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People

Combs, Sean “Diddy” (1970- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born November 4, 1970 in Harlem, New York, Sean “Diddy” Combs is a multi-platinum selling producer, rapper, and successful record company executive. Combs was raised in Harlem, where his father was killed when Combs was three.  His mother moved the family to suburban Mount Vernon, New York.  Combs attended Howard University for two years before dropping out to become an intern at Uptown Records in New York. Combs rose to Vice-President of Uptown Records after just a year.  Nonetheless he was fired in 1993.

Combs’s dismissal from Uptown prompted him to start his own label, Bad Boy Entertainment. The next year Bad Boy found success with two rap acts: Craig Mack, and The Notorious B.I.G. (Christopher George Wallace) whose album Ready to Die, released in 1994 went double-platinum and solidified Bad Boy’s place in the rap community.

In March 1997 as Sean Combs -- who performed at the time as Puff Daddy -- was working on his first solo album, The Notorious B.I.G. was killed.  Combs first solo album No Way Out, which was released in the summer of 1997, included a track that was a tribute to The Notorious B.I.G. and which relied heavily on a sample from the British rock group, The Police, called I’ll Be Missing You.  Combs performed the song live along with B.I.G.’s widow, Faith Evans, R&B group 112, and The Police lead singer Sting at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards.
Sources: 
Nelson George, Hip-Hop America (New York: Penguin Books, 2005); James Haskins, One Nation Under a Groove: Rap Music and its Roots (New York: Hyperion Books, 2000); John Bush & Bradley Torreano, "Diddy."  Allmusic.com 14 Mar. 2007. < http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:9lc8b5p4nsqh~T1>.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Lyons, Maritcha (1848–1929)

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

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

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

Silva, Tatiana (1985- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Tatiana Silva Braga Tavares is best known as the woman who was crowned Miss Belgium in 2005 and who represented Belgium in the Miss World competition in Sanya, China later that year.  Silva was born in the Brussels suburb of Uccle on February 5, 1985.   She was born into a middle class family.  Her mother is from Belgium and her father is Cape Verdean.  

Nineteen-year-old Silva was studying to be a personal assistant (secretary) and working as a shop attendant at the time of the contest.  Silva was crowned Miss Belgium because of her appearance, her talent in dance, and her knowledge of a number of languages including French (her native language), Dutch, English, Portuguese, and Cape Verdean.

Sources: 
Catherine Delvaux, “Stromae et Tatiana Silva ont rompu,” http://www.7sur7.be/7s7/fr/1527/People/aticle/detail/1622464/2013/04/26Stromae-et-Tatiana-Silva-ont-rompu.dhtml; Anaïs Lefebure, Miss France: l’histoire d’un mythe (Paris: JOL Press, 2014).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Emeritus Professor, University of Paris

Burnett, Chester Arthur/Howlin' Wolf (1910-1976)

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

Chester Arthur Burnett, better known by his stage name Howlin’ Wolf, was a blues performer and bandleader born in White Station, Mississippi to Leon "Dock" and Gertrude Young Burnett. He was married to Lillie Burnett and is survived by two stepchildren, Barbra Marks and Bettye Kelly.

After hearing and meeting Charlie Patton (sometimes spelled Charley), the most popular Delta blues performer at the time, Burnett decided to take up guitar and became a student of Patton. Burnett studied Patton’s music as well as his showmanship, and later traveled throughout the Delta performing with Patton, Son House, Robert Johnson, Willie Brown and other well-known Delta blues performers of the period. He was also influenced by Jimmie Rodgers, Tommy Johnson and Blind Lemon Jefferson, among other performers.

Sources: 
Robert Palmer, Deep Blues (New York: Penguin Group, 1981); Gayle Dean Wardlow, Chasin’ That Devil Music (San Francisco: Miller Freeman Books, 1998); Don McGlynn, Dir., The Howlin' Wolf Story – The Secret History of Rock & Roll (RCA/Historic Films Inc, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Case Western Reserve University

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

Fleetwood, Christian Abraham (1840-1914)

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

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

Petersen, Frank E., Jr. (1932-2015 )

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

Lieutenant General Frank E. Petersen Jr., the first black general in the U.S. Marine Corps, was born in 1932 in Topeka, Kansas. He earned his Bachelor of Science in 1967. He received a Master’s in International Affairs in 1973. Both degrees came from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He also attended the Amphibious Warfare School in Quantico, Virginia and the National War College in Washington, D.C.

Frank Petersen joined the Navy as an electronics technician in 1952. Motivated by the story of Jesse Brown, the first African American naval aviator who was shot down and killed over North Korea, Petersen applied for and was accepted into the Naval Aviation Cadet Corps. In 1952 Petersen completed his training with the Corps and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps.  He became the first black pilot in the Marine Corps.  

Sources: 

Henry E. Dabbs, Black Brass: Black Generals and Admirals in the Armed
Forces of the United States
(Charlottesville, Virginia: Howell Press,
1997); Jessie Carney Smith, Black Firsts (Canton, Michigan: Visible Ink
Press, 2003); Jonathan Sutherland, African-Americans at War (Santa
Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2004).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Hunt, Ida Alexander Gibbs (1862-1957)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

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

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

Maples, William Lineas (1869-1943)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
William Lineas Maples, a physician and musician, was born in Sevierville, Tennessee, on March 31, 1869. The son of Edward Maples and Martha Jane Runions, William graduated in the first class of the segregated high school in Knoxville in 1888.  Showing a talent for science, oratory, and music, he received the Dodson medal upon graduation.  

Maples taught high school for one year in Austin, Tennessee and then entered medical school at Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1889.  He received an M.D. degree in 1893 and returned to Knoxville to establish a medical practice.  The Spanish-American War in 1898 interrupted that practice as he joined the U.S. Army’s medical unit of the all-black Third Regiment of the North Carolina Volunteers. He ended his service a year later and returned to Knoxville to resume his practice.

In 1900 agents for the Hawaii Commercial and Sugar Company (HC&S Co.) on Maui traveled through Tennessee and Alabama looking for workers for Hawaii’s plantations. They also sought a physician to staff the hospital that would serve the contract workers. Maples was recruited as the anesthetist for the HC&S hospital. His older brother, Samuel, a lawyer, also accepted a position as a representative of the black contract laborers recruited for the HC&S plantations.

Prior to leaving Knoxville, Maples married Sadie (maiden name unknown), who accompanied him on the voyage to Hawaii. He was assigned to the hospital in Puunene,
Sources: 
Miles M. Jackson, And They Came: A Brief History of Blacks in Hawaii (Durham: Four Gs Publishers, 2001); Paul Wermager, They Followed the Trade Winds: African Americans in Hawaii (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Hawaii

McKinney, Cynthia Ann (1955- )

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

Cynthia Ann McKinney was born on March 17, 1955 in Atlanta, Georgia to parents Billy McKinney, who was a police officer and to a mother, Leola Christion McKinney, who was a nurse. Her father was a political activist who challenged his employer, the Atlanta Police Department, for its practice of racial discrimination.  This desire to use activism in the cause of racial justice was inherited by Cynthia McKinney who initiated her first petition against racism while still in school. In 1971 she challenged a teacher at the Catholic institution for using racist language.  Meanwhile, her father, Billy McKinney was elected to the Georgia State Legislature in 1973 as a Democrat.

After completing St. Joseph’s High School in Atlanta in 1973, McKinney in 1978 received a degree in international relations from the University of Southern California. This degree would serve her well in the future as became increasingly concerned about the role and impact of U.S. foreign around the world.  McKinney then entered the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.  There she met and Jamaican politician Coy Grandison and returned to Jamaica with him.

Sources: 
Darlene Clark Hine. “Cynthia McKinney” Black Women in America. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, http://bioguide.congress.gov/scrpits/biodisplay.pl?index=m000523; Congresspedia, http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Cynthia_Mckinney
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia (1892-1975)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Emperor Haile Selassie with Sir. Winston Churchill, 1954
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Emperor Haile Selassie was born on July 23, 1892 as Tafari Makonnen just outside the city of Harrar in Enjersa Goro Province, Ethiopia. His mother was Yeshimbet Ali Abajiffar and his father was Ras (Duke) Makonnen Wolde Michael, Governor of Harrar, relative of Emperor Menelik II (1889-1913), and a former general who had played a key role in the 1896 Battle of Adowa where Ethiopia defeated an invading Italian Army to become the only African state to retain its independence by military action.

Appointed governor of Harrar Province, Tafari Makonnen, despite his descent from previous Emperors, would likely have remained an unimportant political figure had he not married his second wife, Menen Asfaw, niece to the heir of the Ethiopian throne, Lij Iyasu.  When rumors spread that Iyasu was flirting with Islam, Ethiopian nobles made Tafari regent in 1916.  Elevated to the rank of Ras, Tafari began to rule in fact while Empress Zewditu, the daughter of Emperor Menelik II, was official head of state.   
Sources: 
Harold G. Marcus, Haile Sellassie I: The Formative Years, 1892-1936 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987); Saheed A. Adejumobi, The History of Ethiopia (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2007); Alberto Sbacchi, “Haile Selassie and the Italians, 1941-1943,” Journal of African History 22:1 (April 1979).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Collins, O'Neill R. (1931-1989)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The eighth child of a cotton farmer, O’Neil Ray Collins, born March 9, 1931 in Opelousas, Louisiana, rose to become one of the most distinguished African American botanists, a world renowned expert on slime-mold genetics.  Upon completing his bachelor’s degree in botany at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1957, Collins acquired his master’s in 1959 and doctorate in 1961 at the University of Iowa where he was grounded in mycology under the tutelage of Constantine Alexopoulos.  His Ph.D. thesis confirmed his exciting discovery of myxomycete mating types.  
Sources: 
Obituary. San Francisco Chronicle, 11 April 1989; American Men & Women of Science. 14th Ed. Vol. 2 (New York: Bowker, 1979). http://content.cdlib.org/xtf/view?docId=hb7c6007sj&doc.view=frames&chunk.id=div00007&toc.depth=1&toc.id=
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Franco, Marielle (1979-2018)

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

Marielle Franco was a Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) city councilmember, and member of the Party for Socialism and Liberty. She was also a member of the LGBT community and a human rights activist, especially against police brutality in the favelas, or slums of the city. On March 14, 2018, she was shot four times in the head and killed by two unknown attackers. Many believe what happened was an assassination.

She was born Marielle Francisco da Silva on July 27, 1979 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She was raised by her parents Marielle and Antonio in a complex of sixteen slums called Maré, in Rio. At age 19, she gave birth to her daughter, Luyara Santos. She then earned a scholarship to the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio in 2002 where she received a bachelors’ degree in social sciences four years later. She earned a masters’ degree in public administration from Fluminense Federal University in 2012. Before her death, she lived with her daughter and her girlfriend, Monica Tereza Benício, whom she dated for thirteen years and had planned to marry in 2019.

Sources: 
Marie Declercq and Meredith Balkus, “Marielle Franco, Activist Against Brazil’s Police Brutality, Assassinated in Rio,” Broadly, March 15th, 2018, https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/kzp4dv/marielle-franco-activist-against-brazils-police-brutality-assassinated-in-rio; Glenn Greenwald, “Marielle Franco: Why my friend was a repository of hope…” The Independent, March 16th, 2018, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/marielle-franco-death-dead-dies-brazil-assassination-rio-de-janeiro-protest-glenn-greenwald-a8259516.html; Marina Maliutchenko, “Marielle Franco: Life and Resistance of Brazilian Activism Champion,” Welker Media, March 18th, 2018, http://welkermedia.com/daily/marielle-franco-brazilian-activism.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Palmer, Ben (c. 1817- 1908)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Ben Palmer, pioneer 19th Century Nevada Territory rancher, was born in South Carolina sometime around 1817.  Little is known about Palmer's childhood background.  Palmer and his sister, Charlotte, who was married to white settler D.H. Barber, were among the first settlers in the Carson Valley near the present city of Reno.  Barber and Palmer were emigrants bound for California in the early 1850s.  Upon reaching the well-watered Carson Valley, they decided instead to settle and raise cattle that would be sold to other emigrants on the California Trail.

Palmer and his brother-in-law Barber made land claims of 320 acres and 400 acres respectively in 1853.  Their claims were side by side on the west side of the Carson Valley.  Palmer and Barber made their claims when the region was officially still part of Utah Territory.  Its capital, Salt Lake City, was 500 miles east which meant there was virtually no civil authority before they arrived.  
Sources: 
Untitled and Unpublished Manuscript by Elmer Rusco, historian at the University of Nevada, Reno; Elmer Rusco, Good Time Coming? Black Nevadans in the Nineteenth Century (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1975).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Haynes, Ulric St. Clair, Jr. (1931- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The sole child of immigrants from the Barbados, Ulric St. Clair Haynes Jr. was born June 8, 1931 in Brooklyn, New York. Haynes attended Amherst College in Massachusetts, graduating cum laude in 1952, and then earned a law degree at Yale University four years later.  Haynes worked briefly as an executive assistant with the New York State Department of Commerce, and from 1956 to 1959 he was an administrative officer with the United Nations’ European Office in Geneva, Switzerland, assigned to recruit military and police officers for the UN’s Palestine peacekeeping missions and attend to UN concerns in the newly independent Republic of Guinea.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Stanley-Jones, Aiyana Mo'Nay (2002-2010)

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

In 2010 Aiyana Mo’Nay Stanley-Jones, a seven-year-old African-American girl, was accidentally shot and killed during a raid that was conducted by the Detroit, Michigan Police Department’s Special Response Team.  The killing contributed to raising national awareness of the ongoing issue of young unarmed African-Americans being killed by police.  It would also help inspire the creation of the Black Lives Matter Movement three years later.

Jones was born on July 20, 2002, to Charles Jones and Dominika Stanley in Detroit, Michigan. On May 14, 2010, Je’Rean Blake, a senior at Southeastern High School of Technology and Law was shot and killed near an intersection on Detroit’s east side. Later that day, Detroit Police identified Chauncey Owens as a suspect in the shooting and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Robert Browning Flippin (1903–1963)

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

Robert Browning Flippin was an important community leader and racial activist in San Francisco beginning in the 1930s through the 1950s. He was also the first African American parole officer at the California State Prison at San Quentin. The son of the black physician George Albert Flippin, Robert attended Nebraska Central College and Washington State College prior to his arrival in San Francisco. In 1936 he also studied medical technology briefly at the Northwest Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

In 1937 Flippin was appointed executive director of the Booker T. Washington Community Center in San Francisco, a recreation facility located in San Francisco’s Western Addition that catered to the city’s small African American population. Here, Flippin interacted with a broad array of San Francisco’s leaders and was regarded by the 1940s as one of the most respected African American leaders in the Bay Area.

Sources: 
Albert S. Broussard, African American Odyssey: The Stewarts, 1853-1963 (Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas A&M University

Lucas, Frank (1930- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Frank Lucas Mug
Shot, January 1975
Image Ownership:
Public domain

As one of the country’s most notorious gangsters and drug kingpins, Frank Lucas has led a very public life, even having his story depicted in the film American Gangster. Lucas was born to Mahalee Jones Lucas and Fred Lucas, on September 9, 1930 in La Grange, North Carolina. As a young boy, his family lived the typical poverty of the Great Depression. Lucas took to a life of petty crime as a teen. He began by stealing food but later escalated to robbing people outside of bars. Eventually, while dating the daughter of his boss at the time, Lucas attacked the father and stole money from the company before setting the business on fire. Fearing jail time, Lucas fled to New York following these attacks.

Sources: 
“Frank Lucas,” Biography.com, April 2017, https://www.biography.com/people/frank-lucas-253710; Alexi Friedman, “Newark’s ‘American Gangster’ Frank Lucas gets probation for stealing over $17K from federal government,” NJ.com, July 2012, https://www.biography.com/people/frank-lucas-253710; Mark Jacobson, “Return of the Superfly,” New York Metro, April 2000, https://web.archive.org/web/20060525040715/http://www.newyorkmetro.com/nymetro/news/people/features/3649/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Danticat, Edwidge (1969 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
American novelist Edwidge Danticat was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on January 19, 1969.  Like many Haitian families, her parents fled her homeland for the United States to escape the Jean-Claude Duvalier regime, leaving Danticat and her brother in Haiti for the time being. In 1981, when she was twelve years old, she and her brother moved to Brooklyn to be reunited with her parents and her two youngest siblings.  

Danticat attended Barnard College where she received her BA degree in French Literature in 1990.  During her time at Barnard College, she published a number of short stories in magazines such as Essence and Seventeen.  She received an MA degree at Brown University in 1993 and later used her thesis as the basis for her first novel, Breath, Eyes, Memory, which explored the immigration process to America from a child's point of view.

In 1995, Danticat published Krik? Krak!
, a collection of her short stories, which won her the Pushcart Short Stories Prize. The anthology was also a finalist for the National Book Award for that year.   Breath, Eyes, Memory was released in 1998 and soon afterward featured by Oprah's Book Club.  A year later she released her second novel, The Farming of Bones, which recounted the 1937 massacre of Haitian cane workers in the Dominican Republic then ruled by President Rafael Trujillo.  
Sources: 
Elizabeth Brown-Guillory, Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (Detroit: Macmillan Reference, 2006); http://www.oxfordaasc.com/article/opr/t0002/e1151; http://www.sflcn.com/story.php?id=7165.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Page, Alan (1945- )

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

Alan Page is a former professional football player and current Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. Born on August 7, 1945 in Canton, Ohio, Page holds the distinction of being the only player to work on the construction of the National Football League (NFL) Hall of Fame as well as be enshrined in it. Page played his high school football at Canton Central Catholic High School where he excelled in all sports; his athleticism and quickness off the ball would later enable him to record 148.5 career sacks in the NFL. Following high school Page attended Notre Dame where he helped lead them to a 1966 National Championship and was awarded All-American honors the same year.

After graduating from Notre Dame in 1967, Page was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings and was part of the famed “Purple People Eaters” defensive line from that year until 1978. Known for his durability, Page played an astounding 218 consecutive games without injury in which he recovered 22 fumbles, scored three touchdowns, and three safeties, the second most in NFL history. Page was a six-time all-pro and was voted to nine consecutive pro bowls. In 1971 page was voted NFL Defensive Player of the Year and well as NFL most valuable player, an honor he was only the second defensive player to receive.

Sources: 

Larry Batson and Harold Henriksen, Alan Page (Mankato, Minnesota: Amecus Street, 1974); www.nfl.com; www.page-ed.org/.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

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

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

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

Young, Charles (1864-1922)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Colonel Charles Young enjoyed a decorated military career after his graduation from West Point Military Academy in 1889.  A Buffalo Soldier serving with the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 25th Infantry, Young eventually became the first African American to achieve the rank of Colonel in the United States Army.

Charles Young was born to ex-slaves in Mays Lick, Kentucky in 1864.  His father, Gabriel, served in the Union Army during the Civil War.  At the age of 20 Charles Young was appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point.  In 1889 he became the third African American to graduate from the Academy.
Sources: 
Abraham Chew, A Biography of Colonel Charles Young (Washington, D.C.: R. L. Pendelton, 1923); TaRessa Stovall, The Buffalo Soldier (Chelsea House Publishers, Philadelphia, 1997); T. G. Stewart, Buffalo Soldiers: The Colored Regulars in the United States Army (Amherst, New York: Humanity Books, 2003); http://www.buffalosoldier.net; http://www.nps.gov.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

Lenhardt, Alfonso E. (1943- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Alfonso E. Lenhardt is currently Acting Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). He previously served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Republic of Tanzania from 2009 to 2013.

A native of New York City, New York, Ambassador Lenhardt began his career in the United States Army in 1966. During his time in the service he was chief of staff to the Director for the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization, Director of Personnel and Installation Management for the largest unit in the U.S. Army, head of military police, and finally commanding general of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command.  Lenhardt retired in August 1997 after 31 years of service.

From 1997 to 2001 Lenhardt served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Council on Foundations, a nonprofit membership association of grant making foundations and corporations whose mission is to promote responsible and effective philanthropy.
Sources: 
“Alfonso E. Lenhardt: Acting Administrator,” USAID: From the American People, http://www.usaid.gov/who-we-are/organization/alfonso-e-lenhardt; “President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts,” The White House Office of the Press Secretary, https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/03/27/president-obama-announces-more-key-administration-posts-0, March, 27, 2014;  “President Obama Nominates Alfonso Lenhardt to Serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Republic of Tanzania,” U.S. Embassy of Tanzania, http://www.usaid.gov/who-we-are/organization/alfonso-e-lenhardt, June 12, 2009.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Joaquin Delta College

Barlow, Orlando (1974-2003)

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

In 2003 Orlando Barlow was shot in the back while attempting to surrender to Las Vegas, Nevada Police officers. His murder helped generate what would eventually become a national debate about police use of deadly force against unarmed citizens and the eventual organization of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Orlando Barlow was a resident of Clark County which surrounds Las Vegas. On February 28, 2003, Barlow was at a residence on the 7000 block of Rustling Wind, watching the children of a female acquaintance. The woman, whose name was undisclosed, called the police, reporting that a man with a sawed-off shotgun was at her home holding her and her children hostage. She said she feared for her life and the lives of her seven children inside the home.  She called the police from a nearby convenience store because she did not have a phone in her home.

Sources: 
Jace Radke, “FBI looking into fatal shooting by Metro Police,” Las Vegas Sun, April 22, 2004, https://lasvegassun.com/news/2004/apr/22/fbi-looking-into-fatal-shooting-by-metro-police/; Jen Lawson, “Probe finds three Metro officers used excessive force,” Las Vegas Sun, June 15, 2004, https://lasvegassun.com/news/2004/jun/15/probe-finds-three-metro-officers-used-excessive-fo/; Titania Kumeh, “When Police Shoot and Kill Unarmed Black Men,” Motherjones.com, July 14, 2010, http://www.motherjones.com/crime-justice/2010/07/when-police-shoot-unarmed-man-oscar-grant-verdict-mehserle/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Boykin, Keith (1965- )

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

Author, commentator, speaker, political advisor, and columnist Keith Boykin was born in St. Louis, Missouri on August 28, 1965 but was raised in the suburb of Florissant, Missouri.

Boykin’s parents separated during his childhood, but he enjoyed close relationships with both sides of his family and thrived in his new environment. He excelled in school, participated in student government, and played on several sports teams. At fifteen, Boykin’s mother, a government employee, was transferred to California and he went to live with his father in Florida.

An excellent student, Boykin excelled academically at Dartmouth College where he was editor-in-chief of the college newspaper, track team member, and an exchange student at the Universidad de Grenada in Spain.  He graduated from Dartmouth with a B.A. degree in 1987.

Sources: 
Keith Boykin, Respecting the Soul: Daily Reflections for Black Lesbians and Gays (New York: Avon Books, 1999); Linda Rapp and Keith Boykin, eds., An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture (Chicago: GLBTQ, Inc., 2006), Retrieved from www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/boykin_k.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

Harris, Lorenzo [“Rennie”] (1963- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Rennie Harris, hip hop dancer, artist, teacher, artistic director, choreographer, and founder of Rennie Harris Puremovement (RHPM), was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1963. At the age of 15, Harris began teaching workshops and classes at universities around the country, educating the public of the relevance of street dances from any cultural origins. He is the recipient of the Kennedy Center Master of African American Choreography award, the 2007 Governor’s Artist of the Year Award (Pennsylvania), the 2007 United States Artist Fellowship Award, and has been highlighted in Rose Eichenbaum’s Masters of Movement: Portraits of America’s Great Choreographers (2007).

A life-long Philadelphia resident, Harris formed RHPM in 1992 to counteract the commercialized stereotypes the mass-media industry presents of hip hop dance and culture. RHPM was founded on the conviction that hip hop dance provides a medium of expression for  new generations to move beyond the boundaries of racial, religious, and economic differences through the power of original movement expression. Through his choreographic works for RHPM, Harris uses the ever-evolving style of hip hop street dance to reflect the distinct dance and movement impulses of current generations, while simultaneously representing the distinctive African American traditions of the past.
Sources: 
Brenda Dixon Gottschild, “Prince Scarekrow & the Emerald City,” Dance Magazine (February 2007); Heidi Henderson, ed., Growing Place: Interviews with Artists, 25 Years at the Bates Dance Festival (Lewiston, ME: Bates Dance Festival, 2007); http://www.rhpm.org/index.php
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Johnson, Charles S. (1893-1956)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of the Fisk University
Franklin Library's Special Collections

Charles Spurgeon Johnson, one of the leading 20th Century black sociologists, was born in Bristol, Virginia on July 24, 1893. After receiving his B.A. from Virginia Union University in Richmond, he studied sociology with the noted sociologist Robert E. Park at the University of Chicago, Illinois where he earned a Ph.D.  in 1917.  Initially a friend of historian Carter G. Woodson, he did collaborative work with the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History until his relationship with Woodson deteriorated. 

Sources: 

August Meier and Elliot Rudwick, Black Historians and the Historical Profession, 1915-1980 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986); Earnest W. Burgess, Elmer A. Carter, and Clarence Faust, “Charles S. Johnson, “Social Scientist, Editor, and Educational Statesman,” Phylon, 17 (Winter, 1956); Joe M. Richardson, A History of Fisk University-1865-1946 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1980) ; Patrick J. Gilpin, “Charles S. Johnson, An Intellectual Biography” (Ph.D.  Dissertation, Vanderbilt University, 1973).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Fresno

Bishop, Sanford Dixon, Jr. (1947--)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Hall, Katie Beatrice (1938-2012)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of the U.S. House of
Representatives Photography Office

Democratic representative Katie Hall was elected to the United States Congress in 1983. Born in Mound Bayou, Bolivar County, Mississippi in 1938, she attended Mississippi Valley State University and Indiana University before teaching in the public schools of Gary Indiana. Hall was elected to the Indiana State Legislature in 1972, and then to the Indiana State Senate in 1974, a position she was continually reelected to until 1983 when she campaigned for Congress from Indiana’s First Congressional District which is mostly Gary and the northwestern corner of the state.

Hall was nominated to run as a representative by the Democratic Party when Congressman Adam Benjamin died in office in 1982 shortly after winning reelection. Through a well organized six week campaign, Hall achieved an impressive 60% of the votes in the 1983 special election to become First District Representative, winning 97% of the black vote and a surprising 51% of the white vote.

Sources: 
William L. Clay, Just Permanent Interests; Black Americans in Congress 1870-1992 (New York: Amistad Press Inc., 1993); Bruce A. Ragsdale and Joel D. Tresse, Black Americans in Congress 1870-1989 (Washington, D.C. United States Congress, House, 1990); http://www.jstor.org/view/00318906/ap010103/01a00010/0?frame=noframe&userID=80d05fb1 [at] washington [dot] edu/01c0a80a6a00501cdb8f6&dpi=3&config=jstor; http://www.avoiceonline.org/mlk/
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Howard, Perry Wilbon (1877-1961)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Perry Wilbon Howard was one of the shrewdest and most enduring Southern black politicians of the early 20th Century.  Howard was a dominant figure in Mississippi Republican politics for half of the twentieth century.  For thirty-five years between 1924 until shortly before his death in 1961 at the age of eighty-four, Howard served as Republican national committeeman from Mississippi.  
Sources: 
Sources: McMillen, Neil, “Perry W. Howard, Boss of Black-and-Tan Republicanism in Mississippi, 1924-1960,” The Journal of Southern History 80:2 (May 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Bell, Charles B., Jr. (1928-2010)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Mathematician Charles Bernard Bell, Jr., one of the leading African American mathematicians of the twentieth century, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in August 20, 1928.  At age 19 he graduated from Xavier University in 1947 and earned his Ph.D. in mathematics from Notre Dame University in 1953.  From 1951 to 1955 he worked as a research engineer at Douglas Aircraft Company.  An assistant professor at Xavier University for two years, he then spent a year at Stanford University as a research associate.  
Sources: 
American Men & Women of Science, 22nd Ed. Vol. 1 (New York: Bowker, 2005);
Robert Fikes, Jr., The Black in Crimson and Black: A History and Profiles of African Americans at SDSU (San Diego: SDSU Library & Information Access, 2004); http://www.maa.org/programs/underrepresented-groups/summa/summa-archival-record/charles-bernard-bell; http://www.math.buffalo.edu/mad/PEEPS/bell_charlesb.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Ross, Michael K. (1941-2007)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Michael Ross with Washington
Governor Daniel J. Evans, ca. 1970
Image Ownership: Public Domain 
Michael K. Ross was a Washington State legislator, civil rights activist, and contractor who, although he worked from within established political channels, was not afraid to go against the grain to affect social change.
Sources: 
Charles E. Brown, “Civil-Rights Leader Was Never Afraid to Buck the Tide: Michael Ross Served as Legislator, Worked for Job-Opportunities,” The Seattle Times, 26 August 2007, B. 7; “Community Mourns the Loss of Michael K. Ross—Washington State’s Last Black Republican Legislator,” The Medium, August 2007.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Frazier, Kenneth C. (1954- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Kenneth C. Frazier is the first African American President of Merck & Co., a major pharmaceutical corporation. Frazier was elected by the Board of Directors to be the next CEO on May 1, 2010, and assumed the post on January 1, 2011.  

Kenneth Frazier was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Otis and Clara Frazier on December 17, 1954. Along with his three siblings, Frazier was raised by his father after his mother passed when he was 12 years old. His father, Otis, migrated to Pennsylvania at age 14. With the equivalent of a third grade education, Otis Frazier worked most of his life as a custodian for the U.S. Parcel Service.  

Kenneth Frazier graduated from high school at age 15.  He hoped to enter the United States Military Academy at West Point. Denied entry due to his young age, he instead entered the University of Pennsylvania where he graduated in 1975. Immediately afterward he enrolled in Harvard Law School where he graduated with his Juris Doctorate degree in 1978.

Sources: 
"Kenneth C. Frazier," Penn State Black History / African American Chronicles. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2014; Kenneth C. Frazier," Businessweek.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2014; "Master of the Game," Law.com. The Minority Law Journal, 13 Feb. 2002; "A Dose of Optimism," Harvard Law School Bulletin. N.p., 2011.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Johnson, Gregory Lee (1945- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
On August 5, 1999 President William Clinton appointed Gregory Lee Johnson U.S. Ambassador to Swaziland.  He served in that post from November 16, 1999 to October 18, 2001. Johnson began his career in the Foreign Service in 1968 and has served in Vietnam (1968-1971).  His next posts were in Japan (1972-1976), Brazil (1976-1980), and the Soviet Union (1981-1983).  He has also served in Somalia, Canada, and as Interim Charge d’ Affaires in the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden.  Ambassador Johnson speaks Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, and Vietnamese.
Sources: 
Gregory Lee Johnson, Ambassador to the Kingdom of Swaziland, Chief of Missions Index, African Affairs: Department of State: Secretary of State http://www.state.gov/1997-2001/about_state biography Johnson_Swaziland.html; correspondence between the contributor and Ambassador Johnson, January 14, 2001.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Ortique, Revius Oliver, Jr. (1924-2008)

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

Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr., civil rights attorney, civil rights activist and leader, judge, and Supreme Court justice, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana to Revius Oliver Ortique and Lillie Edith Long on June 14, 1924. He had a younger brother named Calvin J. Ortique. Ortique and his wife Miriam Marie Victorianne Ortique had a daughter named Rhesa Marie McDonald.

Sources: 
“Revius Ortique Jr.,” Ancestry Library. https://www.ancestrylibrary.com/family-tree/person/tree/31826012/person/19550282340/facts (login required); “Revius Ortique Jr. Obituary,” Legacy – Memorial Websites, 2008. http://memorialwebsites.legacy.com/ReviusOrtique/Homepage.aspx; “In Memoriam Revius Ortique Jr.,” Louisiana Supreme Court, 2008. https://www.lasc.org/community_outreach/in_memoriam/ortique_revius.asp.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Hines, Earl “Fatha” (1903-1983)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Earl “Fatha” Hines was an African-American jazz musician who composed and played piano. Hines was born on December 28, 1903 in Duquesne, Pennsylvania. Both of his parents and a number of his siblings were musicians as well. Hines started playing music when he was a young boy, taking trumpet lessons from his father. However, he felt the trumpet was too loud of an instrument, so he switched to piano after a few years. Hines attended Schenley High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where among other classes, he studied classical music.

In lieu of finishing high school, Hines moved to Pittsburgh at the age of 17 to take a job playing with Lois Deppe in a nightclub. Deppe was a well know musician around the area who took Hines to his first studio recordings in 1923.
Sources: 
http://www.jazz.com/encyclopedia/hines-earl-fatha-kenneth
http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/musician.php?id=7642
Terry Teachout, Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Walker, Wyatt Tee (1929-2018)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Sources: 
Taylor Branch, At Canaan's edge America in the King years, 1965-68 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006); Raymond Arsenault, Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006); http://canaanbaptistchurchny.org/; http://www.wyattteewalker.com/about_chrono.html; Fernanda Santos, "Wyatt Tee Walker, Dr. King's Strategist and a Harlem Leader, Dies at 88," New York Times, January 23, 2018.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

St. Maurice (ca. 250-ca. 287)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Statue of St. Maurice c. 1240-1250, Magdeburg
Cathedral of St. Maurice and St. Catherine, Author
Unknown, Pictures @ 1979 Menil Foundation, 
Houston, Texas
Image Courtesy of the Menil Foundation
St. Maurice is commemorated throughout churches in modern Germany as a black African dressed as a Roman Solider.  That depiction originated with the renowned statue in the Cathedral of St. Catherine and St. Maurice in Magdeburg, Germany.  However, according to some historical authorities, he was probably not black and possibly never existed.  What is known is the date he became a saint and when he first became depicted as black.

In 287 AD, a Theban Legion of Christian Roman soldiers in Egypt led by Maurice was commanded by Emperor Maximian Hereculeus (ca. 250-ca. 310 AD) to march to Agaunum, now the modern day St-Maurice en Valais in Switzerland.  Exactly what Maurice’s Legion was ordered to do there by the Emperor is disputed:  they were either required to participate in pagan rites or to harass and kill local Christians.
Sources: 

Gude Suckale-Redlesfen, The Black Saint Maurice (Houston: Menil Foundation, 1987); Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and David Bindman (editors), The Image of the Black in Western Art, Volume II, Part 1, From the Demonic Threat to the Incarnation of Sainthood (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Father Divine (1879-1965)

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

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

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

Jordan Hatcher Case (1852)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Jordan Hatcher was a seventeen-year-old enslaved tobacco worker in Richmond, Virginia, who in 1852 rose from obscurity to notoriety when charged with assaulting and killing white overseer William Jackson.  According to newspaper accounts and trial records, Hatcher was working at the Walker & Harris tobacco factory when Jackson began flogging him with a cowhide for performing poorly.  Hatcher initially warded off the blows, but Jackson continued to beat him.  In response Hatcher grabbed an iron poker, struck Jackson unconscious, and immediately fled the factory.  When Jackson later awok
Sources: 
Midori Takagi, “Rearing Wolves to Our Own Destruction” Slavery in Richmond, Virginia, 1782-1865 (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1999); William A. Link, “The Jordan Hatcher Case: Politics and “A Spirit of Insubordination” in Antebellum Virginia,” Journal of Southern History 64:4 (Nov 1998); Harrison M. Ethridge, “The Jordan Hatcher Affair of 1852,” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 84 (1976).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Western Washington University

Paul, Susan (1809–1841)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

The youngest daughter of Baptist minister Rev. Thomas Paul and Catherine Waterhouse Paul, Susan Paul was a primary school teacher and an active member of the bi-racial Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society.  The Pauls were a highly regarded family in the free black abolitionist community in Boston.  Thomas Paul’s brother, Rev. Nathaniel Paul, was also an outspoken opponent of slavery.
Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992) and Lois Brown, “Out of the Mouths of Babes: the Abolitionist Campaign of Susan Paul and the Boston Juvenile Choir,” New England Quarterly, 75 (March 2002): 52-79.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Duterte, Henrietta S. Bowers (1817-1903)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Henrietta S. Duterte with one of her children
who died in infancy
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Henrietta Smith Bowers Duterte (pronounced Dew-tier), the first female undertaker in the nation, was born free in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was one of 13 children born to John Bowers and Henrietta Smith Bowers in July 1817. The Bowers family was originally from Baltimore, Maryland but they settled in Philadelphia around 1810.  Henrietta Bowers’ father became the sexton of the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas.  

Bowers grew up in Philadelphia’s “Seventh Ward,” a long narrow strip in center of the city that for nearly two centuries was home to the city’s most prominent African American neighborhood.  Seventh Ward was the section where scholar and activist W.E.B. DuBois lived and wrote The Philadelphia Negro, the nation's first major study of black urban life.  

Sources: 
Charles L. Blockson, The Underground Railroad: First-Person Narratives of Escapes to Freedom in the North (Prentice Hall Press, 1987); “Ephemera Online,” A visual cultural program project, The Library Company of Philadelphia, http://ephemeraonline.org/themes/duterte-2/; Linn Washington, “An Historic Run For Freedom Tales From The Underground Railroad” (Philly.com, Feb 1, 1988),  http://articles.philly.com/1988-02-01/news/26242046_1_underground-railroad-first-person-narratives-freedom; Linn Washington, “Philadelphia’s Black elite in the shadows of history 1840-1940”( Philly.com, Feb 8, 1988),   http://articles.philly.com/1988-02-08/news/26243256_1_black-elite-black-world-white-hospitals; Helen M. Greenwald, The Oxford Handbook of Opera (Oxford University Press, November 2014).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Evans, James M. (1962- )

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

James M. Evans, a politician and business owner, was the first African American chairman of the Utah Republican Party. He was born to Robert and Beatrice Evans in Orangeburg, South Carolina, in 1962. He graduated from Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School in 1981 as the class president and attended Tuskegee University in Alabama the following year. He graduated in 1985 with a bachelor’s of science in chemical engineering. During this time, his interest in politics took shape as he became a member of Tuskegee’s Young Republicans Club.

After graduating, Evans enlisted in the United States Air Force, where he worked as a navigator. After his service was completed, Evans relocated to Salt Lake City, Utah, and later started a small business in 1994. He started a payday loan franchise, Chekline, which eventually prospered and ranked him among the more successful black business owners in the city.

Sources: 
Chanel Klein, “James Evans Becomes First African American to Chair Utah Republicans,” The Daily Universe, Brigham Young University, June 3, 2013, “Groundbreaking Politician and Alumnus to Speak at Tuskegee University,” Tuskegee University News, October 16, 2015; Tucker Lyon, “Orangeburg Native Posts Unlikely Win in Utah Race” The [Orangeburg] Times and Democrat, Nov. 29, 2002.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Smith, William [Willie “the Lion”] (1897-1973)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Jazz pianist, Willie “the Lion” Smith was born William Henry Joseph Bonaparte Bertholoff on November 25, 1897. Smith was born to parents Ida Oliver and Frank Bertholoff in Goshen, New York. Bertholoff passed away in 1901, and Oliver married mechanic John Smith. The two raised William Smith in Newark, New Jersey, where he attended public schools.  Smith lived with his mother, stepfather, maternal grandmother Ann Oliver, brothers George and Jerome, step-siblings Robert, Melvin, Norman, and Ralph, and 12 more of John Smith’s children all of whom died before the age of seven.

Smith claims to have had his first experience playing the piano at age six. He first learned to play from his mother, his uncle Rob, and teachers in school.  By age 12 he had mastered famous ragtime pieces which he performed in local saloons, dance halls, and theaters.  In his teenage years Smith made money by playing in Newark bars and saloons.  He often danced or played the piano as those who watched put money in his hat.
Sources: 
Willie Smith and George Hoefer, Music on My Mind: The Memoirs of an American Pianist (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1964); “William Henry Joseph Bonaparte Bertholoff (Willie-the-Lion) Smith,” The Black Perspective in Music, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Autumn, 1973), p. 200, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1214489; "Willie ‘The Lion’ Smith," All About Jazz, N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2012, http://musicians.allaboutjazz.com/musician.php?id=4460.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

Payi, David Wabeladio (1957-2013)

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

In 1978 David Wabeladio Payi created a writing system he dubbed "Mandombe." He ascertained that the script was revealed to him in a dream where he saw two figures formed by mortar joints on his wall. The mirror figures he saw on the joints looked like the digital numbers 2 and 5 found in some electronic devices. This was the beginning of the existence of the script. Payi was born on January 15, 1957 in the Bas-Congo province, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (also known as Congo-Kinshasa), and passed away on April 4, 2013 in Turkey.

Sources: 
"Mandombe," Helma Pasch (University of Cologne), October 8, 2017, http://www.afrikanistik-aegyptologie-online.de/archiv/2010/2724/; “David Wabeladio Payi” Kumatoo, January 2017, https://kumatoo.com/wabeladio_payi.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

hooks, bell / Gloria Jean Watkins (1952- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Writer, teacher, and cultural critic bell hooks was born Gloria Jean Watkins on September 25, 1952, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, to a poor working class family.  Her father, Veodis Watkins, was a janitor for the local post office, and her mother, Rosa Bell Watkins, was a homemaker, raising Gloria and her six siblings.

Gloria Watkins attended racially segregated public schools in Hopkinsville as a child.  She performed poetry readings for her church community and was heavily influenced by her great-grandmother, Bell Hooks, who was known for her sharp opinions.  As a writer, she chose the pseudonym, bell hooks, in tribute to her mother and great-grandmother.  She decided not to capitalize her new name to place focus on her work rather than her name, on her ideas rather than her personality.

Watkins attended Stanford University on scholarship.  She graduated in 1973 and went to The University of Wisconsin at Madison, where she earned a Master’s degree in English literature in 1976.  In 1983, she obtained her Ph.D. at the University of California-Santa Cruz, having completed her dissertation on the work of novelist Toni Morrison.
Sources: 
Lara E. Dieckmann, “bell hooks,” in Significant Contemporary American Feminists: A Biographical Sourcebook, ed. Jennifer Scanlon (Westport, CT:  Greenwood Press, 1999); bell hooks, Bone Black:  Memories of A Girlhood (New York:  Henry Holt and Company, 1996).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Turner, Jack (circa 1840-1882)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Jack Turner, political activist and martyr, was born a slave in Choctaw County, Alabama around 1840. Choctaw County was situated in Alabama’s “Black Belt,” a large swath of cotton growing land in the central part of the state historically known for its dark, mineral-rich soil, and large population of black slaves to cultivate it. Turner worked part of this land as a slave until the end of the Civil War. Although he received no formal education, he independently learned to read and to write.
Sources: 
William Warren Rogers and Robert David Ward, August Reckoning, Jack Turner and Racism in Post-Civil War Alabama (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1973); Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982); William Warren Rogers and Robert David Ward, “ ‘Jack Turnerism:’ A Political Phenomenon of the Deep South,” The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 57, No. 4 (Oct., 1972), pp. 313-332.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Harding, Vincent Gordon (1931-2014)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Vincent Harding

Vincent G. Harding, civil rights leader, teacher, scholar, engaged citizen, and seeker was especially noted for his close association with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his decades of social justice work. Harding was born on July 25, 1931 in Harlem. His mother Mabel Harding was one of the most influential people in his life. In 1960, he married Rosemarie Freeney Harding (1930-2004) in Chicago, Illinois. The couple had two children, Rachel and Jonathan.

Sources: 
Rose Marie Berger, “I’ve Known Rivers: The Story of Freedom Movement Leaders Rosemarie Freeney Harding and Vincent Harding,” Sojourners, online archive (www.sojo.net). Vincent Harding, interview with Tisa M. Anders, Denver, Colorado, April 19, 2008.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

Cole, Nat “King” (1919–1965)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the
African American Museum of Philadelphia

Jazz pianist and popular singer Nathaniel Adams Coles was born into a musical family in Montgomery, Alabama on March 17, 1919.  His mother Perlina was a choir director in his father Edward’s Baptist church.  His three brothers, Edward, Ike, and Freddy, became professional musicians.  Cole also had a half-sister, Joyce.  The family moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1923 where Cole started playing the piano at age four; he organized his first jazz group, The Musical Dukes, in his teens.

Sources: 
Eileen Southern, Biographical Dictionary of Afro American and African Musicians (Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1982); Nicolas Slonimsky, Bokers Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (London: Schirmer Books, 1984); Jim Irwin and Colin McLear, The Mojo Collection (NY: Cananongate, 2000).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Rodney, Walter (1942-1979)

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

Walter Rodney, one of the most important Guyanese intellectual and political figures of the 20th Century, was born on March 23, 1942 in Georgetown, Guyana. Because of his working-class background, the period in which he lived, and his parents' political awareness, Rodney was introduced to issues of race, class, and empire at an early age.  He lived in a West Indian society in transition and experienced violence, racism, decolonization, and the rise of local elites in this former European colony who propagated the old colonial systems and structures. 

Sources: 
Rupert Lewis, Walter Rodney's Intellectual and Political Thought (Barbados: Press University of the West Indies, 1998); Walter Rodney, Walter Rodney Speaks: The Making of an African Intellectual (Trenton, N.J.: African World Press, 1990); Anthony Bogues, Black Heretics, Black Prophets: Radical Political Intellectuals (New York: Routledge, 2003).
Contributor: 

Hall, George Cleveland (1864-1930)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Dr. George Cleveland Hall, Chicago, Illinois African American physician and humanitarian was born on February 22, 1864, to John Ward Hall, a Baptist minister, and Romelia Buck Hall in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Dr. Hall eventually rose to head the Chicago Urban League and became vice-president of the National Urban League. In 1915 he became one of the five founding members and the first president of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), currently known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)
Sources: 
George W. Lawlah, M.D., “George Cleveland Hall, 1864–1930, A Profile,” Journal of the National Medical Association, Volume 46, No. 3,  p. 207–210 (May 1954); Beth Tompkins Bates, Pullman Porters and the Rise of Protest Politics in Black America, 1925–1945 (The John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture) (Chapel Hill:  University of North Carolina Press, 2001); “Dr. George Cleveland Hall, ’86,” Lincoln University Herald, Vol. 34, No. 2 (September 1930); http://www.chipublib.org/fa-george-cleveland-hall-branch-archives/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Dee, Ruby Ann Wallace (1922-2014)

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

Broadway performer and film actress, Ruby Dee was born Ruby Ann Wallace in Cleveland, Ohio on October 27, 1922 to Gladys Hightower and Marshall Edward Wallace. Her mother was a domestic and her father worked as a cook, waiter, and porter. After her mother left the family, Dee's father married Emma Amelia Benson, a schoolteacher.

Desperate for better job opportunities, the family moved to New York City, New York, and settled in Harlem. Determined not to allow their children fall victim to drugs, crime, and other vices of urban life, the parents introduced Dee and her siblings to the arts, including music and literature. Young Ruby became a passionate student of poetry and as a teenager began submitting poetry to The Amsterdam News.  

Ruby Wallace attended the academically rigorous Hunter High School and while there decided to pursue an acting career.  After graduating from Hunter High in 1940, she enrolled in Hunter College, graduating with a degree in French and Spanish in 1944. While at Hunter College, she became a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and married blues singer Frankie Dee.  The couple soon divorced but Dee kept the last name and made it her career name.

Sources: 
Ruby Dee, My One Good Nerve: Rhythms, Rhymes, Reasons (Chicago: Third World Press, 1986); Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together (London: It Press, 1998); http://www.biography.com/people/ruby-dee
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Simpson, O. J. (1947- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: 
Public Domain

Orenthal James Simpson was born July 9, 1947, in San Francisco, California. A troubled youth, poor grades and violent behavior kept Simpson from earning any college scholarship offers while attending high school. Simpson was highly recruited, however, after breaking several junior college records, and he would earn a scholarship to the University of Southern California.

In his second season at USC, Simpson set NCAA records for rushing yards in a season (1709) and carries (355) on his way to winning the national championship. Simpson won the 1968 Heisman Trophy by the largest voting margin ever.

The Buffalo Bills selected Simpson as the number one overall pick in the 1969 NFL draft. The first three NFL seasons were uneventful for the young Simpson, as coaches were hesitant to make Simpson a star. Beginning in 1972, however, Simpson’s abilities would not be ignored, as he led the league in rushing for four out of five seasons from 1972-1976. In 1973 Simpson won the NFL Most Valuable Player award while breaking the record for rushing yards in a season with 2003, and he remains the only player to rush for over 2000 yards in a fourteen game season.  After he retired from professional football Simpson pursued a moderately successful acting career. 

Sources: 
Pro Football Hall of Fame, http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.jsp?player_id=195
Larry Schwartz, Before Trial, Simpson Charmed America. ESPN.com Special, http://espn.go.com/classic/biography/s/simpson_oj.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Howell, Abner Leonard (1877-1966)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Abner Leonard Howell was a star athlete in Utah whose accomplishments went largely ignored during the peak of his football career because of his race.

Howell, born on August 9, 1877, moved with his family from Louisiana to Salt Lake City, Utah in 1890.  His father, Paul Cephas Howell, was appointed a police officer and detective. Both Paul Howell and Abner’s mother, Eliza Sharp, had been slaves.

Howell’s athletic talent was obvious during high school. After one of the most important high school games, attended by 5,000 fans, the Deseret News announced that “a colored fullback named Ab Howell was everything from the bandwagon to the steam calliope.” Howell led his team to a 32-0 victory against East Denver (Colorado) High. When the team went to a restaurant to celebrate, Abner was told that he would need to eat in the kitchen while the rest of the team enjoyed the dining area.  Teammate Nicholas Groesbeck Smith replied that they would all eat in the kitchen.  The restaurant relented and the full team was served in the dining room.
Sources: 
Wendell J. Ashton, Voice in the West: Biography of a Pioneer Newspaper (New York: Duel, Sloan and Pearce, 1950); Tape recording by Abner Howell, in possession of author;
Byrdie Howell Landon, Utah and the Early Black Settlers, Typewritten manuscript, undated.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Brigham Young University (Utah)

Myles, Marion Antoinette Richards (1917-1969)

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

ENTRY SPONSOR: Catherine Hillenbrand

Dr. Marion Antoinette Richards Myles, a scientist with expertise in plant physiology, including the effects of drugs and hormones on plant growth, played a significant role in integrating higher education in the American south. In 1965, she became the first African American faculty member of the University of Mississippi Medical School, with an appointment as an Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Research. Prior to accepting the position at Mississippi, Myles had both taught at numerous other colleges and universities and been awarded research fellowships to study at the California Institute of Technology and at the Institute of Nuclear Studies at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

Sources: 
Wini Warren, Black Women Scientists in the United States (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999); "Profs from Tenn. State Complete Special Courses," The Chicago Defender (National Edition), Aug 19, 1950; "Negro Woman Joins Mississippi U. Staff as Medical Teacher," New York Times, Jun 28, 1965.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Smith, Bessie (1894-1937)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Along with Ma Rainey and Mamie Smith, singer Bessie Smith helped pioneer the genre of blues music and propel it into popular culture. Her early death at the age of 43 cut short a career that influenced the direction of American music and contributed to the success of African Americans in the performing arts.

Smith was born into poverty most likely on April 15, 1894 in Chattanooga, Tennessee to William Smith, a preacher, and Laura Smith. Both parents died when Bessie was young. To help support her orphaned siblings, Bessie began her career as a Chattanooga street musician, singing in a duo with her brother Andrew to earn money to support their indigent family.
Sources: 
Chris Albertson, Bessie (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003); Angela Y. Davis, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism (New York: Random House, 1998); Nanette de Jong, “Smith, Bessie (15 Apr. 1894-26 Sept. 1937),” American National Biography Online (New York: Oxford University Press, February 2000).
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

Qaddafi, Muammar, Al- (1942-2011)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Muammar al-Qaddifi With Italian Prime Minister
Silvio Berlusconi
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Muammar al-Qaddafi has been Libyan head of state since 1969 and one of the most controversial and divisive leaders in the Middle East and Africa in the twentieth century.  Qaddafi was born in the spring of 1942 to an Arabized Berber family near the Sirt desert on Libya’s northern coast.  He was sent to a local primary school in central Sirt, where he was taunted for being of impoverished Bedouin background. At nights, he slept in the neighborhood mosque and returned home to the city’s outskirts on weekends and holidays.

Sources: 
“Qadafi, Muammar (c.1941),” in Robin Leonard Bidwell, Dictionary of Modern Arab History (London; New York: Kegan Paul International, 1998); “Muammar Qaddafi (1942-   ),” in Bernard Reich, ed., Political Leaders of the Contemporary Middle East and North Africa: A Biographical Dictionary (New York: Greenwood Press, 1990);  “Libya: Gaddafi (Qadhdhafi) and Jamahiriyya (Libyan Revolution),” in Kevin Shillington, ed., Encyclopedia of African History (New York: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Blanke, John (16th Century)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
John Blanke, Musician at the
Court of Henry VIII
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Historians have documented the arrival of black people in Britain as members of the Roman Army. The first reference to a black African in Britain in the historical record is at a Roman military settlement at Carlisle, in ca. 210 AD. Shortly after, in the years 253-58 AD, Hadrian's Wall on the Empire's northern frontier was guarded by a division raised in North Africa. Other Africans were brought to Britain at various times although the continuous presence of black people in Britain is traced to 1555, when Africans arrived in the company of a London merchant.

John Blanke, a black trumpeter, was a regular musician at the courts of both Henry VII and Henry VIII.  Musicians' payments were noted in the accounts of the Treasurer of the Chamber, who was responsible for paying the wages. There are several payments recorded to a “John Blanke, the blacke trumpeter.” This trumpeter was paid 8d [8 pence] a day, first by Henry VII and then from 1509 by Henry VIII.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Brown, Hallie Quinn (1850-1949)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Hazel V. Carby, Reconstructing Womanhood: The Emergence of the Afro-American Woman Novelist (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987); Darlene Clark Hine, Black Women in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Lane, Layle (1893-1976)

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

Labor leader Layle Lane was born on November 27, 1893, in Marietta, Georgia. She was the fourth of five children of Calvin Lane and Alice Virginia Clark Lane. Lane was vice president of the American Federation of Teachers union and a committee member of the March on Washington Movement, participating in the first proposed March in 1941.

Her father, Calvin, was a freedman of the clergy who built his own house in Marietta, and also established a church and school nearby. Layle’s mother Alice was an educator. Lane graduated from Vineland High School (New Jersey) as its first Black student, and entered Howard University in Washington, D.C. in the fall of 1913. At Howard, she was a member of Delta Sigma Theta, one of the largest sororities in the nation at the time for professional Black women. She graduated with degrees in English and History.

Sources: 
Leonard Bethel, La Citadelle. (University Press of America. Lanham, Massachusetts, 2015); Andrew E. Kerstern and David Lucander. For Jobs and Freedom: Selected Speeches and Writings of A. Philip Randolph. (University of Massachusetts Press. Boston, 2014).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

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

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

Healy, Michael Augustine (1839–1904)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Michael Augustine Healy was an American captain in the United States Revenue Cutter Service, which is commonly known now as the United States Coast Guard. As such, he was the first African American officer in the Coast Guard. Healy was known primarily for enforcing federal law along the Alaskan coastline in the late nineteenth century, as well as rescuing whalers, shipwrecked sailors, and others in need.

Michael A. Healy was born in Macon, Georgia, on September 22, 1839. His father, Michael Morris Healy, was an Irish immigrant planter who was born in 1795 and moved to Jones County, Georgia, in 1818 where he eventually acquired one thousand five hundred acres of land through a land lottery and purchase. Michael Healy became one of the more successful plantation owners in the county partly because of the forty-nine enslaved people who worked on his plantations. One of the enslaved was Mary Eliza Smith who became his wife and later the mother of Michael A. Healy. According to slave law at the time, Michael Augustine Healy was technically born into slavery, prompting his father to send him North for his education and future.

Sources: 
“Captain Michael A. Healy, USRCS,” http://www.uscg.mil/history/people/HealyMichaelindex.asp; James O’Dell, “Revenue Captain Michael A. Healy, USRCS,” http://www.uscg.mil/history/people/Healy_ODell_Article.asp.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

McAlpin, Harry S. (1906-1985)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Harry McAlpin Outside the White House, 1944
Image Ownership: Public domain

Harry S. McAlpin was the first African-American reporter to attend a press conference at the White House. McAlpin was born in St. Louis, Missouri on July 21, 1906. He grew up in St. Louis and then attended the University of Wisconsin where he studied journalism and advertising and received his degree in 1926. McAlpin then moved to Washington, D.C. to pursue a career in journalism. From 1926 to 1929, he was a reporter, editor, and office manager at the Washington Tribune, an African American newspaper published weekly. From 1929 to 1933, McAlpin went on to work for the National Benefit Life Insurance Company, handling publicity and advertising.

Sources: 
“Harry S. McAlpin (1906-1985): Reporter Who Broke the Press Corps Color Line,” America Comes Alive!, n.d., https://americacomesalive.com/2013/02/13/harry-s-mcalpin-1906-1985-reporter-who-broke-the-press-corps-color-line/; “White House Press Celebrates Black Journalist Once Shunned” by Maya Rhodan, Time, May 2, 2014, http://time.com/85901/harry-mcalpin-whcd/; “Breaking Barriers. Remembering Harry S. McAlpin” by Denise Velez, Motley Moose, May 6, 2014, http://archive.motleymoose.net/2014/05/06/breaking-barriers-remembering-harry-s-mcalpin/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Hamilton, Lewis (1985– )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Formula 1 race car driver Lewis Hamilton was born January 7, 1985, in Stevenage, Herefordshire, England, to parents Carmen Larbalestier and Anthony Hamilton. His parents divorced when he was two, and as a result he lived with his mother and half-sisters. He studied at the John Henry Newman School and then at Cambridge Arts and Sciences. He was often bullied on account of his mixed race (his mother was white, and his father, black), and because of this he learned karate at age five to defend himself.

Hamilton began racing go-karts at the age of eight, and by age ten, he was the youngest ever to win the British Cadet Kart Championship. It was there that Hamilton met his future boss, Ron Dennis (CEO of McLaren Technology), and informed him that he was going to drive one of his F1 cars some day. Hamilton continued to race and won numerous karting races, and his father often had to work several jobs at once to support Lewis’s racing career. This changed when Ron Dennis signed him on to the McLaren’s Young Driver Program at age thirteen, effectively sponsoring his career until he began racing professionally.
Sources: 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Wharton, Jr., Clifton Reginald (1926- )

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

Clifton R. Wharton, Jr., has combined careers in business, higher education, foreign economic development, and philanthropy.  The son of Clifton Wharton, Sr. who served 40 years in the U. S. Foreign Service, Wharton began school in the Canary Islands while his father was a diplomat assigned there. He next attended the Boston Latin School in Massachusetts and at 16 entered Harvard University.  He graduated with a Bachelor's degree in history in 1947.  Later that year he became the first black student to earn a M.A. degree in International Studies from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland

Sources: 
George R. Metcalf, Up From Within, (McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1971); http://americanassembly.org/people/trustee-emeritus/clifton-r-wharton-jr, accessed 2/12/12; https://www.csis.org/people/dolores-d-wharton, accessed 2/20/12.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

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

Greene, Lorenzo Johnston (1899-1988)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Lorenzo J. Greene and Arvarh E. Strickland, Working with Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Black History: A Diary, 1928-1930 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989); Pero Gaglo Dagbovie, The Early Black History Movement, Carter G. Woodson, and Lorenzo Johnston Greene (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2007); John H. McClendon, Perspectives: The Contributions of Black Missourians to African American History (Columbia, Mo: Black Culture Center, 1992).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Loudin, Frederick J. (1840-1904)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Fisk University Franklin
Library's Special Collections
Frederick J. Loudin, teacher, impresario, manufacturer and Fisk Jubilee Singer, had a bass voice the likes of which no one would hear again until the emergence of Roland Hayes and Paul Robeson. At thirty-four, he would become the oldest member of the Fisk Jubilee Singers’ third troupe: a towering, self-assured printer and music teacher from Portage County, Ohio.
Sources: 
Andrew Ward, Dark Midnight When I Rise: The Story of the Jubilee Singers Who Introduced the World to the Music of Black America (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

McClendon, Rose (1884-1936)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Photography by Carl Van Vechten,
courtesy of The Van Vechten Trust

Rose McClendon was an African American actress born in South Carolina in 1884.  McClendon’s original name was Rosalie Virginia Scott.  Her parents were Sandy and Tena Scott.  In 1890 McClendon’s parents worked for a well established family as a housekeeper and coachman in New York City.  McClendon received her education through the public schools in New York where acting became her main focus of interest.

In October 1904 Scott married Henry Pruden McClendon who was trained as a chiropractor but who could only find work as a Pullman porter.  Together they moved from lower Manhattan to Harlem where McClendon was actively involved in the St. Mark’s African Methodist Episcopal Church often using her theatrical talent. 

After studying by scholarship at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts between 1916 and 1918, McClendon gave her first stage performance in 1919 in the play, Justice.  She would eventually perform in other productions including In Abraham’s Bosom, Porgy and Bess, and Deep River.  Along with McClendon’s acting and directing in 1935 she and Dick Campbell created the Negro People’s Theatre. 

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

Blassingame, John W. (1940-2000)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John Wesley Blassingame was one of the preeminent scholars in the study of enslaved African Americans.  His early monographs The Slave Community (1972) and Black New Orleans, 1860-1880 (1973) shattered racist and stereotypical portrayals of African American life by using testimony and evidence left by blacks themselves, evidence which had been largely ignored or dismissed by earlier historians.  With his edited volume, New Perspectives on Black Studies (1972), Blassingame helped to define the developing field of African American Studies.  A prolific scholar, Blassingame also co-wrote and edited, and co-edited many other works.  Among his important contributions are The Frederick Douglass Papers, Antislavery Newspapers and Periodicals, and Slave Testimony.
Sources: 
Robert L. Paris, “John W. Blassingame: March 23, 1940-February 13, 2000,” The Journal of African American History, Vol. 86, No. 3, (summer, 2001), pp.422-423. “In memoriam: John Wesley Blassingame,” Department of African American Studies, www.yale.edu/afamstudies/jwb.html; “Historian John Blassingame, Pioneer in Study of Slavery, Dies,” Yale Bulletin & Calendar, February 25, 2000 Volume 28, Number 22.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Oregon

Newton, Huey P. (1942–1989)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in Monroe, Louisiana, the youngest and seventh son, Huey P. Newton was named after Louisiana's populist governor in the 1930s, Huey Long.  Newton's parents moved to Oakland, California during World War II seeking economic opportunities.  Newton attended Merritt College, where he met Bobby Seale. At Merritt, Newton fought to diversify the curriculum and hire more black instructors.  He also was exposed to a rising tide of Black Nationalism and briefly joined the Afro-American Association.  Within this group and on his own, he studied a broad range of thinkers, including Frantz Fanon, Che Guevara, Mao Zedong, E. Franklin Frazier, and James Baldwin.
Sources: 
Huey P. Newton, To Die For The People: The Writings of Huey P. Newton (New York, Random House, 1972); Newton, War against the Panthers: A Study of Repression in America (New York: Harlem River Press, 1996); and Peniel E. Joseph, Waiting ‘til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Maathai, Wangari Muta (1940-2011)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Courtesy of The Nobel Foundation

Sixty-four-year-old Wangari Maathai, the most prominent environmental activist in Africa, was the 2004 recipient of the Alfred Nobel Peace Prize.  Wangari Muta was born on April 1, 1940 in Ihithe, Nyeri Province, Kenya during British colonial rule.  Her family was of Kikuyu origin and her father was polygamous.  As a child Muta was permitted a small plot of land to grown her own food, to learn how to cultivate the land.  Muta attended primary school at St. Cecilia’s Intermediate Primary School near her home in Nyeri. While there she converted to Catholicism

Sources: 

Wangari Maathai, The Canopy of Hope: My Life Campaigning for Africa, Women and the Environment (Brooklyn, New York: Lantern Books, 2002); Wangari Maathai, Unbowed (New York:  Alfred A. Knopf, 2006); Anita Price Davis and Marla J. Selvidge, Women Nobel Peace Prize Winners (London:  McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2006).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Billops, Camille (1933– )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Camille J. Billops, artist, filmmaker, archivist, and professor, was born on August 12, 1933, in Los Angeles. Her parents were Alma Gilmore and Lucius Billops, and she has one sister, Billie. She married James V. Hatch, a professor of theater at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), in October 1963. They have one daughter, Christa Victoria Billops Hatch Richards.

In 1954 Billops entered University of Southern California to study art and occupational therapy. She transferred to California State University, Los Angeles, and graduated from that institution in 1960. She then briefly studied sculpture with a Huntington Hartford Foundation Fellowship. Thirteen years later, in 1973, Billops earned a master’s of fine arts degree from City College of New York and then studied for her Ph.D. at the D’Université of Paris-Sorbonne, France.
Sources: 
Maria K. Mootry, “Camille Billops,” Notable Black American Women, Book I (Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1992); “Bomb the Roots: The Camille Billops Interview,” by Ameena Meer, Bomb Magazine 40 (Summer 1992), http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2009/12/bomb_the_root_the_camille_billops_interview.html; Jennifer Warren, “Camille Billops: Lost and Found”  Los Angeles Times,  June 28, 1992). http://articles.latimes.com/1992-06-28/news/tv-2150_1_camille-billops; Gwendolyn Audrey Foster, “Camille Billops,” Women Filmmakers of the African and Asian Diaspora: Decolonizing the Gaze, Locating Subjectivity (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1997); An Interview of Camille Billops and James Hatch by Brian Lehrer, October 29, 2009), The Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC Radio. http://www.wnyc.org/story/31746-peoples-hall-of-fame-james-hatch-and-camille-billops/; James Van Der Zee, Owen Dodson and Camille Billops, The Harlem Book of the Dead (Dobbs Ferry, NY: Morgan and Morgan, 1978).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Lowry, Henry Berry (c. 1846-1872)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

In 1853, the Lumbee Indians, a triracial people who are descendants of several southeastern Indian tribes, whites, and African Americans, named themselves after the Lumber River, which flows through their homeland in North Carolina.  According to the Lumbee historian Adolph Dial, they are also descended from the “lost” Roanoke colonists, who took up residence with American Indians farther inland.

Sources: 
Bruce E. Johansen and Donald A. Grinde, Jr., The Encyclopedia of Native American Biography (New York: Da Capo Press, 1997)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
State University of New York, Buffalo

Garrison, Zina (1963- )

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

Born November 16, 1963 in Houston, Texas, tennis star Zina Garrison was the youngest of seven children and was raised by her widowed mother, Mary Garrison. She began playing tennis at the age of 10 through the MacGregar Park Tennis Program. The program was run by John Wilkerson who later became Garrison’s coach throughout her tennis career. She graduated from Ross Sterling High School in 1981.

Garrison had an illustrious amateur career. She burst onto the scene in 1978 when she reached the finals in the U.S. Girls National Championship. Then from 1978 to 1982 she won three more major tournaments. As an amateur she became the 1981 International Tennis Federation Junior of the Year and the 1982 Women’s Tennis Association Most Impressive Newcomer.

Sources: 
Marilyn Marshall, "Zina Garrison: Aiming for the Top in Tennis," Ebony Magazine, June 1986; Jane Dur, "Zina Garrison," Texas Monthly, September 2001;  "Zina Garrison named 1st African-American U.S. Fed Cup captain," New York Amsterdam News, January 2004.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Galamison, Milton A. (1923-1988)

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

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

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

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

Clark, Jamar O'Neal (1991-2015)

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

Jamar Clark, a twenty-four-year-old African American killed by two Minneapolis, Minnesota Police officers, Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, added to the growing debate sparked by Black Lives Matter. Clark was born on May 3, 1991, in Hennepin County, Minnesota. He was adopted by Wilma and James Clark when he was four. Despite living with his adopted parents, he remained in a close relationship with his biological parts and his fourteen siblings. Not much is known about Clark’s early life.  At the time of his death he was employed at Copeland Trucking and he hoped to attend college.

Clark had past encounters with the law enforcement going back to 2010 when he received a conviction for first-degree aggravated robbery. The conviction resulted in a 41 months prison sentence. Clark was convicted a second time for threats against his ex-girlfriend after a March 2015 breakup. In November 2015, he was on probation for that crime.  Also at the time of his death, Clark was awaiting trial for a high-speed chase arrest from July 2015.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Manley, Effa (1900-1981)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Abe and Effa Manley
Image Courtesy of Negro Leagues
Baseball  Museum

Born in 1900, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Effa Brooks began her life in controversy. Her mother, Bertha Brooks, a white woman married to Benjamin Brooks, a black man, claimed Effa resulted from an affair with her white employer, John Bishop. There is no other evidence to corroborate Effa’s paternity, however, Benjamin Brooks filed and prevailed in a lawsuit against John Bishop for alienation of his wife’s affections. Effa, believed her mother’s claim and noted Bishop as her father throughout the duration of her life.

Growing up with her biracial siblings and a black stepfather, Effa Manley continually walked the line between black and white. Sometimes defined by others as black, sometimes as white, Effa used her ambiguous status to her advantage. As a young adult she worked, as a white woman, in a department store in New York City, though she lived in predominantly black neighborhoods and married black men.

Her second marriage of four was the lengthiest. Abraham Manley, whom she met at the 1932 World Series, was a “numbers banker” and at least fifteen years her senior. They remained married until Abraham’s death in 1952.

Sources: 

Amy Essington, “‘She Loved Baseball’: Effa Manley and the Negro Leagues,” Chap. in Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture, (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2001), 275-295; James Overmyer, Queen of the Negro Leagues: Effa Manley and the Newark Eagles, (Lanham, Maryland: The Scarecrow Press, 1998).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Long Beach

Vereen, Ben (1946- )

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

Ben Augustus Vereen, actor, singer, and dancer, was born on October 10, 1946 in Miami, Florida, but while still an infant his family moved north to Brooklyn, New York.  From a young age Vereen showed a talent in dancing and drama, often performing in local variety shows.  With his mother realizing his talent and potential, Vereen was enrolled at the New York High School of Performing Arts at the age of fourteen to pursue these skills.  After high school Vereen struggled to find work, often taking odd jobs to get by. 

Sources: 

Kenneth Estell, African American Portrait of a People (Detroit: Visible
Ink, 1994); A & E, December 2, 2008,
http://www.biography.com/search/article.do?id=9542361

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Wonder, Stevie (Steveland Morris) (1950- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of
©Bettmann-Corbis
Grammy Award winning artist Stevie Wonder, one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, was born May 13, 1950 in Saginaw, Michigan. An excess of oxygen and a disorder affecting his retina called retinopathy resulted in him being born blind.  In 1954 his mother Lula moved all six of her children to Detroit, Michigan.

Stevie began singing and dancing at a young age in his church. He developed an ear for music rapidly. By the age of nine he was playing the piano, harmonica, and conga drum. When Stevie Wonder was 12 years old he was discovered by Ronnie White, a member of the Motown group the Miracles. White brought young Stevie to a Motown Record Company audition. Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown, was soon amazed by his talents and renamed him "Little Stevie Wonder."
Sources: 
Kwame A. Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2004); http://www.steviewonder.net/; http://www.steviewonder.org.uk/
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Ward, Hines Edward, Jr. (1976– )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Hines Ward with his Mother, Young He on a
Visit to South Korea, 2006
"Image Ownership:Public Domain"
Hines Edward Ward Jr., former National Football League (NFL) football player, was born on March 8, 1976, in Seoul, South Korea. His parents were an African American father serving in the U.S. Army and a Korean mother, Young He. Ward soon moved to Atlanta, Georgia when his father was stationed in Germany. His father abandoned the family when Ward was very young. Subsequently, Ward’s mother would raise him through his formative years.

As a two-sport athlete, Ward excelled in both football and baseball. He became a prep football star quarterback at Forest Park High School in Atlanta and received an athletic scholarship to continue his football career at the University of Georgia. He was also selected in the Major League Baseball (MLB) draft by the Florida Marlins and was offered a $25,000 signing bonus but decided instead to pursue a collegiate football career.
Sources: 
Hines Ward’s #86 Official Biography, http://www.hinesward.com/hines-ward-biography.php; “Hines Ward joins NBC’s Sunday Night Football team,” http://www.wpxi.com/news/local/hines-ward-joins-nbcs-sunday-night-football-team/197787909; “Ward Helps Biracial Youths on Journey to Acceptance,” http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/09/sports/football/09ward.html?ref=sports
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Haywood, Harry (1898-1985)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

A radical theoretician, anti-colonialist, labor organizer, and civil rights activist, Harry Haywood was one of the most prominent and influential African American Communists of the twentieth century.  Haywood, the son of former slaves, was born in South Omaha, Nebraska in 1898. He migrated to Chicago after serving in World War I and organized community defense during the 1919 Chicago race riot. In 1922 he joined the African Blood Brotherhood and in 1925 became an official member of the CPUSA.

Sources: 
Harry Haywood, Black Bolshevik: Autobiography of an Afro-American Communist (Chicago: Liberator Press, 1978); Mary Jo Buhle, Paul Buhle, and Dan Geogakas, eds., Encyclopedia of the American Left (New York: Garland Publishing, 1990), 297-298.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Élizé, Raphaël (1891-1945)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Raphaël Élizé was an early 20th century French politician and the first black mayor of a metropolitan town in France: Sablé-sur-Sarthe (Sarthe). He was born in 1911 in Martinique into a racially mixed family: Augustin, his father, a tax collector and active Freemason, and his mother, Jeanne, had eight children.

In 1902, the family who lived in Saint-Pierre moved to Fort-de-France just before the Mount Pelée explosion.  As Saint-Pierre refugees they resettled in France.  Raphaël was 11 when he entered the French school system.  He attended the best high schools in Paris (Lycée Montaigne and Saint-Louis) where he completed his studies and then enrolled in veterinary school in Lyons, graduating in the summer of 1914 just before the beginning of World War I.

Twenty-three-year-old Élizé joined a colonial infantry regiment, first as private and then he was later assigned as the regiment’s veterinarian.  During the war he received the Croix de Guerre.
  
Sources: 
M. Agulhon, L. Girard, and J. Robert, Les maires en France du consulat à nos jours  (Paris : Publications de la Sorbonne, 1986); Simple Passé, Raphaël Élizé (1891-1945) Premier maire de couleur de la France métropolitaine. Des Antilles au Maine: Itinéraire entre politique et art de vivre (Paris : Éditions du Petit Pavé, 2010).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Emeritus Professor, University of Paris

Uggams, Leslie (1943- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Leslie Uggams, actress, singer, entertainer, and recording artist, was born in New York City, May 25, 1943 and grew up in a four-room house in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan.  Her father, Harold C. Uggams, worked as a train porter, elevator operator, and professional floor waxer and once sang in the Hall Johnson Choir before they became well known.  Her mother, Juanita Smith Uggams, worked as a waitress and nanny before becoming a line dancer at the Cotton Club in Harlem along with Lena Horne.

Ms. Uggams was educated at the New York Professional Children’s School, a school founded for child Broadway performers.   As a student, she served as editor of the yearbook and president of the student body.   After graduation in 1961, Uggams attended the Julliard School, majoring in theory and composition from 1961 to 1963 but did not graduate.      
Sources: 

Rex Reed, “Baby Learned Never to Cry; Baby Learned to Not Cry,” New York Times, Arts and Leisure, May 7, 1967; Walter Kerr, "Musical With Leslie Uggams: ‘Hallelujah, Baby!’ Is Unveiled at the Beck," New York Times, April 27, 1967; http://www.leslieuggams.com
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Paine College

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

Kelley, William Melvin (1937- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
William Melvin Kelley is a renowned African American author known for his experimental style and exploration of African American cultural identity.  Born on November 1, 1937 in the Bronx, New York, to Narcissa Agatha Kelley and William Kelley, an editor, he attended the elite Fieldston School and was accepted to Harvard University in 1957.  It was at Harvard, studying under novelist John Hawkes and poet Archibald MacLeish, that Kelley published his first short story.  

Kelley’s professional career blossomed in the 1960s and his writing appeared in a host of periodicals such as the Saturday Evening Post, Mademoiselle, Negro Digest, and Esquire. The author’s principal works were also published during this prolific decade, including a collection of short stories, Dancers on the Shore (1964), and the novels A Different Drummer (1962), A Drop of Patience (1965), d?m (1967), and Dunfords Travels Everywheres (1970).  

Critics have noted the influence of James Joyce and William Faulkner on Kelley’s style.  Distinctive elements of Faulkner, for example, can be seen in the interrelated cast of characters which appear in Kelley’s novels, as well as his use of a fictional Southern state for the setting of his texts.  The author’s application of language on the other hand has drawn comparisons to Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake.  
Sources: 
Michel Fabre, “William Melvin Kelley and Melvin Dixon: Change of Territory,” From Harlem to Paris: Black American Writers in France, 1840-1980 (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1991); Robert E. Fleming, “Kelley, William Melvin,” The Oxford Companion to African American Literature, (New York: Oxford Press, 1997); Jill Weyant, “The Kelley Saga: Violence in America.” CLA Journal 19 (1975): 210-220.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Becton, Julius W., Jr. (1926- )

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

U.S. Army Lieutenant General Julius Wesley Becton Jr. was born on June 29, 1926 to Julius and Rose Becton in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. His father worked as a janitor in their apartment building. His mother was a housekeeper and laundress. In December 1943, Julius Becton joined the Army Air Corps Enlisted Reserves. After graduating high school in 1944, Becton joined the active army. It was Becton’s hope that he would become a pilot but was ruled ineligible because of astigmatism.

Though the Army was segregated in 1944, Officer Candidate School was not. Julius Becton and sixteen other African American candidates completed OCS in 1945 and were commissioned as second lieutenants. Shortly after his commissioning, Lt. Becton was assigned to serve in the Philippines.

Upon his return from the Philippines, Becton left the army and attended Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. In 1948, after President Harry S. Truman had desegregated the military, Becton was accepted for active duty once again and remained in the Army until 1983.  During that period he saw combat duty in Korean and Vietnam. He was also stationed in Germany, the Philippines, France, the Southwest Pacific, and `Japan during his service.  Steadily moving up the ranks, in 1972, Becton was promoted to Brigadier General.

Sources: 

Lt. General Julius W. Becton Jr., Becton: Autobiography of a Soldier and Public Servant (Annapolis, MD: Naval
Institute Press, 2008); Clyde McQueen, The Black Army Officer
(Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse, 2008); Henry E. Dabbs, Black Brass:
Black Generals and Admirals in the Armed Forces of the United States

(Charlottesville, Virginia: Howell Press, 1997); Jessie Carney Smith,
Black Firsts (Canton, Michigan: Visible Ink Press, 2003).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Nail, John E. (1883-1947)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

John E. Nail, ca. 1915
(Yale Collection of American
Literature Beinecke Rare Books
and Manuscripts Library)
John E. (Jack) Nail, a successful Harlem, New York realtor, was born in New London, Connecticut in 1883.  His parents, Elizabeth and John B. Nail, moved to New York City where the senior Nail bought a hotel, restaurant, and billiard parlor after working for a time in a gambling house.  His entrepreneurial endeavors made an early impression on John as he was growing up. 

John Nail graduated from a New York public high school and worked briefly in his father’s hotel.  In 1904 he began working as a salesman at the Afro-American Realty Company, a firm headed by Philip A. Payton and based in Harlem.  The Afro-American Realty Company, anticipating the migration of African Americans from central Manhattan to Harlem, encouraged black homeowners and business owners to relocate in the area.  Nail, through the Afro-American Realty Company, also helped unite black renters and white landlords and aided a number of the earliest black residents of Harlem in finding new homes in the area. 

Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1982); Cary D. Wintz and Paul Finkelman, eds., The Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance v.2 (New York: Routledge, 2004); John N. Ingram, African-American Business Leaders; A Biographical Dictionary (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Blackwell, Otis (1932-2002)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Otis Blackwell was an American songwriter, singer, and pianist whose work significantly influenced rock ‘n’ roll. His compositions include Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel," "All Shook Up" and "Return to Sender,” Little Willie John's "Fever,” Jerry Lee Lewis's "Great Balls of Fire" and "Breathless" (with Winfield Scott), and Jimmy Jones's "Handy Man."

Otis Blackwell was born in Brooklyn, New York.  He won a local talent contest at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York in 1952, at 21.  He could not, however, transform his initial accomplishment into a successful career as a performer. His own recordings never cracked the Top 40 on the hit parade charts. “When you hit them with your best stuff and they just look at you, well, it’s time to go home,” he said.  
Sources: 
Holly George-Warren and Anthony Decurtis, eds., The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll, 3rd Edition (New York: Random House, 1976); Biography of Otis Blackwell, Songwriters Hall of Fame. Retrieved on November 20, 2006.; Brian Dalton, “Songwriter Otis Blackwell Left Music All Shook Up,” Investors Business Daily,  March 16, 2007.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Dixon, Aaron (1949– )

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

Aaron Dixon was born in Chicago, Illinois on January 2, 1949.  He moved with his family to Seattle, Washington at a young age and grew up in the city’s historically black Central District. Influenced by his parents’ commitment to social justice, Dixon became one of the leading activists in the Seattle area and a founding member of the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party.

While a student at the University of Washington, Dixon played a key role in the formation of the first Black Students’ Union (BSU), as well as the Seattle chapter of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Through the BSU, Dixon worked to organize BSU chapters and protests at Garfield, Franklin, and Rainier Beach High Schools.

Sources: 
Interview with Dixon, focusing on his work in the Black Panther Party in Seattle: University of Washington’s Seattle Civil Rights Project, http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/aaron_dixon.htm; Neil Modie, “Former Black Panther Aaron Dixon to Run for Senate,” Seattle Post Intelligencer, http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Former-Black-Panther-Aaron-Dixon-to-run-for-Senate-1197802.php; James W. Johnson, “Oral Interview with Aaron Dixon,” July 11, 1970, University of Washington Special Collections.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Clarke, George Elliott (1960- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
George Elliott Clarke, a poet, playwright and literary critic is also the E.J Pratt Professor of Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto (Ontario). Clarke was born near the Black Loyalist community of Windsor Plains, Nova Scotia. He is a seventh generation Canadian descendant of black loyalists who were repatriated from the United States to British Canada immediately after the American Revolution.  
Sources: 
George Elliott Clarke, Africadian History (Kentville: Gaspereau Press, 2001); George Elliott Clarke, Odysseys Home: Mapping African-Canadian Literature (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002); George Elliott Clarke, Black (Vancouver: Raincoast Books, 2006); George Elliott Clarke, George & Rue (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2007). http://www.writers.ns.ca/Writers/gsclarke.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Weaver, Robert Clifton (1907-1997)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Robert C. Weaver Standing Next to
President Lyndon B. Johnson as he is Introduced as the
First African American Nominee for a Cabinet Post
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"

Robert C. Weaver was a noted economist and administrator. From 1966 through 1968, he was the first African American cabinet official, serving as the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Weaver was born and raised in Washington D.C. From 1929 through 1934, he attended Harvard University, earning economic degrees at the Bachelor of Science, Masters’, and Ph.D. levels. As an administrator, Weaver worked as an adviser to the Secretary of the Interior (1933-37), special assistant for the Housing Authority (1937-40), and an administrative assistant with the National Defense Advisory Commission (1940). During the Second World War, he worked in several capacities concerned with mobilizing black labor into industrial employment contracted by the federal government.

Sources: 
The Columbia Encyclopedia (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005); http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Robert_Clifton_Weaver.aspx.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Bryan, Beverley (1950- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Beverley Bryan in 1971
Image Ownership: Public domain

University professor and political activist Beverley Bryan was born in 1950 in Portland, Jamaica. Her Jamaican parents were part of the “Windrush” generation, the post-World War II migration Afro-Caribbean immigrants to Great Britain, Northern Europe, and the United States.  Bryan’s family eventually settled in the Brixton section of London, UK where there was a large and growing Caribbean community.

Beverley Bryan first graduated at eighteen in 1968 from Keele University, a high school in London.  Intent on becoming a school teacher, she enrolled in London University, obtaining successively a Bachelor of Arts in English, a Master of Arts in Language and Literature in Education, and a Ph.D. of Philosophy degree in Language Education by 1976. At the same time, she became actively involved from 1970 to 1973 with the Black Panther Party in Great Britain.

Sources: 
« Professor Beverley Bryan », Jamaica Gleaner, 5 December 2011, http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20111205/flair/flair2.html; Heather Agyepong, “The Forgotten Story of the Women Behind the British Black Panthers,” The Debrief.co.uk, March 10, 2016, https://thedebrief.co.uk/news/opinion/forgotten-story-women-behind-british-black-panthers/; Dr. Beverley Bryan Promoted to Professor, University of the West Indies, December 13, 2011, https://www.mona.uwi.edu/marcom/newsroom/entry/4407.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Sciences Po, Paris

Bennett, Chris H. (1943- )

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

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Seattle newspaper publisher Chris H. Bennett was born in Waynesboro, Georgia in 1943. He spent four years in the Air Force before attending Everett Community College in Everett, Washington, where he played football. Bennett then worked for the African American newspaper The Facts before leaving to start Seattle Medium.

Twenty-seven-year-old Bennett founded Seattle Medium newspaper in 1970, locating it in an office above a dry-cleaning shop. He promoted the Medium as a weekly African American paper that focuses on community and local news in the Seattle area. Its masthead slogan reads, "A message for the people, by the people."

Sources: 

Himanee Gupta, "Chris Bennett: Publisher Uses Media as Mediums for his Message," Seattle Times (February 26, 1990); www.seattlemedium.com.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Jackson, James Albert “Billboard” (1878–1960)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
James Albert “Billboard” Jackson was a critic, reporter, editor, spokesman, actor, and booster of black entertainment. Jackson, the eldest of 14 children of Abraham V. Jackson and Nancy Lee Jackson, was born on June 20, 1878 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. He attended public schools in Bellefonte, but left home at a young age to pursue a career in entertainment. He married Gabrielle Hill in 1916 and they raised a son, Albert Jackson, Jr.

By the end of the second decade of the 20th century Jackson had become one of the first African Americans to recognize the importance of entertainment in the African American consumer market.  In 1920 he was named the first African American editor of the Negro Department of Billboard magazine, hence, his nickname. Billboard magazine, located in New York City, New York, was then the largest theatrical paper in the world. Nonetheless they wanted to increase their circulation by reaching the new consumer market of African Americans who were part of the Great Migration to Northern cities.
Sources: 

"Billboard Jackson Historical Marker," Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Eastern Region, http://www.pbseast.org/billboard-jackson-historical-marker/; Anthony D. Hill, Pages from The Harlem Renaissance, A Chronicle Of Performance (New York: Peter Lang International Academic Publisher, 2006); Jason Chambers, Madison Avenue and the Color Line, African Americans in the Advertising Industry (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Cuevas, Reynaldo (1992-2012)

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

Twenty-year-old Reynaldo Cuevas's life was horribly cut short by an NYPD officer as he fled an armed robbery in his place of business. Cuevas was born on January 6, 1992 in the Dominican Republic. The son of Ana and Reynaldo Cuevas, his family came to the United States when he was a child to become citizens and establish a business.

On September 7, 2012, Cuevas and his uncle, Felix Mora, were inside their Bronx, New York store, Natalie Grocery, about to close for the evening. At about 2 a.m., armed robbers came bursting through the front door, holding Cuevas and his uncle hostage as they ransacked the register and store while stuffing a backpack. Mora was able to push the silent alarm before being attacked.  Cuevas had only been working for his Uncle Felix for a few months. He was trying to save money to bring his three-year-old daughter from the Dominican Republic to be with him. Cuevas was also in the process of enlisting in the military in the hopes of joining his sister, Nicole Cuevas, who was already enlisted in the Marines.

Sources: 
Patrick Wall, “Family of slain bodega worker Reynaldo Cuevas sues NYPD,” Dnainfo.com, March 8, 2013, https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20130308/morrisania/family-of-slain-bodega-worker-reynaldo-cuevas-sues-nypd; Matthew Lysiak and Corky Siemaszko, “Bronx bodega shooting victim Reynaldo Cuevas was 'a smart kid' preparing to enlist,” New York Daily News, September 7, 2012, http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/bronx-bodega-shooting-victim-reynaldo-cuevas-smart-kid-preparing-enlist-article-1.1154384; Ben Kochman, “Relatives of Bronx bodega worker killed by cops during 2012 robbery want to know why he was shot,” New York Daily News, May 12, 2016, http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/bronx-bodega-worker-family-answers-cops-killing-article-1.2635335.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Flippin, George Albert (1868–1929)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
George Albert Flippin and the University of Nebraska Football
Team, 1895
Sources: 
Albert S. Broussard, “George Albert Flippin and Race Relations in a Western Rural Community,” The Midwest Review 12 (1990), 1-15; Albert S. Broussard, African American Odyssey: The Stewarts, 1853-1963 (Lawrence: University Press Of Kansas, 1998); Lane Demas, Integrating the Gridiron: Black Civil Rights and American College Football (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2011).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas A&M University

Selby, Myra Consetta (1955- )

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

Myra Consetta Selby has served as both the first African American and first female associate justice appointed to the Indiana Supreme Court.  Selby was born in 1955 in Bay City, Michigan. Selby’s father, the late Ralph L. Selby, worked as an attorney; her mother Archie was a fourth-grade school teacher.  Selby graduated from the Bay City Central High School in 1973. Selby received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in 1977 from Kalamazoo College.  In 1980 Shelby received a Juris Doctor degree from University of Michigan Law School.

After law school Selby was admitted to practice law in Washington, D.C., practicing there for three years from 1980 to 1983 at the law firm of Seyfarth Shaw LLP.  Thereafter, Selby’s career moved into a new region, wherein she was admitted to practice in the State of Indiana and became an associate attorney with the law firm of Ice, Miller, Donadio and Ryan, located in Indianapolis, Indiana. At Ice, Miller, Selby’s legal concentration specialized in healthcare law.  By 1988, Selby had become the first African American attorney to become a partner within the Ice, Miller firm and continued there until 1993.

Sources: 
Alliance for Justice, Myra C. Selby Nominee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, June 14, 2016. https://www.afj.org/our-work/nominees/myra-c-selby#_ftnref1; Congress.com. Tribute to Myra Selby, 104th Congress, 1st Session Issue: Vol. 141, No. 12 – Daily Edition. House of Representatives, Washington, Friday, January 20, 1995. https://www.congress.gov/congressional-record/1995/1/20/extensions-of-remarks-section/article/E153-1; Dave Rogers, Senate Hurdle: Former Bay City an Myra Selby's Nomination Also Pending Take Confirmation Process Out of : Politics": - GOP Senator Says." February 14, 2016.  http://www.mybaycity.com/scripts/p3_v2/P3V3-0200.cfm?P3_ArticleID=10303; Ice Miller Strategies LLC. Myra C. Selby, Partner Indianapolis. Ice Miller, LLP, https://www.icemiller.com/people/myra-c-selby/,  Linda C. Gugin, James E. St. Clair, Justices of the Indiana Supreme Court, 2010. Indiana Historical Society, Sarah Kidwell, Justice Biographies, Justice Myra Consetta Selby. Courts in the Classroom Office of Communication, Education & Outreach (2018). http://www.in.gov/judiciary/citc/2832.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Richard J. Daley College

West, Togo D., Jr. (1942- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Togo D. West Jr., attorney and government official, was born on June 21, 1942 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina to Togo D. West, Sr. and Evelyn Carter West. In 1959 he graduated as valedictorian from Atkins High School in that same city.   In 1965, West enrolled at Howard University, earning his B.S. degree in electrical engineering.  He switched to law and earned a J.D. degree from Howard University Law School in 1968, graduating first in his class.  After he completed law school, West clerked for a federal judge in the Southern district of New York.  

During the early 1970s, West served in the United States Army as a judge in the Judge Advocate General Corps.  For his outstanding military service, West earned both the Legion of Merit award and the Meritorious Service Medal.  Government officials recognized West’s distinguished military service and in 1973, he was appointed by President Gerald Ford as Deputy Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice.  In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed West as general counsel to the Navy and in 1979, West served as Deputy Secretary to the Secretary of Defense and general counsel to the Department of Defense from 1980 to 1981.

In 1981, West retired from government to become managing partner of the Washington, D.C. law firm, Patterson, Belknap, Webb, and Tyler.  In 1990, West became the senior vice president for the Arlington, Virginia-based Northrop Corporation, a military aircraft manufacturer.

Sources: 
Mary Kalfatovic, “West, Togo D. Jr.” Contemporary Black Biography (Detroit: Gale Research, 1998); Washington Post, November 22, 1996, p. l; November 23, 1996, p.9; http://www.nytimes.com/2000/07/11/us/va-secretary-resigning.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Bing, David (1943- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Born on November 24, 1943 in Washington, D.C, David Bing was a skilled point guard in the National Basketball Association (NBA).  His mother was a homemaker and his father was a bricklayer who founded a construction company.

Sources: 

Elizabeth Schleichert, Dave Bing: Basketball Great With a Heart  (Springfield, New Jersey: Enslow Publishers, 1995); Lou Sahadi, Basketball’s Fastest Hands (New York: Scholastic Book Services, 1977); John Hareas, NBA’s Greatest (New York: DK Publishers, 2003); www.nba.com; www.binggroup.com; www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/The-Bing-Company-History.htm.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

McKissick, Floyd B. (1922-1991)

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

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

Henson, Matthew (1866-1955)

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

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

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

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

LeMelle, Wilbert J., Sr. (1931-2003)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Wilbert J. LeMelle, Sr., was a scholar, development specialist, and ambassador to Kenya and the Republic of Seychelles between 1977 and 1980.  In both his academic and diplomatic work, LeMelle urged the United States to become more engaged in Africa, focusing on economic development and human rights issues.
Sources: 
Transcript, Ambassador Wilbert LeMelle Interview, 3 December 1998, by Richard Jackson for the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project.  Online: http://www.adst.org/OH TOCs/LeMelle, Wilbert.toc.pdf; Wilbert J. LeMelle, The First Development Decade in Africa: An Assessment. The African Economic Revolution and the Afro-American (Princeton: Princeton University, 1972); Wilbert J. LeMelle, “The Changing Role of the Planning Advisor in East Africa,” The African Review: A Journal of African Politics, Development and International Affairs 3 (1973); Wilbert J. LeMelle, “The OAU and Superpower Intervention in Africa,” Africa Today 35 (1988):
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Georgia Southwestern State University

Taylor, Christian (1995-2015)

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

The shooting death of Christian Taylor, a 19-year-old college student, by Arlington, Texas police officer Brad Miller at a car dealership in the city in the early morning hours of August 7, 2015 helped continue the ongoing debate promoted by Black Lives Matter and other social justice groups concerning young African Americans dying at the hands of law enforcement.  Taylor’s case was unusual, however, because he was a rare college student killed by police in a controversial deadly force incident.

Christian Taylor was born on October 13, 1995 to Adrian Taylor Sr. and Tina Taylor. Much of Christian’s childhood is unknown. He attended Mansfield High School, a public secondary school in Mansfield, Texas, graduating from the institution in 2014.  Taylor had played varsity football for Mansfield High. At the time of his death in 2015, Taylor was attending Angelo State University as a sophomore. Taylor was also played defensive back for the Angelo State Rams Football team.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Dixon, Charles Dean (1915-1976)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Charles Dean Dixon, conductor, was born January 10, 1915 in New York, New York to West Indian parents Henry Charles Dixon and McClara Rolston Dixon. Dixon’s parents exposed him to classical music at an early age and his mother taught him to play the violin, along with a number of other instruments. By the age of nine he was considered a musical prodigy and performed on local radio stations in New York. Dixon enrolled at Juilliard School of Music in 1932 as a violin major, but soon switched to the music pedagogy program and graduated in 1936. He then enrolled in Columbia University and earned a Master’s Degree in Music Pedagogy there in 1939.

Dixon was married three times: he married pianist Vivian Rivkin in 1948 and the couple had a daughter, Diane (1948-2000).  He married Finnish Baroness and playwright Mary Mandelin in 1954 and they had daughter Nina in 1954.  He married Australian Ritha Blume in 1973.
Sources: 
Langston Hughes, Famous Negro Music Makers; Illustrated with Photos (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1955); S. Saito, “Homage to Dean Dixon,” Biographical Overview, 8 Oct. 2008; "Dixon, Dean" Contemporary Black Biography, 2009, Encyclopedia.com, http://www.encyclopedia.com.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Barnett, Powell S. (1883-1971)

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

Powell S. Barnett was a child when his father arrived in Roslyn to work in the coal mines.  Seeing no future in mining, Powell left for Seattle in 1906, and quickly found work. Years later, after working in construction and for hotels, he served as a clerk for State Senator Frank Connor.  Barnett retired in 1971 as a maintenance man at the King County Courthouse.  He was a leader in the community and directed much of his energy toward improving race relations and civic unity.  In 1967, he organized the Leschi Improvement Council (a neighborhood organization), led in organizing the East Madison YMCA, and chaired a committee that revised the Seattle Urban League, thus saving its membership in the Community Chest. 

Barnett was instrumental in uniting blacks and whites in the YMCA and the USO.  As a tuba player, he was the first black person to become a member of the once all-white Musicians Union, Local 76.  He was a star baseball player who organized the semi-pro baseball Umpires Association of Seattle and secured its affiliation with the National Association of Umpires. He also assisted Japanese Americans who had been displaced during World War II. In 1949 a 4.4 acre park in Seattle was named in his honor.
Sources: 
Historylink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, “Powell S. Barnett (1883-1971)” (by Mary T. Henry) http://www.historylink.org/
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

House, Callie Guy (c. 1861-1928)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Callie House is most famous for her efforts to gain reparations for former slaves and is regarded as the early leader of the reparations movement among African American political activists.  Callie Guy was born a slave in Rutherford Country near Nashville, Tennessee.  Her date of birth is usually assumed to be 1861 but due to the lack of birth records for slaves, this date is not certain.  She was raised in a household that included her widowed mother, sister, and her sister’s husband.  House received some primary school education.

At the age of 22, she married William House and moved to Nashville, where she raised five children.  To support her family, House worked at home as a washerwoman and seamstress.  In 1891, a pamphlet entitled Freedmen’s Pension Bill: A Plea for American Freedmen began circulating around the black communities in central Tennessee.  This pamphlet, which espoused the idea of financial compensation as a means of rectifying past exploitation of slavery, persuaded House to become involved in the cause that would become her life’s work.  

With the help of Isaiah Dickerson, House chartered the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty and Pension Association in 1898, and was named the secretary of this new organization.  Eventually House became the leader of the organization. In this position she traveled across the South, spreading the idea of reparations in every former slave state with relentless zeal.  During her 1897-1899 lecture tour the Association's membership by 34,000 mainly through her efforts.  By 1900 its nationwide membership was estimated to be around 300,000.  

Sources: 
Mary Frances Berry, My  Face Is Black Is True: Callie House and the Struggle for Ex-Slave Reparations (New York: Knopf, 2005); James Turner, “Callie House: The Pursuit of Reparations as a Means for Social Justice”, The Journal of African American History Vol. 91, No. 3 (Summer, 2006), pp. 305-310.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Spencer, Kenneth (1913-1964)

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

Compared at the time to his more famous colleague, Paul Robeson, and heralded by major publicity outlets of his day as one of black America’s most exceptional baritone vocalists, singer-actor Kenneth Spencer was one of the most prominent black artists of the early 20th Century. Spencer was born in Los Angeles, California in 1913. He studied at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York where he earned a bachelor’s degree in music in 1938.

Early in his career, Spencer performed as a baritone singer on a variety of network radio stations while working odd jobs to supplement his income. Determined to advance his career, Spencer traveled and performed with the St. Louis Opera Company and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Eventually he became a soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.  

Sources: 

Edward Mapp, Directory of Blacks in the Performing Arts (Metuchen,
N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1978); Thomas Cripps, Making Movies Black (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1993).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Christensen, Donna Marie (1945–)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of the
U.S. House of Representatives
Photography Office

Donna Marie Christian-Christensen, the non-voting delegate from the U.S. Virgin Islands to the United States House of Representatives, was born in Teaneck, Monmouth Country, New Jersey on September 19, 1945 to the late Judge Almeric Christian and Virginia Sterling Christian. Christensen attended St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, where she received her Bachelor of Science in 1966. She then earned her M.D. degree from George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. in 1970. Christensen began her medical career in the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1975 as an emergency room physician at St. Croix Hospital. Between 1987 and 1988 she was medical director of the St. Croix Hospital and from 1988 to 1994 she was Commissioner of Health for the Virgin Island.  During the entire period from 1977 to l996 Christensen maintained a private practice in family medicine.  From 1992 to 1996 she was also a television journalist.

Christensen also entered Virgin Island politics.  As a member of the Democratic Party of the Virgin Islands, she has served as Democratic National Committeewoman, member of the Democratic Territorial Committee and Delegate to all the Democratic Conventions in 1984, 1988 and 1992.  Christensen was also elected to the Virgin Islands Board of Education in 1984 and served for two years.  She served as a member of the Virgin Islands Status Commission from 1988 to 1992. 

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University Of Washington

Smalls, Robert (1839-1915)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Robert Smalls was born in Beaufort, South Carolina, on April 5, 1839 and worked as a house slave until the age of 12. At that point his owner, John K. McKee, sent him to Charleston to work as a waiter, ship rigger, and sailor, with all earnings going to McKee. This arrangement continued until Smalls was 18 when he negotiated to keep all but $15 of his monthly pay, a deal which allowed Smalls to begin saving money. The savings that he accumulated were later used to purchase his wife and daughter from their owner for a sum of $800. Their son was born a few years later.
Sources: 
Okon Edet Uya, From Slavery to Public Service, Robert Smalls 1839-1915 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971); Dorothy Sterling, Captain of the Planter: The Story of Robert Smalls (New York: Pocket Books, 1978); Edward A. Miller, Gullah Statesman: Robert Smalls from Slavery to Congress, 1839-1915 (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1995); http://www.robertsmalls.org/; http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=S000502.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Rudolph, Wilma (1940-1994)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Wilma Rudolph with Her Olympic Gold Medals
Image Courtesy of The Library of Congress
Wilma Rudolph was born on June 23, 1940 in Bethlehem, Tennessee, one of eight children to parents Ed and Blanche Rudolph.  Wilma weighed only four-and-a-half pounds at birth and was born with polio and left for a time with only the use of her right leg because of it.  She suffered from double pneumonia twice and scarlet fever once before she was four years of age.  For two years, her mother brought her weekly to Meharry Medical College in Nashville for treatment.  Her family also massaged her leg at least four times daily.  From age five to nine, she wore a metal brace to correct her polio condition.  During that time she noticed the trips were always made on segregated buses that required African Americans sit in the back.

Rudolph entered Cobb Elementary School in Clarksville in 1947 and it was here that she discovered her passion for sports.  In eighth grade, she joined the track team even though basketball was her first love, and ran in five different events in high school.  By the age of 16, she was a bronze medalist in the 1956 Olympics.  In September of 1958, she entered Tennessee State University majoring in elementary education and psychology.  
Sources: 
Jessie Carney Smith, Epic Lives: One Hundred Black Women Who Made a Difference (Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1993); http://www.greatwomen.org/women.php?action=viewone&id=131.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Bates, Daisy Lee Gatson (1914-1999)

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

Newspaper publisher Daisy Lee Gatson Bates as a civil rights activist was influential in the integration of the Little Rock Nine into Little Rock, Arkansas’ Central High School in 1957.  She was born Daisy Lee Gatson on November 11, 1914 in Huttig, Arkansas. Her mother Millie Riley was killed by three white men when Daisy was an infant. Out of fear, her father John Gatson fled town and left his daughter in the care of friends, Orlee and Susie Smith. Gaston attended the local segregated schools in her youth.

Sources: 
Daisy Bates, The Long Shadow of Little Rock: A memoir (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2014); Steven Kasher, The Civil Rights Movement: A Photographic History, 1954-68 (New York: Abbeville Press, 1996); David Bradley, The Encyclopedia of Civil Rights In America (Armonk, NY: Routledge, 1998)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Owens, Charles (?-1882)

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

A successful business owner and real estate investor, Charles Owens became one of the most prominent African Americans in Los Angeles by the end of the nineteenth century. Born into slavery in Texas, Charles’s father, Robert Owens, purchased his family’s freedom and migrated to Los Angeles, California in 1850.

Sources: 
Beasley, Delilah, The Negro Trail-Blazers of California. Los Angeles: Times Mirror Print and Binding House, 1919; Taylor, Quintard. In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West, 1528-1990. New York: W.W. Norton, 1998; Flamming Douglas. Bound For Freedom: Black Los Angeles in Jim Crow America. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005; “Biddy Mason.” In African American Women: A Biographical Dictionary, edited by Dorothy C. Salem. New York: Garland Publishing, 1993.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Robinson, Eddie (1919-2007)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
With 408 career victories at Grambling State University, Eddie Robinson is the most successful football coach in Division I history. In 1985 he surpassed Paul William “Bear” Bryant’s record set at Alabama with 324 wins.  Under Robinson, the Grambling Tigers posted three undefeated seasons, seven single-loss seasons, and set an all-time NCAA Division I-AA record 27 consecutive winning seasons from 1960 to 1986.  Robinson’s teams won 17 championships in Southwestern Atlantic Conference and 9 Black College National Championships. Under his tenure, more than 80 players joined the National Football League (NFL) including Charlie Joiner, Willie Brown, and Doug Williams, the first black quarterback to lead a National Football League (NFL) team to a Superbowl victory (the Washington (D.C.) Redskins over the Denver (Colorado) Broncos in 1988).
Sources: 
Michael Hurd, Black College Football, 1892-1992: One Hundred Years of History, Education, and Pride (Virginia Beach, Va.: The Donning Co. Pub., 1993); James Haskins, "Eddie Robinson" in James Haskins, ed., One More River to Cross: The Stories of Twelve Black Americans (New York: Scholastic, 1992); "National Football Foundation, “College Football Hall of Fame,” http://www.footballfoundation.org/Programs/CollegeFootballHallofFame/SearchDetail.aspx?id=70042; David L. Porter, "Eddie Robinson,” in James D. Whalen, ed., African American Sports Greats: A Biographical Dictionary (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1995).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Jones, William B. (1928- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Courtesy of Hampden-Sidney College"
On July 26, 1977, President Jimmy Carter nominated William B. Jones as the United States Ambassador to Haiti. The U.S. Senate confirmed Jones and soon after he took up his post in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Born on May 2, 1928, to Bill and LaVelle Jones in Los Angeles, California, Ambassador Jones grew up in a racially integrated neighborhood.

In 1945 Jones entered the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and graduated in 1949 with an A.B. degree in political science with a history minor. From June until September 1, 1949, he studied abroad on a scholarship at University College in Southampton, England. Jones returned to Los Angeles and enrolled in the University of Southern California (USC) School of Law, graduating in 1952 with a Juris Doctor degree.
Sources: 
“United States Ambassador to Haiti Nomination of William B. Jones. July 26, 1977,” The American History Project, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=7868; “Ambassador William B. Jones ,” Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project, http://adst.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Jones-William-B.2010.toc_2.pdf.
Affiliation: 
Morgan State University

Davis, John Preston (1905-1973)

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

John Preston Davis was a prominent African American author, journalist, lawyer, civil rights leader, and co-founder of the National Negro Congress (1935-1946), an organization that was dedicated to the advancement of African Americans all over the country during the Great Depression. Davis was born on January 19th, 1905, in Washington D.C. He graduated from the elite, albeit segregated, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in 1922.

Sources: 
World Heritage Encyclopedia, “John P. Davis,” World Heritage Encyclopedia, http://www.self.gutenberg.org/articles/John_P._Davis; John Preston Davis Papers, http://archives.nypl.org/scm/20561#overview; “John P. Davis Dies at 68, Negroes Congress Officer,” The New York Times, September 12, 1973.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Smith, Ferdinand Christopher (1893-1961)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Ferdinand Smith, Chicago Alderman Earl B. Dickerson and
Donald M. Nelson, Chair of the War Production Board, 1943
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Jamaican-born Ferdinand Christopher Smith became a prominent twentieth century international labor activist and leader.  At an early age Smith left Jamaica’s poor economic conditions in search of work as a migrant laborer.  He spent five years in Panama, where he worked as a hotel steward and a salesman.  After WWI he moved to Cuba and by 1920 was working as a ship’s steward.

In the 1920s, impressed by their commitment to racial issues, Smith joined the Communist-led Marine Workers Industrial Union.  Although maritime workers faced oppressive working conditions including high rates of disease, low wages, poor rations, and unventilated quarters, they had virtually no union representation aboard ships.  This began to change as part of the New Deal’s support of labor unions. In 1936 Smith supported the strike against West Coast shippers.  When maritime strikes spread to the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, Smith became one of the nine members of the national strike Strategy Committee.

Sources: 

Gerald Horne, Red Seas: Ferdinand Smith and Radical Black Sailors in the United States and Jamaica (New York: New York University Press, 2005); “Ferdinand Smith, Labor Leader, 67,” New York Times, August 16, 1961, 31.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Metropolitan State University, Denver

Gardner-Chavis, Ralph (1922- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 

James Michael Brodie, Created Equal: The Lives and Ideas of Black American Innovators (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1993); The HistoryMakers, http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/ralph-gardner-chavis-38.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Aynaw, Yityish “Titi” (1992- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Yityish “Titi” Aynaw was crowned Miss Israel on February 27, 2013.  She made history when she became the first Miss Israel of African ancestry.  Born in Gondar Province, Ethiopia, Aynaw arrived in Israel in March 2003 along with her older brother and grandparents at the age of 12 after the death of her mother in 2002.  Her father died when she was two years old.

Aynaw lived in the hardscrabble immigrant town of Netanya.  Despite having no knowledge of spoken or written Hebrew, she was transported to a Hebrew boarding school in Haifa that catered to newly arrived immigrants.  Over time her competency in Hebrew steadily increased and she eventually became fluent in Yiddish as well.  Aynaw was a standout student in high school who distinguished herself from the outset.  She was student council president, excelled in track and field, and won first place in a national film competition that was loosely based on her own life experiences.

Sources: 
Daniel Estrin, “Israel’s Bold New Queen,” Tablet Magazine, March 3, 2013; Aaron Kalman, “Miss Israel is Ethiopian Immigrant,” The Times of Israel, February 28, 2013; Robert Tait, “Barack Obama To Dine with First Black Miss Israel,” Telegraph, March 22, 2013.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennesse State University

Harrison, Samuel (1818-1900)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Samuel Harrison, a minister, political activist, and former slave, became one of Berkshire County, Massachusetts’s most ardent abolitionists. Harrison was born enslaved in Philadelphia in 1818 but he and his mother were freed in 1821.  Shortly afterwards the widowed mother and her son moved to New York City. When Harrison was nine years old, he returned to Philadelphia to live with an uncle. 

Throughout his childhood, Harrison worked as an apprentice to his uncle in a shoemaking shop, learning a trade that would support him for years. He also attended church services with his mother regularly, and it was during his adolescence that Harrison decided to become a Presbyterian minister. 

Samuel Harrison tried hard to educate himself. In 1836, he enrolled in a manual school run by the abolitionist Gerrit Smith in Peterboro, New York. After only a few months, he transferred to the Western Reserve College in Hudson, Ohio (now Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, Ohio), an institution known for its abolitionist sympathies.   Financial difficulties, however, forced him to return to Philadelphia in 1839.

Soon after returning to Philadelphia, Harrison married Ellen Rhodes who he had known since the two were children. Over the next twenty years, Ellen gave birth to thirteen children, seven of whom died in early childhood.

Sources: 
Samuel Harrison, An Appeal of a Colored Man to his Fellow Citizens of a Fairer Hue in the United States (Pittsfield, Massachusetts: Chickering & Axtell, 1877); Samuel Harrison, Rev. Samuel Harrison, His Life Story, As Told By Himself (Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Privately printed, 1899); Dennis Dickerson, "Reverend Samuel Harrison: A Nineteenth Century Black Clergyman,” in Black Apostles at Home and Abroad: Afro-Americans and the Christian Mission from the Revolution to Reconstruction, edited by David W. Wills and Richard Newman (Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

Whipple, Prince (1750-1796)

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

Prince Whipple fought at the battles of Saratoga and in Delaware during the War for Independence.  He was also one of twenty enslaved men who petitioned the New Hampshire legislature for freedom in 1779.  His owner, General William Whipple, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and an aide to General George Washington.  Although Whipple has been identified by some as the African American figure in the familiar painting of Washington crossing the Delaware River, it is doubtful he was present on Christmas Eve, 1776.

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/prince-whipple-and-american-painting/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Stewart, Maria W. Miller (1803-1879)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Maria W. Stewart's Publication "Meditations"
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Maria W. Stewart, best known as one of the earliest female public speakers, was born Maria Miller in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1803. Her parents’ first names and occupations are not known. Stewart was orphaned by age five and became an indentured servant, serving a clergyman until she was fifteen. She also attended Connecticut Sabbath schools and taught herself to read and write.

In 1826 Miller married James W. Stewart. Her husband, a shipping agent, had served in the War of 1812 and had spent some time in England as a prisoner of war. With her marriage, she became part of Boston’s small free black middle class and soon became involved in some of its institutions including the Massachusetts General Colored Association, which worked for immediate abolition of slavery.  When James W. Stewart died in 1829, the white executors of her husband’s will took her inheritance through legal actions, leaving her penniless.
Sources: 
Marilyn Richardson, Maria W. Stewart, America’s First Black Woman Political Writer: Essays and Speeches, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987); Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment (New York: Routledge Classics, 2008); Darlene Clark Hine, Black Women in America: The Early Years, 1619-1899 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Campbell, Tunis Gulic (1812–1891)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Tunis Campbell was one of the most successful black politicians in the Reconstruction Era.  Born the eighth of 10 children to free black parents, John Campbell, a blacksmith and his wife (name unknown) in Middlebrook, New Jersey on April 1, 1812, Campbell trained for missionary work at an all-white Episcopal school in Babylon, New York.  He initially worked for the American Colonization Society but eventually rejected their efforts to shore up U.S. slavery by sending only free blacks to Liberia.  He then became an anti-colonization and abolitionist lecturer.   
Sources: 
Ira Berlin, Thavolia Glymph, Steven F. Miller, Joseph P. Reidy, and Leslie S. Rowland, Freedom: Volume 3, Series 1: The Wartime Genesis of Free Labour: The Lower South: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867/ Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation (Cambridge University Press; Reissue edition, July 26, 2012); Robin Kadison Berson, Marching to a Different Drummer: Unrecognized Heroes of American History (Greenwood Press: Westport, CT, 1994); E. Merton Coulter, “Tunis G. Campbell, Negro Reconstructionist in Georgia,” Georgia Historical Quarterly, 51:4 (December 1967).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Thompson, Klay Alexander (1990- )

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

Klay Alexander Thompson is a professional basketball player in the National Basketball Association (NBA) who plays for the Golden State Warriors. Thompson was born February 8, 1990 in Los Angeles, California to Mychal Thompson, a former NBA player, and Julie Leslie Thompson, a former volleyball player.

Thompson’s family moved to Lake Oswego, Oregon when he was two years old. There he met and became childhood friends with Kevin Love, another future NBA star. Thompson’s family later returned to California, settling in Landera Ranch where Thompson attended Santa Margarita Catholic High School in nearby Rancho Santa Margarita, California. Thompson played for the Santa Margarita Catholic High School basketball team helping them go to the Division III championship where they lost.  Nonetheless Thompson was named Division III state player of the year, league MVP, first-team Best in the West, and an EA Sports Second Team All-American, all significant honors for a high school basketball player.

Sources: 
“Klay Thompson,” Success Story, https://successstory.com/people/klay-thompson; “Klay Thompson,” Article Bio, http://articlebio.com/klay-thompson; “Klay Thompson,” Washington State Cougars, http://www.wsucougars.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=2318; “Klay Thompson,” National Basketball Association, http://www.nba.com/players/klay/thompson/202691; “Klay Thompson,” Basketball Reference, https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/t/thompkl01.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Keckley, Elizabeth Hobbs (1818-1907)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley is best known as Mary Lincoln’s dressmaker and confidant and as the author of Behind the Scenes By Elizabeth Keckley, Formerly a Slave, But More Recently Modiste, and Friend to Mrs. Abraham Lincoln, Or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House (1868).  

Elizabeth Hobbs was born into slavery on the Col. Armistead Burwell farm in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, in 1818 to Agnes and George Pleasant Hobbs (although her biographer Jennifer Fleischner asserts that Col. Burwell was in fact Hobbs’s father).  Agnes and George had an “abroad” marriage meaning that except for one brief period of time when George resided on the Burwell property, the family lived apart.  George Hobbs was parted from his family permanently when his master relocated west.  
Sources: 
Elizabeth Keckley, Behind the Scenes By Elizabeth Keckley, Formerly a Slave, But More Recently Modiste, and Friend to Mrs. Abraham Lincoln,  Or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House (1868), available electronically at:  http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/keckley/keckley.html;  Jennifer Fleischner, Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckly (New York: Broadway Books, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Riley, George Putnam (1833-1905)

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

George Putnam Riley, a native of Boston, Massachusetts, was an important figure in the Pacific Northwest during the nineteenth century. Riley’s grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War under General Israel Putnam, and his middle name probably refers to his grandfather’s commander. His father, William Riley, was a clothing dealer in Boston. His mother, Elizabeth Riley, a prominent Boston abolitionist, wanted him to attend college, but he was unable to attend due to his race. While living in Boston, Riley participated in the John Brown Mass Meetings, and he worked for the prominent lawyer—and later Civil War general—Benjamin Butler.

Sources: 
Tacoma Daily Ledger, June 22, 1889; 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; Esther Hall Mumford, Seattle’s Black Victorians, 1852-1901 (Seattle: Ananse Press, 1980); Salem Weekly Oregon Statesman December 31, 1869, May 6, 1870; Salem, Oregon Statesman, January 4, May 6, 1870; Portland The Oregonian, April 28, May 2, and May 18, 1870; Seattle The Seattle Republican, October 6, 1905; and the George Riley Group L.L.C. https://www.opencorpdata.com/us-wa/602490513.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
National Park Service

Brindis de Salas, Claudio (1852-1911)

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

Internationally acclaimed Afro-Cuban violinist Claudio José Domingo Brindis de Salas y Garrido was born in Havana, Cuba, on August 4, 1852, the son of Claudio Brindis de Salas Monte, director of the popular orchestra Concha de Oro (Golden Shell) who played the violin and double bass, and his second wife, Maria Nemesia Garrido. The oldest of three sons, Brindis was initially taught the violin by his father, later by the Afro-Cuban Prof. José Redondo and the Belgian José Van der Gucht, and first performed solo in public at age eleven. After concertizing across the country with his talented family, his father won a lottery and 1869 and packed Brindis off to Europe to the National Conservatory of Paris in France (Conservatoire National de Paris) where the young prodigy studied under Charles Dancla and Ernesto Sivari.

Sources: 
Irene, Diggs, “Brindis de Salas: ‘King of the Octaves,’” in The Crisis (November 1953); “The Cuban Paganini: Brindis de Salas,” http://www.thecubanhistory.com/2012/03/6183/;  Raúl Ramos Cárdenas, “En el Centenario de Brindis de Salas,” http://www.arnac.cu/index.php/investigaciones/en-el-centenario-de-brindis-de-salas/894.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Frazer, Victor O. (1943- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Victor O. Frazer, attorney and politician, was born May 24, 1943 in Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands to Albert Frazer and Amanda Blyden.   He graduated from Charlotte Amalie High School in 1960.  In 1964, he earned a B.A. degree from Fisk University. In 1971, he received his J.D. from Howard University Law School and subsequently was admitted to legal bars of New York, Maryland, District of Columbia, and Virgin Islands.

In 1974 Frazer began his law career in Washington, D.C. at the Office of the Corporation Counsel (later known as the Office of the Attorney General of D.C.).  He later served as a lawyer for the Interstate Commerce Commission and the U.S. Patent Office.

In 1987 he served as general counsel for the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority.  Frazer’s congressional interest developed while working as an administrative assistant for California Representative Mervyn Dymally and as a special assistant for Michigan Representative John Conyers.

Sources: 
“Victor O. Frazer,” Who’s Who Among African Americans; Politics in America, 1996 (Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 1995): 1476; Black Americans in Congress website, http://baic.house.gov/member-profiles/profile.html?intID=72; Almanac of American Politics, 1996 (Washington, D.C.: National Journal Inc., 1995), 1483.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Cooper, John W. (1873-1966)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
John W. Cooper and Sam Jackson
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John W. Cooper was an African American ventriloquist, born in Brooklyn, New York in 1873.  After losing both of his parents at a very young age, Cooper received his education at Professor Dorsey’s Institute in Brooklyn.  There he developed into a budding entertainer and took a special interest in ventriloquism, a craft he learned from an unidentified white man whom he met at a Sheepshead Bay racetrack.  

Cooper, who was also a singer, joined “The Southern Jubilee Singers.”  While touring with the group he also developed his ventriloquism act, writing and performing his own material before mostly white audiences.  “Fun in a Barber Shop” became one of his most famous acts.  Cooper portrayed six different puppet characters, each with his own voice performed by Cooper himself.

In 1902, when he was twenty-nine, Cooper had his first big break in ventriloquism while traveling with Richards and Pringles Minstrels.  In that year he was recognized by the Daily Nonpariel, a leading entertainment magazine, as the best ventriloquist of that era.    Cooper went on to create another act with a black ventriloquist puppet named Sam Jackson.  Cooper and Sam traveled all over the United States during the next two decades.  By the start of World War I he began performing at veteran hospitals, service clubs, and military camps.  
Sources: 
C. B. Davis, “Reading the Ventriloquists’ Lips: The Performance Genre behind the Metaphor” (TDR 1988-), 42: 4 (Winter 1998); Dan Willinger, “Ventriloquists Vaudeville Years,” Ventriloquist Central: A Tribute to Ventriloquism,” http://www.ventriloquistcentral.com/tribute/vaudeville/vaudeville.htm; Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Crouch, Stanley (1945- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Stanley Crouch is a tough-minded and controversial jazz critic, playwright, essayist, novelist, and percussionist.  After a personal intellectual transformation in the late 1970s, Crouch became the contemporary champion of traditionalist jazz – an identity which he has defined with both powerful cultural criticisms and outbursts of intellectual and physical combativeness.

Stanley Crouch was born in Los Angeles, California in 1945.  His mother, Emma Bea Crouch, supported his family financially and intellectually.  Asthma kept Crouch confined to his home for much of his childhood, a period which he spent reading and listening.  By the time of his high school graduation in 1963, Crouch had independently read the complete works of Hemingway, Twain, and Fitzgerald, while also founding a school jazz club which explored the works of artists Sonny Rollins, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, and Eric Dolphy, among others.  

Crouch attended two separate junior colleges for the next three years, receiving a degree from neither.  It was in this period, however, that Crouch became interested in poetry and drama, being particularly influenced by poet and playwright LeRoi Jones (later Amiri Baraka).  After the eruption of the Watts riots of 1965, Crouch became informally involved in the Watts Writers Workshop, often performing at the Watts Happening Coffee House.  From 1965 until 1967 Crouch was a member of Studio Watts, a local repertory theater.
Sources: 
Robert Boynton, “The Professor of Connection: A Profile of Stanley Crouch,”  The New Yorker, November 6, 1995; Stanley Crouch, The All-American Skin Game, or, The Decoy of Race (New York City: Pantheon Books, 1995); Steven L. Isoardi, The Dark Tree: Jazz and the Community Arts in Los Angeles (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Brown, Charlotte Eugenia Hawkins (1883-1961)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born Lottie Hawkins in Henderson, North Carolina, in 1883, her family moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, early in her childhood to avoid racial discrimination in their home state. In Cambridge, she attended Allston Grammar School, Cambridge English High School and Salem State Normal School in Salem, Massachusetts.

During her senior year at Cambridge High School Hawkins met Alice Freeman Palmer, who in 1882 was named the first woman president of Wellesley College. Palmer would become a role-model, mentor and influence in Hawkins’s life. Hawkins became Palmer’s protégé as the two women developed a life long bond.  Palmer assisted Hawkins financially in attending Salem State Normal School, a teachers college.

In 1901 eighteen year old Hawkins accepted a teaching position in North Carolina offered by the American Missionary Association. Although she did not graduate from Salem State, she decided to take the post anyway knowing that since there were few educational opportunities for black children she would do what she could to address the problem.  
Sources: 
Charles W. Wadelington and Richard F. Knapp, Charlotte Hawkins Brown and Palmer Memorial Institute; What One Young African American Woman Could Do  (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999); Lorraine Roses and Ruth E. Randolph, Harlem Renaissance and Beyond: Literary Biographies of One Hundred Black Women Writers, 1900-1945 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997); http://www.wellesley.edu; http://www.chbfoundation.org
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

George, David (1742-1810)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Artist Drawing of the Silver Bluff
Sources: 
Simon Schama, Rough Crossings ( Toronto: Penguin Group, 2005); Walter H. Brooks, The Silver Bluff Church: A History of Negro Baptist Churches in America (Washington, D.C.: Press of R. L. Pendleton, 1910) http://docsouth.unc.edu/church/brooks/brooks.html; http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part2/2p30.html; James St G. Walker, The Black Loyalists: The Search for a Promised Land in Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone, 1783-1870 (New York: Africana Publishing Co., 1976); Robin W. Winks, The Blacks in Canada: A History, 2nd ed. (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 1997); Pearleen Oliver, A Brief History of the Coloured Baptists of Nova Scotia (Halifax, N.S.: s.n., 1953).
Contributor: 

Wilson Jr., Harrison B. (1925– )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Esteemed educator, legendary basketball coach, and successful university president, Harrison Wilson Jr. was born on April 21, 1925, in Amsterdam, a small city in upstate New York. His mother Marguerite Ayers was a school teacher, and his father Harrison Wilson Sr. worked in construction. Dr. Wilson’s grandson is the 2014 Super Bowl champion football player and quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, Russell Wilson.   
Sources: 
The History Makers, 5/11-13/2015, http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/harrison-b-wilson-41;  “2013 JSU Hall of Fame Inductee: Harrison B. Wilson,” Jackson State Athletics Media, 8/22/2013, http://www.jsutigers.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=29000&ATCLID=209224821; Office of the President, Norfolk State University, https://www.nsu.edu/president/past-presidents.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Lee, Andrea (1953- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership, Public Domain
Expatriate novelist, journalist, and memoirist Andrea Lee was raised in a well-to-do African American family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The youngest of three children, her father was a Baptist minister and her mother an elementary school teacher.  The product of private school education, she recalls both writing fiction and desiring to live in Europe since childhood. Her privileged upbringing did not completely shelter her from discomfiting incidents in racially integrated schools which led her to revisit issues pertaining to racial and national identity in later writings.
Sources: 
Mar Gallego, “Lee, Andrea,” African American National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008); Milena Vercellino,“Andrea Lee,” retrieved at  http://www.theamericanmag.com/article.php?article=556&p=full
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Charleston, Oscar (1896-1954)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Oscar Charleston was born October 14, 1896, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Growing up as a batboy for the local Indianapolis ABC’s, Charleston was a runaway who joined the Army at age 15. Stationed in the Philippines, Charleston was given the opportunity to play baseball and run track for the Army, where he ran the 220-yard dash in 23 seconds. While there, Charleston was allowed to play in the usually all-white Manila League.

Returning home in 1915, Charleston played for his hometown ABC’s. In one of many public outbursts resulting from his infamously bad temper, Charleston was suspended during his rookie season for arguing with an umpire, and was held on a $1000 bond. The next season, Charleston had a crucial role in the ABC’s Black World Series win over the Chicago American Giants, batting .360 in seven of the ten games.

After short stints with various teams from 1918-1920, Charleston would return to the ABC’s after the forming of the Negro National Leagues. In 1921, Charleston led the League in hitting (.426), triples (10), home runs (14), and stolen bases (28). Often compared to greats like Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth, Charleston dominated the League with his combination of hitting for both power and accuracy, his tremendous speed both in the outfield and while base running, and for his trademark intensity.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Wooten, Howard A. (1920-1948)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Courtesy of the U.S. National Archives
Tuskegee Airman Howard Adolphus Wooten was born on April 20, 1920 in Lovelady, Texas to parents Johnnie C. Morris Wooten and Howard L. Wooten.  His father was the principal of the “colored school” in Lovelady, a town 100 miles north of Houston, and his mother also was a teacher there.

Howard A. Wooten grew up on a farm near Lovelady and in 1937, at age 17, he entered Prairie View College on a football scholarship.  His main interest, however, was in aviation and he attempted to enroll in flight training programs.  His father objected because he didn’t think airplanes were safe and because he wanted his son to finish college.

Wooten dropped out of Prairie View College in 1940 and enlisted in the U.S. Army as a private assigned to a Field Artillery unit.  He rose through the ranks, becoming a Staff Sergeant in the 46th Field Artillery Brigade by January 1942.
Sources: 
Obituary of Howard A. Wooten published after his death in the Seattle Post Intelligencer, August 1948; conversations with his brothers Hayes L. Wooten, Octavius Wooten (deceased) and A.G. Wooten and his widow, Josephine A. Stokes.
Contributor: 

Stubbs, Frederick D. (1906-1947)

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

ENTRY SPONSOR: James Williams

A prominent thoracic surgeon in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Dr. Frederick Douglass Stubbs made important contributions to the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis. He completed extensive training in thoracic (chest) medicine during and after medical school, including a yearlong residency at Sea View Hospital in Staten Island, New York, that concentrated on the diagnosis and treatment of the deadly lung disease. Stubbs used this education to become a national leader in the care of those suffering from tuberculosis, especially African Americans and people in low-income communities in Philadelphia.

Born March 16, 1906, in Wilmington, Delaware, Stubbs came from a family of physicians. His father, Dr. J. Bacon Stubbs, was an 1894 graduate of Howard Medical School, while his mother, Blanche Williams Stubbs, was related to Dr. Daniel Hale Williams III, founder of Provident Hospital in Chicago, Illinois and an early innovator in the practice of open-heart surgery.

Sources: 
W. Montague Cobb, “Frederick Douglass Stubbs, 1906–1947: An Appreciation,” Journal of the National Medical Association 40:1 (1948); Charles R. Drew, “Annual Report of the Surgical Section of the National Medical Association,” Journal of the National Medical Association 39:6 (1947); Lasalle D. Leffall, "Seven Surgical Exemplars and the College—lest We Forget," The American Journal of Surgery 176: 4 (1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Turner, Viola Mitchell (1900-1988)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of the Pauli Murray Project

Viola Mitchell Turner, an early black executive with North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, was born in Macon, Georgia, in 1900. The only child of poor, impoverished, teenage African American parents she would succeed in becoming the first female African American member of the North Carolina Mutual Board of Directors.  

Turner was educated in a private black school in Macon sponsored by the American Missionary Association and then continued her education at Morris Brown College in Atlanta, studying business, which for women in the late 1910s meant primarily clerical work. After graduation from Morris Brown in 1918 Turner became a secretary at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama where she met leading professors such as George Washington Carver.

Her time at the Tuskegee Institute was short however as she worked briefly for the Superintendent of Negro Education for the State of Mississippi who made her his personal secretary. Turner moved to Mississippi but held her new position for six months.  She was hired by North Carolina Mutual Insurance (NCMI) in 1920, setting up branch offices in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Mississippi. In 1924 Turner applied for and received a position at North Carolina Mutual headquarters in Durham, North Carolina.

Sources: 
Interview with Viola Turner, http://docsouth.unc.edu/sohp/C-0016/menu.html; Leslie Brown, Upbuilding Black Durham: Gender, Class, and Black Community Development in the Jim Crow South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Rogers, John W. (1958- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 

BNET, The activists: John W. Rogers Jr. <http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m 1365/is_7_38/ai_n24360086>; John W. Rogers Jr. Biography. 1958- Investor, business executive. <a href="http://biography.jrank.org/pages/2767/Rogers-John-W-Jr.html">John W. Rogers Jr. Biography; Who Runs GOV. John W. Rogers Jr. <http://www.whorunsgov.com /Profiles/John_W._Rogers_Jr.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Kadalie, Clements (1896-1951)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Clements Kadalie, an early South African trade unionist and political activist, was born in April 1896 in Nkhata Bay District in Nyasaland (now Malawi). His parents Musa Kadalie Muwamba had two sons with Clements the youngest. Kadalie graduated in 1913 at age seventeen from Livingstonia, a mission school administered by Church of Scotland missionaries. He was certified to teach elementary school and assigned to district schools in the region. Kadalie taught school for five years but like many of his contemporaries he was attracted by the much higher wages paid in South Africa and decided to move there.

In 1918 he settled in Cape Town, South Africa where he befriended Arthur F. Batty, a white trade unionist and political activist. Batty viewed the poorly-paid African working class as a prime target for continued exploitation unless they unionized. He urged Kadalie to create such a union. Kadalie responded by founding the Industrial and Commercial Union (ICU) in 1919, the first major black union in South Africa.
Sources: 
Clements Kadalie, My Life and the I.C.U.: The Autobiography of a Black Trade Unionist in South Africa (London: Cass, 1970); D. D. Phiri, I See You: Life of Clements Kadalie, the Man South Africa, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Namibia Should Not Forget (Blantyre, Malawi: College Publishing Company, 2000);  Encyclopedia of World Biography (Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2009); http://v1.sahistory.org.za/pages/people/bios/kadalie-c.htm; http://overcomingapartheid.msu.edu/people.php?id=122.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Gaye, Marvin Pentz, Jr. (1939-1984)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born on April 2, 1939 in Washington, D.C. Marvin Pentz Gaye, Jr. was named after his father, a minister of the apostolic church.  From a young age, the church played a large role in Gaye’s music career.  He began his musical profession in his father’s church choir and began playing the organ and drums.  After several years in the church, in 1957 Gaye left his father’s church and joined a group known as the Marquees.  After a year, the group was guided by the producer and singer Harvey Fuqua who inspired Marvin’s musical career.  When Fuqua moved to Detroit to further pursue his music, Gaye went with him.  In Detroit, Harvey was able to join forces with another music talent, Berry Gordy, where Gaye became a session drummer and soloist for the Motown Records label.

Shortly after in 1961, Gaye married Berry Gordy’s sister Anna Gordy.  During this same year, Gaye was also offered a solo recording record with Motown Records.  In the first year of his solo contract, Marvin was a jazz singer, but was soon persuaded to sing Rhythm and Blues (R&B).  His first hit single was “Stubborn Kind of Fellow” which became a top 10 selling hit on the R&B charts.  By 1965, Gaye became known as Motown’s best selling male vocalist and had added to the charts the famous song “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)” followed by two more number one selling R&B hits, “I'll Be Doggone” and “Ain't That Peculiar.” 
Sources: 
Michael Eric Dyson, Mercy Mercy Me (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2005);  
http://www.marvingayepage.net/biography/
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Giovanni, Yolande Cornelia "Nikki" (1943- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image ©Bettmann/Corbis 
"There's no life in safety," said three-time National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Image Award winner Nikki Giovanni, who began her life on June 7, 1943, in Knoxville, Tennessee. She moved with her mother and sister to a small black suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio, although she traveled back to Knoxville during the summers to live with her grandparents.

In 1960, seventeen-year-old Giovanni entered Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, at the beginning of the student protest movement. She was promptly dismissed from Fisk in her first semester for expressing "attitudes [which] did not fit those of a Fisk woman." Giovanni returned to Fisk in 1964 and helped restart their chapter of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In 1967 she graduated from the honors program with a Bachelor’s degree in history. She then attended the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia College.
Sources: 
Kwame A. Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2004);  http://voices.cla.umn.edu/artistpages/giovanniNikki.php.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Huiswoud, Otto (1893-1961)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Otto Huiswoud and Claude McKay in Moscow, 1922
Image Ownership: Public domain

Otto Huiswoud was the first black member of the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), as well as one of its founders. He was born in Paramaribo, Suriname (then the Dutch colony of Surinam), on October 23, 1893, to Rudolf Huiswoud, an ex-slave, and Jacqueline Bernard Huiswoud. In Surinam, Huiswoud worked as a printing apprentice until shipping out on a Dutch banana boat in 1910. In 1913 he jumped ship in Brooklyn, New York, to escape poor conditions on board and began working odd jobs in New York City to support himself.

In New York, Huiswoud was exposed to Socialism by speakers in Union Square, a park and political action hub in Manhattan. When working on a pleasure boat in the summer of 1918, he led a strike of black crew members and drew the attention of the Socialist Party leadership. They offered him a one-year scholarship to the socialist Rand School, which he accepted. As a result, he began a lifelong involvement in politics.

Sources: 
Jason M. Schultz, Encyclopedia of the African Diaspora (ABC-CLIO, 2008); Mark Solomon, The Cry Was Unity: Communists and African Americans, 1917-1936 (Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Ganaway, King Daniel (1882- 1944)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
King Daniel Ganaway, a 39-year-old butler on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, Illinois rose to fame in 1921 by winning the first place prize in national photographic contest sponsored by Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Department Store Owner John Wanamaker. Titled “The Spirit of Transportation,” the photograph was one of 900 entries. Ganaway’s camera lens captured the two engines of the 20th Century Limited as they came to the end of their run at the La Salle Street Station in Chicago. His entry was chosen over others submitted by professional photographers. He also won an Honorable Mention for another photograph, titled “Children in the Country.”

Born October 22, 1882 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, King Daniel’s parents were King and Hattie Ganaway. He was named after his father King and his grandfather Daniel. His devout Christian faith led King in 1903 at the age of 21 to leave Tennessee to join the Christian Catholic Church, a religious community in Zion, Illinois under the leadership of John Alexander Dowie. After nine months of waiting tables there he decided to move to Chicago.  

Sources: 
Edith M. Lloyd, “This Negro Butler Has Become Famous,” American Magazine, March 1925; America To-Day Combined with Fort Dearborn Magazine Digital Scans https://books.google.com/books?id=cEstAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA101&lpg=PA101&dq=american+today+combined+with+fort+dear+born+magazine&source=bl&ots=f9CgSPTIzv&sig=wZdqX0-O7A_h4exLnD61oMQ_zxU&hl=en&sa=X&ei=F8LoVN6XKoKlyATy9ID4BA&ved=0CBoQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage q=american%20today%20combined%20with%20fort%20dear%20born%20magazine&f=false; The National Geographic Magazine, April 1923, May 1924; and September 1928; John Gruber, “Ganaway Captures Train’s Spirit,” Railroad Heritage 3, 2001.
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

Cox, Odessa (1922–2001)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Students at Los Angeles Southwest College
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Odessa Cox is the principal founder of Los Angeles Southwest College, (LASC) which serves a predominantly black and brown community in South Central Los Angeles, California. Born Odessa Brown on June 8, 1922, in Whatley, Alabama, she was a second-generation community activist. Her father, Chester Lee Brown, was a union organizer for the International Worker’s Order (IWO) and later for the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). Along with Odessa’s mother, Alma Burroughs Brown, the couple imbued Odessa and her brothers, Lilton and Theodore, with a desire to help mankind and improve themselves through education.
Sources: 
Malca Chall, “Odessa Cox, Challenging the Status Quo: The Twenty-seven Year Campaign for Southwest Junior College,” Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California Berkeley, 1978: The Los Angeles Southwest College Webpage, http://www.lasc.edu/about_lasc/History_Of_LASC.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Whitfield, Brigadier General Walter J. (1948- )

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

Brigadier General Walter John Whitfield was the first African American General in the Army National Guard. His career extends over thirty years in the military working in both active and reserve areas.  During his period with the National Guard he also had a career as a Sales, Marketing and Business Development Professional extending over forty years.

Whitfield first enlisted in the Army in 1967 during the Vietnam War because he wanted to learn a trade in microwave radios. As a college graduate he rose quickly in the ranks and was honorably discharged in 1971 at the rank of captain.  Two years later, in 1973, he returned to the armed forces, this time joining the Illinois National Guard in Chicago. Whitfield worked his way up through the ranks and earned the position of Brigadier General of the 33rd Separate Infantry Brigade in 1992.

Sources: 
“Guard’s New Brigadier General Takes Rank in Stride, With Pride,” Chicago Tribune, November 23, 1992 http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1992-11-23/news/9204170163_1_military-leader-brigadier-armory;  Walter L. Hawkins, Black American Military Leaders: A Biographical Dictionary (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, 2007).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Dangote, Aliko (1957– )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Aliko Dangote is the first billionaire from Nigeria and is considered the richest black man in the world and the fifty-first richest person overall according to Forbes in 2016. He amassed his fortune by founding the Dangote Group, the multinational company that operates throughout West Africa and is Africa’s largest cement manufacturer. The Dangote Group is also involved in other enterprises such as flour milling, salt processing, textiles, real estate, transport, and oil and gas. Finally, the company has control of the Nigerian sugar market that supplies sugar to various companies. Dangote is married and has three children.

Dangote was born on April 10, 1957, in Kano, Nigeria, to a family of prosperous merchants. He became interested in business from a young age. While he was in primary school, he bought cartons of sugar boxes and sold them for profit. Dangote graduated from Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, with a business degree in 1977.
Sources: 
“Dangote Group,” History, website of the Dangote Group, http://www.dangote-group.com/aboutus/history.aspx; Alexis Okeowo, “Africa's Richest Man, Aliko Dangote, Is Just Getting Started,” Bloomberg.com, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-03-07/africas-richest-man-aliko-dangote-is-just-getting-started; “Nigeria: Aliko Dangote–a Lesson for African Entrepreneurs, “Vanguard, AllAfrica, http://allafrica.com/stories/201403240379.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Kansas

Wallace, Michele Faith (1952- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Michele Wallace;
Barbara Wallace, Photographer
Michele Wallace, a feminist scholar, writer and educator, was born on January 4, 1952 in New York City to Robert Earl Wallace, a musician, and Faith Ringgold, a well-known artist and author. In 1978, at age 26, she published her first book, Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman, setting off a maelstrom of controversy in the black community and beyond.  In 1990 Wallace published Invisibility Blues: From Pop to Theory.  That same year Black Macho was re-released with a 20-page introduction by the author titled ”How I Saw It Then, How I See It Now,” detailing her views regarding the controversy.

In Black Macho Wallace asserted that the Black Power movement of the 1960s was the black man’s pursuit of his own power and that it was motivated by revenge, not equality. She also noted black male attraction to white women and questioned whether the black male could truly love a black woman. The book is an exploration of the black female in creating a voice and defining life, rather than leaving it to someone else’s interpretation. Significant is Wallace’s later understanding that history, in order “to be 'true' in any sense,...has to be dialogic,” meaning it has to include other contexts, experiences and views.
Sources: 
Darlene Clark Hine, Black Women In America, 2nd edition Vol. 3 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); Michele Wallace, Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman (New York: The Dial Press, 1978).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

Ousley, "King" Curtis (1934–1971)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

King Curtis was a famous tenor sax player during the 1950s and 1960s and was known for his signature honking sound.  Born in Fort Worth, Texas on February 7, 1934, with the birth name Curtis Ousley, King Curtis got his musical education in the public schools of his hometown.  Curtis started out on alto sax at the age of 12 and then switched to tenor at 13.  After graduating from high school, he began touring with Lionel Hampton’s jazz band.  In 1952, Curtis moved to New York and began to venture out from jazz to a rising musical genre called rock and roll. 

King Curtis by the late-1950s was a well-known session musician working with numerous rock and roll and rhythm and blues artists including Aretha Franklin, Solomon Burke, Buddy Holly, and Wilson Pickett.  He’s also remembered for his solo on the Coasters’ hit with “Yakety Yak” in 1958.   Over his playing career as a session musician, it is estimated that King Curtis performed with over 125 jazz, pop, R&B, and rock and roll artists.

Sources: 
Murray Schumach, “King Curtis, the Bandleader, Is Stabbed to Death,” New York Times (August 15, 1971); Arnold Shaw, Honkers and Shouters : the Golden Years of Rhythm and Blues (New York: Macmillan Pub Co, 1986); Eileen Southern, Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African American Musicians (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1983);  http://www.rockhall.com/inductee/king-curtis (Accessed November 7, 2009)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Jackson, Jennie (1852 –1910)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Andrew Ward
Jennie Jackson, Fisk Jubilee Singer, folklorist & impresario, was the granddaughter of President Andrew Jackson’s almost lifelong body servant. Jackson’s mother had been born a slave, and her father, George, also enslaved, had died before Jennie was born. But because her mother was the beneficiary of a slave holder’s deathbed manumission, Jennie was born free. The status of Nashville’s freedmen was always precarious, however. When the trustee appointed by her mother’s late mistress tried to destroy the family’s “free papers” so he could re-enslave them, Jennie’s destitute mother fled into the city with her three year-old daughter.

During the Civil War, mother and daughter returned to Union-occupied Nashville, where Jennie was among the first students admitted to the Fisk Free Colored School. Working at her mother’s washboard, Jackson learned many of the spirituals the Jubilees would popularize.
Sources: 
Andrew Ward, Dark Midnight When I Rise: The Story of the Jubilee Singers Who Introduced the World to the Music of Black America (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Murray, George Washington (1853–1926)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

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

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

Lampkin, Daisy (1884-1965)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

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

Seale, Bobby (1936--)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
As cofounder and Chairman of the Black Panther Party, Bobby Seale was an important leader of the Black Power movement.  Born in Texas, Seale joined thousands of African Americans when his family migrated to Oakland, California during World War II.  At the age of 18, Seale joined the Air Force, where he was given a bad conduct discharge after three years of service.  He returned to Oakland and began attending Merritt College, intending to become an engineer.  At Merritt he was exposed to an emerging Black Nationalist discourse and first met Huey P. Newton.  Inspired by Malcolm X, independence movements in Africa, and anti-colonialist intellectuals such as Frantz Fanon, he founded with Newton in 1966 the Black Panther Party for Self Defense.  
Sources: 
Bobby Seale, A Lonely Rage: The Autobiography of Bobby Seale (New York, Times Books, 1978); Seale, Seize the Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton (New York, Random House, 1970); and Robert O. Self, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Santamaria, Mongo (1917–2003)

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

Born in Cuba on April 7, 1917, Mongo Santamaria is an Afro-Cuban percussionist who became an influential musician in the United States in the 1950s.  His given name is Ramón Santamaría Rodríguez.  Nicknamed Mongo by his father, Santamaria believes his nickname comes from the Mali people in West Africa.  Mongo means the chief of the tribe.  

Santamaria grew up in Havana, Cuba. His father, a construction worker, died when he was a child.  His mother raised him while she sold coffee and cigarettes in public markets. Growing up black and impoverished in Cuba, Santamaria often turned to playing music and dancing on the streets like other poor Afro-Cubans in Havana.  

In 1937 Santamaria got his first big job as a musician when he joined the group Septeto Boloña. By the early 1940s Mongo Santamaria played congas with Orquesta Cubaney on regular radio broadcasts in Havana.  Through its broadcasts, Orquesta Cubaney introduced a number of musicians who would later achieve fame to a national Cuban audience.  

Sources: 
Charley Gerard, Music from Cuba: Mongo Santamaria, Chocolate Armenteros and Cuban Musicians in the United States (Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers, 2001); Colin Larkin, ed., “Mongo Santamaria,” Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 4th ed., Vol. 7 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Wall, Fannie Franklin (c. 1860-1944)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Early 20th Century East San Francisco (California) Bay civic leader and activist, Fannie Franklin Wall, was born in Gallatin, Tennessee, in 1860  She married Archy H. Wall, a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army who also later worked for the San Francisco Post Office.  They had two daughters, Lillian and Florence, and one son Clifton.  During the Spanish-American War, Archy Wall was transferred from Silver City, New Mexico to the Presidio in San Francisco and the family moved with him, ultimately settling in Oakland on Sixtieth Street.
Sources: 
Dona L. Irvin, “Fannie Franklin Wall,” Notable Black American Women, Book II.  Ed. by Jessie Carney Smith (Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1996); Marta Gutman, “Under Siege: Construction and Care at the Fannie Children’s Home and Day Nursery,” Working Paper No. 56 (Berkeley, CA: Center for Working Families, University of California, Berkeley, September 2002), https://workfamily.sas.upenn.edu/sites/workfamily.sas.upenn.edu/files/imported/new/berkeley/papers/56.pdf; Frances Mary Albrier and Malca Chall, “Frances Mary Albrier,” an interview of Frances Mary Albrier by Malca Chall, conducted 1977-1978, in The Black Women Oral History Project edited by Ruth Edmonds Hall (Westport, CT: Meckler Publishing, 1991).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Bibb, Henry (1815-1854)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Henry Walton Bibb was the eldest of the seven male children of Mildred Jackson. Henry was told that his father, whom he never met, was a man named James Bibb. He grew up in bondage in the Deep South, and claims to have been owned by seven people including a Cherokee Indian. Bibb frequently attempted escape throughout his slavery years until he succeeded in emancipating himself in 1842 after the death of his owner. Once his freedom was assured, he assumed an active role in the abolitionist movement in Michigan and New England. In 1848 Henry Bibb married Mary Miles, a woman from Boston, Massachusetts whom he met at an anti-slavery convention in New York City, New York. Mr. Bibb is best known for his eloquent autobiography, Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, An American Slave, which was published in New York in 1849.
Sources: 
Roger W. Hite, “Voice of a Fugitive: Henry Bibb and Ante-Bellum Black Separatism,” Journal of Black Studies, 4:3 (March 1974).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Jackson, James Lloyd (1920-2008)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership:
Public Domain
James Lloyd Jackson was one of the little known heroes of the D-Day Landing at Normandy Beach in France in 1944.  Jackson was born in Lakeland, Florida on February 25, 1920 to Essie May Holly and Amos Jackson. He graduated from Lakeland High School in 1938. For the next five years he worked for the Lakeland Fertilizer Company.

Jackson joined the U.S. Army in 1943 as a private.  In 1944, just a year after joining the military, Sergeant James Jackson led a unit of the 531st Combat Engineers onto Normandy Beach at dawn in preparation for the much larger invasion that was to follow. Jackson's unit also captured German soldiers including Max Schmeling, the boxer who fought Joe Louis in 1937 and 1938. Jackson's unit continued to work in battlefield settings for the rest of World War II.  

James Jackson decided in 1945 to make the Army a career. In 1951 he was promoted to second lieutenant while serving in Korea.  On December 27, 1953 Jackson married Octavia Mills, a former elementary school teacher from Oklahoma. The couple had five children.  

At the end of the Korean War Jackson used his years in the military to further his education.  While in the Army and stationed at various posts, Jackson studied at the University of Maryland, the University of Puget Sound, the University of Heidelberg in Germany, and finally Western Washington University where he received a Bachelor of Science in 1975.  
Sources: 
National Archives and Records Administration, Jackson Family Records.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Wilcox, Preston (1923-2006)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Preston Wilcox (left) with Unidentified Man
Image Courtesy of Harlem Heritage

Preston Wilcox, human rights activist and professor, was a proponent of black studies and advocated community control over education. He was born in 1923 and raised in Youngstown, Ohio along with his four siblings. He attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia,  but left to serve in the United States Army.  He later returned to school and completed his Bachelor of Science in Biology at City College in 1949. He later earned a Masters of Social Work from Columbia University where he taught for several years.

During the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, Wilcox became a prominent leader and activist for the decentralization of public schools in Central Harlem. He was a leader in the movement for community control, which placed power over education into the hands of community members. Wilcox spoke frequently at conferences sponsored by the African American Teachers Association where he helped disseminate ideas of community control to the larger public. His efforts assisted in the creation of new jobs for African American teachers, administrators, and supervisors in education.

Sources: 
Jitu Weusi, “Professor Preston Wilcox, We’ve Learned Some Lessons,” The New York Amsterdam News (Aug 24-30, 2006); “Preston Wilcox, Harlem Elder, Passes Away,” The New York Amsterdam News (Aug 17-23, 2006); Preston Wilcox, “School Community Control as a Social Movement” in Sheldon Marcus and Philip D. Varo, eds., Urban Education: Crisis or Opportunity? (New Jersey: The Scarecrow Press Inc., 1972); http://www.assatashakur.org/forum/afrikan-world-news/20889-harlem-legend-preston-wilcox-passes.html; http://www.nypl.org/archives/4078.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

McDonald, Laquan (1997-2014)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Chicago Police Video-Cam Footage of the
Shooting of Laquan McDonald
Image Ownership: Public domain

On October 20, 2014, Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old African American teenager, was shot 16 times within 14 seconds by Jason Van Dyke, a 36-year-old white Chicago, Illinois policeman.  McDonald’s death was another catalyst for the growing national Black Lives Matter Movement.  It also had significant local ramifications including the defeat of Cook County State Attorney Anita Alvarez who in 2016 lost her bid for reelection because of her office’s handling of the shooting.

Laquan McDonald was born on Chicago’s West Side on September 25, 1997, to a teenage mother and an absent father.  Because his mother could not care for him, McDonald lived with relatives and in foster care from the age of three.  He also had learning disabilities and mental health problems.  At the time of his death he was a ward of the state and had multiple juvenile arrests.

Sources: 
Errol Louis, “Chicago Politics: How Justice was Delayed for Laquan McDonald, CNN, December 2, 2015: Jason Meisner, Jeremy Goner, and Steve Schmadeke, “Chicago Releases Dash-cam Video of Fatal Shooting after Cop Changed with Murder, Chicago Tribune November 24, 2015; Monica Povey and Mitch Smith, “3 Chicago Officers Charged with Conspiracy in Laquan McDonald Case, New York Times, June 27, 2017.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Pryor, Richard (1940–2005)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor III, was an American stand-up comedian, writer, actor and social critic who revolutionized the comedy world in the 1960s and 1970s. He became famous for colorful, irreverent and often vulgar language as he comically described the major issues of the period.  Pryor won an Emmy award in 1973 and five Grammy Awards between 1974 and 1982.

Richard Pryor was born on December 1, 1940 and raised in Peoria, Illinois. Abandoned by his parents when he was 10, Pryor and three other siblings were raised in his grandmother’s brothel. As a youth, he was raped by a teenaged neighbor and molested by a Catholic priest. He was expelled from school at the age of 14 and began working as a janitor, meat packer, and truck driver. Pryor served in the U.S army spending most of that time in an army prison for assaulting a fellow soldier while stationed in Germany. In 1960, Pryor married Patricia Price and they would had his first child, Richard Jr. The couple divorced in 1961.

Sources: 

Official Website: http://www.richardpryor.com; Richard Pryor: Stand-Up
Philosopher, City Journal, Spring 2009:
http://www.city-journal.org/2009/19_2_urb-richard-pryor.html; Pryor’s
Ancestry: http://www.progenealogists.com/pryor/; American Masters:
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/database/newhart_b.html

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Sanchez, Sonia (1934- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 

Kwame A. Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2004);
http://voices.cla.umn.edu/vg/Bios/entries/sanchez_sonia.html;
http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/276
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Jeter, Derek (1974- )

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

Throughout his 20 seasons in baseball, Derek Jeter established himself as a New York Yankees legend.  Growing up as a Yankee fan and having played his entire career with the franchise, his play was synonymous with the team’s success.  With on-field talent matching his charismatic demeanor, Jeter attracted fans throughout baseball.

Derek Sanderson Jeter was born on June 26, 1974 in Pequannock, New Jersey. Born to a black father and a white mother, Jeter moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan when he was four while his father attended Western Michigan University for his Ph.D. in psychology.  Growing up, Jeter excelled in sports, particularly basketball and baseball.  He played both sports at Kalamazoo Central High School, but would make his mark in baseball where in 1992 he would win national athletic honors such as “Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year” and USA Today’s “High School Player of the Year.”  In his senior year, he batted over .500 and struck out only once the entire season.

Sources: 
“Derek Jeter, Baseball Player (1974-)” https://www.biography.com/people/derek-jeter-189311; “Derek Jeter: American Baseball Player,” https://www.britannica.com/biography/Derek-Jeter; “Derek Jeter,” http://m.mlb.com/player/116539/derek-jeter.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Scott, Hazel (1920-1981)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Hazel Scott was born on June 11, 1920, in Port of Spain, Trinidad.  In 1924, Scott and her parents migrated to Harlem, New York, where Hazel, a musical prodigy, studied classical piano with Paul Wagner, a Juilliard professor.  In the late 1930s and early 1940s her career blossomed, as she became a regular performer earning a weekly salary of $4,000 at New York’s elegant dinner club Café Society.  Her husband Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. once fondly referred to her as the “darling of Café Society.”

In 1938 her talent brought her to Broadway, where she performed in the musicals Singing Out the News and, four years later, Priorities of 1942.  The 1940s were thrilling years for Scott, with appearances in major Hollywood productions like Something to Shout About, I Dood It, and The Heat’s On in 1943, Broadway Rhythm in 1944, and Rhapsody in Blue in 1945. Scott distinguished herself from other black actors by refusing to play the traditional roles, such as maids and prostitutes, offered by movie executives to black actresses.  Instead, Scott made cameo appearances in movies playing the piano.

Sources: 
Donald Bogle, Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films (New York: The Continuum Publishing Company, 2001); Adam Clayton Powell, Adam by Adam: The Autobiography of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (New York: Dial Press, 1971).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Yamgnane, Kofi (1945- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain
Kofi Yamgnane is a Franco-Togolese politician. Born in Togo in 1945, he went to France at the age of 19 and later became an elected official in Brittany before joining the French government as integration secretary in 1991.  In 2002 he entered politics in Togo and ran for the presidency of that nation.   

Yamgnane was born into a middle class family in the city of Bassar, Togo on October 11, 1945.  He attended a private Catholic school where a French missionary recognized his intelligence and arranged for him to complete his education in France.  He arrived in Brest in Brittany, entered the local university in 1964 and graduated five years later with a degree in mathematics. He found his first professional job in 1973 as an engineer for Quimper Community Facilities and later worked as an engineer for the French Roads and Bridges Administration.  In 1979 he entered the Mining School of Nancy, completing studies in 1981.

In 1975, Yamgnane married Anne-Marie from Brest, a mathematics professor at the local university.  They had two children.  The same year Yamgnane became a French citizen but kept his Togolese citizenship.

Sources: 
Hervé Quemener, Kofi, histoire d’une intégration (Paris: Payot, 1991); Ariane Laroux, Entretien et portrait de Kofi Yamgnane (Paris: L'Age d'Homme, 2006); Kofi Yamgnane, Europe Afrique, nous grandirons ensemble (Paris: Laffont, 2002); and Kofi Yamgnane, Afrique, introuvable démocratie (Paris: Dialogues, 2013).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Emeritus Professor, University of Paris

Morris, Morris W. / Lewis Morrison (1845-1906)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Lewis Morrison as “Mephistopheles”
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Lewis Morrison was one of the most prominent stage actors of his time. He was best known worldwide for his portrayal of “Mephistopheles” in Faust. He was also the first black Jewish officer to serve during the Civil War.

Lewis Morrison was born in Kingston, Jamaica on September 4, 1845. He was named Morris W. Morris at birth, although some sources claim that Moritz W. Morris is the correct spelling. Very little is known about his family history. After the Civil War, he changed his name to Lewis Morrison for unknown reasons. His great great grandson, Phil Downey, later claimed that Morris changed his name to escape his African and Jewish heritage.

Morris left Jamaica for the United States as a youth. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted in the 1st Louisiana Native Guard, the first official black military regiment in the Confederacy, with other free blacks. He soon rose to the rank of lieutenant, becoming the first black Jewish officer to serve in the Confederate Army. When the Louisiana State Legislature banned people of color from serving in the Confederate Army in February 1862, the regiment was disbanded.  Morris and about 10% of the other former 1st Louisiana Native Guard joined the Union Army in September 1862 and were organized into a new unit that was assigned the same name.  There Morris became the first black Jewish officer in the Union Army.
Sources: 
Errol Hill, The Jamaican Stage, 1655-1900: Profile of a Colonial Theatre (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1992); Brian Kellow, The Bennetts: An Acting Family (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2004); James G. Hollandsworth, The Louisiana Native Guards: the Black Military Experience during the Civil War (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1995).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

Powell, William James “Bill” (1916-2009)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Bill Powell was the first African American to design, construct, and own a professional golf course in the United States. In 1946, Bill and his wife Marcella did most of the landscaping by hand when they transformed a 78-acre dairy farm to a nine-hole golf course located near East Canton, Ohio.

William James “Bill” Powell was born on November 16, 1922, in Greenville, Alabama, but grew up in Minerva, Ohio. Powell worked as a caddy as a youth. Then, after high school, he played golf on the Wilberforce University team before serving in World War II with the U.S. Army Air Forces.

In 1946, after Powell returned home from the war, the segregationist policies of the time prevented him from golfing on a public golf course in Ohio, so he decided to build his own course. He was denied a G.I. loan but was able to get financial support from his brother and two African American physicians and bought a dairy farm outside East Canton so he could open a golf course that would welcome players of all races.
Sources: 
Larry Dorman, “After Battling Racism, Veteran Found Peace on His Golf Course,” The New York Times, August 8, 2009; Richard Goldstein, “African-American Golf Pioneer Bill Powell Dies at 93,” The New York Times, January 1, 2010.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Anderson, Osborne P. (1830-1872)

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

Osborne Perry Anderson was one of the five African American men to accompany John Brown in the raid on the Federal Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia) in October 1859.  Anderson was a free-born black abolitionist, born in West Fallow Field, Pennsylvania on July 27, 1830.  Along with John Anthony Copeland Jr., another member of the Brown raiding party, Anderson attended Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio.  He later moved to Chatham, Canada, where he worked as a printer for Mary Ann Shadd's newspaper, the Provincial Freeman.   In 1858 Anderson met John Brown and eventually became persuaded to join his band of men determined to attack Harpers Ferry.

Sources: 

Osborne Perry Anderson, A Voice from Harper's Ferry: A Narrative of
Events at Harper's Ferry with incidents Prior and Subsequent to its
Capture by Captain John Brown and His Men
(Boston: Privately Printed,
1861); Timothy Patrick McCarthy and John Stauffer, Prophets of Protest:
Reconsidering the History of American Abolitionism
(New York: The New
Press, 2006);  Herb Boyd, Autobiography of a People: Three Centuries of
African American History Told by Those Who Lived It
(New York:
Doubleday, 2000); Peggy A. Russo and Paul Finkelman, Terrible Swift
Sword: The Legacy of John Brown
(Athens: Ohio University Press, 2005);
http://www.iath.virginia.edu/jbrown/men.html#opa.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Adams, Henry [Louisiana] (1843 - ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Henry Adams was a Louisiana leader who advocated the emigration of southern freed blacks to Liberia after emancipation. Born a slave in Newton County, Georgia on March 16, 1843, Henry Adams was originally born as Henry Houston but changed his name at the age of seven.  His enslaved family was relocated to Louisiana in 1850 and lived there until 1861. 

Adams married a woman named Malinda during his enslavement and the couple had four children. Unlike most enslaved people, Adams and his wife were able to acquire property during the Civil War

After the war Adams moved to DeSoto Parish in Louisiana where he started a successful peddling business.  Adams eventually became a merchant but in 1866 at the age of 23 he enlisted in the U.S. Army.  Adams was discharged in September 1869 after rising to the rank of quartermaster sergeant.  Adams learned to read and write in the Army, providing him a measure of self-confidence that encouraged his leadership of other ex-slaves once he returned to civilian life.

Sources: 
Henry Adams Testimony, Senate Report 693, 46th Cong., 2nd Sess., part 2, pp. 101-111; Steven Hahn, A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South, from Slavery to the Great Migration (Harvard University Press, 2003); Neil Irvin Painter, Exodusters: Black Migration to Kansas After Reconstruction (New York, London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1992).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Herenton, Willie W. (1941- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Dr. Willie W. Herenton was born on April 23, 1941 in Memphis, Tennessee and is currently the mayor of that city. Dr. Herenton is a graduate of LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis and the University of Memphis.

At a young age, Herenton demonstrated athletic prowess. When he was 11 years old, Herenton entered a boxing program at the local YMCA. During his first year, he made it to the semifinals and in 1953, he captured the flyweight title. By the time he graduated from high school in 1958, Herenton had won a number of southern AAU championships. He also won the Kentucky Golden Gloves competition and had been Tri-State Boxing Champion several times.

Because of his boxing prowess, Herenton was offered a full athletic scholarship to the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He refused the scholarship and instead moved to Chicago with the hopes of becoming a professional boxer. Realizing the limitations of a high school education, Herenton soon regretted his decision. He returned to Memphis and enrolled at LeMoyne College, a small black liberal arts school in the city. He met fellow student, Ida, and they were soon married.
Sources: 
Adam Faircloth, Better Day Coming: Blacks and Equality 1890-2000 (New York: Penguin, 2002); Lawrence Otis Graham, Inside America’s Black Upper Class (New York: Harper Perennial, 2000); The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans.
http://www.horatioalger.com/members/member_info.cgm?memberid=her88; John Branston, “Letter from Memphis,” Nashville Scene, June 21, 2007.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Bolden, Buddy (1877-1931)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Buddy Bolden Band
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Charles “Buddy” Bolden is said to be the first musician to play jazz music. While this is debatable, it is clear that Bolden’s music helped form the jazz movement. Bolden was born on September 6, 1877 in New Orleans, Louisiana. At the age of six, Bolden’s father died of pneumonia, leaving behind wife, Alice, daughter Cara and young Bolden.  The father’s death led the family to remain close for the rest of their lives.

Bolden began playing the coronet as a teenager.  He joined a small New Orleans dance band led by Charlie Galloway. It was at Galloway’s barber salon that Buddy honed his technical skills as a musician.  By the age of 20 he left the band to begin his own group.
Sources: 
Donald M. Marquis, In Search of Buddy Bolden: First Man of Jazz (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2006); Danny Barker, Buddy Bolden and the Last Days of Storyville (New York: Continuum, 1998); David Perry, Jazz Greats (London: Phaidon Press Limited, 1996).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Fanon, Frantz (1925-1961)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Psychiatrist and anti-colonial cultural theorist, Frantz Fanon was born in the French West Indies, in Fort-de-France, Martinique on July 20, 1925. His father, Félix Casimir Fanon, was a black customs service inspector. His mother, Eléanore Médélice, was half French and owned a hardware and drapery shop.
Sources: 
Paul Hansom, ed., Dictionary of Literary Biography: Twentieth-Century European Cultural Theorists, Second Series, vol. 296 (Detroit: Gale Group 2004); Frank N. Magill, ed., Cyclopedia of World Authors (Pasadena: Salem Press 1989).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
The Evergreen State College

Bragg, Robert H. (1919- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The career of Robert Henry Bragg was highlighted by his success in employing x-ray techniques to reveal the structural makeup and electrical properties of carbon and composite materials.  The son of a union organizer and a seamstress, he was born in Jacksonville, Florida on August 11, 1919.  With the separation of his parents Bragg went to Chicago to live with his uncle who encouraged him to become an engineer.  Following military service in World War II he earned a bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. in physics at the Illinois Institute of Technology, upon completion of which he began work at Lockheed Missiles & Space Company analyzing carbon based materials with potential for use in space flight.  
Sources: 
T. A. Heppenheimer, “Robert Henry Bragg.” In Notable Black American Scientists (Detroit: Gale, 1999); Ray Spangenburg and Kit Moser, African Americans in Science, Math, and Invention (New York: Facts on File, 2003).
http://www.math.buffalo.edu/mad/physics/bragg_roberth.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Agrippa Hull: Revolutionary Patriot

Image Ownership: Public Domain
In the following article, University of California at Los Angeles historian Gary B. Nash describes little-known Revolutionary War soldier who was attached by General George Washington to serve with Polish military engineer Tadeuz Kosciuszko. This account is part of a larger history of three individuals, Thomas Jefferson, Tadeuz Kosciuszko, and Agrippa Hull, who shaped the revolutionary struggle even as their own lives were transformed by it.

Agrippa Hull was one of the most remarkable and unnoticed African Americans of the revolutionary era.  He served for six years and two months in Washington’s Continental Army, which earned him a badge of honor for this extended service. But Hull’s influence on shaping the abolitionist thought of Tadeuz Kosciuszko, the Polish military engineer for whom he served as an orderly for the last 50 months of the war, is the hidden importance of the young black patriot.  
Summary: 
In the following article, University of California at Los Angeles historian Gary B. Nash describes a little-known Revolutionary War soldier who was attached by General George Washington to serve with Polish military engineer Tadeuz Kosciuszko. This account is part of a larger history of three individuals, Thomas Jefferson, Tadeuz Kosciuszko, and Agrippa Hull, who shaped the revolutionary struggle even as their own lives were transformed by it.
Sources: 
Gary B. Nash and Graham Russell Gao Hodges, Friends of Liberty: Thomas Jefferson, Tadeuz Kosciuszko, and Agrippa Hull; A Tale of Three Patriots, Two Revolutions, and a Tragic Betrayal of Freedom in the New Nation (New York: Basic Books, 2008).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of California, Los Angeles

Graves, Letitia A. (1863-1952)

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

McHenry, Donald Franchot (1936 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Ambassador Donald McHenry at the United Nations, ca. 1980
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Donald McHenry is a diplomat, scholar, corporate governor and educator who served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (UN).  Because the hospitals of his home town, East St. Louis, Illinois, where he would grow up, were segregated, McHenry was born in St. Louis, Missouri on October 13, 1936. After his parents divorced he and his two siblings were raised by their mother.

McHenry received his bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University in 1957, and his master’s degree from Southern Illinois University in 1959. He found his niche in diplomacy and international affairs between 1963 and 1971, while working at the U.S. Department of State in its Office of Dependent Area Affairs. While there, he received its Superior Honor Award in 1966.
Sources: 
Partnership for a Secure America http://www.psaonline.org/userdata_display.php?modin=51&uid=21; J. S. Morris and J. G. Cook, Africa Policy in the Clinton Years: Critical Choices for the Bush Administration (Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Affairs, 2001); and Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project. Interviewed by Charles Stuart Kennedy, March 23, 1993 and October 1, 1998.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training

Fludd, Deion (1996-2013)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Deion Flood Kissed by
His Girlfriend, Heshe Sanchez
Image Ownership: Public domain

On July 12, 2013, 17 year-old Deion Fludd passed away as a result of complications from blunt-trauma injuries after being attacked by New York Police Department (NYPD) officers. Raised in the Red Hooks projects of Brooklyn, New York, Deion was the middle child of five.  His parents were Karen Fludd and Michael Fludd and he attended Sunset Park High School and Parkside Academy in Brooklyn with aspirations to become a professional basketball player.

On the evening of May 5, 2013, Fludd and his girlfriend, Hesha Sanchez, were stopped by four rookie New York Police Department officers in the Rockaway subway train station. Sanchez had left her MetroCard at home but was only planning to stay with Fludd until his train arrived. Hence, they both squeezed through the turnstile on Fludd’s single payment. The officers suspected both of them of fare evasion and demanded they provide proof of identification. The two teens complied and attempted to explain that Sanchez did not intend to ride the train.

Sources: 
Aaron Miguel Cantu, “Blood on the tracks: The short life and mysterious death of Deion Fludd”, Aljazeera America, April 21 2015, http://america.aljazeera.com/multimedia/2015/4/blood-on-the-tracks-the-short-life-and-mysterious-death-of-deion-fludd.html; James Fanelli, “NYPD Accused of Excessive Force in Arrest That Left Teen a Quadriplegic,” DNA Info, April 11, 2014, https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20140411/brownsville/nypd-accused-of-excessive-force-arrest-that-left-teen-quadriplegic.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Anderson, Edward W. (1871–1953)

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

Freeman, Charles Edward (1933- )

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

Charles E. Freeman is the first and only African American to serve on the State of Illinois Supreme Court, representing the First Judicial District of Illinois. Freeman was born in 1933 in Richmond, Virginia.  A 1954 graduate of Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia. Freeman served in the U.S. Army from 1956 to 1958 and was stationed in South Korea.  In 1958 Freeman married Marylee Voelker and moved to Chicago. The couple had one son, Kevin.

In 1962, Freeman earned a Juris Doctor degree from John Marshall Law School in the city of Chicago. While attending law school he worked for the Cook County Department of Public Aid.  In 1962 Freeman was licensed and admitted to practice law in Illinois. Freeman then served as an assistant state’s attorney, an assistant attorney general, and an attorney for the Board of Election Commissioners.

Sources: 
“Charles Freeman,” Ballotpedia, https://ballotpedia.org/Charles_Freeman; History, Art and Archives, United States House of Representatives, http://history.house.gov/People/Detail?id=18169; “Charles Freeman,” Illinois Commerce Commission, https://www.icc.illinois.gov/about.aspx; “Charles Freeman,” Illinois Courts, http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/General/CourtsInIL.asp; “Charles Freeman,” Justia US Law, https://law.justia.com/cases/illinois/supreme-court/1994/70407-7.html;  Hermene Hartman and David Smallwood, N’Digo Legacy Black Luxe 110: African American Icons of Contemporary History. Chicago: Hartman Publishing Group, Ltd, 2017); “Charles Freeman Interview,” The History Makers http://www.thehistorymakers.org/biography/honorable-charles-freeman.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Richard J. Daley College

Carson, Andre (1974 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Andre Carson Congressional Website, http://carson.house.gov; Reuters,http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSN1164415020080312
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sussex (England)

Mills, Florence (1896-1927)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

The 1927 Times of London (UK) obituary noted of Florence Mills, “There is no doubt that she was a real artist full of individuality and intelligence, and her premature death is a sad loss to the profession.”  Florence Mills was an internationally-recognized and multifaceted performer who paved the way for other black female stars during the Harlem Renaissance.

Born Florence Winfrey in 1896, in Washington, D.C. to former slaves Nellie and John Winfrey, Mills moved with her parents to New York City, New York in 1905. To help her financially struggling family, Mills and her two older sisters created “The Mills Sisters,” a dance and singing troupe that performed in theatres in Harlem, New York.

Sources: 

Bill Egan, Florence Mills: Harlem Jazz Queen (Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2004); http://www.florencemills.com/biography.htm.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Carter, Robert L. (1917-2012)

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


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

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

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

Bennett, Lerone (1928-2018 )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Washington Interdependence Council
[Administrators of the Banneker Memorial]
Lerone Bennett Jr., historian of African America, has authored articles, poems, short stories, and over nine books on African American history.  Bennett was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, the son of Lerone Bennett, Sr. and Alma Reed. He and his family moved to Jackson, Mississippi, where he attended public schools. Bennett graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1949. The same year, Bennett enrolled in Atlanta University for graduate studies. He also became a newspaper journalist for the Atlanta Daily World.  Bennett moved to Chicago in 1952 to become city editor for JET magazine, founded by John H. Johnson.

In 1954 Lerone Bennett became an associate editor at Ebony magazine, also owned by Johnson.  By 1958, when Bennett had become the senior editor at Ebony, Johnson encouraged Bennett to write books on African American history for a popular audience. 

A series of history articles that Bennett had written over time for Ebony emerged in 1963 as his first book, Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America, 1619-1962. Bennett described the long history of black slavery and racial segregation while reminding his readers that African American roots in the American soil are deeper than those of the Puritans who arrived in 1620.
Sources: 
Lerone Bennett, Jr., Before the Mayflower: A History of the Negro in America 1619-1966 (Chicago: Johnson Publishing Company, 1966); Lerone Bennett, Jr., The Negro Mood (Chicago: Johnson Publishing Company, 1964); http://www.nathanielturner.com/leronebennettbio.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Young, Andrew (1932 - )

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

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

Jordan, Mosina H. (1943- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Acting Deputy USAID Administrator James Kunder
Congratulates Agency Counselor Mosina H. Jordan
During her 2008 Retirement Ceremony
Image Ownership: Public domain

In 1995, career Foreign Service Officer Mosina H. Jordan was nominated by President Bill Clinton to serve as ambassador to the Central African Republic (CAR).  After U.S. Senate confirmed her nomination, she arrived in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, and presented her credentials on November 29, 1995.

Sources: 
AllGov, “Central African Republic,” http://www.allgov.com/nations?nationID=3461; Craig W Larson, “From ‘Assured’ to ‘Quick’ Response 22D Meu Evacuates Americans from the Central African Republic,” pgs. 86-93, https://www.mca-marines.org/leatherneck/1996/07/assured-quick-response-22d-meu-evacuates-americans-central-african-republic; USAID, “Where in the World…: Jordan Steps Down,” https://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNADM584.pdf.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Edwards, Sharmel (1962-2012)

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

Early in the morning on April 21, 2012, Sharmel T. Edwards, a 49-year-old African-American woman, was fatally shot by five Las Vegas, Nevada police officers. Her death occurred while the national discussion of police brutality was gaining publicity in the wake of similar killings and about a year before the creation of Black Lives Matter.

Edwards was a single mother living with her two teenage daughters. On the night of her death, she had gone on a date with her boyfriend, Ken Droog, at his apartment. After Droog fell asleep, Edwards took his Cadillac and headed to a local bar for drinks. When he woke up a few hours later, realizing that his car was missing, Droog called Edwards, who didn’t have her cell phone. He subsequently called police and reported his car stolen. He also informed them that his handgun was in the car’s center console.

Sources: 
Mike Blasky, "Friends: Woman killed by police was nonviolent." Las Vegas Review-Journal, April 27, 2012. https://www.reviewjournal.com/crime/courts/friends-woman-killed-by-police-was-nonviolent/; Clark County District Attorney report, http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/district-attorney/Documents/Edwards,%20Shamel%2004-21-12.pdf; Norm Jahn, "Saving Sharmel Edwards: Metro Lessons Learned?" Las Vegas Tribune. http://lasvegastribune.net/saving-sharmel-edwards-metro-lessons-learned-2/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Warfield, William (1920-2002)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Concert bass-baritone singer, actor, and teacher William Caesar Warfield was born on January 22, 1920 in West Helena, Arkansas to a family of sharecroppers. When Warfield was a young child, his family moved to Rochester, New York, where his father served as a pastor for Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in that city.

After graduating from high school, Warfield studied at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester and received a Bachelor of Music in 1942. After college, Warfield served overseas in the United States Army during World War II. In 1946, he returned to Rochester and to the Eastman School of Music for his graduate studies under Otto Herzm, Yves Tinayre, and Rosa Ponselle.
Sources: 
William Warfield and Alton Miller, William Warfield: My Music & My Life (Champaign, IL: Sagamore Publishing, 1991); http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Bio/Warfield-William.htm; http://chband.org/warfield.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Hayes, Ralph (1922-1999)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Ralph Hayes grew up poor in rural, segregated Cairo, Illinois, the fourth of twelve children. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and then transferred to the University of Washington, where he earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees in political science. In 1950 he married Elaine Ishikawa, who was his wife for 49 years. As a couple they embraced local activism and joined the Christian Friends for Racial Equality where, as Editor-in-Chief of the newsletter, Ralph wrote about national civil rights news and Japanese American issues stemming from WWII.

In 1956 Hayes became the second African American academic teacher hired by Seattle School District. He taught history and government classes in public high schools for thirty years at West Seattle, Garfield and Franklin (in Seattle) and Newport (in Bellevue).  He also taught evenings at Edison Technical College and Bellevue Community College.  For eight summers beginning in 1966, Hayes was a teacher and later director of the Upward Bound program at the University of Washington.
Sources: 
Obituary by Carole Beers, Seattle Times, 5/13/99; Obituary by Judd Slivka, Seattle Post Intelligencer, 5/21/99; “Historians Honored with 1990 Governor’s Ethnic Heritage Awards,” Mark Boyar, Northwest Ethnic News, June 1990; Elaine Ishikawa Hayes statement in Mary Willix, ed., Remembering Ralph Hayes (Creative Forces Publishing, 2007); Mary Willix, Ibid.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Johnson, Kathryn Magnolia (1878-1955)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Political activist Kathryn Magnolia Johnson was born on December 15th, 1878 in Darke County, Ohio. She was the daughter of Walter and Lucinda Jane McCown Johnson. Kathryn Johnson graduated at the top of her high school class in New Paris, Ohio in 1895 and worked as a teacher in both Ohio and Indiana between 1898 and 1901. In 1902 she graduated from Wilberforce University with a bachelor’s degree and a teaching certificate. She taught at the State Normal School for Negroes in Elizabeth City, North Carolina from 1904 to 1905 before spending a year as Dean of Women at Shorter College, a predominately black institution in Little Rock, Arkansas that was the site of bloody racial riots during Johnson’s tenure.

Working as a Kansas City high school teacher in 1910, Johnson became one of the first members of the newly formed National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP, 1909- ). She left teaching to serve as sales representative for the NAACP’s journal, Crisis. After three years, Johnson became a branch organizer, helping to establish dozens of branches of the NAACP throughout the South. Johnson excelled, and the organization grew rapidly in the region that had the majority of African Americans. Despite her success, she began to openly criticize the fact that whites had virtually all of leadership roles within the NAACP.  Johnson was let go by the NAACP in 1916 although it is not clear whether the reason was for her criticism of whites’ roles within the organization.

Sources: 
Adriane Lentz-Smith, Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009); Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Facts on File Encyclopedia of Black Women in America: Social Activism (New York: Facts on File, 1997); Shari Dorantes Hatch, ed., Encyclopedia of African-American Writing: Five Centuries of Contribution: Trials and Triumphs of writers, poets, publications and organizations 2nd edition (New York : Grey House Publishing, 2009); Addie W. Hunton and Kathryn M. Johnson, Two Colored Women with the American Expeditionary Forces (Brooklyn, NY: Brooklyn Eagle Press, 1920); Kathryn M. Johnson, The Dark Race in the Dawn: Proof of Black African Civilization in the America’s Before Columbus (New York: William-Frederick Press, 1948).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bradley, Benjamin (1830- ?)

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

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

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

Sources: 

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Clarke, Yvette Diane (1964– )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of Yvette Diane Clarke Website

Yvette Diane Clarke won her first political office when she was elected a member of the New York City Council representing part of Brooklyn in 2001. Clarke succeeded her mother, former City Councilmember, Dr. Una S.T. Clarke, making them the first mother-daughter succession in the history of the New York City Council.  

Clarke was born in Brooklyn, New York on November 21, 1964. She attended New York’s public schools and then entered Oberlin College in Ohio, graduating in 1986.

Clarke served as the first Director of Business Development for the Bronx Empowerment Zone where she administered the $51 million budget that resulted in the revitalization and economic development of the South Bronx.  Clarke also chaired the powerful Contracts Committee and co-chaired the New York City Council Women's Caucus.

In 2006 Clarke was elected to the United States Congress to represent New York’s 11th Congressional District.  She holds the seat first won by Shirley Chisholm in 1970.  Chisholm was the first African American woman and the first Caribbean American elected to Congress.

Clarke is currently a member of three House committees and two subcommittees within each committee. Her House committee assignments are as follows: Education and Labor Committee, Homeland Security Committee, and the Small Business Committee.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Hayden, Earl Robert (1913-1980)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The son of Asa and Ruth Sheffey who named him Asa Bundy at birth, poet Robert Hayden was born in Detroit, Michigan and reared in “Paradise Valley,” an inner city ghetto.  Adoptive parents, William and Sue Ellen Westerfield Hayden, gave him the name by which he is known.  A graduate of Detroit City College (now Wayne State University), Hayden earned a M.A. degree in English from the University of Michigan, where on two occasions (1938 and 1942), he received the Avery Hopkins awards for poetry

During the Great Depression Hayden worked as a researcher for the Federal Writers’ Project, an experience that exposed him to writers such as Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, and Margaret Walker, and gave him a great appreciation for African history and folk culture.  In 1940 Hayden married Erma Inez Morris and converted to the Baha’i faith. After teaching at Fisk University for twenty-three years, Hayden returned to the University of Michigan, to end his teaching career where he began it.    
Sources: 

Mark A. Sanders, “Robert Hayden,” in The Oxford Companion to African American Literature, William L. Andrews, et al., eds. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997); Darwin T. Turner, ed., Black American Literature: Poetry (Columbus, Ohio: Charles E. Merrill Publishing Company, 1969).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Utah

Dunham, Katherine (1909-2006)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Jerome Robbins Dance Division,
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts,
Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.
Katherine Dunham was born on June 22, 1909 in Chicago, Illinois to parents Albert and Fanny Dunham.  She was of mixed heritage with African, Madagascan, Canadian-French and American Indian ancestry.  Dunham was raised in Joliet, Illinois and didn’t begin formal dance training until her late teens.  

In 1931, at the age of 22, Katherine Dunham opened her first dance school, with the help of her teacher Madame Ludmila Speranzeva.  The school, located in Chicago, soon became famous for its dancers who performed the modern dance ballet, “Negro Rhapsody.”  Dunham graduated from the University of Chicago in 1936 with a bachelor’s degree in social anthropology.  She later earned a master’s degree from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from Northwestern University.  While an undergraduate, Dunham opened another school, the Negro Dance Group where in four years she trained 150 black youth.
Sources: 
Jessie Carney Smith, Epic Lives: One Hundred Black Women Who Made a Difference (Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1993); http://www.pbs.org/wnet/freetodance/biographies/dunham.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Campbell, Clive/DJ Kool Herc (1955- )

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

DJ Kool Herc was the earliest major figure to emerge from the mid-70's Bronx, New York music scene that would eventually come to be known as Hip-Hop. Born Clive Campbell in Kingston, Jamaica, Herc immigrated to New York City and was exposed at an early age to both American and Jamaican musical traditions. Influenced by soul, rock, funk, reggae and dancehall, DJ Kool Herc staged parties that spawned a global youth culture, rooted in the African American experience.

Sources: 
Jeff Chang, Can't Stop, Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation (New York: Picador Press, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Harris, Moses [aka Black Moses / "Black Squire"] (1800?-1849)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Moses (Black) Harris on Left in Alfred Jacob Miller Painting
Image Ownership:  Public Domain
Information on Moses Harris’ birth and lineage is limited.  It is believed that he was born in either Union County, South Carolina or somewhere in Kentucky.  Harris was also known as Black Moses or the “Black Squire.”  During the 1820’s Harris moved west and began work as a fur trapper.  His work brought him as far west as the Yellowstone River valley, which is in Montana and northern Wyoming.  During his years as a trapper, Harris gained valuable information on wilderness, mountain and winter survival.  

Moses Harris’ reputation as both a mountain man and his knowledge of wilderness gave him employment as a wagon train guide.  While still fur trapping, he began working as a trail guide, leading trains of supplies to other fur traders.
Sources: 
Elizabeth McLagan, A Peculiar Paradise: A History of Blacks in Oregon, 1788-1940. (Portland: Georgian Press Company, 1980); Jerome Peltier, Black Harris (Fairfield, Washington: Ye Galleon Press, 1996)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Bryant, Ira B., Jr. (1904-1989)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Ira Babington (I.B.) Bryant, Jr., Ed.D., was an educator, author, researcher, and administrator from the Houston, Texas area.  Bryant was born October 18, 1904, in Crockett, Texas, to Ira B. Bryant, Sr., and Ellen Starks Bryant, both educators. In 1905, the family relocated to Caldwell, Texas, before settling in Houston in 1920. Ira, Jr., attended Colored High School in the city. While at Colored High School, Ellen Starks Bryant passed away and Ira, Sr., remarried and moved to Alabama, leaving Bryant and his two brothers, Cecil and Eugene, to finish their educations in Houston.

After graduating in 1924, Bryant worked on a ship based out of New Orleans, Louisiana in order to save money for college and to travel. The same year, he entered Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, completing a B.A. degree in 1928. In 1929, he moved back to Houston and gained a job teaching social science at Phillis Wheatley High School. During summers, he continued his education, earning an M.A. degree at the University of Kansas in 1932.  Bryant returned to Houston and married Thelma Scott, another teacher at Wheatley.  The couple moved into a newly-built house in Houston’s Third Ward.
Sources: 
Willie Lee Gay, "BRYANT, IRA BABINGTON, JR.," Handbook of Texas Online http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbrdt; Teresa Tompkins-Walsh, “Thelma Scott Bryant: Memories of a Century in Houston’s Third Ward,” The Houston Review (Fall 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Dawkins, Darryl (1957-2015)

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

Darryl Dawkins (also known as Chocolate Thunder—a name music legend Stevie Wonder gave him), was born in Orlando, Florida, on January 11, 1957. Born to Harriet James and Frank Dawkins, he was raised by his grandmother, Amanda Celestine Jones, in Orlando where he attended Maynard Evans High School. In 1975, he became the first player ever drafted out of high school directly into the National Basketball Association (NBA). Dawkins was drafted in the first round, going fifth overall in the NBA draft.

During his high school career, as a 6-foot-10-inch senior, Dawkins averaged thirty-two points and twenty-one rebounds per game, making him one of the most heavily recruited players in the country. University basketball powerhouses such as the University of Kentucky, University of Florida, and Kansas University all wanted him, but he decided to forgo college and go straight into the draft, where he was selected by the Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) 76ers. When he was drafted, Dawkins signed what was then a record-setting seven-year contract worth $1 million.

Sources: 
Darryl Dawkins and Charley Rosen, Chocolate Thunder: The Uncensored Life and Times of Darryl Dawkins (New York: Sports Media Publishing, 2003); Andre Williams, "Dawkins Does Not Regret Heading to NBA 25 Years Ago He Left Maynard Evans High School in 1975 to Help His Family Make It through Financial Difficulties," Morning Call, June 25 2000, http://articles.mcall.com/2000-06-25/sports/3302093_1_54th-nba-draft-draft-day-high-school; and Ohm Youngmisuk, "Legendary Dunker Darryl Dawkins Dies," ESPN, August 27, 2015, http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/13526002/darryl-dawkins-dies-age-58.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Gideon, Russell S. (1904-1985)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Russell S. Gideon was a Seattle, Washington businessman, pharmacist, and pioneer in the development of senior housing.  From 1977 until his death in 1985, he was recognized yearly by Ebony magazine as one the nation’s 100 most influential black citizens.  He was a respected community leader, and a man of great energy and charm.  Gideon used these personal attributes to advantage in pursuing many humanitarian and business interests.
Sources: 
Mary T. Henry, Tribute: Seattle Public Places Named for Black People (Seattle: Statice Press, 1997); Mary Henry, “Russell Gideon,” http://www.historylink.org/_content/printer_friendly/pf_output.cfm?file_id=238; Elizabeth James House, http://capitolhousing.org/our/properties/buildings/ejsh.php.org.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Jemison, Theodore Judson (1918-2013)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Rev. T. J. Jemison With Students at Southern
University Who Had Just Been Released From
Jail for Civil Rights Protest, 1960
Image Ownership: Public domain
Sources: 
Paul Vitello, “Rev. T.J. Jemison, Civil Rights Leader Who Organized Early Boycott, Dies at 95,” New York Times, November 22, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/23/us/rev-t-j-jemison-civil-rights-pioneer-dies-at-95.html; W. Carter Weptanomah, Born to Be President: The Story of the Life of Dr. T.J. Jemison, president, National Baptist Convention (Baltimore: Gateway Press;  1984).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Hall, Juanita (1901-1968)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Juanita Hall on the Set of South Pacific, 1958
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Juanita Long Hall, a 20th Century actor and singer, was born in Keyport, New Jersey on Nov. 6, 1901 to an African-American father, Abram Long, and an Irish American mother, Mary Richardson.  Raised by maternal grandparents, Long attended New York City, New York’s Juilliard School of Music.  While a teenager, she married Clement Hall, who died in 1920s.  The couple had no children.

Hall’s early career was in singing and choir directing.  From 1935 to 1944 she directed the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Chorus.  From 1941 to 1942 she also directed the Westchester (New York) Chorale and Dramatics Association.  In the early 1940s she led the Juanita Hall Choir, which performed on radio with Rudy Vallee and Kate Smith and in 1949 the Juanita Hall Choir performed in the film Miracle in Harlem.

Sources: 
Henry Louis Gates and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Harlem Renaissance Lives from the African American National Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009); Elsa Barkley Brown, Darlene Clark Hine, Rosalyn Terborg-Penn (Eds.), Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1994).
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Abbott, Cleveland Leigh (1892–1955)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Image Courtesy of Lilah Morton Pengra
Cleveland Leigh Abbott was born December 9, 1892 in Yankton, South Dakota. He is most remembered for his coaching career at Tuskegee Institute (now University) in Alabama.

Abbott was the son of Elbert and Mollie Brown Abbott who moved to South Dakota from Alabama in 1890. He graduated from Watertown High School, Watertown, South Dakota, in 1912 and then from the South Dakota State University at Brookings in 1916. Abbott earned 14 varsity athletic awards during his collegiate career.
In 1916 Cleveland Abbott married Jessie Harriet Scott (1897–1982). They had one daughter, Jessie Ellen, who in 1943 became the first coach of the women’s track team at Tennessee State University in Nashville.

Abbott served as a First Lieutenant in the 366th Infantry, 92nd Division in World War I.  He saw action at the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in 1918. Abbott was later a commissioned officer in the Army Reserve.  (The US Army Reserve Center at Tuskegee is now named the Cleveland Leigh Abbott Center.)

Sources: 

“Obituary,” The Huronite (Huron, South Dakota, June 5, 1955, p. 1);  A. Dunkle and V. Smith, The College on the Hills: A Sense of South Dakota State University History (Brookings, SD: SDSU Alumni Association, 2003); Ruth Hill, Black Women Oral History Project (Westport, CT: Meckler, 1990); Charles Johnson, African Americans and ROTC (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2002); Monroe Mason and Arthur Furr, The American Negro Soldier with the Red Hand of France (Boston: Cornhill Co., 1920).

 

Contributor: 

Bogle, Paul (1822-1865)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Paul Bogle led the last large scale armed Jamaican rebellion for voting rights and an end to legal discrimination and economic oppression against African Jamaicans.  Because of his efforts Bogle was recognized as a national hero in Jamaica in 1969.  His face appears on the Jamaican two-dollar bill and 10-cent coin.

Paul Bogle was born free to Cecelia Bogle, a free woman, and an unknown father in the St. Thomas parish in 1822.  Bogle’s mother soon died and he was raised by his grandmother.  As an adult Bogle owned a home in Stony Gut and had another house in Spring Garden as well as a 500 acre farm at Dunrobin making him one of the few African Jamaicans prosperous enough to pay the fee to vote.  In 1845, for example, there were only 104 voters in St. Thomas parish which had an adult population of at least 3,300.

Bogle became a supporter of George William Gordon, an Afro-Jamaican politician and fellow landowner and Baptist.  In 1854 Gordon made the 32-year-old Bogle a deacon.  Bogle, in turn, built a chapel in Stony Gut which held religious and political meetings.
Sources: 
National Library of Jamaica:  http://www.nlj.gov.jm/?q=content/national-heroes#bogle; Mary Dixon, The Morant Bay Rebellion: The Story of George William Gordon and Paul Bogle (Birmingham, UK: Handprint, 1990); Gad Heuman, "The Killing Time": The Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1995); Paul Bogle, 1822-1865, Dugdale-Pointon, T. (22 September 2008) http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/people_bogle_paul.html