: Profiles of Contemporary African American Leaders (Montgomery, Alabama: E-Book Time LLC, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Garnet, Sarah J. Smith Tompkins (1831-1911)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Sarah Smith Tompkins Garnet was the first African American female principal in the New York public schools.  The eldest of eleven children, she was born Minsarah Smith in Brooklyn in 1831.  Her parents, Sylvanus and Ann Smith, were prosperous farmers of African, European, and Native American ancestry.  Sarah S.T. Smith was the older sister of Susan Smith McKinney Steward (1847-1918), the first African American female in New York state to graduate with a medical doctorate (M.D.).

Sources: 

Jessie Carney Smith, Notable Black American Women (Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1992); Darlene Clark Hine, Black Women in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York:  W.W. Norton, 1982).

Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

New Black Panther Party (1989?- )

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

The New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (NBPP) is a black nationalist organization which claims to be based on the original Black Panther Party (BPP) founded in 1966.  Despite modeling themselves after the earlier Black Panther Party, the organization has been criticized as being anti-white and anti-Semitic. The Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights consider them to be a hate group.

Sources: 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Tandy, Charleton (1836-1919)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Charleton Tandy was born in Kentucky in 1836 to parents who were free only because his grandparents had purchased the family’s freedom three years before his birth.  Throughout his childhood, Tandy’s family worked to free slaves through the Underground Railroad, and as a young man, Tandy often led slaves on the route from Covington, Kentucky, to freedom in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Tandy moved to St. Louis in 1857 and worked a series of jobs until the Civil War began, when he became post messenger at Jefferson Barracks.  The war proved good for Tandy’s standing, as he rose from state militia volunteer to captain of “Tandy’s St. Louis Guard,” an African American state militia that he recruited; he carried the honorific “Captain” for the rest of his life.  
His service earned Tandy the notice of several political leaders, and Tandy was able to turn his connections into patronage jobs.  His positions ranged from U.S. land agent and deputy U.S. Marshal in New Mexico and Oklahoma to Custodian of Records at the St. Louis courthouse.  At heart, Tandy was a civil rights activist.  Throughout his life he worked on local issues of interest to Missouri African Americans, including fighting school and transportation segregation.    
Sources: 
Bryan M. Jack, “Bridging the Red Sea:  The Saint Louis African American Community and the Exodusters of 1879” (Ph.D. diss., Saint Louis University, 2004); The Charleton Tandy Papers at the Western Manuscript Historical Collection (University of Missouri at St. Louis); John A. Wright, No Crystal Stair: The Story of Thirteen Afro-Americans Who Once Called St. Louis Home (Florissant, MO:  Ferguson-Florissant School District, 1988).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Winston-Salem State University

Jacobs, Louisa Matilda (1833–1917)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Jean Fagan Yellin
Louisa “Lulu” Matilda Jacobs, teacher, equal rights activist, and entrepreneur, was born a slave in Edenton, North Carolina, on October 19, 1833. She was the daughter of congressman and newspaper editor Samuel Tredwell Sawyer and his mixed-race enslaved mistress Harriet Jacobs.  
Sources: 
Harriet Jacobs, ed. Jean Fagan Yellin, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000); Jean Fagin Yellin, Kate Culkin, Scott Korb, eds.,  Harriet Jacobs Family Papers (Chapel Hill: UNC Press 2008); Annie Wood Webb Papers, private collection, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Missouri History Museum Archives, St. Louis.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

John Campbell Dancy, Jr.

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

Patterson, William L. (1891-1980)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Steve Trussel
William L. Patterson, born in San Francisco on August 27th, 1891, was a Marxist lawyer, author, and civil rights activist. His mother had been born a slave on a Virginia plantation in 1850 and lived there until she was ten. Before the outbreak of the Civil War, Patterson’s mother was liberated and sent west to California, where she met James Edward Patterson, William’s father. Although his family was forced to move from home to home and often struggled with poverty, William L. Patterson managed to graduate from Tamalpais High School at the age of 20 in 1911. Patterson then attended the University of California on and off until he was forced to leave because of irregular attendance.

In 1915, Patterson enrolled at the Hastings College of Law of the University of California in San Francisco. While attending law school, Patterson began to read The Crisis, the official magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and became interested in various Marxist and Socialist publications such as The Masses, and The Messenger. After graduating from Hastings with a law degree in 1919, Patterson joined the NAACP.
Sources: 
William L. Patterson, The Man Who Cried Genocide (New York: International Publishers, 1991); Spartacus Educational, William L. Patterson Bio. http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USApattersonW.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Desdunes, Rodolphe Lucien (1849-1928)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Rodolphe Lucien Desdunes was a prominent editor, author, and civil rights activist from New Orleans, Louisiana.  He is best known for his work in Plessy v. Ferguson, the most important civil rights case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 19th Century, and a book he authored about the history and culture of Creoles in Louisiana. 

Desdunes was born November 15, 1849 in New Orleans.  His father was a Haitian exile, and his mother was Cuban.  Desdunes came from a family that owned a tobacco plantation and manufactured cigars.  He was a law student at Straight University in the early 1870s.  He also worked for the United States Customs House in New Orleans first as a messenger from 1879 to 1885, and as a clerk from 1891 to 1894, and again from 1899 to 1912.

Sources: 
Sharlene Sinegal DeCuir, Attacking Jim Crow: Black Activism in New Orleans 1925-1942 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 2009); Rebecca J. Scott, “The Atlantic World and the Road to Plessy v. Ferguson,” The Journal of American History 94:3 (December 2007); Rodolphe Lucien Desdunes, Our People and Our History: Fifty Creole Portraits (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 1973).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Cole, Ernest (1941-1990)

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

Ernest Cole was the first black photojournalist in South Africa. In the 1960s he became one of the first photojournalists to report on the lives of black people in that nation under apartheid, exposing the mistreatment and racism from which they (and he) suffered, as well as exploring the intimacy of their daily lives through film.

He was born as Ernest Levi Tsoloane Kole in 1941 in Eersterust, a black township of Pretoria, South Africa. He and his family were later forced to move to Mamelodi, another black township of Pretoria.

At the age of 16, Kole quit school and started working as an assistant at the black South African magazine Drum. There, he was trained by Jürgen Schadeberg, a white German photographer. This training allowed him later to work as a freelance photographer for South African newspapers and magazines in his twenties, making him the country's first black freelance photographer.

Sources: 
"Ernest Cole: Photographer," New York University Grey Art Gallery exhibition (September 2014), https://greyartgallery.nyu.edu/exhibition/ernest-cole-photographer/ David Smith, "Life through a lens: Ernest Cole photographs shed light on apartheid" (2010, November 25). The Guardian November 25, 2010, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/nov/25/ernest-cole-david-goldblatt-apartheid-photography;" « Ernest Cole », South African History Online, February 17, 2011, http://www.sahistory.org.za/people/ernest-cole.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Université Paul Valéry (France)

Chester, William H. (1914-1985)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Dr. Martin Luther King with Bill Chester,
January 25, 1963
"Image Courtesy of Anne Rand Library, International
Longshore and Warehouse Union"
William “Bill” Chester, Vice President and Assistant to Harry Bridges, President of the International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union (ILWU), was the highest ranking African American in the ILWU and a leading trade union official and civil rights leader in the San Francisco Bay Area from the 1950s through 1970s.

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, on January 6, 1914, Chester’s mother’s maiden name was Fuller. Chester, an only child, moved with his parents to Kansas City, Missouri when he was a year old and spent his entire childhood there.  His father, a railroad worker, died when he was 11.  Chester graduated from high school in 1932 and spent two years at Western College in Quindaro, Kansas.

Sources: 
William Chester, Interview by Robert E. Martin, Howard University, July 23, 1969, transcript at ILWU Library, San Francisco; “Bill Chester: ILWU Civil Rights and Community Leader, 1938-1969,” ILWU Oral History Project, Volume VI, Part I, Introduction and interview by Harvey Schwartz, ILWU Dispatcher, February 2003, pp. 8-9; “Bill Chester helped lead ILWU during tough times,” ILWU Dispatcher, November 12, 1985, p. 5.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Western Illinois University

Smith, Moranda (1915–1950)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Moranda Smith was a union organizer and rank-and-file leader of tobacco workers in North Carolina, who throughout the 1940s initiated a challenge to the racial discrimination, disfranchisement, and economic exploitation of workers in the South. The first African-American woman to sit on an international union’s executive board, Smith’s life marks the development of an integrated, civil rights–focused tradition of unionism in America.

Born in Dunbar, South Carolina to a sharecropping family, Smith moved to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, when she was five years old.  After graduating from high school in 1933, Smith began working at R.J. Reynolds, the manufacturer of Camel cigarettes and one of the largest tobacco corporations in the world. The Winston-Salem factory, with a workforce that was 40% black and majority female, represented the largest concentration of industrial workers in the region.  Paid little more than minimum wage, subject to arbitrary discipline, and, like every factory in the South, segregation with the plant, workers formed the Tobacco Workers Organizing Committee (TWOC) in 1942 to challenge these conditions.  They were assisted by Communist Party (CP) which had long sought to build multiracial unions in the South.
Sources: 
Robert Rodgers Korstad, Civil Rights Unionism: Tobacco Workers and the Struggle for Democracy in the Mid-Twentieth-Century South (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Poor People's Campaign (December 4, 1967 – June 19, 1968)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Rev.
Sources: 
Nina Mjagkij, Organizing Black America: An Encyclopedia of African American Associations (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 2001);http://poorpeoplescampaignppc.org/HISTORY.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Jackson, Rev. Mance (1931-2007)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Rev. Mance Jackson (seated in front) as
Rev. Samuel McKinley Speaks
Image Courtesy of Seattle P-I Collection, Museum of
History & Industry (1986.5.5923.4)
Sources: 
Quintard Taylor, The Forging of a Black Community: Seattle’s Central District from 1870 through the Civil Rights Era (United States of America: University of Washington Press, 2003); http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/lifestyle/59696_blackhistory26.shtml.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Blackwell, Unita (1933- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Washington University Libraries,
Film and Media Archive
Unita Blackwell, a civil rights activist and the first black female mayor in the state of Mississippi, was born the daughter of sharecropping parents in Coahoma County, Mississippi on March 18, 1933. She worked throughout the civil rights era urging and recruiting blacks to register to vote, while holding positions in numerous organizations to fight for black civil rights in the United States.

Blackwell began her education by attending a school in West Helena, Arkansas, because of the lack of educational opportunities for African Americans in Mississippi.  She received an eighth grade education and then joined her parents as sharecroppers. In the early 1960s, with determination and willfulness, she chopped cotton for $3 per day while she patiently began her work in civil rights.

By 1964, Blackwell was teaching Sunday School at a church. When the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) visited her hometown of Mayersville, Mississippi, Blackwell signed up to be a field worker.  Her assignment was to persuade her neighbors to register and vote.  
Sources: 
Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Africana: Civil Rights: an A-Z Reference of the Movement that Changed America (New York: Running Press, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Walker, William (1917-1992)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Screen Actors Guild Archives
William "Bill" Walker Collection

Best remembered for the role of Reverend Sykes in the film classic To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), William Walker was born in Pendleton, Indiana in 1917. The son of a freed slave, Walker was the first African American graduate of Pendleton High School. After graduating, Walker pursued an acting career and made his first film appearance as a bit player in The Killers. He went on to appear in more than 100 films and television shows although the industry limited him mainly to roles as a domestic servant.

As the racial climate in Hollywood began to improve in the 1940s, Walker graduated to portraying a wider variety of characters, including doctors and diplomats.  Eventually he moved on to directing and producing films. Determined to ensure other African American actors obtained roles that portrayed the race in a true light, Walker in the late 1940s became a civil rights activist.  

Sources: 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Hartford, Connecticut Riot (1969)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Barbour Street, Hartford, June 1969
Image Ownership: Public domain

Hartford, Connecticut in the late 1960’s was a city immersed in racial unrest, class disputes, and activism. The city was a dichotomy between the ghetto, predominantly black or Puerto Rican and impoverished, in the North End and the South End, white and middle or working class. The black population had grown dramatically in 1965 from 25% to 75%. Job opportunities for Puerto Rican and black people were slim and never well-paying, with the added hindrance that white people owned 80% of the businesses in the North End. Racial discrimination permeated every aspect of the city, and police brutality in particular was heavy on black Hartford citizens.

Sources: 
Stacey Close, “Fire in the Bones: Hartford's NAACP, Civil Rights and Militancy, 1943-1969,” The Journal of Negro History 86, no. 3 (2001): 228-63. http://www.jstor.org.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/stable/1562446 (login required); Steve Thornton, “The Language of the Unheard: Racial Unrest in 20th-Century Hartford,” ConnecticutHistory.Org, https://connecticuthistory.org/the-language-of-the-unheard-racial-unrest-in-20th-century-hartford/; Steve Thornton, “The Rise of the Black Panther Party in Connecticut,” ConnecticutHistory.Org, https://connecticuthistory.org/the-rise-of-the-black-panther-party-in-connecticut/; “The Late 1960s: Unrest In Hartford,” Hartford Courant, http://www.courant.com/courant-250/moments-in-history/hc-reactions-to-martin-luther-king-jrs-death-20140521-photogallery.html; Nicole Tateosian, "Hartford, Connecticut: Discrimination, Segregation, and Urban Riots," (Hartford Studies Collection: Papers by Students and Faculty. Paper 24, 1998) https://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/hartford_papers/24/; “A World Apart: Connecticut's African Americans, 1914-1970,” Connecticut History on the Web, http://www.connhistory.org/afam_reading.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Cobb, W. Montague (1904–1990)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
William Montague Cobb was born in Washington, D.C. in 1904. He earned his B.A. from Amherst College in 1925 and continued his research in embryology at Woods Hole Marine Biology Laboratory. Cobb then went to Howard University, and earned his medical degree in 1929. Cobb was given an offer by Howard to “name a position” he wanted to teach. He chose the newly emerging discipline of physical anthropology (human evolutionary biology, physical variation). Before setting up his own lab, Cobb went to Western Reserve University in Cleveland to study under T. Wingate Todd, a progressive leader in the new field.

In 1932 Cobb returned to Howard as a professor of physical anatomy, where he continued to teach until his death in 1990. A prolific writer, he authored 1,100 articles on a variety of physical anatomy topics and issues relating to African American health. Cobb is considered to be one of the most influential scholars in physical anatomy. To Howard, he left a considerable collection of more than 700 skeletons and the complete anatomical data for nearly 1,000 individuals.
Sources: 
Lesley M. Rankin-Hill and Michael L. Blakey, “W. Montague Cobb (1904-1990): Physical Anthropologist, Anatomist, and Activist,” American Anthropologist (March 1994): 74-96; Kyle Melvilee, “W. Montague Cobb.” Anthropology Biography Web. 2001. University of Minnesota, Mankato. 15 June 2006. http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/information/biography/abcde/cobb_w.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Douglas, Jesse L., Sr. (1930- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Minister, civil rights activist, vocalist, Jesse Lee Douglas, Sr. was born August 19, 1930 in New Orleans, Louisiana, to William and Isabella Douglas, a Merchant Marine cook and a maid. He attended Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana and Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee before obtaining his divinity degree at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia, the city where in 1960 he, along with other area students, took action to desegregate a cafeteria frequented by state government employees. A sit-in protest resulted in arrests and the lawsuit Douglas and Reynolds vs. Vandenberg, filed on behalf of the students by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which effectively ended racial separation at “all facilities at the Atlanta capitol building.”

Douglas’s albinism--fair skin, blue eyes, and blond hair--spared him from arrest in Atlanta and would be adroitly exploited in the future in the cause of civil rights for blacks in the South. In 1962, Douglas married Blanche Y. Gordon, with whom he had two sons and a daughter, and moved to Montgomery, Alabama, to pastor the First Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church. The following year he was elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), an organization founded in 1955 in response to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and first headed by another local cleric, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sources: 
Ethel L. Williams, Biographical Directory of Negro Ministers (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1970); http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article9261413.html; http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article9261413.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Anderson, Marian (1897-1993)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

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

Smith, Lonnie E. (1901-1971)

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

Lonnie Smith was a well-known dentist in Houston, Texas, an officer in the Houston branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and a civil rights activist.  He is best known for his role in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case bearing his name, Smith v. Allwright.

Sources: 
Darlene Clark Hine, Black Victory: The Rise and Fall of the White Primary in Texas (Millwood, New York: KTO Press, 1979); Charles L. Zelden, The Battle for the Black Ballot: Smith v. Allwright and the Defeat of the Texas All-White Primary (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004); http://www.laits.utexas.edu; http://www.tshaonline.org.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Soler, Berta (1963- )

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

Berta de los Angeles Soler Fernandez is a Cuban dissident and activist. She is the co-founder and current leader of Ladies in White, or Damas de Blanco, an all-female organization of the wives and female relatives of political prisoners. Soler was born July 31, 1963 in Matanzas, Cuba. She studied microbiology and worked as a hospital technician for 25 years until leaving in September, 2012 due to harassment by la Seguridad del Estado, the State Security police. She and her two sons, Lienys and Luis Angel, live in the Alamar-Playa district of Havana, Cuba.  Her husband, Angel Moya Acosta, lived with the family there before he was exiled from the city in 2000 for 10 years, a decision overturned thanks to Berta’s efforts.

Sources: 
Front Line Defenders, “Case History: Berta Soler,” https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/case-history-berta-soler; “The Freedom Collection: Berta Soler,” George W. Bush Institute, http://www.freedomcollection.org/interviews/berta_soler/; “Cuba’s Ladies in White,” Human Rights First, https://web.archive.org/web/20090709080407/http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/defenders/hrd_cuba/hrd_cuba_blanco.htm; Berta Soler Fernandez, “Standing Up To a Dictator,” The Washington Post, March 13, 2005, https://web.archive.org/web/20140505105905/http://www.utsandiego.com/uniontrib/20050313/news_mz1e13fernan.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

The Bordentown School (1886–1955)

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History in the West
The Boredontown School Assembly, ca. 1945
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The “Bordentown School,” founded in 1886 in Bordentown, New Jersey, began as a self-sustaining, co-educational, vocational school in a two-story residence in Bordentown, New Jersey. Originally established as a private institution by Rev. Walter A. Rice, a college-educated former slave and minister with the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, it was taken over by the state of New Jersey in 1894 and renamed the “Manual Training and Industrial School for Colored Youth.”   
Sources: 
Ezola Bolden Adams, "The Role and Function of the Manual Training and Industrial School at Bordentown as an Alternative School, 1915-1955," Ed.D. dissertation, New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University, 1977); Arlene S. Bice and Patricia DeSantis, Bordentown (Mount Pleasant, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2014);  http://www.delrivgreenway.org/heritagetrail/Bordentown-School.html; http://www.pbs.org/program/place-out-of-time/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Massaquoi, Hans-Jürgen (1926–2013)

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

Hans-Jürgen Massaquoi was born on January 19, 1926 in the city of Hamburg, Germany. The son of the German nurse Bertha Baetz and the Liberian businessman Al-Hajj Massaquoi, Hans-Jürgen spent the first years of his life with the family of his paternal grandfather, Momolu Massaquoi, the Consul General of Liberia in Germany. When political turmoil broke out in the ambassador's homeland in 1929, he and his son, Al-Hajj Massaquoi, returned to Liberia, leaving Bertha Baetz and her son Hans-Jürgen in Germany.

Sources: 
Hans J. Massaquoi, Destined to Witness: Growing up in Nazi Germany (New York: HarperCollins, 1999); Audrey Fischer, “Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany,” Library of Congress Information Bulletin 59:3 (March 2000); http://www.answers.com/topic/hans-massaquoi; Obituary, Los Angeles Times, January 22, 2013. 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Augsburg

O’Dell, Hunter Pitts "Jack" (1924- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Jack O'Dell, John Munro, and Ian Rocksborough-Smith, Jack O'Dell: The Fierce Urgency of Now (Stony Brook, NY: Center for Study of Working Class Life, 2005); Taylor Branch, At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006); Jack O'Dell, "‘I Never Met a Black Person Who Was in the Communist Party Because of the Soviet Union:' Jack O'Dell on Fighting Racism in the 1940s," HistoryMatters http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/6927/
Contributor: 

Miller, Loren (1903-1967)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born on January 20, 1903 in Pender, Nebraska to John Miller, a former slave, and Nora Herbaugh, a white Midwesterner, Miller was, at his death in 1967, considered one of the leading civil rights attorneys in the United States, particularly in the field of housing discrimination. Miller’s dedication to the pursuit of social justice was part of his family’s legacy. He attended the University of Kansas and Howard University, graduating in 1928 from Washburn University, Topeka, Kansas, with a bachelor of laws degree.
Sources: 
Loren Miller, The Petitioners: The Story of the United States Supreme Court and the Negro (New York: Pantheon Books, 1966); H. Levett, “Coast Codging,” Chicago Defender, June 15, 1935, p. 6; P. Weeks, “New Judge Reluctant Member of Profession,” Los Angeles Times, May 17, 1964, E4; and E. Broady ((1991, March 25) in the Taylor Branch Papers #05047, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Nash, Diane Judith (1938- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Diane Nash
Civil rights activist Diane Judith Nash was born on May 15, 1938 in Chicago, Illinois to Leon Nash and Dorothy Bolton Nash.  Nash grew up a Roman Catholic and attended parochial and public schools in Chicago.  In 1956, she graduated from Hyde Park High School in Chicago, Illinois and began her college career at Howard University in Washington, D.C. before transferring to Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee.
Sources: 
Rosetta E. Ross, Witnessing and Testifying: Black Women, Religion, and Civil Rights (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Fortress Press, 2003); http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/imagegallery.php?EntryID=N003.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Fluellen, Joel (1908-1990)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Joel Fluellen, an instrumental figure in the fight to end Hollywood bias during the 1940’s and 1950’s, was born in 1908 in Louisiana. Prior to beginning his acting career, Fluellen resided in Chicago where he worked as a milliner and store clerk.  After appearing on stage in New York, he relocated to Hollywood in the early 1940’s and gained his first role as a bit player in Cabin in the Sky (1943).

Sources: 

“Joel Fluellen; Actor fought Hollywood bias,” Los Angeles Times,
February 7, 1990, p. A18; "Joel Fluellen 81, A longtime actor in Films
and TV,” New York Times, "February 7, 1999; p. B7; Donald Bogle,
Dorothy Dandridge: A Biography, (New York: Amistad Press, 1997); Edward
Mapp, Directory of Blacks in the Performing Arts: First Edition, (New
Jersey: Scarecrow Press, 1978).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Burke, Tarana (1973- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Tarana Burke at a Me Too Rally
Image Ownership: Public domain

Tarana Burke is an activist who is best known for creating the Me Too movement which raises awareness about sexual harassment, assault, and abuse. Burke was born on September 12, 1973, in The Bronx, New York. She had many troubling experiences growing up in a low-income, working-class family. She was raped and sexually assaulted as a teenager. These incidents inspired Burke to dedicate her life to improving the lives of girls going through similar hardships. In 1998, Burke gave birth to her daughter, Kaia, and raised her as a single parent.

Sources: 
“Tarana Burke” Biography, https://www.biography.com/people/tarana-burke; Emma Brockes, “Me Too Founder Tarana Burke: ‘You Have to Use Your Privilege To Serve Other People’” The Guardian, Jan. 15, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/15/me-too-founder-tarana-burke-women-sexual-assault; Najja Parker, “Who Is Tarana Burke? Meet The Woman Who Started The Me Too Movement A Decade Ago” The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Dec. 6 2017, https://www.ajc.com/news/world/who-tarana-burke-meet-the-woman-who-started-the-too-movement-decade-ago/i8NEiuFHKaIvBh9ucukidK/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Evers, Medgar (1925-1963)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
 Medgar Evers, at the time of his assassination in 1963, was the Field Secretary for the Mississippi NAACP and thus one of the leaders of the civil rights movement in that state. Evers was born on July 2, 1925 in Decatur, Mississippi. Evers was inducted into the U.S. Army in 1943 and served in Normandy in the following year. After his discharge from the service, Evers enrolled at Alcorn College.
Sources: 
Medgar Wiley Evers, The Autobiography of Medgar Evers: a Hero’s Life and Legacy Revealed Through His Writings, Letters, and Speeches (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2005); http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/english/ms-writers/dir/evers_medgar/
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle University

Straker, David Augustus (1842-1908)

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

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

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

Woodson, Robert L., Sr. (1937– )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Born into poverty on April 8, 1937, in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Robert L. Woodson Sr. is often described as the “godfather” of the movement to empower community-based organizations to help themselves. Widely known today as a leading black conservative, Woodson rose from liberal-oriented neighborhood civil rights activism in the 1960s to coordinating national community development programs in the 1970s.

From 1971 to 1973, Woodson headed the National Urban League’s Administration of Justice Division, followed by the Neighborhood Revitalization Project from 1973 to 1976, and a fellowship with the American Enterprise Institute (1976–1981). Along the way, he gradually embraced conservative approaches to combating crime and poverty.

Sources: 
Jason L. Riley, “A Black Conservative's War on Poverty,” The Wall Street Journal (April 2014); Robert Woodson, The Triumphs of Joseph: How Today’s Community Healers Are Reviving Our Streets and Neighborhoods (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998); https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/02/25/the-missed-opportunity-of-robert-woodson.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Terrell, Mary Church (1863-1954)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Mary Church Terrell, A Colored Woman in a White World (Humanity Books, 2005); Cynthia Neverdon-Morton, “Mary Church Terrell,” in African American Lives, ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Williamson, Lisa AKA Sister Souljah (1964- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Lisa Williamson, also known as Sister Souljah, is an author, lecturer, rap singer, activist, community organizer and political commentator. Through her music, books, lectures and community work she advocates black power, personal responsibility and activism.  She proudly challenges black Americans to strengthen their communities and character by embracing spirituality and self-confidence. A New York Times best-selling author, Williamson now reaches the younger generation through her novels written in the popular style known as street-lit.

Lisa Williamson was born in New York City in 1964. When her parents divorced, her mother moved the family into a public housing project in the Bronx where Lisa lived until the age of 10. The family then moved to Englewood, New Jersey where Lisa attended high school. While there she won the American Legion's Constitutional Oratory Contest and was later enrolled in Cornell University's advanced placement summer program and Spain's Universidad de Salamanca study-abroad program.

In 1985 Williamson graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in American history and African studies. Soon after her graduation she took a job with the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice in Harlem where she founded the African Youth Survival Camp, a 6-week summer sleep away camp in Enfield, North Carolina serving children of homeless families.
Sources: 
Sister Souljah, No Disrespect (New York: Times Books Random House, 1994); Sister Souljah, The Coldest Winter Ever (New York: Pocket Books,  1999); Akoto Ofori-Atla, “Sister Souljah: More Than a Street-Lit Author,” The Root (Summer 2011).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Franco, Marielle (1979-2018)

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

Marielle Franco was a Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) city councilmember, and member of the Party for Socialism and Liberty. She was also a member of the LGBT community and a human rights activist, especially against police brutality in the favelas, or slums of the city. On March 14, 2018, she was shot four times in the head and killed by two unknown attackers. Many believe what happened was an assassination.

She was born Marielle Francisco da Silva on July 27, 1979 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She was raised by her parents Marielle and Antonio in a complex of sixteen slums called Maré, in Rio. At age 19, she gave birth to her daughter, Luyara Santos. She then earned a scholarship to the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio in 2002 where she received a bachelors’ degree in social sciences four years later. She earned a masters’ degree in public administration from Fluminense Federal University in 2012. Before her death, she lived with her daughter and her girlfriend, Monica Tereza Benício, whom she dated for thirteen years and had planned to marry in 2019.

Sources: 
Marie Declercq and Meredith Balkus, “Marielle Franco, Activist Against Brazil’s Police Brutality, Assassinated in Rio,” Broadly, March 15th, 2018, https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/kzp4dv/marielle-franco-activist-against-brazils-police-brutality-assassinated-in-rio; Glenn Greenwald, “Marielle Franco: Why my friend was a repository of hope…” The Independent, March 16th, 2018, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/marielle-franco-death-dead-dies-brazil-assassination-rio-de-janeiro-protest-glenn-greenwald-a8259516.html; Marina Maliutchenko, “Marielle Franco: Life and Resistance of Brazilian Activism Champion,” Welker Media, March 18th, 2018, http://welkermedia.com/daily/marielle-franco-brazilian-activism.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Burbridge, Thomas Nathaniel (1921–1972)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Courtesy of San Francisco History Center,
San Francisco Public Library
Medical professor and civil rights leader Thomas Nathaniel Burbridge was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on July 12, 1921. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama, in 1941. From 1942 through 1945, he served in the United States Navy.

In 1948 Burbridge earned a medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He served in the United States Public Health Service as visiting lecturer in Indonesia from 1952 to 1955. The following year, he received a doctoral degree from UCSF and joined the faculty of the school of medicine as assistant professor of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics. His main research interests were alcohol metabolism, drug metabolism, and comparative pharmacology.
Sources: 
“In Memoriam,” The Crisis 74 (November 1972): 322; Donna Chaban, “UCSF Public Service Awards Given,” May 17, 1974, News from the University of California, San Francisco (1974), p. 2; “Burbridge, Thomas Nathaniel, 1921-1972,” http://socialarchive.iath.virginia.edu/; Paul T. Miller, The Postwar Struggle for Civil Rights: African Americans in San Francisco, 1945-1975 (New York: Routledge, 2010).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Los Angeles

Evers, James Charles (1922- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
James Charles Evers was born on September 11, 1922 in Decatur, Mississippi to parents Jesse Wright and James Evers.  Growing up in Mississippi during the era of Jim Crow, Evers witnessed the effects of racial discrimination and prejudice firsthand.   At the age of ten, he witnessed a horrific lynching of a black man who had been accused of insulting a white woman.  This lynching left a lasting impression on Evers, who vowed, along with his younger brother, Medgar, to exact change for the blacks of Mississippi.  
Sources: 
Charles Evers, Evers (New York: World Publishing Company, 1971); Charles Evers and Andrew Szanton, Have No Fear: The Charles Evers Story (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1997); http://www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/stories_people_evers.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

Watkins, Ted (1912-1993)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Ted Watkins, Foreground, with Youth Applicants,
Watts Labor Community Action Center, 1967
Image Courtesy of HERALD EXAMINER COLLECTION/Los Angeles Public Library

Born into poverty and racial segregation in Meridian, Mississippi in 1912, Ted Watkins became a civil rights and union activist and led an anti-poverty agency in Los Angeles, the Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC).  Watkins left Mississippi as a young man to avoid a lynching and headed west to the thriving metropolis of Los Angeles.  After arriving in Los Angeles, Watkins began working for Ford Motor Company and joined the local United Auto Workers (UAW) chapter.  He rose through the union ranks and by the early 1950s had become an international representative for UAW.  Watkins and his wife, Bernice, also became active in the United Civil Rights Committee, a Los Angeles civil rights organization, and the Watts chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). 

Sources: 

Robert Bauman, Race and the War on Poverty: From Watts to East L.A. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 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

Baker, Ella (1903-1986)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Through her decades of work with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and later with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Ella Baker emerged as one of the most important women in the civil rights movement.  Baker was born on December 13, 1903 in Norfolk, Virginia.  After grammar school, her mother enrolled her in Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina.  She graduated as the valedictorian of both her high school and college graduating classes.  The college valedictorian honor was all the more remarkable because she worked her way through school as a waitress and chemistry lab assistant.  Baker graduated from Shaw University with a B.A. in June 1927.
Sources: 
Joanne Grant, Ella Baker Freedom Bound (New York, New York: John Wiley & Sons Inc., 1998); Rosetta E Ross, Witnessing and Testifying: Black Women, Religion, and Civil Rights (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Fortress Press, 2003).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Gray, Fred D. (1932- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Attorney, civil rights and human rights activist, Fred D. Gray, was born on December 14, 1930 in Montgomery, Alabama to Nancy and Abraham Gray.  The youngest of five children, he and his siblings were raised in a shotgun house in a segregated black section of the city.  

In 1947, Gray attended the Nashville Christian Institute.  After completing seminary, he enrolled at Alabama State College, where he paid for his education by working as a district manager of the Alabama Journal.  In 1951, Gray entered law school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his degree in 1954 and opened a law office in his hometown of Montgomery. 

Sources: 

Fred Gray, Bus Ride to Justice: Changing the System by the System (Montgomery, Alabama: Black Belt Press, 1995).  Raymond Arsenault, Freedom Riders 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2006); http://www.fredgray.net/background.html.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

The Prison Abolition Movement (1985- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Incarcerated Americans, 1920-2006
Image Ownership: Public domain

The Prison Abolition Movement is a social campaign to eliminate prisons. The movement began in the 1980s following the War on Drugs whose consequence was to increase the U.S. prison population from 500,000 in 1980 to 1.3 million in 1990 and 2 million in 2000. The leaders of this movement felt that too many non-violent people were being sent to prison, that the majority of the people being incarcerated were locked away because they were too poor to hire an attorney, and that a disproportionate number of them were men and women of color.

The goal of the prison abolitionists is to reform the criminal justice system and to offer alternatives to incarceration for those who commit a crime. Prison abolitionists believe that imprisoning human beings is not justified, that the focus should be on the needs of the individual who committed the crime rather than his or her punishment by society.  They also believe that most crime is a consequence of economic circumstances such as poverty and racial discrimination and as such the underlying causes should be addressed rather than exacerbated by imprisonment.

Sources: 
Dayton Martindale, “A Brief Case for Prison Abolition” In These Times, Dec. 27 2017, http://inthesetimes.com/article/20764/a-brief-case-for-prison-abolition-racism-classism; “Prison Abolition Syllabus” Black Perspectives, Nov. 20 2016, https://www.aaihs.org/prison-abolition-syllabus/; “Angela Davis on Prison Abolition, The War on Drugs and Why Social Movements Shouldn’t Wait on Obama” Democracy Now, March 6 2014, https://www.democracynow.org/2014/3/6/angela_davis_on_prison_abolition_the; “Prison Abolition Movement: History and Organization” Study.com, https://study.com/academy/lesson/prison-abolition-movement-history-organizations.html; Daniel Yadin, “More Than Reform: Prison Abolition” The Politic, Oct. 22 2017, http://thepolitic.org/more-than-reform-what-is-prison-abolition/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Meredith, James (1933 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
James Meredith withU.S. Marshals,
University of Mississippi, 1962
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 

James Meredith, Three Years in Mississippi (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1966); http://www.olemiss.edu/mwp/dir/meredith_james/.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle University

Wright, Theodore Sedgwick (ca. 1797-1847)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Theodore Sedgwick Wright, prominent clergyman, antislavery leader, and reformer was thought to have been born in New Jersey in 1797.  He attended the New York African Free School. With the help of New York Governor Dewitt Clinton, Arthur Tappan and others from Princeton Theological Seminary, he became the first African American graduate from an American Theological seminary. After graduation Wright became pastor of the First Colored Presbyterian Church in New York City where he worked for the rest of his life.
Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982); “Theodore Wright House,” MAAP. Accessed on May 14, 2008, http://maap.columbia.edu/place/19.html; Bertram Wyatt-Brown, “American Abolitionism and Religion,” National Humanities Center, http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/tserve/nineteen/nkeyinfo/amabrel.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Catto, Octavius Valentine (1839–1871)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Octavius Valentine Catto was a prominent Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, activist, scholar, athlete, and military officer in the National Guard during the Civil War.   

Catto was born in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 22, 1839. His mother, Sarah Isabella Cain, a free woman, was a descendant of one of Charleston’s most distinguished mulatto families, the DeReefs. His father, William Catto, was a slave millwright who gained his freedom and became a prominent Presbyterian minister. The elder Catto relocated his family north around 1850 and soon became the pastor at First African Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  
Sources: 
Henry H. Griffin, The Trial of Frank Kelly for the Assassination and Murder of Octavius V. Catto, (Buffalo, NY: William S. Hein & Co., 2009); Daniel R. Biddle and Murray Dubin, Tasting Freedom: Octavius Catto and The Battle for Equality in Civil War America, (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Temple University Press, 2010); The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia, Aaron X. Smith, “Murder of Octavius Catto” (http://philadelphiaencyclopedia.org/archive/murder-of-octavius-catto/)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Bethune, Mary Jane McLeod (1875-1955)

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

Jealous, Benjamin Todd (1973- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the NAACP

Civic leader, activist and journalist Benjamin Jealous is the seventeenth president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). With his appointment to the position in 2008, 35-yar-old Jealous became the youngest person to head the NAACP.

Benjamin Todd Jealous was born on January 18, 1973 to Ann Todd and Fred Jealous in Pacific Grove, California. His father Fred Jealous helped integrate lunch counters in the South. Ann Jealous also was a civil rights activist who worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the South in the 1960s.  

By the age of fourteen Ben Jealous followed his parent’s example by working in voter registration campaigns on California’s Monterey Peninsula. Four years later, after entering Columbia University in 1990, he worked as a community organizer with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in Harlem on health care access for the poor. During his freshman year at Columbia he led protests for homeless rights and campaigned to retain full-need scholarships at the university. He was also one of a number of students suspended following their protest of the university's plans to convert Malcolm X’s assassination site at the St. Theresa Hotel in central Harlem into a research facility. Unable to attend school, Jealous moved to Mississippi in 1994 where he assisted the NAACP in preventing the state of Mississippi from closing two of its three state-funded black colleges and turning one into a prison.

Sources: 
Adam Serwer, “The Other Black President: The NAACP Confronts a New Political and Racial Era,” The American Prospect (March 2009); “The Chosen One,” Essence (December 2008); "Lia Epperson to Wed Ben Jealous,” The New York Amsterdam News (July 25-July 31, 2002); “Benjamin Todd Jealous: NAACP CEO Designate,” Crisis (Summer 2008).
Affiliation: 
Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi

From Memphis and Mogadishu: The History of African Americans in Martin Luther King County, Washington, 1858-2014

In the extended article that appears below historians Daudi Abe and Quintard Taylor explore the history of African Americans in Martin Luther King County from 1858 to 2014.  They analyze the forces which encouraged people of African ancestry to settle in the county and discuss the rapid political, social, and economic changes that its black residents have faced since the first arrival, Manuel Lopes, came to the county in 1858.

With 119,801 people of African ancestry in a total population of 1,931,249 people, Martin Luther King, Jr. County is the most populous county in the state of Washington and is home to 29% of the state’s inhabitants and half of Washington’s black population.  It is also the only county in the United States named after the 20th Century civil rights icon.  

Robert Browning Flippin (1903–1963)

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

Robert Browning Flippin was an important community leader and racial activist in San Francisco beginning in the 1930s through the 1950s. He was also the first African American parole officer at the California State Prison at San Quentin. The son of the black physician George Albert Flippin, Robert attended Nebraska Central College and Washington State College prior to his arrival in San Francisco. In 1936 he also studied medical technology briefly at the Northwest Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

In 1937 Flippin was appointed executive director of the Booker T. Washington Community Center in San Francisco, a recreation facility located in San Francisco’s Western Addition that catered to the city’s small African American population. Here, Flippin interacted with a broad array of San Francisco’s leaders and was regarded by the 1940s as one of the most respected African American leaders in the Bay Area.

Sources: 
Albert S. Broussard, African American Odyssey: The Stewarts, 1853-1963 (Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas A&M University

Cassey, Amy Matilda Williams (1808-1856)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
The Cassey House, Philadelphia
Image Courtesy of Janine Black
Amy Matilda Williams Cassey was born in New York City on August 14, 1808, to Sarah and Rev. Peter H. Williams Jr., a leading Episcopalian minister.  Raised in New York City, Williams was a member of an elite family. The Williams family, Rev. Peter Williams Jr., son of Mary and Peter Williams Sr., another prominent New York clergyman, was a well known figure in the history of both Trinity Church and St. Philips Church in New York City. 

In 1825, at the age of 17, Amy Williams married Philadelphia businessman Joseph Cassey, who was twenty years her senior.  Amy Williams Cassey soon joined her husband and other prominent Philadelphia African Americans in the campaign against slavery.  In 1837 she persuaded her parents to house delegates to the Antislavery Convention of American Women at their New York City home.  Since the Cassey household always employed at least one servant, Amy Cassey was free to devote considerable attention to anti-slavery efforts as a member of the interracial Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. 
Sources: 
Cassey Family Bible (1700s), care of Dianna Ruth Cassey, Warner, New Jersey; William H. Ferris, The African Abroad: His Evolution in Western Civilization, Tracing His Development Under Caucasian Milieu (New Haven, CT: The Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor Press, 1913);  Joseph Willson, The Elite of Our People: Joseph Willson's Sketches of Black Upper-Class Life in Antebellum Philadelphia (The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000); Philip Lapsansky, The Library Company of Philadelphia: 1998 Annual Report. The Library Company of Philadelphia Annual Meeting, May 1999 (Philadelphia, PA: The Library Company of Philadelphia: 34 (1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Temple University

Taylor, Robert Rochon (1899–1957)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
D. Bradford Hunt, Blueprints for Disaster (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2009); Michelle Cottle, "The Woman to See," thenewrepublic.com, August 27, 2008; Clarence G. Williams, "From 'Tech' to Tuskegee: The Life of Robert Robinson Taylor, 1868-1942," http://libraries.mit.edu/archives/mithistory/blacks-at-mit/taylor.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

United Civil Rights Committee, Los Angeles (1963- 1966?)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Courtesy of the HERALD EXAMINER COLLECTION/
Los Angeles Public Library
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; Josh Sides, L.A. City Limits: African American Los Angeles from the Great Depression to the Present (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Washington State University, Tri-Cities

Yates, Josephine Silone (1852-1912)

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

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

Kidd, Mae Street (1909-1999)

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

Businesswoman, politician, and civil rights activist, Mae Street Kidd, was born February 8, 1904 in Millersburg, Kentucky to a black mother and white father.  Kidd’s biological father refused to acknowledge her as his daughter.  She attended a segregated black primary school in her community.  As a teenager, Kidd enrolled at Lincoln Institute in Simpsonville, Kentucky, a boarding school for African Americans.

After completing school, Kidd moved to Louisville.  She became a successful life insurance agent at the black owned Mammoth Life Insurance Company.  During World War II, Kidd served with the American Red Cross in England.  Following the war, she became an entrepreneur, opening a cosmetic and an insurance company in the Midwest.

Sources: 

Wade Hall, Passing for Black: The Life and Careers of Mae
Street Kidd
(Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1997); George
C. Wright, A History of Blacks in Kentucky: In Pursuit of Equality,
1890-1989, Vol. 2
(Frankfort: Kentucky Historical Society, 1992);
http://www.ket.org/civilrights/bio_kidd.htm.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Washington, Karen (1956- )

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

Urban gardening advocate Karen Washington was born in 1956 in New York City, New York and has lived in New York state all of her life. Washington attended Hunter College, City University of New York (CUNY), earning a earning a bachelor’s of applied science with honors in physical therapy in 1978. In 1981, she received a master’s degree from New York University in occupational biomechanics and ergonomics. Washington has two children, Kendra and Bryant, and two grandchildren, Julian and Justice.

After completing her education, Karen Washington settled in the Bronx in 1985. While maintaining her job as a physical therapist, she began her activism in urban farming in 1988 with the empty plot of land across the street from her apartment. Washington and her neighbor Jose Lugo turned the plot that had been filled with garbage into what they called the “Garden of Happiness.” This garden would lead to Washington’s community gardening career. By 1998 she had worked with four other community gardens to create “La Familia Verde Community Coalition” and a weekly farmers market, called “City Farms Market.”

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bond, Horace Mann (1904–1972)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Horace Mann Bond served as the first president of Fort Valley State College from 1939 to 1945 and president of Lincoln University from 1945 to 1957. He was a notable educator and scholar holding degrees from Lincoln University (B.A. in 1923 and a LL.D. in 1941), University of Chicago (M.A. in 1926 and a Ph.D. in 1936), and Temple University (LL.D. in 1952). Over his long career in education, his passion for teaching took him to Lincoln University, Langston University, Alabama State Teachers College, Fisk University, and Dillard University.

Bond was born in Nashville, Tennessee, and knew the South well. In the wake of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, anti-integrationists embarked on a program of massive resistance to orders to desegregate the South. In response to the efforts to claim an I.Q. gap between racial groups, Bond issued a number of stinging critiques of the racial claims about the intelligence of blacks. His most well known essay on the subject is "Racially Stuffed Shirts and Other Enemies of Mankind": Horace Mann Bond’s parody of Segregationist Psychology in the 1950s.

It is noteworthy that the papers of Horace Mann Bond have been archived at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Much of his research emphasized the social, economic, and geographic factors influencing academic achievement as well as demonstrating that Bond was at the forefront of not only black education but also the movement for civil rights.
Sources: 
W.A. Low and Virgil A. Clift, eds., Encyclopedia of Black America (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1981). http://www.lexisnexis.com/academic/2upa/Aaas/HoraceMannBondPapers.asp
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Smith, Harry Clay (1863-1941)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society

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

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

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

Smith, Sylvanus (1831–1911)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Sylvanus Smith, once described in a city directory as a “hog driver,” was a free black Brooklynite who promoted and protected racial equality, business ownership, and property development in the community of Weeksville, New York. Smith was one of the original landowners of Weeksville.   
Sources: 
http://pursuitoffreedom.org/abolitionist-brooklyn/; John L. Rury, “The New York African Free School, 1827-1836: Community Conflict over Community Control of Black Education,” Phylon, 44: 3 (1983); Ellen M. Snyder-Grenier, Brooklyn: An Illustrated History (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1996).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

DePriest, Oscar (1871-1951)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

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

Browne, Hugh Mason (1851-1923)

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

Hugh M. Browne was a civil rights activist and educator.  Born June 12, 1851, in Washington D.C. to John and Elizabeth (Wormley) Browne, he is known for his work as the principal of the Institute for Colored Youth and his advocacy for vocational education.

After graduating from a segregated public school in Washington D.C., he studied at Howard University and graduated in 1875. That year he enrolled in the Theological Seminary of Princeton, graduating three years later and licensed as a Presbyterian minister.

After further education in Scotland, he became a professor at Liberia College in the Republic of Liberia, serving there from 1883 to 1886.  He introduced a course on Industrial Education there, and attempted to reform Liberian higher education. This culminated in an essay he was invited to write, “The Higher Education of the Colored People of the South,” in which he advocated elementary and industrial education over abstract higher education, espousing the opinion that Liberians and blacks in the south currently need practical education and are not ready for a more literary education. His cultural and educational criticisms of Liberia created tension with the principal of Liberia College, leading to his restriction from teaching.

Sources: 
The Crisis, Vol. 27, No. 4, (New York: The Crisis Publishing Company, Inc., Feb 1924); Princeton Theological Seminary, Necrological reports and annual proceedings of the Alumni Association ... : 1875-1932 (Princeton, New Jersey: C.S. Robinson, 1891); Faustine C. Jones-Wilson, Encyclopedia of African American Education (Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Company, 1996); http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/articles/pages/4144/Browne-Hugh-M-1851-1923.html#ixzz0bzcyIaRl
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Remembering Brown: Silence, Loss, Rage, and Hope

Segregated School in West Memphis, Arkansas, 1949
Image Ownership: Public Domain
In the following article, James A. Banks, the Kerry and Linda Killinger Professor and Director of the Center for Multicultural Education at the University of Washington, Seattle, describes his Arkansas community's reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision when it was announced in 1954.

I was in the seventh grade at the Newsome Training School in Aubrey, Arkansas when the United States Supreme Court handed down Brown vs. Board of Education on May 17, 1954. My most powerful memory of the Brown decision is that I have no memory of it being rendered or mentioned by my parents, teachers, or preachers. In my rural southern black community, there was a conspiracy of silence about Brown. It was completely invisible.

A conspiracy of silence

Summary: 
In the following article, James A. Banks, the Kerry and Linda Killinger Professor and Director of the Center for Multicultural Education at the University of Washington, Seattle, describes his Arkansas community's reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision when it was announced in 1954.
Sources: 
James A. Banks, Race, Culture, and Education: The Selected Works of James A. Banks (New York & London: Routledge, 2007), pp. 37-41. Reprinted with Permission.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

Dixon, Aaron (1949– )

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

Aaron Dixon was born in Chicago, Illinois on January 2, 1949.  He moved with his family to Seattle, Washington at a young age and grew up in the city’s historically black Central District. Influenced by his parents’ commitment to social justice, Dixon became one of the leading activists in the Seattle area and a founding member of the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party.

While a student at the University of Washington, Dixon played a key role in the formation of the first Black Students’ Union (BSU), as well as the Seattle chapter of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Through the BSU, Dixon worked to organize BSU chapters and protests at Garfield, Franklin, and Rainier Beach High Schools.

Sources: 
Interview with Dixon, focusing on his work in the Black Panther Party in Seattle: University of Washington’s Seattle Civil Rights Project, http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/aaron_dixon.htm; Neil Modie, “Former Black Panther Aaron Dixon to Run for Senate,” Seattle Post Intelligencer, http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Former-Black-Panther-Aaron-Dixon-to-run-for-Senate-1197802.php; James W. Johnson, “Oral Interview with Aaron Dixon,” July 11, 1970, University of Washington Special Collections.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Detter, Thomas (1821- ? )

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

Thomas Detter, Nellie Brown, or the Jealous Wife with other Sketches (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996); William L. Andrews, Francis Smith Foster, and Trudier Harris, The Concise Oxford Companion to African American Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Merriwether, Raymond (1924–2011)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Photo Courtesy of Clyde Merriwether
Raymond (Ray) Merriwether, prominent Seattle, Washington African American architect, real estate developer, and newspaper owner, was born in Taylor, Texas on June 19, 1924 to Colie and Annie Merriwether.  After graduating from high school Merriwether attended barber school and served a short time in the United States Navy.
Sources: 
Merriwether Family Records;  Interview, Clyde Merriwether, Seattle, Washington, January 14, 2008; Interview, Chrystal Weinberg, Redmond, Washington, January 16, 2008; Clyde Merriwether, Reliant, Inc., (Seattle: Privately Published, 1987).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Antioch University Seattle

Brown, Hallie Quinn (1850-1949)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Hazel V. Carby, Reconstructing Womanhood: The Emergence of the Afro-American Woman Novelist (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987); Darlene Clark Hine, Black Women in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Carter, Ben (1907-1946)

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

Actor-turned casting agent Ben Carter often portrayed an obliging domestic in Hollywood films, but later became one of the few African American agents in the movie capital dedicated to promoting and enhancing the careers of some of Hollywood’s most celebrated actors and actresses of color – including Hattie McDaniel, Eddie ‘Rochester’ Anderson, Lena Horne, and the Dandridge Sisters.

Born in 1907, the Fairfield, Iowa native began his career as a comedian and Broadway performer in New York.  He relocated to Los Angeles in the early 1930s and first worked as an unbilled player in movies. By the mid-1930s, Carter had become one of the first African American performers to sign a seven-year contract with 20th Century-Fox studios. Known for his wiry hair and bugged eyes, Carter appeared in several movies over a two-decade period, including Gone With the Wind (1939), Maryland (1940), Tin Pan Alley (1940), and several of Monogram Studio’s Charlie Chan series. In addition to frequently appearing in films, Carter earned a less than reputable name for himself due to his demeaning film roles.

Sources: 

Susan McHenry, “The Black Side of the Early Silver Screen,” Essence, April 2001; Anonymous, “Notables Attend Final Rites of Ben Carter, Noted Actor,” Pittsburgh Courier, December 28, 1946; Donald Bogle, Dorothy Dandridge: A Biography (New York: Amistad Press Inc., 1997.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Lincoln, Abbey (1930-2010)

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

Born Anna Marie Wooldridge in Chicago, Illinois on August 6, 1930, and raised on a farm in Calvin Center, Cass County, Michigan, Abbey Lincoln (stage name) was an African-American jazz singer, songwriter, actress, and civil rights activist. The tenth out of twelve children, she began her singing career at a young age, performing in school and church choirs. At 19, Lincoln won her first amateur concert.

When she was 22 years old, Lincoln moved to California and then spent a year in Honolulu, Hawaii, as a singer at a nightclub with the stage name Gaby Lee. She moved back to California where she met Bob Russell, lyricist, who became her manager and gave her the stage name Abbey Lincoln.

After living in California for many years, Lincoln moved back to Chicago as her singing career was beginning to take off. She landed a role as a singer in the 1956 film The Girl Can’t Help It. After the film, Lincoln fired her manager and became a recording artist.

Sources: 
“Abbey Lincoln Obituary” by John Fordham, The Guardian, Aug. 15, 2010, https://www.theguardian.com/music/2010/aug/15/abbey-lincoln-obituary; “Abbey Lincoln,” Verve, The Verve Music Group, n.d., https://web.archive.org/web/20070517132240/http://www.vervemusicgroup.com/artist.aspx?aid=2854; “Jazz Profiles from NPR Abbey Lincoln” by Sally Placksin, National Public Radio (NPR), n.d., https://www.npr.org/programs/jazzprofiles/archive/lincoln.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Grimké, Francis (1850–1937)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Francis Grimké was a Presbyterian minister and a leading advocate of civil rights. He was born to a wealthy landowner, Henry Grimké and his slave mistress Nancy Weston. After his father’s death in 1852, he moved to Charleston, South Carolina where he lived as a free person until 1860 when his white half-brother, Montague, brought him into his household as a servant. After a severe beating he ran away, and for two years became a valet in the Confederate Army. He was discovered and returned to Montague who, after sending him to the workhouse as punishment, sold him to a Confederate officer.

After the fall of Charleston Grimke attended Morris Street School, a school for free blacks in the city. At age sixteen he moved north to attend Lincoln College, in Pennsylvania. He graduated in 1870 as class valedictorian whereupon he taught mathematics, served as the school's financial agent and studied law. Francis entered Howard Law School in 1874, but the following year enrolled in the Princeton Theological Seminary. Upon graduation in 1878 he became a Presbyterian minister at the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., and remained at that church as pastor for the next half century.  
Sources: 
Dickson D. Bruce, Jr., Archibald Grimké, Portrait of a Black Independent (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1993); “Francis Grimke,” American National Biography, Volume 9 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 627;
http://www.westminster-stl.org/Sermons/050220.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

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

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

Cook, Suzan Denise Johnson (1957– )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Suzan Johnson Cook is a religious leader, pastor, motivational speaker, and diplomat who was born on January 28, 1957, in Harlem, New York. Her father, Wilbert Johnson, was a trolley driver and later founder of a successful security company, and her mother Dorothy Johnson, was a public school teacher. The parents moved their family to the Bronx, New York, where young Suzan was raised.

Johnson Cook earned several degrees including a bachelor’s from Emerson College (1976), a master’s from the Teachers College at Columbia University (1978), a Master of Divinity and Doctorate of Ministry from Union Theological Seminary (1983 and 1990 respectively).

From 1983 to 1996, Johnson Cook was senior pastor at New York’s Marine Temple Baptist Church and a professor at New York Theological Seminary from 1988 to1996. In 1990 she became the first female and African American to be named New York City Policy Department’s (NYPD’s) chaplain, a position she held for twenty-one years.
Sources: 
“Who’s Here: Suzan Johnson Cook Ambassador-At-Large” by Dan Rattiner, 2013; The History Makers, “Rev. Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook”; U.S. Department of State, Official Biography.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Robeson, Paul (1898-1976)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Paul Robeson is best known as a world famous athlete, singer, actor, and advocate for the human rights of people throughout the world. Over the course of his career Robeson combined all of these activities into a lifelong quest for racial justice. He used his deep baritone voice to communicate the problems and progress associated with black culture and community, and to assist the labor and social movements of his time. He sang for multiracial and multiethnic peace and justice in twenty-five languages throughout the United States, Europe, and Africa.
Sources: 
Paul Robeson, Here I Stand (New York: Beacon Press, 1958); Martin Duberman, Paul Robeson (New York: New Press, 2005); Paul Robeson Jr., The Undiscovered Paul Robeson, An Artist’s Journey, 1898-1939 (New York: Wiley, 2001); Paul Robeson Jr., The Undiscovered Paul Robeson, Quest for Freedom, 1939-1976 (New York: Wiley, 2010).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Yardley, William Francis (1844-1924)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
William Francis Yardley was a politician, businessman, lawyer, and civil rights advocate in post-Civil War Tennessee. Born free on January 8, 1844 to an Irish mother and a black father in Knoxville, Tennessee, he was abandoned at the doorstep of the Yardley family, a prominent white family who took him in, named, and raised him. The Yardleys apprenticed young William out to learn to read and write until he turned 21.  He was also mentored by Thomas Humes, the rector at St. John’s Episcopal Church.
Sources: 
Jack Neely, “The Singular Career of William Francis Yardley,” MetroPulse, Vol. 12, No. 8 (Knoxville, Tennessee: Feb 21, 2002); Jack Neely, “A Progressive Age,” MetroPulse (Knoxville, Tennessee: Sept 3, 2008); West Tennessee Historical Society, The West Tennessee Historical Society Papers Issue 49 (Memphis: West Tennessee Historical Society, 1995);   http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/entry.php?rec=1544
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Jones, Quincy Delight, Jr. (1933- )

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

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

Kimbrough, Jack J. (1908–1992)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Civil rights activist, dentist, book and African art collector Jack Johnson Kimbrough was born in Lexington, Mississippi, on July 26, 1908, to Samuel G. Kimbrough, a blacksmith, and Mary (Hoover) Kimbrough. Fearing violence from the Ku Klux Klan, in 1915 the family fled Mississippi with their seven-year-old son to live with relatives in Alameda, California.

Kimbrough graduated from Alameda High School in 1926, attended Sacramento Junior College for two years, and then transferred to the University of California at Berkeley where he majored in chemistry and graduated in 1930. Kimbrough then obtained his dental degree from the University of California Dental School in San Francisco in 1934. Following his graduation, he received the third highest score on the state’s required dental board examination.

Sources: 
Robert Fikes Jr., “Kimbrough, Jack,” in African American National Biography, vol. 5 (Oxford University Press, 2006); Robert Fikes Jr., “Showdown at the U.S. Grant Hotel,” San Diego NAACP History News, 5 (April 2012).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

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

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

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

Lucy, William "Bill" (1933- )

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

Labor union organizer and leader Bill Lucy was born on November 26, 1933 to Joseph and Susie Lucy in Memphis, Tennessee.  Raised in Richmond, California, Lucy studied civil engineering at the University of California at Berkeley in the 1950s.  He then joined the U.S. Navy in 1951.

Sources: 
William Lucy, Interview by Everett J. Freeman, 1986, Michigan State University; Michael Honey, Going Down Jericho Road:  The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King's Last Campaign (New York:  W.W. Norton and Company, 2007).

 

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Sweatt, Heman Marion (1912-1982)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Heman Sweatt in Law School Registration Line,
University of Texas, Sept. 19, 1950.
Image courtesy of the Center for American History,
The University of Texas at Austin, Texas Student Media,
The Daily Texan. Prints and Photographs Collection,
CN 00323a.

Heman Marion Sweatt was a postal worker from Houston, Texas, who in 1950 integrated the University of Texas Law School.  Sweatt was born on December 11, 1912 in Houston, Texas.  He was the fourth child of James Leonard and Ella Rose Sweatt.  In 1930, he graduated from Jack Yates High School and earned a degree from Wiley College in Marshall, Texas in 1934. Soon after, Sweatt returned to Houston and worked as a mailman.  

Sources: 

Michael L. Gillette, Michael L., "Heman Marion Sweatt: Civil Rights Plaintiff," in Alwyn Barr and Robert Calvert ed. Black Leaders: Texans for Their Times. (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1981); http://txtell.lib.utexas.edu/stories/s0010-full.html.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Dunbar-Nelson, Alice Ruth Moore (1875-1935)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Manuscripts, Archives
and Rare Books Division, Schomburg Center
for Research in Black Culture,
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox
and Tilden Foundations
Alice Ruth Moore, educator, author and social activist, was born on July 19, 1875 in New Orleans, Louisiana to Patricia (Wright) Moore and Monroe Moore.  She attended public school in New Orleans and enrolled in the teacher training program at Straight University in that city in 1890. Two years later she graduated and began teaching in New Orleans.    
Sources: 
Eleanor Alexander, Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow, The Courtship and Marriage of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore (New York: Penguin Group, 2001); Patsy B. Perry, “Alice Dunbar-Nelson,”  in J.C. Smith, ed., Notable Black American Women (Detroit: Gale  Research, 1992); The Alice Dunbar-Nelson Papers, University of Delaware.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Henry, Aaron (1922-1997)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 

Aaron Henry and Constance Curry, Aaron Henry: The Fire Ever Burning (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2000); Charles M. Payne, I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995); John Dittmer, Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1995).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Tacoma

Luper, Clara (1923-2011)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connerly, Ward (1939 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Ward Connerly, Creating Equal: My Fight Against Racial Preferences (San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2000); Michael E. Dyson, Debating Race (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2007); Francis Beckwith and Todd E. Jones, Affirmative Action: Social Justice or Reverse Discrimination? (Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1997); Michael W. Lynch, “Racial Preferences Are Dead,” interview in Reason http://www.reason.com/news/show/30527.html; Barry Bearak, “Questions of Race Run Deep for Foe of Preferences.” The New York Times.  July 27, 1997,  http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.htmlres=9C07E0DD153AF934A15754C0A961958260&sec.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Amelia Boynton Robinson (1911–2015)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Amelia Boynton Robinson (in Blue) at the 50th Anniversary of
the Selma to Montgomery March, 2015

"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Although most known for widely-publicized photographs that depicted her assault during the 1965 Bloody Sunday civil rights march in Selma, Alabama, Amelia Boynton Robinson lived a long life of civil rights activism in both Georgia and Alabama. Her critical role promoting African American voting rights in the South remains undervalued in published histories of the Civil Rights Movement, but Ava DuVernay’s 2014 Academy Award-nominated film Selma provided some renewed recognition on the eve of Boynton Robinson’s death.
Sources: 
Amelia Boynton Robinson, Bridge Across the Jordan (Washington, D.C.: Schiller Institute 1991);  Denise L. Berkhalter, “Bridge over Troubled Water,” Crisis 112 (March/April 2005); Margalit Fox, “Amelia Boynton Robinson, a Pivotal Figure at the Selma March, Dies at 104,” New York Times, August 26, 2015; and “Amelia Boynton Robinson and the Dallas County Voters League (DCVL),” at: https://www.teachingforchange.org/boynton-robinson-and-dcvl.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Georgia Southwestern State University

Murray, Pauli (1910-1985)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 

Pauli Murray, Song in a Weary Throat: An American Pilgrimage (New York: Harper and Row, 1987); Elaine Sue Caldbeck, “A Religious Life of Pauli Murray: Hope and Struggle,” Ph.D. dissertation, Northwestern University, 2000; http://spartacus-educational.com/USAmurrayA.htm.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Berry, Mary Frances (1938- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Mary Frances Berry
Mary Frances Berry is a scholar, professor, author, and civil rights activist who served on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Berry was born in Nashville, Tennessee on February 17, 1938 to parents Frances Southall Berry and George Ford Berry.  Due to her mother’s poverty and the desertion of her father, she and her brothers spent time in an orphanage. She attended the segregated public schools in Nashville but in the 10th grade she found a mentor in her teacher, Minerva Hawkins, who challenged Berry to excel in academics.

Berry graduated with honors from Pearl High School in Nashville in 1956 and began college at Fisk University. After transferring to Howard University she earned her B.A. in history in 1961.  She earned a history Ph.D. in 1966 from the University of Michigan. In 1968 Berry became a faculty member at the University of Maryland and supervised the establishment of an African American Studies Program at that institution.

Berry earned her law degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 1970 and became the acting director of the Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Maryland.  From 1974 to 1976 she served as University Provost, becoming the first African American woman to hold that position.
Sources: 
David De Leon, Leaders from the 1960s: A Biographical Sourcebook of American Activism (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1994); Catherine Ellis and Stephen Drury Smith, Say it Loud!: Great Speeches on Civil Rights and African American Identity (New York: New Press, 2010); Mary Frances Berry, And Justice for All: The United States Commission on Civil Rights and the Continuing Struggle for Freedom in America (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Washington, Booker T. (1856-1915)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

Bricktown and Deep Deuce, Oklahoma City (1889- )

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

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

Ellison, Keith M. (1963- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison was born on August 4, 1963 in Detroit, Michigan.  He was raised Catholic in a middle class family which included five sons to a father who was a psychiatrist and a mother who was a social worker.  Since childhood Ellison was involved with the civil rights movement and briefly worked with his grandfather in Louisiana for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

In 1981 Ellison graduated from the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy.  Six years later he graduated from Wayne State University in Detroit with a B.A. in economics.  While attending Wayne State University, Ellison converted from Catholicism to Islam.  After graduation Ellison attended the University of Minnesota Law School, graduating in 1990.

Ellison began his professional career at the Minneapolis law firm of Lindquist and Vennum.  He worked there for three years as a litigator specializing in criminal defense, civil rights, and employment.  After leaving Lindquist and Vennum Ellison he became executive director of the nonprofit Legal Rights Center in Minneapolis.  He then returned to private practice by joining Hassan & Reed where he specialized in trial practice.

Sources: 

Martiga Lohn, “Islamic Convert Wins House Nomination,” The Associated Press, September 14, 2006; Frederic J. Frommer, “Rep. Ellison Wants Forces Out of Iraq,” The Associated Press, January 10, 2007; Congressional Biography:
http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=E000288

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Reynolds, Grant (1908-2004)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Who's Who Among African Americans, 16th Edition (NY: Gale Research, 2003); Jervis Anderson, A. Philip Randolph: A Biographical Portrait (NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972); Nat Brandt, Harlem at War: The Black Experience in WWII (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1996); Richard M. Dalfiume, Desegregation of the U.S. Armed Forces: Fighting on Two Fronts 1939-1953 (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1969); Phillip McGuire, He, Too, Spoke for Democracy: Judge Hastie, World War II, and the Black Soldier (NY: Greenwood Press, 1988); Ancestry.com, Social Security Death Index.
Contributor: 

Bennett, Chris H. (1943- )

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

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Seattle newspaper publisher Chris H. Bennett was born in Waynesboro, Georgia in 1943. He spent four years in the Air Force before attending Everett Community College in Everett, Washington, where he played football. Bennett then worked for the African American newspaper The Facts before leaving to start Seattle Medium.

Twenty-seven-year-old Bennett founded Seattle Medium newspaper in 1970, locating it in an office above a dry-cleaning shop. He promoted the Medium as a weekly African American paper that focuses on community and local news in the Seattle area. Its masthead slogan reads, "A message for the people, by the people."

Sources: 

Himanee Gupta, "Chris Bennett: Publisher Uses Media as Mediums for his Message," Seattle Times (February 26, 1990); www.seattlemedium.com.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Muhammad, Benjamin Chavis (1948- )

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

Born on January 22, 1948 as Benjamin Franklin Chavis, Jr. in the city of Oxford, North Carolina, Benjamin Chavis Muhammad was a member of one of the most prominent African American families in North Carolina. His parents were well known educators and his ancestors included John Chavis, a Revolutionary War soldier with George Washington’s Army who became one of the first African Americans to attend Princeton University.  John Chavis later operated a private school in antebellum North Carolina that accepted both black and white students.

By age 13, Ben Chavis had established his civil rights activist credentials when he successfully integrated the all-white libraries in Oxford. Chavis became the first African American to receive a library card.

Sources: 
Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Africana: An A-Z Reference of the Movement that Changed America (New York: Running Press, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, Inc. (1896)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History

 

"Oklahoma Federation of Colored Women Banner, 1910"
Image Ownership: Public Domain

The National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, Inc. (NACWC), was established in July 1896 as a merger between the National League of Colored Women and the National Federation of Afro-American Women.  The merger enabled the NACWC to function as a national umbrella group for local and regional Black women’s organizations.

The NACWC adopted the motto of “Lifting as We Climb,” promoting self-help among women. During the early years of the organization, the largely educated and middle-class constituency supported temperance, positive images of women through moral purity, and women’s suffrage, issues also pursued by white women’s groups. However, unlike those groups, the NACWC saw their organization in terms of gender and race; viewing their women’s movement as a way to uplift black women, men, and children. For example, the NACWC saw the struggle for suffrage as the right to vote not just for women, but also for black men still disfranchised through the political maneuverings of whites.

Sources: 

Lillian Serece Williams and Randolph Boehm, Records of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, 1895-1992, A Microfilm Project of University Publications of America, Microfilm Reels; Elizabeth Davis, Lifting as They Climb (Washington D.C.: NACW, 1933); Deborah Gray White, Too Heavy a Load: Black Women in Defense of Themselves, 1894-1994 (New York: Norton, 1998).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Tacoma

Stokes, Charles Moorehead (1903-1996)

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

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

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

Farmer, James (1920-1999)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
James Farmer was born in Marshall, Texas in 1920, the grandson of a slave, and son of a minister and college professor, who was believed to be the first black man from Texas to obtain a doctorate. Farmer obtained advanced degrees from Wiley College and Howard University. A staunch pacifist and opponent of the military, Farmer refused to serve during World War II.  

Farmer’s pacifism and belief in a racially integrated society steered him toward a life of activism. With colleagues George Houser and Bernice Fisher, James Farmer co-founded the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) in 1942 in Chicago.  The civil rights organization would eventually grow to 82,000 members in 114 chapters around the nation by the mid-1960s with Farmer as its executive director.  
Sources: 
James Farmer. Lay Bare the Heart: An Autobiography of Civil Rights Movement (Arbor House: New York, 1985); Richard Severo, “James Farmer, Civil Rights Giant,” New York Times, July 10, 1999.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Bond, Horace Julian (1940-2015)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Julian Bond at the Georgia State Legislature,
January 10, 1966
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Horace Julian Bond was a scholar, poet, former legislator, and activist in the American Civil Rights Movement.  Julian Bond, as he came to be known, was born on January 14, 1940, in Nashville, Tennessee to Julia Washington Bond and Horace Mann Bond, an educator who served as the first African American president of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, and as dean of the School of Education at Atlanta University in Georgia.  Bond was married twice, first to Alice Copland (1961), and then to Pamela Horowitz (1990).  He had five children.
Sources: 
Clayborne Carson, In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995); John Neary, Julian Bond: Black Rebel (New York: Morrow, 1971), Roger M. Williams, The Bonds: An American Family (New York: Atheneum, 1971).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Tacoma

Martin, Ora Mae Lewis (1918–2005)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Ora Mae Lewis on Her Wedding Day, 1946
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Newspaper columnist and poet Ora Mae Lewis was born March 29, 1918, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her father, Nathan Leopold Lewis, was a native of Jamaica and a decorated soldier in the British Colonial Army, and her mother Cecelia Della Atkinson, a New Orleans Creole, was a pianist. Cecelia Atkinson died when Ora was seven years old, and her father later re-married. Ora Mae and her siblings lived with her grandmother and great-grandmother. Her parents and grandparents spoke English, French, German, and Creole; however, her father forbade her from speaking anything but the King’s English. Lewis attended New Orleans public schools. Her short story, “The First Christmas,” was published in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the city’s largest newspaper, when Lewis was nine.
Sources: 
Ora M. Lewis.com; Jari Honora, “The Twinkling Smiles of Ora Mae Lewis’ Twinkle Magazine,” http://www.creolegen.org/2015/11/20/the-twinkling-smiles-of-ora-mae-lewis-twinkle-magazine/; Sister Mary Anthony Scally, R.S.M., Negro Catholic Writers (1900-1943) A Bio-Bibliography, http://www.nathanielturner.com/negrocatholicwriters2.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Abbott, Robert Sengstacke (1870-1940)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

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

Williams, Camilla (1919-2012)

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

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

Tucker, C. DeLores (1927-2005)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

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

Franklin, Buck Colbert (1879–1960)

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

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

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

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

Jordan, June (1936-2002)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
June Meyer Jordan, writer, editor, poet, educator, environmental and social activist, was the only child of Granville Ivanhoe and Mildred Maude Fischer Jordan who were Jamaican immigrants. June was born in Harlem on July 9, 1936.  June’s father worked as a night shift postal clerk and her mother was a part-time private-duty nurse.  The family lived in Harlem until June was six years old, when they moved to the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn.  June’s father subjected her to serious physical abuse that continued throughout her childhood.  It was in this terrifying environment of bullying and severe beatings, that seven year old June found solace in the written word and began writing poetry.  In her memoir, Soldier, a Poet’s Childhood, she credited her father’s treatment with influencing her to write and introducing her to literature.
Sources: 
June Jordan, Soldier–A Poet’s Childhood (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2000); June Jordan, Soulscript–A Collection of African American Poetry (New York: Harlem Moon Press, 1970); “Poet of the People,” http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2002/06/17_jordan.html ;
http://www.junejordan.com
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas Southern University

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

Graves, Letitia A. (1863-1952)

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Ferebee, Dorothy Celeste Boulding (1898–1980)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Physician, educator, and social activist Dorothy Celeste Boulding Ferebee led efforts to improve the health care of African Americans.  As a member of several civic organizations, she fought to lower the mortality rate among African Americans in southern rural communities.  She also used these organizations as a vehicle to promote civil rights.

Dorothy Celeste Boulding Ferebee was born in Norfolk, Virginia, to Benjamin and Florence Boulding on October 10, 1898. When her mother became ill, Dorothy’s parents sent her to live with her great aunt in Boston, Massachusetts.  Between 1904 and 1908, Boulding attended school in Boston and in 1915 graduated at the top of her class from English High School.  Five years later she graduated from Simmons College in Boston and then immediately entered Tufts University School of Medicine, graduating with top honors in 1924.  
Sources: 

Ruth Edmonds Hill, ed., The Black Women Oral History Project (Westport, Connecticut: Meckler, 1991); Rayford W. Logan, Howard University: The First Hundred Years, 1867-1967 (New York: New York University Press, 1967); http://www.nlm.nih.gov/changingthefaceofmedicine/physicians/biography_109.html

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Murphy, Carl (1889–1967)

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

Carl Murphy, publisher, was born in Baltimore, Maryland on January 17, 1889.  In 1892, his father, John Henry Murphy edited and published the first issue of the paper the Baltimore Afro-American.  Murphy went to high school in Baltimore and after graduating attended Howard University receiving a Bachelor of Arts in 1911. He then moved  to Harvard were he received his Masters in German in 1913, he continued his studies in Germany before returning to the United States to become an assistant professor at Howard University’s German department.

Murphy became editor of the Baltimore Afro-American due to the poor health of his father in 1918.  Later, after his father passed away in 1922 Murphy became the leader of one of the most influential African American publications in the United States. At the peak of its circulation the Baltimore Afro-American reached over 200,000 people, and Murphy helped the paper grow in size so that by the end of his time at the paper in 1961, it had expanded to cover Newark, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Richmond, Virginia.

Sources: 

Jack Salzman, David Smith, and Cornel West, Ed., Encyclopedia of
African-American Culture and History
(New York: Publisher Simon &
Schuster Macmillan, 1996); Black Press USA, December 5, 2008,
http://www.blackpressusa.com/history/GOG_Article.asp?NewsID=2049

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Brown, Charlotte L. ( ? -- ?)

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

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

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

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

Black Panther Party

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
The Original Panthers,
October 15, 1966
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

Jackson, Luther Porter (1892-1950)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Luther Porter Jackson was a leading teacher, historian, and active voice of the history of African Americans in the South. Jackson was born in Lexington, Kentucky of former slave parents, Edward and Delilah Jackson, the ninth of twelve children. He attended Fisk University where he obtained B.A. and M.A. degrees in history in 1914 and 1916 respectively. In 1937 he completed the Ph.D. in history at the University of Chicago.

Jackson began his teaching career in 1913 at the Topeka Industrial Institute in Kansas.  By 1915 he had moved to Voorhees Industrial School in South Carolina where he remained until 1918.  While teaching in South Carolina Jackson researched his first two articles that eventually appeared in the Journal of Negro History.  In 1922, Jackson joined the faculty of the Virginia Normal and Technical Institute (now Virginia State University).  Also in 1922 he married music teacher and fellow Fisk graduate Johnella Fraser. The couple had four children.
Sources: 
J.H. Johnston, "Luther P. Jackson," Journal of Negro History 35:3 (July 1950); Michael Dennis, Luther P. Jackson and a Life for Civil Rights (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Hawaii

Brown Jr., Michael (1996–2014)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
With his death in 2014, eighteen-year-old Michael Brown’s name became synonymous with the growing Black Lives Matter movement and a nationwide debate about unarmed black men being fatally shot by law enforcement. Michael Brown Jr. was born on May 20, 1996, to Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr. in Florissant, Missouri. After his parents separated, Brown grew up living alternately with his mother, father, and paternal grandmother. Although he struggled early with his education, attending several different high schools, Brown recovered, graduated with his class in 2014, and planned to enroll in a trade school.

On the afternoon of August 9 in the predominantly African American community of Ferguson, Missouri, a convenience store security video captured the six-foot-four Brown pushing a clerk into a display case as Brown stole a pack of cigars. Soon afterward, Brown and a friend were walking in the middle of the street when they encountered Darren Wilson, a white police officer, who ordered them onto the sidewalk. It is unclear if Wilson was aware of the convenience store robbery. Moments later, a physical altercation between Brown and Wilson ensued, resulting in Wilson shooting the unarmed Brown at least six times, twice in the head.

Sources: 
John Eligon, “Michael Brown Spent Last Weeks Grappling with Problems and Promise,” The New York Times, August 14, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/25/us/michael-brown-spent-last-weeks-grappling-with-lifes-mysteries.html?_r=0; “Tracking the Events in the wake of Michael Brown’s Shooting,” The New York Times, November 24, 2014. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/11/09/us/10ferguson-michael-brown-shooting-grand-jury-darren-wilson.html?_r=1#/#time354_10512; Ellen Wulfhost, Daniel Wallis, and Edward McAllister, “More than 400 arrested as Ferguson protests spread to other U.S. cities.” Reuters. November 26, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-missouri-shooting-idUSKCN0J80PR20141126.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle Central College

Wilkins, Roy (1901-1981)

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

Wheaton, John Francis (1866-1922)

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

John Francis Wheaton was a late 19th Century and early 20th Century lawyer and a politician.  Wheaton ran for elective office in three states and was the first African American to serve in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

John Francis Wheaton was born on May 8, 1866 to Jacob and Emily Wheaton in Hagerstown, Maryland.  He graduated from the high school division of Storer College in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in 1882. During the decade after his graduation Wheaton worked as a public school teacher, then attended Dixon Business College in Illinois, and later moved to Washington D.C., where he worked as a clerk for the United States Congress until 1892.  In 1889, Wheaton married Ella Chambers and the couple had two sons, Layton J. and Frank P. Wheaton.

Wheaton graduated from Howard’s Law Department in May 1892 and set up a practice in Hagerstown.  He was only the fourth African American to pass the bar and practice law in Maryland and the first outside Baltimore.

In 1893, however, Wheaton moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota where he worked as a clerk in the state legislature and also as a deputy clerk in the Minneapolis municipal courts.  The following year he became the first African American to graduate from the University of Minnesota Law School.

Sources: 
"It's a Fact! (John Francis Wheaton)," Session Weekly, (St. Paul: Minnesota House of Representatives Information Office, February 21, 1992), 14; Marion Daniel Shutter, "John Francis Wheaton," Progressive Men of Minnesota, Marion D. Shutter, D.D. and J.S. McLain, M.A. eds., (Minneapolis: The Minneapolis Journal, 1897), 350-351.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Langston, Charles Henry (1817-1892)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Charles Henry Langston
(Ohio Historical Society)

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

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

Kaepernick, Colin Rand (1987- )

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

Colin Rand Kaepernick, a professional football quarterback formerly for the San Francisco (California) 49ers of the National Football League (NFL), is currently a free agent. He played collegiate football at the University of Nevada where he twice was named the Western Athletic Offensive Player of the Year and the Most Valuable Player of the 2008 Humanitarian Bowl. Kaepernick was selected by the 49ers in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. In 2016 he gained national attention when he began protesting racial oppression by not standing when the United States national anthem was played at the start of games. His protests were eventually copied by hundreds of professional and amateur athletes across the nation.

Sources: 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Horne, Lena (1917-2010)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
James Haskins, A Personal and Professional Biography of Lena Horne, (Detroit: Scarborough House, 1991); AlJean Harmetz, "Lena Horne Obituary," New York Times, May 10, 2010; http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/lena-horne-about-the-performer/487/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Current, Gloster B. (1913-1997)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Musician, clergyman and civil rights supporter Gloster B. Current was instrumental in the growth of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples (NAACP, founded 1909).  Born in 1913 in Indianapolis, Indiana, to John T. Current and Earsy Bryant, Gloster grew up Chicago and Detroit. He earned a BA degree from West Virginia State College in 1941 and a master’s degree in Public Administration from Wayne State University in 1950.  

Current’s role with the NAACP spanned 37 years between 1936 and 1978.  He began his career with a position with the organization’s youth council in Detroit.  Two years later, he married Leontine Turpeau Current (later Kelly), who would become the first African American woman elected bishop in a mainstream denomination. They had three children and before divorcing.

Three years into his NAACP service, Current became vice chairman of national college chapters and chair of the central youth council committee.  He later held positions in the national office as a deputy to the executive director and served most of his time as director of branch and field services, supervising all NAACP membership, field service, and organizational activities.  

Sources: 
Angella P. Current, Breaking Barriers: An American Family and Methodist Story (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2001); “Gloster B. Current, Civil Rights Leader and Former NAACP executive dies” Jet Magazine (July 21 1997); Lawrence Van Gelder, “Gloster B. Current, 84, Leader Who Helped Steer N.A.A.C.P,” New York Times, July 9, 1997; “Gloster B. Current, ‘Marching Soldier’,” The Crisis 87:10 (December 1980).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Dixon, Thomas (1931- )

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

Thomas Dixon, born in Sparta, Georgia, on March 28, 1931, was the founding director of the Tacoma Urban League and one of Tacoma’s civil rights leaders during the 1960s and 1970s.  Having spent his professional life in Tacoma, Dixon nonetheless retains a deep connection to his birthplace.  His grandfather, a former slave, began to buy land and plant cotton, eventually accumulating 1,500 acres and becoming one of the largest black landowners in the county.  Illiterate himself, his grandfather saw that all of his eighteen children were educated.  Dixon’s father graduated from Morehouse College and became a doctor.  The two men were powerful influences on Dixon, who was eleven when his father died.

Dixon credits an aunt who was an educator with encouraging him to attend college.  Unsure of his direction, he joined the Air Force in 1951 and in 1955 was assigned to Japan.  He completed college at Sophia University in Tokyo in 1960 with a degree in sociology and economics.  In 1971 Dixon received a master’s degree in urban studies from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma.  

Sources: 

Jack Pyle, “Tom Dixon, from Georgia Farm to Urban League,” The News Tribune (Tacoma, WA), June 24, 1979; Transforming Tacoma: The Struggle for Civil Rights, Sid Lee, producer, director, and editor (produced in cooperation with Rainier Media Center for the Tacoma Civil Rights Project, 2008); Thomas Dixon and the Tacoma Urban League, University of Washington Tacoma Community History Project, interview transcript, 1991.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Abernathy, Ralph (1926-1990)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Ralph David Abernathy was born on March 11, 1926 in Linden, Alabama.  His boyhood was spent on his father’s Alabama farm but he joined the U.S. Army and served in World War II from 1941 to 1945.  After his service Abernathy returned to his home state where he attended Alabama State College in Montgomery, Alabama, receiving a degree in Mathematics in 1950.  
Sources: 
Ralph David Abernathy, And the Walls Came Tumbling Down: An Autobiography (New York: Harper and Row, 1989); http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-2736.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

President's Committee on Fair Employment Practice (FEPC)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Fair Employment Practices Committee Meeting, 1942
Image Ownership: Public Domain

On June 25, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802, creating a Committee on Fair Employment Practices (FEPC) to investigate complaints of discrimination and take action against valid complaints in any defense industry receiving government contracts. President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802 only after A. Philip Randolph, working with other civil rights activists, organized the 1941 March on Washington Movement, which threatened to bring 100,000 African Americans to the nation’s capitol to protest racial discrimination. President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802 one week before the proposed March, and in return, Randolph called off the demonstration. However, Randolph continued to fight against discrimination and formed the March on Washington Movement (MOWM) to hold the FEPC accountable.

Sources: 

Merl Elwyn Reed, Seedtime for the Modern Civil Rights Movement: the
President’s Committee on Fair Employment Practice, 1941-1946
, (Baton
Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1991); Louis Ruchames, Race,
Jobs & Politics: The Story of FEPC
, (New York: Columbia University
Press, 1953); Herbert Garfinkel, When Negroes March: The March on
Washington Movement in the Organizational Politics for FEPC
(New York:
Athenaeum, 1969).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Tacoma

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

Ransom, Reverdy Cassius (1861-1959)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Reverdy Cassius Ransom was a civil rights leader, editor and the forty-eighth bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Ransom was born in Flushing, Ohio to George and Harriet (Johnson) Ransom. In 1869, Ransom’s family moved to Cambridge, Ohio, where he spent several years in segregated public schools. As his mother did not believe this education to be equal to education whites were receiving, she had young Ransom tutored by some of the members of the white families for whom she worked for as a domestic servant. Due to the determination of his mother, who deemed that if young white men and women were able to enter college, then her son should as well, Ransom enrolled at Wilberforce University, an all-black institution, in 1881.

The next year Ransom transferred to Oberlin College, an ostensibly integrated institution which nonetheless still segregated its social and recreational activities. After addressing a protest meeting to fight the college’s recent decision to segregate the Ladies Dining Hall, he lost his scholarship at Oberlin, and then transferred back to Wilberforce where he graduated in 1886. Three years before his graduation, Ransom had been licensed to preach. He was ordained as a deacon in 1886 and in 1924 was elected the forty-eighth bishop of the AME Church at Louisville, Kentucky; he remained an active bishop until 1952.
Sources: 
Anthony B. Pinn, ed. Moral Evil and Redemptive Suffering (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2002); Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Cameron, Jr., James Herbert (1914–2006)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
James Cameron in the Black Holocaust Museum,
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
James Herbert Cameron Jr. was a civil rights activist responsible for founding three chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He later established America’s Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Cameron is also the only known person to have survived a lynching.