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People

Jacobs, Harriet (c.1815-1897)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born into slavery in Edenton, North Carolina, Harriet Ann Jacobs was the daughter of slaves, Delilah and Daniel Jacobs.  Harriet Jacobs is best known for her autobiography, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, edited by white abolitionist Lydia Maria Child, and published in 1852.   Using the pseudonym “Linda Brent,” Jacobs tells the story of her life as a slave of a “Dr. Flint,” to whom she was willed as a young girl after her mistress died.  At this point in her young life, Harriet encountered unceasing sexual advances from Flint.  She escaped Flint’s household in 1835, but remained nearby, living in an attic for several years in order to stay near her son.  She made her final escape in 1842 and was able to reunite with her children. She settled in Rochester, New York, where she joined the network of abolitionists.  At the urging of white abolitionist Amy Post, Jacobs wrote her autobiography.  Still pursued by slave catchers, Jacobs fled to Massachusetts.
Sources: 
Jean Fagan Yellin, “Harriet Ann Jacobs,” in Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, Vol. I (New York: Carlson, 1993), 627-29; Harriet Brent Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861); and Dorothy Sterling, ed., We Are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century (New York: W.W. Norton, 1984).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Burke, Yvonne Braithwaite (1932- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born Perle Yvonne Watson on October 5, 1932 in Los Angeles, California, Yvonne Burke became the first black woman elected to the California legislature (1966), the first black woman elected to Congress from California (1972), and the first black woman to serve as Chair of the Los Angeles County Supervisors (1993).

Educated in Los Angeles public schools, Burke received her B.A. degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1953. Three years later, Burke received a J.D. from the University of Southern California School of Law.  Soon afterwards she entered private practice.

Before her election to the state Assembly in 1966, Burke was a hearing officer for the Los Angeles Police Commission and Deputy Corporation Commissioner for the City of Los Angeles.  She served as an attorney for the McCone Commission which investigated the Watts Riots.   

In 1972, California Assemblywoman and Congressional Candidate Yvonne Burke was selected to address the Democratic National Convention meeting in Miami Beach, Florida in 1972.  With such prominent national exposure she easily won her Congressional Seat for California’s 28th District.  Burke served in Congress until 1979. In 1978 she ran for California Attorney General, losing to Republican George Deukmejian in the first political defeat of her career.  Following the defeat, Burke was appointed to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in 1979, a post she held until 1980.
Sources: 
bioguide.congress.gov; http://burke.lacounty.gov/Pages/Biobb.htm;
Yvonne Bynol, Stand and Deliver: Political Activism, Leadership and Hip Hop Culture (Soft Skull Press, 2004); Pamela Lee Gray, “Yvonne Braithwaite Burke: The Congressional Career of California’s First Black Congresswoman, 1972-1978” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Southern California, 1987).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

De la Cruz, Véronique (1974- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Beauty contest winner, designer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Véronique de la Cruz is best known as the first woman of African ancestry to be selected as Miss France.  De la Cruz was born in the small city of Saint-François on the French Caribbean Island of Guadeloupe on November 3, 1974.  De la Cruz enjoyed the beach as a child and spent much of her time there with her friends, a leisure pursuit which would eventually help determine her career path.  She graduated with honors from secondary school at the age of 17 and then enrolled in a college in France to study political science.  Whether she graduated is unknown.  
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Moton, Robert R. (1867-1940)

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

Robert Russa Moton was born on the William Vaughan Plantation in 1867 in Prince Edward County, Virginia. Moton attended the local freedman’s school and eventually went on to college at the Hampton Institute (now called Hampton University).

At Hampton Institute Moton distinguished himself academically and after graduation was appointed the school’s Commandant in charge of military discipline, a post he held for 25 years.  Moton also became a Hampton fundraiser, traveling north to lecture on the school’s programs.

Sources: 
Robert Russa Moton, Finding a Way Out: An Autobiography (Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday, Page and Company, 1920); William Hardin Hughes and Frederick D. Patterson, Robert Russa Moton of Hampton and Tuskegee (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1956); Lerone Bennett, “Chronicles of Black Courage: Robert R. Moton Risked Life in Fight for Black Doctors at Tuskegee Veterans Hospital,” Ebony, July 2002; http://www.hamptonu.edu/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Flake, Floyd Harold (1945- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of
Representative Floyd Flake's Office
Floyd Harold Flake was born to Robert Flake, Sr. and Rosie Lee Johnson-Flake on January 30, 1945 in Los Angeles, California. Flake, though born in California, grew up in Houston, Texas and attended public schools there until his move to Ohio to attend Wilberforce University.  He graduated from Wilberforce in 1967. Flake then entered the graduate program at Payne Theological Seminary in Ohio and studied business administration at Northeastern University in Boston until 1976. He also earned a Doctor of Ministry Degree from the United Theological Seminary in Ohio. 

In the years between academic studies, Flake worked as a salesman, a marketing analyst, assistant dean of students at Lincoln University, and director of the Afro-American Center and university chaplain at Boston University. The next ten years, 1976 to 1986, Flake was a minister at Allen African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York, one of the largest churches in the city. Under Flake's leadership, the church grew from about 1,400 members in the mid-1970s to over 23,000 parishioners by the early 1990s.
Sources: 
Bruce A. Ragsdale, Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1989 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1990) www.manhattan-institute.org
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Proctor, Henry Hugh (1868-1933)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Daniel Murray
Collection, Library of Congress
Henry Hugh Proctor was an author, lecturer and a clergyman of the Congregational Church. Proctor was born on December 8, 1868 near Fayetteville, Tennessee to former slave parents Richard and Hannah (Murray) Proctor. Proctor attended local schools but was only able to take classes for three months out of the year, as he had to help his parents on their farm for the remaining months. After completing his schooling Proctor became a teacher at Pea Ridge, Tennessee and later at Fayetteville. Receiving his B.A. degree from Fisk University, Proctor dug ditches and preached sermons to pay for his degree.

In 1893 Proctor married Adeline L. Davis, a fellow student he had met at Fisk. The following year, he received a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Yale University and in 1904, Clark University honored him with the Doctor of Divinity degree.
Sources: 
Henry Hugh Proctor, Between Black and White. (Boston: The Pilgrim Press, 1925);
Altona Trent Johns, “Henry Hugh Proctor.” The Black Perspective in Music 3:1 (1975); Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Moten, Etta (1901-2004)

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

Etta Moten, a multifaceted pioneer in the world of entertainment, was born in Weimar, Texas in 1901. She was raised as the only child of her parents, Freeman Moten, a Methodist minister, and his wife Ida Mae Norman. In 1915, Rev. Moten moved to Kansas City where Etta Moten began singing in church choirs.  

Moten married one of her school teachers at the age of 17 and had three children. She divorced her husband in 1924 and asked her parents to care for her children while she went on to attend the University of Kansas to study voice and drama. While at the University of Kansas, Moten briefly joined the Eva Jessy Choir in New York before her ambitions lead her to Hollywood where she immediately embarked upon a film career that enabled her to parlay her vocal and dramatic skills in a dignified manner.

Moten made her film debut as a widow (who sang the song My Forgotten Man) in the 1933 movie The Gold Diggers. The same year, she appeared in her sophomore and final film entitled Flying Down to Rio in which her moving vocal performance of The Carioca received positive reviews. Although she did not receive billing for subsequent film roles, Moten was one of the first singers to be employed as a dub for the voices of several other leading actresses, including Barbara Stanwyck and Ginger Rogers.

Sources: 

Joy B. Kinnon, “Etta at 100: Etta Moten Barnett, Pioneer Actress,
Singer and Activist Celebrates Centennial,” Ebony (December 2001); Joy
B. Kinnon, “A Diva for All Times,” Ebony (March 2004); Anonymous, "KU
Fine Arts Dean Connects with Alumna Etta Moten Barnett," Collage 2:1
(Spring 2000);  Stephen Bourne, “Etta Moten: Actress Who Broke the
Stereotype for Black Women in Hollywood,” The Independent (London),
January 7, 2004.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Shabazz, Betty Sandlin (1934-1997)

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

http://www.carllewis.com; John Devaney, Carl! The Story of an American Hero (New York: Bantam Books, 1984); Carl Lewis with Jeffrey Marx, Inside Track: My Professional Life in Amateur Track and Field (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Long Beach

Whipple, Dinah (c.1760-1846)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Portsmouth, New Hampshire in the Era of Dinah Whipple
Image Ownership: Public Domain
At the time of her death in1846, Dinah Whipple was the revered teacher of African American children in Portsmouth, New Hampshire but she was identified more prominently, at least according to the local white newspaper editor, as the widow of Prince Whipple. Prince had served in the Revolutionary War when he was the slave of William Whipple, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.  On February 22, 1781, the same day that Dinah reached her 21st birthday and was freed by her owner, she married Prince. It was not until 1784 that Prince became a free man.  He died in 1796 at the age of 46.  Dinah and Prince Whipple had seven children.    

Dinah Whipple was widely known and respected by both black and white residents of the region. Like her husband, Prince, Dinah had grown up as an enslaved servant in one of the most affluent and refined households of the southern New Hampshire and Maine seacoast.  While Prince served as the major-domo at elegant social events in the city, Dinah was behind the scenes employing her domestic skills to further ensure the success of such occasions.
Sources: 
Charles W. Brewster, Rambles About Portsmouth (1859; reprint, Somersworth, NH: New Hampshire Publishing Company, 1971); Mark Sammons and Valerie Cunningham, Black Portsmouth: Three Centuries of African-American Heritage (Durham, NH: University of New Hampshire Press, 2004).
http://www.seacoastnh.com/Black_History/Black_History_of_the_Seacoast/First_Blacks_of_Portsmouth%2C_Part_2/2/
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Dawson, Mary Lucinda (1894–1962)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Mary Lucinda Cardwell Dawson was a leader in the campaign to promote African American participation in and appreciation of opera.  Cardwell was born in 1896 in Madison, North Carolina, the second of six children.  In the early 1900s, her family became part of the African American migration from the rural South to the urban North when they settled in Homestead, Pennsylvania, an industrial suburb of Pittsburgh.

As with many young African American musicians, Mary Cardwell began singing in her family’s church.  She graduated with degrees in piano and voice from the New England Conservatory of Music in 1925 at the age of 31.  At the time she was the only African American in her class.  After further studies in Chicago and New York, she married Walter Dawson, a Master Electrician, in 1927, and returned to Pittsburgh.

For the next 14 years Dawson trained hundreds of young, often impoverished African Americans to sing the operas.  Her students included school children, laborers, and domestics who often bartered services for their lessons.  She directed a 500-voice ensemble which won national awards in 1935 and 1937.  In 1939, her students performed at the New York World’s Fair.    
Sources: 
“Founding of the National Negro Opera Foundation,” www.nationaloperahouse.org/past.html; “Radiating a Hope:  Mary Cardwell Dawson as Educator and Activist,” by Karen M. Bryan, JSTOR: Journal of Historic Research in Music Education, Vol.25, No.1 (Oct 2003); “An Irrepressible Voice,” http://www.post-gazette.com/magazine/19990801opera1.asp.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Tharpe, Rosetta Atkins [Sister Rosetta] (1915-1973)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sister Rosetta Tharpe was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist of gospel, jazz, blues, and rock-and-roll.  She was born on March 20, 1915 near Cotton Plant, Arkansas to Katie (née Harper) Bell Nubin and Willis B. Atkins.  Her mother, a mandolin-playing evangelist in the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), toured with P.W. McGhee’s revivals in Southeastern states before moving with her daughter to Chicago in 1921.  There, mother and daughter performed together at the Fortieth Street Church of God in Christ (now Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ).   She also toured as a teenager with her mother as a COGIC evangelist across the country.

On November 17, 1934, at the age of 19, Rosetta Atkins married Pastor Thomas J. Thorpe, a COGIC minister.  She toured with him and her mother until 1938.  By October 1938, she had separated from her husband, moved to New York, and begun working at the Cotton Club.  She remained there until 1940.  

Tharpe made her first gospel recordings for the Decca label on October 31, 1938.  Two months later on December 23, 1938 she performed at Carnegie Hall in John Hammond’s first “From Spirituals to Swing” concert, and again at the second one of 1939.

Between 1938 and 1941 she performed at various venues around New York including the Paramount Theater, the Savoy Ballroom, and the Apollo Theater with bandleaders Cab Calloway and Louis Jordan.  
Sources: 
Gayle Wald, Shout, Sister, Shout!:  the Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe (Boston: Beacon Press, 2007); Gayle Wald, “Tharpe, Sister Rosetta,” Encyclopedia of the Blues (New York: Routledge, 2006); Hilary Moore, “Tharpe, Sister Rosetta,”  Encyclopedia of American Gospel Music (New York: Routledge, 2005); Paul Oliver and Howard Rye, "Tharpe, Sister Rosetta," The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz Volume 3 (London: Macmillan Publishers, 2002); Bill Carpenter, “Sister Rosetta Tharpe,” Uncloudy Days: The Gospel Music Encyclopedia (San Francisco: Backbeat Books, 2005); Gayle Wald, “Sister Rosetta Tharpe.  Timeline: The Years of Sister Rosetta Tharpe,” PBS American Masters, Film: The Godmother of Rock & Roll. URL: <http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/sister-rosetta-tharpe/timeline-the-years-of-sister-rosetta-tharpe/2487/>
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Reddick, Eunice S. (1951- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Eunice S. Reddick, an American diplomat and United States Ambassador to the Republic of Niger, was born in 1951 in New York City, New York. Reddick received her Master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International Affairs in 1975 and then worked for several years at the Africa-America Institute in New York City, New York and Washington, D.C.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Furniss, Sumner Alexander (1874-1953)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Private Office of Dr. Sumner Furniss
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Prominent physician and surgeon Sumner Alexander Furniss was the first African American to become a member of the staff at Indianapolis City Hospital in Indiana. He was also a founding member and president of the Indianapolis Young Men's Colored Association (YMCA).

Furniss was the second son born to William H. Furniss and Mary Elizabeth J. Williams, in Jackson, Mississippi, on January 30, 1874. His family moved to Indianapolis when he was young, and his father became the superintendent of the Special Delivery Department of the Indianapolis Post Office. Furniss received his early education in the local city schools and then enrolled in Lincoln University (formerly the Lincoln Institute). Just before his graduation in 1891, Furniss enrolled in the Medical College of Indiana and received his medical degree in 1894, ranking second in a class of fifty-two. Furniss was the only African American in his class. While in medical school, he worked as a clerk for Dr. E. S. Elder, a prominent Indianapolis physician, to pay for his education. On October 26, 1905, he married Lillian Morris, but no children were born to this union.

Sources: 
Commemorative Biographical Record of Central Pennsylvania including the Counties of Centre, Clearfield, Jefferson and Clarion, Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens, And many of the Early Settled Families-Volume II (Indianapolis: J. H. Beers & Company, 1908); Michelle D. Hale, “Furniss, Sumner A.” The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994); Frank Lincoln Mather, Who’s Who of the Colored Race; A General Biographical Dictionary of Men and Women of African Descent (Chicago: 1915); Linda Heywood, Allison Blakely, Charles Stith and Joshua C. Yesnowitz, African Americans In U.S. Foreign Policy; From the Era of Frederick Douglass to the Age of Obama (Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 2015).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Green, Marlon DeWitt (1929-2009)

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

The first African American pilot hired by a commercial passenger airline carrier owed his achievement to Marlon D. Green who fought a six-year court battle that opened the industry to minority-race aviators.

Sources: 
Flint Whitlock, Turbulence Before Takeoff: The Life and Times of Marlon Green (Cable Publishing 2009); Flint Whitlock, “Marlon DeWitt Green (1929-2009)” http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=5995 ; Shannon Buggs, “Jet Named for Trailblazing Black Pilot at Continental” http://www.chron.com/business/article/Jet-named-for-trailblazing-black-pilot-at-1695637.php.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Chase, James E. (1914-1987)

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

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

James Everett Chase, businessman and politician, was born the youngest of seven children in Wharton, Texas in 1914.  He attended high school in Ballinger, Texas.  During the Great Depression, Chase became an enrollee at a Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) camp in El Paso.  Upon completion of his CCC service, he migrated to Spokane, Washington with fellow Texans, Elmo Dalbert and Harry Blackwell.  In 1934, when Chase first arrived in Spokane after hoboing across the west, he found a job shining shoes at a white barbershop.  

In 1942 Chase married Eleanor Barrow, the granddaughter of 19th century Spokane black pioneer and entrepreneur Peter Barrow.  The Chases had a child Roland.  During World War II, James Chase’s employment situation improved.  He repaired military vehicles at Spokane’s Geiger Air Field and in 1945 partnered with Elmo Dalbert to open Chase and Dalbert Body and Fender, an automotive body repair shop.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s Chase served at different times as president and vice president of the Spokane Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).  While at the helm of the branch, Chase brought Rosa Parks in as a guest speaker in 1956 and through the media he addressed local civil rights abuses in employment and housing.  

Sources: 
Chris Peck, “Jim Chase: He's Ready; Is Spokane?” Spokesman Review, October 29, 1981; Dorothy Powers, “Jim and Eleanor Chase Gave Spokane a Great 2-for-1 Bargain," Spokesman Review, November 17, 1985; Aldore Collier, “The Mayor Few People Know,” Ebony, August 1984: 122-126; “Statement of Votes Cast, 1981,” Spokane County Auditor, Elections Division.  Held by Washington State Archives, Eastern Region Archives; Quintard Taylor, Interview with James and Eleanor (Barrow) Chase, 2 November 1972.  Black Oral History Interviews, 1972-1974.  Held in the Washington State University Libraries – Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections.  See also:  http://www.wsulibs.wsu.edu/holland/masc/xblackoralhistory.html; http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?displaypage=output.cfm&file_id=8788.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Knowles, Beyoncé Giselle (1981- )

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

Beyoncé Giselle Knowles, one of the most successful African American women artists in today’s music industry, was born on September 4, 1981 in Houston, Texas, to Mathew and Célestine Ann Knowles. Her father was a salesman and her mother owned a hair salon. Beyoncé began performing when she was seven years old when her dance teacher insisted that she participate in her school’s talent show. Beyoncé's surprisingly poised performance before this audience, despite her shyness, persuaded her parents to begin preparing her for a music career.

In 1990, at the age of nine, Beyoncé successfully auditioned to become the lead singer for the music group Girl’s Tyme which two years later performed on the national television show Star Search. The group, which also included Támar Davis, Kelly Rowland, LaTavia Roberson, Nikki Taylor, and Nina Taylor, did not win, which prompted the girls to work intensely to improve their dancing and singing skills. They also performed once a week during the school year and twice a week during the summer. In 1995, Silent Partner Productions/Elektra offered Girl’s Tyme its first contract when most of the girls were 14 years old.

Sources: 
Janice Arenofsky, Beyoncé Knowles: A Biography (Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc., 2009); Beyonce?, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams, Soul Survivors: the Official Autobiography of Destiny's Child (New York: Regan, 2002); Kathleen Tracy, Beyoncé  (Hockessin, DE: Mitchell Lane, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Leslie, Lisa Deshaun (1972- )

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

Lisa Deshaun Leslie is an American former professional basketball player who played for the Los Angeles Sparks in the Women’s Basketball Association (WNBA) for her twelve-year career from 1997 to 2009. She is a two-time WNBA champion, three-time WNBA MVP, and a four-time Olympic gold medal winner. Leslie was the first player to dunk in a WNBA game and was considered a pioneer and cornerstone of the league during her NBA career.

Lisa Leslie was born on July 7, 1972, in Gardena, California, to Christine Lauren Leslie and Walter Leslie, a semi-professional basketball player. Leslie’s mother started her own trucking business to support her three children, while her father left the family when her mother was four months pregnant with her. Leslie has two sisters, Dionne and Tiffany, along with a brother, Elgin. By the time, Leslie was in middle school she had grown to over 6’1. In the eighth grade, she transferred to a junior high school without a girls’ basketball team and joined a boys’ basketball team. Leslie entered Morningside High School in Inglewood, California, in 1986 and while there led the girl basketball team to two state championships.

Sources: 
“Lisa Deshaun Leslie,” Biography, https://www.biography.com/people/lisa-leslie-12816766; “Lisa Deshaun Leslie,” JackBio, http://jockbio.com/Bios/Leslie/Leslie_bio.html; “Lisa Deshaun Leslie,” Basketball Reference, http://www.basketball-reference.com/wnba/players/l/leslili01w.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Freeman, Elizabeth (Mum Bett) (1742-1829)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Elizabeth Freeman was born into slavery in Claverack, New York in 1742. During the 1770s, she lived in the household of Colonel John Ashley of Sheffield, a prominent citizen who at that time also served as a judge of the Berkshire Court of Common Pleas. Colonel Ashley purchased Freeman from a Mr. Hogeboom when she was six months of age.  Upon suffering physical abuse from Ashley’s wife, Freeman escaped her home and refused to return. She found a sympathetic ear with attorney Theodore Sedgwick, the father of the writer Catherine Sedgwick. Apparently, as she served dinner to her masters, she had heard them speaking of freedom—in this case freedom from England—and she applied the concepts of equality and freedom for all to herself.

Sources: 
Sidney Kaplan and Emma Nogrady Kaplan, The Black Presence in the Era of the American Revolution (Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1989);
“The Mum Bett Case,” Massachusetts Constitution Judicial Review, http://www.mass.gov/courts/jaceducation/constjuslavery.html#d ; Gay Gibson Cima, “Phillis Wheatley and Black Women Critics: The Borders of Strategic Visibility,” Theater Journal 52:4 (2000), 465-495.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of California, Santa Barbara

Empress Zewditu (1876-1930)

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

Empress Zewditu of Ethiopia was born on April 29, 1876 as Askala Maryam in the city of Harrar in Enjersa Goro Province, Ethiopia. Her mother was Abechi, a Shewan noblewoman and her father was Menelik II, at that point the king of Shewa and the future emperor of Ethiopia.

Menelik II agreed to submit to Emperor Yohannes’s rule with the stipulation that his daughter, Zewditu, would marry Yohanne’s son and future heir Araya Selassie Yohannes. They wed in 1882 when Araya Selassie Yohannes was nine and Zewditu was six.  Despite the arranged marriage Menelik II and Yohannes continued their contentious relationship until the death of Emperor Yohannes in the battle of Metemma against the Madhists of Sudan in 1889.  Menelik II was soon afterwards crowned Emperor of Ethiopia.

Upon the death of Menelik II in 1913, Lij Iyasu, the son of Zewditu's half-sister Shewa Regga, assumed power. The new emperor viewed Zewditu as a threat and ordered her and her husband be taken to the countryside (Falle Province). Iyasu, however, quickly fell out of favor with the powerful nobles who insured his rule.  When he was accused of flirting with Islam, Iyasu was removed from the throne and replaced by Zewditu on September 27, 1916.

Sources: 
Stuart Munro-Hay, Ethiopia, The Unknown Land: A Cultural and Historical Guide (London and New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2002); Chris Poutry and Eugene Rosenfeld, Historical Dictionary of Ethiopia and Eritrea (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1994); Saheed A. Adejumobi, The History of Ethiopia (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2007).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

DePriest, Oscar (1871-1951)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

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

Taylor, Alrutheus Ambush (1893-1955)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Fisk University Franklin Library's
Special Collections
A[lrutheus] A[mbush] Taylor, historian, was born in Washington D.C. where he also went through the public school system. He earned a B.A. degree from the University of Michigan in 1916 and taught at the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in Tuskegee, Alabama and at the West Virginia Collegiate Institute (now West Virginia State College) in Institute, West Virginia. In 1922, Carter G. Woodson brought this able young historian back to Washington D.C. to serve as a research associate with the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). Supported by a grant from the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Fund, Taylor began researching the role of African Americans in the South during Reconstruction.
Sources: 
W.A. Low and Virgil A. Clift, eds., Encyclopedia of Black America and Journal of Negro History as well as prefaces and introductions to the three Taylor monographs cited above.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Oregon

Raymond, Guadalupe Victoria Yolí (1936-1992)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Guadalupe Victoria Yolí Raymond, known popularly as “La Lupe,” was a Cuban and Cuban American singer and dancer.  She was born in San Pedrito, a locality within Santiago de Cuba, Oriente Province, Cuba on December 23, 1936.

Yolí grew up in an impoverished family.  Her parents divorced when she was nine, and thereafter she lived with her father and stepmother.  In 1955, her family moved to Havana, where she won a radio contest as a teenager.

She began singing in Havana during the 1950s, achieving popularity by 1957.  In 1958, she finished a teaching degree and began teaching in Havana.  In the same year she married Eulogio Reyes and they formed a musical trio, Los Tropicuba.  In 1960, she divorced Reyes and began her solo career.  She was successful enough to eventually buy her own club in Havana.

Yolí, however, ran afoul of the Cuban Revolution.  In 1961, she was summoned to a radio station and ordered to leave the nation.  Her style of performing, deemed “Lupismo,” was now considered unacceptable.  Her performance style has been described in terms of both a liberated sexuality and of religious possession, specifically pertaining to Santería.
Sources: 
Frances R. Aparicio and Wilson A. Valentín-Escobar, “Memorializing La Lupe and Lavoe: Singing Vulgarity, Transnationalism, and Gender,” Centro Journal 16.2 (Fall 2004); Jon Pareles, “La Lupe, a Singer, Is Dead at 53; Known as 'Queen of Latin Soul',” New York Times (March 7, 1992); Vernon W. Boggs, Salsiology: Afro-Cuban Music and the Evolution of Salsa in New York City, (New York: Excelsior Music Publishing Company, 1991); Frances R. Aparicio, Listening to Salsa: Gender, Latin Popular Music, and Puerto Rican Cultures (Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press and University Press of New England, 1998); Jeanne Schmartz, “La Lupe,” Women in Salsa, Master Thesis in Musicology, by Jeanne Schmartz (University of Amsterdam, 2009). URL: http://www.academia.edu/1790527/women_in_salsa_final_version_small; Vanessa Knights, “Tears and Screams: Performances of Pleasure and Pain in the Bolero,”  Queering the Popular Pitch, edited by Sheila Whiteley and Jennifer Rycenga (New York, NY: Routledge, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Jack, Hulan Edwin (1905-1986)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Hulan Edwin Jack was born in 1905 in St. Lucia but migrated with his parents to the United States from British Guiana (now known as Guyana).  The family settled in New York City.  

Jack, a high school dropout, eventually went to work for the Peerless Paper Box Company Inc., in New York City. He began as a janitor but eventually rose to become one of the firm’s Vice Presidents.  Jack’s interest in politics, however, emerged early.  He became active in New York City Democratic politics and earned a reputation as a loyal Tammany Hall operative.  Beginning in 1940 Jack won seven elections to the New York State Assembly representing his Harlem district.

In 1953, Jack was elected Borough President of Manhattan, becoming the first African American to hold the post.  Elected more than a decade before the rise of big city black mayors in the 1960s, Hulan Jack was the highest ranking African American municipal official in the nation.  With an annual salary of $25,000 he was also the highest paid black officeholder in the country.   

Jack served as Manhattan Borough President for nearly two terms.  His second term was marred by a 1960 Grand Jury indictment for bribery and conspiracy to obstruct justice.  He was also charged with three violations of the New York City Charter.  Hulan Jacks was convicted of the charges and resigned his position as Borough President, effectively ending his political career.    
Sources: 
http://www.time.com/magazine/article/0,9171,939089,00.html; http://www.s9.com/Biography/Jack-Hulan-Edwin-Sr; http://www.cecaust.com.au/main.asp?sub=info&id=WAMD-A3.htm
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Anderson, Garland (1886-1939)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
A pioneer playwright and moralistic philosopher of constructive thinking, Garland Anderson was the first African American known to have a serious full-length drama produced on Broadway in New York. Active in the theatre for over 10 years during the 1920s and 1930s, he achieved national prominence as “the San Francisco Bellhop Playwright.”

Garland Anderson was born in Wichita, Kansas.  He completed only four years of formal schooling before the family moved to California. Working as a bellhop in a San Francisco hotel, he often shared his optimistic philosophy of life with guests who encouraged him to write about his ideas. Anderson believed an individual might achieve anything in life through faith.
Sources: 
Garland Anderson, Uncommon Sense: The Law of Life in Action (London: L.N Fowler & Company 1933); Anthony Duane Hill, ed., An Historical Dictionary of African American Theater (Prevessin, France: Scarecrow Press, 2008)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Ohio State University

Browne, Theodore R. (c. 1910-1979).

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
A pioneer playwright, actor, author, and teacher, Theodore Browne was best known for his association with the Negro Unit of the Federal Theatre in Seattle Washington in the 1930s. He was also an original member of the American Negro Theatre (ANT) and one of the founders of the Negro Playwrights Company, both in New York. Brown was born in Suffolk, Virginia, and educated in the public schools of New York City. Browne received advanced degrees at the City College of New York (1941) and at Northeastern University (1944) in Boston.
Sources: 
Anthony Duane Hill, ed., An Historical Dictionary of African American Theater (Prevessin, France: Scarecrow Press, 2008).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Ohio State University

Evans, Annie/Evanti, Lillian (1891-1967)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Source/Moorland-Spingarn Research
Center, Howard University
Lillian (Evans) Evanti, one of the first African American women to become an internationally prominent opera performer, was born in Washington D.C. in 1891.  Evanti was born into a prominent Washington, D.C. family.  Her father, Wilson Evans, was a medical doctor and teacher in the city.  He was the founder of Armstrong Technical High School and served many years as its principal.  Anne Brooks, Evanti’s mother, taught music in the public school system of Washington D.C.

Evanti received her education from Armstrong Technical High School and graduated from Howard University in 1917 with her bachelor’s degree in music.  A gifted student and performer, she was able to speak and sing in five different languages.  The following year she and Roy W. Tibbs, her Howard University music professor, married and had a son, Thurlow Tibbs. 
Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982); Carl Van Vechten, "Lillian Evanti." Extravagant Crowd, http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/cvvpw/gallery/evanti.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Davis, Artur (1967- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Alabama Congressman Artur Davis Campaigning for Gov. of Alabama
Image Courtesy of Larry O. Gay

Former Alabama Congressman Artur Genestre Davis was born on October 9, 1967 in Montgomery, Alabama. He was raised by his mother and grandmotehr and graduated from Jefferson Davis High School in Montgomery in 1986. He received his degree Magna Cum Laude from Harvard University in 1990 and Cum Laude from Harvard Law School in 1993. His academic career led way for his professional career as an attorney.

After law school, Davis worked briefly as an intern at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery before receiving a clerkship with Judge Myron F. Thompson, one of the first black judges on the Federal bench in Alabama. Davis worked as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama from 1994 to1998, fighting drugs and violence. In 1998, he worked as a litigator in private practice.

Sources: 

https://web.archive.org/web/20051001020507/http://www.congress.org/congressorg/webreturn/?url=http://www.house.gov/arturdavis; Marc Fisher, "Former Democratic Rep. Artur Davis talks party-switching," The Washington Post, January 2, 2012.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Evergreen State College

Anderson, Charles W., Jr. (1907-1960)

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

In 1935, Charles W. Anderson became the first black legislator in Kentucky and in the South since the Reconstruction.  He championed the cause of civil rights in Kentucky including greatly improving the access of African Americans to education during six terms as a legislator.

Anderson was born in 1907 in Louisville, Kentucky to Dr. Charles W. and Tabetha Murphy Anderson.  He attended Kentucky State College and Wilberforce University (B.A. 1927) and received a J.D. degree from Howard University in 1931.  In 1933 he passed the bar exam and started his own practice in Louisville.  

In 1935 Anderson ran as a Republican for the Kentucky House of Representatives and won.  He served in the Kentucky Legislature until 1958.  One of his most important legislative accomplishments was the Anderson-Mayer State Aid Act which provided $7,500 annually to African American students to attend out of state colleges because Kentucky's segregated college system could not accommodate all the blacks at the one all-black state school, Kentucky State College, in Frankfort.  He also passed bills improving public school facilities and legislated for a $100 education and travel fund for each black student who was forced to travel outside of his or her county to attend segregated schools.  Combating lynching in Kentucky, Anderson was credited with the repeal of the state’s public hanging law.

Sources: 

John Benjamin Horton, Not Without a Struggle: An Account of the Most Significant Political and Social-Action Changes That Have Occurred in the Lives of Black Kentuckians in the  Twentieth Century, (New York: Vantage Press, 1979); http://kchr.ky.gov/gallergreatblack.htm?&pageOrder=0&selectedPic=1; http://www.kyenc.org/entry/a/ANDER01.html;

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Majette, Denise L. (1955- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Denise Majette, former member of Congress, attorney, judge, and politician, was born in Brooklyn, New York on May 18, 1955 to Voyd Lee and Olivia (Foster) Majette.  In 1976, Majette graduated from Yale University.  She earned her law degree from Duke University, Durham, North Carolina in 1979.

After graduating, Majette joined the Legal Aid Society in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  During this period, she also served on faculty at the Wake Forest Law School. Majette relocated to Stone Mountain, Georgia in 1983.  During the early1980s, she held positions as a clerk and an assistant to judges.  From 1989 to 1992, Majette returned to private practice as a partner in the Atlanta law firm of Jenkins, Nelson, and Welch.  During this period, she also served on the boards of various community organizations.  In 1992, she was named an administrative law judge at the Georgia state board of workers' compensation.  The following year, Georgia Governor Zell Miller appointed her judge of the State Court of DeKalb County.  Majette held the judgeship for nine years.

Sources: 
Eli Kintisch, “ The Crossover Candidate,” The American Prospect (September 22, 2002), p.14;“The U.S. Congress Votes Database,” The Washington Post online version, http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/m001145/; “Denise L. Majette” in Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 2008).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

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

Dede, Edmund (1827-1903)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Musician and composer Edmund Dede was born on November 20, 1827 in New Orleans, Louisiana. His parents were free Creoles of color who moved to New Orleans from the French West Indies around 1809. Dede took his first music lessons from his father who was a bandmaster for a local military group.

Dede soon became a violin prodigy after studying under Italian-born composer and theater-orchestra conductor Ludovico Gabici, and conductor of the New Orleans Free Creoles of Color Philharmonic Society Christian Debergue. Dede advanced his technique studies in New Orleans under Eugene Prevost, French-born winner of 1831 Prix de Rome and conductor of Orchestras at the Theater d’Orleans, and Charles Richard Lambert, who was a free black musician, music teacher, and conductor from New York who had moved to New Orleans.

In 1848 Dede moved to Mexico, as did many free Creoles of color after race relations in New Orleans worsened following the end of the Mexican-American War. Dede returned to New Orleans in 1851 where he wrote and published “Mon Pauvre Coeur” (My Poor Heart), which is considered the oldest piece of sheet music published by a New Orleans free Creole of color.
Sources: 
"Edmund Dede," AfriClassical, http://chevalierdesaintgeorges.homestead.com/dede.html; Sybil Kein, "Composers of Nineteenth-Century New Orleans," in Sybil Kein, ed., Creole: The History and Legacy of Louisiana's Free People of Color (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2000); Eleanora E. Tate, Black Stars: African American Musicians (New York: Wiley, 2000).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Dismond, Henry Binga (1891-1956)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Sources: 
“Emulated Dime Novel Hero and Became a Noted Athlete,” The Brooklyn Eagle, January 29, 1917;  “Dr. Dismond Pioneers In New Field, Pittsburgh Courier, December 19, 1931; “Dr. Dismond Heads Harlem Hospital Department,” The Pittsburgh Courier, April 30, 1932.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Taylor, Francis Xavier (1948 – )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Francis Xavier Taylor is a senior military leader, intelligence and security expert, and American diplomat.  Born in Washington, D.C., on October 22, 1948, Taylor was raised by his mother Virginia Taylor, who worked as an administrator in the Department of the Army. When he later enrolled at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, he joined the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), and in 1970 received his Bachelor of Arts, and later in 1974, his Master of Arts.

After graduation and completion of his ROTC service in 1970, Taylor began his official military career in the U.S. Air Force. During a 31-year military career, he would hold multiple and progressively more important staff and command positions on U.S. soil and abroad. These included assignments with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, and at the Pentagon. In September 1996, Taylor was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General, and on July 21, 2001 he retired from active military service.
Sources: 
Security Magazine, “The Future of DHS Partnerships with Frank Taylor,” http://www.securitymagazine.com/articles/85671-the-future-of-dhs-partnerships-with-frank-taylor; U.S. Department of State, Archived Official Bio, http://2001-2009.state.gov/outofdate/bios/t/4331.htm; U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Official Bio: http://www.dhs.gov/person/francis-x-taylor.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training

Clardy Craven, Erma (1918-1994)

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

Erma Clardy Craven was an African American leader in the pro-life movement. Craven helped start various “pro-life” organizations such as African-Americans Against Abortion, the National Right to Life Committee, Black Americans for Life, National Democrats for Life, and Americans United for Life. Craven was also a public speaker and was the second African American woman to address a Democratic National Convention.

Sources: 
“More than 20 years ago, she exposed abortion as Black genocide,” Executive Intelligence Review, http://www.larouchepub.com/eiw/public/1994/eirv21n32-19940812/eirv21n32-19940812_074-more_than_20_years_ago_she_expos.pdf;  Sandy Banisky, “Blacks split on issue of abortion Genocide to some is vital choice to others,” The Baltimore Sun, http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1992-06-15/news/1992167070_1_women-have-abortions-genocide-craven; Dave Andrusko, “Pro-Life Pioneers: Erma Clardy Craven,” National Right to Life News Today, http://www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/news/2017/02/black-pro-life-pioneers-erma-clardy-craven/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Johnson, Kevin Maurice (1966- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Kevin Johnson Campaigning for Mayor of Sacramento, 2008
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Kevin Johnson, Mayor of Sacramento, California, was born in California's capital city in 1966. He graduated from Sacramento High School, where he led the state in basketball scoring during his senior year, with a point average of 32.5 points. Johnson then played college basketball at the University of California at Berkeley.  While there he became the all-time leader in scoring for that varsity team.  After graduating from UC Berkeley in 1987, Johnson was drafted into the National Basketball Association (NBA).

As the seventh round draft pick, Johnson was chosen by the Cleveland Cavaliers, but was quickly traded to the Phoenix Suns in 1988, where he remained for the duration of his career in the NBA. Johnson played point guard, and with his high point-scoring, was considered by many teams as a threat. The Phoenix Suns' overall record improved with his selection and so did Johnson's performance.

During his first year with Phoenix (1988-1989), Johnson was named the NBA's most improved player.  He also competed in all-star games in 1990, 1991, and 1994 and played on the U.S. Olympic Basketball team (Dream Team II) which won a gold medal in Toronto, Canada in the 1994 World Championship of Basketball.  Kevin Johnson officially retired from the NBA on August 8, 2000 after 13 years in the league.

Sources: 
Leanor Boulin Johnson and Robert Staples, Black Families at the Crossroads (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2005); David L. Porter, Basketball: a Biographical Dictionary (Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005); http://www.kevinjohnsonformayor.com/about/bio
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Gebre, Tefere (1968–)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
American Federation of Labor-Congress
of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Labor leader Tefere Gebre fled Ethiopia at fourteen years of age, moved to the United States, and was elected years later, in 2013, executive vice president of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). The third highest-ranking member of the largest labor federation in the United States, he is also the first immigrant (or political refugee) to serve as a national officer in the organization.

Born October 15, 1968, in Gondar, Ethiopia, Gebre’s father was a retired judge and his mother’s family had political connections to Emperor Haile Selassie. In 1974 a military coup deposed Selassie, resulting in a military dictatorship in which tens of thousands were tortured and murdered, now called the Red Terror. Consequently, Gebre and his relatives were forced to flee Ethiopia.

Sources: 
Tefere Gebre, AFL-CIO Top Officers, http://www.aflcio.org/About/Leadership/AFL-CIO-Top-Officers/Tefere-Gebre (January 13, 2016); Dave Jamieson, “What A Refugee-Turned-Labor Leader Thinks Of Our Backlash Against Refugees,” Huffington Post, November 20, 2015: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tefere-gebre-refugees_us_564e5a0de4b0258edb30d414 (January 13, 2016); Stan Sinberg, “The Three Lives of Tefere Gebre,” Orange Coast, May 6, 2014: http://www.orangecoast.com/features/the-three-lives-of-tefere-gebre/ (January 13, 2016); John Wojcik, “Ethiopian immigrant Tefere Gebre shakes up labor organizing,” People’s World, September 10, 2013: http://peoplesworld.org/ethiopian-immigrant-tefere-gebre-shakes-up-labor-organizing/  (January 13, 2016)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Western Illinois University

Yapi, Didier (1976-2015)

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

Yapi N’Cho Blaise Didier of Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), often referred to as Didier Yapi, was a prolific information technology (IT) inventor/ researcher in Africa from about 1998 until his death in 2015. Yapi was born in 1976, in the Gôh Djiboua Region (Gagnoa) in Côte d'Ivoire and died April 6, 2015, of pneumonia, an illness that had afflicted him for several years. Dead Cryptor, Mystery 7° Mouse, and Incorporated Keyboard 1 (IK1), are among his many inventions.

Yapi gained international fame in 2009 when TV5 Monde, one of France's international TV channels, ran a report on his invention “Dead Cryptor,” which can prevent software or programs from copying the contents of a DVD or CD-ROM. In 2001, Yapi researched CD-ROMs and DVDs in order to understand how they work and how they were made, concentrating on the organic matter found in CDs and DVDs. He then designed and manufactured the Dead Cryptor prototype in 2003, earning widespread recognition in the IT community. His device, which could have prevented piracy of copyrighted recordings, among other things, was never financed, despite the fact that it was presented before the Ivorian Copyright Office (BURIDA) in 2006 and 2007.

Sources: 
“Didier Yapi,” TV5 Monde, June 29, 2009, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9Oyzs7u1yY; “Didier Yapi,” Kumatoo, May 2014, https://kumatoo.com/didier_yapi.html; and “Yapi Didier,” France SlideShare Net, April 29, 2014, https://fr.slideshare.net/SimpliceBoni/biographie-34093323.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Carver, George Washington (1864?-1943)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
George Washington Carver began life inauspiciously on the frontier of southwestern Missouri. Born a slave, the precise date, indeed, even the year, is unknown. He never knew either of his biological parents, but was raised by his former owners as if he were their own. A sickly child, his workload on the Carvers’ farm was reasonably light. Consequently, he spent much of his childhood wandering through fields and woods where he developed an affinity for the natural world. Faced with limited educational opportunities, he left Missouri for Kansas, where he graduated from high school. After a try at homesteading on the western plains of Kansas, he found his way to Iowa where he enrolled at the Iowa Agricultural College in Ames. Recruited by Booker T. Washington to head up Tuskegee’s Agricultural Department, Carver left the Midwest for Alabama’s cotton belt shortly after he became the first African American to secure an advanced degree in agricultural science.
Sources: 
Linda O. McMurry, George Washington Carver: Scientist and Symbol (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981), and Mark Hersey, “Hints and Suggestions to Farmers: George Washington Carver and Rural Conservation in the South,” Environmental History 11 (April 2006), 239-268 available online at http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/eh/11.2/hersey.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Kansas

Da Costa, Mathieu (17th Century?)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Collage Including Mathieu Da Costa
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Mathieu Da Costa, a free black seaman, is believed to be the first person of African ancestry to reach Canada and he is the first recorded black man to visit the region of Port Royal in Nova Scotia.  Although little is known of his background before he reached Canada, Da Costa is said to have had some education and was also baptized.  Even his actual name is in dispute.  He was identified as Mathieu Da Costa in English documents, Mathieu De Coste in French documents, and in Dutch documents he was known as Matheus de Cost.  

There are conflicting stories as to where and when Da Costa was at different time periods.  Records show him guiding French explorers through the Lake Champlain region.  Between 1604 and 1607 he was a trader with the Acadians -- French settlers in early Nova Scotia -- when they began commerce with the Micmac Indians along Nova Scotia’s Atlantic coast.  He was described in those accounts as an interpreter of the Micmac and French languages.  Other reports have Mathieu, along with three other men, dying of scurvy during the winter of 1607 in Port Royal, Nova Scotia.  Yet he was also reported to be living in Holland in February 1607.
Sources: 
A.B.J. Johnston, Mathieu Da Costa and Early Canada, Possibilities and Probabilities (Halifax, Parks Canada: The National Parks and National Historic Sites of Canada, n.d.);
Bridglal Pachai and Henry Bishop, Historic Black Nova Scotia (Halifax, N.S.: Nimbus Publishing Limited, 2006); Bridglal Pachai, People of the Maritimes: Blacks (Tantallon, N.S.: Four East Publications, 1987); Donald Clairmont, Bridglal Pachai, Stephen Kimber, and Charles Saunders, The Spirit of Africville (Halifax, N.S.: Formac Publishing Company Limited, 1992).
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Kochiyama, Yuri (1921-2014)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Yuri Kochiyama was born Mary Yuriko Nakahara in 1921 and raised in San Pedro, California, in a small working-class neighborhood.  When Pearl Harbor was bombed, the life of Yuri’s family took a turn for the worse.  Her father, a first-generation Japanese immigrant, was arrested by the FBI. When President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Executive Order 9066 ordering the removal of persons of Japanese descent from “strategic areas,” Yuri and her family were sent to an internment camp in Jerome, Arkansas.  Due to these events, Yuri started seeing the parallels between the treatment of African Americans in Jim Crow South and the incarceration of Japanese Americans in remote internment camps during World War II. Subsequently she decided to devote her life to struggles against racial injustice.  

Sources: 
Yuri Kochiyama, Passing It On – A Memoir, ed. Marjorie Lee, Akemi Kochiyama-Sardinha, and Audee Kochiyama-Holman (Los Angeles: UCLA Asian American Studies Center Press, 2004); “Yuri Kochiyama: With Justice in Her Heart” (an interview transcript) http://www.revcom.us/a/v20/980-89/986/yuri.htm; William Yardley, "Yori Kochiyama, Civil Rights Activist, Dies at 93," New York Times, June 4, 2014.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Kanagawa University, Japan

Grimke, Archibald (1849-1930)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Moorland-Spingarn
Research Center, Howard University
Archibald Grimke was a leading intellectual, activist, and author on racial equality in early 20th Century America. Grimke was born into slavery, the son of Nancy Weston, a slave, and Henry Grimke, her owner. After his father's death, he and his brother Francis spent eight years living as freemen before his half-brother, Montague, took them as servants into his home in 1860. After suffering beatings at Montague's hand Archibald fled and hid with relatives until Charleston fell to Union forces in 1865.
Sources: 
Dickson D. Bruce, Jr., Archibald Grimke, Portrait of a Black Independent (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

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

Thomas, Clarence (1948- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of the U.S. 
Supreme Court

Clarence Thomas, the second African American to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, was born in Pin Point, Georgia, a small community south of Savannah.  His mother, Leola Williams, a single parent, raised Thomas until he was seven.  He and his brother, Myers, were sent to Savannah where they were raised by their maternal grandfather, Myers Anderson. To help his grandsons to survive in the Jim Crow South, Anderson, a Democrat, local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) member, and recent convert to Catholicism, instilled in them a discipline and pride that would counterpoint the harshness of southern racism.  Thomas remembers that after purchasing a new truck, his grandfather removed the heater because he believed its use would make the boys lazy.

Sources: 
Clarence Thomas, My Grandfather’s Son: A Memoir (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2007); Ken Goskett, Judging Thomas: The Life and Times of Clarence Thomas (New York: William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2004); William Grimes, “The Justice Looks Back and Settles Old Scores,” New York Times, Wednesday, October 19, 2007, B1; David Savage, “In rulings, little hint of his meager start,” Los Angeles Times, Sunday, October 28, 2007, A22; Jeffrey Toobin, “Unforgiven: Why is Clarence Thomas so Angry?” New Yorker, November 12, 2007.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Fresno

Lester, William Alexander (Bill), III (1961- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Veteran auto racer Bill Lester was born February 6, 1961, in Washington, D.C. Lester earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 1984 and worked at Hewlett-Packard for a year before becoming a race car driver.

Lester became a professional driver when in 1985 he entered and won the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Series Northern California Region Rookie of the Year title.  One year later he won the SCCA GT-3 Regional Road Racing Championship.  In 1989, Lester began racing in the International Motor Sports Association's (IMSA) GTO Series and several other sports car series in the United States.

Lester has raced in all three divisions of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR): the Craftsman Truck Series, Busch (now Nationwide) Series, and the premier series, the Sprint (formerly Nextel) Series. Between 1998 and 2001 he raced in the SCCA Trans-Am Series and in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.

In 1999, Lester entered his first NASCAR competition, a race at Watkins Glen, New York, in the Busch Grand National Series. He started in the 24th position, and moved into the top ten before finishing 21st. Then in 2000, Lester competed in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race.  He started at 31st and finished in the 24th position.
Sources: 
Sonia Alleyn and T.R. Witche, "The New Face of NASCAR," Black Enterprise Magazine (April 2004); http://www.billlester.com/index.php?page=bio
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Evans, Melvin Herbert (1917–1984)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public domain
Melvin Herbert Evans was born on August 7, 1917, in Christiansted, St. Croix, Virgin Islands. He attended public schools until entering Howard University where he received his B.S. in 1940.  In 1944 he received his M.D. from Howard College of Medicine, whereupon he served in a variety of medical and public health posts at hospitals and institutions in the United States until 1959.  From 1959 to 1967 Evans served as a health commissioner in the Virgin Islands.  In 1969, President Richard Nixon appointed Evans, a Republican, as Governor of the Virgin Islands.  In 1970, after the Virgin Islands Elective Governor Act allowed for the election of a governor by the territory’s residents, Evans became the first popularly elected governor, serving for five years. Afterward, he was a Republican National Committeeman for the Virgin Islands from 1976 to 1980.
Sources: 
Bruce Ragsdale, Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1989 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1990);  http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=E000254.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Cleaver, Eldridge (1935-1998)

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

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Pierce, Samuel R., Jr. (1922-2000)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
President Ronald Reagan with Samuel R. Pierce, Jr.
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Lawyer, judge and businessman Samuel Riley Pierce, Jr., was the first African American partner in a major New York law firm, the first African American member of a Fortune 500 board, and one of the first African Americans to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.  His career ended when he was investigated for corruption while serving as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under President Ronald Reagan.

Pierce was born in 1922 in Glen Cove, New York.  He received a football scholarship to Cornell University.  After serving in World War II, where he was the only black American agent in the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Division of the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, he returned to Cornell and graduated with honors in 1947, then earned a J.D. from Cornell Law School and an LL.M. in taxation from New York University School of Law.

Sources: 
Jessie Carney Smith, Ed., Notable Black American Men, “Samuel R. Pierce, Jr.,” (Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Research, 1999); Samuel R. Pierce, Fiscal Conservatism: Managing Federal Spending (Washington, D.C.: Heritage Foundation, 1988); Philip Shenon, “Samuel R. Pierce, Jr., Ex-Housing Secretary, Dies at 78,” The New York Times (November 3, 2000; Robert L. Jackson, "Samuel R. Pierce Jr.; Reagan HUD Chief Was Investigated but Never Charged," Los Angeles Times (November 4, 2000).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Brady, Wayne A. (1972- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Wayne Brady, comedian, singer, actor, and television personality, was one of the first African Americans to host a daytime game show.  Brady became host of Let’s Make a Deal in October 2009.  Wayne Brady was born on June 2, 1972 in Orlando, Florida.  As a child he discovered his passion for the performing arts.  As a teenager, he acted in the community theater projects of A Raisin in the Sun, Fences, and A Chorus Line.  Following his graduation from Phillips High School in 1989, he became a stand-up comedian at SAK Comedy Lab in Orlando.   

In 1996 Brady moved to Los Angeles to broaden his career opportunities.  Once in Hollywood, he earned appearances on primetime dramas I’ll Fly Away, Home Court, and In the Heat of the Night.  Brady also showcased his improvisational skills in the late 1990s on ABC’s hit comedy Who’s Line Is It Anyway?  During his tenure on the show, he earned an Emmy in 2003 for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program.  In 2001 Brady also became the host, producer, and co-writer of The Wayne Brady Show on ABC.   His show’s high ratings earned him national acclaim.  
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Harding, Rosemarie Florence Freeney (1930-2004)

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

Wells, Barry L. (1942- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Ambassador Barry L. Wells has had an extensive career in international affairs with the United States Foreign Service after an earlier period as a university professor and administrator. Wells was born in 1942 in Columbus, Ohio and graduated from East High School in that city in 1959. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Youngstown State University in 1966 and also earned a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) in 1970.

Wells served as Associate Professor and Assistant Dean at Howard University Graduate School of Social Work in Washington, D.C. from 1972 to 1978. While at Howard University, his interest and involvement in the international arena began to flourish. Wells was instrumental in establishing summer field placements for Howard University graduate students with the University of the West Indies in Jamaica.
Sources: 
“Biography: Barry L. Wells,” U.S. Department of State, http://2001-2009.state.gov/outofdate/bios/w/79786.htm; “Ambassador-designate Barry Wells to The Gambia,” Senate Confirmation Hearing Transcript, September 19, 2007, http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/texttrans/2007/09/20070919153723xjsnommis3.399295e-02.html#axzz3nerJIu8q; “Barry L. Wells,” Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/blwells007/about?section=education.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Morgan State University

King, Alveda (1951- )

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

Alveda King, a prominent conservative leader, evangelist, and niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was born in Atlanta, Georgia, as the first of five children of Alfred Daniel King and Naomi Barber King on January 22, 1951. Her father worked heavily in the civil rights movement and was a pastor until his own untimely death at the age of thirty-eight, shortly after the assassination of his brother, Martin Luther King Jr. Alveda King was married three times to Eddie Clifford Beal, Jerry Ellis, and Israel Tookes. She is the mother of six children and currently serves as a minister for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Atlanta and is an advocate for the Pro-Life Movement.

Sources: 
Jessica Chasmar, “Alveda King, MLK’s niece: I voted for Mr. Trump,” The Washington Times (January 16 2017); Alveda King website, http://www.alvedaking.com/; “Civil Rights for the Unborn,” http://www.priestsforlife.org/africanamerican/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Jordan, George (1849?-1904)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
George Jordan, buffalo soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, hailed from rural Williamson County in central Tennessee.  Enlisting in the 38th Infantry Regiment on 25 December 1866, the short and illiterate Jordan proved a good soldier.  In January 1870, he transferred to the 9th Cavalry’s K Troop, his home for the next twenty-six years.  Earning the trust of his troop commander, Captain Charles Parker, Jordan was promoted to corporal in 1874; by 1879, he wore the chevrons of a sergeant.  It was during these years that Jordan learned how to read and write, an accomplishment that certainly facilitated his advancement in the Army.

On 14 May 1880, following a difficult forced march at night, a twenty-five man detachment under Jordan successfully repulsed a determined attack on old Fort Tularosa, New Mexico, by more numerous Apaches.  The next year on 12 August, still campaigning against the Apaches, Jordan’s actions contributed to the survival of a detachment under Captain Parker when they were ambushed in Carrizo Canyon, New Mexico.  Although neither engagement received much attention initially, in 1890 Jordan was awarded a Medal of Honor for Tularosa and a Certificate of Merit for Carrizo Canyon.

By the time of his retirement in 1896 at Fort Robinson, Jordan had served ten years as first sergeant of a veteran troop renowned for its performance against the Apache and Sioux.  Jordan joined other buffalo soldier veterans in nearby Crawford, Nebraska, and became a successful land owner, although his efforts to vote bore little fruit.
Sources: 
Charles L. Kenner, Buffalo Soldiers and Officers of the Ninth Cavalry, 1867-1898: Black and White TogetherBlack Valor: Buffalo Soldiers and the Medal of Honor, 1870-1898 (Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly Resources Incorporated, 1997); Frank Schubert, On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldiers II: New and Revised Biographies of African Americans in the U.S. Army, 1866-1917 (Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2004).
(Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Matthews, Miriam (1905–2003)

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

 

Sources: 
“Obituary,” LibraryJournal.com 15 August 2003, http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA315180.html;
Stephanie J. Shaw, What a Woman Ought to Be and to Do: Black Professional Women Workers During the Jim Crow Era (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996); Dorothy Porter Wesley, “Matthews, Miriam,” Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, ed. Darlene Clark Hine (Brooklyn: Carlson, 1993), 757–759; Douglas Flamming, Bound for Freedom: Black Los Angeles in Jim Crow America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

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

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

John Abraham Godson (1970– )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
John Abraham Godson in the Polish Parliament
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
John Abraham Godson, a conservative politician, university lecturer, businessman, and former Pentecostal preacher, is the first person of African descent elected to public office in Poland. He was born on November 25, 1970, in Umuahia, Nigeria, as Godson Chikama Onyekwere. His father, Silvanus Nwokocha Onyekwere, was a teacher, high school principal, and Methodist preacher. His mother was an elementary school principal. Godson admits he was a troubled teenager and credits Christianity and joining the Church Of God in Christ for finding a sense of purpose in life. After graduating from the Abia State University (Uturu, Nigeria) with B.S. in agriculture in 1992, he was a researcher at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Ibadan. At the time, he decided to become a missionary, and in 1993, he chose an assignment in Poland. A year later he met his wife, Aneta. The Godsons have four children.
Sources: 
John Godson’s official website, http://www.johngodson.pl/index.html; Bianka Miko?ajewska, “John Godson: Pos?annik pos?em,” Polityka, December 15, 2010, http://www.polityka.pl/tygodnikpolityka/kraj/1511234,2,john-godson-poslannik-poslem.read; John Godson’s conversation with Hanna Gill-Piatek and Waldemar Marzec, “Godson: imigrant, pastor, radny,” Krytyka Polityczna, November 19, 2010, http://www.krytykapolityczna.pl/Serwissamorzadowy/GodsonImigrantpastorradny/menuid-1.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Garland, Walter Benjamin Stephen (1913-197?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Veteran of the Spanish Civil War and World War II, Walter Garland was born in New York City on 27 November 1913.  After serving in the U.S. Army for two years, he enrolled at Brooklyn College where he studied mathematics.  Garland joined the Communist Party in 1935 and became active in the National Negro Congress.  When the International Brigades formed to fight for Republican Spain, Garland volunteered , sailing for France in January 1937.

Sources: 
Danny Duncan Collum (editor) and Victor A. Berch (chief researcher), African Americans in the Spanish Civil War: “This Ain’t Ethiopia, But It’ll Do” (New York, New York: G.K. Hall & Co, 1992); William L. Katz, Fraser M. Ottanelli, and Christopher Brooks, “African Americans in the Spanish Civil War,” Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives at New York University (<https://www.alba-valb.org >, November 2006); James Yates, Mississippi to Madrid (Seattle, Washington: Open Hand Publishing, 1989).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Philander, S. George (1942- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Samuel George Harker Philander is Knox Taylor Professor of Geosciences at Princeton University.  Born in Caledon, Republic of South Africa on June 25, 1942, he received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Cape Town in 1962 and his Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard University in 1970 with a thesis titled “The Equatorial Dynamics of a Homogeneous Ocean.”  After completing a year as a fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology he spent six years as a research associate in the Geophysics Fluid Dynamics Program at Princeton University where in 1990 he became a professor in the Department of Geosciences.  

Philander has been a visiting professor at the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, a distinguished visiting scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology, a consultant to the World Meteorological Organization in Switzerland, and a trustee of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.  
Sources: 
American Men & Women of Science. 21st Ed. Vol. 5. (New York: Bowker, 2003); http://www.aos.princeton.edu/faculty/philander.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Walrond, Eric (1898-1966)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Eric Walrond was an Afro-Caribbean-American fiction writer and journalist of the Harlem Renaissance era.  Born December 18, 1898, in Georgetown, British Guyana, Walrond would write short stories with the interwoven themes of immigration, racial pride, and discrimination as he captured the early urban experience of Caribbean-born immigrants in America during the 1920s.  Although Walrond’s work has been largely overlooked, his book, Tropic Death (1926) is considered a major contribution to the cultural and literary style of the Harlem Renaissance.

Sources: 
Louis J. Parascandola, ed., “Winds Can Wake up the Dead” (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1998); David L. Lewis, The Portable Harlem Renaissance Reader (New York: Viking, 1994); David L. Lewis, Harlem was in Vogue (New York: Penguin Books, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Lafon, Thomy (1810-1893)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Alecia P. Long, The Great Southern Babylon: Sex, Race, and Respectability in New Orleans, 1965-1920 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2004); August Meier, Negro thought in America, 1880-1915: Racial Ideologies in the Age of Booker T. Washington (Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1988); http://odyssey-house.com; http://realtytimes.com
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Bearden, Romare (1912-1988)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image courtesy of National Gallery of Art

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.

Sources: 

Ruth Fine with Mary Corlett, The Art of Romare Bearden (New York: National Gallery of Art in association with Harry Abrams, 2003); Dick Russell, Black Genius and the American Experience (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1998); http://www.beardenfoundation.org; http://www.courses.vcu.edu/ENG-mam/

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Lucy, Autherine Juanita (1929- )

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

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

Marshall, Harriet Gibbs (1868-1941)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
A pioneer in the world of African American music education, Harriet Gibbs Marshall was born in Victoria, British Columbia on February 18, 1868 to Mifflin Wistar Gibbs and Maria Ann (Alexander) Gibbs. In 1869 her family moved to Oberlin, Ohio. Marshall began her study of music at the age of nine and continued the pursuit at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music where she studied piano, pipe organ, and voice culture. Graduating in 1889, she was the first African American to complete the program and earn a Mus.B. degree, which at the time was Oberlin’s equivalent of a Bachelor of Music degree.

Marshall trained in Europe after graduating and in 1890 returned to the United States to found a music conservatory at the Eckstein-Norton University, an industrial school in Cane Springs, Kentucky. At the beginning of the 20th century, Marshall held the position of supervisor for the District of Columbia’s African American public schools, Divisions X-XIII, and served as the divisions’ director of music.

To provide African American students with advanced musical training within the conservatory structure, she founded the Washington Conservatory of Music in 1903. It was later renamed the Washington Conservatory of Music and School of Expression when the school expanded to include drama and speech. In establishing a school exclusively operated by African American musicians for the advancement of African American education, Marshall realized a lifelong goal.
Sources: 
Alice Allison Dunnigan, The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians: Their Heritage and Traditions (Washington, D.C.: Associated Publishers, 1982); Doris E. McGinty, “Gifted Minds and Pure Hearts: Mary L. Europe and Estelle Pinckney Webster,” The Journal of Negro Education 51:3 (Summer 1982);  Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005); Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982); Eileen Southern, The Music of Black Americans: A History (New York: W.W. Norton, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Domino, Antoine "Fats" (1928-2017)

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

Antoine "Fats" Domino, early rock and roll musician, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on February 26, 1928 to Antoine Domino, a former plantation worker, and Donatile Gros, a Creole of light complexion.  Fats, as he was soon called because of his weight, was raised in a large family of seven children including his four brothers and two sisters.  From a young age Fats was influenced by his father, a musician who played the banjo and fiddle.

At the age of ten, Domino began to play an old piano the family purchased, learning the instrument from his older brother-in-law Harrison Werrett, who had played in a New Orleans band.  Fats' passion for and expertise with the piano continued to grow.  When he was fourteen he quit school and went to work as a musician.  Learning songs from jukeboxes, Domino began playing at local bars and nightclubs.

Sources: 

Rick Coleman, Blue Monday: Fats Domino and the Lost Dawn of Rock ‘n’
Roll
(Cambridge: Da Capo Press, 2006); Rolling Stone, http://www.rollingstone.com/music/artists/fats-domino.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Manly, Alex (1866-1944)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Daniel R. Miller, "Manly, Alex" in Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, vol. 4 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991); North Carolina Wilmington Race Riot Commission "Final Report, May 31, 2006" (North Carolina Office of Archives & History, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Mumia Abu-Jamal (1954- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Mumia Abu-Jamal and Son
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Political activist and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 24, 1954. Born Wesley Cook, he took the name Mumia (“Prince”) in high school while taking a class on African cultures. In 1971, he added Abu-Jamal (“father of Jamal”) after the birth of his first son, Jamal. He has been married three times.

Abu-Jamal's first encounter with the police came when he was 14.  He was beaten by a white Philadelphia police officer for disrupting a “George Wallace for President” rally in 1968. Eventually he dropped out of high school and joined the Philadelphia chapter of the Black Panther Party. Jamal was appointed BPP’s “Lieutenant of Information,” putting him in charge of the organization’s media relations and placing him on the radar for surveillance by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He eventually earned his graduate equivalency high school degree (GED) and briefly attended Goddard College in Vermont.
Sources: 
Daniel R. Williams, Executing Justice: An Inside Account of the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2001); Mumia Abu-Jamal and Noelle Hanrahan, All Things Censored (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2000), Mumi Abu-Jamal, We Want Freedom: A Life In The Black Panther Party (Cambridge, Massachusettes: South End Press, 2004); Mumia Abu-Jamal and John Edgar Wideman, Live from Death Row (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1995); “Mumia Abu-Jamal”, Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 15 (Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Research, 1997).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Knox, William Jacob, Jr. (1904-1995)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Harvard University Archives,
HUD 325.25
Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts on January 5, 1904, William Knox is remembered for two achievements.  He was among a handful of black scientists to work on the top secret Manhattan Project, which produced the atom bomb during World War II, and following the war he held a key development position at the Kodak Corporation, a major manufacturer of camera equipment.

Knox was the oldest of three brothers born to William and Estelle Knox. The elder Knox was a clerk at the U.S. postal service in New Bedford.  All of the brothers attended Harvard University as undergraduates with William graduating from the institution in 1925.  All three Knox brothers would go on to earn Ph.D.s.  The middle son, Everett, studied history.  The youngest son, Lawrence, studied chemistry and, during World War II, joined his eldest brother on Manhattan Project research.    
Sources: 
Jessie Parkhurst Guzman, et al., Negro Year Book: A Review of Events Affecting Negro Life, 1941-1946 (Tuskegee Institute, Alabama: Dept. of Records and Research, 1947); Patricia Carter Sluby, The Inventive Spirit of African Americans: Patented Ingenuity (Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 2004); Ray Spangenburg and Kit Moster, African Americans in Science, Math, and Invention (New York: Facts on File, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Case Western Reserve University

KRS-One [Lawrence Kris Parker] (1965- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership, Public Domain
KRS-One, MC (Master of Ceremonies) producer, philosopher, and activist was born on August 20, 1965 to Jacqueline Jones and Sheffield Brown in South Bronx, New York City, New York.  KRS’s mother was a secretary while his father, who worked as a handyman, was deported to his native Trinidad when KRS was an infant.  When his mother remarried in 1970 and had two more children, a son and a daughter, KRS took the new family name and became Lawrence Kris Parker.

Growing up in poverty, KRS left home in his early teens and lived on the streets of the Bronx as hip-hop culture began to emerge.  He ended up at the Franklin Avenue Armory Shelter in the Bronx where he met a social worker named Scott Sterling, a.k.a. Scott La Rock.  Scott, already an experienced DJ, connected immediately with KRS who had developed an identity as a graffiti writer that signed “KRS-ONE” (Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle Central Community College

Perry, Robert C. (1945- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Robert Perry was born in Durham, North Carolina in 1945.  He graduated from Hillside High School in that city in 1963. During his time in high school, Perry played in the marching band, was a member of the Honor Society, and served as president of his sophomore and senior classes. He was an acolyte at St. Titus Episcopal Church. As a member of Boy Scout Troop 55, Robert Perry earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

Perry graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio in 1967. He completed a Master’s Degree in International Relations at American University in Washington, D.C. the following year.
Sources: 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Fullerton

Mallett, Ronald (1945– )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The theoretical physicist Ronald Mallett, known for his scientific position on the possibility of time travel, was born on March 3, 1945, in Roaring Spring, Pennsylvania. When Mallett was only ten years old, his father died of a heart attack at the age of thirty-three. Because of this tragedy, Mallett was intrigued by physics and the idea of time travel as a possible way for him to go back in time and save his father. This idea was inspired by the 1895 science fiction novel by H. G. Wells, The Time Machine, which focused on the idea of a vehicle that could be operated to travel through time.

Following the death of his father, Mallett’s family plunged into poverty, causing them to suffer from problems with depression. Consequently, in school, Mallett was only an average student, except for electronics, English, and math where he excelled.

Sources: 
Tom Moroney, “A Physicist is Building a Time Machine to Reconnect with His Dead Father,” Bloomberg Business, March 27, 2015; Mary Kuhl, “A Circulating Beam of Light as a Way of Time Travel; Ronald Mallett’s Physics Career Grew from an Early Fascination with an Offbeat Concept,” The Christian Science Monitor, May 16, 2002; http://www.phys.uconn.edu/~mallett/MallettCV.pdf.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Robinson, Johnny (1947-1963)

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

Johnny Robinson was a sixteen-year-old African-American man who was shot and killed by Birmingham, Alabama police officer Jack Parker on September 15, 1963. Robinson’s death occurred on the same day as the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing in Birmingham that resulted in the deaths of four young girls earlier in the day.  Thus, Robinson’s killing did not get much attention.  His death, however, was an early inspiration for the Black Lives Matter Movement that emerged half a century later.

Robinson was born in 1947 to Johnny Brown and Martha Marie Robinson.  He had a difficult upbringing and his childhood was marked by violence when his father was murdered by a neighbor. Robinson’s mother was left to take care of him and her other two other children.  As a child Robinson also witnessed the frequent anti-black racial violence of Birmingham itself.  Fifty racially motivated bombings took place in the city between 1945 and 1963.

Sources: 
“Johnny Robinson,” Biography, https://www.biography.com/people/johnny-robinson-21443815; Johnny Robinson,” Nashville Public  Radio, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129856740; “Johnny Robinson,” AL, http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2013/09/virgil_ware_and_johnny_robinso.html; Glenn T. Eskew, But for Birmingham: The Local and National Movements in the Civil Rights Struggle (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Neal, Annie Box (1870–1950)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Annie Box Neal was the proprietor and manager of the Mountain View Hotel in Oracle, Arizona, a western mining town in the Catalina Mountains. Her secluded grand resort was recognized as the “epitome of western opulence” in its day and received distinguished guests from Russia, Australia, China and other places around the world. Neal had a flair for entertainment and was renowned for her gracious hostess skills, which brought her unprecedented success.

Anna Magdalena Box, of African American and Native American descent, was born in the Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory, in 1870. Her grandmother had come to the Territory on the Trail of Tears.  In 1876, Neal accompanied her parents and other Cherokee Freedpeople to Tucson, Arizona Territory. Annie was enrolled in St. Joseph’s Academy next to San Augustine’s Mission for Indians while her parents supported themselves through gambling and mining investments.
Sources: 
Tricia Martineau Wagner, African American Women of the Old West (Guilford, CT: TwoDot, an imprint of The Globe Pequot Press, 2007); Barbara Marriott, Annie’s Guests – Tales from a Frontier Hotel (Tucson, Arizona: Catymatt Productions, 2002).
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Johnson, George Marion (1900-1989)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Dr. George Marion Johnson had a distinguished public and professional career that included high administrative positions at universities on two continents as well as governmental positions in agencies which protected the civil rights of all Americans.  Throughout his career, he fought for racial justice and taught students about human rights and the law.

Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico to parents William and Ella Johnson, he grew up in San Bernardino, California. Johnson graduated from UC Berkeley with an A.B. in 1923 and obtained his law degree and LLD from UC Berkeley in 1929.  After graduation, Johnson began his legal career in 1929 as a tax attorney and was the first African Americans hired as California State Assistant Tax Counsel. He returned to UC Berkeley in 1938 to obtain a J.S.D., a doctorate in law degree and became one of the first African Americans in the nation to hold this advanced degree.  He later was recruited as a law professor at Howard University where he taught Contracts, Equity and Personal Property course.

Sources: 
George Marion Johnson, The Making of a Liberal: The Autobiography of George M. Johnson (Unpublished Manuscript, University of Hawaii Library,1989); Peter J. Levinson, “George Marion Johnson and the Irrelevance of Race,” University of Hawaii Law Review, Vol. 15 (1993); Gerald Keir, George M. Johnson, Jurist and Educator, FORMAT, Michigan State University (September-October 1966), Daphne Barbee-Wooten, African American Attorneys in Hawaii, (Maui: Hawaii: Pacific Raven Press, 2010).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Smith, Henry (?- 1893)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Fifteen Thousand Spectators Gather to See
the Lynching of Henry Smith, February 3, 1893
Image Ownership: Public domain

On Friday, February 3, 1893, Henry Smith was lynched in Paris, Texas, in front of an estimated 15,000 spectators. His death was one of the earliest spectacle lynchings on record.  The heinousness of Smith’s death captured the attention of journalist and anti-lynching advocate Ida B. Wells.  She included a detailed description of the event in her seminal The Red Record, a work that sought to expose the iniquities of racialized mob violence.

Sources: 
Scott, Terry Anne, “’Don’t Fail To See This’”:  Race, Leisure, and the Transformation of Lynching in Texas,” Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Chicago, (2015); Linda O. McMurray, To Keep the Waters Troubled:  The Life of Ida B. Wells (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998); Ida B. Wells, The Red Record:  Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynching in the United States (Chicago: Privately Printed, 1895).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Hood College

Paige, Leroy Robert "Satchel (1906-1982)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Leroy “Satchel” Paige and David Lipman, Maybe I’ll Pitch Forever: A Great Baseball Player Tells the Hilarious Story Behind the Legend (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993); Donald Spivey, “If You Were Only White: The Life of Leroy “Satchel” Paige (Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 2012), Larry Tye, Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend (New York: Random House, 2009), and William Price Fox, Satchel Paige’s America (New York: Fire Ant Books, 2005);.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Augusta State University

Charles, Ezzard Mack (1921-1975)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Ezzard Charles, also known as “The Cincinnati Cobra,” was a quiet, modest individual who went on to become a relatively unheralded world heavyweight champion. Born in Lawrenceville, Georgia on July 7, 1921, Ezzard moved to Cincinnati at the age of nine to live with his grandmother. He began boxing as an amateur in his teens and won the AAU National middleweight title in 1939. He turned professional in March of 1940. His early bouts were against the top middleweights and light heavyweights in the world. A clever boxer, over the course of his professional career he defeated many of boxing’s greatest fighters including Charley Burley, Joey Maxim, Archie Moore (three times), “Jersey” Joe Walcott, Gus Lesnevich, and Joe Louis.

His professional career was interrupted for two years in 1944 and 1945 when he served a stint in the army during World War II.  Upon the completion of his service he returned to boxing in 1946 and defeated Archie Moore, Lloyd Marshall, and Jimmy Bivins to earn a number two ranking in the light heavyweight class. He fought a total of five light heavyweight champions, defeating four of them, but never received an opportunity to fight for the division’s title. Despite this, many consider him one of the greatest light heavyweight fighters of all time on the basis of his record in that weight class.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Horton, James Africanus Beale (1835-1883)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 

Christopher Fyfe, Africanus Horton 1835-1883: West African Scientist and Patriot, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972); James Africanus Beale Horton, Davidson Nicol, ed., Black Nationalism in Africa 1867: Extracts From Political, Educational, Scientific and Medical Writings of Africanus Horton,(New York: Africana Publishing Company, 1969).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sussex, England

Day, Eliza Ann Dixon ( ? - 1800's)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
A member of the John Street Methodist Church and founding member of the A.M.E. Zion Church in New York City, Eliza Day combined religious devotion with abolitionist politics.  Day was an active abolitionist who established a pattern of activism for her children.

Eliza Day was a regular participant in the abolitionist movement and had been one of many to flee an abolitionist meeting at the Chatham Street Chapel in 1833 when it was attacked by a mob. For days after the incident, as anti-abolitionist mobs ravaged the city, the Days kept their home barricaded.

Eliza struggled to support her family after her husband, John, a sail maker and veteran, died at sea in 1829.  Her eldest son supplemented her meager resources by securing a job on a ship.  She was able to provide a good education for her youngest son, William Howard Day (1825-1900), who later went on to become a minister, newspaper editor, orator, and black nationalist leader.
Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992), and R. J. M. Blackett, Beating Against the Barriers: Biographical Essays in Nineteenth-Century Afro-American History (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1986).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Wilder, Lawrence Douglas (1931- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in Richmond, Virginia on January 17, 1931, Lawrence Douglas Wilder was the first African American to be elected governor in the United States of America. For four years Wilder served as the governor of Virginia (1990-1994).  Currently he is serving as the mayor of Richmond, Virginia.

Wilder began his education in a racially segregated elementary school, George Mason Elementary, and attended all-black Armstrong High School in Richmond.  In 1951 he received a degree in chemistry from Virginia Union University in his hometown.  After college, Wilder joined the United States Army and served in the Korean War, where he earned a Bronze Star for heroism. After the war, Wilder worked in the Virginia state medical examiner’s office as a chemist. Using the G.I. Bill, Wilder graduated from Howard University Law School in 1959 and soon afterwards established Wilder, Gregory and Associates.
Sources: 
Donald P. Baker, Wilder: Hold Fast to Dreams: A Biography of L. Douglas Wilder (University of Michigan, Seven Locks Press, 1989); Judson L. Jeffries, Virginia’s Native Son: the election and administration of Governor L. Douglas Wilder (Purdue University Press, 2000); http://www.vahistorical.org/collections-and-resources/virginia-history-explorer/l-douglas-wilder.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Powell, William J., and the Bessie Coleman Aero Club (1897-1942)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Second Lt. William J. Powell in France, 1917
Image Ownership: Public Domain

William J. Powell was born in Kentucky on July 27, 1897. His family soon moved to Chicago, Illinois where he attended school. In 1914 at the age of 17 Powell was accepted into the University of Illinois Engineering program. His studies were put on a temporary hiatus when World War I broke out and Powell left school to serve in the racially segregated 370th Illinois Infantry Regiment as a lieutenant.

After surviving a poison gas attack while in serving in France, Powell moved back to Illinois to finish his degree and to recuperate from the damage done to his health. Although he did complete his degree, his health was never the same and the gas attack most likely contributed to his early death.

Sources: 
William J. Powell and Von Hardesty, Black Aviator: The Story of William J. Powell (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994); Douglas Flaming, Bound For Freedom: Black Los Angeles in Jim Crow America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005); http://airandspace.si.edu/explore-and-learn/multimedia/detail.cfm?id=3008.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Boghossian, Alexander Skunder (1937-2003)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in Ethiopia in 1937, Alexander Skunder Boghossian first rose to prominence at the age of 17 when he won second prize for his painting at the Jubilee Anniversary Celebration of Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie I.  The following year he was awarded a scholarship to study in London, England at St. Martin’s School and the Slade School of Fine Art.  He later moved to Paris, France, where he remained for nine years as both student and teacher at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere.  While in Paris he interacted with African artists and intellectuals who were part of the Negritude movement.  He also encountered the work of the French surrealists. Some of the artists who influenced Boghossian include Paul Klee, Roberto Matta, and the Afro-Cuban artist Wilfredo Lam.
Sources: 
Saheed A. Adejumobi, The History of Ethiopia (Westport: Greenwood Press, 2007)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle University

Latimer, Lewis H. (1848-1928)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Lewis H. Latimer was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts on September 4, 1848.  His parents were former slaves who escaped bondage and settled in Boston.  Abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass secured the necessary funds to obtain their freedom.  After a stint in the Union Navy during the Civil War, Latimer worked as an office assistant in the patent law firm of Crosby and Gould.  It was there that he taught himself drafting.  He quickly began to experiment with ideas for inventions. 

In 1874 Latimer received his first patent for improving the toilet paper on passenger railroad cars.  In all, he was given eight patents.  He is popularly known as the inventor who prepared drawings for Alexander Graham Bell’s patent application for the telephone.  He eventually worked on electric lights, became superintendent of the incandescent lamp department of the United States Electric Lighting Company, and supervised the installation of light for buildings in the United States and Canada. 

In 1890 Lewis Latimer published a book entitled Incandescent Lighting: A Practical Description of the Edison System.  He also served as chief draftsman for General Electric/Westinghouse Board of Patent Control when it was established in 1896.  Some of the individuals who worked with Edison formed the Edison Pioneers in 1918 to preserve memories of their early days together and to honor Edison’s genius and achievements.  Latimer was a founding member of this group and he was the only African American among them.  He died in Flushing, New York, on December 11, 1928.

Sources: 
Darlene Clark Hine, William C. Hine, and Stanley Harrold, The African-American Odyssey, Third Edition (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2005), p. 408; Rayyon Fouche, Black Inventors in the Age of Segregation: Granville T. Woods, Lewis H. Latimer, and Shelby J. Davidson (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Arizona State University

Faucette Jr., John M. (1943-2003)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Joseph Faucette
One of the less known of the tiny group of African American science fiction writers and one of the first black authors to publish in that genre, John M. Faucette, Jr. grew up in New York’s Harlem.  A contemporary of the celebrated black science fiction writer Samuel Delany, another Harlem resident, Faucette graduated from the Bronx High School, attended the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn where he majored in chemistry, and later studied writing at New York University’s School of Continuing Education.  

While a college freshman Faucette penned his first science fiction novel, Warriors of Terra, inspired by the gang wars in Harlem, which was published in 1970 by Belmont Books.  His story of a purple-skinned swordsman in The Age of Ruin (Ace, 1968) was his favorite character because, he said, it “satisfied the rebel in me.”  Faucette wanted to showcase black heroes in his work and complained that white readers and white publisher were reluctant to accept them.  Violent conflict and revenge were often-repeated themes in his novels such as Crown of Infinity (Ace, 1968) and Seize of Earth (Belmont Books, 1968).  Faucette also published the mainstream urban novel Disco Hustle (Holloway House, 1976) and short stories in Artemis Magazine and AIM Magazine.  Faucette died in January 2003.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Crowther, Bishop Samuel Adjai (1809 – 1891)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 

Jesse Page, Samuel Crowther: The Slave Boy Who Became Bishop of the Niger, (S.W. Partridge & Co. London, 1889.); James. F. Schon and Samuel A. Crowther, Journals of the Rev .James Frederick Schon and Mr Samuel Crowther who, With the Sanction of Her Majesty’s Government, accompanied the Expedition Up The Niger in 1841 on behalf of the Church Missionary Society, 2nd Ed. ( Frank Cass & Co. Ltd., 1970)

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sussex, England

Douglass, Sarah Mapps (1806-1882)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Born to a distinguished abolitionist family, Sarah Mapps Douglass was the only daughter of Robert Douglass, a baker, and Grace Bustill Douglass, a milliner.  Like many educated women, Sarah Douglass became a teacher.  She also was an active abolitionist and joined her mother as a founding member of the bi-racial Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) Female Anti-Slavery Society in 1833.  Over the years, Sarah served on its Board of Managers, fair committee, and as librarian and recording secretary.

The Douglass family forged social and political networks with both black and white abolitionists.  Sarah Douglass maintained a long and close friendship with Sarah and Angelina Grimké, daughters of South Carolina slaveholders.  The Grimkés joined the abolitionist movement within the Philadelphia Quaker community in the early 1830s.  In her letters to Sarah Grimké, Douglass revealed the pain of encountering race prejudice among fellow Quakers.  The Arch Street meeting, for example, required blacks and whites to sit on separate benches. Although her mother continued to attend the Arch Street Meeting, Sarah eventually stopped attending.
Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992), and Dorothy Sterling, ed., We Are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century (New York: W.W. Norton, 1984).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Crummell, Alexander (1819-1898)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Alexander Crummell, an Episcopalian priest, missionary, scholar and teacher, was born in New York City in 1819 to free black parents.  He spent much of his life addressing the conditions of African Americans while urging an educated black elite to aspire to the highest intellectual attainments as a refutation of the theory of black inferiority.

Crummell began his education at an integrated school in New Hampshire. He later transferred to an abolitionist institute in Whitesboro, New York where he learned both the classics and manual labor skills. However, after being denied admittance to the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church because of his race, Crummell was forced to study privately.  Nonetheless at the age of 25 he became an Episcopalian minister. 

From 1848 to 1853 Crummell lectured and studied in England.  He also graduated from Queens’ College, Cambridge University in 1853.  Crummell left England to become an educator in Liberia, accepting a faculty position at Liberia College in Monrovia.  From his new post, Crummell urged African Americans to emigrate to Liberia.
Sources: 
Jeremiah Moses, Alexander Crummell: A Study of Civilization and Discontent (Oxford University Press, 1989);
Pbs.org/wnet/aaword/reference/articles/Alexander_crummell.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

O'Neal, Stanley (1951- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Stanley O'NealBorn into poverty, the grandson of a former slave, business executive Stanley O’Neal rose through the ranks of corporate America to become the first African American to head a major firm on Wall Street when Merrill Lynch named him chief executive officer in 2002.  In 2002 Fortune magazine also named O’Neal the “Most Powerful Black Executive in America.”  Just five years later, however, on October 30, 2007, O’Neal announced that he was
Sources: 
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds., African American Lives (New York: Oxford U Press, 2004); Susan Young, “A Long Road of Learning, Merrill Lynch’s Stan O’Neal,” Harvard Business School Bulletin Online (June 2001), http://www.alumni.hbs.edu/bulletin/2001/june/profile.html; Margaret Alic, Answers.com http://www.answers.com/topic/stanley-o-neal. 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Crockett, George William, Jr. (1909-1997)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Courtesy of Congressman George William
Crockett Official Website
George William Crockett Jr. was born in Jacksonville, Florida, on August 10, 1909 to George William Crockett Sr., and Minnie Amelia Jenkins.  His father was a Baptist minister and railroad carpenter and his mother was a Sunday School teacher and poet.  Crockett grew up in Jacksonville, attending public schools there until his graduation from Stanton High Schoo1 in 1927.  He then graduated from Morehouse College in 1931 with a B.A. in history and the University of Michigan where he received his J.D. in 1934. Crockett was admitted to the Florida bar in 1934 and soon afterwards began his long career in politics.

In 1937 Crockett helped found the National Lawyers Guild, the first racially integrated bar association in the United States.  Two years later Crockett became the first African American lawyer hired by the United States Department of Labor, where he worked on employment cases under the National Labor Relations Act.  During World War II Crockett became a hearing officer for the Federal Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC).  Keenly aware of racial segregation and discrimination in labor unions, Crockett, after leaving the Labor Department, became the director of the Fair Employment Practices Department of the International United Auto Workers (UAW) Union, 1944, a post that brought his return to Michigan.  
Sources: 
Bruce Ragsdale, Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1989 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1990); http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=C000919; Biographical Directory of the George Crockett, American Law Encyclopedia, http://law.jrank.org/pages/5896/Crockett-George-William-Jr.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Ransom, Reverdy Cassius (1861-1959)

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

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

Walker, William (1917-1992)

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

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

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

Sources: 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Robinson, Roscoe, Jr. (1928-1993)

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

Henry E. Dabbs, Black Brass: Black Generals and Admirals in the Armed Forces of the United States (Charlottesville, Virginia: Howell Press, 1997); Duane E. Hardesty, General Roscoe Robinson, Jr.: He Overcame the Hurdle of Segregation to Become the Army's First Black General (Ft. Belvoir: Defense Technical Information Center, 1988); http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/rrobinjr.htm

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Atlanta Daily World, W.A. Scott & C.A. Scott (1928- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
C.A. Scott, Editor of the Atlanta Daily World
Image Courtesy of Photos by Griff Davis
William Alexander Scott II, the founder of the Atlanta Daily World newspaper, was born in 1902 in Edwards, Mississippi. Scott, who was educated at Morehouse College around World War I, initially began publishing a business directory in Atlanta. However, he was interested in encouraging conversation and interaction among the black residents of Atlanta so, with the encouragement of black business owners in the city, he began to publish the Atlanta Daily World on August 5, 1928.  At the time Scott was 26.

The Atlanta newspaper began as a weekly paper, gradually publishing on a bi-weekly basis by 1930. On March 13, 1932, the newspaper went into daily distribution, becoming the first African American paper in the nation to achieve that status. With the closure of the Atlanta Independent the following year, the Daily World became the black community's sole newspaper.
Sources: 
Atlanta Daily World website, www.atlantadailyworld.com; "Soldiers Without Swords, The Black Press, Newspapers: The Atlanta Daily World," http://www.pbs.org/blackpress/news_bio/newbios/nwsppr/atlnta/atlnta.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Mosley, Walter (1952- )

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

Walter Mosley, a prominent African American novelist who specializes in criminal mystery fiction, was born on January 15, 1952 in Los Angeles to Ella and Leroy Mosley. Mosley was born in Watts but grew up from age 12 in relatively affluent West Los Angeles.  Mosley's mother was a Polish Jewish American personnel clerk and his father was an African American custodian at a public school. Mosley's father was among the first to encourage him to pursue a writing career.

In his late teens and early twenties, Mosley went through a long-haired "hippie" stage where he traveled from Santa Cruz, California to Europe and back. Soon after this phase, he attended two colleges in Vermont, graduating from the second one, Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont, with a Political Science degree in 1979. He entered a doctoral program in political theory but instead turned to computer programming as a career.

In 1981 Mosley moved to New York City where he began to work for Mobile Oil. He also began taking courses at City College in Harlem where his instructor, Edna O'Brien, further influenced him to pursue a career in literature.   The same year he met Joy Kellman, a dancer and choreographer.  They married in 1987 but divorced in 2001.

Sources: 
Walter Mosley's official website bio http://www.waltermosley.com/bio/; Hatchette Book Group website - Walter Mosley http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/features/waltermosley/; "Covering Mosley," The New Yorker, January19, 2004; <http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2004/01/19/040119on_onlineonly01?currentPage=1>
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Ormes, Zelda “Jackie” (1911-1985)

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

Jackie Ormes is widely considered the first African American cartoonist in the United States. She created four comic strips, Torchy Brown in Dixie to Harlem (1937), Candy (1945), Patty Jo ‘n’ Ginger (1946), and Torchy Brown, Heartbeats (1950).

Ormes was born August 1, 1911 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to parents William Winfield Jackson and Mary Brown Jackson. Jackson owned and operated a printing business and was the proprietor of a movie theater. Mary was a homemaker who became a single parent when her husband died from motor vehicle accident in 1917. Jackie and her sister, Delores Jackson, were briefly raised by their aunt and uncle as a result.

Jackie Jackson married Earl Ormes in 1936. They lost their only child, Jacqueline, to a brain aneurysm at age 3. They remained married for 45 years until Earl’s death in 1976.

Sources: 
Jasmin Williams, “Meet Jackie Ormes and Torchy Brown,” New Amsterdam News 103:29 (July 26, 2012); Nancy Goldstein, Jackie Ormes: The First African American Woman Cartoonist (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2008).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Cook, Will Mercer (1903-1987)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Will Mercer Cook served as the United States ambassador to the Republic of Niger from 1961 to 1964. Cook directed U.S. economic, social, and cultural programs in Niger, which included the Peace Corps. During the mid-1960s he also became the special envoy to Gambia and Senegal.

Will Mercer Cook was born on March 30, 1903, in Washington, D.C., to Will Marion Cook, a composer and Abbie Mitchell Cook, an actress and classical singer.  Cook had one sibling, Abigail, an older sister. During his childhood, he frequently traveled with his family as they performed at various venues throughout the United States and abroad.  Jazz superstar Duke Ellington lived on the same block in Cook’s middle class Washington, D.C. neighborhood.    

Sources: 
Mercer Cook and Dantes Bellegarde, eds., The Haitian American Anthology: Haitian Readings from American Authors (Port-au Prince, Haiti: Imperimerie de l’Etat, 1944); “Will Mercer Cook, 84, Ambassador, Educator, Dies,” Jet, 73 (October 26, 1987);
Office of the Historian -Department History - People – Cook, Mercer: http://www.history.state.gov.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Lawal, Kase (1954- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Kase Lawal is a Nigerian-born businessman best known for his large oil company CAMAC headquartered in Houston, Texas as well as leading a diverse group of affiliate companies that comprise the second largest African-American owned company in the United States with more than 1,000 employees worldwide.
Sources: 
Bloomberg Business, "Kase Lukman Lawal." Company Overview of Erin Energy Corporation. Bloomberg Business, http://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/person.asp?personId=5981161&privcapId=62604221; CAMAC. "CAMAC Leadership." Leadership – CAMAC. CAMAC, http://www.camac.com/leadership/; Palk, Susannah, "Kase Lawal: Not Your Average Oil Baron." CNN. Cable News Network, http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/africa/05/18/kase.lukman.lawal/index.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Kansas

Hale, Vasco De Gama (1915-2002)

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

Vasco De Gama Hale, educator, blinded veterans’ association organizer, and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) official, was born in Crawford, Mississippi, to Brotop and Jane Hale on February 16, 1915. His father, Brotop, toiled as a sharecropper for a short time before moving to West Virginia in the 1920s where he found work as a laborer in the coal mining areas of the Fairmont District.  While working for the Consolidated Coal Company, his father was ordained as a Baptist Minister and served as the presiding pastor of the Morning Star Baptist Church in Marion County for many decades.

Sources: 
Robert F. Jefferson Jr., “The Veteran’s Angle:” Ninety-Third Infantry Division Ex-GI Vasco Hale, Disability, and the NAACP’s Struggle for Fair Housing and Power in Post-World War II Hartford, Connecticut,” in The Routledge Handbook of the History of Race and the American Military, ed. Geoffrey W. Jensen (New York:  Routledge, 2016); “Obituary-Vasco De Gama Hale,” Arizona Daily Star (August 14, 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of New Mexico

Turner, James Milton (1840-1915)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Courtesy of Kingdom of Callaway
Historical Society in Fulton, MO
James Milton Turner was an African American Missourian who was a prominent politician, education advocate, and diplomat in the years after the Civil War. Turner was born a slave in St. Louis, Missouri in 1840. His father, John Turner (also known as John Colburn), was a well-known “horse doctor” in St. Louis who had earlier purchased his freedom. In 1843 John Turner was able to buy freedom for his wife, Hannah, and his son James. When he was fourteen James attended Oberlin College in Ohio for one term until his father’s death in 1855 forced him to return to St. Louis to help support his mother and family.
Sources: 
Irving Dillard, “James Milton Turner, A Little Known Benefactor of His People.” The Journal of Negro History Vol. 19, No. 4 (October 1934), 372-411; Gary R. Kremer, James Milton Turner and the Promise of America: The Public Life of a Post-Civil War Black Leader (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1991).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Saskatchewan

Adams, John H. (1927-- )

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

 

Sources: 
Quintard Taylor, The Forging of a Black Community: Seattle's Central District from 1870 to the Civil Rights Era (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994);  http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/adams.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Washington, Maurice E. (1956- )

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

Maurice E. Washington is a Reno, Nevada businessman and pastor who is best known as a former Republican member of the Nevada State Senate.

Washington was born on July 25, 1956, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He moved to Nevada where he attended the University of Nevada, Reno, and there earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Washington worked as an electrician, sold advertising, and coached Pop Warner Football in nearby Sparks, Nevada.  He was also active with the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) Youth Basketball League in Reno-Sparks before becoming involved with politics. It was after a speech to the Washoe County Republican Convention in 1994 that he was encouraged to run for public office.

Sources: 
"Legislative Watch," Interview of Reverend Maurice E. Washington by Andrea Stevens & Daniel Riggs. Nevada NewsMakers. Nevada NewsMakers Outreach, http://www.nevadanewsmakersoutreach.com/legislativewatch/details.asp?LWSID=26; Sophie Wakoli, "Mike Bosma Sits down with Washoe County Commissioner Nominee, Maurice Washington and Bosma Business Advisor, Katrina Loftin-Winkel." Bosma Business Center: Serving Northern Nevada's Business Community, http://bosmaonbusiness.com/5-21-mike-bosma-sits-washoe-county-commisioner-nominee-maurice-washington-bosma-business-advisor-katrina-loftin-winkel/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Kansas

Henderson, Fletcher Hamilton, Jr. (1897-1952)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Born December 18, 1897 to a middle class family in Cuthbert, Georgia, Fletcher Henderson grew up to become one of the key figures in the development of the form and style of the large jazz orchestra.  Despite the fact that he grew up in a family devoted to music and practiced constantly, he graduated from Atlanta University with a degree in mathematics and chemistry.  After moving to New York in 1920, however, Henderson found that a color barrier stood against his chances of becoming a chemist, and so it was at this time that he turned to his musical skills to make a living.

After a short time Henderson became a music director for Black Swan Records, and through this work he was able to assemble some of New York’s best musicians to start his own band.  In 1924 Henderson began playing in the Roseland Ballroom, and over the next ten years he helped transform the Roseland into a premier venue for jazz in New York while his band became known as the greatest jazz orchestra in the city.

Sources: 
Alyn Shipton, Jazz Makers: Vanguards of Sound  (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Nascimento, Abdias do (1914 - )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Abdias do Nascimento, famous Brazilian writer, scholar, and politician, was born on March 14, 1914, in the state of São Paulo, Brazil. From a humble family, his mother, Josina, was a candy maker and his father, Bem-Bem, was a musician and shoemaker, Abdias do Nascimento joined the Brazilian Army at age 15, moving to the state capital, São Paulo, where he became politically active. In Rio de Janeiro, he founded, in 1944, the Teatro Nacional do Negro (Black National Theater). A member of Brazil’s Congress from 1983 to 1987 and a Senator in 1991, 1996-1999, Abdias do Nascimento dedicated his life to fighting racial prejudice.

Sources: 
Kimberly Jones-de-Oliveira, “The Politics of Culture or the Culture of Politics: Afro-Brazilian Mobilization, 1920-1968,” Journal of Third World Studies, v. 20, part I (2003), pp. 103-120; Elizabeth Marchant and Fernando Conceição, “An Interview with Fernando Conceição,” Callaloo, v.25, n.2 (Spring 2002), pp. 613-619; Abdias do Nascimento biografia, available at  http://www.abdias.com.br/biografia/biografia.htm; Itaú Cultural, Enciclopédia Itaú Cultural available at http://www.itaucultural.org.br/aplicexternas/enciclopedia_teatro/index.cfm?fuseaction=cias_biografia&cd_verbete=649.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Robeson, Paul (1898-1976)

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

Caliver, Ambrose (1894-1962)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Ambrose Caliver was born in 1894 in Saltsville, Virginia and graduated from Knoxville College in Tennessee, earning his B.A. in 1915. One year later he married Everly Rosalie Rucker. After serving as a high school teacher and a principal, he was hired in 1917 by the historically black college of Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee to implement its vocational education program. Caliver rose through various positions at Fisk, finally being named dean in 1927. In the meantime, Caliver had earned his M.A. from the University of Wisconsin in 1920 and his Ph.D. from Columbia University’s Teacher’s College in 1930.
Sources: 
“Ambrose Caliver,” in Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, ed., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1983); http://www.knoxnews.com/kns/opinion_columnists/article/0,1406,KNS_364_4735988,00.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Amazons (Ahosi) of Dahomey

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The Amazons of Dahomey were a military corps of women appointed to serve in battles under the direction of the Fon king, who ruled over a nation that included much of present-day southern Togo and southern Benin.  They emerged during the Eighteenth Century and were finally suppressed during the 1890s. The Amazons were chosen from among the nominal wives of the king, called “Ahosi.”  Estimates of the number of women soldiers vary by accounts, yet some scholars believe the numbers to have ranged over time from several hundred to a few thousand women soldiers.

The Fon women’s army had three main wings: the right and left wings, and the elite center wing or Fanti.  Each of these wings had five subgroups: the artillery women, the elephant huntresses, the musket-bearing frontline group, the razor women, and the archers.  They served in battles in conjunction with male troops.
Sources: 
Stanley B. Alpern, Amazons of Black Sparta: the Women Warriors of Dahomey (New York: New York University Press, 1998); David E. Jones, Women Warriors: a History  (Washington, DC: Brassey’s, 1997); Robert B. Edgerton, Warrior Women: The Amazons of Dahomey and the Nature of War (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2000).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Scarborough, William S. (1852-1926)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
William S. Scarborough was born in 1852 in Macon, Georgia to a free black father and a multiracial mother, who was enslaved.  Scarborough learned to read and write from his white neighbors and a free black family in Macon.  He continued his education in Macon’s Lewis High School and then attended college at Atlanta University before completing his education at Oberlin College in 1875.   

Scarborough returned to Lewis High School where he taught classical languages.  He met Sarah Bierce, a white missionary, who was then Principal and who would eventually become his wife in 1881.  Scarborough left Lewis High School when arsonists burned it to the ground.  After a brief period as Principal of Payne Institute in Cokesburg, South Carolina, Scarborough returned to Oberlin to complete a master’s degree.  

In 1877, twenty-five year old Scarborough became a professor of Latin and Greek at Wilberforce University in Xenia, Ohio.  To help his students Scarborough wrote a textbook, First Lessons in Greek.  The book was published in 1881 and eventually became widely used in colleges and universities throughout the nation including Yale University.  Scarborough published a second book, Birds of Aristophanes in 1886.  
Sources: 
William S. Scarborough and Ronnick Michele, The Autobiography of William Saunders Scarborough: An American Journey From Slavery To Scholarship (Detroit, Wayne State University Press, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Gilpin, Charles Sidney (1878-1930)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Charles Sidney Gilpin, an actor, singer, and vaudevillian dancer, was the most successful African American stage performer in the early 20th Century.  He is best known for his portrayal of Brutus Jones in Eugene O’Neill’s The Emperor Jones. A Richmond, Virginia, native, Gilpin attended St. Francis School, a Catholic institution for colored children, until age 12, and served as a printer’s assistant at the Richmond Planet (c. 1890-1893). Gilpin married three times. His first wife was Florence Howard (married c. 1897). He met his second wife, Lillian Wood, when he was with the Lafayette Players. His third wife was Alma Benjamin Gilpin.

Gilpin showed great promise early on as a singer appearing in amateur theatricals in Richmond. He went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the early 1890s, where he worked briefly for the Philadelphia Standard, but was let go after some employees complained about working with a Negro.
Sources: 
Anthony Duane Hill, ed., An Historical Dictionary of African American Theatre (Prevessin, France: Scarecrow Press, 2008); John T. Kneebone, “’It Wasn’t All Velvet’: The Life and Hard Times of Charles S. Gilpin, Actor,” Virginia Cavalcade 38 (Summer 1988)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Ohio State University

Johnson, Ellsworth “Bumpy” (1906–1968)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Ellsworth Raymond “Bumpy” Johnson was an American gangster in Harlem, New York in the 20th century. He has been the subject or character of a number of Hollywood films including The Cotton Club, Hoodlum, and most recently, American Gangster

Johnson was originally from Charleston, South Carolina. During his formative years, his family moved north to Harlem. He was given the name “Bumpy” due to a large bump on his forehead. Known for his “flashy” style and dapper look, Johnson was at various times a pimp, a thief and a burglar.  He was always armed and did not hesitate to resort to violence to achieve his objectives. 
Sources: 
Ron Chepesiuk, Gangsters of Harlem (New York: Barrick Books, 2007); John H. Johnson, Fact Not Fiction in Harlem, (Northern Type Printing, 1980); Genevieve Fabre and Michel Feith, Temples For Tomorrow: Looking Back At The Harlem Renaissance (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001); Crime Library website, Black Gangs of Harlem 1920-1939 http://www.crimelibrary.com/gangsters_outlaws/gangs/harlem_gangs/5.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Coppin, Levi Jenkins (1848-1924)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Levi Coppin was an editor, educator, missionary and the 30th Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Coppin was born in Frederick Town, Maryland in 1848 to Jane Lily and John Coppin.  He had six siblings. Coppin’s mother taught him to read and write at an early age and was very religious, which influenced him greatly. She held secret classes (against state law prohibiting blacks to assemble) during week nights as well as on Sunday mornings educating both free blacks and slaves.
Sources: 
Coppin, Levi Jenkins, Unwritten History (Philadelphia: A.M.E. Book Concern, 1919);
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Jones, Lois Mailou (1905-1998)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Scurlock Studio Records,
Archives Center, National Museum of American History,
Behring Center, Smithsonian Institution.

Visual artist Lois Mailou Jones was born in 1905 in Boston, Massachusetts to Thomas Vreeland and Carolyn Dorinda Jones. Her father was a superintendent of a building and later became a lawyer, her mother was a cosmetologist. Early in life Jones displayed a passion for drawing, and her parents encouraged this interest by enrolling her in the High School of Practical Arts in Boston where she majored in art. In 1927, Jones graduated with honors from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and continued her education at the Boston Normal School of Arts and the Designers Art School in Boston.

Sources: 

Charles H. Rowell, “An Interview with Lois Mailou Jones.” Callaloo. 12:2 (Spring, 1989): 357 -378); Fern Gillespie, “The Legacy of Lois Mailou Jones,” Howard Magazine (Winter 1999): 8-13; Lois Mailou Jones (1905-1998), http://www.phillipscollection.org/research/american_art/bios/jones-bio.htm.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Johnson, Hazel W. (1927-2011 )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the U.S. Army

Hazel Johnson was the first African American woman to become a general in the U.S. Army. She was appointed the Chief of the Army Nurse Corps in 1979. Johnson held a doctorate in education administration from Catholic University (1978) and had honorary degrees from Morgan State University, Villanova University, and the University of Maryland.  

Johnson first became interested in nursing while growing up on a farm in Westchester, Pennsylvania.  Her career began when we she received her nursing degree from the Harlem Hospital in New York City, New York in 1950.  She then attended Villanova University where she received her bachelor’s and soon afterwards joined the Army Nurse Corps in 1955.  

Johnson served in Japan at a U.S. Army Evacuation Hospital.  She served at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 1960 where she was a staff and operating room nurse.  Between 1963 and 1967, she was an operating room instructor and supervisor while on a tour of three different hospitals.  Johnson reached the rank of major in 1967.  

Sources: 

Henry E. Dabbs, Black Brass: Black Generals and Admirals in the Armed Forces of the United States (Charlottesville, Virginia: Howell P, 1997); http://www.womensmemorial.org/Education/BBH1998.html.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Franklin, Shirley Clarke (1945- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Shirley Clarke Franklin became Atlanta, Georgia’s first African American female mayor in 2001, as well as the first woman to be a mayor of a major southern city.  Clarke was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 10, 1945 to parents Eugene Haywood Clarke and Ruth Lyons Clarke.  She attended public schools in Philadelphia. In 1963 at the age of 18, Clarke participated in the March on Washington where she saw and was inspired by Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King.   

Clarke graduated from Howard University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology in 1968.  She then attended the University of Pennsylvania and earned her master's degree in 1969.  Clarke married David McCoy Franklin in 1972.  The couple has three adult sons.

After teaching political science at Talladega College in Alabama for nearly a decade, in 1978 Shirley Clarke Franklin was appointed by Mayor Maynard Jackson to the post of Commissioner of Cultural Affairs for the City of Atlanta.  When Jackson was succeeded by Mayor Andrew Young, she was named Chief Administrative Officer and City Manager.  Franklin gained notoriety as one of the officials who helped bring the Olympic Games to Atlanta in 1992.  
Sources: 
Kim O’Connell, “Most valuable player: Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin combines 1960’s-style populism with 21st century business-savvy,” American City and County, 120: 13 (December 2005); Candace LaBalle “Franklin, Shirley Clarke,” Contemporary Black Biography (December 2009); J. Phillip Thompson, Double Trouble: Black Mayors, black communities, and the Call for a Deep Democracy (New York: Oxford Publishing, 2006); Richard Fausset, "Kasim Reed Confirmed as Atlanta Mayor," Los Angeles Times, December 10, 2009
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Doley, Harold, Jr (1947- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Harold and Helena Doley and Son in Front of
Madam C.J. Walker Mansion.
Image Courtesy of
Ambassador Harold E. Doley, Jr.


Ambassador Harold E. Doley, Jr is the founder of Doley Securities, LLC, the oldest African American owned investment banking firm in the nation. Doley is the only African American to have owned a seat on the New York Stock Exchange.

Born on March 8, 1947 Harold Doley was one of two boys born to Harold, Sr., a grocer and Kathryn Doley in New Orleans, LA. The Doley family has lived in Louisiana since 1720. The Doley’s had been free people before the Civil War and enjoyed the relatively liberal racial atmosphere of New Orleans as compared to other parts of the Southern United States.  Nonetheless they were always well aware of the disadvantages they faced. Amb. Doley attended segregated schools in the Louisiana area before matriculating at Xavier University in New Orleans where he majored in Accounting and Business Administration and started an investment club. He graduated from the Harvard University Graduate School of Business’s Owner/President Management Program an Executive Education Program.

Sources: 
New York Times, December 26, 1976, p. 13, September 18, 1994, p. F3, April 11, 1996, p. C1; David Oblender, Contemporary Black Biography, Vol.26 (Farmington Hills, Michigan: Cengage Gale, 2001); Lawrence Otis Graham, Our Kind of People: Inside America's Black Upper Class (New York: HarperCollins, 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Walker, Thomas Calhoun (1862-1953)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Thomas Calhoun Walker, teacher, lawyer, and government official, was born into slavery on June 16, 1862 in a small cabin at Spring Hill in Gloucester County, Virginia. On January 1, 1863, when Walker was just a few months old, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation freeing all slaves. Walker’s parents, despite their new liberty, chose to stay and work on plantations around Spring Hill.

Walker’s former owner and master died, and his son Lieutenant William J. Baytop took over the plantation.  Lieutenant Baytop and his wife had no children of their own and convinced Walker’s parents to let them keep him while he was young. The Baytops treated young Walker well. They named him Thomas after his biological father and Calhoun after South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun. When he was a few years older, Walker’s father sent for him, and the Baytops returned him to his family.

Walker and his family lived near Edge Hill where they rented a two-room shed and a kitchen. The boy’s childhood ended at the age of 10 when he began working odd jobs to help support his family. Walker desperately wanted an education, but his father said that at age 10 he was too old to learn.  At 13 he could neither read nor write. But young Walker persisted and finally learned to read when a Sunday School teacher gave him a spelling book called “John Common’s Book.”
Sources: 
J. Clay Smith, Emancipation: The Making of the Black Lawyer, 1844-1944 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993); Thomas Calhoun Walker, The Honey-Pod Tree; the Life Story of Thomas Calhoun Walker (New York: J. Day, 1958).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Watson, Barbara Mae (1918-1983)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Barbara M. Watson, businesswoman, lawyer, government executive, and diplomat, was born in New York City, New York on November 5, 1918. She was the daughter of James S. Watson, the first black judge elected in New York State, and his wife, Violet Lopez Watson, one of the founders of the National Council of Negro Women. Barbara M. Watson was the sister of James Lopez Watson and the cousin of General Colin L. Powell, the former U.S. Secretary of State.

After graduating from Barnard College in 1943, she took a job as an interviewer for the United Seamen's Service. In 1946, she founded a modeling agency and charm school, Barbara Watson Models, serving as the agency's executive director until 1956.

Sources: 
Jimmy Carter, "United States Ambassador to Malaysia Nomination of Barbara M. Watson," July 10, 1980.Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=44742; Barbara Mae Watson papers 1929-1984. (n.d.). Retrieved January 19, 2015, from http://archives.nypl.org/scm/20813; “Former U.S. Diplomat was 64,” New York Times, February 17, 1983, http://www.nytimes.com/1983/02/18/obituaries/barbara-m-watson-is-dead-former-us-diplomat-was-64.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Shirley, George Irving (1934- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
George Shirley is an educator, lecturer, and internationally acclaimed tenor whose leading roles in 28 operas with the Metropolitan Opera (“Met”) for 11 seasons helped push open doors on operatic stages for many African American tenors. In 1956 Shirley became the first African American member with the U.S. Army Chorus where, after being urged by his fellow choristers, Shirley decided on a career in opera.  Following Robert McFerrin Sr.’s win of Metropolitan Opera’s “Auditions of the Air” in 1953, Shirley became the second black male to perform there after he won first prize at the Met’s National Council Auditions in 1961. That same year Shirley became the first African American placed under contract with the Met and the first black tenor to sing leading roles there.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Patton, Lynne (1973- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Patton Speaking at the Republican National Convention, 2016
Image Ownership: Public domain

In June 2017, Lynne Patton, Vice President of the Eric Trump Foundation and a senior assistant to Eric Trump, was appointed by President Donald Trump to head the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Region II office which manages the department’s activities in New York and New Jersey.  As head of the largest HUD regional office in the nation, she will oversee the distribution of billions of dollars to state and local agencies as well as tens of thousands of rental vouchers and block grants that fund housing inspections and senior citizen programs.

Sources: 
Greg B. Smith, “Trump Chooses Family Event Planner to Run N.Y. Housing Programs,” New York Daily News, June 15, 2017, http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/trump-chooses-family-event-planner-run-n-y-housing-programs-article-1.3251314; Daniel S. Levine, “Lynne Patton: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know,” Heavy, http://heavy.com/news/2016/07/lynne-patton-eric-donald-who-is-speaking-rnc-republican-national-convention-foundation-make-america-first-great-again-african-american-supporter-meet-day-3/; Ezekiel Kweku, “Lynne Patton and the Value of Black Lives,” MTV, http://www.mtv.com/news/2909336/lynne-patton-and-the-value-of-black-lives/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Burton, Phillip (1915-1995)

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

Philip Burton was a Seattle lawyer for more than 40 years, a voice for the disadvantaged, and a fighter for reforms to end discrimination in education, housing and employment.  His legal actions led to the desegregation of Seattle Public Schools.  Fighting for civil rights was his lifelong activity and began in the late 1940s when, as a law student at Washburn School of Law, he brought suit against the City of Topeka for discrimination in the city-owned movie theaters and public swimming pools.  He worked on the initial filing of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case in Topeka which was eventually argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.  The ruling abolished segregation in public schools. 
Sources: 
HistoryLink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History “Philip Burton (1915-1995)” by Mary T. Henry), http://www.historylink.org/
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Brewer, Carl (1957-- )

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

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Carl Brewer, mayor of Wichita, Kansas, is a native of that city. Brewer, who was born in 1957, is the first African American to be elected as the mayor of the largest city in Kansas.  He previously served on the Wichita City Council from 2001 to 2007. Brewer is the second African American to hold the post of Mayor.  A. Price Woodard served as mayor from April 14, 1970 to April 13, 1971.

Brewer was raised in Wichita, and attended North High, where he graduated in 1975. After high school, he attended Friends University, also located in Wichita. Prior to serving on the city council, Brewer was employed as a Spirit Operations Manager for Boeing aerospace manufacturing, a Manufacture Engineer for Cessna aviation, and as a Captain for the Kansas Army National Guard. Brewer is also a member of multiple organizations, including the Arkansas Valley Masonic Lodge, the African American Catholic Council, the National Guard Association, and the Boeing Management Association.

Carl Brewer began serving on the Wichita City Council in 2001, representing District 1. He is a member of many governmental associations: the National League of Cities Board of Directors, the National Black Caucus, the Regional Economic Area Partnership (REAP), and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, to name a few. 

Sources: 
http://www.wichita.gov/Government/CityCouncil/Mayor/; Chris Moon, "Brewer Easily Defeats Mayans for Mayor," Wichita Business Journal, April 4, 2007, p. 1.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Kennard, William Earl (1957– )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
William E. Kennard is a telecommunications expert, attorney, and American diplomat. He was born in Los Angeles, California, on January 19, 1957, to his father, Robert Kennard, an architect, and his mother, Helen King, an elementary school teacher. William attended Stanford University, receiving his bachelor’s degree in communications in 1978, and Yale Law School, earning his juris doctor degree in 1981. 

Kennard began his professional career as an attorney at the multinational law firm Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson, and Hand (now DLA Piper), headquartered in New York City, New York. He left the firm as partner and member of the board. He would later establish a career in government service as a general counsel at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the regulator of the telecommunications industry, from 1993 to 1997. In 1997 President Bill Clinton tapped Kennard to become chairman of the FCC, making him the first African American in history to hold that post.

Sources: 
Congressional Record, 113 Congress (2013-014) Honoring the Public Service of Ambassador William Kennard; Federal Communications Commission (2001). Principal FCC Achievements during Chairman Kennard’s Tenure 1997-2001; Official Bio, U.S. Mission to the EU.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Adjaye, David Frank (1966- )

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

Internationally acclaimed British-based architect David Adjaye was born in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on September 22, 1966, the son Affram Adjaye, a diplomat from Ghana, and Cecilia Adjaye, also a Ghanaian national. Because of the nature of his father’s work, as a child David experienced living in several African and Middle Eastern countries. At age 14 Adjaye’s family settled in England where, unlike anything he had encountered in international schools in other countries, he was subjected to racial harassment by white youths.

Sources: 
Calvin Tomkins, “A Sense of Place,” The New Yorker (September 23, 2013); Jackie Craven, “David Adjaye -- Born in Africa, Designing Architecture for the World” at https://www.thoughtco.com/david-adjaye-designing-world-architecture-177362; Dodie Kazanjian, “With His New Historic Design, Architect David Adjaye Has Hit the Top,” in Vogue (June 21, 2016), also at https://www.vogue.com/article/architect-david-adjaye-national-museum-of-african-american-history-and-culture.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Brooks, Gwendolyn (1917-2000)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks, born June 7, 1917 in Topeka, Kansas, moved to Chicago, Illinois where she was reared and launched her literary career.  Marrying Henry Blakely in 1939, the couple had two children. 

Brooks's formal education consists of an associate degree in literature and arts from Wilson Junior College but she has also received over seventy honorary degrees from several leading universities.  In her early years, Brooks served as the director of publicity for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Chicago.

Individual poems published in the Chicago Defender during her high school years preceded Brooks's first collection of poetry, A Street in Bronzeville (1945). This book focused on “community consciousness.”  Brooks's Annie Allen was published in 1949 with a focus on “self-realization” and “artistic sensibility” of a young black woman.  That volume made her the first African American to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize in poetry.  The Bean Eater, her third book, was released in 1960. 

Sources: 
Carol F. Bender and Annie Allen, Masterplots 4th ed. Literary Reference Center (Pasadena: Salem Press, 2010); Charles M. Isreal and William T. Lawlor, Cyclopedia of World Authors 4th ed.  Literary Reference Center (Pasadena: Salem Press, 2004); Henry Taylor and Harold Bloom,  “Gwendolyn Brooks: An Essential Sanity,”  Bloom’s Modern Critical Views: Gwendolyn Brooks  (New York: InfoBase Publishing, 2000): 161-179.
Affiliation: 
Jefferson State Community College, Alabama

Mboya, Thomas (Joseph Odhiambo) (1930-1969)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
“Mboya, Tom (Thomas Joseph Odhiambo),” in Norbert C. Brockman, ed., An African Biographical Dictionary (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 1994); “Tom Mboya,” in Anne Commire, ed., Historic World Leaders, volume 1 (Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1994).; “Tom Mboya,” in Harvey Glickman, ed., Political Leaders of Contemporary Africa South of the Sahara : A Biographical Dictionary (New York: Greenwood Press, 1992).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Elaw, Zilpa (1790? - ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Born in Pennsylvania to free parents, who raised her in the Christian faith, she was sent around the age of twelve, after her mother died, to live with a Quaker couple. At the age of fourteen, she began attending Methodist meetings, where she was converted. In 1810, she and Joseph Elaw were married; they settled in Burlington, New Jersey, because of his job as a fuller. They had a daughter, who was eleven years old when Joseph died of consumption in 1823.
Sources: 
Zilpha Elaw, Memoirs of the Life, Religious Experience, Ministerial Travels and Labours of Mrs. Zilpha Elaw, An American Female of Color: Together with Some Account of the Great Religious Revivals in America (1846); William L. Andrews, ed., Sisters of the Spirit: Three Black Women’s Autobiographies of the Nineteenth Century (1986).
Affiliation: 
Seattle Pacific University

Haynes, Martha Euphemia Lofton (1890-1980)

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

Martha Euphemia Lofton Haynes was the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics. Her dissertation, Determination of Sets of Independent Conditions Characterizing Certain Special Cases of Symmetric Correspondence was advised by Aubrey Landry, a professor at Catholic University in Washington, D.C.

Haynes was born to parents Dr. William Lofton and Mrs. Lavina Day Lofton in Washington, D.C. on September 11, 1890.  William Lofton was a prominent dentist and a financial supporter of black institutions and charities. Her mother was active in the Catholic Church. Later Haynes would also become active in the Catholic Church, earning a Papal medal, “Pro Ecclesia and Pontifex,” in 1959, for her service to the church and to her community.

Haynes started her educational journey at Miner Normal School, Washington D.C. where she graduated with distinction in 1909. She then attended Smith College in Massachusetts and earned her Bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a minor in psychology in 1914. Later, she earned her Master’s degree in education from the University of Chicago in 1930. Finally, at the age of 53, she earned her Ph.D. in mathematics from Catholic University of America in 1943.

Sources: 
http://www.math.buffalo.edu/mad/PEEPS/haynes.euphemia.lofton.html; http://www.agnesscott.edu/lriddle/women/haynes-euphemia.html; Patricia Kenschaft, Change is Possible: Stories of Minorities and Women in Mathematics (Providence, Rhode Island: American Mathematics Society, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Attucks, Crispus (1723-1770)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Image Ownership: Public Domain
Crispus Attucks, the first martyr of the Boston Massacre in 1770, was probably born near Framingham, Massachusetts, a Christianized and multitribal town of Indians, whites, and blacks, in 1723.  Unusually tall for the era at six feet, two inches, Attucks was of mixed ancestry, the son of an African American man and an American Indian woman.  It is believed that he was the slave of William Brown since he was reported in the Boston Gazette on October 2, 1750 as having escaped from Brown; Attucks was listed as age 27 at the time. By the time of the Massacre he was 47 and working as a sailor in Boston and around the Atlantic Basin.
Sources: 
The Liberator, March 28, 1862; Sidney Kaplan and Emma Nogrady Kaplan, The Black Presence in the Era of the American Revolution (Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1989); The Trial of William Wemms, James Hartegan, William M'Cauley, Hugh White, Matthew Killroy, William Warren, John Carrol, and Hugh Montgomery, soldiers in His Majesty's 29th Regiment of Foot, for the murder of Crispus Attucks, Samuel Gray, Samuel Maverick, James Caldwell, and Patrick Carr, on Monday-evening, the 5th of March, 1770, at the Superior Court of Judicature, Court of Assize, and general goal delivery, held at Boston. The 27th day of November, 1770, by adjournment. Before the Hon. Benjamin Lynde, John Cushing, Peter Oliver, and Edmund Trowbridge, Esquires, justices of said court: Published by permission of the court (Boston, MA: printed by J. Fleeming, and sold at his printing-office, nearly opposite the White-Horse Tavern in Newbury-Street, 1770); Mitch Kachun, “From Forgotten Founder to Indispensable Icon: Crispus Attucks, Black Citizenship, and Collective Memory, 1770-1865,” Journal of the Early Republic, June 2009.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Parker, Charles Jr., "Charlie" (1920-1955)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Alto saxophonist Charlie Parker was the most influential jazz musician to follow Louis Armstrong, and one of the music’s few true revolutionaries.  The style he helped to create, called bebop, or bop, established jazz as an intellectual music that was no longer viewed merely as entertainment.   

Parker was born August 29, 1920, and grew up in Kansas City, Missouri.  He began playing alto and baritone horn in high school before switching to alto saxophone.  His talents were not immediately evident – he was once laughed off the bandstand at a jam session for playing in the wrong key.  He began practicing zealously, and soon came under the tutelage of saxophonist Buster Smith, and important early influence.  He spent weeks learning the recorded solos of Lester Young.
Sources: 
Ross Russell, Bird Lives! (New York: Charterhouse, 1973); Ross Russell, Jazz Styles in Kansas City and the Southwest (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1971); Dizzy Gillespie with Al Fraser, To Be or Not to Bop (New York: Doubleday, 1979); James Patrick, “Parker, Charlie”, Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (Accessed 6 January 2008), http://www.grovemusic.com .
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Carnegie Hall

O’Ree, Willie (1935- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Willie O’Ree, the National Hockey League’s (NHL) first black player, is an African-Canadian, born on October 15, 1935, in Fredricton, New Brunswick. He began skating at an early age and quickly developed into one of the best players in eastern Canada.  O’Ree joined the Quebec Frontenacs, a junior hockey league team in 1954.  While there a puck struck O’Ree in the right eye during a game in Ontario. Eight weeks after being injured he returned to hockey but had lost almost all of the vision in his right eye.

Despite his injury O’Ree in 1956 was acquired by the Quebec Aces, a professional team.  O’Ree led them to a championship during his first season of play.  During the following season in Quebec, O’Ree was noticed by NHL scouts and invited to join the Boston (Massachusetts) Bruins to replace an injured player. He made his NHL debut on January 18, 1958 against the Montreal Canadiens, becoming the first black player in the League’s history. At that time in hockey there was little medical testing and no eye exams.  As a result O’Ree played 21 professional seasons with vision in only one eye.
Sources: 
Willie O’Ree and Michael McKinley, Autobiography of Willie O’Ree: Hockey’s Black Pioneer (Toronto: Somerville House, 2000); Robin Winks, The Blacks in Canada (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1997); http://www.fredricton.ca/en/recleisure/2008Jan15OReePlaceNamed.asp.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Hackley, Emma Azalia (1867-1922)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Emma Azalia Smith Hackley was an African American singer and Denver political activist born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 1867.  Her parents, business owners Henry and Corilla Smith, moved to Detroit where she attended Washington Normal School, graduating in 1886.  Smith, a child prodigy learned to play the piano at three and later took private voice, violin and French lessons.

Emma Smith worked as an elementary school teacher for eighteen years.  During that period she met and married Edwin Henry Hackley a Denver attorney and editor of the city’s black newspaper, the Denver Statesman.  In 1900 Hackley received her music degree from Denver University.  In 1905-1906 she studied voice in Paris with former Metropolitan Opera star Jean de Reszke.

Hackley was active in black Denver’s civic and social life.  She founded the Colored Women’s League and served as executive director of its local branch.  She and her husband also founded the Imperial Order of Libyans which fought racial discrimination and promoted patriotism among African Americans.
Sources: 
M. Marguerite Davenport, Azalia: The Life of Madame E. Azalia Hackley (Boston: Chapman & Grimes, 1947); Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982);  "Seven--As Large As She Can Make It": The Role of Black Women Activists in Music, 1880-1945” in Cultivating Music in America, http://www.escholarship.org/editions/view?docId=ft838nb58v&doc.view=content&chunk.id=d0e8684&toc.depth=1&anchor.id=0&brand=eschol
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Peck, David Jones (c. 1826-1855)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

David Jones Peck was the first black man to graduate from an American medical school. He was born to John C. and Sarah Peck in Carlisle, Pennsylvania around 1826. John Peck was a prominent abolitionist and minister who founded the local African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Carlisle. Peck was also a barber and wigmaker.

John and Sarah Peck moved to Pittsburgh in the early 1830s where they established the first school for black children in the area.  David was one of their first students.  Between 1844 and 1846 David Peck studied medicine under Dr. Joseph P. Gaszzam, an anti-slavery white doctor in Pittsburgh.  He then entered Rush Medical College in Chicago, Illinois in 1846, three years after the institution opened.  After he graduated in 1847, Peck toured the state of Ohio with William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass promoting abolitionist ideals.  His status as the first black graduate of a medical college was used by abolitionists to promote the idea of full black citizenship and was implicitly an attack on slavery.

Sources: 

Michael J. Harris, "David Jones Peck, MD: A Dream Denied," Journal of the National Medical Association 88:9 (1996): pp. 600-604; "David Jones Peck, M.D., Rush Medical College, Class of 1847," Archives of Rush University Medical Center, Chicago; Vivian Ovleton Sammons, Blacks in Science and Medicine (New York: Hemisphere Publishing Corp., 1990).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Johnson, Eddie Bernice (1935- )

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

An early career in health care led to political aspirations for Eddie Bernice Johnson, culminating in her current position representing Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives.  She is an advocate for women, children, and human rights.

Born in Waco, Texas, in 1935 to parents Lee Edward Johnson and Lillie Mae (White) Johnson, Bernice Johnson traveled to Indiana to attend college when there were no educational opportunities for her as a black woman in Texas.  She earned a diploma in nursing from St. Mary’s College of Notre Dame in 1955.  One year later she married Lacey Kirk Johnson.  The couple had one son, Kirk, and then divorced in 1970.  Bernice Johnson continued her education.  She later received a BS in nursing from Texas Christian University in 1967 and a MS in public administration in 1976 from Southern Methodist University.

Sources: 
"Eddie Bernice Johnson" in Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1907 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2008); L. Mpho Mabunda, ed., Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 8, “Eddie Bernice Johnson,” (Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 1995); “Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, Representing the 30th District of Texas,” https://ebjohnson.house.gov/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Parsons, Richard D. (1948- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Huffington Post,
www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/
20090121/citygroup-chairman/image
Richard Dean Parsons, former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Time Warner Inc., is the current Chairman of Citigroup. Despite his working class origins, Parsons’ achievements have been recognized by the African American community and he has become an influential role model for racial uplift. Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1948, he was one of five children. He was raised in South Ozone Park, Queens and attended New York City public schools. After graduating high school at the age of sixteen, he attended the University of Hawaii where he excelled academically and athletically. At the university, he was a varsity basketball player and the social chairman of Omega Psi Phi and he met his future wife Laura Ann Bush who he married in 1968.  
Sources: 
Thomas Hayden, "The Man Who Keeps the Peace: AOL Time-Warner's Richard Parsons," Newsweek (January 24, 2000): p. 36; http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1873165,00.html; http://www.notablebiographies.com/news/Ow-Sh/Parsons-Richard.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Laveaux, Marie (1801-1881)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Image Ownership: Public Domain
Few lives in African American history are surrounded by more myth and misinformation than the life of Marie Laveaux. Although she is best known today as the "legendary Creole voodoo priestess of New Orleans," Laveaux was in fact a 19th century hairdresser, confidant, and community leader in New Orleans, who tended the sick and financed charitable and benevolent organizations.

Marie Laveaux was born a free woman of color on September 10, 1801, to free blacks Marguerite D’Arcantel and Charles Laveaux. She was described as a quadroon, a term which meant one quarter African. In antebellum New Orleans, she and other part-African people were privileged because of the three-tier racial system that dominated the city. She lived long enough however to see that three-tier system evolve into a two-tier system (white and black) in the post Civil War period.

Laveaux was baptized as a Roman Catholic when she was only six days old and despite her embracing voodoo practices, remained a devout Catholic until her death.  Unlike other black Creoles, however, Laveaux never learned to read or write.

In 1819 she married Jacques Paris who was originally from Santa Domingo (now Haiti) in the St. Louis Cathedral, the largest and oldest church in the city.  Paris was also a quadroon.  Their marriage was brief.  Paris disappeared after one year, giving rise to the idea of Laveaux's mysterious powers.  
Sources: 
Ina Johanna Fandrich, The Mysterious Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveaux : A Study of Powerful Female Leadership in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans (New York: Routledge, 2005); Carolyn Morrow Long, A New Orleans Voudou Priestess : The Legend and Reality of Marie Laveau (Gainsville: University Press of Florida, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Boothe, Charles Octavius (1845-1924)

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

An African American Baptist preacher, educator, author, and tireless advocate for African American advancement and uplift, Charles Octavius Boothe was one of the founders of Dexter Avenue-King Memorial Baptist Church (1877), Selma University (1878), and the Colored Baptist Missionary Convention for the State of Alabama in the early 1870s.  The latter was the first statewide African American Baptist denominational organization. He also served as the first minister of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church and a two year term as president of Selma University (1901-1902).

Sources: 
Charles Octavius Boothe, The Cyclopedia of the Colored Baptists of Alabama: Their Leaders and Their Work. (Birmingham: Alabama Publishing Company, 1895), available at http://docsouth.unc.edu/church/boothe/bio.html ; Edward R. Crowther, "Charles Octavius Boothe: An Alabama Apostle of 'Uplift.'" Journal of Negro History 78 (Spring 1993): 110-16; Edward R. Crowther, "Interracial Cooperative Missions Among Blacks by Alabama's Baptists, 1868-1882." Journal of Negro History 80 (Summer 1995): 131-39; Charles Octavius Boothe, the Encyclopedia of Alabama http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/face/Article.jsp?id=h-1560
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Alabama State University

Perry, June Carter (1943- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Ambassador June Carter Perry was born November 13, 1943 in Texarkana, Arkansas.  After completing grade school, Perry was accepted at the Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois where in 1965 she earned her degree in history.  Two years later she earned a master’s degree in European History at the University of Chicago.  Shortly afterwards she married Frederick M. Perry and the couple had two children, Chad and Andre.  

From May 1972 to October 1974, Perry served as the Public Affairs Director and broadcaster for WGMS/RKO Radio in Washington, D.C.  In October 1974, she became a Special Assistant in the Community Services Administration, a national anti-poverty agency. In September 1976, Perry became the Public Affairs Director for the Peace Corps, the ACTION agency, and VISTA.  Perry remained the Public Affairs Director of the three programs until 1982.

Sources: 
“June Carter Perry,” U.S. Department of State Archives, http://2001-2009.state.gov/r/pa/ei/biog/91290.htm; “June Carter Perry,” US Department: Diplomacy in Action, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/pix/blackhistory/2009/116116.htm; LinkedIn: Ambassador June Carter Perry, https://www.linkedin.com/pub/ambassador-june-carter-perry-ret/6a/2a3/570.
Affiliation: 
Morgan State University

Randolph, Lucille Campbell Green (1883-1963)

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

Born Lucille Campbell on April 15, 1883, in Christianburg, Virginia, Green was the second of three children of William and Josephine Campbell. A graduate of Howard University in Washington, D.C., she worked as a hairstylist in an upscale New York salon. She was the wife of labor leader A. Philip Randolph and stayed his partner until her death.

Green trained as a schoolteacher at Howard and married her first husband, law student Joseph Green, after the two graduated. Sadly, Joseph died shortly after their new life in New York City started. After Joseph’s death, Green gave up her teaching goals and enrolled in Lelia Beauty College, which was founded in 1913 by Madame C.J. Walker. After graduating from the first class at the academy, Green started her own salon on 135th Street, attracting an elite clientele. Her business venture would help her future husband, A. Philip Randolph, immensely in his activist projects.

Sources: 
Jervis Anderson, A. Philip Randolph: A Biographical Portrait (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1972); Tiffany M. Gill, Beauty Shop Politics: African American Women Activism in the Beauty Industry. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2010).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Riley, George Putnam (1833--1905)

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

 

Sources: 
Tacoma Daily Ledger, June 22, 1889, October 2, 1905. Laurie McKay, “The Nigger Tract” 1869-1905: George Putnam Riley and the Alliance Addition of Tacoma” Unpublished Paper, Phi Alpha Theta Regional Conference, April 2001. pp.1, 6. Esther Hall Mumford, Seattle’s Black Victorians, 1852-1901 (Seattle: Ananse Press, 1980), 105-107.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Hawkins, Augustus (1907–2007)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Courtesy of the US House of
Sources: 
Pamela Lee Gray, “Hawkins, Augustus Freeman,” in African American National Biography (New York: Oxford, 2008); Dona L. Irvin, “Augustus F. Hawkins,” in Notable Black American Men (Detroit: Gale, 1999); Biographical Directory of the United States Congress:  http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=H000367.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Rhodes, J. Steven (1951- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
J. Steven Rhodes, U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on September 29, 1951.  After graduating from high school he attended Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in Los Angeles, California where he was a member of the LMU 1969 Hall of Fame football team.

In 1973 Rhodes graduated from LMU with a Bachelor of Science degree. From 1973 to 1981 he was employed at Dart Industries in Los Angeles.  Between 1973 and 1976 he worked in the company’s wage and salary division and from 1976 to 1981 he was the corporation’s Director of Government Affairs.  While employed at Dart, Rhodes continued his education at Pepperdine University in Los Angeles and earned a Master of Science degree in 1977.

Sources: 
“1969 football champs stood among the best,” http://www.lmulions.com/genrel/032503aaa.html; “Press Secretary, White House Office of: Press Releases and Briefings: Records, 1981-89,” http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/textual/smof/prpressr.htm; “White House staff (alphabetical list) 1981-1989,”  http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/reference/whitehousestaffalpha.htm#QR. “Envoy resigns drug probe reportedly targets ex-ambassador,” http://articles.philly.com/1990-10-16/news/25892181_1_embassy-staff-drug-probe-harare; “Going from the White House to oil fields,” http://alumni.lmu.edu/iamlmu/alumnifeatures/jstevenrhodes73/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Eastern Kentucky University

Koné, Malamine (1971– )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Clothing entrepreneur Malamine Koné, was born in Mali on December 21, 1971, but now lives near Paris, France. He is most famous for creating the sport-clothing brand Airness in 1999. Fifteen years later, the clothing line is one of the most popular in France.

While growing up in an impoverished village not far from Bamako, the capital city of Mali, Koné worked as a shepherd, responsible for searching for ponds and grass for cattle in the semi-arid Sahel region that covers most of Mali. Because of his parents’ poverty, he did not attend school and often relied on his grandparents for food. His mother and father decided to immigrate to France in the late 1970s, initially leaving young Koné behind. In 1981 at the age of 10, he was reunited with his parents in Seine Saint-Denis, a suburb north of Paris.   
When he arrived in France, he could not speak French, had never experienced a winter, and had never attended school. In his first two years in the country, he attended a special school designed for immigrants to France and then enrolled in a regular French academy. Over time, he became an excellent pupil and graduated from a university. His goal at that time was to enter the Paris Police Department and eventually become a police administrator.  
Sources: 
“Les 100 Personnalités de la diaspora africaine”, in Jeune Afrique, n° 2536-2537, August 16-29, 2009
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Paris

Nell, William C. (1816-1874)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

Adams, Victoria Jackson Gray (1926-2006)

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

Johnson, Samuel (1846-1901)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Cover, The History of the Yorubas
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Rev. Samuel Johnson was a nineteenth-century Anglican priest and historian of the Yoruba ethnic group of Nigeria. Samuel Johnson is most noted for his manuscript The History of the Yorubas, which was posthumously published in 1921.  

Born to Henry and Sarah Johnson, in Hasting, Freetown, Sierra Leone in 1846, Samuel Johnson’s father was originally from the nation of Oyo in what is now southwestern Nigeria.  Henry Johnson claimed to be a descendent of Abiodun, the last great king of Oyo.  Captured by slavers, he was later liberated by the British Royal Navy and brought to Freetown, Sierra Leone. There he joined other "recaptives" who had grown large enough in number to dominate the politics and culture of the British Colony by the 1850s.

Sources: 
Paul Jenkins, ed., Recovery of the West African Past: African Pastors and African History in the Nineteenth Century (Basel: Basel Afrika Bibliographien, 2000); Elijah Olu Akinwumi, “Samuel Johnson,” Dictionary of African Christian Biography (2002); http://www.dacb.org/stories/nigeria/johnson_1samuel.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Shockley, Dolores Cooper (1930- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Dolores Cooper was the first African American woman in the U.S. to earn a Ph.D. in pharmacology.   She was also the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from Purdue University.  Cooper was born in 1930 in Clarksdale, Mississippi to a successful family of professionals.  Her parents responded to her expressed interest in science at a young age by purchasing chemistry sets. Later she was inspired to become a pharmacist because the segregated Clarksdale black community lacked a pharmacy. 

Cooper attended an out-of-town private Presbyterian school in order to take the chemistry classes she needed to earn an advanced degree in science.  After high school she earned a B.S. in pharmacy in 1951 from Xavier University in New Orleans.  Having been accepted into eight graduate schools, Cooper chose to continue her studies at Purdue University.  After earning her Ph.D. in pharmacology in 1955, Cooper received a Fulbright Fellowship to the Pharmacology Institute in Copenhagen which allowed her to hone her research skills.
Sources: 
Diann Jordan, Sisters in Science: Conversations with Black Women Scientists on Race, Gender and Their Passion for Science (West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 2006); http://www.student-orgs.purdue.edu/bga/banquet/history/presidential.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Ferebee, Dorothy Celeste Boulding (1898–1980)

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

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

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Collins, Cardiss (1931- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the U.S. House of Representatives 
Photography Office
Cardiss Robertson Collins was born September 24, 1931 in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Findley Robertson and Rosa Mae Robertson.  At the age of 10 her family relocated to Detroit and she spent the rest of her childhood there, eventually graduating from the Detroit High School of Commerce. After high school Collins attended Northwestern University in Chicago and later became a stenographer with the Illinois Department of Labor. She was promoted several times until she reached the position of revenue auditor for the Illinois State Department of Revenue.

Through her husband, George Collins, and his involvement in politics, Collins became a Democratic Party activist in Chicago. She served as a committee member of the city’s Twenty-fourth Ward Democratic Organization among other community organizations. She was highly visible during George Collins campaigns for Illinois’s Seventh Congressional seat and stayed involved after he won the election. After George Collins passed away in a plane crash near Chicago’s Midway Airport in 1972, a special election was held to fill his seat. Cardiss Collins was nominated by the Democratic Party and easily won the seat left vacant by her husband on June 5, 1973 which she held continuously until 1997.
Sources: 
“Cardiss Collins” in Women in Congress, 1917-2006 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2006);”Cardiss Collins” in Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1989 (Washington, D.C: Government Printing Office, 1991).
http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=C000634
http://www.stennis.gov/Congressional%20Bios/cardiss_collins.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Binga, Jesse (1865-1950)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Jesse Binga's rise from relative poverty to become the wealthiest African American entrepreneur and banker in Chicago in the late 19th century earned him a national reputation. Binga was born on April 10, 1865, in Detroit to William W. Binga, a barber and native of Ontario, Canada, and Adelphia Lewis Binga, the owner of extensive property in Rochester and Detroit.  He dropped out of high school and at first collected rents on his mother’s property in Detroit.  He later moved to Seattle and Tacoma, Washington and then Oakland, California, working as a barber in each city.  Binga also worked as a Pullman porter and during that time acquired property in Pocatello, Idaho which he profitably sold.

Binga finally settled in Chicago in 1893.  His first real estate ventures were relatively modest. He began by purchasing run down buildings, repairing, and renting them. By 1908 Binga had built up enough wealth that he was able to establish a private bank.  Binga also married Eudora Johnson who provided him with additional assets and considerable social prestige.  As the African American population of Chicago began to grow in the first two decades of the 20th Century Binga opened the Binga State Bank in 1921 with deposits of over $200,000.  Within three years the bank had deposits of over $1.3 million. Binga, now the owner of a number of South Side Chicago properties was also a leading philanthropist.

Sources: 
Carl Osthaus, "The Rise and Fall of Jesse Binga, Black Banker,” Journal of Negro History (January 1973); "Jesse Binga" Chicago Tribune: Markers of Distinction. http://chicagotribute.org/Markers/Binga.htm;
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Jessye, Eva (1895-1992)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Eva Jessye was a pioneer in the world of African American music and is recognized as the first black woman to receive international distinction as a choral director. She was born in Coffeyville, Kansas on January 20, 1895 to Albert and Julia Jessye, but was raised by various relatives after her parents’ separation. Influenced by the singing of her great-grandmother and great-aunt, Jessye developed an early love of traditional Negro spirituals. At the age of thirteen, she attended Western University in Kansas City, Kansas where she studied poetry and oratory. In addition to singing in Western’s concert choir, she gained experience coaching several male and female student choral groups.
Sources: 
R. Marie Griffith and Barbara Dianne Savage, eds., Women and Religion in the African Diaspora: Knowledge, Power, and Performance (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 2006); Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005); Jeffrey Lehman, ed., The African American Almanac (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2003); Eileen Southern, The Music of Black Americans: A History (New York: W.W. Norton, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Cornish, Samuel Eli (1795-1858)

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

Samuel Cornish, an abolitionist and editor, was born in Sussex County, Delaware and raised in Philadelphia and New York City, New York.  Since both of his parents were free African Americans Cornish was born free.  After graduating from the Free African School in Philadelphia Cornish began training to become a Presbyterian minister and was ordained in 1822.  Shortly afterward he moved to New York City where he organized the first black Presbyterian Church in Manhattan.

Sources: 

Jack Salzman, David Smith, and Cornel West, eds., Encyclopedia of
African-American Culture and History
(New York: Simon & Schuster
Macmillan, 1996); Lerone Bennett Jr., Pioneers in Protest (Chicago:
Johnson Publishing Company Inc., 1968).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Gaston, A. G. (1892-1996)

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

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Gordon, Dexter (1923-1990)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Dexter Gordon was a pioneering jazz saxophonist who made a career of expertly blending rhythm and romance on the bandstand and the silver screen. Nicknamed "Long Tall Dex" for his 6-foot 5-inch frame, the Los Angeles, California native was born on Feb. 27, 1923. Gordon's father, Dr. Frank Gordon, M.D., was one of the first prominent African American physicians in Los Angeles and counted Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton among his patients.

Young Gordon took up the clarinet at the age of 13 before switching to saxophone (initially alto, then tenor) at 15. His big break came in 1940 at the age of 17 when he joined Lionel Hampton’s band. From 1943 to 1944 he was featured in the bands of Louis Armstrong, Billy Eckstine and Fletcher Henderson. Gordon made his first recordings under his own name in 1945 when he signed with the Savoy label.  

Sources: 
Stan Britt, Long Tall Dexter: A Critical Musical Biography of Dexter Gordon (London: Quartet Books, 1989); Roland Baggenaes, Jazz Greats Speak: Interviews with Master Musicians (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2008).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Quarterman, Lloyd Albert (1918-1982)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born May 31, 1918 in Philadelphia, Lloyd Albert Quarterman, a chemist, was one of the few African American scientists and technicians to work on the Manhattan Project, the top secret effort to design and build the atomic bomb during World War II.

Quarterman developed an interest in chemistry from a young age partly by using toy chemistry sets his parents gave him.  He attended St. Augustine's College in Raleigh, North Carolina where he developed a reputation as a scholar and star football player.  After receiving his bachelor's degree from St. Augustine’s in 1943, he was quickly recruited by the War Department to work on the Manhattan Project.  Though he was only a junior chemist on the project, Quarterman had the opportunity to work closely with Enrico Fermi at the University of Chicago and with Albert Einstein at Columbia University.  

Quarterman was a member of the team of scientists who isolated the isotope of uranium (U 238) necessary for the fission process, which was essential to the creation of the atom bomb.  Once the war ended, he continued to work at the University of Chicago’s laboratory hidden beneath the campus football stadium during the war and later rebuilt in a Chicago suburb and renamed the Argonne National Laboratory.  After the war, Quarterman returned to school and earned a master of science from Northwestern University in 1952. He would return to Argonne and remain at the national laboratory for the next thirty years.
Sources: 
Ray Spangenburg and Kit Moster, African Americans in Science, Math, and Invention (New York: Facts on File, 2003); Julius H. Taylor, et al., The Negro in Science (Baltimore: Morgan State University, 1955); Ivan Van Sertima, Blacks in Science: Ancient and Modern (New Brunswick: Transaction Books, 1991); Stephane Groueff, The Manhattan Project: The Untold Story of the Making of the Atomic Bomb (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1967).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Case Western Reserve University

LL Cool J [James Todd Smith] (1968- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership, Public Domain
LL Cool J, rapper and actor, was born James Todd Smith, the only child of James and Ondrea Smith on January 14, 1968 in St. Albans, Queens, New York City, New York.  Early in James’ life, the relationship between his mother and father turned violent and they divorced when he was four years old.  Later, after enduring physical and emotional abuse from his mother’s boyfriend, James became a bully himself.  It was around his tenth birthday that he found a constructive way to channel his aggression, the newly emerging musical genre of hip-hop.

After his grandfather gave him a mixer for his 11th birthday, James began writing and producing his own songs.  At age 15 he came up with his stage name:  Ladies Love Cool James (which he shortened to LL Cool J).  In 1984, LL met Rick Rubin, a student at New York University and co-founder of Def Jam Records, hip-hop’s first major label.  Impressed by what he heard, Rubin began producing LL immediately and in 1985 Def Jam released the 17 year-old’s debut album, Radio.
Sources: 
http://www.rollingstone.com/music/artists/ll-cool-j/biography; http://www.mtv.com/artists/ll-cool-j/biography/
Daudi Abe, 6 ‘N the Morning: West coast hip-hop music 1987-1992 & the transformation of mainstream culture (Los Angeles: Over The Edge Books, 2013).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle Central Community College

Dixon, Eustace Augustus, II (1934-2000)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Euell Nielsen
Eustace A. Dixon II, 20th century author and environmental health advocate, was born at home in Brooklyn, New York on July 9, 1934. He was the youngest child of Eustace A. Dixon, a native of Jamaica and Beulah Talbot, a native of Bermuda. Dixon graduated from Boys High School, Brooklyn, New York, in 1952 and enlisted in the U.S. Army during the Korean War where he served as a radio communications specialist.  

After being discharged from the military, he enrolled in Brooklyn College and received his B.S. degree in chemistry in 1956.  In 1977 he received an M.A. degree from Glassboro State College in New Jersey and four years later he received a Ph.D. in public health from Union Institute and University.  In 1995 at the age of 61, Dixon received an M.A. in Music from Glassboro State University.
Sources: 
“Eustace Dixon Obituary,” The Daytona Beach Sunday News Journal, January 16, 2000; Eustace Dixon, New Jersey: Environment and Cancer (Mantua, New Jersey: Eureka Publications, 1982); Eustace Dixon, Syndromes for the Layperson (Mantua, New Jersey: Eureka Publications, 1992).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Brown, Marie Van Brittan (1922–1999)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Marie Van Brittan Brown was the inventor of the first home security system. She is also credited with the invention of the first closed circuit TV.  Brown was born in Queens, New York, on October 22, 1922, and resided there until her death on February 2, 1999, at age seventy-six. Her father was born in Massachusetts and her mother was from Pennsylvania.

The patent for the invention was filed in 1966, and it later influenced modern home security systems that we still use today. Brown’s invention was inspired by the security risk that her home faced in the neighborhood where she lived. Marie Brown worked as a nurse and her husband, Albert Brown, worked as an electronics technician. Their work hours were not the standard 9-5, and the crime rate in their Queens, New York City neighborhood was very high. Even when the police were contacted in the event of an emergency, the response time tended to be slow. As a result, Brown looked for ways to increase her level of personal security. She needed to create a system that would allow her to know who was at her home and contact relevant authorities as quickly as possible.
Sources: 
Raymond B. Webster, African American firsts in science & technology,  (1999); The Inventor of the Home Security System: Marie Van Brittan Brown by Think Protection; Patent: US 3482037 A; “Brown Interview with the New York Times,” New York Times, December 6, 1969.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
York University, Toronto

Fort-Whiteman, Lovett (1889-1939)

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

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

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

Smith, Charles Z. (1927-2016)

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

On July 18, 1988, Charles Z. Smith became the first African American to serve on the Washington Supreme Court.  He was appointed to the court by Washington’s then Governor Booth Gardner and was subsequently elected to his position on the court for a two-year term in 1988.  Justice Smith was elected thereafter to full six-year terms in 1990 and 1996.  Justice Smith was never opposed in any of his elections.  He retired from the court on December 31, 2002.

When Governor Gardner appointed Charles Smith to the Washington Supreme Court, he hoped that the new justice, who was noted for his “mediator-conciliator type of personality,” could bring the often sharply divided court closer together.  Justice Smith’s voting record on the court indicated that he met the governor’s expectations.  In his first two years on the court, Justice Smith wrote twenty-five opinions and of that number, eighteen were unanimous opinions, a percentage that far exceeded that of the full court.  During his entire career on the court, Justice Smith showed a tendency to be the swing vote in many cases and he rarely dissented.

Sources: 
Charles H. Sheldon, The Washington High Bench: A Biographical History of the State Supreme Court, 1889-1991 (Pullman, WA: Washington State University Press, 1992).
Affiliation: 
Supreme Court of the State of Washington

Rector, Sarah (1902–1967)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Sarah Rector at Age 12
Sarah Rector received international attention at the age of eleven when The Kansas City Star in 1913 publicized the headline, “Millions to a Negro Girl.” From that moment Rector’s life became a cauldron of misinformation, legal and financial maneuvering, and public speculation. 

Rector was born to Joseph and Rose Rector on March 3, 1902, in a two-room cabin near Twine, Oklahoma on Muscogee Creek Indian allotment land.  Both Joseph and Rose had enslaved Creek ancestry, and both of their fathers fought with the Union Army during the Civil War. When Oklahoma statehood became imminent in 1907, the Dawes Allotment Act divided Creek lands among the Creeks and their former slaves with a termination date of 1906.  Rector’s parents, Sarah Rector herself, her brother, Joe, Jr., and sister Rebecca all received land. Lands granted to former slaves were usually the rocky lands of poorer agricultural quality. Rector’s allotment of 160 acres was valued at $556.50.

Sources: 
Tonya Bolden, Searching for Sarah Rector: The Richest Black Girl in America, (New York: Abrams Books, 2014); http://african-nativeamerican.blogspot.com/2010/04/remembering-sarah-rector-creek.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Byrd, Jr., James (1949-1998)

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

James Byrd, Jr. is considered one of the last lynching victims in the United States. On the morning of June 7, 1998, 49-year-old Byrd left his parents’ residence and was walking home alone along Huff Creek Road in Jasper, Texas.  He was approached by three white men, John William King, Lawrence Russell Brewer, and Shawn Allen Berry, who offered him a ride home.  Byrd accepted.  The men then drove their unsuspecting passenger to a remote area and then beat and urinated on him.  They tied him by his ankles to the back of a pickup truck using log chains and dragged him until he died and his body was dismembered.  Portions of his corpse were found dispersed in seventy-five different spots along the two-mile stretch of country road that the men traveled.  Byrd’s torso was located approximately one mile from his head.  The trio left what body parts remained affixed to the truck at a black cemetery before heading to eat.  Law enforcement agents used finger prints to determine Byrd’s identity.  The gruesome nature of Byrd’s death captured national attention and demonstrated that racialized violence in America was not a relic of a Jim Crow past.

Sources: 
Allen Turner, “Hate Crime Killer Executed,” Houston Chronicle, September 21, 2011; “James Byrd, Jr.,” Bibliography.com, https://www.biography.com/people/james-byrd-jr-092515; “Matthew Shepard,” Bibliography.com, https://www.biography.com/people/matthew-shepard-092515; Delores  Jones-Brow, Beverly D. Frazier, and Marvie Brooks, eds., African Americans and Criminal Justice: An Encyclopedia, (Santa Barbara: Greenwood, 2014).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Hood College

Monnerville, Gaston (1897–1991)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Born in Cayenne, French Guiana to parents Marc Saint-Yves Monnerville and Marie-Françoise Orville, Gaston Monnerville was the grandson of a slave. His family was from Case-Pilote in Martinique, but moved to French Guiana where two sons were born: Pierre and Gaston.

Gaston was a brilliant student at Cayenne High School, and with a fellowship moved to Lycée Pierre-de-Fermat in Toulouse, France in 1912. He resented the cold French winters but his record was excellent especially in Philosophy and Mathematics.  He won numerous awards before graduating in 1915.  He then enrolled in Toulouse University, following a double academic program: literature and law. In 1921 he completed his Law thesis cum laude. His brother Pierre graduated in medical studies.
Sources: 
Rodolphe Alexandre, Gaston Monnerville et la Guyane (Paris: Ibis Rouge Editions, 1999); Jean-Paul Brunet, Gaston Monnerville, le Républicain qui défia de Gaulle (Paris: Albin Michel, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Emeritus Professor, University of Paris

Farrakhan, Louis Abdul (1933- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Louis Abdul Farrakhan was born on May 11, 1933 in Bronx, New York as Louis Eugene Walcott.  Walcott, who grew up in Roxbury, Massachusetts, excelled as a musician, singer and track star.  He attended a Boston-area school for gifted children and was given national exposure at age 14 when, as one of the first African Americans to appear on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour, he won the competition for that episode.  After high school Walcott attended Winston-Salem Teachers College for two years and then worked as a calypso guitarist-singer. Walcott joined the Nation of Islam (NOI) in 1955 and changed his name to Louis X and later Louis Farrakhan.  Initially he was a follower of Malcolm X, but became a competitor in the period before Malcolm’s assassination in 1965.

Sources: 
Kwame A. Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience, (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 1999), 732, 33; Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua and Clarence Lang, “Providence, Patriarchy, Pathology: Louis Farrakhan's Rise & Decline,” New Politics, vol. 6, no. 2 (new series), whole no. 22, Winter 1997. http://www.wpunj.edu/~newpol/issue22/chajua22.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Freeman, Fillmore (1936-- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
With expertise in the mechanisms and kinetics of the oxidation of transitions metals and in agricultural chemistry, Fillmore Freeman has become one of the three most frequently cited African American chemists in the nation (the other two being Donald J. Darensbourg at Texas A&M University and Joseph S. Francisco of Purdue University), according to a survey conducted by the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.  

Born on April, 1936 in Lexington, Mississippi, Freeman earned his bachelor of  science degree from historically black Central State University in 1957 and his Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry from Michigan State University in 1962.  From 1962 to 1964 he worked as a research chemist with a private firm and from 1964 to 1965 was a National Institutes of Health (NIH) fellow at Yale University.  Later, he was an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation fellow, a Fulbright-Hays senior research scholar, a visiting professor at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysical Chemistry in West Germany and at the University of Paris, and an adjunct chemistry professor at the University of Chicago.  
Sources: 
American Men & Women of Science, 22nd Ed. Vol. 2 (2005); Kirstina Lindgren, “Irvine Researcher Get $507,750 Grant,” Los Angeles Times, 15 May 1991; “News and Views,” Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, Issue 35 (April 2002); http://www.chem.uci.edu/people/faculty/ffreeman/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Plaatje, Solomon Tshekisho (1876–1932)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
David Dabydeen, John Gilmore and Cecily Jones, eds., The Oxford Companion to Black British History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007); Peter Midgley, Sol Plaatje: An Introduction, NELM Introduction Series 3 (Grahamstown: National English Literary Museum, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Douglass, Grace Bustill (1782-1842)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Grace Bustill Douglass, a Quaker abolitionist, was born into a distinguished black activist family in Burlington, New Jersey.  She was the fifth of eight children born to Cyrus Bustill, a baker, and Elizabeth Morey Bustill, the daughter of an Englishman and a Delaware Indian woman.  Grace’s father was the son of a slave and had baked bread for George Washington’s army during the War for American Independence.  As a child, Grace attended a school for black children in Philadelphia.
Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992), and Dorothy Sterling, ed., We Are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century (New York: W.W. Norton, 1984).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Blackwell, Unita (1933- )

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

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

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

Colescott, Robert (1925- 2009)

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

Robert Colescott’s massive paintings evoke powerful emotions and thoughtful contemplation. For the past thirty years, Colescott has engaged themes of race, gender, and social inequality. His art is both highly charged and also intrinsically beautiful.  In 1997, Colescott was the first African American painter to have a solo exhibit at the Venice Biennale in Italy. His work is in the permanent collections of many museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum, the Seattle Art Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Oakland Museum.

Sources: 
Chris Rhomberg, No There There: Race, Class, and Political Community in Oakland (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004); Peter Selz, Robert Colescott: Troubled Goods (San Francisco: Society for Art Publications of the Americas, 2006).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Oregon

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

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

Scott, Robert “Bobby” (1947- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the U.S. House of 
Representatives Photography Office
Congressman Robert Cortez “Bobby” Scott was born on April 30, 1947 in Washington, D.C. but later resided in Newport News, Virginia.  Scott attended Harvard University and later graduated from the Boston College School of Law.

Scott, a Democrat, entered politics in 1978, running a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates representing Newport News.  In 1983 he was elected to the Virginia State Senate.  During his years in the Virginia Assembly, Scott sponsored legislation related to healthcare, education, crime prevention, economic development, consumer protection and social services.  One of his measures increased the Virginia minimum wage and another produced improvements in healthcare benefits for women, infants, and children.  Scott also sponsored legislation that created the Governor’s Employment and Training Council.  His sponsorship of the Neighborhood Assistance Act led to granting tax credits to businesses for donations made to approved social service and crime prevention programs
Sources: 
www.house.gov/scott/bio.shtml;                www.govtrack.us/congress/person.xpd?id.=400364
MIX Magazine, January 2006; Portfolio Weekly, December 23, 2003
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Norfolk State University

Williams, Spencer (1893-1969)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Radio Characters from Amos 'N' Andy,
Spencer Williams (left)
and Alvin Tim Moore (right)
Image Courtesy of ©Bettmann-Corbis

Spencer Williams is widely known for his portrayal of the character Andy in the controversial 1950s television comedy series Amos ‘n Andy.  His contributions to the world of film and television, however, far surpassed the limitations of the popular but widely criticized Amos ‘n Andy sitcom. Born July 14, 1893 in Vidalia, Louisiana, Williams moved to New York City during his teens and studied comedy under vaudeville comedian Bert Williams.

He attended the University of Minnesota, but interrupted his studies to serve several years in the United States Army during and after World War I. After being honorably discharged from the service in 1923, Williams returned to New York City and concentrated on a career in show business. He eventually landed a job with Christie Studios in Hollywood, where he co-wrote and appeared in Paramount Pictures’ first all-black talking film, Melancholy Dame (1928). He was subsequently retained as a consultant, continuity writer, and performer for the Christie Comedies – a comedy series that focused on black life in urban Alabama.

Sources: 

Donald Bogle, Blacks in American Film and Television: An Encyclopedia
(New York: Garland Publishing, 1988); Thomas Cripps, Black Film as
Genre
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1978); Wheeler Dixon, The
“B” Directors: A Biographical Directory
(Metuchen, New Jersey:
Scarecrow, 1985); Phyllis Klotman, Frame By Frame: A Black Filmography
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1978); Henry T. Sampson, Blacks
in Black and White: A Source Book on Black Films
(Metuchen, New Jersey:
Scarecrow, 1977); Mel Watkins, On the Real Side (New York: Simon &
Schuster, 1994).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Flowers, Vonetta (1973- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Vonetta Flowers

The first person of African descent, male or female, to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics was Vonetta Flowers when she won gold in the women's bobsled event in 2002 at Salt Lake City.

Sources: 

http://www.vonettaflowers.com; Vonetta Flowers with W. Terry Whalin, Running on Ice: The Overcoming Faith of Vonetta Flowers (Birmingham, AL: New Hope Publishers, 2005).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Long Beach

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

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

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

Cosby Show, The (1984-1992)

Vignette Type: 
Misc
History Type: 
African American History
The Huxtables, The Bill Cosby Show, 1986
Image Ownership: Public Domain

The Cosby Show was the most popular series on American television in the late 1980s.  The situation comedy, which ran on the NBC network from September 1984 to April 1992, was based on the standup comedy routine of its star, Bill Cosby. The show focused on an affluent black family without presenting racial stereotypes or standard one-line jokes to generate audience loyalty.  The series was not initially expected to survive against its competitor Magnum P.I., a drama airing on CBS in the same time slot, but it quickly moved to the top of the ratings and revived a dying sitcom genre. The Cosby show inspired other successful sitcoms including Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Roseanne, which were also based on standup comedy routines.

Sources: 
Linda K. Fuller, The Cosby Show: Audience, Impact, and Implications (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1992); Marianne Ruuth, Bill Cosby, Entertainer (Los Angeles: Melrose Square Publishing, 1992); Donald Bogle, Blacks in American Films and Television: An Encyclopedia  (New York: Fireside Press, 1988).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Lofton, Ramona ["Sapphire"] (1950- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Ramona Lofton, better known as Sapphire, is a self-admitted bisexual, novelist, poet, and performance artist. She gained prominence for her 1996 debut novel, Push, and other works that focus on the alarming realities of inner city life.

Lofton was born on August 4, 1950 in Fort Ord, California, the second oldest of four children born to military parents. Her father was an army sergeant and her mother was a soldier in the Women's Army Corps. Throughout her childhood, her family maintained a middle-class façade while hiding incest and alcoholism.

When Lofton was thirteen, her father retired from the Army and moved the family to Los Angeles. Her mother, who was battling alcoholism, did not join them and instead abandoned the family. Years later they reconnected, but her mother succumbed to alcoholism in 1986.  That same year Lofton’s homeless brother was murdered in a Los Angeles park. Their deaths later played pivotal roles in Lofton's emerging writing career.

Lofton dropped out of high school and moved to San Francisco in the early 1970s, briefly studying chemistry and dance at the City College of San Francisco, before adopting what she described as a hippie lifestyle.  She moved to New York City in 1977, where she supported herself by working as a housekeeper and as a topless dancer.
Sources: 
Claude J. Summers and Sapphire, eds., An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture (Chicago: GLBTQ, Inc., 2011), Retrieved from ww.glbtq.com/social-sciences/lofton_l.html; Marq Wilson, A Push out of Chaos: An Interview with Sapphire (Storrs, Connecticut: Melus, 2012); Elizabeth McNeil, Un-"Freak"ing Black Female Selfhood: Grotesque-Erotic Agency and Ecofeminist Unity in Sapphire's Push (Storrs, Connecticut: Melus, 2012).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Brown, Gayleatha Beatrice (1947-2013)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
On July 2, 2009 President Barack Obama appointed Gayleatha Beatrice Brown to be the United States ambassador to Burkina Faso, a nation in West Africa.  This was her second ambassadorial appointment. Previously, Brown had been appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Benin, a post she held from 2006 to 2009.
Sources: 
“Ambassador Gayleatha B. Brown,” http://web.archive.org/web/20090922093219/http://cotonou.usembassy.gov/bio.html; “Ambassador Gayleatha Beatrice Brown,” U.S. Department of State Archive, http://2001-2009.state.gov/r/pa/ei/biog/70159.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Lucille Hegamin (1894–1970)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
A musical pioneer who was among America’s first wave of jazz and blues recording artists in the 1920s, Lucille Hegamin was born Lucille Nelson in Macon, Georgia, on November 29, 1894. She grew up singing in church and at the age of fifteen joined a tent-show touring company performing standards of the day. She traveled around the country until 1914 when she settled in Chicago, Illinois. She made a living in nightclubs as a pop, blues, and jazz singer, working with a number of popular musicians of the period including pianists Tony Jackson and Jelly Roll Morton. She occasionally used the alias Fanny Baker and was known to many on the club circuit as “The Georgia Peach.” While in Chicago she met and married pianist Bill Hegamin. The couple eventually settled in New York City, New York in 1919.
Sources: 
Linda Dahl, Stormy Weather: The Music and Lives of a Century of Jazzwomen (New York: Pantheon Books, 1984); Ken Kunstadt, “The Lucille Hegamin Story,” Record Research, no. 39 (November, 1961), No. 40 (January 1962), no. 41 (February 1962), and No. 42 (May 1962); Scott Yanow, Jazz on Record: The First Sixty Years (San Francisco: Backbeat Books, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of North Georgia

Lewis, David Levering (1936- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Fortes, Seraphim “Joe” (1865-1922)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain
Seraphim “Joe” Fortes was born in Barbados, West Indies. He was a seaman and came to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in 1885. There he worked as a barman at the Sunnyside Hotel. English Bay became his favourite spot as he loved the water and was an excellent swimmer. Every day he swam in the bay, and finally he gave up his hotel job to live in a little cottage on the shore where he became a well-known lifeguard.


Joe guarded the beach kindly, but firmly, and taught the children who came there how to swim. He is credited with rescuing over 100 lives of both children and adults who ventured too far and got in trouble. For his community service, the City of Vancouver made him a special constable. When Beach Avenue was being improved, Joe’s little cottage was moved beside the bandstand at Alexandra Park, and he lived there until he died. In 1924, a memorial drinking fountain was erected facing the beach where he had served as guardian and teacher for over twenty years. He is honoured as the first English Bay lifeguard after the Park Board decided to create such a post.

Sources: 
A Resource Guide on Black Pioneers in British Columbia (Victoria, B.C: The British Columbia Black History Awareness Society, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
British Columbia Black History Awareness Society

Edwards, James (1871-1951)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
James Edwards, ca. 1930
Image Courtesy of James Guenther

James Edwards was one of the most successful African American homesteaders in the state of Wyoming.  Born in Ohio on February 14, 1871, local tradition in Wyoming suggests that prior to venturing west, Edwards had served in an African American cavalry unit in Cuba, though no documentation has been found to substantiate the claim.

In 1900, Edwards accompanied his father and a group of Italian miners westward in response to eastern newspaper advertisements of work at the Cambria coal mine in Newcastle, Wyoming.  After being driven away from the mine, Edwards walked south to the area near Lusk, finding work on March 31, 1903 on Eugene Bigelow Wilson and George Luther Wilson's Running Water Ranch on the Niobrara River in present day Niobrara County, Wyoming.   He was regarded by the owners of the ranch as a good and trustworthy worker, sheepman, and horse trainer.  Edwards worked on the Wilson Brothers’ ranch until December of 1914.  By the end of his employment on the ranch he had been promoted to foreman, putting him in a supervisory role over white employees.

Sources: 
Todd Guenther, "'Y'all Call Me Nigger Jim Now, But Someday You'll Call Me Mr. James Edwards': Black Success on the Plains of the Equality State," Annals of Wyoming 61:2 (Fall 1989); Anne Wilson Whitehead, “Letters to the Editor,” Annals of Wyoming 62:2 (Summer 1990).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Wyoming

Kaepernick, Colin Rand (1987- )

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

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

Sources: 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Grant, George Franklin (1847-1910)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Dr. George Franklin Grant was the first African American professor at Harvard. He was born in Oswego, New York to former slaves. When he was fifteen years old a local dentist, Dr. Albert Smith, hired him as an errand boy. He soon became a lab assistant, and Dr. Smith encouraged him to pursue a career in dentistry. In 1868 he and Robert Tanner Freeman, another son of former slaves, became the first blacks to enroll in Harvard Dental School. After receiving his degree in 1870, he became the first African American faculty member at Harvard, in the School of Mechanical Dentistry, where he served for 19 years.

While there he specialized in treating patients with congenital cleft palates. His first patient was a 14 year-old girl, and by 1889 he had treated 115 cases. He patented the oblate palate, a prosthetic device that allowed patients to speak more normally. He was a founding member and president of the Harvard Odontological  Society, and, in 1881, he was elected President of the Harvard Dental Association.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Zulu, Shaka (1787-1828)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Shaka Zulu established the Zulu Empire and revolutionized warfare in Southern Africa in the early 19th Century.  Shaka was born in 1787. His father, Senzangakhona, was a minor chief of one of the Zulu-speaking clans and his mother, Nandi, was daughter of Chief Mbhengi of the rival clan.  Shaka’s birth was considered a sin because his parents were from different clans. Due to pressure from tribal leaders Shaka’s parents separated resulting in the exile of him and his mother from his father’s clan. Shaka’s mother returned to her Elangeni where she was shunned.  Consequently, her son Shaka was harassed, tormented, and neglected.

As Shaka grew older, he recalled with anger his tormenting by Elangeni members.  Upon reaching manhood he deserted the Elangeni and became affiliated with the Mthethwa clan. He served as a warrior for six years under the reign of Dingiswayo, the Mthethwa’s chief. Dingiswayo was impressed by Shaka’s courage and endurance and remained with the Mthethwa until he learned of the death of his father, Senzangakhona, in 1816.

Shaka claimed his father’s chieftaincy with military assistance from Dingiswayo.  With his experience learned from the Mthethwa, he transformed his clan’s military from a largely ceremonial force into a powerful army capable of both defense and aggression.
Sources: 
Carolyn Hampton, “Shaka Zulu,” in New Encyclopedia of Africa, John Middleton and Joseph C. Miller, eds., (New York: Scribner’s, 2008); Alonford James Robinson, “Shaka,” in Africana, the Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience. Ed. Kwame Anthony Appiah, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., eds., (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Murray, Pauli (1910-1985)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Cobb, W. Montague (1904–1990)

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

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

Badin, Adolf (1747-1822)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Adolf Badin, also known as Adolf Ludvig Gustav Fredrik Albert/Couschi, was born in St. Croix, Danish West Indies in 1747, and died in 1822 in Sweden.  Badin came to Sweden a slave but became a titled person in the courts of King Fredrick and Queen Ulrika during their reign (1751-1771).  Badin married twice: first to Elisabet Svart in 1782, and then to Magdelena Eleonra Norell in 1799; he had no children. Badin has been described by his many court functions: assessor, page, footman, jester, diarist, servant, chamberlain, court secretary, ballet master, book collector. However, he preferred to call himself “farmer,” as he eventually owned two small farms, one in Svartsjolandet and the other in Sorunda.

Badin's real last name was Couschi, but he was christened as Badin, which signifies “prankster.” He's also been referred to as “Morianen” which was the colloquial name for African Diasporians in Europe at that time.  
Sources: 
Edward Matz, “Badin-An Experiment in Free Upbringing,” Popular Historia (March 13, 1996); Madubuko A. Diakite, “African Diasporans in Sweden-An Unfinished History,” The Lundian, Special Edition (2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Handy, W.C. (1873-1958)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Musician and composer William Christopher “W.C.” Handy was born on November 16, 1873, in Florence, Alabama.  Widely known as the “Father of the Blues,” Handy is recognized as one of the leaders in popularizing blues music.  Young Handy’s interest in music was discouraged by his family and his church.
Sources: 
W.C. Handy, Father of Blues: An Autobiography (New York, Da Capo Press Inc., 1969); http://www.yearoftheblues.org/
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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.