Michael Jordan, National Basketball Association (NBA) superstar, was born February 17, 1963 in Brooklyn, New York, the son of James R. and Deloris Jordan. Soon after his birth, the family moved to Wilmington, North Carolina. Jordan became a standout athlete at Laney High School despite being rejected for the school’s varsity basketball team the first season he tried out. He grew four inches taller over the following year, made the team and became an All-American during his senior year at Laney.
Jordan played college basketball at the University of North Carolina where under coach Dean Smith’s tutelage he established a reputation as a clutch player when he made a game winning shot against Georgetown in the 1982 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship game. This reputation would follow him into the NBA when he left school before his senior year to play professionally for the Chicago Bulls.
Michael Jordan, For the Love of the Game: My Story (New York: Crown Publishers, 1998); David Halberstam, Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made (New York: Broadway Books, 2000); David L. Port, Michael Jordan: A Biography (New York: Greenwood Publishing, 2007); Jerry A. Hausman and Gregory K. Leonard, “Superstars in the National Basketball Association” Journal of Labor Economics, Vol. 15 (1997); “Jordan purchases of Bobcats Approved” ESPN.com (March 17, 2010).
The African American-manned 95th Engineer Battalion (General Service) was formed in April 1941 at Fort Belvoir, Virginia as part of the U.S. Army buildup preceding World War II. Unlike many construction units, the 95th received considerable training, participating in the Carolina Maneuvers and receiving practical experience at Camp AP Hill, Virginia, and Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Expanded to regimental size following Pearl Harbor, it was sent to Canada in June 1942 to assist in building the Alaska-Canada (Alcan) Highway.
George H. White served as a member of the fifty-fifth and fifty-sixth United States Congresses (March 4, 1897-March 3, 1901) from North Carolina’s Second Congressional District during what historian Rayford Logan has termed the nadir in race relations for the post-Reconstruction South. Born in Rosindale, North Carolina on December 18, 1852, White graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1877, and was admitted to the bar in 1879. White practiced law and served as the Principal of the State Normal School of North Carolina until he entered politics in 1881, at which time he served for a year in the North Carolina House of Representatives. Four years later he served for a term in the state’s senate. From 1886 to 1894, White worked for the second judicial district of North Carolina as solicitor and prosecuting attorney.
In 1853, the Lumbee Indians, a triracial people who are descendants of several southeastern Indian tribes, whites, and African Americans, named themselves after the Lumber River, which flows through their homeland in North Carolina. According to the Lumbee historian Adolph Dial, they are also descended from the “lost” Roanoke colonists, who took up residence with American Indians farther inland.
Born in 1837 in North Carolina, Sara G. Stanley was a member of a free, educated and economically secure family. She attended Oberlin College and later moved to Delaware after her family immigrated there. Following the tradition of other free black women Sara joined the local ladies antislavery society. As a representative of her organization she delivered a strong and forceful address at the 1856 meeting of the all male Convention of Disfranchised citizens of Ohio.
In the early 1990s Bertram Oliver Fraser-Reid was being touted as the first person of African descent to have a serious chance at winning the Nobel Prize in a branch of science. In fact, this native of Coleyville, Jamaica, born February 23, 1934, was nominated for the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1998. Fraser-Reid was awarded his B.Sc. (first-class honors) and M.Sc. degrees at Queen’s University in Canada in 1959 and his Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Alberta in 1964. From 1964 to 1966 he was a postdoctoral fellow at Imperial College, the University of London where he studied under Nobel Laureate Sir Derek Barton. He was a chemistry professor at the University of Waterloo from 1966 to 1980, at the University of Maryland from 1980 to 1982, and from 1985 until his retirement in 1996 he was Professor of Chemistry at Duke University.
In retirement Fraser-Reid founded the non-profit Natural Products/Glycotechnology Research Institute Inc., operating in Pittsboro, North Carolina, dedicated to studying carbohydrate chemistry/biology that relates to tropical parasitic diseases in Third World countries and specifically targeting the development of a carbohydrate-based vaccine to fight malaria. Some of Fraser-Reid’s earlier work focused on transforming sugars into complex noncarbohydrate compounds and linking sugars into biologically active compounds to produce oliogosaccharides which could impact the combating of devastating diseases.
Pauli Murray, Song in a Weary Throat: An American Pilgrimage (New York: Harper and Row, 1987); Elaine Sue Caldbeck, “A Religious Life of Pauli Murray: Hope and Struggle,” Ph.D. dissertation, Northwestern University, 2000; http://spartacus-educational.com/USAmurrayA.htm.
Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States and the first African American to occupy the White House. Obama was born August 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii. His father, Barack Obama Sr., was a Kenyan graduate student studying in the United States and his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, a white American from Wichita, Kansas. The two were married on February 2, 1961 in Maui, Hawaii. In 1971, when he was ten, Obama’s mother, who had remarried and was living in Indonesia, sent him to Honolulu, Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents Madelyn and Stanley Dunham for several years, where he attended Punahou, a prestigious preparatory school. Obama was admitted on a scholarship with the assistance of his grandparents.
Franklin McCain grew up in Washington, D.C. but returned to his native North Carolina to attend college at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. McCain and his roommate, David Richmond, had followed the progress of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama and felt that they should do something to contribute to the movement for social change. On Monday February 1, 1960 McCain joined the rest of the “A & T Four” (Joseph McNeil, Ezell Blair, Jr. and Richmond) in sitting-in at a segregated F.W. Woolworth lunch counter. The following day, two dozen students from North Carolina A & T and Bennett College joined the protest. By the end of the week 3,000 students were picketing in downtown Greensboro. The movement rapidly spread to fifty-four cities in nine other southern states.
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.
Burton was brought to Fort Bend County, Texas as a slave from North Carolina in 1850 at the age of twenty-one. While enslaved, he was taught how to read and write by his master, Thomas Burton. After the Civil War his former owner sold Burton several large plots of land for $1,900 making him one of the wealthiest and most influential blacks in Fort Bend County. In 1869, Walter Burton was elected sheriff and tax collector of Fort Bend County. Along with these duties, he also served as the president of the Fort Bend County Union League.
Merline Pitre, Through Many Dangers, Toils and Snares: The Black Leadership of Texas, 1868-1900 (Austin: Eakin, 1985); "Walter Moses Burton" in The Handbook of Texas History Online, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbu67.
The legacy of architect Julian Francis Abele was brought into focus in the mid-1980s when in the midst of a student protest at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, his great grandniece reminded the campus community that her long unsung ancestor was responsible for the eleven original architectural drawings for the campus. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 21, 1881, Abele was the youngest of eight children born to Charles and Mary Adelaide Jones Abele. Throgh his mother he was a descendant of Rev. Absalom Jones, the founder of the Free African Society and St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Philadelphia.
Dreck Spurlock Wilson, ed., African American Architects: A Biographical Dictionary 1865-1945 (New York: Routledge, 2004); https://www.philadelphiabuildings.org/pab/app/ar_display.cfm/21458; http://search.library.duke.edu/search?id=DUKE005758002.
James Meredith, Three Years in Mississippi (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1966); http://www.olemiss.edu/mwp/dir/meredith_james/.
Jack Johnson, the first African American and first Texan to win the heavyweight boxing championship of the world, was born the second of six children to Henry and Tiny Johnson in Galveston on March 31, 1878. His parents were former slaves. To help support his family, Jack Johnson left school in the fifth grade to work on the dock in his port city hometown. In the 1890s Johnson began boxing as a teenager in "battles royal" matches where white spectators watched black men fight and at the end of the contest tossed money at the winner.
Johnson turned professional in 1897 but four years later he was arrested and jailed because boxing was at that time a criminal sport in Texas. After his release from jail he left Texas to pursue the title of “Negro” heavyweight boxing champion. Although he made a good living as a boxer, Johnson for six years sought a title fight with the white heavyweight champion, James J. Jeffries. Jeffries denied Johnson and other African American boxers a shot at his title and he retired undefeated in 1904.
With the beginning of World War II African Americans would get their chance to be in “the toughest outfit going,” the previously all-white Marine Corps. The first recruits reported to Montford Point, a small section of land on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina on August 26, 1942. By October only 600 recruits had begun training although the call was for 1,000 for combat in the 51st and 52nd Composite Defense Battalions.
Born on January 22, 1948 as Benjamin Franklin Chavis, Jr. in the city of Oxford, North Carolina, Benjamin Chavis Muhammad was a member of one of the most prominent African American families in North Carolina. His parents were well known educators and his ancestors included John Chavis, a Revolutionary War soldier with George Washington’s Army who became one of the first African Americans to attend Princeton University. John Chavis later operated a private school in antebellum North Carolina that accepted both black and white students.
By age 13, Ben Chavis had established his civil rights activist credentials when he successfully integrated the all-white libraries in Oxford. Chavis became the first African American to receive a library card.
Born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri in 1928, she received the nickname “Maya” from her brother Baldwin. At the age of four Maya and her brother were sent to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. A couple of years later they moved back to St. Louis to live with their mother, but were soon returned to Stamps after Maya was molested by her mother’s boyfriend and turned mute. After her return to Stamps Maya Johnson began to read voraciously and listen intently to everything that happened around her. By high school, her voice had returned.
Johnson, then 15, and her brother were reunited with their mother who was now living in San Francisco, California. One year later she graduated from high school while pregnant. In the years after her son, Clyde, was born Johnson worked variously as cook, dancer, driver, and singer. She was also married briefly in 1952 to Anastasios Angelopulos, a Greek sailor.
Romare Bearden was an accomplished 20th Century African American artist who specialized in paintings and collages, but who also produced works in the performing arts and literature.
U.S. Ambassador Orison Rudolph Aggrey was born in Salisbury, North Carolina, the son of James Emman Kwegyir, an African immigrant who became an American college professor, and Rose Rudolph (Douglass) Aggrey, an African American woman. He earned a B.S. degree from Hampton Institute, where he graduated as valedictorian in 1946, and an M.S. in journalism from Syracuse University (New York) in 1948. After encountering difficulty in obtaining a reporting post with a major white daily newspaper in 1950, he applied for a position with the information and cultural branch of the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. Despite his high scores on the Civil Service entrance examinations, he also encountered difficulty with his application. Aggrey was offered a post only after George L. P. Weaver, who was then assistant Secretary of Labor for international affairs (and one of the most important blacks in the administration of President Harry S.
Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in Tyron, North Carolina in 1933, Nina Simone began playing the family piano at the age of three. Her mother Mary Kate Waymon, a minister and choir director at a Methodist church in Tyron, interpreted her daughter’s gift as a God-given talent. Waymon began to study piano at age six with Muriel Massinovitch, an English pianist and Bach devotee married to a Russian painter husband. Waymon credited “Miss Mazzy” for teaching her to understand Bach; she credited Bach for dedicating her life to music. The lessons were paid for by family friends including a white couple in the town. Eunice’s father, John Divine Waymon, had been an entertainer before he chose to move his family to Tyron, a North Carolina resort town, and set up a barbershop and dry cleaners to support his family. In her autobiography – I Put a Spell on You, the Autobiography of Nina Simone – Waymon describes her relationship with her father as loving and supportive and Tyron as “uncommon” for a southern town because blacks and whites lived together in a series of circles around the center of town, which allowed them to mingle and form friendships.
During his senior year of college, Cheatham helped to found a home for African American orphans. In 1883, Cheatham was hired as the Principal of the State Normal School for African Americans, at Plymouth, North Carolina. He held the position for a year when his career as an educator gave way to his desire to enter state politics.
Cheatham ran a successful campaign for the office of Registrar of Deeds at Vance County, North Carolina in 1884, and he served the county for four years. He also studied law during his first term in office, with an eye toward national politics. In 1888 Henry Cheatham ran for Congress as a Republican in North Carolina’s Second Congressional District. He defeated his white Democratic opponent, Furnifold M. Simmons.
North Carolina Congressman George Kenneth Butterfield Jr. was born in Wilson, North Carolina on April 27, 1947 to a father who was a dentist and civic leader as well as the first black elected official in eastern North Carolina in the 20th century; and a mother who was a classroom teacher for 48 years.
Butterfield attended Charles H. Darden High School and graduated in 1967 before going to North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina. He graduated with a sociology and political science degree in 1971. In 1974, he received his J.D. from North Carolina Central University School of Law. After serving in the United States Army for two years, Butterfield became a successful lawyer known for helping the poor people who had extraordinary legal problems. In 1988, Butterfield was appointed Superior Court Judge in Wilson County. In 2001 he was appointed to the North Carolina Supreme Court.
In 1910 James Edward Shepard founded North Carolina College for Negroes in Durham, North Carolina. Shepard was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina along with eleven other siblings. His father was Reverend Augustus Shepard and his mother was Harriet E. Shepard. Shepard received his education through the North Carolina public school system. He worked as a pharmacist for a short time after graduating from Shaw University in 1894 after receiving his Ph.G. (Graduate Pharmacist) degree. James Shepard married Annie Robison in 1895 and the couple had two children.
In 1898 Shepard along with John Merrick established North Carolina Mutual Insurance Company in Durham. Eventually Shepard founded Farmers and Mechanics Bank in Durham as well.
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982); "The History of North Carolina Central University,” http://www.nccu.edu/discover/history.cfm.
Day’s early years were spent following in his father's footsteps in the cabinetry craft and from an early age he displayed proficiency in woodwork. In 1823, Day moved to Milton, North Carolina. Within a decade he had established himself as one of the South's most famous and celebrated furniture craftsmen. His work was widely recognized and he became sought after by plantation owners whose homes he embellished with stylish mantle pieces and stair railings, in addition to providing them with furniture. He would craft pieces for two of North Carolina's governors and was awarded a commission to furnish the interior woodwork of one of the original buildings of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
Educator Ruth Braswell Jones was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina on November 21, 1914, the seventh daughter, of William and Arkaanna (Sanders) Braswell. Her education includes a diploma with distinction from Brick Junior College, Brick, North Carolina, in 1933 and a B.S. degree in Education with distinction from Elizabeth City State Teachers College, Elizabeth City, North Carolina, in 1948. North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina, awarded her the M.S. degree in Education in 1960.
Alton Hornsby, Jr. and Angela M. Hornsby-Gutting, From the Grassroots: Profiles of Contemporary African American Leaders (Montgomery: E-BookTime LLC, 2006).
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.
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).
John Hope Franklin, one of the nation's leading historians, is the only African American who has served as president of both the American Historical Association (AHA) and the Organization of American Historians (OAH).
Franklin was born in Rentiesville, Oklahoma on January 2, 1915 to parents Buck, a Tulsa attorney, and Mollie Franklin. He recalled growing up in Tulsa, in a Jim Crow society that stifled his senses and damaged his “emotional health and social well being.” While his family was in Rentiesville, Buck Franklin not only survived the June 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, but also successfully sued the city. This suit, before the Oklahoma Supreme Court, overturned a Tulsa ordinance which prevented the city’s blacks from rebuilding their destroyed community.
John Hope Franklin, Mirror to America: The Autobiography of John Hope Franklin (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005); August Meier and Elliott Rudwick, Black Historians and the Historical Profession 1915-1980 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986; and John Hope Franklin, “The Dilemma of the American Negro Scholar,” in Herbert Hill, ed., Soon, One Morning: New Writing by American Negroes, 1940-1962 (New York: Knopf, 1963); Biography of John Hope Franklin, http://www.fhi.duke.edu/about/john-hope-franklin.
John Henry Merrick—insurance agent, entrepreneur, business owner—was born in Clinton, North Carolina on September 7, 1859. Merrick was born a slave; he lived with his mother Martha Merrick and a younger brother. With the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation his family was freed. When Merrick was twelve he and his family relocated to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He got a job as a helper in a brickyard which provided support for his family. At the age of eighteen Merrick moved to Raleigh, North Carolina where he began work as a hod carrier. Merrick eventually became a brick mason and worked on the construction of Shaw University in Raleigh.
Walter B. Weare, Black Business in the New South: A Social History of
the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company (Urbana: University of
Illinois Press, 1973); Andrews, R. McCants “John Merrick. A
Biographical Sketch: Electronic Edition”
http://docsouth.unc.edu/nc/andrews/andrews.html; "John Henry Merrick,"
in Jessie Carney Smith, Millicent Lownes Jackson and Linda T. Wynn,
eds., Encyclopedia of African American Business (Westport, Conn:
Greenwood Press, 2006)
Mary Eliza Mahoney, America’s first black graduate nurse, was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts on May 7, 1845. Originally from North Carolina, her parents were among the southern free blacks who moved north prior to the Civil War seeking a less racially discriminatory environment. The eldest of three siblings, Mahoney attended the Phillips Street School in Boston.
At the age of 20, Mary Mahoney began working as a nurse. Supplementing her low income as an untrained practical nurse, Mahoney took on janitorial duties at the New England Hospital for Women and Children. Incorporated on March 18, 1863, New England Hospital provided its patients state-of-the-art medical care by solely female physicians. It also assisted women in the practical study of medicine.
Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American
Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982); Althea T. Davis, Early
Black American Leaders in Nursing: Architects for Integration and
Equality (Sudbury: Jones and Bartlett Publishers Inc., 1999), pp. 2-3,
26-60; Mary Ella Chayer, ”Mary Eliza Mahoney,” The American Journal of
Nursing 54, no. 4 (April, 1954): 429-431.
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.
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.
Omar Ibn Said, also known as "Uncle Moreau" was unusual among enslaved people in the antebellum United States in that before he was captured he was highly educated and could read and write fluently at a time when most African slaves were illiterate. Said’s autobiography is unique because it is the only personal account of a slave written in his native language while he was in bondage in the United States.
Omar Ibn Said was born in 1770 along the Senegal River in Futa Tooro, West Africa to a wealthy Muslim family. When his father died, Said at age five was sent to a nearby town to study Islam and become a teacher. Religion was paramount in Said’s life and he was devout to the Muslim faith. With extensive religious training Said became well educated and fluent in Arabic.
“Autobiography of Omar Ibn Said, Slave in North Carolina, 1831,” The
American Historical Review 30: 4 (July, 1925); http://sites.davidson.edu/archives/encyclopedia/omar-ibn-sayyid; Sylvaine A.
Diouf, Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas
(New York: New York University Press, 1998).
Henry Beard Delany is known for his contributions in architecture and for being the first African American bishop elected in North Carolina and the second in the United States. Delany was born on February 5th 1858 in Saint Mary’s, Georgia of slave parents, Thomas Delany, a ship and house carpenter, and Sarah, a house servant. Delany grew up in Fernandina, Florida where he received his earliest formal education. He and his brothers also learned brick laying and plastering trades from their father. In 1881 Delany entered Saint Augustine’s School in Raleigh, North Carolina where he studied theology. After graduating in 1885, he joined the college faculty, remaining there until 1908. He also married Nannie James Logan of Danville, Virginia, another St. Augustine's faculty member, who taught home economics and domestic science. The couple had ten children including Sarah Louise and Annie Elizabeth who became famous with their 1993 joint autobiography Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years.
Delany joined Raleigh’s Ambrose Episcopal Church, and in June 1889 was ordained a deacon of the church. Three years later he was ordained as a priest. He steadily rose in the Episcopal Church hierarchy, becoming Archdeacon in 1908 and Bishop in 1918.
Sarah Louise Delany and Annie Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth,
Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First Hundred Years (New York:
Kodansha International, 1993); Dreck Spurlock Wilson, African-American
Architects: a Biographical Dictionary, 1865-1945 (New York: Routledge,
Cassandra Quin Butt is Deputy White House Counsel to President Barack Obama on issues relating to civil rights, domestic policy, healthcare, and education. She brought seventeen years of experience in politics and policy to her position. She is a long-time friend of the President, acting as an advisor during his term in the U.S. Senate and throughout his presidential campaign. Additionally, she served as a member of the presidential transition team.
Butts was born on August 10, 1965, in Brooklyn, New York, and at age nine moved to Durham, North Carolina. She graduated from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill with a BA in political science. While at UNC she participated in anti-apartheid protests. She entered Harvard Law School in 1988 where her friendship with future President Barack Obama began when both were filling out forms in the student financial aid line. Butts continued her activism at Harvard where she joined in protests regarding hiring practices for faculty of color. She received a JD from Harvard in 1991.
The first black woman to function as Deputy White House Counsel gradually rose to prominence Her first job was as a counselor at the YMCA in Durham, North Carolina, and after graduating from UNC she worked for a year as a researcher with the African News Service in Durham. For six years she was a registered lobbyist with the Center for American Progress (CAP), rising to Senior Vice President.
The Morrill Act of 1890 created an opportunity for African Americans in higher education. The 1890 act specifically prohibited payments of federal money to any state which discriminated against blacks in admission to tax-supported colleges or universities; however, states could receive money if they provided “separate but equal” institutions for African Americans. In 1891, the North Carolina General Assembly authorized the establishment of the Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Colored Race. Although funds were not allocated to erect any building, the Board of Trustees of the new A&M College made temporary arrangements for classrooms and student housing at Shaw University in Raleigh, a private institution affiliated with the Baptist Church and the oldest historically black college in the South.
Harvey B. Gantt, architect and politician, was born January 14, 1943 in Charleston, South Carolina to Christopher and Wilhelmenia Gantt. In 1961, Gantt attended Iowa State University. After one year of study, he returned to South Carolina and soon afterwards sued to enter racially segregated Clemson University. On January 16, 1963, the U.S. Court of Appeals ordered Clemson to admit Gantt who became its first African American student. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Clemson with honors in 1965. In 1970, Gantt earned a M.A. in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
During the 1970s Gantt worked at various architectural firms in Charlotte, North Carolina where he settled after receiving his degree from MIT. Between 1970 and 1971 he collaborated with civil rights activist Floyd B. McKissick to design Soul City, North Carolina, an experimental interracial community in eastern North Carolina. In 1971 Gantt left the Soul City project, returning to Charlotte to launch an architectural firm with Jeffrey Huberman. Some of the firm’s projects include the construction of the Charlotte Transportation Center, Transamerica Square, and First Ward Recreation Center.
Fayetteville State University is a historically black institution of the University of North Carolina system located in Fayetteville, North Carolina. It is the second oldest higher education institution in North Carolina and was founded in 1867 as Howard School in honor of General Oliver Otis Howard, who was appointed by President Andrew Johnson as the first commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau. Seven black citizens of Fayetteville, Matthew N. Leary, Andrew J. Chesnutt, Robert Simmons, George Grainger, Thomas Lomax, Nelson Carter, and David A.
St. Augustine’s University is a private, four-year coeducational liberal arts college located in Raleigh, North Carolina. St. Augustine’s was founded in 1867, making it one of the oldest historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) in the United States.
St. Augustine’s University was originally founded as the St. Augustine Normal School and Collegiate Institute. The name of the school was changed to St. Augustine’s School in 1893, then to St. Augustine Junior College in 1919. The school’s status was upgraded to a four-year institute in 1927, and the name was changed one final time in 1928 to St. Augustine’s College. It became St. Augustine's University. On August 1, 2012, St. Augustine's College became St. Augustine's University. St. Augustine’s awarded its first baccalaureate degree in 1931, after being accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Bennett College Chapel
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Shaw University is a private, four-year coeducational historically black liberal arts university located in Raleigh, North Carolina. Founded in 1865, Shaw University is one of the oldest historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the country.
Shaw was originally founded as Raleigh Institute, a school designed to teach freedmen theology and biblical interpretation. The school’s name changed to Shaw Collegiate Institute in 1870 and five years later it adopted its present name, Shaw University. The college offered its first post-secondary instruction in 1874, and the first baccalaureate degree was awarded in 1878.
Livingstone College is a private, four-year coeducational historically black liberal arts university located in Salisbury, North Carolina. The large, urban campus is located about 40 miles northeast of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Livingstone College was founded in 1879 under the name Zion Wesley Institute. One year later the school was granted the right to instruct in post-secondary education. In 1887, the school awarded its first degree and also changed its name to Livingstone College in honor of Dr. David Livingstone (1813-1873), a well-known missionary, philanthropist, and explorer in Africa.
North Carolina Central University (NCCU) is a public, four-year coeducational historically black liberal arts university located in Durham, North Carolina. The small urban campus is located 23 miles from Raleigh, North Carolina.
North Carolina Central University was founded in 1910 by Dr. James E. Shepard. The school was chartered in 1909 as a private institution, and opened the next year. When chartered, NCCU was called the National Religious Training School and Chautauqua. In 1923, the school was purchased by the General Assembly of North Carolina, at which time the private school was turned into a public institution. NCCU awarded its first baccalaureate degree in 1929. The college went through several name changes before settling on its current name in 1969. In 1972, NCCU became a part of the University of North Carolina.
Barber-Scotia College is a coed liberal arts school founded by the Presbyterian Church in July 1867 by Reverend Luke Dorland as Scotia Seminary. Reverend Dorland was commissioned by the Presbyterian Church to create an institution to train black women in programs of elementary, secondary and normal school work in the South. After looking at a number of locales, he chose Concord, North Carolina as the site of the institution.
Modeled after Mount Holyoke College (then a women’s seminary), the purpose of the college was to improve the lives of freedwomen and to provide a pool of future leaders. The college, anticipating state certification, offered subjects in normal (teacher training), academic and homemaking programs.
In 1916 the institution changed its name to Scotia Women’s College. In 1930, Barber Memorial College of Anniston, Alabama, a men's institution, merged with Scotia Women’s College. Two years after the merger, the school adopted its present name of Barber-Scotia College.
Robert Louis Johnson, founder, chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Black Entertainment Television (BET), is also the majority owner of the Charlotte (North Carolina) Bobcats of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the first African American billionaire. He was born in Hickory, Mississippi in 1946 as the ninth of 10 children. After his family relocated to Freeport, Illinois, Johnson earned a Bachelor of Arts in History at the University of Illinois in 1968. He also received a Masters in Public Administration from Princeton University in New Jersey in 1972.
Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU), founded on April 7, 1867, is one of the oldest predominantly African American universities in North Carolina. The university was founded by three Presbyterian ministers, Rev. Samuel C. Alexander, Rev. Sidney S. Murkland, and Rev. Willis L. Miller and established under the auspices of the Committee on Freedmen of the Presbyterian Church, USA. The university was originally for men only. With approximately eight men, the first session of class was held on May 1, 1867. The University offered its first Bachelor of Arts degree in 1876. Rev. Dr. Stephen Mattoon was the first President of Johnson C. Smith University from 1870 to 1886. The first African American President, Rev. Dr. Daniel Jackson Sanders, began his tenure in 1891.
Jill Elaine Brown became the first African American woman to serve as a pilot for a major U.S airline when she was hired by Texas international Airlines at the age of 28. Her passion for flying began as a teenager, leading her into the U.S. Navy flight training program where she became its first African American female trainee in 1974.
Brown was born in 1950 in Baltimore, Maryland. Her father Gilbert Brown owned a construction company, and her mother Elaine was an art teacher in the Baltimore school district. The family owned a farm in West Virginia, and by the age of nine Brown had learned to operate a tractor and perform what her father termed “men’s work.” When she turned 17, the entire Brown family took flying lessons. Brown devoted all of her free time to learning how to fly and became the first in her family to receive a pilot's license. Her first solo flight was in a Piper J-3 Cub. When the family acquired its own plane, a single-engine Piper Cherokee 180D, she became particularly popular with friends whom she took up on short flights. Brown described these flights as trips on Brown's United Airlines.
Viola Mitchell Turner, an early black executive with North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, was born in Macon, Georgia, in 1900. The only child of poor, impoverished, teenage African American parents she would succeed in becoming the first female African American member of the North Carolina Mutual Board of Directors.
Turner was educated in a private black school in Macon sponsored by the American Missionary Association and then continued her education at Morris Brown College in Atlanta, studying business, which for women in the late 1910s meant primarily clerical work. After graduation from Morris Brown in 1918 Turner became a secretary at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama where she met leading professors such as George Washington Carver.
Her time at the Tuskegee Institute was short however as she worked briefly for the Superintendent of Negro Education for the State of Mississippi who made her his personal secretary. Turner moved to Mississippi but held her new position for six months. She was hired by North Carolina Mutual Insurance (NCMI) in 1920, setting up branch offices in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Mississippi. In 1924 Turner applied for and received a position at North Carolina Mutual headquarters in Durham, North Carolina.
Lewis Leary was one of several Black men who were killed during John Brown’s raid on the Harpers Ferry arsenal in October 1859. It was a defining moment in African American history.
Born Sherrard Lewis Leary (sometimes referred to as Lewis Sheridan Leary), he was the second of five children born in Fayetteville, North Carolina to free Black parents. His father Matthew Leary, a saddle maker, was the mixed race son of Jeremiah O’Leary, a descendent of Irish immigrants. His mother Julia A. Menriel Leary was of mixed race, with conflicting accounts of her heritage.
Frustrated with southern racism, 21-year-old Leary moved to Oberlin, Ohio in 1856 where he earned a living as a harness maker. It was no coincidence that Leary found a more hospitable environment at Oberlin. Members of his extended family lived in the area, including his nephew, John Anthony Copeland, Jr., who also participated in the Harpers Ferry raid. Located in Lorain County, southwest of Cleveland, Oberlin was at the time home to a concentrated network of Black and white abolitionists and served as an important site on the Underground Railroad. The town was also the site of Oberlin College, the first interracial and co-educational college in the country. Two years after moving to Oberlin he married Mary Sampson Patterson, and they had one daughter, Lois.
Gloria Naylor, a major 20th century writer of African American literature, was born on January 25, 1950 in New York City, New York to Roosevelt and Alberta Naylor. She was born just six weeks after her parents moved to the city from Robinsville, Mississippi, to escape the racially segregated South. It is that combination of her family's Southern roots and her on upbringing in the urban North that influenced her writing.
In the article below, historian Quintard Taylor describes the origins and evolution of the Juneteenth holiday sine 1865.
The Republic of New Africa (RNA) is a black nationalist organization that was created in 1969 on the premise that an independent black republic should be created out of the southern United States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, which were considered “subjugated lands.” The group’s manifesto demanded the United States government pay $400 billion in reparations for the injustices of slavery and segregation. It also argued that African-Americans should be allowed to vote on self-determination, as that opportunity was not provided at the end of slavery when the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution incorporated African-Americans into the United States.
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.
Clayton Pitre is a long time Seattle, Washington-based community activist, former Chief Housing Developer for the Central Area Motivation Project (CAMP), and a retired Montford Point Marine.
Born on June 30, 1924 to Gilbert Pitre and Eugenie Lemelle, Clayton Pitre was the fourth child of seven siblings. He was born and raised in Opelousas in Saint Landry Parish, Louisiana. His father was a cotton and yam farmer, and his mother was a homemaker. Pitre attended Catholic schools until the 9th grade when he gave up his education to work in various defense plants in early World War II Texas.
Caterina Jarboro was born one of three children in Wilmington, North Carolina, to an American Indian mother and a black father who was a local barber. She was christened Katherine Lee Yarborough at St. Thomas Catholic Church in Wilmington. She received elementary school education at St. Thomas, and later attended Gregory Normal School. Her parents died when she was thirteen years old, and in 1916, she traveled to Brooklyn, New York, to live with an aunt.
Jarboro studied music in New York where her exceptional ability soon became apparent. By 1921 she appeared in popular theater musicals, such as Sissle and Blake’s “Shuffle Along,” and later in James P. Johnson’s, “Running Wild.” Like many black musicians and performers, she sought more opportunity for study and experience in Europe. Under contract to the San Carlo Opera Company, Jarboro debuted in Verdi’s Aida in 1930 at the Puccini Theater in Milan, Italy. She continued to study in France and to perform in small productions in Europe until 1932 when she returned to the United States.
Contralto singer Carol Brice was born in Sedalia, North Carolina on April 16, 1918 into a musical family. Eventually she became one of the first African American classical singers with an extensive recording repertoire. Brice trained at Palmer Memorial Institute in Sedalia and then enrolled in Talladega College in Alabama, where she received her Bachelor of Music degree in 1939. She later attended Julliard School of Music between 1939 and 1943 where she trained with Francis Rogers. In 1943 Brice became the first African American musician to win the prestigious Walter W. Naumburg Foundation Award.
Carol Brice first attracted public acclaim at the New York World’s Fair in 1939 when she performed in the opera, “The Hot Mikado.” Her next major public performance came in 1941, when she sang at a Washington concert honoring the third inauguration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Her brother, the pianist Jonathan Brice, was frequently her accompanist at concerts and competitions.
Yvonne Jeffries Johnson, the first African American mayor of Greensboro, North Carolina, was born on October 26, 1942 in Greensboro to Ruby Jeffries. She graduated from Dudley High School in 1960 and Bennett College in 1964, with a BA in Psychology. She then enrolled in Howard University and received a Graduate Fellowship in 1965. In 1978 Johnson received a Master of Science degree in Guidance Counseling from North Carolina A&T University.
Talley is the son of William C. Talley, a taxi driver, and Alma Ruth Davis, and was born on October 16, 1949 in Durham, North Carolina. However, he was raised by his grandmother, Bennie Frances Davis, who worked as a domestic in the Durham area. Davis had a profound effect on him and he credits her with his uncommon flair for fashion. As a teen, he ventured to the library in the white section of town. It was there that he discovered Vogue and quickly became a devoted reader.
Talley’s postsecondary experience began at North Carolina Central University and, later he was granted a scholarship to Brown University where he earned an M.A. in French Studies in 1973. He initially planned to teach French, but the fashion world beckoned him. He first worked as an assistant for Andy Warhol. In 1983, he began working as the editor-at-large for Vogue magazine and soon became the most notable African American in the world of designer fashion.
Campbell began his career by becoming the first black newscaster to do “straight broadcasting” in Philadelphia. He was the first black member of the Radio Television News Directors Association and became Vice President of Radio News Reel Television Working Press Association.
Collective African American net income (spending power) now exceeds $1 trillion dollars annually. Because of this economic reality, a wide variety of contemporary companies continually create marketing campaigns to effectively reach this important segment of the U.S. consumer market. Yet, in the not-too-distant past, black consumers were all but ignored in the American marketplace. This article will provide an overview of this historical (and business) phenomenon.
U.S. Department of State, “John Withers II,” http://m.state.gov/md116125.htm; Los Angeles Times, “U.S. ambassador to Albania cleared in ammo cover-up,” http://articles.latimes.com/2009/mar/19/nation/na-diplomat-cleared19; Besar Likmeta, “WikiLeaks, Corruption Lost Albania Millions in Aid,” in BalkanInsight, http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/albania-lost-millions-of-us-aid-due-to-corruption.
Born November 20, 1849, on the Dickson Plantation, near Sparta, Georgia (Hancock County), Amanda America was the product of her 12-year-old mother, an enslaved house servant, Julia Francis Lewis, and 40-year-old David Dickson, a well-known agricultural reformer of that era and one of the wealthiest planters in the area. In her youth, Amanda was taken into the Dickson family home and raised by her paternal grandmother where she was taught to read, write, and play the piano. According to Dickson family tradition, David Dickson eventually doted on his only daughter.
In 1866, 17-year-old Amanda married her white first cousin, Charles Eubanks, a recently returned Confederate Army veteran and together they had two children, Julian Henry and Charles Green. It was an unhappy marriage, and in 1870, Amanda left her husband, and returned to the Dickson Plantation, where she was legally given the surname of Dickson for herself and her sons. Eubanks died two years later.
Francis Shober earned his law degree at the University of North Carolina in 1851 and was a co-founder of the first Sunday school in the state. Meanwhile James Shober’s mother, Betsy Ann Waugh, was a mulatto slave who was only eighteen years old when Shober was born. Betsy Ann, who lived in Salem, passed away in 1859 when Shober was between the age of six and seven. He was sent back to the Waugh Plantation near Waughtown, North Carolina, where his grandmother lived with other family relatives.
Ronald Andrew Crutcher was born on February 27, 1947, in Richmond, Kentucky, to Andrew James Crutcher and Burdella Crutcher. Following his graduation from Woodward High School in Richmond in 1965, Crutcher attended and became a Phi Beta Kappa graduate from the Miami University in Ohio where he studied music and graduated cum laude in 1969. He then pursued his graduate studies at Yale University in Connecticut as a Woodrow Wilson and Ford Foundation Fellow, and in 1979 he became the first cellist to receive a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Yale. Dr. Crutcher, who is fluent in German, studied music at the University of Bonn in Germany where he was supported by a Fulbright Fellowship.
In 1971 Ruffin Bridgeforth, Darius Gray, and Eugene Orr, all African American Mormons, met at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City to create a strategy for receiving greater support for the black members of the Latter Day Saints. In that year, there were only three or four hundred Latter-day Saints of African descent throughout the world, although some of them traced their family lineage to the earliest black LDS members in the 1830s and 1840s.
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