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Civil Rights Activists

Springfield Race Riot, 1908

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People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

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

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

Louima, Abner (1966- )

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

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

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

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

McNeil, Joseph Alfred (1942- )

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

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

The Southern Regional Council (1944- )

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Charles W. Eagles, Winner of the 2010 Lillian Smith Book Award
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The Southern Regional Council (SRC) was formed in 1944 in Atlanta, Georgia.  It evolved out of the earlier Commission on Interracial Cooperation (CIC), which was established in 1919 to lessen racial tensions in the South after World War I.  Its specific goals included putting an end to lynching, race riots, and sharecropping, and educating white Southerners on the racial abuse suffered by African Americans in the region.  The CIC was formed by white Methodist ministers Will Alexander and Willis D. Weatherford and white liberal industrialist John J. Eagen, as well as black leaders such as Robert Moton, Principal of Tuskegee Institute.  Alexander became the CIC’s executive director and Eagan, its first president. In 1930 Jessie Daniel Ames formed the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching as a parallel group to rally liberal white Southern women to combat lynching in their own communities.
Sources: 
http://www.southerncouncil.org/history.html; Randall L. Patton, "Southern Regional Council," New Georgia Encyclopedia,http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/history-archaeology/commission-interracial-cooperation; Ann E. Pullen, "Commission on Interracial Cooperation," New Georgia Encyclopedia, http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/history-archaeology/commission-interracial-cooperation.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Stewart, T. McCants (1853-1923)

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

Teacher, author, clergyman, and civil rights leader, Thomas McCants Stewart was born in Charleston, South Carolina on December 28, 1853,  to George Gilchrist and Anna Morris Stewart.  Young Stewart attended the Avery Normal Institute before enrolling in Howard University in 1869. Although only fifteen when he arrived on Howard’s campus, Stewart, nonetheless, distinguished himself as a student and contributed occasional articles to the Washington, D.C. New National Era, an African American newspaper.

Yet Stewart grew increasingly dissatisfied with the quality of instruction at Howard and became one of the first black students to enroll in the University of South Carolina at Columbia in 1874. In December 1875, Stewart graduated with Bachelor of Arts and L.L.B. degrees.

Sources: 
Albert S. Broussard, African American Odyssey: The Stewarts, 1853-1963 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998); Charles E. Wynes, "T. McCants Stewart: Peripatetic Black South Carolinian," South Carolina Historical Magazine 80 (October, 1979): 311-317.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas A&M University

Lester, Julius (1939- )

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

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

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

Gregory, Dick (1932-2017)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Dick Gregory, comedian, actor, and civil rights activist, was born Richard Claxton Gregory in 1932 in St. Louis, Missouri.  Gregory's father left the family when Gregory was a child forcing his mother, Lucille, a maid, to raise him and his five siblings.  During his high school years Gregory joined the track team at Sumner High School and broke several school records.  He consequently won a track scholarship to Southern Illinois University in 1951.  Around 1953, Gregory’s mother died and he left college.  He was drafted into the Army, where he performed as a comedian and won his first talent show.  

Three years after leaving the Army, Gregory made his name as a comedian in Chicago nightclubs while living with his brother Presley.  In 1959, he married Lillian Smith and together they had ten children.
Sources: 
Dick Gregory and Robert Lipsyte, Nigger: An Autobiography (New York: Washington Square Press, 1964); Gerald Nachman, Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comic of the 1950s and 1960s (New York: Pantheon Books, 2003); Shelia Patrice Moses, “Dick Gregory,” in African American National Biography: Volume Four, ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Evelyn Brooks-Higginbotham (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Tolbert, James Lionel (1926-2013)

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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

Bruce, Josephine Beall Willson (1853-1923)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
A clubwoman, teacher, society leader, and race activist, Josephine Beall Willson Bruce was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 29, 1853, to Dr. Joseph Willson, a prominent dentist, and Elizabeth Harnett Willson, a singer and musician. In 1854 the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio where Josephine Willson received her education. An accomplished linguist, she enjoyed literature and classical music.

On June 24, 1878, she married Republican senator Blanche K. Bruce, a political leader and plantation owner from Mississippi and the only black United States senator.

Sources: 
Bruce A. Glasrud, "Josephine Beall (Willson) Bruce," in African American Women: A Biographical Dictionary, edited by Dorothy C. Salem, 75-77 (New York: Garland Publishing, 1993); Willard B. Gatewood, “Josephine Beall Willson Bruce,” in Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, edited by Darlene Clark Hine, Elsa Barkley Brown, and Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, vol. I, 187-188 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Carey, Archibald, Jr. (1908-1981)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

James & Lydia Sims

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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

Still, William (1821-1902)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
William Still was born in Burlington County, New Jersey in 1821, as the last of eighteen children of former slaves Levin and Charity Still. By 1844, Still moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he spent the majority of his life and where he was appointed secretary of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society. Still was the first black man to join the society and the first to hold this position.

Still was also active in the Underground Railroad in the two decades between his arrival in Philadelphia and the end of the Civil War.  Still became well known in various circles as a major “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, helping fugitives make their way to Canada and freedom.  Still also campaigned for an end to racial discrimination in Philadelphia.  In 1859 he organized the effort to end black exclusion from Philadelphia streetcars.  This campaign was described in Still’s first publication, Struggle for the Civil Rights of the Coloured People of Philadelphia in the City Railway Cars in 1867.
Sources: 
Kwame Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience, Vols. 1-5 (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2004); http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USASstill.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Murray, George Washington (1853–1926)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

South Carolina Congressman George Washington Murray was born near Rembert, Sumter County, South Carolina, on September 22, 1853 to slave parents. He attended public schools, the University of South Carolina, and the State Normal Institute at Columbia, where he graduated in 1876. After graduating, Murray taught school and worked as a lecturer for the Colored Farmers’ Alliance for 15 years. In 1890 he became an inspector of customs at the port of Charleston.  Two years later in 1892, Murray, a Republican, was elected to represent South Carolina’s 7th Congressional District which included Charleston. 

Murray took his seat in the Fifty-third Congress on March 4, 1893.  He immediately focused his efforts on protecting black voting rights in the South at a time when growing numbers of black voters were being excluded from the polls.  Murray was also a member of the Committee on Education.   He also took a seat on the Committee on Expenditures in the Treasury Department.

George W. Murray fought Jim Crow laws which undermined the efforts of black people to improve their status.  As a member of Congress he urged funding for the Cotton States and International Exhibition in Atlanta in 1895 to make the white South and the wider nation aware of black achievements. Ironically Booker T. Washington would become famous at that Exposition by criticizing the efforts of African American politicians like Murray to concentrate on voting rights. 

Sources: 
Bruce Ragsdale, Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1989 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1990);  http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=M001106; Biographical Directory of the George Washington Murray.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

The Jackson State Killings, 1970

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Philip Gibbs and James Earl Green
Killed at Jackson State College, May 15, 1970
Image Ownership: Public domain

The Jackson State Killings took place at Jackson State College (now Jackson State University) on May 15, 1970, in Jackson, Mississippi.  Around midnight on May 14, city and state police confronted a group of students, opening fire on them, killing two students and injuring twelve. The Jackson State Killings occurred eleven days after the more widely publicized Kent State University Shootings in Kent, Ohio eleven days earlier.

Sources: 
“Jackson State Killings,” Nashville Public Radio, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126426361; “Jackson State Killings, Libcom, https://libcom.org/history/jackson-state-shootings-1970; Tim Spofford, Lynch Street: The May 1970 Slayings at Jackson State (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1988).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Jackson, Mahalia (1911-1972)

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People
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African American History

 

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

Colvin, Claudette (1935- )

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People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Claudette Colvin, a nurse’s aide and Civil Rights Movement activist, was born on September 5, 1939 in Birmingham, Alabama. Her parents were Mary Jane Gadson and C.P. Austin, but she was raised by her great-aunt and great-uncle, Mary Ann Colvin and Q.P. Colvin. Claudette Colvin and her guardians relocated to Montgomery when she was eight. She later attended Booker T. Washington High School in Montgomery.  

On March 2, 1955, 19-year-old Colvin, while riding on a segregated city bus, made the fateful decision that would make her a pioneer of the Civil Rights Movement. She had been sitting far behind the seats already reserved for whites, and although a city ordinance empowered bus drivers to enforce segregation, blacks could not be asked to give up a seat in the “Negro” section of the bus for a white person when it was crowded. However, this provision of the local law was usually ignored. Colvin was asked by the driver to give up her seat on the crowded bus for a white passenger who had just boarded. She refused.
Sources: 
Ruth E. Martin, "Colvin, Claudette," African American National Biography, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008); Darlene Clark Hine, et al., The African American Odyssey (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson, 2010).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Fortune, T. Thomas (1856-1928)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
T. Thomas Fortune—African American journalist, editor, and writer—was born into slavery on October 3, 1856 to Sarah Jane and Emanuel Fortune.  Raised in Marianna, Florida, he as a child witnessed the politically-motivated violence of the Florida Ku Klux Klan.  Despite minimal formal education, Fortune worked in print shops during his childhood.  Moving north in 1874, he worked as a customs inspector in Delaware’s eastern district before briefly enrolling in Howard University in 1876.  Deciding he would become a journalist, Fortune left Howard less than a year after he arrived.
Sources: 
Emma Lou Thornbrough, T. Thomas Fortune: Militant Journalist (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972); John Hope Franklin and August Meier (eds.), Black Leaders in the Twentieth Century (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982); Walter David Greason, Suburban Erasure: How the Suburbs Ended the Civil Rights Movement (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2013).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Monmouth University

Motley, Constance Baker (1921-2005)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

James Meredith and Constance Baker Motley, 1962

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Sources: 

Dorothy C. Salem, ed., African American Women: A Biographical Dictionary (New York & London: Garland Publishing, 1993); Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia (New York: Carlson Publishing Inc., 1993); National Women’s History Project: http://www.nwhp.org/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Oberlin College (1833- )

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Institutions
History Type: 
African American History

 

Oberlin College's First Varsity Baseball Team, 1881
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Oberlin College which was named Oberlin Collegiate Institute until 1850, is a private liberal arts college in Oberlin, Ohio.   In 1833, Presbyterian ministers John Jay Sipherd and Philo P. Stewart founded the institution as a college preparatory institute to promote Christian values.  Oberlin's progressive history began during the antebellum period.  In 1835 it became the first predominantly white collegiate institution to admit African American male students and two years later it opened its doors to all women, becoming the first coeducational college in the country.   In 1862, Mary Jane Patterson earned a B.A. degree in education from Oberlin, becoming the first African American woman to earn a degree from an American college. Other black women had graduated earlier but did not receive the collegiate degree (BA). Oberlin continued to be an important institution for African Americans for the next century.  By 1900, one third of all black professionals in the U.S. had undergraduate degrees from Oberlin.

Sources: 
Roland M. Baumann, Constructing Black Education at Oberlin College: A Documentary History (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2010); Stephanie Y. Evans, Black Women in the Ivory Tower, 1850-1954: An Intellectual History (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2007); Michele Valarie Ronnick, ed., The Autobiography of William Sanders Scarborough: An American Journey from Slavery to Scholarship (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2005); http://www.oberlin.edu.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Holmes, Emory Hestus (1924-1995)

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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

Looby, Z. Alexander (1899-1972)

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

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

Dickerson, Earl Burrus (1891-1986)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Earl Dickerson in His Law Office, 1921
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Earl Burrus Dickerson was a member of President Roosevelt’s Fair Employment Practices Commission between 1941 and 1943 and a prominent civil rights attorney in Chicago.  He was also one of the founders of the Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company with headquarters in Chicago, Illinois. 

Dickerson was born in Canton, Mississippi in 1891.  He attended the University of Illinois and served during World War I as an infantry lieutenant with the American Expeditionary Forces. In 1920 he became the first African American to receive a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School.  The following year Dickerson helped found Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company and became its general counsel.  By the early 1940s Supreme Life, as it was then known, was the largest African American owned business in the North.  Part of its success stemmed from the still segregated American society.  White insurance companies generally refused to insure African Americans or employ them.  Supreme Life filled that void.  The company was particularly helpful to African Americans in the Great Depression when it provided mortgage loans to struggling families.  Dickerson became the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Supreme Life in 1955 and remained in that position until 1971 when he became chairman of the Board of Directors. 

Sources: 
Robert J. Blakely and Marcus Shepard, Earl B. Dickerson: A Voice for Freedom and Equality (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2006); 1,000 Successful Blacks, The Ebony Success Library, v.1 (Chicago, Johnson Pub. Co., 1973); Ebony (Chicago: Johnson Pub. Co., 1946 & 1947); Jet (Chicago: Johnson Pub. Co., 1979).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Gibbs, Mifflin Wistar (1823-1915)

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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)

Moses, Robert P. (1935- )

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in Harlem, New York in 1935, Robert Parris Moses first appeared on the civil rights scene during the 1960s. After being inspired by a meeting with Ella Baker and being moved by the student sit-ins, as well as the Civil Rights fervor in the South, he joined the movement. His first involvement came with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) where he organized a youth march in Atlanta to promote integrated education.  In 1960 Moses joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and two years later became strategic coordinator and project director with the newly formed Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) which worked in Mississippi.  In 1963 Moses led the voter registration campaign in the Freedom Summer movement. The following year he helped form the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party which tried to replace the segregationist-dominated Mississippi Democratic Party delegation at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. Moses left SNCC after the organization embraced “black power” under its new chairman, Stokely Carmichael.
Sources: 
http://www.algebra.org/; Kwame A. Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 1999); Colin A Palmer, Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History, Vol. M-P (Missouri: Thomson Gale, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Barry, Marion Jr. (1936-2014)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Marion Barry Jr., a civil rights activist and later three term mayor of Washington D.C., was born on March 6, 1936, in Itta Bena, Mississippi. His parents, Marion Barry and Mattie Barry, were sharecroppers; the family lived in relative poverty. When Marion was eight years old, his mother took the family to live in Memphis, Tennessee.

Barry graduated from high school in Memphis and then in 1958 earned his bachelor’s degree at Le Moyne College, a small black college in the city. He received a master’s degree in organic chemistry from Le Moyne College in Nashville in 1960.  Barry then completed three years of a doctoral program in chemistry at the University of Tennessee.

Sources: 

Jonetta Rose Barras, The Last of the Black Emperor: The Hollow Comeback of Marion Barry in the New Age of Black Leaders (Baltimore: Bancroft Press, 1998); Councilmember Ward 8, http://www.dccouncil.washington.dc.us/BARRY/about/default.htm; The Washington Post, “Marion Barry: The Making of a Mayor,” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/local/longterm/library/dc/barry/barry.htm. "Marion Berry 4-Time Mayor of D.C., dies at 78," The Washington Post, Nov 23, 2014.

 

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Goodwin, Luther Ambrose (1920-1982)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Luther and Joye Goodwin (Holding Their Child)
in 1964 Civil Rights Demonstration
Image Ownership: Public domain
Sources: 
Robert Fikes, Jr., “The Incomparable Mr. Goodwin” (unpublished paper); Luther Goodwin obituary in The San Bernardino County Sun (January 7, 1982); “Angela Davis Kin Jailed in Shooting,” San Diego Union (November 19, 1969).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Malcolm X (1925-1965)

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

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

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

Lambert, William (1817-1890)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Abolitionist and civil rights activist William Lambert was born in Trenton, New Jersey in 1817, the son of a manumitted father and a freeborn mother. As a young man Lambert was educated by abolitionist Quakers.

Twenty-three year old Lambert arrived in Detroit, Michigan in 1840 as a cabin boy on a steamboat, and eventually started a profitable tailoring and dry cleaning business.  Upon his death Lambert left behind an estate estimated at $100,000.  Lambert was also a founder of the St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church and served as one of its wardens.

In Detroit Lambert soon became active in the movement to secure suffrage for the black men of Michigan. He founded the Colored Vigilant Committee, Detroit’s first civil rights organization. In 1843 Lambert helped to organize the first State Convention of Colored Citizens in Michigan. He was subsequently elected chair of the convention and gave an address regarding the right to vote that was directed not only towards black people, but also to the white male citizens of the state. Lambert also worked to bring public education to the black children of Detroit.
Sources: 
Katherine DuPre Lumpkin, “The General Plan Was Freedom”: A Negro Secret Order on the Underground Railroad," Phylon, 28:1 (1st Qtr., 1967); “William Lambert," Detroit African-American History Project, Wayne.edu website; Historic Elmwood Cemetery & Foundation, http://www.elmwoodhistoriccemetery.org/biographies/william-lambert/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Nell, William C. (1816-1874)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

William C. Nell was an African American civic activist, abolitionist, and historian. Born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Nell was the son of William Guion Nell, a prominent tailor and black activist. William C. Nell was introduced to racial inequality and black activism from birth. In the 1830s, he became politically active as a member of the Juvenile Garrison Independent Society where he wrote plays and hosted political debates while being mentored by William Lloyd Garrison.  Nell was a printer’s apprentice for Garrison’s newspaper, the Liberator. Nell came of age in the 1840s, as a leader in the campaign to desegregate the Boston railroad (1843) and Boston performance halls (1853). He was also a founding member of the New England Freedom Association in 1842, a black Boston organization that assisted fugitive slaves in their efforts to gain freedom.

Sources: 
“William Cooper Nell (1816 - 1874),” in Boston African-American National Historic Site, National Park Service, (2002); William C. Nell, “The Triumph of Equal School Rights in Boston,” in Philip S. Foner and Robert James Branham (eds.), Lift Every Voice: African American Oratory, 1787-1900 (Tuscaloosa: Univ. of Alabama Press, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Stokes, Louis (1925-2015)

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

Ohio’s first African American Congressman, Louis Stokes was born to Charles and Louis Stokes on February 23, 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio, where he attended its public schools before joining the United States Army in 1943. Stokes served in the army for three years and then attended Western Reserve University from 1946 to 1948 where he earned a B.A.  In 1953 he received a Doctor of Law degree from Cleveland Marshall Law School of the Cleveland State University. Stokes was admitted to the Ohio bar the same year and began practicing law in Cleveland.

Sources: 
Bruce A. Ragsdale, Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1989 (Washington: U.S. Government) Printing Office, 1990; www.bioguide.congress.gov; Alton Hornsby, Jr. and Angela M. Hornsby, “From the Grassroots”: Profiles of Contemporary African American Leaders (Montgomery, Alabama: E-BookTime LLC, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Alexander, Sadie Tanner Mossell (1898-1989)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born two decades before American women won the right to vote, Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander overcame obstacles as a female and also as an African American in the elite profession of law. In 1927 she became the first black woman to gain admission to the Pennsylvania Bar, beginning a long career advocating for civil and human rights.

Sarah Tanner Mossell Alexander was born into a distinguished family on January 2, 1898 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her grandfather was Bishop Benjamin Tucker Tanner (1835-1923), editor of the Christian Recorder and the AME Church Review. Her uncle was surgeon Dr. Nathan F. Mossell (1856-1946), founder of the Frederick Douglass Hospital (now Mercy-Douglass Hospital), and her aunt, Dr. Hallie Tanner Johnson (1864-1901), founded Tuskegee Institute’s Nurses’ School & Hospital. Other uncles were the painter, Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937) and Lewis Baxter Moore (1866-1928), Dean of Howard University.

Alexander’s father was Aaron Mossell (1863-1951), an attorney who deserted his wife Mary and two daughters a year after Sadie’s birth. Suffering from depression, Mary Mossell often traveled to Washington, D.C., where relatives cared for the girls.
Sources: 
Lia B. Epperson, Knocking Down Doors: The Trailblazing Life of Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, Pennsylvania’s First Black Woman Lawyer (Stanford, CA: Women’s Legal History Biography Project, Stanford University Law School: 1998) www.law.stanford.edu/library/.../papers/Alexander-epperson98.pdf; J. Clay Smith, Emancipation: The Making of the Black Lawyer (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press: 1993).
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

Lampkin, Daisy (1884-1965)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Born August 9, 1884 in Reading, Pennsylvania, Daisy Lampkin became one of the most highly acclaimed African American women of her time. While Lampkin is best known for becoming the first woman to be elected to the national board of the NAACP, she spent much of her life rallying for racial and gender equality.

Lampkin’s social and political activism began shortly after graduating from high school. After migrating to Pittsburgh, Lampkin worked as a motivational speaker for housewives and organized women into consumer protest groups. In addition, as an active member of the Lucy Stone Women’s Suffrage League and the National Suffrage League, Lampkin rallied for women’s right to vote. Understanding the challenges specific to African American women, she also became involved with the National Association for Colored Women (NACW), and was later named national organizer and chair of the executive board.

Sources: 
Edna Chappell McKenzie, “Daisy Lampkin.” In Black Women in America: Social Activism, edited by Darlene Clark Hine. (New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1997); Lisa Hill, “Daisy Lampkin” in African American Women: A Biographical Dictionary, edited by Dorothy C. Salem (New York: Garland Publishing, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Stanford University

Shuttlesworth, Fred (1922-2011)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Sources: 
Jo Ann Robinson, The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women Who Started It (Knoxville, Tennessee: University of Tennessee Press, 1987); Russell Freedman, Freedom Walkers: the Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott (New York: Holiday House, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

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

Reagon, Bernice Johnson (1942- )

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

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

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Varick, James (1750-1827)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
James Varick was the founder and first bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Varick was born to a slave mother near Newburgh, New York. His father was Richard Varick, a free black man who was originally from Hackensack, New Jersey. Varick grew up with his parents in New York City, where it is thought that he may have attended the Free School for Negroes. After this schooling, Varick was trained in the trade of shoemaking.

In 1766, Varick, now free, joined the John Street Methodist Episcopal Church, which had a predominately white congregation.  Eventually Varick became a minister and was licensed to preach at John Street Church.  Although he was not the main minister, his appointment to the pulpit as the Church’s first black preacher caused considerable racial tension and calls for racial segregation of the congregation.  Eventually black parishioners were forced to sit in the galleries or the back row seating. Incensed at this change in church policy Varick and thirty other black members withdrew from the church in 1796.

In 1790, Varick married Aurelia Jones. The couple had seven children, four of whom survived into adulthood. During this time Varick worked as a shoemaker and a tobacco cutter in order to support his family.
Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982); Anne H. Pinn and Anthony B. Fortress, Introduction to Black Church History (Minneapolis: Augsburg Press, 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Powell, Barbara Rose Johns (1935-1991)

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

Barbara Rose Johns Powell was an American civil rights leader.  She is best known as the student who, at the age of sixteen, led a student strike at Robert Russa Moton High School (now Robert Russa Moton Museum) in Farmville, Prince Edward County, Virginia on April 21, 1951. The strike led the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to file a lawsuit, Davis v. Prince Edward County, which would become one of the five cases that led to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.

Sources: 
“Barbara Rose Johns Powell,” Biography, https://www.biography.com/people/barbara-johns-206527; “Barbara Rose Johns Powell,” All About Barbara Rose Johns, http://www.barbararosejohns.com/brief_bio.html; “Barbara Rose Johns Powell,” Public Broadcasting  Service, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/stories_people_johns.html; “Barbara Rose Johns Powell,” Robert Russa  Moton Museum, http://www.motonmuseum.org/biography-barbara-rose-johns-powell/; “Barbara Rose Johns,” Digital SNCC Gateway, https://snccdigital.org/events/barbara-johns-leads-prince-edward-county-student-walkout/; Teri Kanefield, The Girl from the Tar Paper School: Barbara Rose Johns and the Advent of the Civil Rights Movement (New  York: Harry N. Adams, 2014).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Richmond, David Leinail (1941-1990)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

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

Younge, Samuel (“Sammy”) Leamon, Jr. (1944-1966)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Samuel (“Sammy”) Leamon Younge Jr. was a young civil rights activist who was shot to death on January 3, 1966 when he attempted to use a whites-only restroom at a gas station in Macon County, Alabama. He was 21 years old.  Younge was killed 11 years after and 40 miles from where the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott began. At the time of his death he was a military veteran and Tuskegee Institute political science student.  

Younge was born on November 17, 1944 in Tuskegee, Alabama. His parents were educated professionals; Samuel Sr. was an occupational therapist, and Younge’s mother, Renee, was a schoolteacher. Unlike most black men in Macon County, Sammy Younge and his younger brother, Stephen (“Stevie”), grew up with middle class privileges and comforts.

Sources: 
http://newsone.com/2824521/samuel-sammy-younge-jr/; James Forman, Sammy Younge, Jr.: The First Black College Student to Die in the Black Liberation Movement (Washington, D.C.: Open Hand Publishing, 1986) [first published 1968]; “Samuel Younge, Jr.,” Encyclopedia of Alabama, http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/face/Article.jsp?id=h-1669; Michael F. Wright Ph.D., J.D., Sammy Younge Jr. Memorial Address http://www.crmvet.org/mem/younges.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Ashe, Arthur (1943-1993)

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

McKissick, Floyd B. (1922-1991)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Floyd Bixler McKissick replaced James Farmer as National Director of the Congress Of Racial Equality (CORE) on January 3, 1966, making him the second ever National Director of CORE. Under McKissick's leadership, CORE underwent a radical transformation from an interracial, non-violent civil rights organization into a group that promoted the concept of Black Power.

McKissick was born on March 9, 1922 in Asheville, North Carolina.  He entered Morehouse College in Atlanta in 1940 before joining the U.S. army where he served in Europe during World War II.  McKissick attained the rank of sergeant while in the service.  He then returned to Morehouse and graduated in 1948. While a student at Morehouse, McKissick became actively involved in the ranks of CORE and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1947 he took part in the first freedom riders campaign. This campaign was met with intense racial hostility. McKissick called the campaign his "baptism in non-violence."
Sources: 
Glenn Fowler, "Floyd McKissick, Civil Rights Maverick, Dies At 69." New York Times. April 30, 1991; "Floyd B. McKissick." CORE: Making Equality a Reality, 2008. http://www.core-online.org/History/mckissick.htm; “Floyd McKissick,” The Martin Luther King Encyclopedia, http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/about_King/encyclopedia/mckissick_floyd.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Stanford, Maxwell Curtis, Jr. (aka Muhammad Ahmad, 1941 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of
Dr.Muhammad Ahmad (Maxwell C. Stanford Jr.)
Maxwell Curtis Stanford, Jr., known since 1970 as Muhammad Ahmad, is a civil rights activist and was a founder of the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), a black power organization active during the 1960s. Born on July 31, 1941 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he graduated from West Philadelphia High School and attended Central State College in Wilberforce, Ohio from 1960 to 1962. Stanford left college after founding RAM in the summer of 1962.
Sources: 
Matthew Countryman, Up South: Civil Rights and Black Power in Philadelphia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006); John H. Bracey and Sharon Harley, The Black Power Movement: Part 3: Papers of the Revolutionary Action Movement (LexisNexis: Bethesda, Maryland); Robin D.G. Kelley, “Stormy Weather: Reconstructing Black (Inter)Nationalism in the Cold War Era,” in Eddie S. Glaude (ed), Is It Nation Time?: Contemporary Essays On Black Power and Black Nationalism (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sydney, Australia

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

Barnett, Ferdinand Lee (1858-1936)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Ferdinand Barnett, Ida B. Wells and Their Family, 1917 
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in Tennessee and educated at the law school later affiliated with Northwestern University, Ferdinand Lee Barnett was an attorney, writer, lecturer, and the editor and founder of Chicago’s first black newspaper, the Chicago Conservator.  Although he is often remembered today as the husband of anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells (1862-1931), Barnett was at the time a widely known advocate of racial equality and justice.  His speech, “Race Unity,” given in May of 1879 to a national convention of African American men in Nashville, Tennessee, for example, illustrates his commitment to racial justice as does his work for the Conservator.
Sources: 
Ida B. Wells, Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells (Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 1970); The Black Press in the Middle West, 1865-1985, ed. Henry Lewis Suggs (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1996).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Lawson, James (1928- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Rev. James Lawson Arrested in Nashville, 1960
Image ©Bettmann/Corbis
Sources: 
Henry Hampton, Steve Fayer, and Sarah Flynn, Voices of Freedom (New York: Bantam Books, 1990); Sanford Wexler, The Civil Rights Movement: An Eyewitness History (New York: Facts on File, 1993); "James Lawson Named 2005 Distinguished University Alumnus," Tennessee Tribune, December 22, 2005.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

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

Norton, Eleanor Holmes (1937- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the U.S. House
of Representatives Photography Office
Eleanor Holmes Norton was born on June 13, 1937 in Washington, D.C. to parents Coleman and Vela Holmes.  Both her parents were government employees.  Growing up in a well educated and politically conscious household caused Eleanor Holmes to be very aware of the surrounding struggles for African Americans.  At the age of 12, she recalled watching protests against a Washington, D.C. department store which allowed black shoppers but refused them entry into its bathrooms.

In 1955, Eleanor entered Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio where she became heavily involved with civil rights work.  While in college she headed the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter and became a local activist working to desegregate public facilities in Ohio.  The emerging civil rights movement influenced her decision to enter Yale University in 1960 with the intention of becoming a civil rights lawyer.  In 1963 Holmes worked in Mississippi for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  She graduated from Yale in 1963 with a Master’s in American Studies and a law degree in 1964.  
Sources: 
Joan Steinau Lester, Eleanor Holmes Norton: Fire in My Soul (New York: Atrai Books, 2003); Jessie Carney Smith, Epic Lives: One Hundred Black Women Who Made a Difference (Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1993); http://www.norton.house.gov/; http://www.dcbar.org/for_lawyers/resources/legends_in_the_law/norton.cfm; http://www.discoverthenetwork.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=1955.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Richardson, Gloria (1922- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Gloria Richardson and Protestors facing
National Guard Troops
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Gloria Hayes Richardson was born on May 6, 1922 in Baltimore, Maryland to parents John and Mabel Hayes.  During the Great Depression her parents moved the family to Cambridge, Maryland, the home of Mabel Hayes.  Young Gloria grew up in a privileged environment.  Her grandfather, Herbert M. St. Clair, was one of the town’s wealthiest citizens.  He owned numerous properties in the city’s Second Ward which included a funeral parlor, grocery store and butcher shop.  He was also the sole African American member of the Cambridge City Council through most of the early 20th Century.  

Gloria attended Howard University in Washington at the age of 16 and graduated in 1942 with a degree in sociology.  After Howard, she worked as a civil servant for the federal government in World War II-era Washington, D.C. but returned to Cambridge after the war.  Despite her grandfather’s political and economic influence, the Maryland Department of Social Services, for example, refused to hire Gloria or any other black social workers.  Gloria Hayes married local school teacher Harry Richardson in 1948 and raised a family for the next thirteen years.  
Sources: 
Peter Levy, Civil War on Race Street: The Civil Rights Movement in Cambridge, Maryland (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2003); Jeff Kisseloff, Generation on Fire: Voices of Protest from the 1960s: An Oral History (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2007); http://www.abbeville.com/civilrights/washington.asp.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Morgan, Clement Garnett (1859-1929)

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

McComas Institute (1867)

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

Founded and constructed in 1867 in Harford County, Maryland, the McComas Institute, also known as Mountain School, was built two years following the establishment of the U.S. Freedmen’s Bureau which provided aid to former enslaved blacks and poor whites in the South in the wake of the U.S. Civil War. Located in Joppa, Maryland, the school was one of three Freedmen's Bureau schools in Harford County. The other two schools were Hosanna School in Darlington, and Greenspring School in Webster.

McComas was named in honor of local abolitionist, George March McComas. The son of William and Ellen McComas, George McComas was an abolitionist, a prominent landowner, and tobacco merchant who worked out of the port of Baltimore. Following the end of the Civil War, McComas appealed to the Freedmen’s Bureau for funds to build a school and a church for negroes not far from his home in Linwood, Maryland.

Sources: 
Henry Clay McComas and Mary Winona McComas, The McComas Saga, a Family History Down to the Year 1950 (Baltimore, McComas, 1950); Susan M. Deeney, “McComas Institute,” National Register of Historic Places Inventory/ Nomination Form. Bel Air, Harford County, Maryland, September 1979; Wayne Lingham, "Brief History of McComas,” McComas Institute Association, Inc. Newsletter 1, no. 1 March 1992, in McComas Institute Collection, Archives, Hosanna School Museum, Darlington, Maryland; The Maryland State Commission for Women, Maryland Women Who Dare: Paving the Way to the New Millennium. Maryland Women’s History Display Kit, (Baltimore: Maryland Department of Education, 2000).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Trotter, William Monroe (1872-1934)

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

Carter, W. Beverly (1921-1982)

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

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

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

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

Schomburg, Arturo Alfonso (1874-1938)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

 

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

Carter, Robert L. (1917-2012)

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People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Robert L. Carter, the youngest child in a family of eight children, was born in Careyville, Florida in 1917.  His family moved north to Newark, New Jersey shortly after his birth.  Carter’s father died soon after arriving in Newark and his mother supported eight children while working as a domestic servant.  


Robert Carter enrolled at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania at the age of 16 and completed his degree four years later.  In 1937 he entered Howard University Law School in Washington, D.C.  After completing his law degree at Howard Carter earned his LLM (Master of Laws) degree at Columbia University after writing a thesis that would later define the legal strategy of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) on the right to freedom of association under the first Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  

Carter was drafted into the Army in 1941 and first encountered racism.  After serving in the Army Air Corps, he was discharged from the service in 1944.  Carter was then offered a job with the NAACP’s legal staff headed by chief counsel Thurgood Marshall.  Carter accepted and became Marshall’s chief legal assistant in the fight against Jim Crow laws across the South.   Carter served for example as the lead attorney of the Sweatt v. Painter Texas desegregation case in 1950.

Sources: 
http://www.oah.org/pubs/nl/2004feb/sullivan.html; Justin Driver and Robert L. Carter, “Books & the Arts-the Lawyer’s Revolution-A Matter of Law: A Memoir of Struggle in the Cause of Equal Rights,” The New Republic (New York: The Republic Publishing Co., 2006); Robert L. Carter, “The Long Road to Equality,” The Nation (New York: J.H. Richards, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Churchville, John (1941- )

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

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

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

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

Parks, Rosa (1913-2005)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Revered as one of the most influential people of the twentieth century, Rosa Parks is best known for her role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1956.  Parks was born on February 4, 1913 to Leona and James McCauley in Tuskegee, Alabama.  Leona worked as a teacher and James as a carpenter.  Parks was schooled by her mother until the age of 11 when she moved to Montgomery with an aunt and started attending the Montgomery Industrial School for girls.  She even took a job as a janitor to support her private school education.  Though Parks began to attend Alabama State Teacher’s College High School, she dropped out to care for ill family members.
Sources: 
Edna Chappell McKenzie, “Rosa Parks” in Black Women in America: Social Activism, edited by Darlene Clark Hine (New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1997); Lisa Hill, “Rosa Parks” in African American Women: a Biographical Dictionary, edited by Dorothy C. Salem (New York: Garland Publishing, 1993); Rosa and Raymond Parks Institution for Self Development http://www.rosaparks.org/bio.html (accessed November 11, 2007); E.R. Shipp, “Rosa Parks, 92, Founding Symbol of Civil Rights Movement Dies,” New York Times, October 25, 2005; Patricia Sullivan, “Bus Ride Shook a Nation's Conscience,” Washington Post, October 25, 2005; Andrea James, “Rosa Parks Biography,” PBS NewsHour, October 25, 2005, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/remember/july-dec05/parks_biography.html (accessed December 29, 2013).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Mitchell, Juanita Jackson (1913- 1992)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Jessie Carney Smith, Notable Black American Women (Detroit-London: Gale Research Inc., 1992); "Obituary for Juanita Jackson Mitchell," New York Times, July 9, 1992.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Jackson, Rev. Mance (1931-2007)

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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

Shores, Arthur D (1903-1996)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Eric Pace, "Arthur D. Shores, 92, Lawyer and Advocate for Civil Rights," The New York Times, Wednesday, December 18, 1996, section B page 13; "In Memoriam: Arthur D. Shores; 1904-1996,"  The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, 31 March 1997.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Miller, Loren (1903-1967)

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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

Sellers, Cleveland (1944- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Cleveland L. Sellers, Jr.
Cleveland Sellers was born on November 8, 1944 in Denmark, South Carolina.  Cleveland became interested in the Civil Rights Movement with the murder of Emmett Till in 1955.  In 1960 at 15, he organized his first sit-in protest at a Denmark, South Carolina lunch counter, just two weeks after the infamous Woolworth’s sit-in in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Sellers’s enthusiasm for the movement was tempered by his father’s adamant opposition to his participation.  Sellers entered Howard University in 1963 and concentrated on his studies in compliance with his father’s wishes until his sophomore year.  In 1964 he returned to protest activity and joined Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)  In 1965, Sellers became the program director of SNCC after his successful work with the voter registration in Mississippi.
Sources: 
Cleveland Sellers, The River of No Return (New York: William Morrow & Company, Inc., 1973); http://www.depauw.edu/news/index.asp?id=13829.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Ray, Charles B. (1807-1886)

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

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

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

Harris, David Ellsworth (1934- )

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

Pioneering African American airline pilot David E. Harris, a native of Columbus, Ohio, was born December 22, 1934, the son of Walter R. Harris and Ruth A. Estis Harris. He graduated from Ohio State University in 1957 with a degree in education.  While at the university he was initially rejected twice for the advanced Air Force ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) program because of his race, he was eventually accepted and rose to cadet colonel. Harris joined the Air Force in 1958 and was assigned to bases in Florida, New York, and Texas, flying B-17 and B-52 bomber jets for the Strategic Air Command (SAC), reaching the rank of Captain.

Sources: 
Betty K. Gubert, et al., Distinguished African Americans in Aviation and Space Science (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002); Who’s Who Among African Americans (Gale Research Inc., 2008); “Black History in Aviation - Cpt. Dave Harris, First African American to fly for major airline” video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9vnrzodzmQ.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Cooper, Anna Julia Haywood (1858-1964)

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

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

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

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

Riley, Jerome R. (1840-1929)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Jerome R. Riley, medical doctor, author, political and civil rights activist, was born in St. Catharines, Canada West on March 17, 1840 to Isaac and Catherine Riley. His father and mother were runaway slaves who made their way from Perry County, Missouri, crossing over to Windsor and on to St. Catharines. In 1849 the family moved to the black settlement established at Buxton, Township of Raleigh, Canada by the Rev. William King. The Rileys were the first group of settlers in Buxton.  
Sources: 
Jerome R. Riley, http://www.oldstatehouse.com/exhibits/arkansas-politics/iframes/printer_version_section8.asp/; The Buxton Museum, http://www.buxtonmuseum.com/; R. Reid, “Black Doctors Challenging the Barriers,” in African Canadians in Union Blue: Volunteering for the Cause in America's Civil War (Kent, Ohio: UBC Press, 2014).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Woodson, Carter G. (1875-1950)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Ancella Bickley Collection,
West Virginia State Archives
Sources: 
Pero Gaglo Dagbovie, The Early Black History Movement, Carter G. Woodson, and Lorenzo Johnston Greene (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2007); Jacqueline Goggin, Carter G. Woodson:  A Life in Black History (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1993); and Pero Gaglo Dagbovie, “Willing to Sacrifice”:  Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Black History, and the Carter G. Woodson Home (Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, 2010).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Michigan State University

Hatcher, Richard G. (1933- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Richard Gordon Hatcher, the first African American mayor of Gary, Indiana and one of the first African Americans to serve as mayor of a major city, was born on July 10, 1933 in Michigan City, Indiana. Hatcher was elected mayor of Gary, Indiana in 1967 and served in that capacity for the next 20 years. In the late 1970s he also became the executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1984 Hatcher was campaign chairman for Rev. Jesse Jackson's bid for president and he served as an advisor in Jackson's 1988 campaign.

Hatcher’s administration in Gary was known for developing innovative approaches to urban issues and for promoting the civil rights of blacks and other people of color in one of the first predominantly black cities in the North.  His term began during the period when “black power” was increasingly the rallying cry of African American political activists across the nation.  Hatcher clearly identified with this new movement.  
Sources: 
Alex Poinsett, Black Power Gary Style (Chicago: Johnson Publishing Company, 1970); James B. Lane, African American Mayors (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001); "Richard Hatcher Biography" The HistoryMakers, http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/honorable-richard-hatcher.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Davis, Angela (1944--)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of ©Bettmann/CORBIS

Angela Davis, activist, educator, scholar, and politician, was born on January 26, 1944, in the “Dynamite Hill” area of Birmingham, Alabama.  The area received that name because so many African American homes in this middle class neighborhood had been bombed over the years by the Ku Klux Klan.  Her father, Frank Davis, was a service station owner and her mother, Sallye Davis, was an elementary school teacher.  Davis’s mother was also active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), when it was dangerous to be openly associated with the organization because of its civil rights activities.  As a teenager Davis moved to New York City with her mother, who was pursuing a Master’s degree at New York University.  While there she attended Elizabeth Irwin High School, a school considered leftist because a number of its teachers were blacklisted during the McCarthy era for their earlier alleged Communist activities.

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

Burbridge, Thomas Nathaniel (1921–1972)

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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

Mitchell, Arthur Wergs (1883-1968)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
In 1934, Arthur Wergs Mitchell became the first African American Democrat elected to Congress from any state. Mitchell served four terms as a Representative in Congress for the state of Illinois (1935-1943). Mitchell was born near Lafayette Alabama on December 22, 1883 and was educated at Tuskegee Institute, Columbia University, and Harvard Law School. Mitchell founded the Armstrong Agricultural School in West Butler Alabama, and made his fortune in land speculation. He then moved to Chicago, Illinois specifically to challenge Republican Incumbent Oscar DePriest for Congress in the 1934 election. DePriest who was first elected to Congress in 1928, was the first African American elected to Congress from the North and the first to be elected in the 20th Century.

Mitchell was selected by the Democratic Party as a substitute candidate in Illinois’s First Congressional District when Harry Baker, winner of the Democratic primary, died before Election Day. With that selection he became the first African American endorsed by the Illinois Democratic Party for a Congressional seat who would win his election. Mitchell’s rapid rise within the party was partly because he had the support of Chicago Mayor Edward J. Kelly.
Sources: 
William L. Clay, Just Permanent Interests; Black Americans in Congress 1870-1992 (New York: Amistad Press Inc., 1993); http://bioguide.congress.gov/biosearch/biosearch1.asp
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Gaston, A. G. (1892-1996)

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

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

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

DuBois, Shirley Graham (1896-1977)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Shirley Graham DuBois and
her Husband, W.E.B. DuBois
Image Courtesy of David Graham DuBois
Musicologist, playwright, novelist and political activist Lola Shirley Graham, born in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1896, became the second wife to W.E.B. DuBois in 1951.  Lola Shirley Graham was taught at a young age to stand up to injustice.  She wrote her first editorial to an Indianapolis paper protesting racial discrimination when she was 13, after she was denied access to a YWCA swimming pool.
Sources: 
Gerald Horne, Race Woman: The Lives of Shirley G. DuBois (New York: New York University Press, 2002); Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., eds., Africana, Arts and Letters: An A-Z Reference of Writers, Musicians, and Artists of the African and African-American Experience (New York: Running Press, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Bassett, Ebenezer D. (1833-1908)

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

Fort-Whiteman, Lovett (1889-1939)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Lovett Fort-Whiteman Speaking at
Founding of the American Negro
Labor Congress Annual Meeting in 1926
Image Ownership: Public domain

Lovett Huey Fort-Whiteman was an American political and civil rights activist and member of the Communist International.  He is regarded as the first American-born black Communist and first African American to attend a Comintern training school in the Soviet Union.  Fort-Whiteman organized the Communist Party-affiliated American Negro Labor Congress and was labeled by Time magazine as “the reddest of the blacks.”

Sources: 
Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, Defying Dixie: The Radical Roots of Civil Rights, 1991-1950 (New York: W.W. Norton, 2009); Mark Solomon, The Cry Was Unity (Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 1998); Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes and Kyrill M. Anderson, The Soviet World of American Communism (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Hayes, Charles Arthur (1918-1997)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
African American Congressman, Charles Arthur Hayes, will forever be remembered for his commitment to legislate equal rights for black labor workers.  After noticing racism aimed toward black workers in his hometown of Cairo, Illinois, Hayes moved to Chicago and started unionizing activities in 1942.  As a unionist, he helped end discriminatory hiring practices and improved job benefits for black laborers.  Hayes also was one of the first African American leaders to address the issues facing black women in Chicago’s African American community.  

During the 1950s he helped persuade the United Packinghouse Workers (UPWA-CIO), a major, predominately white union in Chicago, to establish its headquarters in the African American community, fought against segregated housing patterns, and raised money to prosecute the murderers of Emmett Till.  Hayes later worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC) in the Chicago civil rights movement.  In the 1970s and 1980s he helped found the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), assisted Operation PUSH and supported the campaigns of two black Congressmen who were elected in the state of Illinois.  In August 1983, he himself was elected to Congress in a special election to fill the vacant seat created when Harold Washington was elected Mayor of Chicago.  Hayes served in Congress for ten years.  
Sources: 
Obituary of Charles Arthur Hayes, 1997: “Congressman Charles Hayes”; http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=Hooo388.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Burroughs, Jr., John Andrew (1936–2014)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
John Andrew Burroughs, Jr. was an equal opportunity advocate and diplomat who was born in Washington, D.C. on July 31, 1936. He spent his youth in Washington, D.C. before moving to the Midwest to attend the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa.  While there he played on the varsity football team, helping it win two conference championships and two Rose Bowl games. He graduated with his Bachelor’s Degree in 1959. After graduation, Burroughs returned to Washington, D.C., where he became a social sciences teacher in the city’s public school system.

In 1960 Burroughs left teaching to become an employee in the U.S. Department of State. His first job was as an employee in the passport examiner’s office from 1960 to 1963. In 1963 he was promoted to Assistant Chief of Special Services Branch of the Passport Office, a post he held until 1964.  
Sources: 
Jet magazine, May 20, 1985 and October 20, 1986; “Ambassador Nomination,” http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=36008; Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training (ADST) Country Reader on Malawi: http://adst.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Malawi.pdf; Obituary Notice, Washington Post, September 26, 2014.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Briggs, Cyril (1888-1966)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

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

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

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

Innis, Roy (1934- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Roy Emile Alfredo Innis is the current National Director of the Congress for Racial Equality. He is a controversial civil rights activist whose conservative stance on many issues continues to draw national attention.
Sources: 
"Roy Innis." Congress Of Racial Equality. 2008. http://www.core-online.org/Staff/roy.htm; Harlem Commonwealth Council Incorporated History. Isaiah Robinson, Founding Member. 2008.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

Nabrit, James M. Jr. (1900-1997)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
NAACP Attorneys George E. C. Hayes,
Thurgood Marshall and James Nabrit, Jr.
Sources: 

Eric Pace, "James M. Nabrit Jr. Dies at 97; Led Howard University" New York Times (Published Tuesday December 30, 1997); Darlene Clark Hine, Black Victory: The Rise and Fall of the White Primary in Texas (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2003).

http://www.brownat50.org/brownBios/BioJamesNabritJr.html

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Walker, Wyatt Tee (1929- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Sources: 
Taylor Branch, At Canaan's edge America in the King years, 1965-68 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006); Raymond Arsenault, Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006); http://canaanbaptistchurchny.org/; http://www.wyattteewalker.com/about_chrono.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

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

Harris, Patricia Roberts (1924-1985)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Patricia Roberts Harris was born on May 31, 1924 in Mattoon, Illinois. She excelled academically and received a scholarship to Howard University. During her time at Howard, Roberts was elected Phi Beta Kappa and graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1945. While she was in college Roberts participated in civil rights protests in Washington, D.C. In 1943, she took part in one of the earliest student sit-ins at a whites-only cafeteria.  While at Howard, Roberts served as Assistant Director for the American Council of Human Rights.  In 1955 she married William Harris, a Howard University law professor.

Patricia Roberts Harris received a law degree from George Washington University in 1960.  She graduated number one in her class and was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court.  Harris worked briefly for the U.S. Department of Justice and was appointed co-chair of the National Women’s Committee for Civil Rights by President John F. Kennedy. A year later, she returned to Howard as an associate dean of students while lecturing occasionally at the university’s law school.
Sources: 
W. Augustus Low and Virgil A. Clift, eds., Encyclopedia of Black America (New York, Da Capo Press Inc., 1981); http://www.huarchivesnet.howard.edu/0005huarnet/harris1.htm; http://www.greatwomen.org/component/fabrik/details/2/199.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Vann, Robert Lee (1879-1940)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Robert Lee Vann, newspaper publisher, politician, government official and civil rights leader, was born on August 27, 1879 in Ahoskie, North Carolina.  He graduated as valedictorian of Waters Training School in Winton, N.C., in 1901, and attended Wayland Academy, Richmond, Virginia between 1901 and 1903.  Vann was influenced by John T. Mitchell, editor of the Richmond Planet, who was adamantly opposed to Jim Crow laws and disfranchisement. Vann was a regular contributor to the school newspaper and by his senior year he became editor-in-chief.
Sources: 
Andrew Bunie, Robert L. Vann of the Pittsburgh Courier: Politics and Black Journalism (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1974); Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982); Edgar Toppin, A Biographical History of Blacks in America Since 1528 (New York: David McKay Company, Inc, 1971).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Donald, Michael Anthony (1961-1981)

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

Michael Anthony Donald was a nineteenth-year-old African American man who was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan in 1981 near Mobile, Alabama. His killing was one of the last known lynchings in the United States. Donald was born on July 24, 1961, in Mobile to Beullah Mae Donald and David Donald. He was the youngest of six children.

In 1981, Josephus Anderson, an African American, was charged with the murder of a white police officer in Birmingham, Alabama while committing a robbery. Anderson’s case was moved from Birmingham to Mobile, Alabama in a change of venue. While the jury was struggling to reach a verdict on Anderson, members of the United Klan of America complained that the jury had not convicted Anderson because it had African American members.  One Klansman, Bennie Jack Hays, announced to his fellow Klan members that “if a black man can get away with killing a white man, we ought to be able to get away with killing a black man.”

Sources: 
“Michael Anthony Donald,” Nashville Public Radio, https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95672737; “Michael  Anthony Donald,” Find A Grave, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/24810454. “Michael Anthony Donald,” Alabama, http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2016/06/the_lynching_a_powerful_look_a.html; Laurence Leamer, The Lynching: The Epic Courtroom Battle That Brought Down the Klan (New York: HarperCollins, 2016).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Charles, Ray (1930-2004)

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

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

Ferguson, Clarence Clyde, Jr. (1924-1983)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
M. Alphonse Boni, President of the Ivorian
Court and Clarence Clyde Ferguson, Dean,
Howard University 
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Clarence Clyde Ferguson was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Uganda on March 17, 1970 by President Richard Nixon. He presented his credentials June 30, 1970 and terminated his mission on July 19, 1972. Ferguson was born November 4, 1924 in Wilmington, North Carolina to Clarence Clyde and Georgena Owens Ferguson.
Sources: 
John Honnold, "Desegregation and the Law,” Review of Desegregation and the Law by Albert P. Blaunstein and Clarence Clyde Ferguson, Jr., Indiana Law Journal: 33: 4 (1958); Clarence Mitchell, “In Memoriam: C. Clyde Ferguson, Jr. A Brilliant Career,” Harvard Law Review 97:6 (April 1984).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Miles, Elijah Walter (1934- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

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

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

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

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

Lucy, Autherine Juanita (1929- )

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

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

Bevel, James (1936-2008)

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

James Bevel was one of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s most trusted advisors during the American Civil Rights campaigns of the mid-20th century.  Bevel was born on October 19, 1936 in Itta Bena, Mississippi. During his childhood years, he resided in both Itta Bena and in Cleveland, Ohio working as a plantation laborer in the Mississippi town and as a steel mill worker in the Ohio metropolis.

In 1957 Bevel attended the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee. Bevel dropped out of the seminary in 1961 to work in the civil rights movement. He also attended Highlander Folk School during this time where he met several other prominent civil rights leaders including his future wife, Diane Nash.
Bevel’s civil rights activism began in 1960 when he joined the student sit ins in Nashville. One year later he participated in the Freedom Rides across the Deep South.  In 1962 Bevel met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and joined King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) as Director of Direct Action Campaigns and Director of Nonviolent Education.

Sources: 
Randy Kryn, "James L. Bevel, The Strategist of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement," in David Garrow, We Shall Overcome, Vol. 2 (Brooklyn: Carlson Publishing Company, 1989); Frederic O. Sargent,  The Civil Rights Revolution: Events and Leaders, 1955-1968 (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland Publishing, 2004); The New York Amsterdam News December 2008, pg 33 & 39; New York Times December 23, 2008, pg 10; USA Today April 30, 2008.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Anderson, Edward W. (1871–1953)

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

Gibbs, Jonathan (1827-1874)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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: 

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

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

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

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

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)

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

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

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: 

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

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

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

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

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

Graves, Letitia A. (1863-1952)

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Albrier, Frances Mary (1898-1987)

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

Hamer, Fannie Lou (1917-1977)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
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 principle researcher on the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case. Working alongside lead consul 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 Persons (NAACP) Legal Defense and Educational Fund 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

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

Moore, Jonathan (1969-2017)

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

Jonathan Moore, teacher, musician, entrepreneur, activist, and youth advocate, was born to Gwendolyn Jones and Jonny Moore in Seattle, Washington, on April 21, 1969. As a student at Roosevelt High School in the 1980s, Moore rented rooms at the Seattle Center and threw a series of popular, well-attended all-city dances. After graduating, he attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, where he formed the group Source of Labor with his brother Upendo “Negus 1” Tookas and Atlanta native DJ Kamikaze. Source of Labor returned to Seattle in the early 1990s, where Moore, also known as Wordsayer, immediately began engaging the local hip-hop scene on multiple levels.

Sources: 
Abe, Daudi, Emerald Street: A History of Hip-Hop in Seattle Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, forthcoming); “A Brief Hip-Hop History of the Late, Great Jonathan Moore.” The Stranger. (http://www.thestranger.com/slog/2017/03/10/25016258/a-brief-hiphop-history-of-the-now-late-great-jonathan-moore).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle Central College

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

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

Prioleau, George (1856-1927)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
George Prioleau was chaplain of the 9th Cavalry of Buffalo Soldiers in the late 19th century. After witnessing inequality and mistreatment of his men, he publicly challenged the hypocrisy and racial line being drawn against black soldiers.

Born in 1856 to slave parents in Charleston, South Carolina, Prioleau earned his theology degree from Wilberforce University in Ohio. He was a teacher and served as an A. M. E. pastor and denominational leader for Ohio congregations, and in 1889 he became professor of theology and homiletics at Wilberforce. Six years later, President Grover Cleveland appointed him to replace Henry Plummer as chaplain of the 9th Cavalry, U. S. Army, with a rank of captain.

In 1898 upon the outbreak of the Spanish-American war, the 9th Cavalry left the western United States for the first time in its history and was deployed to bases in Georgia and Florida for military activities in Cuba and the Caribbean.  Chaplain Prioleau was eager for an opportunity for African American soldiers to prove themselves on the field of battle, but he became ill with malaria and was unable to travel to Cuba with the rest of the 9th. Upon recovering from his illness, he served as a recruitment officer in the segregated South. While there, Prioleau was shocked by the racism the 9th faced on a daily basis.
Sources: 
Bruce A. Glasrud and Michael N. Searles, Buffalo Soldiers in the West: A Black Soldiers Anthology (College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 2007); Frank N. Schubert, Voices of the Buffalo Soldier: Records, Reports, and Recollections of Military Life in the West (Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2003); Irene K. Schubert and Frank N. Schubert, On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldier II (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2004); Richard R. Wright, Jr., Centennial Encyclopedia of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (Philadelphia, PA: A. M. E. Church, 1916); Anthony L. Powell, “An Overview: Black Participation in the Spanish-American War,” The Spanish American War Centennial Website http://www.spanamwar.com/AfroAmericans.htm; “History of Bethel A.M.E. Church,” http://www.bethelamela.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=46:history-of-bethel&catid=34:history&Itemid=59.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

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

Somerville, John Alexander (1882-1973)

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

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

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

Booker T. Washington's Visit to Spokane (1913)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Lewis and Clark High School, Spokane, 1912
Image Ownership: Public domain

In 1913 the famous African American activist and educator Booker T. Washington left Tuskegee, Alabama, to begin a speaking tour around the United States. The ultimate goal of this tour was to raise funds for the Tuskegee Institute in order to educate more young African Americans. Washington began touring the Northwest, a place he had never before seen, in March of 1913, beginning with Montana, before traveling further west through Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. Along the way, while commenting on the impressive features of the Pacific Northwest landscape, he spent three days in Spokane, Washington, visiting several local landmarks and speaking to numerous audiences in the city.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

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

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

Watts Summer Festival, Los Angeles (1966- )

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Watts Summer Festival, 1966
“Image Courtesy of Robert Bauman”
A coalition of antipoverty organizations and black nationalist groups initiated the Watts Summer Festival in 1966 as a way to focus the Watts community on celebrating black heritage and culture annually on the anniversary of the Watts riots.  Although the groups involved in establishing and organizing the festival had differing styles and philosophies – some were cultural nationalists, some emphasized economic nationalism and others focused on political power – they all supported the ideals of community empowerment and self-definition.  New organizations such as SLANT (Self-Leadership for All Nationalities Today), the Afro-American Cultural Association, the Sons of Watts Improvement Association and the Black Man’s Self-Image Development Institute appeared in 1965 or 1966 and actively participated in the Watts Summer Festival in the late 1960s.
Sources: 
Robert Bauman, Race and the War on Poverty: From Watts to East L.A. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008); Bruce M.Tyler, “The Rise and Decline of the Watts Summer Festival, 1965 to 1986,” American Studies 31, no. 2 (1990): 63-66.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Washington State University, Tri-Cities

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

White, Lulu B.(1900-1957)

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

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

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

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

Hudson, Elbert T. (1920-2017)

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

Police official, business leader, and civil rights advocate Elbert T. Hudson was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, on November 16, 1920. Three years later, his family moved to Los Angeles, California. In 1924, his father, H. Claude Hudson, became president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Sources: 
“Legendary LA Business Leader Elbert Hudson Passes Away at 96,” Los Angeles Sentinel, August 10, 2017; Frank Shyong, “Elbert T. Hudson, 1921-2017, Advocate for black issues,” Los Angeles Times, August 12, 2017; “Elbert T. Hudson was an Advocate, Activist and Businessman,” Los Angeles Sentinel, August 17, 2017.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Los Angeles

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

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