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Civil Rights Activists

Stewart, T. McCants (1853-1923)

Vignette Type: 
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

Ransom, Reverdy Cassius (1861-1959)

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

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

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

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

Cameron was born on February 24, 1914, in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His father, James Herbert Cameron, was a barber, and his mother, Vera Carter, washed clothes to help support the family’s three children. Cameron’s father left the family when he was young, and his mother moved them to Marion, Indiana.
Sources: 
James Cameron, A Time Of Terror: A Survivor's Story ( James Cameron, 1982, Black Classic Press, Baltimore, Maryland reprint 1994); E. Stewart Tolnay and E. M. Beck, A Festival of Violence: An Analysis of Southern Lynchings, 1882-1930 (Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 1992); Syretta McFaden, “He Lived,” Buzzfeed.com, June 23, 2016, https://www.buzzfeed.com/syreetamcfadden/how-to-survive-a-lynching.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Lowther, George W. (1822-1898)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
George W. Lowther, barber, abolitionist, equal school rights activist, and Massachusetts legislator, was born a slave in Edenton, North Carolina, to Polly Lowther.  His father’s identity is unknown.  His mother, Polly Lowther (c.1780-1864) was an Edenton baker, the slave of wealthy planter Joseph Blount Skinner until she was emancipated around 1824.  Lowther’s siblings were Anthony Lowther, Fanny Skinner, Annie Skinner, Jenny, Eliza Poppleston, and Thomas Barnswell.

Remembered in Skinner’s 1850 Will as “my favourite and faithful Body Servant whom I have freed,” George Lowther received a private education from Skinner.  Early in 1845, encouraged by his hometown friend, John S. Jacobs, Lowther left Skinner and went to New York.  But in the late summer of 1847, he reunited with Skinner, serving as his former owner’s valet on a trip from New York to Boston.  By 1850, George Lowther had established his hairdressing business in Boston and was living in the household of abolitionist William H. Logan, his future father-in-law.
Sources: 
Mary Maillard, “Introduction to the Skinner Family Papers,” unpublished manuscript; Jean Fagan Yellin, ed., The Harriet Jacobs Family Papers (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008); The Skinner Family Papers, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Brookins, Hamel Hartford (1926 - )

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

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

Current, Gloster B. (1913-1997)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

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

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

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

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

Gordon, Walter Arthur (1894-1976)

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People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Walter Arthur Gordon, attorney and civil rights activist, was born on October 10, 1894, in Atlanta, Georgia, to Henry B. and Georgia Bryant Gordon.  He was the son of a Pullman porter and the grandson of slaves. His family moved to Riverside, California, in 1904. He graduated from Riverside Polytechnic High School in 1913.

In 1914, Gordon entered the University of California at Berkeley. He was an intercollegiate boxer and wrestler, winning the state championship in both categories. He also played every position except center on the offensive and defensive lines of the varsity football team. Gordon was named to the annual football All-American team in 1918, the second African American to receive the award.
Sources: 
Alvin Shuster, “New Governor of Virgin Islands Is Sworn in by the Chief Justice,” New York Times, October 8, 1955; “Walter A. Gordon of Virgin Islands,” New York Times, April 6, 1976; Jonathan Wafer, “Walter Gordon,” Riversider.org; Rodolfo F. Acuna, Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, 7th ed. (Boston: Longman, 2011).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Los Angeles

Abernathy, Ralph (1926-1990)

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

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

President's Committee on Fair Employment Practice (FEPC)

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

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

Sources: 

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Tacoma

Cayton, Revels (1907-1995)

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

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

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

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

Edelman, Marian Wright (1939- )

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, was born June 6, 1939 in Bennetsville, South Carolina. She was the youngest of five children born to Rev. Arthur Jerome Wright and Maggie Leola Wright.  Rev. Wright, a Baptist minister, died when she was fourteen.  He proved, however, an important influence on her life by teaching that Christianity required public service.  

Marian Wright attended racially segregated public schools, but excelled academically despite the inadequate opportunities offered to her in those institutions. After graduation Wright attended Spelman College, a prominent institution for black women in Atlanta, Georgia. While at Spelman Wright received scholarships to study abroad that took her to Paris, Switzerland, and the Soviet Union.  With that experience she planned to pursue a career in Foreign Service, but as the 1960s civil rights movement unfolded, she found herself involved in its activities. Wright participated in and was arrested in Atlanta, Georgia sit-ins in 1960.  These experiences made her realize that she could contribute to social progress through the study of law. She entered Yale Law School in 1960 on a scholarship and received her law degree in 1963.
Sources: 
“Marian Wright Edelman,” Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed. 17 Vols. (Detroit: Gale Research, 1998); Edelman biography, Children’s Defense Fund, http://www.childrensdefense.org
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Lyons, Maritcha (1848–1929)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Maritcha Remond Lyons, an African-American teacher and civil rights activist, was born in New York City, New York to Albro Lyons Sr. and Mary Joseph Lyon on May 23, 1848. She was the third of five children in the free black family. To avoid the danger from draft riots in New York City, Maritcha’s parents sent their children to Providence, Rhode Island, during the Civil War.

In 1865 at age sixteen, Maritcha was denied entry to Providence High School due to her race. Her family joined the campaign for desegregation in the state, led by prominent black abolitionist George T. Downing. Maritcha testified before the state legislature, and the school was ultimately desegregated. In 1869 she became the first black graduate of Providence High School.
Sources: 
Jessie Carney Smith, Notable Black American Women (Farmington Hills: Thomson Gale, 1996); Tanya Bolden, Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl (New York: Abrams, 2015).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Webb, Francis Johnson [Frank J.] (1828-1894)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Courtesy of the Bodleian Library, University of 
Oxford, Shelf mark 249 v. 258.
Francis Johnson Webb, newspaper editor, educator, equal rights activist, and the second published African American novelist, was born free on March 21, 1828, in Philadelphia to Louisa Burr and Francis Webb.  His mother, Louisa Charlotte Burr (c1785-1878), was the illegitimate daughter of former vice president Aaron Burr.  His father, Francis Webb, served as founding member of the Pennsylvania Augustine Education Society, secretary of the Haytien Emigration Society, and Philadelphia distribution agent for Freedom’s Journal, the first black newspaper in the nation.

Little is known of Frank J. Webb’s education other than what can be deduced from his later creative output.  In 1845, at the age of seventeen, he married Mary, rumored to be the daughter of Spanish General Baldomero Espartero, and an African-born fugitive slave.  From 1850 until 1854 Webb worked as a commercial artist and designer in Philadelphia.  In 1854, he gave a lecture “The Martial Capacity of Blacks” to members of the Banneker Institute.  That same year he published his emigrationist views in a colonization paper in Norristown, near Philadelphia.  By the 1850s Webb associated with other abolitionists including William Cooper Nell, Robert Morris, Charles Sumner, and Frederick Douglass.
Sources: 
Mary Maillard, “‘Faithfully Drawn From Real Life’: Autobiographical Elements in Frank J. Webb’s The Garies and Their Friends,” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (July 2013); Phillip Lapsansky, “Afro-Americana: Frank J. Webb and His Friends,” Library Company of Philadelphia: 1990 Annual Report (1990); Eric Gardner, “Webb, Frank J.,” American National Biography: Supplement 2, eds. Paul R. Betz and Mark C. Carnes (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Vivian, Cordy Tindell “C.T.” (1924- )

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

Image Ownership: Public Domain 

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

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

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

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

Hunton, Addie Waites (1866-1943)

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

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

Branton, Leo, Jr. (1922-2013)

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

Freedom Rides (1961)

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

Jackson, Mahalia (1911-1972)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

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

Robinson, Ruby Doris Smith (1942-1967)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Ruby Doris Smith Robinson, born in Atlanta, Georgia on April 25, 1942, was a civil rights leader.  Robinson, the second oldest of seven children born to Alice and John T. Smith, was raised in Atlanta’s black middleclass neighborhood of Summerhill.  She graduated from Price High School in 1958 and earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Spelman College in 1965.  Robinson’s exposure to racial discrimination in her city, the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the Greensboro, North Carolina sit-ins in February 1960, all influenced her to become involved in the civil rights movement.  

Sources: 

Cynthia Griggs Fleming, Soon We Will Not Cry: The Liberation of Ruby Doris Smith Robinson (Lanham, Md: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1998).  Bettye Collier Thomas, and V.P. Franklin, Sisters in the Struggle: African American Women in the Civil Rights-Black Power Movement (New York: New York University Press, 2001). Howard Zinn, SNCC, the New Abolitionists (Boston: Beacon Press, 1964); James Forman, The Making of Black Revolutionaries (Washington, DC: Open Hand Publishing, 1985).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Brown, George L. (1926-2005)

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

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

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

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

Plessy, Homer (1863-1925)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Homer Plessy Memorial, New Orleans
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Plaintiff for a landmark Supreme Court case, Homer A. Plessy was born on March 17, 1863 in New Orleans. He was a light-skinned Creole of Color during the post-reconstruction years. With the aid of the Comité des Citoyens, a black organization in New Orleans, Homer Plessy became the plaintiff in the famous Plessy v. Ferguson case decided by the US Supreme Court in May 1896. The decision established the “separate but equal” policy that made racial segregation constitutional for the next six decades.  

In order to challenge the 1890 Louisiana statute requiring separate accommodations for whites and blacks, Homer Plessy and the Comité des Citoyens used Plessy’s light skin to their advantage. On June 7, 1892 Plessy bought a first class ticket on the East Louisiana Railway. He took a vacant seat in a coach reserved for white passengers. When Plessy was ordered to leave, he disobeyed. Policemen arrived and threw Plessy off the train and arrested him and threw him into jail. He was charged with violating the Louisiana segregation statute of 1890.

Sources: 
Otto H. Olsen, ed., The Thin Disguise: Turning Point in Negro History, Plessy v. Ferguson (New York: Humanities Press Inc., 1967); Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Evergreen State College

Chambers, Julius L. (1936-2013)

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

Julius LeVonne Chambers was a twentieth century African-American civil rights activist and lawyer. Born October 6, 1936, to William and Matilda Chambers in Mt. Gilead, a small town in Montgomery County, North Carolina, he faced segregationist laws from birth. Opportunities for young black people such as Julius and his three siblings in Montgomery County were scarce; the white school board allocated almost no resources to the few local black schools. As a result, nearly half of black students in the area did not complete the eighth grade.

In 1948 Julius’s father was cheated by a white customer at his auto repair shop, but due to institutional discrimination, he could not press charges. Consequently, the family suffered a financial setback and had to send Julius to the local black high school instead of the vastly superior Laurinburg Institute, which his older siblings had attended. Chambers did well in school, but due to the low quality of his education, he graduated unprepared for college. Despite poor test scores, he was admitted to North Carolina College in 1954.

Sources: 
Richard A. Rosen, Julius Chambers: A Life in the Legal Struggle for Civil Rights (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2016); “Julius LeVonne Chambers,” http://www.fergusonsumter.com/julius-levonne-chambers/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Hrabowski, Freeman A., III (1950- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the University of Maryland,
Baltimore

Influential educational leader Freeman A. Hrabowski III has occupied many roles in his life, as a child civil rights activist in the 1960s, as professor, as university president, as philanthropist, and as consultant.  He was born on August 13, 1950 in Birmingham, Alabama to parents Maggie G. and Freeman A. Hrabowski II, who were both teachers. 

Sources: 
Biography of Freeman Hrabowski III, The History Makers, 21 July 2003, available at http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/freeman-hrabowski-39; Byron Pitts, “Hrabowski: An Educator Focused on Math and Science,” 60 Minutes, 13 November 2011, available at http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57319098/hrabowski-an-educator-focused-on-math-and-science/; http://president.umbc.edu/
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Lewis, John R. (1940- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
John Lewis, 23, Speaks at the March on Washington (1963)
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John Lewis was born in Troy, Alabama on February 21, 1940.  In 1961 he received a B.A. from American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee.  In 1967 he received an additional B.A. from Fisk University located in Nashville, Tennessee.
Sources: 
Lewis, John, with Michael D’Orso, Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998); John Lewis' opinions about political issues and his voting record at website On the Issues: http://www.ontheissues.org/GA/John_Lewis.htm; Congressional biography: http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=l000287; "Lillian Miles Lewis, Wife of Congressman John Lewis, Dies": http://www.ebony.com/news-views/lillian-miles-lewis-wife-of-john-lewis-dies-290.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Bagnall, Robert W., Jr. (1883-1943)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Minister and civil rights activist Robert W. Bagnall served as Director of Branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) during the organization’s first significant period of growth in the early 20th century.  A graduate of Bishop Payne Divinity School in Petersburg, Virginia, Bagnall presided over several African Methodist Episcopal (AME) congregations along the Atlantic seaboard before arriving at Detroit’s St. Matthews AME Church in 1911.  At St. Matthews, he earned a reputation as both a committed religious leader and community activist.  One of the founding members of Detroit’s branch of the NAACP, Bagnall went on to serve as a regional NAACP recruiter before being appointed as national Director of Branches between 1921 and 1932.  

Like many other black civic leaders of the era, Bagnall mixed protest against racism with a vision of “racial uplift.”  As a spokesperson for the Detroit NAACP branch in the 1910s, he denounced the growth of segregation and discrimination that appeared in the wake of expanded black migration to the North while seeking to promote migrants as loyal, responsible industrial workers.  Throughout the early 20th century, Bagnall remained optimistic that black migration northward had politically invigorated African American protest politics.
Sources: 
“The NAACP,” The Crisis 2 (October 1911), 241-42;  “Robert Bagnall with N. A. A. C. P.,” The Messenger III (March 1921), 196;  Robert W. Bagnall, “The Three False Gods of Civilization,” The Messenger V (August 1923), 789-791;  Bagnall, “The Madness of Marcus Garvey,” The Messenger V (March 1923), 638, 648;  Bagnall, “Michigan--The Land of Many Waters,” The Messenger VIII (April 1926), 101-102, 123;  Bernice Dutrieuelle Shelton, “Robert Wellington Bagnall,” The Crisis 50 (November 1943), 334, 347;  Charles Flint Kellogg, NAACP, A History of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1967); Victoria W. Wolcott, Remaking Respectability:  African American Women in Interwar Detroit (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2001).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Georgia Southwestern State University.

Coleman, Wanda Evans (1946-2013)

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

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

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

Bruce, John Edward (1856-1924)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John Edward Bruce was born into slavery in Piscataway, Maryland in 1856.  When Bruce was three years old his father was sold away to Georgia prompting young Bruce and his mother to escape to Washington, D.C. in fear of losing each other.  Bruce and his mother Martha resided with Martha's cousin Busie Patterson who was a body servant to Missouri senator Thomas Hart Benton. This relationship with a powerful white congressman provided the Bruce family with opportunities and access to jobs in white upper-class communities. Martha Bruce, for example, obtained a job in Connecticut working closely with a white family. While in Connecticut, John Edward Bruce enrolled in an integrated school and received his first formal education. Traveling back to Washington, he received a private education and attended Howard University.
Sources: 
Ralph L. Crowder, John Edward Bruce: Politician, Journalist, and Self-trained Historian of the African Diaspora (New York: New York University Press, 2004);
http://www.cwo.com/~lucumi/bruce.html; http://www.historicaldocuments.com/BloodRedRecord.htm
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Malcolm X (1925-1965)

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

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

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

Jordan, Vernon E. (1935 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of DePauw University
Publications Office

Vernon Eulion Jordan, civil rights leader, lawyer, and presidential advisor, was born in Atlanta, Georgia on August 15, 1935.  Growing up in the segregated American South, Jordan attended David T. Howard High School, where he graduated with honors in 1953. 

Upon graduation Jordan entered DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, where he was the only African American in his class.  A gifted athlete, Jordan excelled at basketball until his graduation in 1957.

Sources: 

Vernon E. Jordan, Vernon Can Read: A Memoir (New York: Public Affairs, 2001); NAACP, NAACP Administration 1956-65.  General office file.  Register and Vote –Taconic Foundation Voter Education Project, 1961-1964 (Bethesda: University Publications of America, 1995); Pat Rediger, Great African Americans in Civil Rights (New York: Crabtree Publication, Co., 1996); https://www.akingump.com/en/lawyers-advisors/vernon-e-jordan.html.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

James & Lydia Sims

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

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

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Young, Andrew (1932 - )

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

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

Jones, Scipio Africanus (1863–1943)

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

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

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

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

Louisville Western Branch Library (1905- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Children at the Louisville Western Branch Library, 1950
Image Ownership: Public domain

The Louisville Western Branch Library in Louisville, Kentucky, first opened in 1905. This library was the first public library in the nation to serve and be fully operated by black residents. In 1905 virtually all other public libraries around the country were closed to African Americans.

In 1902 the Louisville City Council passed an ordinance that created a public library system, but it specifically excluded African American residents. The city’s black residents immediately challenged this exclusion. Albert E. Meyzeek, local educator and civil rights activist, urged the community as well as the city’s library committee to allow the black citizens of the community to be able to access and use the new library system. By the time the library system was about to open in 1904, the city’s library system master plan now indicated that there would be a branch for African American citizens, fully funded by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

Sources: 
Joan Potter, African American Firsts Famous, Little-Known and Unsung Triumphs of Blacks in America (Kensington Publishing Corporation, 2009); “Western Library,” http://www.lfpl.org/branches/western.htm; “A Separate Frame,” http://www.lfpl.org/western/htms/sepflame.htm; “Prince made secret donation support Louisville’s historic Western Branch Library in 2001,” https://insiderlouisville.com/lifestyle_culture/music/prince-may-have-helped-save-louisville-library-from-closure/; “Louisville library holds important place in history,” http://www.wave3.com/story/23963328/louisville-library-holds-important-place-in-history.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bunche, Ralph J. (ca. 1903-1971)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Ralph Johnson Bunche, American political scientist, renowned scholar, award winner, and diplomat, was one of the most prominent African Americans of his era.  Bunche was born on August 7, 1903 or 1904 (there is some disagreement about the year of his birth) in Detroit, Michigan. His father Fred was a barber who owned a racially segregated barbershop that catered solely to white customers. His mother, whose maiden name was Olive Agnes Johnson, was an amateur musician.

Young Ralph spent his early years in Michigan. However, due to the relatively poor physical constitution of his mother and grandmother’s uncle, Charlie Johnson, the family settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico when he was ten years old. The family believed the dry climate of the region would be more conducive to his parents’ health. Yet both his mother and uncle died when Ralph turned twelve. His mother died of tuberculosis in 1917. His uncle committed suicide the same year. The circumstances surrounding his father are less fully known. The common narrative is that he left the family, remarried, and never returned.

Sources: 
Benjamin Rivlin, Ralph Bunche: The Man and His Times (New York: Holmes & Meyer, 1990); Brian Urquhart, Ralph Bunche: An American Life (New York: W.W. Norton, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

King, Coretta Scott (1927-2006)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of ©Bettmann-Corbis

The widow of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King became a forceful public figure and important leader in the civil rights movement. She made numerous contributions to the struggle for social justice and human rights throughout her life.

Coretta Scott was born the second of three children to Obadiah Scott and Bernice McMurray Scott in Heiberger, Alabama on April 27, 1927.  She spent her childhood nearby on a farm owned by her family since the Civil War.  During the Depression, Coretta and her siblings picked cotton in order to help support the family. This appeared to be the beginning of her determination to further her education.

Sources: 

“Coretta Scott King, 78, Widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dies” The New York Times (31 January 2006); Coretta Scott King, My Life with Martin Luther King Jr. (New York: Holt, 1969; rev.ed., Henry Holt, 1993); http://www.civilrightsleader.com/coretta_scott_king.htm.

 

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Bluford, Lucile (1911-2003)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Lucile Bluford, "Missouri ‘Shows' the Supreme Court," The Crisis 46 (August 1939), 231-232, 242, 246;  Dorothy Davis, "She Knocks at the Door of Missouri University," The Crisis 47 (May 1940), 140;  Daniel T. Kelleher, "The Case of Lloyd Gaines:  The Demise of the Separate But Equal Doctrine," Journal of Negro History 56 (October 1971), 262-271;  Diane E. Loupe, "Storming and Defending the Color Barrier at the University of Missouri School of Journalism:  The Lucile Bluford Case," Journalism History 16 (1989), 20-31;  Aimee Edmondson and Earnest L. Perry, Jr., "Objectivity and "The Journalist's Creed": Local Coverage of Lucile Bluford's Fight to Enter the University of Missouri School of Journalism," Journalism History 33 (Winter 2008), 233-244;  and http://shs.umsystem.edu/famousmissourians/journalists/bluford/bluford.shtml
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Georgia Southwestern State University.

Tolbert, James Lionel (1926-2013)

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

Jones, Claudia (1915-1964)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
With the birth name of Claudia Cumberbatch, Claudia Jones was born on February 21, 1915 in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. Her family migrated to the United States in 1924 and became residents of Harlem, New York. Claudia’s mother was a garment worker and due to the effects of harsh working conditions and overwork, she died when Claudia was twelve years old. Ultimately poverty overcame the family and young Claudia eventually dropped out of high school.
Sources: 
Carole Boyce Davies, Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007); Claudia Jones, Ben Davis, Fighter for Freedom (New York: New Century Publishers, 1954); Claudia Jones, “The Caribbean Community in Britain,” Freedomways V. 4 (Summer 1964), 341-57; John H. McClendon III, "Claudia Jones (1915-1964) political activist, black nationalist, feminist, journalist" in Jessie Carney Smith, ed., Notable Black American Women, Book II ( New York: Gale Research Inc., 1996), 343-348.
Affiliation: 
Michigan State University

Adams, Victoria Jackson Gray (1926-2006)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in Hattiesburg, Virginia on November 5, 1926, Victoria Jackson Gray Adams became one of the most important Mississipians in the Civil Rights Movement.  Her activities included teaching voter registration courses to domestics and sharecroppers, opening of the Freedom Schools during Mississippi’s Freedom Summer of 1964, and serving as a National Board Member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  Ms. Gray began service as the field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1962.  
Sources: 
The Victoria Jackson Gray Adams Papers in the Civil Rights in Mississippi Digital Archives; http://www.childrensdefense.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=8001.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Antioch McGregor University

Cleaver, Eldridge (1935-1998)

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

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

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

Barber, J. Max (1878-1949)

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

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

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

Smith, Lamar (1892-1955)

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

Lamar Smith, voting rights activist and veteran, was a martyr in the fight for civil rights. Smith was born in March 1892 to Levi Smith and Harriet Humphrey in Lincoln County, Mississippi; however, there is little information concerning his early life.

Smith served in World War I, entering in 1917. After returning to Mississippi from the war, Smith became politically active in his community. He was one of the few registered African American voters in Lincoln County, and became passionate about African American participation in politics. He worked to educate his community on the political process, register voters, and ensure they were able to cast a ballot. In 1951, Smith, then fifty-nine, associated himself with the newly-formed Regional Council of Negro Leadership. RCNL was devoted to causes similar to Smith’s interests as it focused on the civic duty of African American citizens to participate in the political process and the process of empowering people to do so.

Sources: 
Michael Newton, Unsolved Civil Rights Murder Cases, 1934-1970: McFarland Publishers, Jefferson, North Carolina, 2016; Davis W. Houck and David E. Dixon, Rhetoric, Religion and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965, (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2006; Cristina Gamondi, “Lamar Smith - Notice to Close File,”  2010; https://www.justice.gov/crt/case-document/lamar-smith.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Williams, Elbert (1908-1940)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Elbert Williams is the first known member of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to be murdered for his civil rights activities.  Williams was born on October 15, 1908, in rural Haywood County, Tennessee, the son of farmer Albert Williams and wife Mary Green Williams. In 1929 Williams married Annie Mitchell. After trying farming, the couple moved in the early 1930s to Brownsville where they worked for the Sunshine laundry until Williams’ murder in 1940.

In 1939 the Williamses became charter members of Brownsville’s NAACP Branch.  On May 6, 1940, five members of Brownsville’s NAACP Branch unsuccessfully attempted to register to vote. No African American had been allowed to register to vote in Haywood County during the Twentieth Century. The next day threats began.
Sources: 
Patricia Sullivan, Lift Every Voice, The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement (New York: The New Press, 2009); Richard A. Couto, Lifting the Veil, A Political History of Struggles for Emancipation (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1993); Raye Springfield, The Legacy of Tamar, Courage and Faith in an African American Family (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2000).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Brown, Willie Lewis, Jr. (1934- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of The Nob Hill Association
This State Legislator and Mayor was born in Mineola, Texas, to Willie L. Brown, Sr., and Minnie (Boyd) Lewis on March 20, 1934. After migrating to San Francisco, California in 1951, Brown worked as a janitor in order to subsidize his education at San Francisco State University. Upon his arrival in San Francisco, Brown immediately joined the United Methodist Church, which was committed to social action, where he became the youth leader. In his attempts to make the world and himself more “comfortable,” he also participated in the San Francisco civil rights protests in the late 1950s. He earned his bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State University in 1955. In 1958, he earned a Juris Doctorate degree from Hastings College Law School.
Sources: 
Alton Hornsby, Jr. and Angela M. Hornsby-Gutting, From the Grassroots: Profiles of Contemporary African American Leaders (Montgomery: E-BookTime LLC, 2006).
Affiliation: 
University of Mississippi

Hooks, Benjamin L. (1925-2010)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Benjamin L. Hooks is most notably known for serving as leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from 1977 to 1992.  Born on January 31, 1925 in Memphis, Tennessee to Robert and Bessie White Hooks, he was the fifth of seven children.

Hooks grew up in racially segregated Tennessee. He attended LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis from 1941 to 1943 but graduated from Howard University in 1944.  He then joined the U.S. Army and recalled watching Italian prisoners he guarded eat at restaurants that excluded him and other black soldiers.  He left the army in 1945 as a staff sergeant and soon afterwards enrolled at DePaul University in Chicago to study law because no Tennessee university would accept him because of his race.  Graduating in 1948 with a Juris Doctor (J.D.) , Hooks returned to Memphis.  Four years later he married schoolteacher Frances Dancy in Memphis.  

In 1956 Hooks became a Baptist minister and one year later joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) then headed by Dr. Martin Luther King.   By the early 1960s Hooks, now a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), helped organize sit-ins in Memphis.  By the late 1960s Hooks was pastor at Great Middle Baptist Church in Memphis and at Greater Mount Moriah Baptist Church in Detroit.

Sources: 
Steven A. Holmes, “Benjamin L. Hooks, Leader of N.A.A.C.P. for 15 Eventful Years, Is Dead at 85,” New York Times (April 16, 2010);  http://benhooks.memphis.edu/biography.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Holmes, Emory Hestus (1924-1995)

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

King, Martin Luther, Jr. (1929-1968)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Martin Luther King, The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., Clayborne Carson, ed. (New York: Intellectual Properties Management in association with Warner Books, 1998); Lerone Bennett, What Manner of Man: A Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Chicago: Johnson Publishing Company, 1989); Taylor Branch, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years (New York: Touchstone, 1989); Christine King Farris, My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003). For additional information on Dr. Martin Luther King please see The Martin Luther King Research and Education Institute. http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Stanford University

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

Talbert, Mary B.(1866–1923)

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

Mary Burnett Talbert, clubwoman and civil rights leader, was originally born Mary Burnett on September 18, 1866 in Oberlin, Ohio, to Cornelius and Caroline Nicholls Burnett.  Mary Burnett graduated from Oberlin High School at the age of sixteen and in 1886 graduated from Oberlin College with a literary degree at nineteen.  Shortly afterwards, Burnett accepted a teaching position at Bethel University in Little Rock, Arkansas and quickly rose in the segregated educational bureaucracy of the city.  In 1887, after only a year at Bethel University, Burnett became the first African American woman to be selected Assistant Principal of Little Rock High School. Four years later in 1891, however, Burnett married William H. Talbert, an affluent business man for Buffalo, New York and resigned her position at Little Rock High School and moved to her husbands hometown. One year later Mary B. and William Talbert gave birth to their only child, a daughter, Sarah May Talbert.

Sources: 

Hallie Q. Brown, Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction (Xenia, Ohio: Aldine Publishing Company, 1926); Rayford Logan, ed., Dictionary of American Negro Biography, (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1982); Lillian Serece Williams, Strangers in the Land of Paradise: The Creation of an African American Community, Buffalo, New York, 1900-1940 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Gibbs, Mifflin Wistar (1823-1915)

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

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

Schomburg, Arturo Alfonso (1874-1938)

Vignette Type: 
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

Hunt, Ida Alexander Gibbs (1862-1957)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Ida Alexander Gibbs Hunt, teacher, Pan-Africanist and civil rights leader, was born on November 16, 1862 in Victoria, British Columbia.  Her parents were Mifflin Wistar Gibbs and Maria Alexander.  Ida Gibbs studied in the Oberlin Conservatory of Music from 1872 to 1876.  She then went to local public schools from 1876 to 1879.  For her senior year of high school, Gibbs attended the Oberlin College’s Preparatory Department and stayed on as a college student.  She completed her college education at Oberlin College in 1884, receiving both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Eng

Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1982); Minority Student Records, Oberlin College Archives (2008), http://www.oberlin.edu/archive/holdings/finding/RG5/SG4/S3/graduates.html; Joy A. Palmer, Fifty Major Thinkers on Education: From Confucius to Dewey (London, New York: Routledge, 2001); Oberlin High School Alumni: In Memoriam, Oberlin High School Alumni Association, http://www.oberlin-high.org/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Lewis, Theophilus (1891-1974)

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

Theophilus Lewis, drama/ theater critic, journalist, and U.S. Postal Service employee, was born to Thomas and Anne Lewis on March 4, 1891, in Baltimore, Maryland. Lewis attended public schools in Baltimore but was very much self-educated. He joined the U.S. Army and fought in World War I from 1917 to 1918 as a part of the American Expeditionary Forces. Upon returning to the U.S., he moved to Detroit, Michigan for three years before settling down in New York City, New York in 1922, getting a job as clerk for the U.S. Postal Service the same year, which he kept until his retirement in 1955. In 1933 Lewis got married and had three children, Selma, Alfred, and Lowell. He converted to Catholicism and was baptized on August 23, 1939.

Sources: 
Cary D. Wintz, and Paul Finkelman, Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance (New York: Routledge, 2004); Hans A. Ostrom, and J. David Macey, The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 2005); Lois Brown, The Encyclopedia of the Harlem Literary Renaissance (New York: Facts On File, 2006); Williams L. Andrews, Frances Smith Foster, and Trudier Harris, The Oxford Companion to African American Literature (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Coates, Dorothy Love (1928-2002)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership, Public Domain
Dorothy Love Coates was an American gospel singer, songwriter, and composer.  She was born Dorothy McGriff on January 30, 1928 in Birmingham, Alabama.  Her minister father, Lillar McGriff, moved to the North when Coates was six, and her parents soon divorced.  Thereafter, Lillar McGriff raised their six children in Birmingham.  By the age of 10, Coates had begun playing piano at Evergreen Baptist Church in Birmingham.  As a teenager, she performed with the Royal Travelers and with her siblings in the McGriff Singers, who had a weekly live radio broadcast on WJLD.  She left school after the tenth grade to help support her family as a maid and a clerk.  In 1946, she married her first husband Willie Love (1925-1991) of the Fairfield Four, and the couple divorced a few years later.
Sources: 
Bill Carpenter, “Dorothy Love Coates,” Uncloudy Days: The Gospel Music Encyclopedia (San Francisco: Backbeat Books, 2005); Robert Darden, “Dorothy Love Coates,” Encyclopedia of American Gospel Music, edited by W.K. McNeil (New York: Routledge, 2005); Anthony Heilbut, “‘I Won’t Let Go of My Faith’: Dorothy Love Coates,” The Gospel Sound: Good News and Bad Times (New York: Proscenium Publishers, [1971] 2002), and Dave Marsh, “Dorothy Love Coates,” All Music Guide to the Blues, edited by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Vladimir Bogdanov, and Chris Woodstra (San Francisco: Backbeat Books, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Walker, Alice M. (1944- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of Steve Exum

The first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Alice Walker was born the eighth child of sharecroppers Willie Lee and Minnie Lou Grant Walker, on February 9, 1944, in Eatonton, Georgia. Walker became the valedictorian of her segregated high school class, despite an accident at age eight that impaired the vision in her left eye. Before transferring to Sarah Lawrence College, where she received a B.A. degree, she attended Atlanta’s Spelman College for two years, where she became a political activist, met Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., and participated in the 1963 March on Washington.

Also, during her undergraduate studies, Walker visited Africa as an exchange student. She later registered voters in Georgia and worked with the Head Start program in Mississippi, where she met and married civil rights attorney Melvyn Rosenthal (the marriage lasted ten years), became the mother of daughter Rebecca, and taught at historically black colleges Jackson State College and Tougaloo College. Walker has also taught at Wellesley College, University of Massachusetts at Boston, the University of California at Berkeley, and Brandeis University.  At Brandeis she is credited with teaching the first American course on African American women writers.

Sources: 
Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983); Henry L. Gates and Anthony Appiah, eds., Alice Walker: Critical Perspectives Past and Present (New York: Amistad, 1993); Lovalerie King, “Alice Walker” in Encyclopedia of African American Literature, Ed. Wilfred D. Samuels (New York: Facts on File, 2007).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Utah

Wortham, Anne (1941 - )

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

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

Hill, Oliver White (1907-2007)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, attorney Oliver W. Hill spent more than 60 years in a practice devoted to civil rights causes. He was in the forefront of the legal effort to desegregate public schools, participating in the series of lawsuits that were consolidated to become the landmark 1954 United States Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which struck down segregated schools.

Oliver White Hill was born Oliver White on May 1, 1907 in Richmond, Virginia. When he was a baby, his father left; later his mother Olivia remarried and he took the last name of his stepfather, Joseph C. Hill. The family moved to Roanoke, Virginia, and then to Washington, D.C. where he graduated from Dunbar High School. After earning his Bachelor of Arts degree at Howard University, he graduated in 1933 from Howard University Law School, second in his class only to his friend Thurgood Marshall. In Richmond, Hill founded his first law firm, Hill, Martin and Robinson, and joined with Charles Hamilton Houston on the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) legal team.
Sources: 
Oliver W. Hill, The Big Bang: Brown v. Board of Education and Beyond, the Autobiography of Oliver W. Hill, Sr. (Winter Park, Florida: Four-G Publishers, 2000); Alan Govenar, Untold Glory, African Americans in the Pursuit of Freedom, Opportunity, and Achievement (New York: Harlem Moon, 2007); http://www.pbs.org/beyondbrown/history/oliverhill; http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/06/washington/06hill; http://www.brownat50.org/Brown/Bios/BioOliverhill.
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Trotter, William Monroe (1872-1934)

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

Sherrod, Charles (1937-)

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

Charles Sherrod was a key civil rights leader in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) whose leadership led to the Albany Movement in southwest Georgia. Born in extreme poverty to his fourteen-year old mother in 1937 in St. Petersburg, Virginia, he worked to help support six younger children.  Sherrod worked his way through Virginia Union College, receiving a B.A. in 1958 and a Bachelors of Divinity in 1961. He joined SNCC in 1960, participating in the organization's first demonstrations and voter registration drives.

Sources: 

Clayborne Carson, In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the
1960s
(New York: Harvard UP, 1981); Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry
Louis Gates, Jr., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African
American Experience
(New York: Basic Civitas Books, 1999);
http://www.pbs.org/thisfarbyfaith/witnesses/charles_sherrod.html.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Scott, Tyree (1940-2003)

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

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

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

Copeland, John Anthony, Jr. (1836-1859)

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

John Anthony Copeland was a mulatto, born free in Raleigh, North Carolina on August 15, 1834 to John Anthony Copeland, a slave, and Delilah Evans, a free woman.  Copeland spent much of his early life in Ohio and attended Oberlin College.  While residing in Oberlin, Ohio, Copeland became an advocate for black rights and an abolitionist.  In 1858 he participated in assisting John Price, a runaway slave seeking his freedom.  This act became famous as the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue, where abolitionists boldly aided slaves in violation of the federal Fugitive Slave Law.  

Sources: 

Timothy Patrick McCarthy and John Stauffer  Prophets of Protest: Reconsidering the History of American Abolitionism (New York: The New Press, 2006;  Herb Boyd, Autobiography of a People: Three Centuries of African American History Told by Those Who Lived It (New York: Doubleday, 2000); Peggy A. Russo, and Paul Finkelman, Terrible Swift Sword: The Legacy of John Brown (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2005); http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/index.php?q=node/5478.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

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

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

Messenger (1917-1928)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Andrew E. Kersten, A. Philip Randolph: A Life in the Vanguard (Lanham:  Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2007); Jervis Anderson, A. Philip Randolph: A Biographical Portrait (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1972); Henry Louis Gates and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, African American Lives (Oxford University Press, 2004)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Girma, Haben (1988- )

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

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Harding, Rosemarie Florence Freeney (1930-2004)

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

Father Divine (1879-1965)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Father Divine in Parade
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Father Divine, religious founder of the International Peace Missions Movement, businessman, and civil rights activist was born George Baker in Rockville, Maryland to George and Nancy Baker.  Viewed by many to be a cult leader, his doctrine was a compilation of optimistic thinking based on many widely accepted mainstream religions.  Father Divine and his followers believed that he was the second coming of Christ.  He required his followers to adhere to his International Modest Code which required strict commitment to a celibate lifestyle and abstinence from immoral actions.

Sources: 
Jill Watts, God, Harlem U.S.A.: The Father Divine Story (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992); Robert Wiesbrot, Father Divine and the Struggle for Racial Equality (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Brea College

Cook, Samuel DuBois (1928- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of 
Clemson University
Samuel DuBois Cook is a retired Dillard University president and, with his appointment to the Duke University faculty in 1966, was the first African American professor to hold a regular faculty appointment at any predominantly white college or university in the South. Cook also served as a member of the Duke University Board of Trustees from 1981 to 1993. In 1993, Dillard University honored Cook by naming the school's new fine arts and communication center after him. That same year, Cook was elected by Duke University's Board of Trustee as a Trustee Emeritus.

Born on November 21, 1928 in Griffin, Georgia, Cook's father was a Baptist minister who instilled a passion for education in all of his children. Samuel DuBois Cook entered all-male Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia in 1943 with his friend Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) when they were both 15 years of age.  Both boys participated in the Morehouse early admission program during World War II that sought to fill the college's classrooms when many older students were in the U.S. military. At Morehouse, Cook became student body president and founded the campus chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He earned a BA degree in history in 1948. He went on to earn an MA (1950) in political science and a Ph.D (1954) from Ohio State University.
Sources: 
F. Thomas Trotter and Charles E. Cole, Politics, Morality and Higher Education: Essays in Honor of Samuel DuBois Cook (Franklin, Tennessee: Providence House Publishers, 1997); Samuel DuBois Cook, Dilemmas of American Policy: Crucial Issues in Contemporary Society (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University, 1969); “Biographical Note”, Samuel DuBois Cook Society, http://www.duke.edu/web/cooksociety/cook_Brochure2007.pdf.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

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

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

Jackson, Jessie Louis, Sr. (1941- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Jessie Jackson speaking at the Democratic
National Convention, 1984 
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Long before he became a minister, head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Operation Breadbasket, Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity), and founder of the Rainbow Coalition, Jesse Louis Jackson impressed his family and close friends as a person destined for greatness.  Born Jesse Burns in Greenville, South Carolina on October 8, 1941 to Helen Burns, a 17 year old unwed high school student and Noah Robinson, her older married neighbor, young Jesse took the surname Jackson from his adopted father, Charles Jackson, who later married Burns.  Insecure owing to the circumstances of his birth, Jackson decided to make himself a father figure and leader of his people.  
Sources: 
Barbara A Reynolds, Jesse Jackson: America’s David (Washington, D.C.: JFJ Associates, 1985); Elizabeth O. Colton, The Jackson Phenomenon: The Man, the Power, the Message (New York: Doubleday, 1989); Marshall Frady, Jesse: The Life and Pilgrimage of Jesse Jackson (New York: Random House, 1996); H. Viscount “Berky” Nelson, The Rise and Fall of Modern Black Leadership: Chronicle of a Twentieth Century Tragedy (Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of California, Los Angeles

Cooper, Anna Julia Haywood (1858-1964)

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

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

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

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

Silvera, Frank (1914–1970)

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

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

Sources: 

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

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

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

Poindexter, James (1819-1907)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

James Poindexter clergyman, abolitionist, politician, and civil rights activist, was born in Richmond Virginia in 1819. He attended school in Richmond until he was about sixteen when he started to apprentice as a barber. In 1837 Poindexter married Adelia Atkinson and the coupled moved to Columbus, Ohio where they remained for the rest of their lives.

In Columbus Poindexter joined the Second Baptist Church, a small black church in the city.  He officiated at the services until an ordained Baptist minister could be found. In 1847 when a recently arrived black family joined the church, Poindexter and others learned they had been slaveholders in Virginia.  Poindexter and forty other Second Baptist Church members withdrew in protest and formed the Anti-Slavery Baptist Church. Poindexter led this church for the next ten years until the congregation rejoined the Second Baptist Church in 1858.  Poindexter, now an ordained minister, became the pastor of the combined church and remained in this position until his resignation in 1898.

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

Gaines, Irene McCoy (1892-1964)

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

Irene McCoy Gaines was a civil rights activist and a community leader. Born October 25, 1892, in Ocala, Florida, to Charles and Mamie McCoy, she had one older sister who died while Gaines was a child. Her family moved to Chicago, Illinois when she was an infant. In 1903, Gaines’s mother became a single parent after a divorce. After she graduated from Wendell Phillips High in Chicago in 1908, Gaines attended Fisk University (Nashville, Tennessee) from 1908 to 1910, and then the University of Chicago from 1910 to 1912. She studied civics and social work at both campuses.

When she returned to Chicago in 1910, Gaines began working at the Cook County Juvenile Court as a stenographer, which helped her become aware of the problems affecting the youth in her community. After World War I started, she found a new job with the US Department of Labor’s War Camp Community Service Program as an organizer for the girls division.

Sources: 
The New York Public Library, "Irene McCoy Gaines," The New York Public Library Digital Collections for 1922; Barbara Sicherman and Carol Hurd Green, Notable American Women: The Modern Period: a Biographical Dictionary (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980); “Irene McCoy Gaines Papers” Black Metropolis Research Consortium, Chicago, Illinois, 2010.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

SNCC Freedom Singers (1962-1966)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Freedom Singers were a musical group primarily active between 1962 and 1966, singing “freedom songs” in order to fundraise and organize on behalf of SNCC.

The Freedom Singers emerged out of the Albany Movement of 1962. After witnessing the Albany Movement’s mass movement musical culture, folksinger Pete Seeger suggested to SNCC executive secretary James Forman that a group could perform songs arising out of the civil rights movement in order to raise money for SNCC, educate young northerners on the events of the movement, and organize people to involve themselves. Eventually, the idea reached Albany Movement leader (and SNCC field secretary) Cordell Reagon in October 1962.  By the end of the year, a group was organized consisting of Reagon, Bernice Johnson, Rutha Harris, and Charles Neblett, occasionally joined by Bertha Gober. They were all trained musicians as well as SNCC field secretaries.
Sources: 
Ronald Cohen, Rainbow Quest: The Folk Music Revival & American Society, 1940-1970 (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2002); Casey Graham, “Fighting for My Rights: The SNCC Freedom Singers and the Sixties,” unpublished manuscript (2010); Bernice Johnson Reagon, “Songs of the Civil Rights Movement 1955-1965: A Study in Culture History,” Ph.D. diss., Howard University (1975).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Murray, Daniel A. P. (1852-1925)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Daniel A. P. Murray was born on March 3, 1852 in Baltimore, Maryland.  At the age of nine he left Baltimore to live in Washington, D.C., where his brother managed the U.S. Senate restaurant.  In 1871 Murray acquired a job as a personal assistant to the librarian of Congress, Ainsworth R. Spofford.  Under Spofford's tutelage Murray gathered invaluable research skills and learned several languages. In 1879 he married Anna Evans, an Oberlin College graduate whose uncle and cousin had taken part in John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry.  Two years later, in 1881, he advanced to assistant librarian of the Library of Congress, a position he would hold until his retirement in 1923.

Sources: 
African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A.P. Murray Collection (1818-1907): Library of Congress
http://rs6.loc.gov/ammem/aap/aaphome.html; Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Galamison, Milton A. (1923-1988)

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

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

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

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

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

Jackson, Jesse Louis. Jr. (1965- )

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

Jesse Jackson, Jr., an African American Congressman, represented Illinois’ Second Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from December 12, 1995 to November 21, 2012. On March 11, 1965, in Greenville, South Carolina, in the middle of the voting rights campaign, Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. was born to renowned activist, Reverend Jesse Jackson, and Jacqueline Jackson. The younger Jackson’s political career has been deeply impacted by his educational upbringing and his family’s activism.

In 1987, Jackson earned a Business Management Bachelor of Science Degree from North Carolina A & T State University, where he graduated magna cum laude. In 1990, he graduated from the Chicago Theological Seminary earning a Master of Arts Degree in Theology. Three years later Jackson graduated from the University of Illinois College of Law with a Juris Doctorate.

Before his election to Congress in 1995, Jackson served as the National Rainbow Coalition’s National Field Director, registering millions of new voters.  In the 1980s he led protests against South African apartheid. In 1986, Jackson spent his 21st birthday in a jail cell in Washington, D.C. for participating in an anti-apartheid protest at the South African Embassy.

Sources: 
U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Jesse L. Jackson, Jr.: Representing the People of the 2nd District of Illinois, www.house.gov/jackson/Bio.shtml; Jesse L. Jackson, Jr., Jesse L. Jackson, Jr.: Congressman, Second Congressional District of Illinois, www.jessejacksonjr.org; and Mema Ayi and Chicago Defender, Jackson Jr. bails on mayoral run; says with Dems in control he can do more for Congress, www.chicagodefender.com/page/local.cfm?ArticleID=7561
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

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

Carey, Archibald, Jr. (1908-1981)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Jackson, Rev. Mance (1931-2007)

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

Still, William (1821-1902)

Vignette Type: 
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

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

Springfield Race Riot, 1908

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

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

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

Louima, Abner (1966- )

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

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

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

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

The Southern Regional Council (1944- )

Vignette Type: 
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

Lester, Julius (1939- )

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

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

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

Gregory, Dick (1932-2017)

Vignette Type: 
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

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

Bruce, Josephine Beall Willson (1853-1923)

Vignette Type: 
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

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

Dickerson, Earl Burrus (1891-1986)

Vignette Type: 
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

Miller, Loren (1903-1967)

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

Moses, Robert P. (1935- )

Vignette Type: 
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

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

Murray, George Washington (1853–1926)

Vignette Type: 
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

Vignette Type: 
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

Colvin, Claudette (1935- )

Vignette Type: 
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

Motley, Constance Baker (1921-2005)

Vignette Type: 
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- )

Vignette Type: 
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

Burbridge, Thomas Nathaniel (1921–1972)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Napier, James Carroll (1845-1940)

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

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

Lewis, David Levering (1936- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Williams, Franklin Hall (1917-1990)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Longtime civil rights organizer and later U.S. Ambassador, Franklin Hall Williams was born on October 22, 1917, in Flushing, New York. His mother died in 1919. Williams was raised by his maternal grandparents. He graduated from Lincoln University in Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1941. After serving in the United States Army, he completed Fordham University Law School in New York City in 1945, passing the New York State bar examination before receiving his degree.
Sources: 
Glenn Fowler, “Franklin H. Williams Dies at 72; Lawyer and Former Ambassador,” New York Times, May 22, 1990; “Franklin H. Williams Dies; Was Ambassador, Lawyer,” Washington Post, May 22, 1990; Guide to Franklin Hall Williams Papers, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Los Angeles

Moore, Gwendolynne S. "Gwen" (1951- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Congresswoman Gwen Moore Speaks in
Milwaukee, 2004
Courtesy of Congresswoman Gwen Moore Official Website
Gwendolynne Moore is the first African American member of Congress from Wisconsin where she represents the state’s Fourth Congressional District. Moore, a community leader and lifelong civil rights and human rights advocate, is the first woman to represent the Fourth Congressional District.  She is only the second woman to be elected to Congress from Wisconsin.

Gwen Moore was born April 18, 1951 in Racine, Wisconsin and raised in Milwaukee. She is the eighth of nine children born to a factory worker father and a public school teacher mother.  Moore graduated from North Division High School before attending college at Marquette University. Although she was a teenage mother who went on and off welfare, Moore earned her Bachelor of Arts in political science from Marquette in 1973.

After college, Moore became a housing activist and community leader.  She has worked for the city of Milwaukee as a city development specialist and was an organizer with Volunteers in Service to America.  Moore has emphasized a desire to increase and improve the quality of housing and communities in Milwaukee. She helped establish a community credit union to assist low-income residents in purchasing homes.  
Sources: 
"Profile: Congresswoman Gwen Moore." NPR. 2008. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4274341; "Congresswoman Moore Protests Genocide in Darfur" Congresswoman Gwen Moore. http://www.house.gov/list/press/wi04_moore/pr060515.html; "Gwen Moore" The U.S. Congress Votes Database. 2008. http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/m001160/; "Representative Gwendolynne "Gwen" Moore." Project Vote Smart. http://www.votesmart.org/voting_category.php?can_id=BS021367.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Taylor, Ruth Carol (1931- )

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

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

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

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

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

Jones, Barbara Ann Posey (1943 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
In 1958, Barbara Ann Posey, then a high school student, emerged as one of the most important youth leaders in the campaign which began that year to desegregate the major public accommodations in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  Posey’s public stand against racial injustice began when she was fifteen and already a leader in the Oklahoma City branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Youth Council which initiated sit-ins at lunch counters in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  These sit-ins predated the more famous Greensboro college student sit-ins by two years. 

Throughout her life, Posey has been a leader in education, women’s issues, and civil rights.  Posey was born to Mr. and Mrs. Weldon Posey in Oklahoma City in 1943. As a teen, she attended Douglas High School in Oklahoma City, graduating in June 1960. She later attended the University of Oklahoma.
Sources: 
Paulette Olson and Zahren Emami, eds., Engendering Economics: Conversations with Women Economists of the United States (New York: Routledge, 2002). www.tulsalibrary.org/research/ok/women.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Central University (Oklahoma)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carter, Robert L. (1917-2012)

Vignette Type: 
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- )

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

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

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

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

Parks, Rosa (1913-2005)

Vignette Type: 
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

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

Shores, Arthur D (1903-1996)

Vignette Type: 
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

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

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

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

Ray, Charles B. (1807-1886)

Vignette Type: 
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

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

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

Riley, Jerome R. (1840-1929)

Vignette Type: 
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

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

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

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

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

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

Graves, Letitia A. (1863-1952)

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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