BlackPast.org Facebook BlackPast.org Twitter

Donate to BlackPast.org Donate to BlackPast.org

NOTE: BlackPast.org will not disclose, use, give or sell any of the requested information to third parties.

12 + 3 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.

Shop Amazon and help BlackPast.org

Blackpast.org in the Classroom/ border=

Maryland

Murray, Pauli (1910-1985)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 

Pauli Murray, Song in a Weary Throat: An American Pilgrimage (New York: Harper and Row, 1987); Elaine Sue Caldbeck, “A Religious Life of Pauli Murray: Hope and Struggle,” Ph.D. dissertation, Northwestern University, 2000; http://www.wvu.edu/~lawfac/jelkins/lp-2001/murray.html; http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAmurrayA.htm

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Bridges, Leon (1932- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Leon Bridges is recorded as the founder of the second African American-owned firm in Seattle. He was born on August 18, 1932 in Los Angeles, California. In high school he was told by a counselor that he couldn't become an architect because he was black, and then while a student in high school he met his mentor, famed African American architect, Paul Williams.

While a student at UCLA, Bridges was drafted into the military in 1952, and was stationed in Japan. While a soldier, he continued to study architecture. He earned his bachelor's of architecture degree from the University of Washington in 1960.

Bridges began working in Seattle architecture firms while still a student at the University of Washington and received his first job in 1956 as a draftsman. Bridges worked for the architecture firm Gotteland and Kocarski and designed Catholic churches and buildings in Seattle.

After becoming a registered architect in 1962, Bridges formed his own firm, Leon Bridges AIA in 1963. His first project was designing a building for the Seattle YMCA. In 1966, he formed a partnership with colleague Edward Burke and they worked together until 1972 when Bridges relocated his firm to Baltimore.
Sources: 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Thomas, Vivien (1910-1985)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Described as the “most untalked about, unappreciated, unknown giant in the African American community,” by Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr., Vivien Thomas received an honorary doctorate from Johns Hopkins University in 1976, and while this was undoubtedly memorable, the decades which preceded this moment were equally unforgettable. In Nashville, Tennessee, this high school honors graduate dreamed of becoming a physician. Thomas, a skilled carpenter, saved for seven years to pay for his education. However, he lost his savings during the Great Depression.  Beginning in 1930, he worked at Vanderbilt University's Medical School as a laboratory assistant to Alfred Blalock, a white physician who became a pioneer in cardiac surgery. Blalock mentored Thomas and taught him to conduct experiments.
Sources: 
Vivien Thomas, Pioneering Research in Surgical Shock and Cardiovascular Surgery: Vivien Thomas and His Work with Alfred Blalock (Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985); www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/partners/today/t_views.html
Affiliation: 
University of Kansas

Quarles, Benjamin A. (1904-1996)

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

Noted historian, scholar, and educator Benjamin Author Quarles was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 23, 1904.  His father, Arthur Benedict Quarles was a subway porter and his mother, Margaret O'Brien Quarles, was a homemaker. In his twenties, Quarles enrolled at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, the oldest historically black college in the South, where he earned a B.A. in 1931.  From Shaw, Quarles went to the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin, where he earned an M.A. in 1933 and a Ph.D. in American History in 1940. 

Sources: 
John Hope Franklin, “We mourn the death of Benjamin A. Quarles 1904-1996,” Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (Winter 1996-97); Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, “Benjamin A. Quarles,” Negro History Bulletin (Jan-March, 1997); W.A. Low and Virgil A. Clift, eds., Encyclopedia of Black America (New York: Da Capo Press, 1984). 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Oregon

Barbosa, Pedro, III (1966- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
A native of Guayama, Puerto Rico, Pedro Barbosa III is a distinguished entomologist (a scientist who studies insects) who has taught at the University of Maryland since 1979.  Born on September 6, 1944, he acquired his bachelor’s degree at the City College of New York in 1966 and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Massachusetts.  Upon earning his terminal degree Barbosa taught entomology at Rutgers University from 1971 to 1973, then at the University of Massachusetts from 1973 to 1979.   

He has utilized research grants from the Maryland Agricultural Experiment Stations and the National Biological Control Institute, has been a fellow of both the Ford Foundation and the Entomological Society of America, and honored by the Ciba-Geigy Recognition Award, the Science Award from the Institute of Puerto Rico of New York, and the Bussart Memorial Award, among others.
Sources: 
Who’s Who Among Hispanic Americans (Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1994).
http://www.barbosalab.umd.edu/top3.jpg
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Hurston, Zora Neale (1891-1960)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Zora Neale Hurston, known for her audacious spirit and sharp wit, was a talented and prolific writer and a skilled anthropologist from the Harlem Renaissance to the Civil Rights Era. Born on January 7, 1891 in Notasulga, Alabama, she grew up in the all-black town of Eatonville, Florida.  Her idyllic life in this provincial rural town was shattered with the death of her mother when Hurston was fourteen and her father’s unexpected remarriage.  In a few years Hurston was on her own working as a maid.  She settled in Baltimore and completed her education at Morgan Academy and Howard University.

Hurston’s talent was readily apparent to her professors including Alain Locke and Montgomery Gregory.  With Locke’s and Gregory’s support her short story “John Redding Goes to Sea” was published in Howard’s literary magazine Stylus in 1921. Locke recommended Hurston’s work to Charles S. Johnson, who in 1924 published her second short story, “Drenched in Light” in Opportunity magazine.  
Sources: 
Tiffany Ruby Patterson, Zora Neale Hurston and a History of Southern Life
(Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2005).
Affiliation: 
Vanderbilt University

Tubman, Harriet Ross (c. 1821-1913)

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

Dubbed “The Moses of Her People,” escaped slave Harriet Tubman assisted hundreds of slaves on the Underground Railroad, leading them from Maryland to safety in Pennsylvania.  Born enslaved and raised in Dorchester County, Maryland to Benjamin and Harriett Greene Ross, Harriett was both a field hand and a domestic servant.  As a young girl, she suffered a lifelong injury after her master threw a piece of iron at her, which struck her in the head.  Throughout her life, Harriett suffered bouts of narcoleptic seizures.  In 1844, she married a free black man, John Tubman.  She escaped in 1849 in order to avoid being sold into the Deep South. Her husband refused to go with her.  Several months later, when she returned to get him, she learned he had taken another wife.  He died shortly after the end of the Civil War. Harriett later married Nelson Davis.

Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992) and Darlene Clark Hine, “Harriet Tubman” in Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, Vol. II (New York: Carlson, 1993): 1176-1180.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Harper, Frances Ellen Watkins (1825-1911)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
A poet and essayist, Frances Ellen Watkins was born in Baltimore in 1825.  Orphaned at the age of three, Watkins went to live with her aunt and uncle, Harriet and William Watkins.  Unlike most free blacks, Frances grew up in comfortable surroundings; her uncle juggled several occupations in order to support the family, including preaching, shoemaking, and medicine. He was also a teacher and administrator at Watkins Academy, a school he had established in 1820.  Like other young women, Frances learned the female “trades” of sewing and domestic work in addition to learning academic subjects at her uncle’s school.  

While working for a white family as a nursemaid, she read extensively and began writing poetry.  She compiled her first collection of poems, Forest Leaves, in 1845.  Her early associations with influential abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and William Still helped in the publication and circulation of her work.  In addition to writing poetry, she traveled on the antislavery lecture circuit and sent the money she earned on these tours to her uncle in order to sustain the work of the Underground Railroad.  
Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992); Frances Smith Foster, “Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,” in Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, Vol. I (New York: Carlson, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Douglass, Anna Murray (c. 1813-1882)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Anna Murray Douglass is best known as the first wife of black abolitionist Frederick Douglass.  Her life illustrates the challenges facing women who were married to famous men.  Born as a free black in rural Maryland, her parents, Mary and Bambarra Murray, were manumitted shortly before her birth. She grew up in Baltimore, where she met a ship caulker six years her junior, Frederick Washington Bailey.  Although it is unclear how they met, Murray facilitated his second escape attempt by providing money for a train ticket and a sailor’s disguise.  She followed him to New York City, where they were married by the prominent black minister, Rev. J.W.C. Pennington.  They adopted the surname Douglass when they moved to a Quaker community in New Bedford, Massachusetts.  
Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992), and William S. McFeeley, “Anna Murray Douglass,” in Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, Vol. I (New York: Carlson, 1993): 347-48.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Low, W. Augustus (1913-1988)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Wilfred Augustus Low -- or “Gus,” as he was universally known to friends and colleagues -- was born to a sharecropping family in the Delta country of Mississippi. When Low was a teenager, his family relocated to St. Louis, Missouri, which gave him the opportunity to graduate from high school and enroll at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri. There he helped edit the student newspaper and earned a B.A. degree magna cum laude in 1937. Low immediately matriculated as a graduate student in the Department of History at University of Iowa, where he earned an M.A. degree in 1938 and a Ph.D. degree in 1941. During WWII, he fought as an infantry man in the Italian campaign. After the war, he became a professor of history at Maryland State University (now University of Maryland Eastern Shore), where he taught from 1948 to 1966. He also served as a visiting professor at Florida A & M, Virginia State College, Lincoln University (Missouri), and Fort Valley State College, among others.
Sources: 
UMBC Departmental Records; archives of Lincoln University and the University of Iowa; W. A. Low and Virgil A. Clift, eds., Encyclopedia of Black America; Journal of Negro History; oral comments during twenty years as a friend and colleague.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Oregon

Douglass, Frederick (1817-1895)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Frederick Douglass was born into Maryland slavery in 1817 to a slave mother and a slave master father. Young Douglass toiled on a rural plantation and later in Baltimore’s shipyards as a caulker. Douglass, however, learned to read and soon sought out abolitionist literature that alleviated what he termed the graveyard of his mind. He eventually escaped to New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1838, and took the surname Douglass, which he borrowed from the Scottish romance novel, Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott. Douglass’s wife, Anna, followed with their five children. She worked as a laborer in a New Bedford shoe factory while Douglass became a world renowned anti-slavery orator.
Sources: 
Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom (New York: Miller, Orton & Mulligan, 1855); William J. Moses, The Golden Age of Black Nationalism, 1850-1925 (Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1978); Leon Litwack, North of Slavery: The Negro in the Free States, 1790-1860 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961); Benjamin Quarles, Frederick Douglass (New York: Athenaeum, 1968); and Philip S. Foner, Frederick Douglass: A Biography (New York: Citadel Press, 1964).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Fresno

Henson, Matthew (1866-1955)

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

Matthew Henson was an American explorer who accompanied Robert Peary, most famously on an expedition intended to reach the Geographic North Pole in 1909. Subsequent research and exploration has revealed that Peary and Henson did not reach the North Pole but their failed attempt is still recognized as an important contribution to scientific knowledge. 

Sources: 
Matthew Henson, A Negro Explorer at the North Pole (New York: Copper Square Press, 2001); Robinson Bradley, Dark Companion (Greenwich, Conn.: Fawcett Books, 1947); Floyd Miller, Ahdoolo! Ahdoolo! The Bigoraphy of Matthew A. Henson (New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1963).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Arizona State University

Carson, Benjamin S. (1951- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Benjamin S. Carson was born on September 18, 1951 in Detroit, Michigan.  His father left the family when he was only eight years old, leaving his mother Sonya and his older brother Curtis.  As time passed, Benjamin and his brother fell further and further behind in school and he was labeled “dummy” by his classmates in fifth grade.  Once his mother saw their failing grades, she stepped in to turn their lives around.  They were only allowed to watch two or three television programs a week and were required to read two books per week and write a book report for her despite her own limited reading skills. Carson developed a love for books and scholarship and eventually graduated third in his high school class.  He enrolled in and graduated from Yale University and from there completed medical school at the University of Michigan after training to become a neurosurgeon.
Sources: 
Laura Chang, Scientists at Work (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000); http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/car1bio-1.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Dixon, Sheila (1953- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Gerald G. Jackson, We’re Not Going to Take It Anymore (U.S.: Beckham Publications Group, 2005); http://baltimore.about.com; http://www.ci.baltimore/md/.us.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Pickens, William (1881-1954)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of The History Cooperative
William Pickens was born January 15, 1881 in Anderson County, South Carolina. His parents were liberated slaves who migrated to Arkansas when he was a young boy.  Young Pickens worked in cotton fields and in sawmills while attending the local segregated public school.  Pickens entered Talladega College in Alabama in 1898 and left four years later as the school’s most illustrious graduate in its history. In 1902 he entered Yale University and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa where he won the Henry James Ten Eyek Prize over thirty seven competitors in 1903.  Pickens became an expert linguist and graduated from Yale with a second B.A. degree in classics in 1904.  In 1905 Pickens married Minnie Cooper McAlpine. The couple had three children.  

William Pickens returned to Talladega and taught foreign languages there for the next decade.  Beginning in 1914 he spent two years at Wiley College in Texas and then became Dean of Academics at Morgan State College in Baltimore in 1916.

William Pickens wrote his first autobiography, The Heir of Slaves, in 1911. In the book he stressed the importance of education.  He also credited much of his success to his family, different teachers who guided him and the techniques he used to produce his accomplishments.
Sources: 
William Pickens, Bursting Bonds (Boston: Jordan & More Press, 1923); William M. Brewer, The Journal of Negro History 39:3 (July 1954): 242-244: Sheldon Avery, Up from Washington: William Pickens and the Negro Struggle for Equality (Newark, University of Delaware Press, 1989).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

Banneker, Benjamin (1731-1806)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Cover of Benjamin Banneker's 1792 Almanac
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Benjamin Banneker, free black, farmer, mathematician, and astronomer, was born on November 9, 1731, the son of freed slaves Robert and Mary Bannaky, probably near the Patapsco River southeast of Baltimore, Maryland, where his father owned a small farm. For some years, Benjamin seems to have served as an indentured laborer on the Prince George’s County plantation of Mary Welsh, who had dealings with the Bannaky family and in 1773 executed her dead husband’s instructions to release several of her labor force including “Negro Ben, born free age 43.” Walsh was surely not Banneker’s grandmother, as argued by many biographers, but she did leave him a substantial legacy. He then lived alone as a tobacco farmer near the Patapsco River.

By tradition, Banneker received only a brief education from a Quaker schoolmaster.  But he showed an early talent for mathematics and construction when, aged 21, he built a model of a striking clock, largely out of wood, that became renowned in his neighborhood. He read widely and recorded his researches.  His skills drew him into contact with a wealthy white family, the Ellicotts, who had established flourmills and an iron foundry on the outskirts of Baltimore in the mid-1770s.
Sources: 
Silvio Bedini, The Life of Benjamin Banneker (New York: Scribner’s, 1972); Charles A. Cerami, Benjamin Banneker: Surveyor, Astronomer, Publisher, Patriot (New York: Wiley, 2002); George Ely Russell, “Molly Welsh: Alleged Grandmother of Benjamin Banneker,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly, 94 (December 2006): 305-14.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Schmoke, Kurt L. (1949- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Kurt L. Schmoke, born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1949, came from a middle class background.  His father, Murray, a civilian chemist for the U.S. Army, was a graduate of Morehouse College, and his mother, Irene was a social worker. Schmoke attended the city's prestigious public high school, Baltimore City College, winning both academic and athletic distinctions, and leading his school to a state championship in football.  Schmoke entered Yale University in 1967 and three years later, he acted as a student leader to help defuse a crisis in 1970 over the New Haven murder trial of Black Panther Bobby Seale.  After graduating from Yale, Schmoke studied as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University.  In 1976 he graduated from Harvard Law School.  Following a brief career in Washington, D.C., serving on the White House Domestic Policy Staff and at the Department of Transportation during the Administration of President Jimmy Carter, he returned to Baltimore and was elected to the position of State's Attorney in 1982, and five years later he won the election for mayor of Baltimore.    
Sources: 
http://www.law.howard.edu, "Kurt L. Schmoke biography"; http://biography.jrank.org/pages/2429/Schmoke-Kurt.html; Joe Burris, "Back on his own terms, former Baltimore mayor Kurt Schmoke has enjoyed being out of the public spotlight, but he's not above returning to make a political point," Baltimore Sun, (Baltimore, Maryland), December 27, 2005, p. 1C
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Montgomery College (Maryland)

Henson, Josiah (1789-1883)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Josiah Henson was born into slavery on June 15, 1789 in Charles County, Maryland.  As a young boy he witnessed slavery’s cruelties inflicted on his immediate family.  Young Henson watched his father receive fifty lashes for standing up to a slave owner and then witnessed his father’s ear being severed as part of the punishment.   Shortly afterwards he watched his father sold off to an Alabama slaveholder.  Upon the death of his owner, Henson was separated from his mother and siblings in an estate sale.  Although he was reunited with his mother, he never saw his siblings again.

Henson remained on his new owner’s farm in Montgomery County, Maryland, until he was an adult.  As he aged he rose to become a trusted slave and supervised other enslaved people on the farm.  However, he used his new position to make his escape from slavery.  Following the Underground Railroad, Henson escaped from Maryland to the Province of Upper Canada (present-day Ontario), Canada with his wife and four children by way of the Niagara River in 1830.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852)

Vignette Type: 
Misc
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Uncle Tom's Cabin, written and published by Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1852, was the most popular 19th century novel and, after the Bible, was the second-best-selling book of that century.  Over 300,000 copies were sold in the United States in its first year alone.  The book’s impact on the American public on the issue of slavery was so powerful that when President Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe at the start of the American Civil War he stated “so this is the little lady who made this big war.”  

This anti-slavery novel was controversial as soon as it appeared.  Stowe used Uncle Tom’s Cabin to publicize the horrors of slavery, bringing them to the attention of thousands who heretofore had not been particularly sympathetic to the abolitionist cause.  Its portrayal of slavery immediately increased the tensions between Southern slaveholders and non-slaveholding Northerners and as Lincoln’s comments suggested, brought the nation to civil war.
Sources: 

Mason I. Lowance, Ellen E. Westbrook and R.C. De Prospo, The Stowe Debate: Rhetorical Strategies in Uncle Tom's Cabin (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1994); "Uncle Tom's Cabin and American Culture: A Multi-Media Archive," Edited by Stephen Railton; http://www.uncletomscabin.org/; http://zorak.monmouth.edu/~afam/stowe2.jpg; http://www.uncletomscabin.org/.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Emancipation Proclamation (1863)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Following the Union Army victory at Antietam, Maryland on September 17, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary emancipation proclamation.  This document gave the states of the Confederacy until January 1, 1863 to lay down their arms and peaceably reenter the Union; if these states continued their rebellion all slaves in those seceding states were declared free.

Fearing the secession of neutral border slaveholding states such as Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation excluded those states, which left almost one fifth of the four million slaves in bondage. Their freedom would come with the 13th Amendment, ratified in 1865.

The Emancipation Proclamation also allowed freedmen to enlist into the Union Army.  This provision struck a series blow to the economic structure of the seceding states as many black slaves labored for the Confederate Army or were engaged in vital agricultural or industrial production for the Confederacy.
Sources: 
James West Davidson, Nation of Nation: A Concise Narrative of the American Republic.  Volume I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, 2006); Pauline Maier, Inventing America: A History of the United States Vol. I, 2nd edition (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Curry, Wayne Keith (1951-2014)

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

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Wayne Keith Curry’s father, Eugene, was a schoolteacher and his mother, Juliette, was a homemaker and later a secretary.  When the family moved to Cheverly, Maryland in the 1960s, they encountered various forms of discrimination, including exclusion from a white neighborhood, prompting his mother to campaign for open housing.  Curry graduated from Bladensburg High School in 1968, and Western Maryland College where he earned his B.A. in 1972.  While at Western Maryland he was elected senior class president.  After a brief teaching career Curry started working in the office of County Executive of Prince George's County in 1975.  Within five years he rose from an office staffer to senior assistant to the county executive, during which time he earned a law degree from the University of Maryland, graduating with honors.

Sources: 
John Rivera, "Curry Already Changing Prince George's History," The Baltimore Sun, December 27, 1994, p. 1A; "For Curry, Kudos From Wall Street: Term Took Prince George's County from Deficit to Surplus," The Washington Post, October 3, 2002. p. B1; Ovetta Wiggins, "Ex-Prince George's Leader Joins Baltimore Practice; Law Firm Prizes Curry's Connections," The Washington Post, September 24, 2004. p. B5; Ovetta Wiggins, "Prince George's Harbor Deal Deepens Rift; Johnson Terms Ceded Too Much, Curry Says," The Washington Post, November 24, 2006, p. B1; "Wayne Curry Biography," The History Makers, Interview September 29, 2004: http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/biography.asp?bioindex=896&category=politicalMakers  The author wishes to acknowledge the assistance of William V. Jones, Assistant Manager, Marylan d Department, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, Maryland.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Montgomery College, Rockville, Maryland

Blake, Eubie (1883-1983)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Eubie Blake was born James Hubert Blake in Baltimore, Maryland, on February 7, 1883.   He died one hundred years later on February 12, 1983 having become one of the most important figures in early 20th-century African American music and a major contributor to ragtime and early jazz music and culture.  
Sources: 
J. Wynn Rousuck, A Singing, Winging Tribute to Eubie Blake (Baltimore: Baltimore Sun, 2007); Bobbi King, A Legend in His Own Lifetime: Conversation With Eubie Blake (New York: The Black Perspective in Music, 1973).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Muse, Clarence (1889-1979)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Courtesy of
SHADES  OF L.A. COLLECTION/
Los Angeles Public Library 
On October 14th, 1889 Clarence Edouard Muse was born to Alexander and Mary Muse in Baltimore, Maryland.  Muse had intended to become an attorney and earned a degree in International Law from The Dickerson School of Law in Pennsylvania in 1911.  Because of poor opportunities for African Americans in the legal profession, Muse became a performer.    

Clarence Muse toured the vaudeville circuit, composed songs, directed both theater and film, entertained as a minstrel performer, sang opera, wrote screenplays, and appeared in over 150 films.  In 1914, Muse helped pioneer the black theater movement by co-founding the all black theatre troupe, the Lafayette Theater Stock Company.  He frequently appeared with the Lincoln Players, another famous troupe from the “Harlem Renaissance.”  
Sources: 

James P. Murray, Black Movies/Black Theatre. (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1972); Thomas Cripps, Slow Fade to Black: The Negro in American Film, 1900-1942 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993). “Clarence Muse” in “The Black Perspective in Music,” (Foundation for Research in the Afro-American Creative Arts, 1980)

Contributor: 

Mitchell, Parren James (1922-2007)

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

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

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

Grandfather Clause, The (1898–1915)

Vignette Type: 
Misc
History Type: 
African American History
Harper's Weekly Editorial on 
The Grandfather Clause
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The Grandfather Clause was a statute enacted by many American southern states in the wake of Reconstruction (1865-1877) that allowed potential white voters to circumvent literacy tests, poll taxes, and other tactics designed to disfranchise southern blacks. Following the American Civil War (1861-1865) and the Fourteenth Amendment (1868), which extended citizenship to blacks, the Fifteenth Amendment (1870) was ratified, providing a mandate that “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged…on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” But after a brief period of relatively open voting, southern states and, especially, Democratic legislators began enacting poll taxes, literacy and property tests, and understanding clauses, which they claimed would exclude the poor and uneducated, in a thinly veiled attempt to eliminate the black vote. Many Southern states, however, had to rely on the cunning of voter registrars to ensure that poor and uneducated whites were not disfranchised by these tests.
Sources: 
R. Volney Riser, Defying Disfranchisement: Black Voting Rights Activism in the Jim Crow South, 1890-1908 (Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 2010); Michael J. Klarman, From Jim Crow to Civil Rights: The Supreme Court and the Struggle for Economic Equality (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004); http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2013/10/21/239081586/the-racial-history-of-the-grandfather-clause.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Cummings, Elijah E. (1951- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
U.S. Congressman Elijah E. Cummings was born in Baltimore, Maryland on January 18, 1951. He received a B.A. degree from Howard University (Washington, D.C.) in 1973 and a J.D. degree from the University of Maryland (College Park) in 1976. Cummings, one of seven children of working-class parents who had migrated from a farm in South Carolina, grew up in a rental house, but often recalled the family “scrimping and saving” to buy their own home in a desegregated neighborhood. When the family moved into that home in 1963, when Cummings was twelve years of age, he recalled that he had “never played on grass before.”
Sources: 
Alton Hornsby, Jr. and Angela M. Hornsby-Gutting, From the Grassroots: Profiles of Contemporary African American Leaders (Montgomery: E-BookTime LLC, 2006).
Contributor2: 
Affiliation: 
University of Mississippi

Wynn, Albert R. (1951- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the U.S. House of
Representatives Photography Office
Albert Russel Wynn is Democratic representative of the State of Maryland’s Fourth Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. He is currently serving his eighth term. The district includes parts of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Wynn was defeated in the Democratic primary of February 13, 2008, by Donna Edwards.

Born in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Albert Wynn received his bachelor degree in Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh in 1973. He then completed a year of graduate study in Public Administration at Howard University, before earning a law degree from Georgetown University in 1977. From 1977 to 1981 Wynn was executive director of the Consumer Protection Commission in Prince George’s County, Maryland. In 1981 he became a practicing attorney and the following year he created the law office of Albert R. Wynn and Associates.

Wynn served five years in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1982 to 1987, and then served in the Maryland Senate for five years from 1987 to 1992 where he was deputy majority whip.
Sources: 
“The Online Office of Congressman Albert R. Wynn — Biography” http://www.wynn.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=14&Itemid=26 ; "Wynn, Albert R," in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience, Second Edition. Eds. Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., http://www.oxfordaasc.com.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/article/opr/t0002/e4158 .
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Mfume, Kweisi (Frizzel Gray) (1948 - )

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

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

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

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

Coker, Daniel (1780-1846)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Daniel Coker (born Isaac Wright) was a writer, activist, and a founder of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church who eventually emigrated from the United States to Sierra Leone as a missionary and colonist. Coker was born in 1780 in either Baltimore County or Frederick County, Maryland to Susan Coker, a white indentured servant, and Edward Wright, a slave father. He was raised in a household with his white half-brothers from his mother’s previous marriage and was allowed to attend the local school as their valet. While still in school he fled to New York where he changed his name to Daniel Coker and was ordained a Methodist minister.

Upon secretly returning to Maryland, Coker’s friends helped him purchase his freedom which gave him the rare opportunity to boldly speak out against the institution of slavery as well as participate in activities not usually open to black Americans at the time. He began both teaching and preaching in the Baltimore area.  Responding to racial discrimination in the Methodist Church, Coker called upon African American Methodists to withdraw from the white-dominated church and establish their own organization. Unable to recruit enough parishioners from the Sharp Street Church where he worked, Coker and others who advocated his separatist ideals broke from the congregation to form the African Bethel Church, which later became Bethel A.M.E Church.

Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982); http://www.genealogyforum.rootsweb.com/gfaol/resource/AfricanAm/Coker.htm; http://www.ame-church.com/index.php.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

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

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

Murphy, John Henry, Sr. (1840-1922)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Born on December 25, 1840, in Baltimore, Maryland, John Henry Murphy grew up as a slave and freed by the Emancipation Act of 1863. He enlisted in the military at age 24, during the Civil War and quickly progressed to the rank of Sergeant by the end of the conflict.  When he returned home to Maryland, he married Martha Elizabeth Howard in 1868, the daughter of a successful farmer. They met at church where his father directed the choir. Murphy quickly became interested in the role of the church in education for African American children.  He worked with the Sunday school at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church in Baltimore and became superintendent of the District Sunday School in Hagerstown, Maryland in the late 1880s.

Murphy began to publish a Sunday school newspaper with an old manually operated printing press.  The newspaper, called the Sunday School Helper, was created to assist him with the instruction of the students at his school. In 1892, the pastor of a local Baptist church, Reverend William M. Alexander, started a rival paper, Afro-American to promote his church.  By the end of they year Murphy purchased the Afro-American for $200 and merged the two newspapers.

Sources: 
Martin Dann, The Black Press 1827-1890 (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1971); Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982); http://www.mdoe.org/murphyjohnh.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Myers, Isaac (1835-1891)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Isaac Myers, a labor leader and mason, was born in Baltimore on January 13, 1835.  He was the son of free parents but grew up in a slave state.  Myers received his early education from a private day school of a local clergyman, Rev. John Fortie, since the state of Maryland provided no public education for African American children at the time.  At 16 years, he became an apprentice to James Jackson, a prominent black Baltimore ship caulker.  Four years later Myers was supervising the caulking of clipper ships operating out of Baltimore.

During the Civil War Myers worked as a porter and shipping clerk for a grocer and then returned to his original profession as a caulker.  Soon after the war ended, Myers found himself unexpectedly unemployed when a group of white caulkers protested the employment of black caulkers and longshoremen.  In response to the strike, Myers proposed the creation of a union for black caulkers. 

Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1982); Sara Opdycke, “Myers, Isaac,” American National Biography Online (Feb. 2000); http://www.anb.org.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/articles/15/15-01264.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

McNeil, Claudia (1917-1993)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Image Courtesy of ©Bettmann-Corbis

Claudia McNeil is best remembered for her laudatory performance as the matriarch in the stage and screen versions of Lorraine Hansberry’s widely-acclaimed play A Raisin in the Sun (1961).  McNeil was born in 1917 in Baltimore, Maryland to Marvin Spencer McNeil and Annie Mae Anderson McNeil. She was adopted by a Jewish family, named the Toppers, in her teenage years and briefly married by the age of 18. McNeil then worked as a registered librarian before the inception of her entertainment career.

McNeil first performed as a dancer with the Katherine Dunham troupe during the tour of South America in 1951. She later performed as a nightclub and vaudeville singer before making her acting debut in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible (1953); and later performed in Langston Hughes’s Simply Heavenly (1957), for which she received a Tony nomination.  In 1965, she appeared in James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner, for which she garnered the London Critics Poll Award for best actress.

Sources: 

Hazel Garland, “Claudia McNeil Claim’s Star’s Life Isn’t Easy,”
Pittsburgh Courier, March 17, 1962; Edward Mapp, ed., Directory of
Blacks in the Performing Arts
(Meluchan, New Jersey: Scarecrow Press,
1978); Eric Pace, The New York Times Biographical Service, November 29,
1993.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Murphy, Carl (1889–1967)

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

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

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

Sources: 

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

de Souza, Matthias ( ? -- ? )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Mathias de Sousa Marker, St. Mary's City, Maryland
Image Courtesy of Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt Maryland

Matthias de Souza, an indentured servant, was the only black person to serve in the colonial Maryland legislature.  As such he is the first African American to sit in any legislative body in what would become the United States.

Matthias de Souza, one of nine indentured servants working for Father Andrew White, a Catholic priest, arrived at St Mary’s City, St Clements Island, Maryland, in 1634 on the ship The Ark along with White and other European settlers. De Souza was probably of mixed African and European (possibly Portuguese) descent judging by land records that record him being called a ‘Molato’ (Mulatto) by a priest in the colony.

For the first few years he lived in Maryland, de Souza worked for Jesuit priests although the exact details of his activities are not know.  Generally such servants built and maintained churches and houses for the Jesuits.  

Sources: 

Historic St. Mary’s City History, “Matthias de Souza” https://www.hsmcdigshistory.org/research/history/mathias-de-sousa/; Maryland State Archives and Maria A. Day ‘Exploring Maryland’s Roots: Library: Case Studies’  “Matthias de Souza” http://mdroots.thinkport.org/library/mathiasdesousa.asp.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sussex (England)

Bradley, Benjamin (1830- ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
USS Dale, Sloop-of-War, ca. 1860
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Benjamin Bradley was the first person to develop a working model of a steam engine for a war ship.  Born in Maryland around 1830 Bradley was owned by an unidentified slaveholder in Annapolis, Maryland.  While living in Annapolis Bradley worked for a printing company at a young age.  At the age of 16 he demonstrated his great skill in mechanical engineering.  He constructed a model of a steam engine out of two pieces of steel, a gun barrel, and pewter.  Impressed by this feat, his master arranged for Bradley to work at the Department of Natural and Experimental Philosophy at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.  Bradley became the first African American to hold any but menial posts at the Naval Academy.  

Bradley learned to read and write at the Academy.  In time he became an assistant who set up experiments for the Academy's faculty.  While working at the Naval Academy he sold his first small steam engine to a Midshipman living in Annapolis. This engine was powerful enough to run a small boat.  Bradley used this money to expand on his findings and create an even larger model.

Sources: 

Michael Brodie, Created Equal: The Lives and Ideas of Black American Innovators (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1993); Jim Haskins, Outward Dreams: Black Inventors and Their Inventions (New York: Walker Publishing Company, Inc., 1991).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Steele, Michael S. (1958- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 

Michael Steele, "Uniting the Republican Party,” Townhall Magazine, April 8, 2008,
http://townhall.com/columnists/MichaelSteele/2008/04/08/uniting_the_repu... Michael Steele, “Now Is the Time to Act,” Townhall Magazine, February 7, 2008,
http://townhall.com/columnists/MichaelSteele/2008/02/07/now_is_the_time_...
Baltimore Sun, November 6, 2002; Baltimore Sun, February 1, 2009; Washington Post, November 3, 2006, p.A20, Letters to the Editor, “Black Democrats and Mr. Steele.” Transcript of interview on “Fox News Sunday,” February 1, 2009. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,486395,00.html.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Montgomery College (Maryland)

Anderson, George B. (? --?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

George B. “Spider” Anderson is considered one of the greatest African American jockeys in horse racing history.  There are no details available on George Anderson's early life, not even the place or date of his birth.

Anderson achieved his greatest accomplishment by being the first African American jockey to win the Preakness Stakes held at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland.  The Preakness Stakes is the 2nd stage of the Triple Crown series, between the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes in New York.

On May 10, 1889, the day of the race, Anderson struck one of his coaches, James Cook, across the head with a whip.  The reason for this altercation between the two remains unknown.  There is however speculation that because the 1889 Preakness Stakes only consisted of two horses; Buddhist, rode by Anderson, and Japhet, owned by former Maryland Governor Oden Bowie, there was tension between Cook, who was a friend of Governor Bowie, and Anderson.  There may have been words exchanged before the race which led to Anderson's attack.  Despite the altercation, Anderson was allowed to participate in the Preakness Stakes before receiving any punishment for his assault on Cook by authorities.

Anderson won the race riding Buddhist and easily beating Japhet.  Anderson finished the race with an astonishing time of 2:17.50 and became the 17th winner of the Preakness Stakes.

In 1891, Anderson had two other significant victories to his career, the Alabama Stakes at the Saratoga Race Course in Upstate New York and the Philip H. Iselin Handicap at the Monmouth Race Course in New Jersey.

Sources: 

Edward Hotaling, The Great Black Jockeys: The Lives and Times of the Men Who Dominated America's First National Sport (Rocklin, California: Forum, 1999); http://www.jimcrowhistory.org/scripts/jimcrow/sports.cgi?sport=Horseraci... Glenn C., Smith, "George "Spider" Anderson: First Black Jockey to Win the Preakness." Los Angeles Sentinel. 2000. HighBeam Research., http://www.highbeam.com.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. (1963)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 

Lawrence C. Ross, Jr., The Divine Nine: The History of African-American Fraternities and Sororities in America (New York: Kensington, 2000); Daniel Soyer, "Fraternities and Sororities," Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (New York: Macmillan Library Reference, 1996); Iota Phi The Fraternity, Incorporated, http://www.iotaphitheta.org/index.html.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

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

Edwards, Donna (1958 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Donna Edwards is a Democratic member of U.S. House of Representatives, representing the 4th Congressional District of Maryland since 2008. Early in 2009 she was among a group of U.S. Congress members who were handcuffed and arrested while protesting the expulsion of aid groups from Darfur in front of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, D.C.  

Edwards earned her BA from Wake Forest University where she was one of six African American women in her class. She later earned a JD from Franklin Pierce Law Center in New Hampshire.  Prior to her political career, she worked as a systems engineer with the Spacelab program at Lockheed Corporation’s Goddard Space Flight Center. During the 1980s, Edwards worked as a clerk for then district judge Albert Wynn when he served in the Maryland House of Delegates.
Sources: 
Paul Courson, "U.S. lawmakers arrested in Darfur protest at Sudan embassy," CNN.com April 27, 2009; Rep. Donna Edwards’ official website: http://donnaedwards.house.gov
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Coppin State University [Baltimore] (1900-- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Health and Human Services Building
Coppin State University
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Coppin State University is a historically black college in Baltimore, Maryland. The school has its origins in a one-year program to train the city’s black elementary school teachers, established around 1900 in the Colored High School and Training School.  The school’s name has changed several times during its history, beginning in 1926 when it became the Coppin Normal School in honor of Fannie Jackson Coppin, a black educator who initiated the first known course in normal (teacher) training for African American educators.  

In 1931, the school’s curriculum was expanded into a three-year program and further grew to a four-year program seven years later.  During this time, the school began granting Bachelor of Science degrees and changed its name again to Coppin Teachers College.
Sources: 
Wanda E. Gill, “The History of Maryland’s Historically Black Colleges” (1992); Julian B. Roebuck and Komanduri S. Murty, Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Their Place in American Higher Education (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 1993); Coppin State University Mission Statement (from Official Site).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bowie State University (1865- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Founded in 1865, Bowie State University is Maryland’s oldest historically black university, and one of the ten oldest African American institutions of higher education in the United States.  It is also one of eleven senior colleges and universities in the University of Maryland system.  The institution is located on a scenic wooded tract adjacent to the city of Bowie, Maryland, about mid-way between Washington, D.C. and Annapolis, the state capital, and about 25 miles south of Baltimore.

Bowie State University traces its history back to a school opened in Baltimore in January of 1865 by the Baltimore Association for the Moral and Educational Improvement of Colored People.  The first classes were held in the African Baptist Church of Baltimore.  In 1868, with assistance from the Freedmen’s Bureau, the school relocated to a building purchased from the Society of Friends at Courtland and Saratoga Streets.  The institution re-organized solely as a normal school to train black teachers in 1893.  

Sources: 
Faustine C. Jones-Wilson, Charles A. Asbury, Margo Okazawa-Rey, D. Kamili Anderson, Sylvia M. Jacobs, and Michael Fultz,  Encyclopedia of African-American Education  (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996);  Toni Hodge-Wright, The Handbook of Historically Black Colleges and Universities  (Seattle: Jireh and Associates, 1992);    Bowie State University Webpage,  http://www.bowiestate.edu.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

University of Maryland, Eastern Shore (1886- )

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

The University of Maryland, Eastern Shore is a historically black land grant institution located in Princess Anne, Maryland.  The school was initiated under the auspices of the Delaware Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church and began as a branch campus for Morgan College (Morgan State University) in 1886.  The school initially served as a feeder school for the Centenary Biblical Institute that served African American students from the

Sources: 
University of Maryland Eastern Shore History, http://www.umes.edu/About/Default.aspx?id=239 (Official site); George H. Callcott, A History of the University of Maryland (Baltimore: Garamond/Pridemark Press, 1966); Wanda E. Gill, The History of Maryland's Historically Black Colleges (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, 1992).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Morgan State University [Baltimore] (1867- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Morgan State University is the largest historically black college in Maryland.  Located in Baltimore, the school was established in 1867 as the Centenary Biblical Institute by the Baltimore Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  Members of the Methodist Churches in Baltimore recognized the need for a school to train ministers.

The Centenary Biblical Institute was chartered on January 3, 1867, with its first class consisting of 20 students taught by Reverend James H. Brown and Reverend William Harden.  Although its original mission was to train young men in ministry, in 1875 it admitted women for the first time and began to train both men and women in teaching.  The school changed its name to Morgan College in 1890 in honor of Reverend Lyttleton F. Morgan, who served as the first Chairmen of the Board of Trustees from 1876 to 1886 and donated the land for the original campus.
Sources: 
Wanda E. Gill, The History of Maryland’s Historically Black Colleges (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, 1992); Brief History of Morgan State University, http://www.morgan.edu/About_MSU/University_History.html (Official Site)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Highland Beach, Maryland (1893- )

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History
Highland Beach Picnic Group, 1930
Image Courtesy of Scurlock Studio Records, Archives Center,
National Museum of American History,
Behring Center, Smithsonian Institution

Highland Beach, Maryland, the oldest of the major black resort towns, was founded along the western shore of Chesapeake Bay in 1893 by Charles and Laura Douglass.  Charles Douglass was the son of prominent abolitionist and 19th century civil rights activist Frederick Douglass. Major Charles Douglass, however, was prominent in his own right.  He was a retired officer formerly with the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry, the famed regiment first established during the American Civil War, and longtime Treasury Department clerk.

Sources: 
National Parks Service, African American Historic Places (New York, NY: Wiley & Sons Inc., 1994); Town of Highland Beach Maryland, http://highlandbeachmd.org; Andrew W. Kahrl, The Land Was Ours: African American Beaches from Jim Crow to the Sunbelt South (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Watkins, Dr. Levi, Jr. (1944- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Johns Hopkins University
Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. is a cardiac surgeon who, in 1980, performed the first implantation of an automatic defibrillator into a human heart. He is currently a professor of cardiac surgery and associate dean at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.
Sources: 
Carl Schoettler, “Memories of King's lessons Protégé: Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. once benefited firsthand from the teachings of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.” (The Baltimore Sun, January 15 1997); “Footprint Through Time: Levi Watkins Jr.” (PBS: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/partners/legacy/l_colleagues_watkins.html)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sydney, Australia

McKenzie, Vashti Murphy (1947- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
On July 11, 2000, journalist and clergywoman Vashti Murphy McKenzie became the first female bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. In 2005 she became the denomination’s first woman to serve as Titular Head. Her commitment to community development is evident in her work with urban American cities as well as in AIDS-stricken Africa.

Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie was born on May 28, 1947 into a prominent Baltimore, Maryland family. Her great-grandfather John Henry Murphy, Sr. founded the Afro-American Newspaper in 1892, and her grandmother Vashti Turly Murphy was a founding member of Delta Sigma Theta, an African American college sorority. Bishop McKenzie graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of Maryland in 1978. She later earned a master’s of divinity from Howard University and a doctor of ministry from United Theological Seminary.
Sources: 
Martha Simmons and Frank A. Thomas, eds., Preaching with Sacred Fire: An Anthology of African American Sermons, 1750 to the Present (New York: W. W. Norton, 2010); Vashti M. McKenzie, Journey to the Well (New York: Penguin, 2003); C. Stone Brown, “The Rev. Vashti Murphy McKenzie: A Bishop for the New Millennium,” The New Crisis, November/December, 2000, pp. 29-31; “Bishop Vashti McKenzie,” The 13th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, http://www.13thame.com/index.php?page_id=about_leadership (accessed January 12, 2011).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Thompson, Theophilus (1855-?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Theophilus Augustus Thompson was one of the first notable African American chess players. Thompson was born into slavery in Frederick, Maryland on April 21, 1855. Freed after the Civil War, he worked as a house servant in Carroll County, Maryland from 1868 to 1870.

Returning to Frederick, Thompson soon became involved in the chess scene. He watched his first chess game in April 1872. One of the players in the game was John K. Hanshew, publisher of The Maryland Chess Review. Hanshew loaned the interested Thompson a chess board and gave him selected chess problems to solve.

Before long, Thompson was publishing his own chess problems in The Dubuque Chess Review. His new-found skills in the game also allowed him to compete against other talented players. Most records of his playing career are unclear, but it is known that he was invited to a tournament in Chicago at some point.

Thompson’s most famous legacy was his book, Chess Problems: Either to Play and Mate, or Compel Self-mate in Four Moves. Published in 1873, the book was a compilation of chess endgame positions, puzzles which covered the final moves of chess games. Thompson’s book was reviewed favorably in The City of London Chess Magazine in July 1874.

Details about Thompson’s later life and his date of death are unknown.

Sources: 
http://www.thechessdrum.net/drummajors/T_Thompson.html; Theophilus Thompson, Chess Problems: Either to Play and Mate, or Compel Self-Mate in Four Moves (Dubuque: John J. Brownson, 1873).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Groove Phi Groove Social Fellowship (1962-- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Groove Phi Groove Social Fellowship, Incorporated, is a predominately African-American social fellowship similar to a Greek-letter fraternity, but different in its socio-historical and sub-cultural foundations.  Groove was founded on October 12, 1962 on the campus of Morgan State College (now Morgan State University), a historically-black institution (HBCU) in Baltimore, Maryland by 14 male students, John Conquest, Barry Hampton, Nathaniel Monroe, Harry Payne (deceased), Woodrow Williams, Raymond Clark, Barry Sims, Nathaniel Parham, Glenn Brown, James Hill, Dr. Walter Goodwin, Charlie Johnson, David Nesbitt, and Robert Simpson.

Sources: 
Walter Perkins, Groove Phi Groove Social Fellowship, Inc.-The First 50 Years in Black and White (Silver Springs, Maryland: Groove Phi Groove Social Fellowship Incorporated, 2011),  National Website:  www.groove-phi-groove.org/; Author Interview with founder John Conquest in Baltimore, Maryland on April 29, 2008, and on telephone interview  on January 18, 2011; Author Interview with founder and Past National President, Barry Hampton, in Baltimore, Maryland on April 29, 2008, and on a telephone interview on July 12, 2011.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Arkansas Baptist College, Little Rock

Wharton Sr., Clifton Reginald (1899-1990)

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

Clifton R. Wharton, one of the first African-Americans to hold a professional position in the U.S. State Department, was born in 1899 in Baltimore, Maryland. Described as a “scholastic marvel,” Wharton attended English High School in Boston, Massachusetts, skipped college and was accepted to Boston University Law School where he received a Bachelor’s degree in Law in 1920 and Master’s degree in Law in 1923. After practicing for two years in Boston he moved to Washington, D.C. in 1924 where he took a position as an examiner with the Veterans Bureau.  He later worked as a law clerk in State Department's legal section. While there, he took an aptitude test for the position of foreign service officer, scoring in the top 15 percent.

Sources: 
Alfonso A. Narvaez, "Clifton R. Wharton, 90, Is Dead; Pioneering Black U. S. Diplomat," New York Times, April 25, 1990; Encyclopedia of African American History 1896 To The Present From The Age of Segregation To The Twenty First Century, Volume 1, (Oxford University Press, 2009); www.blackhistorynow.com/clifton-r-wharton-sr/, accessed 2/12/12; http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/articles/pages/4510/College-president-business-executive.html , accessed 2/20/12.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Fighting for Freedom on Both Sides of the American Revolution

 

Fighting for Emancipation in the War
of Independence
Image Courtesy of University of Chicago
Press

Alan Gilbert, University of Denver political scientist and anti-racist activist, is the author of Black Patriots and Loyalists: Fighting for Emancipation in the War for Independence, one of the few works that examines the free and enslaved blacks who joined the American Patriots and the British during the American Revolution and the anti-racist whites who supported them.  In the account below he describes the book and why he wrote it.

Summary: 
<i>Alan Gilbert, University of Denver political scientist and anti-racist activist, is the author of  <u>Black Patriots and Loyalists: Fighting for Emancipation in the War for Independence</u>, one of the few works that examines the free and enslaved blacks who joined the American Patriots and the British during the American Revolution and the anti-racist whites who supported them.  In the account below he describes the book and why he wrote it.</i>
Sources: 
Black Patriots and Loyalists: Fighting for Emancipation in the War for Independence (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012).
Contributor: 
Affiliation2: 
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Black-Patriots-and-Loyalists-by-Alan-Gilbert/284675318252714
Affiliation: 
University of Denver

Allen, Will (1948 -)

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

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

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

Sykes, Wanda (1964- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Gay Parenting Magazine

Wanda Sykes is an American actress, comedian, writer, and voice artist. She is best known for her recurring role as Barbara Baran on the CBS primetime show The New Adventures of Old Christine, and for her comedic roles in such films as Monster-in-Law and My Super Ex-Girlfriend.

Sykes is the daughter of Marion Louise, a retired banker, and Harry Ellsworth Sykes, a retired U.S. Army colonel.  She was born in Portsmouth, Virginia on March 7, 1964, but raised in the Washington, D.C. area.

Sykes attended Arundel High School in Gambrills, Maryland, and later Hampton University, where she pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and graduated in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. Upon graduation, she worked as a procurement officer for the National Security Agency (NSA) but soon realized she wanted to become an entertainer.

In 1987, at the age of 23, Sykes took to the stage for the first time in a talent show in Washington. While she did not win the contest, she honed her stand-up skills at various comedy clubs while retaining her position at NSA.

In 1992, Sykes relocated to New York to work the comedy circuit and soon got her first big break by being selected as the opening act for comedian Chris Rock at Caroline’s Comedy Club. In 1997, she joined The Chris Rock Show as a writer, made guest appearances, and won an Emmy Award for her writing in 1999.

Sources: 
Linda Rapp and Wanda Sykes, eds., An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture (Chicago: GLBTQ, Inc., 2011), retrieved from ww.glbtq.com/social-sciences/sykes_l.html; Lawrence Ferber, Wanda Sykes: Being Herself (Chicago: Windy City Media Group, 2009).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Africans, African Americans, Great Britain and the United States: The Curious History of the Rio Pongo in the Early 19th Century

Image Courtesy of Bruce L. Mouser
In the essay below, Bruce L. Mouser, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, describes the conflicting goals of African Creoles, African Americans, and British and American colonizationists in the fate of the Rio Pongo Valley along the West Coast of Africa.  Mouser explores these conflicts in his history of the period called American Colony on the Rio Pongo: The War of 1812, the Slave Trade, and the Proposed Settlement of African Americans, 1810-1830.    

The Rio Pongo, on Africa’s western coast, was the center of an unusual history that briefly brought together slaveholders and colonizationists, Africans and African Americans, and British and American diplomatic interests in an attempt to decide the fate of the region. The slaveholders who were African and the white supporters of African-American settlement contemplated meeting in the unlikely setting of the Rio Pongo as each group sought to impose its vision on this small region of West Africa.
Summary: 
<i>In the essay below, Bruce L. Mouser, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, describes the conflicting goals of African Creoles, African Americans, and British and American colonizationists in the fate of the Rio Pongo Valley along the West Coast of Africa.  Mouser explores these conflicts in his history of the period called <u>American Colony on the Rio Pongo: The War of 1812, the Slave Trade, and the Proposed Settlement of African Americans, 1810-1830</u>.    </i>
Sources: 
Bruce L Mouser, American Colony on the Rio Pongo: The War of 1812, the Slave Trade, and the Proposed Settlement of African Americans, 1810-1830 (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2013)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

Fleetwood, Christian Abraham (1840-1914)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Christian Fleetwood, soldier, choir master, clerk, and abolitionist, was born free in Baltimore, Maryland to Charles Fleetwood and Anna Marie Fleetwood on July 21, 1840. At an early age Christian Fleetwood showed signs of intelligence and quickly endeared himself to the wealthy sugar merchant John Brune who thought of Fleetwood as a son and provided him with an education.

Fleetwood continued his education with the Maryland Colonization Society which was attempting to found a colony for free blacks in Liberia. During his early life, Fleetwood was greatly involved in promoting the African colonization movement. At the age of 16, he took a trip to Liberia and Sierra Leone in order to experience African colonial life for himself. For years Fleetwood considered leaving the United States forever and permanently moving to Liberia but eventually decided against it believing he would make a bigger difference as an abolitionist in the United States.
Sources: 
Melvin Claxton and Mark Puls, Uncommon Valor: A Story of Race, Patriotism, and Glory in the Final Battles of the Civil War (Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2006); http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/biographies/christian-fleetwood.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

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

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

British Corps of Colonial Marines (1808-1810, 1814-1816)

Entry Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
Global African History

During the first two decades of the 19th Century, escaped American slaves formed a military cadre called Britain’s Royal Navy Corps of Colonial Marines.  After the War of 1812 these former soldiers established Trinidad’s “Merikin” communities.  These black marines in the British Navy were first organized in 1808 to garrison Britain’s Caribbean bases but they were disbanded in 1810.  During the War of 1812, British Rear Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane formed the Corps of Colonial Marines.  Although they were of African descent and many were formerly enslaved, these troops received the same training, uniforms, pay, and pensions as their Royal Marine counterparts.

Sources: 
Gerald Horne, Negro Comrades of the Crown, African Americans and the British Empire Fight the United States Before Emancipation (New York: New York University Press, 2012); Gene Smith, The Slaves Gamble, Choosing Sides in the War of 1812 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2013; John Weiss, “The Corps of Colonial Marines: Black Freedom Fighters of the War of 1812,” http://www.mcnishandweiss.co.uk/JWhistoryindex.html;  The Merikins: Free Black Settlers 1815-1816, Trinidad and Tobago’s National Library and Information System Authority http://www.nalis.gov.tt/Research/SubjectGuide/TheMerikinsFreeBlackSettlers18151816/tabid/563/Default.aspx?PageContentMode=1
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Baltimore (1863-- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership, Public Domain
Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church was the first African American Catholic Church in the United States.  The building, located on the corner of Calvert and Pleasant Street in Baltimore, Maryland, was originally constructed in 1836 for the congregation of the First Universalist Church.  By 1837, the church held services, but soon after the structure sustained damages from a heavy flood, and by 1839 the church filed bankruptcy.  The building was then transformed into a public place and used as an assembly hall.  It housed the 1844 Whig Convention that nominated Henry Clay for President; later the Democratic Convention held its 1848 meeting there and nominated General Cass.  The edifice also held the Maryland convention to discuss leaving the Union in 1861.  Soon after this event, the German Lutheran Church acquired the building, and it returned to being a place of worship.
Sources: 
Baltimore American (July 10, 1877); “In 1944 Father Cassidy and Brother Mario Organized the Interracial Study Club” and “A Tribute to the Josephite Fathers” in Notre Dame Archives; http://www.josephites.org/parish/md/sfx/page2.html.
Affiliation: 
University of Texas El Paso

1634

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1601-1700
Timeline Entry Description: 
Slavery is introduced in Maryland.

1641

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1601-1700
Timeline Entry Description: 
Mathias De Sousa, an African indentured servant who came from England with Lord Baltimore, is elected to Maryland's General Assembly.

1663

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1601-1700
Timeline Entry Description: 
Maryland slave laws rules that all Africans arriving in the colony are presumed to be slaves. Free European American women who marry enslaved men lose their freedom. Children of European American women and enslaved men are enslaved. Other North American colonies develop similar laws.

1664

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1601-1700
Timeline Entry Description: 
Maryland establishes slavery for life for persons of African ancestry.

1671

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1601-1700
Timeline Entry Description: 
A Maryland law states that the conversion of enslaved African Americans to Christianity does not affect their status as enslaved people.

1681

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1601-1700
Timeline Entry Description: 
Maryland laws mandate that children of European servant women and African men are free.

1752

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1701-1800
Timeline Entry Description: 
Twenty-one year old Benjamin Banneker of Maryland constructs one of the first clocks in Colonial America, the first of a long line of inventions and innovations until his death in 1806.

1834

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Henry Blair of Maryland received a patent from the U.S. government for developing a mechanical corn planter.

1849

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Harriett Tubman escapes from slavery and begins her efforts to rescue enslaved people.

1869

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Isaac Myers organizes the Colored National Labor Union in Baltimore.

1910

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
On December 19, the City Council of Baltimore approves an ordinance segregating black and white neighborhoods. This ordinance is followed by similar statutes in Dallas, Texas, Greensboro, North Carolina, Louisville, Kentucky, Norfolk, Virginia, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Richmond, Virginia, Roanoke, Virginia, and St. Louis, Missouri.

1935

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
On November 5, the Maryland Supreme Court rules in Murray v. Pearson that the University of Maryland must admit African Americans to its law school or establish a separate school for blacks. The University of Maryland chooses to admit its first black students.

1943

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
The Naval Academy at Annapolis and other naval officer schools accept African American men for the first time.

1949

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
In June Wesley Brown becomes the first African American to graduate from the Naval Academy at Annapolis.

1963

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
Iota Phi Theta Fraternity is founded on September 19 at Morgan State University in Baltimore.

1976

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
The United States Naval Academy at Annapolis admits women for the first time in June. Janie L. Mines becomes the first African American women cadet to enter. She graduates in 1980.

1987

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
Neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson makes medical history when he leads a seventy-member surgical team at Johns Hopkins Hospital in a 22 hour operation separating Siamese twins (the Binder twins) joined at the cranium.

1987

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
On December 8, Kurt Lidell Schmoke became the first African American elected mayor of Baltimore by popular vote.

2000

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
Rev. Vashti M. McKenzie becomes the first woman bishop of the African Methodist Zion Church.

1664

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1601-1700
Timeline Entry Description: 
Maryland enacts the first law in Colonial America banning marriage between white women and black men.

1892

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
The Baltimore Afro-American newspaper is founded by former slave John H. Murphy, Sr.

1798

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1701-1800
Timeline Entry Description: 
Joshua Johnston of Baltimore, Maryland becomes the first black portrait painter to gain widespread recognition in the United States

1829

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
The Oblate Sisters of Providence, the first permanent order of black Catholic nuns, is founded in Baltimore, Maryland.
Copyright 2007-2011 - BlackPast.org v2.0 | blackpast@blackpast.org | Your donations help us to grow. | We welcome your suggestions. | Mission Statement

BlackPast.org is an independent non-profit corporation 501(c)(3). It has no affiliation with the University of Washington. BlackPast.org is supported in part by a grant from Humanities Washington, a state-wide non-profit organization supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the state of Washington, and contributions from individuals and foundations.