BlackPast.org Facebook BlackPast.org Twitter

Donate to BlackPast.org Donate to BlackPast.org

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

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

Shop Amazon and help BlackPast.org

Blackpast.org in the Classroom/ border=

People

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

Bankhead, Lester Oliver (1912-1997)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Lester Oliver Bankhead was among a handful of pioneering black architects in Los Angeles in the 1950s.  Although he faced the racial prejudice of his time, he was able to obtain work from Hollywood celebrities, such as actor Lorne Greene of the television series Bonanza; Kelly Lang, a well-known Los Angeles news anchor; and H.B. Barnum, noted music producer and arranger for Frank Sinatra and Smokey Robinson & the Miracles.

Lester Bankhead, the eldest of six children, was born on April 20, 1912, in Union, South Carolina.  His parents were John Hayes Bankhead and Pearl Eugenia Eskew.  Bankhead had hoped to attend Tuskegee Institute, but the lack of financial support forced him to seek training elsewhere.  He wrote to Voorhees College in Denmark, South Carolina, and was later enrolled in 1937.  Bankhead stated that he graduated from Voorhees with a degree in agriculture and a certificate in carpentry in 1941.  

After graduating from college, Bankhead was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942.  Upon completion of basic training his unit was ordered to assist in the liberation of North Africa.  After being discharged from the Army, Bankhead moved Los Angeles and settled within the Central Avenue community.  He attended the Los Angeles City College, Otis Art Institute, and Los Angeles Trade Technical College.  Bankhead worked various jobs and eventually began his own practice in the 1950s.
Sources: 
http://www.nilekingdoms.org/bio.htm ;Interview with Lester Bankhead by Wesley Henderson, Los Angeles, California, 1992, University of California at Los Angeles Oral History Program; Wendel Eckford, “Lester O. Bankhead,” in African American Architects: A Biographical Dictionary 1865-1945, Dreck Spurlock Wilson, Editor (New York, 2004).
Affiliation: 
Los Angeles City College

Elaw, Zilpa (1790? - ?)

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

Woods, Eldrick “Tiger” (1975- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Eldrick “Tiger” Woods was born on December 30, 1975 in Cypress, California to parents Earl and Kultida Woods.  Woods was given the nickname Tiger after a Vietnamese soldier and friend of his father’s.  He grew up watching his father play golf and at the age of two, he was putting with Bob Hope on the Mike Douglas Show.  Woods was featured in Golf Digest at the age of five and between the ages of eight and fifteen, he won the Optimist International Junior tournament six times.  Tiger Woods entered his first professional tournament in 1992 at the age of 16.  He attended Stanford University in 1994 and within two years, had won 10 collegiate titles including the NCAA title.

By the age of 32, Tiger Woods has had an unprecedented career.  Woods has won 75 tournaments including 55 on the Professional Golf Association (PGA) tour.  His victories include the 1997, 2001 and 2005 Masters Tournaments, the 1999, 2000, and 2006 PGA Championships, 2000 and 2002 U.S. Open Championships and the 2005 and 2006 British Open Championships.  In 1997, Woods, at 22, became the youngest player ever to win the Masters Championship and the first ever winner of African or Asian heritage.  In 2001, Tiger became the first ever golfer to hold all four major championship titles.  
Sources: 
Patrick B. Miller and David K. Wiggins, Sport and the Color Line, Black Athletes and Race Relations in Twentieth-Century America (New York: Routledge, 2004); http://www.tigerwoods.com/defaultflash.sps.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Watson, Diane Edith (1933- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Diane Edith Watson was born November 12, 1933 in Los Angeles, California and has spent the majority of her life in the Los Angeles area. Her father was a Los Angeles policeman and her mother worked nights at a post office after her parents divorced when Watson was seven.

In 1950 Watson graduated from Dorsey High School and obtained a bachelor’s degree in education from UCLA in 1956. Here she became friends and sorority sisters with fellow congresswoman Yvonne Braithwaite Burke, of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.  Eleven years later, at California State University at Los Angeles, Watson received her master’s degree. Watson received a doctorate in education from Claremont Graduate University in 1986.

In 1956 Watson became a public school teacher in Los Angeles and worked up the ranks to assistant principal in 1969.  During that time she held visiting teacher positions in France and Japan.  By 1971 Watson worked as a Los Angeles Unified School District health education specialist where she focused on mental health issues among the district’s 500,000 students.  
Sources: 

Dorothy Ehrhart-Morrison, No Mountain High Enough: Secrets of Successful African American Women (Berkeley: Conari, 1997).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Elders, Joycelyn Minnie (1933- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Joycelyn Elders, the former U.S. Surgeon General, was born Minnie Lee Jones in Schaal, Arkansas on August 13, 1933 to Curtis and Hailer Jones; she added the name Joycelyn when she was in college. As the eldest of eight children of sharecroppers, Joycelyn Elders experienced extreme poverty in segregated rural Arkansas. At age fifteen, Elders earned a scholarship to Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas. In 1952, she received a Bachelor of Science degree and a medical degree in 1960 from Philander Smith and the University of Arkansas Medical School, respectively.

Sources: 
Alton Hornsby, Jr. and Angela M. Hornsby-Gutting, From the Grassroots: Profiles of Contemporary African American Leaders (Montgomery: E-BookTime LLC, 2006).
Affiliation: 
Morehouse College / University of Mississippi

Barnett, Claude Albert (1889-1967)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Photography by Vincent Saunders, Jr.,
courtesy of the Chicago History Museum,
ICHi-16314.

Claude Albert Barnett, entrepreneur and founder of the Associated Negro Press (1919-1967), was born in Sanford, Florida to William Barnett and Celena Anderson. At nine months he was brought to Mattoon, Illinois to live with his maternal grandmother.  Barnett grew up in Illinois, attending schools in Oak Park and Chicago.  In 1904 he entered Tuskegee Institute.  Two years later in 1906 he received a diploma and was granted the Institute’s highest award. 

Following graduation Barnett returned to Chicago and became a postal worker.    Through his new employment he read numerous magazines and newspapers.  Fascinated by the advertisements, in 1913 Barnett began reproducing photographs of notable black luminaries, which he sold through advertising in African American newspapers.  By 1917 Barnett had transformed this endeavor into a thriving mail-order enterprise. 

Sources: 
Lawrence D. Hogan, A Black National News Service, The Associated Negro Press and Claude Barnett, 1919-1945 (Cranbury: Associated University Presses, 1984); Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982); The Chicago Defender (August 3, 1967, p. 2), obituary.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Haynes, George Edmund (1880-1960)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Author, educator and organizer George Edmund Haynes was a social scientist, religious leader and pioneer in social work education for African Americans. Born in 1880 to Louis and Mattie Haynes in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, George Haynes was the oldest of two children of a domestic worker mother and day laborer father. He was educated in the segregated and unequal school system of Pine Bluff, Arkansas.  Eventually his family moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas to pursue greater educational opportunities for the Haynes children.  
Sources: 
Nancy J. Weiss, The National Urban League, 1910-1940 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1974); Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Robinson, Ruby Doris Smith (1942-1967)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

Sources: 

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Harris, Everette “E” Lynn (1955-2009)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of Special
Collections, University of Arkansas
Libraries, Fayetteville

New York Times bestselling author Everette “E” Lynn Harris was born June 20, 1955, in Flint, Michigan. Openly homosexual, Harris was best known for his depictions of gay African American men who were concealing or “closeting” their sexuality. Although he did not participate in gay rights activism, Harris introduced millions of readers to the “invisible life” of gay black men.

Harris grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, with his father, Ben Odis Harris, a sanitation truck driver; his mother, Etta Mae Williams, and three sisters. Harris endured a difficult childhood as his father taunted him for wanting to become a teacher while his mother suffered physical abuse. After his parents divorced in 1970, Harris discovered and was reunited with his biological father, James Jeter. The reunion, however, was short-lived, as Jeter died in an automobile accident a year later.
Harris found refuge and success in his educational pursuits. He attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and was the school’s first black yearbook editor, the first black male cheerleader and president of his fraternity. He graduated with honors in 1977 with a BA in journalism.

Sources: 
E. Lynn Harris, What Becomes of the Brokenhearted: A Memoir (New York: Anchor Books, 2004); E. Lynn Harris Official Website, http://www.elynnharris.com/index.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Mitchell, Juanita Jackson (1913- 1992)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Jessie Carney Smith, Notable Black American Women (Detroit-London: Gale Research Inc., 1992); "Obituary for Juanita Jackson Mitchell," New York Times, July 9, 1992.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Morgan, Garrett A., Sr. (1877?-1963)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Inventor, entrepreneur, and publisher Garrett A. Morgan, Sr. received patents for a three-position traffic signal and a safety hood that was designed to aid breathing in smoke-filled areas. He gained national attention when he utilized his mask to rescue men trapped during a tunnel explosion in 1916.

Garrett Augustus Morgan was born in 1875 or 1877 in Paris, Kentucky to farmers Sydney and Elizabeth Morgan. Garrett received an elementary school education and left home at the age of 14, finding work in Cincinnati, Ohio as a mechanic. In 1895 he moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he worked for 12 years repairing sewing machines and in 1901 invented a sewing machine belt fastener.

In 1907 Morgan established his first business, a sewing machine sales and repair shop. He soon expanded with a tailoring business and later the Morgan Skirt Factory that employed more than 30 people. His second major discovery came while exploring a way to reduce friction between sewing needles and woolen fabric. He found that a chemical solution he developed to straighten the woolen fibers of textiles also straightened hair. In 1913 he formed the G. A. Morgan Hair Refining Cream Company that sold a line of hair care products.
Sources: 
Charles W. Carey, Jr., American Inventors, Entrepreneurs, and Business Visionaries (New York: Facts On File, 2002); Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, African American Lives (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Williamson, Lisa AKA Sister Souljah (1964- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Lisa Williamson, also known as Sister Souljah, is an author, lecturer, rap singer, activist, community organizer and political commentator. Through her music, books, lectures and community work she advocates black power, personal responsibility and activism.  She proudly challenges black Americans to strengthen their communities and character by embracing spirituality and self-confidence. A New York Times best-selling author, Williamson now reaches the younger generation through her novels written in the popular style known as street-lit.

Lisa Williamson was born in New York City in 1964. When her parents divorced, her mother moved the family into a public housing project in the Bronx where Lisa lived until the age of 10. The family then moved to Englewood, New Jersey where Lisa attended high school. While there she won the American Legion's Constitutional Oratory Contest and was later enrolled in Cornell University's advanced placement summer program and Spain's Universidad de Salamanca study-abroad program.

In 1985 Williamson graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in American history and African studies. Soon after her graduation she took a job with the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice in Harlem where she founded the African Youth Survival Camp, a 6-week summer sleep away camp in Enfield, North Carolina serving children of homeless families.
Sources: 
Sister Souljah, No Disrespect (New York: Times Books Random House, 1994); Sister Souljah, The Coldest Winter Ever (New York: Pocket Books,  1999); Akoto Ofori-Atla, “Sister Souljah: More Than a Street-Lit Author,” The Root (Summer 2011).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

McKenzie, Vashti Murphy (1947- )

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

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

Lomax, Louis Emanuel (1922-1970)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
After briefly teaching philosophy at Georgia State College in Savannah, he worked as a reporter for the Baltimore Afro-American and the Chicago American until 1958 when he entered television, producing documentaries at WNTA-TV in New York. Lomax became nationally prominent when Mike Wallace of CBS News chose him to interview Malcolm X for a documentary on the Nation of Islam after the Muslim leader refused to be interviewed by Wallace or other white reporters. That documentary, eventually titled “The Hate That Hate Produced,” provided the nation's first major exposure to the beliefs of the Nation of Islam.

By 1964, Lomax became one of the first black television journalists to host a 90-minute twice-a-week interview format television show. “The Louis E. Lomax Show” ran on KTTV in Los Angeles from 1964 to 1968. He interviewed guests on his television program about controversial topics like the Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam, the women's movement, and the war in Vietnam. He analyzed the black power movement from a vantage point rarely shared by commentators at the time. He also questioned the moderate approach taken by the leadership of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and he defended the rebellious young African Americans who had embraced black power.
Sources: 
Charles D. Lowery and John F. Marszalek, eds., The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Civil Rights (Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2003); Benjamin Quarles, "The Revolt of Louis E. Lomax", The Crisis 69:8 (October 1962); Pierre Berton, Voices From The Sixties (New York: Doubleday and Company, 1967).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Johnson, George Marion (1900-1989)

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

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

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

Tolbert, James Lionel (1926-2013)

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

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

Hope, John (1868-1936)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
 John Hope, a native of Augusta, Georgia, began his illustrious career in 1894 as a faculty member at Roger Williams University in Nashville, Tennessee where he taught natural science, Latin and Greek.  He also coached the school’s football team.  This future President of Morehouse College graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.  He was much loved and respected by his students as evidenced by at least one of them honoring him by nam
Sources: 
Ridgley Torrence, The Story of John Hope (New York: Macmillan Company, 1948); Dorothy Granberry, “John Hope” The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture (Nashville: Rutledge Hill Press, 1993); John Hope Archives, Morehouse University Library, Atlanta, Georgia.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Bridges Research

Dawson, William Levi (1886-1970)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
William Levi Dawson was a well-known Chicago, Illinois lawyer who became one of the city’s most influential politicians.  His career paralleled the rising significance of African Americans in the Democratic Party.  Dawson was born in Albany, Georgia on April 26, 1886.  Little is known of his formative years.  In 1912, Dawson graduated magna cum laude from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee.  Shortly afterwards he migrated to Chicago where he studied law at Northwestern University.  Once the United States entered World War I in 1917, Dawson joined the US Army and was soon commissioned a second lieutenant with the 365th Infantry when it served in France.  Dawson returned to the United States in 1919, passed the Illinois Bar Exam, and the following year began the practice of law in Chicago.
Sources: 

Bruce A. Ragsdale & Joel D. Tresse, Black Americans in Congress 1870-1989 (Washington: US Government Printing Office, 1990); James Q. Wilson, “Two Negro Politicians: An Interpretation.”  Midwest Journal of Political Science 4, November 1960: 346-69.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Hayden, Lewis (c.1811-1889)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Lewis Hayden was born a slave in Lexington, Kentucky in 1811 into the household of the Rev. Adam Runkin, a Presbyterian minister.  In 1840 he married fellow slave, Harriet Bell (c.1811-1893).  The Haydens successfully escaped slavery in 1844.  They traveled to Ohio, Canada, Michigan, and finally settled in Boston, where they became active participants in abolitionist activities.  While Harriett ran a boarding house from their home at 66 Phillips Street and raised their two children, Joseph and Elizabeth, Lewis ran a successful clothing store on Cambridge Street, where he also held abolitionist meetings and outfitted runaway slaves. Their home, which contained a secret tunnel, served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. The Hayden home is now listed as a national historic site.

Lewis Hayden was a member of the city’s abolitionist Vigilance Committee, whose goal was to protect fugitive slaves from being captured and returned to slavery under the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act.  In 1850, the Haydens assisted a fugitive slave couple, William and Ellen Craft, who had escaped from Georgia.  Lewis also led in the well-publicized rescues of Fredric Wilkins, alias Shadrach Minkins, in 1851 from a Boston courthouse, and Anthony Burns in 1854.
Sources: 
Stanley J. And Anita W. Robboy, “Lewis Hayden: From Fugitive Slave to Statesman,” New England Quarterly, 46 (1973): 591-613, and www.nps.gov.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Turner, Benjamin Sterling (1825-1894)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Benjamin Sterling Turner, a member of the United States House of Representatives from Alabama during the Reconstruction period, was born on March 17, 1825 in Weldon, North Carolina. He was raised as a slave and as a child received no formal education. In 1830 Turner moved to Selma, Alabama with his mother and slave owner. While living on the plantation he surreptitiously obtained an education and by age 20 Turner was able to read and write fluently. 

While still a slave Turner managed a hotel and stable in Selma.  Although his owner received most of the money for Turner’s work, he managed to save some of his earnings and shortly after the Civil War he used the savings he had accumulated to purchase the property.   The U.S. Census of 1870 reported Turner as owning $2,500 in real estate and $10,000 in personal property, making him one of the wealthiest freedmen in Alabama.

Turner also became a teacher in 1865 and helped establish the first school for African American children.  Two years later he became involved in politics.  After participating in the Republican State Convention in 1867, Turner was named tax collector of Dallas County  The following year he won his first elective office when he became a Selma City Councilman.  In 1870 Turner was elected to the United States Congress as the first African American Representative in Alabama history. 
Sources: 
Stephen Middleton, ed., Black Congressmen During Reconstruction (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2002); http://bioguide.congress.gov
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Douglas, H. Ford (1831-1865)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Captain H. Ford Douglas was born in Virginia in 1831 to a white man named William Douglas, and an enslaved mother named Mary.  He escaped from slavery sometime after his fifteenth birthday, and moved to Cleveland, Ohio.

Working as a barber, the self-educated Douglas was active in the free black community of Cleveland, especially its state convention movement.  His first state meeting was at Columbus in 1850, at which time Douglas was already gaining attention for his outstanding oratorical talents.  He appeared at the Ohio State Convention again 1851 and 1852, arguing that African Americans would never gain equality in the United States, and advocating African American emigration.  Douglas supported William Lloyd Garrison’s view that the United States Constitution was a proslavery document because it did not exclusively prohibit slavery.  He claimed it was written with the intention of continuing slavery.   Douglas also felt African-Americans allowed slavery to continue by remaining in the United States and making themselves subject to the U.S. Constitution.  

At the 1854 National Emigration Convention, Douglas emerged as a prominent speaker with his defense of emigration.  He moved to British-controlled West Canada after the convention and in 1856 became a proprietor of the Provincial Freedom, a Canadian newspaper promoting antislavery and emigrationist principles.  Through the newspaper Douglas promoted Canada as a place where blacks could live under a government which protected them.  He married Statira Steele in October 1857, with whom he had one child.  

Sources: 
Robert L. Harris, Jr., H. Ford Douglas Afro-American Antislavery Emigrationist Journal of Negro History 62:3 (July 1997) 217-34; Robert L. Harris, Jr., H. Ford Douglas.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Dziko, Trish Millines (1957- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Trish Millines Dziko is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Technology Access Foundation. A native of New Jersey, Dziko focused on college and ultimately became a first-generation college student. Ms. Dziko also made history by becoming the first woman to be awarded a full basketball scholarship for Monmouth College in West Long Branch, New Jersey.  She received her B.S. in Computer Science in 1979.

Dziko spent 15 years working in the high tech industry as a software developer, manager and consultant as well as a database designer in such industries as military weapons, business systems, communications, and medical equipment.
Sources: 

Monica J. Foster, “Federal Way to Build TAF Academy,” The (Seattle) Skanner http://www.theskanner.com/index.php?edid=Mg==,
http://www.informationtechnologyleaders.com/dziko.html ; http://www.techaccess.org/
http://www.techaccess.org/tafpdfs/profiles/staff_profiles/Trishmi.pdf
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Antioch University Seattle

Revels, Hiram Rhoades (1827?–1901)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Hiram Rhoades Revels was the first African American United States Senator, filling the seat left vacant by Jefferson Davis in 1861 when Mississippi seceded from the Union.

Born in the 1820s in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Hiram Revels was the son of free parents of mixed African American and Native American ancestry. Revels moved with his family to Lincolnton, North Carolina in 1842, where he became a barber. Two years later he left the South and enrolled at Beech Grove Seminary, a Quaker institution near Liberty, Indiana. In 1845 he entered Darke County (Ohio) Seminary for Negroes.  The same year Revels was ordained a minister in a Baltimore African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. In the early 1850s he married Phoebe A. Bass of Zanesville, Ohio, and together they had six children.
Sources: 
“Hiram Rhoades Revels,” in Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982);
“Hiram Rhoades Revels,” in Encyclopedia: The State Library of North Carolina, http://statelibrary.dcr.state.nc.us/nc/bio/afro/revels.htm; Kenneth H. Williams, "Revels, Hiram Rhoades" in Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds.,  African American National Biography Oxford African American Studies Center, http://www.oxfordaasc.com.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/article/opr/t0001/e0482.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Washington, Harold (1922 – 1987)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Harold Washington and Colleague
Image ©Bettmann/Corbis
Harold Washington, the first African American mayor of Chicago, Illinois, was born on April 15, 1922, to Roy Washington, a lawyer, Methodist minister and one of the first black precinct captains in Chicago.  Washington’s mother Bertha Washington was a well-known singer in the city.

Washington attended segregated public schools including the newly completed DuSable High School where he set records as a track star.  Despite that success, Washington dropped out of high school at the end of his junior year and worked in a meat packing plant until his father helped him obtain a job at the U.S. Treasury office in Chicago.  There he met Dorothy Finch, his future wife.  The couple married in 1941 when Harold Washington was 19 and Dorothy was 17.  They divorced ten years later.
Sources: 
Bruce Ragsdale, Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1989 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1990); Florence Hamlish Levinsohn, Harold Washington: A Political Biography, (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 1983); “Biographical Directory of the Harold Washington,”   http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=W000180.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Edwards, James (1918-1970)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

One of the first African American actors to receive critical acclaim, James Edwards was born in Muncie, Indiana in 1918. He majored in psychology at Knoxville College in Tennessee and continued his education at Northwestern University where he received a master’s degree in drama.

Sources: 

Bruce A. Douglas, “Tribute to Jimmy: Decade after death, honors coming to Muncie black actor,” The Muncie Star, March 23, 1980; Bruce A. Douglas, “Black film series to honor Muncie actor Jimmy Edwards,” The Muncie Star, April 10, 1982; Phyllis Klotman, Interview with Fred and J. C. Edwards, March 6, 1982.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

Robinson, Roscoe, Jr. (1928-1993)

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

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Brutus, Dennis (1924-2009)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Courtesy of the Armenian Weekly
Dennis Brutus was a South African poet, organizer and activist perhaps most notable for his use of sports as a weapon against apartheid. Dennis Vincent Brutus was born to South African parents of French, Italian and African descent in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1924. When he was four, his family returned to Port Elizabeth, South Africa where, under the country’s racial code, Brutus was classified as “colored.” After graduating from the University of Fort Hare, Brutus became a teacher of English and Afrikaans in nonwhite schools.
Sources: 
Aisha Karim and Lee Sustar, Poetry & Protest: A Dennis Brutus Reader (Chicago,: Haymarket Books, 2006); Adrian Guelke, Rethinking the Rise and Fall of Apartheid (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005); Douglas Martin, “Dennis Brutus Dies at 85; Fought Apartheid with Sports,” New York Times, 2 January 2010, A22; “Dennis Brutus Biography,” Biography.com, http://www.biography.com/articles/Dennis-Brutus-40359.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Montana State University

Glover, Danny (1946- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Danny Lebern Glover, actor, producer, and humanitarian was born in San Francisco, California on July 22, 1946 to Carrie (nee) Hunly and James Glover.  His parents, United States postal workers, fought for equal rights as members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a fight that Glover has continued throughout his adult life.

Glover graduated from George Washington High School in San Francisco in 1964 and from San Francisco State University in 1968 with a B.A. in Economics.  As a college student and member of the Black Students Union, Glover participated in the five-month student-led strike, the longest student walkout in U.S. history, which led to the establishment of the first School of Ethnic Studies program in the United States. Glover's response to a New York Times reporter inquiring about students missing class during the strike was that students could always go back to school, as the most important thing to him is to end racism everywhere.

After college, Glover took a position as a Model-Cities Program Manager with the Office of Community Development in San Francisco, where he solidified his philosophy that people are the architects of change.  During this time he began studying acting at the Shelton Actors Lab, long recognized as a top professional actors training program.  Deciding he wanted to become an actor, he resigned his managerial position and moved to Los Angeles.
Sources: 
Dave Sommers, "Lethal Lesson," http://zwire.com/site/Danny_Glover.html; “Grades: a Worry in Campus Strike; Problem for Coast Students Who Still Attend Class,” New York Times, Jan 19, 1969, p. 25; Kevin Yeoman, "Fox’s  ‘Touch’ Adds Danny Glover & Young Lead David Mazouz," http://screenrant.com/danny-glover-touch-fox-david-mazouz-yman-119121; Danny Glover’s Story,  http://www.un.org/works/goingon/danny_story.html; Danny Glover  Foundation. http://www.dannyglover.org; Gloria Blakely, Danny Glover (Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2001).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Paine College

Badin, Adolf (1747-1822)

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

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

McKaine, Osceola Enoch (1892-1955)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Osceola McKaine (3rd From Left) With Staff of his Supper Club
in Ghent, Belgium, ca. 1938
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Civil rights activist Osceola Enoch (“Mac”) McKaine was born in Sumter, South Carolina on December 17, 1892. In 1908, at the age of 16, he moved to Boston, Massachusetts where he attended classes at Boston College.  Later he worked as associate editor of the Cambridge Advocate, a small black newspaper in the neighboring city of Cambridge, Massachusetts.  During the 1912 presidential election, 20-year-old McKaine served as Secretary for the Colored Progressive League of New England.
Sources: 
John Egerton, Speak Now Against the Day: The Generation before the Civil Rights Movement in the South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995); James Felder, Civil Rights in South Carolina: From Peaceful Protests to Groundbreaking Rulings (Gloucestershire, UK: The History Press, 2012); Erik S. Gellman, Death Blow to Jim Crow: The National Negro Congress and the Rise of Militant Civil Rights (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2012).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Keith, Kenton Wesley (1939- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
On May 26, 1992, career diplomat Kenton Wesley Keith was nominated by President George H.W. Bush to serve as U.S. ambassador to Qatar.  After U.S. Senate confirmation, Keith arrived in Ad-Dawhah (Doha), the capital of Qatar and presented his credentials on September 2, 1992.  He served until July 17, 1995 and in doing so, became the first African American ambassador on the Arabian Peninsula.

Kenton Wesley Keith was born on November 12, 1939 in Kansas City, Missouri, to Jimmy and Gertrude Keith, a jazz musician and singer/civil servant, respectively.  He attended racially segregated Lincoln High School in Kansas City. His interest in international politics began with his watching the televised Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954. 

Attending the University of Kansas (KU) intensified that interest as he came in contact for the first time with numerous international students.  Keith was inspired to get a B.A. degree in International Relations and French in 1961. He also successfully completed KU’s Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps program and upon graduation became a Lieutenant (junior grade) in the U.S. Navy.
Sources: 
Sherry Lee Mueller and Mark Overmann, Working World, Second Edition: Careers in International Education, Exchange and Development (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2104); Charles Stuart Kennedy, “The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project: Ambassador Kenton Wesley Keith,” http://www.adst.org/OH%20TOCs/Keith,%20Kenton%20W.toc.pdf.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Esteban (? - 1539)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Courtesy of the David Weber Collection
Esteban, an enslaved North African, made the first contact with the native peoples of what is now the American Southwest.  Fraught with misunderstandings, that encounter led to Esteban’s untimely demise in 1539 and prefigured the violence that would characterize the Spanish conquest and subsequent colonization of the region.
Sources: 
George P. Hammond and Agapito Rey, eds.  Narratives of the Coronado Expedition , 1540-1542 (1940). Dedra S. McDonald, “Intimacy and Empire:  Indian-African Interaction in Spanish Colonial New Mexico, 1500-1800” in James F. Brooks, ed., Confounding the Color Line:  The Indian-Black Experience in North America (2002).
Affiliation: 
Hillsdale College (Michigan)

Baird, Harry (1931-2005)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The physical presence that black British actor Harry Baird brought to the movie screen was largely a consequence of the United Kingdom going through the birthing pain of racism during the 1950s and 1960s.  Born in Guyana, this premier black actor was no Paul Robeson, but Harry Baird carried with him a presence that spoke to Britain’s patronizing advancement out of the stone-age of colonial imperialism.
Sources: 
Donald Bogle, Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies & Bucks (New York: Continuum, 1992); Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) title search by key word, “Harry Baird”; Tom Milne, ed., The Timeout Film Guide, Penguin Books, 3rd Edition, 1992.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Spivey, Victoria (1906-1976)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Victoria Spivey grew up in a musical family where her father, Grant, played in a string band while sisters, Addie and Elton, sang the blues. But it was Victoria who became the star with a beginning that took her moaning style of singing into honky tonks, bordellos, men’s clubs and gin mills all over Texas. In 1926, she left for St. Louis and acquired a recording contract with OKeh records but found her stride in New York where she continued to record but performed in all the elite nightclubs, appeared in the musical, Hellzapoppin’ Revue, took a lead role in Hallelujah, the first musical feature film with an all black cast, and sang with the big bands in the 1940s. The crossover into the big band jazz genre allowed her to join Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, and Benny Goodman on stages across the country. As the country’s musical tastes changed in the 1950s, she became an organist and choir master in her church and then in the 1960s she enjoyed a revival of her blues career.
Sources: 
David Dicaire, Blues Singers: Biographies of 50 Legendary Artists of the Early 20th Century (Jefferson, North Carolina, McFarland & Company, Inc., 1999); Anna Stong Bourgeois, Blueswomen: Profiles of 37 Early Performers, with an Anthology of Lyrics, 1920-1945 (Jefferson, North Carolina, McFarland & Company, Inc., 1996); http:/www.geocities.com/theblueslady.geo/Victoria.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

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

Johnson, Robert (1911-1938)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Robert Johnson was the eleventh child of Julia Major Dodds.  Born out of wedlock, Johnson did not take the Dodds name. He grew up with his mother in Hazlehurst, Mississippi but soon moved up to live with his father, Charles Dodds, in Memphis. Charles Dodds changed his last name to Spencer and so Robert was known in his younger years as Robert Spencer. Around 1918, Johnson moved to an area around Robinsonville and Tunica, Mississippi to rejoin his mother who had remarried. Not much is known about Johnson’s childhood other than he was always interested in music. People in the Delta who knew Johnson claimed played the diddley bow when he was younger. A diddley bow is wire attached to nails sticking out of houses. A person could then hit the wire with a stick and use an empty bottle that slides along the wire to change the pitch.
Sources: 
Peter Guralnick, Searching for Robert Johnson (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1989); Barry Lee Pearson and Bill McCulloch, Robert Johnson: Lost and Found (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004); Patricia R. Schroeder, Robert Johnson: Mythmaking and Contemporary American Culture (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004); Elijah Wald, Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Brady, Saint Elmo (1884-1966)

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

Born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1884, Saint Elmo Brady became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in the field of chemistry when he completed his graduate studies at the University of Illinois in 1916. The eldest child of Thomas and Celesta Brady, Saint Elmo had two younger sisters, Fedora and Buszeder.

Sources: 
Saint Elmo Brady, University of Illinois, Department of Chemistry, http://www.scs.uiuc.edu/chem/bios/brady.html ; Mitchell Brown, The Faces of Sciences: African Americans in Science, https://webfiles.uci.edu/mcbrown/display/faces.html ; D.F. Martin and B.B. Martin, “St. Elmo Brady (1884-1966): Pioneering Black Academic Chemist,” Florida Scientist, 2006, 69(2), 116-123; Collins, S.N. “African Americans and Science,” Chemical and Engineering News, 2009, 87(43), p3.; S.E. Brady and S.P. Massie, “1,1,-Dichloroheptane,” Academy of Science, 1952, 261-262.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Nega, Berhanu (1958- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Berhanu Nega was elected mayor of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in the Ethiopian general elections, 2005. He is a founding chairman of the Rainbow Ethiopia: Movement for Democracy and Social Justice and a Deputy Chairman of Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), for which he served as chief election campaign strategist.
Sources: 
Saheed A. Adejumobi, The History of Ethiopia (Westport: Greenwood Press, 2007).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle University

Houphouet-Boigny, Félix (1905-1993)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Félix Houphouet-Boigny was born near Yamoussoukro, the southern part of the Ivory Coast, on October 18, 1905. His father was a Boulé tribal chief and a wealthy cocoa farmer. At five years old Houphouet-Boigny inherited his father’s chief status and his cocoa plantation. He studied at primary and secondary school in his village and graduated as a medical assistant in Dakar, Senegal. From 1925 to 1940, Houphouet-Boigny worked in medicine throughout the Ivory Coast. By 1944, his family’s plantation was prosperous and he rose into political prominence by organizing the Syndicat Agricole Africain (SAA), a union that defended farm workers and planters’ interests. In 1945, he was elected as the Ivory Coast’s deputy to the French Constituent Assembly.

Sources: 
Kevin Shillington, ed., Encyclopedia of African History (New York: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2005); Thomas Patrick Melady, Profiles of African Leaders (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1961). 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Evergreen State College

Shadd, Dr. Alfred Schmitz (1870-1915)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

Alfred Schmitz Shadd, a black educator, physician, farmer, politician, editor and civic leader was born in Raleigh, Ontario in 1870. He was the fourth son of Garrison and Harriet Poindexter Shadd, a distinguished abolitionist family.

Shadd planned to become a doctor but trained as a teacher in Toronto and taught in Ontario for a year before pursuing medical studies at the University of Toronto. Due to limited finances, he interrupted his medical studies and resumed teaching in 1896 in the town of Kinistino, which is now in Saskatchewan but at the time was in the Northwest Territories.  After a year in Kinistino, he completed his medical studies at the University of Toronto and then returned to the Northwest Territories to practice medicine.

Sources: 

Colin A. Thomson, Blacks in Deep Snow: Black Pioneers in Canada (Don Mills: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1979); Joseph Mensah, Black Canadians: History, Experiences, Social Conditions (Halifax: Fernwood Publishing, 2002); “Saskatchewan’s great pioneer black doctor”, Canadian Medical Assoc., Journal (Toronto), 116 (January-June 1977).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Bridges, Ruby (1954 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Ruby Bridges with U.S. Marshals
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Ruby Bridges became famous in 1960 as the six-year-old who, escorted by Federal marshals, integrated a formerly all-white school in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Bridges was born on September 8, 1954 in Tylertown, Mississippi, to Lucille and Abon Bridges. She was the firstborn of eight children. Her parents worked as sharecroppers then when she was four they moved to New Orleans in 1958. One year later Ruby began kindergarten at Johnson Lockett Elementary, a segregated school.

Two years after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling that called for integration of public schools, Federal District Court Judge J. Skelly Wright ordered that the New Orleans School Board formulate an integration plan for public schools. After four years of opposition, the school board chose to integrate two formerly all-white schools in the fall of 1960. Both schools, William Frantz and McDonough 19, were located in New Orleans's Ninth Ward. Bridges was one of a handful of African American children chosen to attend William Frantz Public School.
Sources: 

Ruby Bridges, Through My Eyes (New York: Scholastic, 1999): Jessie
Carney Smith, Black Firsts (Canton, Michigan: Visible Ink Press, 2003);
http://crdl.usg.edu.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Blackwell, David Harold (1919-2010)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
David Harold Blackwell, mathematician and statistician, was the first African American to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences (1965) and is especially known for his contributions to the theory of duels. Blackwell was born on April 24, 1919, to a working-class family in Centralia, Illinois. Growing up in an integrated community, Blackwell attended “mixed” schools, where he distinguished himself in mathematics. During elementary school, his teachers promoted him beyond his grade level on two occasions. He discovered his passion for math in a high school geometry course.

At the age of sixteen, Blackwell began his college career at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Although he planned on becoming an educator, Blackwell chose math classes instead. Having won a four-year scholarship from the state of Illinois, Blackwell completed his undergraduate degree in 1938 and earned his master’s degree the following year.
Sources: 
James H. Kessler,  J. S. Kidd, Renee A. Kidd, and Katherine A. Morin,  Distinguished African American Scientists of the Twentieth Century (Phoenix: Oryx Press, 1996); Reuben Hersh, “David Harold Blackwell,” Biographical Encyclopedia of Mathematicians, Donald R. Franceschetti, editor (New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1999); Nkechi Agwu,  Luella Smith, and  Aissatou Barry, “ Dr. David Harold Blackwell, African American Pioneer,” Mathematics Magazine, 76:1 (Feb., 2003), pp. 3-14.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle Pacific University

Due, Tananarive (1966- )

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

Tananarive Due is a contemporary novelist who interweaves powerful themes and dilemmas among African Americans into unconventional story-telling.  Due was born in Tallahassee, Florida on January 5, 1966.  Her parents, John and Patricia Stephens Due, met at Florida A&M and were civil rights activists.  John was a prominent attorney who eventually headed Leon County's Office of Black Affairs while her mother participated in many protests and sit-ins that led to injuries and in one ins

Sources: 
Dianne Glave, "'My Characters are Teaching me to be Strong:' An Interview with Tananarive Due," African American Review 38:4 (Winter 2004); "A Conversation with Tananarive Due Part I and Part II," National Public Radio www.npr.org, January 17, 2006; Tananarive Due Website, http://www.tananarivedue.com/About.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Frazier, Walt (1945- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
National Basketball Association star player Walt “Clyde” Frazier Jr., was born the oldest of nine children in Atlanta, Georgia on March 29, 1945. While attending the segregated Howard High School in Atlanta, Frazier excelled in football, baseball, and basketball. Despite receiving football scholarships from elite colleges, Frazier accepted a basketball scholarship from the lesser known Southern Illinois University. Frazier led the school to its first National Invitation Tournament championship in 1967. Following his senior year, the two-time All-American became the New York Knickerbockers first-round choice and the fifth overall pick that same year.

During his rookie season, a Knicks official nicknamed Frazier, “Clyde” after the infamous 1930s bank robber Clyde Barrow. The name stuck as Frazier personified African American pride and culture in the early 1970s. His stylish dress and his cool demeanor on and off the court resembled some of the popular characters in Blaxploitation movies of the era such as John Shaft in Shaft and Priest in Superfly.

As a Knick, Frazier played in seven NBA All-Star Games and named to four All-NBA First Teams and seven NBA All-Defensive First Teams.  While with the Knicks, Frazier also set team highs for points scored, games played, and assists. He led the team to its only NBA titles in 1970 and 1973.

Sources: 
Jack Friedman, “Belatedly Learning That Father Knows Best, Walt Frazier III Tries to Be a Clyde Off the Old Block” People, 27 February 1989; Sarah Kershaw, “Walt Frazier Buys Three Harlem Penthouses,” New York Times, 24 September 2010.http://www.nba.com/history/players/frazier_bio.html
Contributor:
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

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

Campbell, Charles M. (1918-1986)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Hawaii State Senator Charles M. Campbell was born in North Carolina in 1918.  He grew up there and received an A.D. degree from North Carolina College in Durham.  He also received an M.A. degree from Howard University and a second M.A. from Columbia University.  

Campbell began his career by becoming the first black newscaster to do “straight broadcasting” in Philadelphia. He was the first black member of the Radio Television News Directors Association and became Vice President of Radio News Reel Television Working Press Association. 

Sources: 
Naomi Campbell, Interview  with Daphne Barbee-Wooten, June 1999; “Spreading Aloha through Civil Rights,” by Daphne Barbee-Wooten, Hawaii Bar Journal, October 1999; Miles M. Jackson, And They Came (Honolulu: Four Publishers Inc., 2001).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Dixon, Eustace Augustus, II (1934-2000)

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

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

Himes, Chester (1909-1984)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Photograph by Carl Van Vechten,
Courtesy of the Van Vechten Trust
Chester Himes was an important writer of fiction and autobiography. Although Himes’s most widely read novels were detective stories set in Harlem, his first two published novels reflected his experiences in Los Angeles, where he lived from 1940 until 1944.


A native of Missouri, Himes spent most of his childhood in southern towns and cities where his father taught in the mechanical departments of African American colleges. He graduated from high school in Cleveland, Ohio. After a 1928 robbery Himes spent seven and one-half years in prison. While in prison he published fiction in a number of newspapers and magazines, including Esquire. Frustrated by employment discrimination in Ohio as the United States mobilized for World War II, Himes decided to move to Los Angeles.

Sources: 
James Sallis, Chester Himes: A Life (New York: Walker & Company, 2001); Michael Marsh, “Chester Himes,” http://authors.aalbc.com/chesterhimes.htm .
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Western Washington University

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

Waters, Ethel (1896-1977)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
In 1950, Ethel Waters was the first black American performer to star in her own regular television show, Beulah, but it was the 1961 role in the “Good Night, Sweet Blues” episode of the television series Route 66 that earned her an Emmy award.  She was the first black so honored.  Acting was a second career after singing in four different genres – jazz, blues, pop, and gospel.  She performed on Broadway stages, the first black to receive top billing with white stars.  And finally, she claimed leading roles in Hollywood films, earning an Academy Award nomination for the film Pinky.

Born on October 31, 1896, Waters won a talent contest as a teenager and began to sing around the Philadelphia area after growing up in Chester, Pennsylvania, where she sang in the church choir, and worked as a domestic.  Her first professional tour, with the Black Swan Troubadours, taught her to incorporate excitement and versatility in her vaudeville act.  Her divine discontent with just jazz and the blues propelled her into acting.  In 1938, she gave a recital at Carnegie Hall and then began to appear in dramatic roles.  She performed in Cabin in the Sky in 1943 and followed that film with more than ten others along with a treasure trove of classic songs including Am I Blue?, Memories of You, Stormy Weather, Porgy, Georgia on My Mind, and I Can’t Give You Anything but Love.
Sources: 
“Ethel Waters,” in W. Augustus, Low and Virgil A. Cliff, eds., The Encyclopedia of Black America (New York: De Capo, 1981); David Dicaire, ed., Blues Singers: Biographies of 50 Legendary Artists of the Early 20th Century (October 1999); http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/W/htmlW/watersethel/watersethel.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Burns, Anthony (1834-1862)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
The youngest of 13 children, Anthony Burns was born May 31, 1834 into slavery; his family was owned by the Suttle family of Virginia. His mother married three times; Burns’s father was her third husband. Burns’s father died when his last child was very young.

A few years later their owner, John Suttle, died leaving his wife with financial problems which prompted her to sell five of Burns’s siblings. To gain more income, she hired out the remaining siblings including Anthony. Burns performed a variety of jobs including personal servant, sawmill worker and tavern employee. He also was given the responsibility of managing four other slaves owned by Mrs. Suttle; he was allowed this freedom as long as he paid his master a fee from his earnings.

In March of 1854, Burns escaped from his master in Virginia and boarded a ship to Boston. When he arrived in Boston he found employment with a clothing store operated by Lewis Hayden, an abolitionist.

His freedom was short-lived, however.  On May 24, 1854, Burns was arrested under the Fugitive Slave Act, a component of the Compromise of 1850. This controversial federal law allowed owners to reclaim escaped slaves by presenting proof of ownership.
Sources: 
Joseph Meredith Toner, Boston Slave Riot, and Trial of Anthony Burns: Containing the Report of the Faneuil Hall (Detroit: Fetridge and Company, 1854); http://pbs.org; http://www.masshist.org.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Brown, Elaine (1943- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
From 1974 to 1977, Elaine Brown was Chairwoman of the Black Panther Party.  She is the only woman to have held that position.  As a Panther, Brown also ran twice for a position on the City Council of Oakland, California.  Since the 1970s she has been active in prison and education reform and juvenile justice.

Born in heavily black and impoverished North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1943, Brown attended a predominantly white experimental elementary school where she studied ballet and classical piano.  Brown’s childhood was starkly divided between the comfort of her schooling and the realities of her home life.  Following high school Brown entered Temple University but left the campus for Los Angeles, California before the end of her first year.  
Sources: 
Elaine Brown, A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story (New York: Pantheon Books, 1992); Robert O. Self, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003); Elaine Brown, The Condemnation of Little B: New Age Racism in America (Boston: Beacon Press, 2002); http://www.elainebrown.org/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Attucks, Crispus (1723-1770)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

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

Obama, Michelle Robinson (1964- )

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

On January 20, 2009, with the Presidential swearing in of her husband Barack Obama, Michelle Robinson Obama became the first person of African American descent to become First Lady of the United States.

Obama is an accomplished professional with an impressive resume of her own. Outspoken, intelligent, and articulate, she can give passionate speeches, displaying warmth, charisma, and her ability to build an empathetic relationship with her audience. Early in her husband’s campaign for the Presidency, her forthright style sometimes resulted in “sound bites” which when taken out of context became controversial.


Born January 17, 1964 to Frasier Robinson, a pump operator for the city of Chicago’s water plant, and Marian Robinson, who spent much of Michelle’s childhood a homemaker, Michelle grew up on Chicago, Illinois' South Side, one of the nation’s poorest urban communities. Her parents strictly limited their children’s television viewing, and Michelle and her brother Craig were expected to take part in discussions around the family dinner table.

Sources: 
Liza Mundy, Michelle, a Biography (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008); Michelle Obama in Her Own Words, the Speeches 2008, compiled by Susan A. Jones; David Colbert, Michelle Obama, an American Story (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009); David Bergen Brophy, Michelle Obama: Meet the First Lady (New York: Harper Collins, 2009); Elizabeth Lightfoot, Michelle Obama, First Lady of Hope (Guilford, Connecticut: the Lyons Press, 2009) and Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope (New York: Crown Publishers, 2006); www.barackobama.com/about/michelle_obama.
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Elliott, Robert Brown (1842–1884)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Robert Brown Elliott, Reconstruction-era Congressman, was born in 1842 in Liverpool, England. He attended High Holborn Academy in London, England and then studied law, graduating from Eton College in 1859. From there he joined the British Royal Navy.  Elliott decided to settle in South Carolina in 1867.  He was admitted to the South Carolina bar in 1868 and began practicing law in Columbia, the state capital.  Elliott worked under the future Congressman Richard H. Cain as associate editor of the South Carolina Leader and was an elected delegate to the 1868 state constitution convention.  Later that year he won a seat in the South Carolina House of Representatives. In 1869, partly because of his military background, Elliott was appointed assistant adjutant-general for South Carolina.  He became the first African American commanding general of the South Carolina National Guard which as the state militia was charged with fighting the Ku Klux Klan.  
Sources: 
Bruce A. Ragsdale, Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1989 (Washington: U.S. Government) Maurine Christopher, Black Americans in Congress http://bioguide.congress.gov/ ; Biographical Directory of Robert Elliott Brown.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Jones, Lois Mailou (1905-1998)

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

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

Sources: 

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Shadd, Abraham Doras (1801-1882)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Canadian Postal Stamp of Abraham D. Shadd
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Abraham Doras Shadd, the first Afro-Canadian to hold public office, was born in Wilmington, Delaware on March 2, 1801. He was the grandson of a white German soldier from Hesse Kassel, Germany and a free black woman. Shadd was free born and earned a respectable living as a shoemaker, supporting his wife and thirteen children. His passion, however, was obtaining civil rights for African Americans and later Afro-Canadians and he devoted his life to the abolitionist movement which sought the immediate end of slavery.

Sources: 

Colin A. Thompson, Blacks in Deep Snow (Don Mills, Ontario: J.M. Dent
& Sons, 1979); Joseph Mensah, Black Canadians (Halifax: Fernwood
Publishing, 2002);
http://www.buxtonmuseum.com/history/hist-shadd-abraham.html.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Mitchell, Arthur (1934- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Arthur Mitchell, 1955
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Arthur Mitchell, co-founder and Artistic Director Emeritus of Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH), America’s first African American ballet company, was born in New York City, on March 27, 1934. Under Mitchell’s direction, Dance Theatre of Harlem rose to become one of the premier ballet companies in the United States, performing full-length neoclassical ballets, nationally and internationally from 1971 until the company’s performing hiatus in 2004. Mitchell served as the Artistic Director of DTH from the company’s first performance at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City in 1971, until his retirement as artistic director in 2009.

Raised in Harlem, Mitchell began his dance training at New York City’s High School of the Performing Arts. At age 18 he was awarded a full scholarship to continue his classical ballet training at the School of American Ballet, New York City Ballet’s official training school. In 1955, under the direction of George Balanchine, Mitchell was the first African American male to become a permanent member of New York City Ballet. With the Ballet from 1955 to 1970, Mitchell quickly rose to the rank of principal dancer, and is best known for his lead role performances in the pas de deux from Agon, and as “Puck” from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  These roles were choreographed by Balanchine specifically for Mitchell.
Sources: 
Barbara Milberg Fisher, In Balanchine’s Company: A Dancer’s Memoir (Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 2006); Lynn Garafola, Legacies of Twentieth-Century Dance (Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 2005); http://www.dancetheatreofharlem.com/
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Washington, Dinah (Ruth Lee Jones), (1924-1963)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of ©Bettmann/CORBIS
Dinah Washington, legendary singer and ‘Queen of the Blues,’ was born Ruth Lee Jones on August 29, 1924. Born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama she moved with her family to Chicago as a young child.

Music was in Washington’s family, her mother was a pianist in St. Luke’s Baptist Church, and from a young age, Washington sang gospel and played piano with her church choir. Influenced by other female singers such as Billie Holiday, Washington began to take an interest in blues music and started playing in local clubs in Chicago. At the age of 18, Washington joined Lionel Hampton’s band and a year later she also signed with Keynote Records, releasing her first hit “Evil Gal Blues” under the name Dinah Washington. Washington was never to record any of her gospel music, despite her obvious talent for it, believing that the secular world of professional music should be kept apart from the spiritual.
Sources: 
Jim Haskins, Queen of the Blues: A Biography of Dinah Washington (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1987) Queen; The Life and Music of Dinah Washington Website, www.dinahthequeen.com, (Nadine Cohodas, Random House, 2004); The Verve Live Music Group, www.vervemusicgroup.com, (Verve Music Group, 1999-2009); Encyclopaedia Britannica, www.britannica.com (Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, 2009).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sussex, England

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

Brazile, Donna (1959 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Donna Brazile, author, campaign manager, adjunct professor, political analyst, and current vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was born December 15, 1959 in New Orleans, Louisiana to Lionel and Jean Brazile. Brazile was the third of nine children, and her father (a janitor) and mother (a domestic worker) often had a hard time making ends meet. Brazile became interested in politics at age nine when she heard that a local candidate for city council had promised to build a playground in her neighborhood. The young Brazile volunteered for the campaign and passed out pamphlets to her neighbors. The candidate won, the neighborhood got a playground, and Brazile discovered her new passion for political activism.  At age 17 Brazile volunteered for the Carter-Mondale campaign in 1976, stuffing envelopes at the local campaign headquarters.

Brazile attended Louisiana State University where she earned her degree in industrial psychology in 1981. After graduation Brazile worked as a lobbyist for the National Student Education Fund in Washington, D.C. During the same time period Brazile was hired by Coretta Scott King to help plan a re-enactment of the 1963 civil rights march on Washington in 1983. Brazile worked with the Dr. Martin Luther King Foundation to help establish Dr. King’s birthday as a national holiday.
Sources: 
Donna Brazile, Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in America (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005); Ashyia Henderson, “Donna Brazile,” in Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 25 (Farmington Hill: Thomson/Gale, 2004); http://www.democrats.org/about/bio/donna_brazile
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Pearman, Raven-Symoné Christina (1985- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership, Public Domain
Raven-Symoné Christina Pearman, better known as “Raven-Symoné,” is an American actress and recording artist.  Her entertainment career began when she starred in advertisements for well-known brands such as Jell-O and Cool Whip and as a young model for the Ford Modeling Company.

Pearman was born to Christopher B. and Lydia (Gaulden) Pearman on December 10, 1985 in Atlanta, Georgia.  In the late 1990s, the family moved to New York City, New York in order to improve her chances at becoming an entertainer.  At the age of four she auditioned for a role in the 1990 film Ghost Dad, but was turned down because of her young age.  She so impressed comedian and actor Bill Cosby, however, that he later cast her in his television series The Cosby Show as Olivia Kendall, the adopted daughter of the Cosby’s oldest daughter.  She was an instant hit with audiences.
Sources: 

The Biography Channel, Raven-Symoné Synopsis (New York, NY: Arts & Entertainment Networks, 2014), retrieved from http://www.biography.com/people/raven-symon%C3%A9-21303025; Damien Croghan, Raven-Symone’s Coming Out should be Celebrated, retrieved from http://www.dailynebraskan.com/opinion/croghan-raven-symone-s-coming-out-should-be-celebrated/article_4933ebc2-1017-11e3-9f71-0019bb30f31a.html; Kimberley McLeod, ed., “Actress Raven Symone Radiates Beside Out Model AzMarie,” Elixher Magazine (September 3, 2013), retrieved from http://elixher.com/actress-raven-symone-radiates-beside-out-model-azmarie/.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Walker, Howard Kent (1935- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Howard Kent Walker is a military veteran, diplomat, and educator who was born on December 3, 1935 in Newport News, Virginia. His father was a high school chemistry and mathematics teacher and his mother a homemaker. Upon graduation from high school Walker enrolled at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan where he studied until 1958.

During his time in Ann Arbor Walker eventually majored in political science and was also part of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), which meant he would have a three-year obligation to the U.S. Air Force after graduation, which he fulfilled (1962-1965). After his military service and a brief stint as an analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Walker passed the Foreign Service exam, becoming a Foreign Service Officer in 1969.  His first assignment was in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Inter-Africa Affairs, working on Africa-United Nations issues.
Sources: 
Interview with Ambassador Howard K. Walker: Charles Stuart Kennedy, November 11, 2001,The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training (ADST) Foreign Affairs Oral History Project: http://www.adst.org/OH%20TOCs/Walker,%20Howard%20K.toc.pdf; ADST Country Reader on Togo: http://www.adst.org/Readers/Togo.pdf; American Foreign Service: http://www.afa.org.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training

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

Ragsdale, Lincoln J., Sr. (1926-1995)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Dr. Lincoln J. Ragsdale, Sr. was a leading activist in the battle for civil rights in Arizona.  After graduating from Tuskegee flying school in Alabama in 1945, he relocated to Luke Air Field in Litchfield Park, Arizona, becoming one of the first black pilots to serve at that installation.  

Ragsdale believed that it was his “Tuskegee experience” that emboldened him and gave him direction.  “It gave me a whole new self-image,” he maintained.  He “remembered when we [Tuskegee Airmen] used to walk through black neighborhoods right after the war, and little kids would run up to us and touch our uniforms.  ‘Mister, can you really fly an airplane’ they’d ask.  The Tuskegee airmen gave blacks a reason to be proud.”  Their service also gave the 2.5 million black veterans of World War II incentive to believe that they could achieve much more in their communities and the nation.
Sources: 
Matthew C. Whitaker, Race Work: The Rise of Civil Rights in the Urban West  (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005); Lincoln Ragsdale, Sr., interview by Mary Melcher, April 8, 1990, Phoenix.  Tape recording. Arizona Historical Foundation, Hayden Library, Arizona State University, Tempe; Lincoln Ragsdale, Sr. and Eleanor Ragsdale. Interview by Dean E. Smith, April 4 and November 3, 1990, Phoenix. Transcript. Arizona Collection, Hayden Library, Arizona State University, Tempe.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Arizona State University

Hurston, Zora Neale (1891-1960)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Zora Neale Hurston, known for her audacious spirit and sharp wit, was a talented and prolific writer and a skilled anthropologist from the Harlem (New York) Renaissance to the Civil Rights Era. Born on January 7, 1891 in Notasulga, Alabama, she grew up in the all-black town of Eatonville, Florida.  Her idyllic life in this provincial rural town was shattered with the death of her mother when Hurston was fourteen and her father’s unexpected remarriage.  In a few years Hurston was on her own working as a maid.  She settled in Baltimore, Maryland and completed her education at Morgan Academy and Howard University.
Sources: 
Tiffany Ruby Patterson, Zora Neale Hurston and a History of Southern Life (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2005).
Affiliation: 
Vanderbilt University

Herndon, Angelo (1913 - ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Angelo Herndon was the defendant in one of the most publicized and notorious legal cases of the 1930s. In 1932, nineteen-year-old Herndon was arrested under an obscure 19th century servile insurrection law for attempting to organize a peaceful demonstration of unemployed workers in Atlanta. Largely due to the efforts of the Communist Party-affiliated International Labor Defense, the arrest and subsequent trial ignited a firestorm of protest that, alongside the Scottsboro case, helped expose the gross injustice of the southern legal system and introduced African Americans on a broad scale to the militant anti-racism of the Communist Party.  

Herndon was born on May 6, 1913 in Wyoming, Ohio, outside of Cincinnati. As a teenager he migrated to Kentucky and then Alabama in search of employment. It was in Birmingham in 1930 that he was first introduced to the Communist Party. Impressed by the Party's uncompromising avowal of interracial unity, Herndon joined and began working with the local Unemployed Council. In 1931, Herndon briefly worked for the International Labor Defense on its campaign to free the Scottsboro defendants.
Sources: 
Charles H. Martin, The Angelo Herndon Case and Southern Justice (Baton Rouge:  Louisiana State University Press, 1976); Angelo Herndon, Let Me Live (New York:  Random House, 1937).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Brown, Clara (1803–1885)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Clara Brown was a kind-hearted, generous woman whose determination led her on a life-long quest to be reunited with her daughter. Born in Spotsylvania County, Virginia in 1803, her earliest memory was of being sold on the auction block. She grew up in Logan County, Kentucky, married at age 18, and had four children. At age 36 her master, Ambrose Smith, died and her family was sold off to settle his estate. Despite her continued enslavement, Clara Brown vowed to search for her ten-year-old daughter, Eliza Jane.
Sources: 
Tricia Martineau Wagner, African American Women of the Old West (Guilford, Connecticut: The Globe Pequot Press, 2007); Roger Baker, Clara an Ex-Slave in Gold Rush Colorado (Central City, Colorado: Black Hawk Publishing, 2003). 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Lynch, John Roy (1847-1939)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress

John Roy Lynch, congressman, soldier and author was born in Concordia Parish, Louisiana on September 10, 1847 to Patrick Lynch, an Irish immigrant and Catherine White, a slave.  Lynch’s father died soon after his birth.   Lynch and his mother were then traded to a plantation in Natchez, Mississippi.  During the Civil War, Lynch  became free when he fled the plantation and to serve as a cook for the 49th Illinois Volunteer Regiment.

During Reconstruction, Lynch joined the Republican Party in Mississippi.  After working as assistant secretary for the Republican State Convention, Lynch became the Justice of the Peace in Natchez County, Mississippi.  In November 1869 at the age of 22, Lynch was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives.   Three years later, in 1872 he was named Speaker of the House.

Sources: 
Office of History and Preservation, Office of the Clerk, Black Americans in Congress, 1870–2007.  Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2008); John Hope Franklin, ed., Reminiscences of an Active Life: The Autobiography of John Roy Lynch (Chicago, 1970); Website on Black Americans in Congress: John Roy Lynch http://basic.house.gov/member-profiles/profile.html?intID=8
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Moore, Richard Benjamin (1893-1978)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Richard Benjamin Moore, lecturer, author, political activist, and book dealer, was born in Hastings, Christ Church, Barbados, on August 9, 1893.  He was born into a prosperous middle-class family, and attended James J. Lynch’s Middle Class School, a self-defined institution.  His childhood experiences included very few instances of racial discrimination possibly, because of his light complexion. 

Following the death of his father Richard Henry Moore, Moore and his immediate family relocated to the United States on July 4, 1909.  Unknown to the Moore family, Richard Henry Moore had a number of outstanding debts, which upon his death forced their Christ Church home into foreclosure as they faced insolvency.  They became some of the earliest blacks to settle in Harlem, New York, an emerging milieu of social, political, and Black Nationalist activism.

Harlem introduced Moore to the realities of European colonialism in Africa and the Caribbean, as well as the injustices of Jim Crow and lynching in the American South.   By his 22nd birthday Moore became a follower of Socialist and fellow West Indian émigré Hubert Henry Harrison. He became active in the 21st Assembly District Socialist Club in Harlem in 1915. 

Sources: 
Louis J. Parascandola, “Look for Me All Around You,” Anglophone Caribbean Immigrants in the Harlem Renaissance (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2005), pp. 227-29; Linden Lewis, “Richard B. Moore: The Making of A Caribbean Organic Intellectual,” Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 25, No. 5 (May, 1995), pp. 589-609 (Sage Publications, Inc.).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Callioux, Andrew (1820-1863)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Black Louisiana Troops at Port Hudson, 1863
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Andrew Callioux, Captain of the First Louisiana Native Guards Regiment, Union Army, became a hero while leading his troops at the Battle of Port Hudson in 1863. Callioux was born a free man in New Orleans.  A cigar maker with an elite clientele, Callioux was a Catholic creole of color that had attained considerable affluence.  He was also a skilled horseman, boxer and athlete who often boasted that he was “the blackest man in America.” Callioux had received his civil and military education in Paris, which enabled him to speak both English and French fluently. By his 40th birthday Callioux was considered a pillar in the free black community of New Orleans, having earned the respect of both blacks and whites.

When the Civil War began Callioux organized Company E of the First Louisiana Native Guards, a unit of 440 Creoles who became the first black troops to be accepted into service in the Confederate Army.  Callioux received a commission as Captain.  Never used in battle by the Confederates, Company E remained behind when Union forces occupied New Orleans in April 1862.  Within weeks Union General Benjamin F. Butler persuaded Captain Callioux and the First Louisiana Native Guards to join Federal forces. Initially Union commanders, like their Confederate predecessors, used the First Louisiana Native Guards only for garrison duty.  
Sources: 
Robert Ewell Greene, Black Defenders of America, 1775-1973 (Johnson Publishing Company Inc. Chicago: 1974); Benjamin Quarles, The Negro in the Civil War (Little, Brown and Company) Joseph T. Glatthaar, Forged in Battle: The Civil War Alliance of Black Soldiers and White Officers (The Free Press: A Division of Macmillan, Inc. London: 1990)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Jarrett, Valerie (1956- )

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

Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Barack Obama, was born on November 14, 1956. She is a Chicago, Illinois attorney, businesswoman, and community leader most prominently known for her role as one of the three campaign co-chairs of Barack Obama’s historic 2008 presidential campaign. Jarrett also served as co-chairperson of the Obama–Biden transition project.  

Jarrett was born in Iran. Her father, Dr. James Bowman, was the director of a hospital for children in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz.  He later became staff physician at St. Luke’s Hospital in Chicago. Her great grandfather, Robert Robinson Taylor, was the first black person to earn a degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her grandfather, Robert Taylor, was the first African American to head the Chicago Housing Authority.

Sources: 

M.J. Stephey and Claire Suddath, “Valerie Jarrett,” Time Magazine. com, November 11, 2008; John King, “Obama Wants Valerie Jarrett to replace him in Senate,” CNN Politics.com, November 9, 2008; Douglas Belkin, “For Obama, Advice Straight Up: Valerie Jarrett is Essential Member of Inner Set,” Wall Street Journal, May 12, 2008; “Valerie Jarrett Profile,” Forbes.com, August 23, 2008; “Jodi Kanton, The New Team,” The New York Times, November 5, 2008; Liza Mundy, Michelle: A Biography (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Bokassa, Jean-Bédel (1921-1996)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Image courtesy of ©Bettmann-Corbis

Jean-Bédel Bokassa, longtime dictator and military leader of the Central African Republic, was born in Bobangui, Oubangui-Chari, French Equatorial Africa (present-day Central African Republic) on February 22, 1921. Bokassa’s father, a village chief of the Mbaka people, was murdered in November 1927 for refusing to provide labor from his village as required under French colonial rule. A week later, his mother committed suicide and Bokassa, aged 6, became an orphan. Missionnaries took in Bokassa and raised him until he joined the French colonial army in 1939, at the beginning of World War II. He then took part in the 1944 landings in Provence, France, and subsequently served with the French Army in Indochina and Algeria.  A skilled soldier, Bokassa rose to the rank of captain.  He also won the Legion d’Honneur, the highest French military decoration and the Croix de Guerre, which was presented to soldiers who distinguished themselves in combat.

Sources: 
“Bokassa, Jean-Bédel,” in Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., eds.,  Africana: the Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience  (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); “Central African Republic: Nationalism, Independance,” in Kevin Shillington, ed., Encyclopedia of African History (New York: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2005).
Affiliation: 
University of Nantes (France)

Mirambo (ca.1840--1884)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Richard Reid, "Mutesa and Mirambo: Thoughts on East African Warfare and Diplomacy in the Nineteenth Century," The International Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol. 31, No. 1 (Boston University African Studies Center, 1998);"Mirambo," Encyclopedia Britannica Online, 26 May 2009.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Burris, Roland (1937- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

On January 15, 2009 Roland Wallace Burris was sworn in as the U.S. Senator from Illinois.  Burris's appointment made him the third African American U.S. Senator from the state and the sixth black U.S. Senator in the history of the United States.  The appointment, however, was marred by controversy as he was appointed to fill the Senatorial seat of President Barack Obama by Illinois governor Rod R. Blagojevich who had been arrested for allegedly attempting to sell that seat to the highest bidder.  

Sources: 

New York Times.com – Man in the News – Roland W. Burris,
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/31/us/31burris.html?; Politico.com – Who
is Roland Burris? http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid; Time in
Partnership with CNN, Roland Burris,  http://www.time.com/time

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Nevada Las Vegas

Hunton, Addie Waites (1866-1943)

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

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

Alfonso I [King] (?- 1543)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Kingdom of the Kongo, 1711
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bivins, Horace W. (1862-1937)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Horace Waymon Bivins, buffalo soldier, was born on May 8, 1862 in Accomack County, Virginia. His father Severn S. Bivins and his mother Elizabeth Bivins were free black farmers on Virginia's Eastern Shore. His parents taught Bivins to farm and at the age of 15 he was in charge of an 8-horse farm near Keller Station, Virginia.

Bivins, however, yearned for a life away from farming and at 17 he entered Hampton Institute in Virginia where he was first introduced to military training.  In 1887 Bivins joined the U.S. Army as a private. He was ordered to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri and assigned to Troop E, 10th U.S. Cavalry. Bivins was eventually stationed with the regiment at Fort Grant in Arizona Territory. There he took part in the campaign against Geronimo during the final days of the Apache wars in the Southwest.  An expert marksman, Bivins won eight medals and badges given by the War Department in shooting competitions between 1892 and 1894
Sources: 
Irene Schubert and Frank N. Schubert, On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldiers II (Baltimore: Scarecrow Press, Inc, 2004); Ed Kemmick, “Horace W. Bivins, Much-decorated soldier served many …Years of adventure,” 2003, Accessed Dec 7, 2010, http://www.mtstandard.com/news/state-and-regional/article_e3c02099-4d74-50ec-95f3-518bdcf2c240.html; Encyclopedia, Bivins, Horace W.(1862–1937) “Soldier, Joins the Tenth Calvary, Writes about Military Life,” 2010, Accessed Dec 7, 2010, http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/articles/pages/4119/Bivins-Horace-W-1862-1937.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Pratt, Geronimo (1947-2011)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt was a high ranking Black Panther Party (BPP) leader in Los Angeles who was targeted by the United States federal government’s domestic surveillance COINTELPRO program. He was accused and convicted of a murder and spent twenty-seven years in prison but the conviction was later vacated and he was released.

Geronimo Pratt was born on September 13, 1947 in Morgan City, Louisiana and had six siblings. His parents, Jack and Eunice Pratt, earned a living by operating a small scrap metal salvaging business. Geronimo was an exceptional student and played quarterback for the high school football team. In 1965, Pratt joined the army and was sent to Vietnam. He served two tours in Vietnam with distinction, earning two Bronze Stars, a Silver Star, and two Purple Hearts. He was honorably discharged in 1968.
Sources: 
Jack Olsen, Last Man Standing: The Tragedy and Triumph of Geronimo Pratt (New York: Knopf, 2001);
http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-geronimo-pratt-20110603,0,6307630.story
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Juanita Jewel Shanks Craft (1902-1985) and the Long Civil Rights Movement in Texas

Portrait by Judith Sedwick from the Women of
Courage Series, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College,
1984. Courtesy of the Craft Foundation, Dallas Texas
Summary: 
<i>A small but growing number of black women are slowly being recognized for their contributions to the “long” civil rights movement, the nearly century-long struggle by African Americans against all forms of racial discrimination.  In the account below University of Texas-El Paso historian Cecilia Gutierrez Venable describes Juanita Jewel Shanks Craft, one of the most important of these activists in 20th Century Texas history.</i>
Sources: 
Rachel Northington Burrow, “Juanita Craft” (Master’s thesis, Southern Methodist University, 1994); Amilcar Shabazz, Advancing Democracy: African Americans and the Struggle for Access and Equity In Higher Education in Texas (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2004); Robert J. Duncan, "George Francis Porter," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fpo76), accessed October 04, 2013; Dr. W. Marvin Dulaney, “Craft Historic Community Planned Development in the Wheatley Place National Historic District: Dallas,” by the Juanita Craft Foundation, G. Chandler Vaughn, and Bruce Glasrud.
Affiliation: 
University of Texas, El Paso

Joseph, Emmanuel Francis (1900–1979)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Emmanuel Francis (E.F.) Joseph was the first professional African American photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. Born on November 8, 1900 on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, Joseph would later move to the United States and attend the American School of Photography in Chicago, Illinois. After graduation in 1924, Joseph moved to Oakland, California, where he apprenticed in a photography studio.

In the early 1930s, Joseph began his career as a photojournalist. Over his lifetime, he worked for numerous Bay Area newspapers, including the California Voice, The Oakland Post, San Francisco Examiner, and the nationally distributed Pittsburgh Courier from Pennsylvania.  
Sources: 
African American Museum and Library at Oakland, http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/c8930w8p/;  “Careth Reid Saves Black History Photographs from Destruction,” Oakland Post, May 5, 2012, http://content.postnewsgroup.com/author/admin/page/16/; Lincoln Cushing, “Picturing the workers of Kaiser Permanente,” http://kaiserpermanentehistory.org/latest/picturing-the-workers-of-kaiser-permanente/; Tom Debley, “In Memory of Lena Horne and Launch of the SS George Washington Carver Liberty Ship,” http://kaiserpermanentehistory.org/latest/in-memory-of-lena-horne-launch-of-the-ss-george-washington-carver-liberty-ship/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Garnet, Henry Highland (1815-1882)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born into slavery near New Markey, Maryland on December 23, 1815, Henry Highland Garnet escaped from bondage via the Underground Railroad with his parents, George and Henrietta Trusty in 1824. After residing briefly in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the family settled in New York City, New York where George Trusty changed the family name to Garnet. George Garnet found work as a shoemaker and joined the Methodist Episcopal Church. The Garnets lived among other working class families in what would later be called the Lower East Side.
Sources: 
Alexander Crummell, “Eulogium on Henry Highland Garnet, D.D.,” in Africa and America (Springfield, Ma.: Willey and Company, 1891); Martin B. Pasternak, Rise Now and Fly to Arms: The Life of Henry Highland Garnet (New York: Garland Publishing, 1995); www.ancestry.com.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Cotter, Joseph Seamon, Sr. (1861-1949)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 Joseph Seamon Cotter, Sr., the father of poet-playwright Joseph Seamon, Jr., distinguished himself as a playwright, poet, author, and educator. Cotter was born in Bardstown, Kentucky in 1861, but was reared in Louisville. He was one of the earliest African American playwrights to be published. His father, Michael J. Cotter, was of Scots-Irish ancestry, and his mother, Martha Vaughn, was an African American. Cotter, Sr. married Maria F.

Sources: 
Anthony Duane Hill, ed., An Historical Dictionary of African American Theater (Prevessin, France: Scarecrow Press, 2008).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Ohio State University

Dawson, William Levi (1898-1990)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
William Levi Dawson was an African American composer, choir director, and professor specializing in black religious folk music.  He was born on September 26, 1899, in Anniston, Alabama to Eliza Starkey and George Dawson, the first of their seven children.  His father, a former slave, was an illiterate day laborer.  In 1912, Dawson ran away from home to study music full-time as a pre-college student at the Tuskegee Institute (now University) under the tutelage of school president Booker T. Washington.  Dawson paid his tuition by being a music librarian and manual laborer working in the school’s Agricultural Division.  He also participated as a member of Tuskegee’s band and orchestra, composing and traveling extensively with the Tuskegee Singers for five years; he had learned to play most of the instruments by the time he graduated from the high school division in 1921.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Prince, Nancy Gardner (1799-c.1856)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Little is known about the early life of Nancy Gardner Prince, except from what she reveals in her 1853 autobiography, A Narrative of the Life and Travels of Mrs. Nancy Prince.  Prince was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts.  Her father, Thomas Gardner, was a seaman from Nantucket who died when Nancy was just three months old.  Her mother, the daughter of slaves, married several times.  Always on the brink of poverty, the death of Mony Vose, Nancy’s stepfather, was an economic disaster and led to her mother’s emotional breakdown.  Nancy and her six younger siblings picked and sold berries in order to support the family. She then left home to work as a servant for white families.

Nancy Gardner’s life changed dramatically when she married Nero Prince in 1824.  Prince was a founder of the Prince Hall Freemasons in Boston.  They traveled to Russia, where Nero worked as a footman at the court of the czar in St. Petersburg, and Nancy opened a boarding house and made and sold infant clothing.  When the Princes returned to the United States, they settled in Boston, where Nancy started a seamstress business and participated in the activities of the bi-racial Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society.  In 1840 and 1842 she went to Jamaica as a Christian missionary.  Prince often gave public lectures about her travels.
Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992); Bert James Loewenberg and Ruth Bogin, eds., Black Women in Nineteenth Century American Life (Univ. Park: Penn State Univ. Press, 1978); and Australia Tarver Henderson, “Nancy Gardner Prince” in Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, vol. II (New York: Carlson, 1993): 946-47.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Rice, Condoleezza (1954- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Condoleezza Rice has earned distinction as a scholar, expert on international politics, and with her appointments as the first African American woman National Security Advisor and Secretary of State of the United States.

Rice was born on November 14, 1954 in Birmingham, Alabama to John Wesley Rice, Jr., a Presbyterian minister and school counselor and Angelena (Ray) Rice, a public school teacher.  Influenced heavily by her parents, Rice, their only child, showed an exceptional intelligence and scholastic focus at a very early age.  Despite growing up in the black middle-class neighborhood of Titusville in Birmingham, Condoleezza and her family could not escape the “Jim Crow” policies of that city.  Denise McNair, one of four young girls who died in the 16th St. Baptist Church Bombing in September 1963, was Rice’s childhood friend and playmate.  
Sources: 
Antonio Felix, Condi: The Condoleezza Rice Story (New Market Press, New York, NY 2002); http://www.whitehouse.gov.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Hunter, Alberta (1895-1984)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Alberta Hunter was born in Memphis, Tennessee, but left for Chicago, Illinois at age 11 after her father died. She peeled potatoes in a boarding house until she could find a job singing blues, the first opportunity was at a Chicago brothel, as entertainment for the prostitutes and their clients. Hunter was always sure to send part of her money back to Memphis to support her mother.

Hunter gradually worked her way up to Chicago’s prestigious Dreamland Café, singing for King Oliver’s Band for five years. It was at the Dreamland where Hunter was first discovered by talent scouts for Paramount Records in July 1922.  She later recorded for Black Swan, Okeh, and Victor where she established herself as an extraordinary singer and songwriter.
Sources: 
Keith Shadwick, The Encyclopedia of Jazz and Blues (Ann Arbor, Michigan: Quintet Publishing, 2001); http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9041562/Alberta-Hunter
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Church, Robert Reed, Jr. (1885-1952)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of 
Tennessee State University
Robert Reed Church, Jr. was born on October 26, 1885 in Memphis, Tennessee.  He was the youngest son of Robert Church Sr., a prominent African American businessman in the city and his second wife, Anna Wright Church. Like his father, he became an important businessman, political activist, and politician during the 1920s.

Robert Church, Jr. was educated at Morgan Park Military Academy in Illinois. After high school he earned a B.A. from Oberlin College in Ohio and an M.B.A. from the Packard School of Business in New York. He also spent two years working on Wall Street. When he returned to Memphis he managed one of the family businesses, Church Park and Auditorium on Beale Street. Afterwards, he became cashier of the Solvent Savings Bank and Trust Company, a bank founded by his father.  Church became its President upon his father's death in 1912.  Church also presided over the family’s extensive real estate holdings in Memphis.  On July 26, 1911, Robert Church, Jr., married Sara P. Johnson of Washington, D. C. They had one child, Sara Roberta.  
Sources: 
Annette E. Church and Roberta Church, The Robert R. Churches of Memphis: A Father and Son Who Achieved in Spite of Race (Memphis: A. E. Church, 1974); Gloria B. Melton, “Blacks in Memphis, Tennessee, 1920-1955: A Historical Study” (Ph.D. diss., Washington State University, 1982); Lester Lamon, Black Tennesseans, 1900-1930 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1977); The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/; Shirelle Phelps, ed., Contemporary Black Biography, various volumes. (Detroit: Gale Research, 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Fauntroy, Walter E. (1933- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the U.S. House of
Representatives Photography Office
Reverend Walter E. Fauntroy, pastor, Congressional representative, and civil rights activist, was born in Washington, D.C., on February, 6, 1933. The son of Ethel Vines Fauntroy and William Thomas Fauntroy, who worked in the U.S. Patent Office, Walter Fauntroy graduated from Dunbar High School in 1952. He earned a B.A. degree in History from Virginia Union University in 1955 and then a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Yale University Divinity School in 1958. While at Yale, Fauntroy married Dorothy Simms on August 3, 1957. They have two children, Marvin Keith and Melissa Alice. Also during this time, Fauntroy met fellow theological students Martin Luther King Jr. and Wyatt Tee Walker. 

In 1959, Fauntroy became pastor of the New Bethel Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., succeeding his mentor, Reverend Charles David Foster, who had just passed away. The following year Martin Luther King and Wyatt Tee Walker asked him to become the District of Columbia (DC) branch director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).  Fauntroy accepted and became the civil rights organization’s lobbyist in Congress until 1970.
Sources: 

Bruce A. Ragsdale & Joel D. Treese, Black Americans In Congress 1870-1989 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1990); Walter Fauntroy Home Page, http://www.walterfauntroy.com/curriculumvitae.html; Raymond Pierre Hylton,  "Fauntroy, Walter Edward" in African American National Biography edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Oxford African American Studies Center, http://www.oxfordaasc.com.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/article/opr/t0001/e1070
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Coston, Julia Ringwood (?- ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare
Books Division, Schomburg Center for Research in
Black Culture, The New York Public Library,
Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.
 

The date of birth for Julia Ringwood Coston, one of the first black women to edit a magazine, is unknown. We do know that she was named after Ringwood farm in Warrenton, Virginia, where she was born. While she was still an infant, Ringwood moved to Washington D.C. with her family and attended public schools there. She had almost completed school when her mother died and she was forced to withdraw.

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

Moses, Ethel (c. 1908- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Actress and dancer Ethel Moses, who became a leading lady in silent and sound black films, was the daughter of well-known New York Baptist Minister W.H. Moses.  She began her show business career as a dancer in 1924, when she was cast with internationally-renowned entertainer Florence Mills in Dixie to Broadway. From 1928 to 1933, she along with her sisters, Julia and Lucia Lynn, performed as part of the Cotton Club Girls chorus line. In between performing at the Cotton Club, Moses appeared in Blackbirds (1926) and the Broadway Revival of Show Boat (1927).

Wanting to diversify her career in show business and inspired by her sister Lucia Lynn (who received short-lived acclaim for her performance in the 1927 silent film, The Scar of Shame) Moses delved into world of race films, first appearing in Oscar Micheaux’s 1935 crime drama Temptation. In 1936, Moses married Cab Calloway’s pianist Bennie Payne and continued to perform in nightclubs throughout Harlem, New York where her alluring features and enterprising personality made her one of Harlem’s most notable entertainers of her time. Moses was a fixture and sex symbol in a variety of Micheaux’s films during the late 1930s, appearing in Underworld (1937), God’s Stepchildren (1939), and Birthright (1939).

Yet, as the making of all-black cast independent films faded, Moses’ film career ended. By the beginning of the 1950s, she had retired and remarried, this time to Frank Ryan, a factory worker.  The couple settled away from the limelight in Jamaica, Long Island.

Sources: 

Edward Mapp, Directory of Blacks in the Performing Arts, (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1978); Anonymous, “Cotton Club Girls,” Ebony, April 1949, Vo. 4, No. 6; Anonymous, “Parsons Pretty Daughter Chooses Stage Career,” The Pittsburgh Courier, October 4, 1924.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Keppard, Freddie (1890–1933)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Pioneer jazz musician Freddie Keppard was one of the most famous cornet players of the early 20th Century.  Born February 27, 1890 in New Orleans, Keppard came from a musical family which included his brother Louis Keppard, who also became a professional musician playing the piano and tuba. Freddie Keppard began his musical career with the mandolin, followed by the violin, accordion, and finally finding his passion with the cornet.  At the age of 16 he organized the Olympia Orchestra to showcase his talents and perform throughout New Orleans. 

Keppard became part of the migration of Creole jazz musicians to the West Coast in the first two decades of the 20th Century.  After traveling to Los Angeles, he founded the Original Creole Orchestra in 1912.  The Orchestra introduced New Orleans jazz to a wider audience and quickly became one of the most popular acts on the West Coast.  By 1919 it had a following in large cities across the United States.  As his popularity rose, the Victor Talking Machine Company eventually offered Keppard the chance to be one of the first to record the new jazz sound. Keppard refused the recording offer saying he was fearful people would “steal his stuff.”   

Sources: 
David Dicaire, Jazz Musicians of the Early Years, to 1945 (North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc., 2003); Eileen Southern, Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African American Musicians (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1983); http://www.redhotjazz.com/keppard.html (Accessed November 20, 2009).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

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

Mandela, Winnie Madikizela- (1936- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Nelson and Winnie Mandela at Their Wedding, 1957
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Winnie Mandela is the former wife of South African President Nelson Mandela and former leader of the African National Congress (ANC) Women’s League. Born in the village of eMbongweni in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province in 1936, Mandela travelled throughout South Africa during her youth and managed to attend school despite strict apartheid measures. She earned a degree in social work from the Jan Hofmeyer School in Johannesburg, and despite the opportunity to continue her studies in America, accepted a position as a social worker at the Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg, where she was the first qualified black medical social worker. She eventually studied at the University of Witwatersrand, and earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations.

Sources: 
Anné Mariè du Preez Bezdrob, Winnie Mandela: A Life (Cape Town: Zebra Press, 2003); http://www.sahistory.org.za/people/winnie-madikizela-mandela.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Quarterman, Lloyd Albert (1918-1982)

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

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

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

Lloyd A. Barbee (1925-2002)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Attorney Lloyd Augustus Barbee was born August 17, 1925 in Memphis, Tennessee.  He was the youngest of three brothers from Ernest A. Barbee and Adelina Jenkins, both from Mississippi.  Barbee attended LeMoyne College in Memphis and later went to law school at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he met his wife, Roudaba Bunting.  They married in 1954 and later divorced in 1959.  He graduated from Law School in 1956.   While in law school, he became President of Madison NAACP branch, where he fought for fair housing and led protests against racism. After obtaining his law degree, he worked as an attorney for the Wisconsin State Department of Labor. He later entered private practice and sued the State of Wisconsin for discrimination in housing.  In 1964, he successfully won the first housing discrimination case before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Gregory III v. Madison Mobile Homes Park.  
Sources: 
Private documents, films and notes, Lloyd A. Barbee Trust; Jack Dougherty, More than One Struggle: The Evolution of Black School Reform in Milwaukee (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004); “Lloyd A. Barbee Fighting Segregation Root and Branch,” Wisconsin Lawyer 77:4 (November 1968).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Holloway, Anne Forrester (1941- 2006)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Anne Forrester Holloway was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Mali on November 6, 1979 by President Jimmy Carter. She was the first African American woman to hold that post.  

Forrester was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 2, 1941.  She attended public schools in Philadelphia but then transferred to a predominantly white school, Northfield Mount Hermon School, in Gill, Massachusetts, graduating June 1959.  She graduated from Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont in 1963 and later received her master’s degree in African Studies at Howard University in 1968. Ms. Forrester’s doctoral work culminated with a 1975 degree from the Union Institute & University in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Sources: 
"Anne Forrester, Ambassador to Mali" (2006, July 3), retrieved January 10, 2015, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/02/AR2006070200695.html; U.S. State Department, Office of the Historian, http://history.state.gov/departmenthistory/people/holloway-anne-forrester.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Bishop, Clyde (1942- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Clyde Bishop is a diplomat and public policy educator who served as a United States Ambassador to the Marshall Islands. A native of Wilmington, Delaware, Bishop holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Delaware State University (1964), a master’s degree in Sociology (1972) and a Ph.D. in Public Policy Analysis (1976) from the University of Delaware. He is also fluent in Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Prior to his career in U.S. Foreign Service, Bishop worked in higher education as the director of Urban Studies at Southern Illinois University where he served from 1974 to 1977 until he returned to Delaware State College (now University) as the Chairperson for the Department of Sociology and Urban Affairs from 1977 to 1980.

Bishop joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1981 and received his first post in Palermo, Italy, where he served as a Consular Economic Officer. He then held the post of Principal Officer in the consulate in Naples, Italy. His other assignments included consular postings in Bombay (Mumbai), India, Hong Kong, China, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Seoul, South Korea.
Sources: 
“U.S. Nuclear Compensation to RMI Inadequate: Yet far exceeds French Offer,” Pacific Island Report: Pacific Island Development Programs/East-West Center, March 27, 2009, http://pidp.eastwestcenter.org/pireport/2009/March/03-27-25.htm; Marco Marales, “U.S. Ambassador gives views on Kwajalein Transition, Relations with Marshall Islands,” The Eagle 15, no. 3 (March 2008); “Ambassador Clyde Bishop,” U.S. State Department Archives, December 5, 2006, http://2001-2009.state.gov/r/pa/ei/biog/8153.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Maryland-Baltimore County

Albrier, Frances Mary (1898-1987)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
In 1938 Frances Mary Albrier became the first woman elected to the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee.  She also founded the East Bay Women’s Welfare Club whose goal was to get black teachers hired in the Berkeley schools.  This campaign saw success with the hiring of Ruth Acty in 1943.   Albrier’s political involvement was driven by the reality that African Americans were “taxpayers without any representation in the city government or the schools of Berkeley.  That was the message I wanted to get over to them.”   In 1942 Frances Mary Albrier challenged racial and gender barriers in wartime Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond.  She completed a welding course with twice the required hours because “I felt I had to be better because I was a black woman,” passed the welder’s test “with flying colors,” but her application was rejected by the Boilermakers Union in the shipyards because Kaiser “had not yet set up an auxiliary [union] for Negroes.”  Bowing to Albrier’s threat of a lawsuit and pressure from the African American community, the Richmond union agreed to accept her dues and transfer them to an auxiliary in an Oakland shipyard.  
Sources: 
Shirley Ann Wilson Moore, To Place Our Deeds: The African American Community in Richmond, California, 1910-1963, (Berkeley: University of California Press: 2000).
Affiliation: 
California State University, Sacramento

Wilkins, J. Ernest, Jr. (1923-2011)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the University of Chicago

Jesse Ernest Wilkins, Jr. is often described as one of America’s most important contemporary mathematicians. At 13, he became the University of Chicago’s youngest student. Wilkins continued his studies there, earning bachelor, master, and doctorate degrees in mathematics. When he finished his Ph.D. at 19, he was hailed by the national press as a “negro genius.”

Wilkins was born in Chicago, Illinois on November 27, 1923 to Lucile Beatrice Robinson Wilkins who held a master's degree and taught in the Chicago Public School system.  His father, J. Ernest Wilkins, a prominent attorney, was assistant Secretary of Labor during the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration. 

After completing his Ph.D., Wilkins taught mathematics for one year at Tuskegee Institute (1943-1944) before being recruited to work at the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago where he contributed to the Manhattan Project.  Wilkins worked there between 1944 and 1946.

Sources: 
Nkechi Agwu and Asamoah Nkwanta, “Dr J Ernest Wilkins, Jr.: The Man and His Works (Mathematician, Physicist and Engineer)” in Nathaniel Dean, ed., African Americans in Mathematics (Providence, RI: American Mathematical Society, 1997), 195-205; J.J. O’Connor, and E. F. Robertson. “Jesse Ernest Wilkins, Jr.” The MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive April 2002. University of St. Andrews, Scotland. 11 July 2006. http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/Wilkins_Ernest.html; Johnny L. Houston, “Jesse Wilkins.” National Association of Mathematicians Newsletter: Fall Issue, 1994. http://www.maa.org/programs/underrepresented-groups/summa/summa-archival-record/j-ernest-wilkins.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Wallace, Sippie (1898–1986)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
 Beulah “Sippie” Thomas Wallace sang and recorded her best work for Okeh Records between 1923 and 1927 when she was the most frequently recorded female blues singer in the country. Not only did she have a unique style and sound, Wallace wrote many of her songs, sometimes collaborating with her musical partners and brothers George and Hersal. Additionally, she played the piano.
Sources: 
David Dicaire, Blues Singers: Biographies of 50 Legendary Artists of the Early 20th Century (Jefferson, North Carolina, McFarland & Company, Inc., 1999); http:/www.redhotjazz.com/wallace.html; http:/www.southernmusic.net/sippiewallace.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Keyes, Alan L. (1950- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
A controversial and conservative Republican, Alan Lee Keyes has perhaps one of the most extensive resumes to date in public and political life.

His positions and appointments include but are not limited to: U.S. Department of State Foreign Service Officer of the consular office in Bombay, India from 1979-1980; desk officer in Zimbabwe from 1980-1981 and then policy planning staff, 1981-83; U.S. representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UNESCO) from 1983 to 1985; assistant secretary of state for International Organization Affairs from 1985 to 1988; Republican nominee for U.S. Senate from Maryland in 1988 and in 1992; President of Citizens Against Government Waste from 1989-1991; Interim President for Alabama A&M University in 1991, and host of nationally syndicated "America's Wake-Up Call" show.  Alan Keyes launched candidacies for President of the United States in 1996 and in 2000.

Born in Long Island, New York, Keyes attended Cornell University and then Harvard University where he earned a B.A. in Government Studies in 1972 and his doctoral degree in 1979.
Sources: 
Sources: Alton Hornsby Jr. and Angela M. Hornsby, From the Grassroots: Profiles of Contemporary African American Leaders (Montgomery, Alabama: E-Book Time LLC, 2006); www.answers.com
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Burke, Selma Hortense (1900-1995)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Laurie Collier Hillstrom and Kevin Hillstrom, eds., Contemporary Women Artists (Detroit: St. James Press, 1999); Charlotte Striefer Rubinstein, American Women Sculptors: A History of Women Working in Three Dimensions (Boston: G. K. Hall & Company, 1990); http://www.liu.edu/cwis/cwp/library/aavaahp.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Robinson, Samuel L. (1896-1964?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

(Image Courtesy of Chartles Kastner)
Samuel L. Robinson was born in Kansas in 1896. He arrived in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in his teens, where he attended the city's integrated high school.  He joined the school's football team and became a close friend of the team captain and the future sports editor of the Press-Union newspaper, Lou Greenberg.  After serving in World War I, Robinson came home to Atlantic City and fought as a professional boxer.  He earned his nickname "Smiling Sammy" because of his seemingly perpetual good mood.  He was deeply religious, preaching an ethos of hard work and faith in God to anyone who would listen.

In 1928, Robinson entered the first footrace across America, run from Los Angeles to New York City in eighty-four days.  The press nicknamed the race a "bunion derby." Sammy had no experience as a distance runner, but he was a superbly trained and gifted athlete.  His old friend Lou Greenberg gave him a check for three hundred dollars for training expenses and the promise of fifty dollars for each state he crossed.  Robinson joined four African Americans who entered the race out of a field of 199 "bunioneers."
Sources: 
Charles B. Kastner, Bunion Derby:  The First Footrace Across America (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2007); "10,000 Roar Welcome to Smiling Sammy," Afro-American, 2 June 1928; "Bunion Runners Disrupt Lincoln County Track Meet," Black Dispatch, 19 Apr. 1928.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Johnson, Henry C. “Hank” Jr. (1954- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Henry “Hank” Johnson Jr. represents Georgia’s Fourth Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. The district includes DeKalb County, where Johnson has lived and worked for the past several decades, as well as parts of Gwinnett and Rockdale Counties. Johnson is a Democrat, and one of the first two Buddhists elected to the United States Congress.

Johnson was born in Washington, D.C. in 1954. His father worked for the Bureau of Prisons, where his position as director of classifications and paroles was the highest ever held in the Bureau by an African American up to that time.  Johnson received his undergraduate degree from Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University) in 1976 and his law degree from Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law in 1979.

Sources: 
“Congressman Hank Johnson–About Hank,” http://hankjohnson.house.gov/about_hank.shtml; “Hank Johnson for Congress--About Hank” http://www.hankforcongress.com/about.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Moore, Frederick Randolph (1857-1943)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Frederick Randolph Moore, a political activist and journalist, was born in 1857 to his slave mother and white father in Virginia. While Moore was still very young, the family moved to Washington, D.C., where Moore attended public schools and to make money, sold newspapers on street corners.

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

Kenyatta, Jomo (c. 1894-1978)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Jomo Kenyatta and Thurgood Marshall

Elected in 1963 and named president in 1964, Jomo Kenyatta was the first president of Kenya and is still today often referred to as mzee (the Father of the Nation).

Kenyatta was born under the name Kamau to Kikuyu parents in the town of Gatundu, Kiambu district around 1894 (the exact date of his birth is unknown). His parents died while he was young, and he then moved to Muthiga to live with his grandfather where he enrolled in the Church of Scotland’s Thogoto mission school, converted to Christianity, and was baptized as Johnstone.

Kenyatta left Thogoto in 1922 and became a clerk and water-meter reader with the Municipal Court of Nairobi. He became involved with the Kikuyu Central Association (KCA) in 1925 and resigned from his government post that same year. In 1928 Kenyatta became secretary general of the KCA and editor of its vernacular Kikuyu newspaper, Muiguithania (The Reconciler).

Sources: 

Keith Kyle, The Politics of the Independence of Kenya (Houndmills: MacMillan Press Ltd., 1999); Godrey Muriuki, “Kenya: Kenyatta, Jomo: Life and Government of,” in Encyclopedia of African History, ed. Kevin Shillington (New York: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2005).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Peterson, Lieutenant General Frank E., Jr. (1932- )

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

Lieutenant General Frank E. Peterson 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 Peterson joined the Navy as an electronics technician in 1952. Motivated by the story of Jesse Brown, the Army aviator who was shot down and killed over North Korea, Peterson applied for and was accepted into the Naval Aviation Cadet Corps. In 1952 Peterson 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

Ortuno, Edgardo (1970- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Edgardo Ortuno, Afro-Uruguayan professor, politician, and activist for human rights and equal opportunities, was born on June 10, 1970 in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo. Ortuno’s childhood experiences had a profound impact on his adult life. Growing up as an Afro-Uruguayan in a country where only four percent of the population were of African descent, Ortuno developed a keen sense of racial pride and a fierce opposition to discrimination of any kind. Moreover, his experience growing up under the military dictatorship of Juan M. Bordaberry, which crushed democracy and open political debate in Uruguay, instilled in Ortuno a belief in freedom of expression and equality.

As a young man Ortuno was initially drawn to academia and in the years 1990-1991 he held the position of research assistant at the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Uruguay. Between the years 1990 and 1993 Ortuno also worked in the Center of Students of the Institute of Professors in Artigas, Uruguay (CEIP). Throughout this period he involved himself in studies of history, literature, education, and social sciences.
Sources: 
Edgardo Ortuno website: http://www.eortuno.depolitica.com.uy; UNHRC Refworld website: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/country (UNHRC: UN Refugee Agency, 2010); Koichiro Matsuura, Address by Koichiro Matsuura: Afro-Uruguayan cultural traditions and history within the context of the Coalition of Latin American and Caribbean Cities against Racism, Discrimination and Xenophobia (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, April 2009).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sussex (England)

Bolden Jr., Charles F. (1946-)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of NASA
Charles Frank Bolden, Jr., NASA’s first permanent black administrator, was born to Charles Frank and Ethel Bolden, both teachers, on August 19th, 1946 in Columbia, South Carolina.  He rose to the rank of Major General in the United States Marine Corps and was a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut before being named to head the U.S. space agency.

Bolden graduated from C.A. Johnson High School in Columbia, S.C. in 1964.  In 1968, he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Science from the United States Naval Academy.  He completed a Master’s degree in Systems Management from the University of Southern California in 1977.

After completing his undergraduate studies at the United States Naval Academy, Bolden accepted a commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.  After completing his flight training, he became a Naval Aviator in May of 1970.  From 1972 to 1973, Bolden flew more than 100 flights into North and South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia while assigned at the Royal Thai Air Base Nam Phong, Thailand.

Upon returning to the United States in 1973, Bolden held various Marine Corps assignments at the Marine Corps Air Stations in Los Angeles and El Toro, California.  In 1979, Bolden graduated from the United States Naval Test Pilot School and was then assigned to the Naval Air Test Center’s System’s Engineering and Strike Aircraft Test Directorates.  
Sources: 
Carol S. Bostch, "Charles F. Bolden Jr." University of Southern California, Dec. 23, 2009.http://www.usca.edu/aasc/Charles%20Bolden.htm ; "Charles F. Bolden Jr." Times Topics. The New York Times, 26 May 2009; http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/b/charles_f_bolden_jr/index.html; NASA - Charles F. Bolden, Jr., NASA Administrator (July 17, 2009 - Present)." NASA – Home. http://www.nasa.gov/about/highlights/bolden_bio.html.
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

Jenkins, Harold “Slim” (1890-1967)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Harold Jenkins was an African American entrepreneur and owner of the renowned Slim Jenkins Supper Club in Oakland, California, made popular during the 1930s to 1960s.  Jenkins was born July 22, 1890 in Monroe, Louisiana and relocated to Oakland shortly after World War I, and found work as a waiter. 

Oakland served as an urban center for African Americans migrating from the South and black businesses flourished along Seventh Street, Oakland’s black business district.  Slim Jenkins saw the economic opportunity in the business district and opened the city’s first liquor store December 5, 1933, the same day as the repeal of Prohibition. 
Sources: 
Donna Jean Murch, Living for the City: Migration, Education and the Rise of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010); Justin Goldman, “7th Street Blues,” Diablo Magazine, http://www.diablomag.com/June-2007/7th-Street-Blues/; Lee Hillenbrand, “Blues on Seventh Street,” The Monthly, http://www.themonthly.com/upfront1302.html; Online Archive of California, “Guide to the Harold Jenkins Photograph Collection” http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/c8xd12f2/.
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Cruz Escalante, Ericka Yadira (1981- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Ericka Yadira Cruz Escalante became the first Miss Mexico of African descent. With that victory she completed in the Miss Universe pageant in Roberto Clemente Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2002. Cruz was born in Mérida, Yucatán, México, on November 16, 1981 to parents Yadira Maria Escalante and Martin Cruz Alain Sena. She has two brothers, Martin and Glorevy. Currently, she is married with two children.

Cruz had an unusual background for a successful beauty contestant.  She was a widely recognized athlete before she was a beauty queen. She represented her home state of Yucatán in various sports competitions and has held the state long jump record since 1995.  In 1997 Cruz won a bronze medal in the Central American Games in San Salvador, El Salvador, also for the long jump, and for the 4x100 relay.
Sources: 
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

Blackwell, Robert “Bumps” (1918-1985)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Bumps Blackwell with Quincy Jones
on Trumpet
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Robert "Bumps" Blackwell was a musician, producer and composer who worked with the top names in early jazz and rock and roll.  Blackwell was born in Seattle on May 23, 1918.  By the late 1940s his Seattle-based "Bumps Blackwell Junior Band" featured Ray Charles and Quincy Jones, and played with artists like Billie Holiday, Cab Calloway and Billy Eckstine. He moved to Los Angeles in the early 1950s and hired on with Art Rupe's Specialty Records.

In 1955, Blackwell flew to New Orleans to record Little Richard (Richard Penniman), a singer who they hoped would become the next Nat King Cole. During a break in the tepid recording session everybody headed to a nearby bar where Mr. Penniman started banging out an obscene club song on the piano. "Daddy Bumps" knew he had a hit so he brought in a local songwriter to clean up the lyrics. "Tutti-Frutti, good booty" became "Tutti Frutti, all rootie," and Little Richard became a star. Bumps wrote or co-wrote other early rock hits including "Good Golly Miss Molly," "Long Tall Sally," and "Rip It Up."
Sources: 
Paul de Barros, Jackson Street After Hours: The Roots of Jazz in Seattle (Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 1993); http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:cr5j8qmtbt04~T1
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Tandy, Charleton (1836-1919)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Charleton Tandy was born in Kentucky in 1836 to parents who were free only because his grandparents had purchased the family’s freedom three years before his birth.  Throughout his childhood, Tandy’s family worked to free slaves through the Underground Railroad, and as a young man, Tandy often led slaves on the route from Covington, Kentucky, to freedom in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Tandy moved to St. Louis in 1857 and worked a series of jobs until the Civil War began, when he became post messenger at Jefferson Barracks.  The war proved good for Tandy’s standing, as he rose from state militia volunteer to captain of “Tandy’s St. Louis Guard,” an African American state militia that he recruited; he carried the honorific “Captain” for the rest of his life.  
His service earned Tandy the notice of several political leaders, and Tandy was able to turn his connections into patronage jobs.  His positions ranged from U.S. land agent and deputy U.S. Marshal in New Mexico and Oklahoma to Custodian of Records at the St. Louis courthouse.  At heart, Tandy was a civil rights activist.  Throughout his life he worked on local issues of interest to Missouri African Americans, including fighting school and transportation segregation.    
Sources: 
Bryan M. Jack, “Bridging the Red Sea:  The Saint Louis African American Community and the Exodusters of 1879” (Ph.D. diss., Saint Louis University, 2004); The Charleton Tandy Papers at the Western Manuscript Historical Collection (University of Missouri at St. Louis); John A. Wright, No Crystal Stair: The Story of Thirteen Afro-Americans Who Once Called St. Louis Home (Florissant, MO:  Ferguson-Florissant School District, 1988).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Winston-Salem State University

Mortimer, Jack (1700's)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Jack and his wife Sophy were enslaved in Middletown, Connecticut to Philip Mortimer (1710-1794), a wealthy Irish businessman.  Philip Mortimer freed them in his will, but his son-in-law, George Starr, contested and succeeded in overturning the will.  Mortimer’s will also intended to give Jack and Sophy the use of one and three-quarters acres of land that, upon their deaths, was to be divided between their three sons, Lester, Dick, and John. The three boys were ordered to be kept in school until the age of fourteen, then apprenticed as house joiners until the age of twenty-one, when they were to be freed.  In a codicil to his will, Mortimer also left Jack, Sophy, and their sons some kettles and a fishing place in Chatham.

Jack Mortimer’s rage against George Starr for overturning Philip Mortimer’s will in 1796 was immense. Although by 1810 he had gained his freedom, in December 1811 he was accused of “maliciously intending to poison & murder George Starr.”  The prosecutor alleged that Jack “did unlawfully & wickedly, solicit, instigate, advise, persuade, & procure Prince [Mortimer]. . . to give & administer a quantity of Arsenic or Ratsbane” to Starr. The case against Jack was inexplicably dropped, but eleven years later, in 1822, he was convicted of arson for burning to the ground a house belonging to Starr’s daughter. Jack was then sentenced to five years imprisonment in Newgate, the first state prison in the United States.
Sources: 
Denis R Caron, A Century in Captivity: The Life and Trials of Prince Mortimer, a Connecticut Slave (Hanover, New Hampshire: University Press of New England, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
State University of New York at Buffalo

Capitein, Jacobus Elisa Johannes (1717?-1747)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Engraving of Jacobus Capitein
Image Ownership: Public Domain
As one of the first known sub-Saharan Africans to study at a European university, the freed slave Jacobus Capitein became a celebrity in Holland for his academic and religious achievements and later returned to his homeland to evangelize the indigenous population. Capitein was born on the Gold Cost but his exact place and date of birth are unknown. According to his own account, he was kidnapped from his parents at the age of seven or eight and sold to Dutch sea-captain named Arnold Steenhard who gave him as a present to his friend the merchant Jacob van Gogh. Capitein lived with his master for two years in the Dutch Fort of Elmina in Ghana before leaving with him for Holland in 1728.
Sources: 
Allison Blakely, Blacks in the Dutch World: The Evolution of Racial Imagery in a Modern Society (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1993); David Nii Anum Kpobi, Mission in Chains: The Life, Theology and Ministry of the Ex-Slave Jacobus E.J. Capitein (1717-1747) with a Translation of his Major Publications (Zoetermeer: Uitgeverij Boekencentrum, 1993); William J. Simmons, Men of Mark: Eminent, Progressive and Rising (New York: Arno Press, 1968).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Augsburg

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

Davis, Sammy, Jr. (1925-1990)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

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

Sammy Davis Jr. was born on December 8, 1925 in Harlem, New York. His parents, Sammy Davis Sr., an African American, and Elvera Sanchez, a Cuban American, were both vaudeville dancers.  They separated when young Davis was three years old and his father took him on tour with a dance troupe led by Will Mastin. Davis joined the act at a young age and they became known as the Will Mastin Trio. It was with this trio that Davis began a lucrative career as a dancer, singer, comedian, actor, and a multi-instrumentalist.

During World War II Davis joined the army, where he for the first time confronted racial prejudice. In the service he joined an integrated entertainment Special Services unit, and found that while performing the crowd often forgot the color of the man on stage.

Sources: 
Sammy Davis Jr., Jane Boyar, and Burt Boyar, Yes I Can (Toronto: Ambassador Books, Ltd, 1965); Gary Fishgall, Gonna Do Great Things: The Life of Sammy Davis Jr. (New York: A Lisa Drew Book, 2003); Will Haygood, In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis Jr. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Bond, Horace Julian (1940- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Julian Bond at the Georgia State Legislature,
January 10, 1966
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Horace Julian Bond is a scholar, poet, former legislator and activist in the American Civil Rights Movement.  Julian Bond as he came to be known, was born on January 14, 1940, in Nashville, Tennessee to Julia Washington Bond and Horace Mann Bond an educator who served as the first African American president of Lincoln University and as dean of the School of Education at Atlanta University.  Bond has been married twice, first to Alice Copland (1961) and to Pamela Horowitz (1990).  He has five children.
Sources: 
Clayborne Carson, In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995); John Neary, Julian Bond: Black Rebel (New York: Morrow, 1971), Roger M. Williams, The Bonds: An American Family (New York: Atheneum, 1971).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Tacoma

Jones, Elaine R. (1944- )

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

Elaine Jones, the first woman to administer the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense and Education Fund (NAACP-LDF), was born in Norfolk, Virginia on March 2, 1944, the daughter of a railroad porter and a school teacher. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1965 and a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1970, becoming the first African American to graduate from that school.

After graduation Jones turned down a job offer with a Wall Street (New York) law firm to join the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, earning thirty percent less than she had been offered by the other firm. The LDF was founded in 1940 by Jones’s mentor and former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall to provide legal assistance to the nation’s Civil Rights Movement. It became independent of the NAACP in 1957.

Sources: 

Alton Hornsby, Jr. and Angela M. Hornsby-Gutting, From the Grassroots: Profiles of Contemporary African American Leaders (Montgomery: E-BookTime LLC, 2006).

Contributor: 

De Porres, Martin (1579-1639)

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

Born December 9, 1579 in Lima, Peru, St. Martin de Porres is best known for his charitable work.  His piety allowed him access to the Dominican order of his country, and his acts of compassion for the sick became part of the justification for his canonization as the first black saint of the Americas.

Fathered by a Spaniard of noble birth, Don Juan de Porres, and born of an emancipated American black slave living in Panama, Anna Velasquez, Martin de Porres’ fair-mindedness and empathy became discernible traits at an early age.

Educated for a time in Santiago de Guayaquil, de Porres returned to Lima and by 1591 had become an apprentice to a surgeon/barber.  Upon gaining knowledge of medicine, de Porres began applying his skills in healing the sick and infirmed.  His work with the underclasses of Lima culminated with his decision to apply as a helper to the Convent of the Most Holy Rosary, a Dominican community.  Because of his racial background, he wasn’t immediately offered the holy habit but was promoted to distributing alms, attracting large sums of donations to support his work in a Dominican infirmary. It was here where de Porres’ reputation as a “miracle healer” began.  

Sources: 

J. W. Seabrook, “Review of Meet Brother Martin!” The Journal of Negro History, 26:4 (October, 1941); Gayle Murchison, “Mary Lou Williams’s Hymn Black Christ of the Andes (St Martin de Porres):  Vatican II, Civil Rights, and Jazz as Sacred Music,” The Musical Quarterly, 86:4 (2002).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Boateng, Paul Yaw (1951- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born to a Ghanaian father and a Scottish mother in Hackney, London, Paul Yaw Boateng became one of the first black British Members of Parliament in the general election of 1987. In 2002 he became the first Afro-Briton to serve in the Prime Minister's Cabinet.  The family moved to Ghana when Boateng was still a young boy, where his father, Kwaku Boateng, worked as a barrister and parliamentary cabinet minister. In 1966, the military coup in Ghana forced Eleanor Boateng, a Quaker, the 14 year old Boateng, and his sister, Rosemary, to return to England where they settled in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.

Boateng continued his education at Apsley grammar school before pursuing a degree in Law at Bristol University. After graduating, Boateng trained to be a solicitor, devoting much energy to housing, police and women’s issues, and later became a lawyer specialising in civil rights. These beliefs he exercised at a variety of political protests in the late 1970s, and early 1980s.
Sources: 
The Times Newspaper, Profile: Paul Boateng (The Sunday Times, 16th November, 2008); Encyclopaedia Britannica, Paul Boateng (Available online at: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/972767/Paul-Boateng); http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/paul_boateng/brent_south.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Bath, England

Sutton, Percy (1920-2009)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Percy Sutton, attorney, politician, civil rights activist, and businessman, was born on November 24, 1920 in San Antonio, Texas to school teachers Samuel and Lillian Sutton.  Percy Sutton attended Prairie View A&M University, Tuskegee Institute, and Hampton Institute.  In 1942 Sutton joined the military.  He became a skilled World War II pilot, serving as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen.  He also earned combat medals as an intelligence officer.

In 1950 Sutton earned a law degree from Brooklyn College Law School.  He returned to the military during the Korean War, but after his honorable discharge at the end of the conflict in 1953 he opened a law firm in New York City's Harlem district.  During the peak of the civil rights movement, Sutton became a nationally recognized civil rights attorney representing political activists such as Malcolm X.

Sutton also entered the political scene in the 1960s.  He became a leader in the Harlem Clubhouse, a political group that controlled Democratic politics in Harlem.  Soon after joining he formed a powerful alliance with other black politicians including future New York City mayor David Dinkins, Congressman Charles Rangel, and Basil Paterson who eventually served as the first black Secretary of State for New York and whose son, David Paterson, became the state's first black governor in 2008.
Sources: 
Peter Goldman, The Life and Death of Malcolm X (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1979); Notable Black American Men (Detroit: Gale, 1998); Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News, June 18, 1996; March 15, 2003; New York Times, August 5, 1997; May 11, 1998; August 16, 2002, p. B3.

 

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

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

Sewell, Terri (1965- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the U.S. 
House of Representatives
Terryinca “Terri” Sewell, the current U.S. Representative for Alabama’s 7th district, was born January 1, 1965 in Huntsville, Alabama to Andrew and Nancy Sewell. Sewell grew up in Selma, Alabama where both of her parents were employed by the local school district. Her father, Andrew, was a high school math teacher and football coach, and her mother, Nancy, a librarian. Nancy Gardner Sewell was also the first black woman elected to the Selma city council.

Terri Sewell, who graduated from Selma High School in 1983, was the first black valedictorian in the school’s history.  She was also the first graduate of Selma High School to attend an Ivy League school.  After graduation Sewell attended Princeton University where she studied political science and graduated cum laude in 1986. While at Princeton Sewell wrote an award winning thesis titled “Black Women in Politics: Our Time Has Come,” for which she interviewed former Rep. Shirley Chisholm, the first African American congresswoman. Upon graduation Sewell was awarded the Marshall/Commonwealth Scholarship to study political science at Oxford University in England. Sewell received her Master’s degree from Oxford in 1988 with first-class honors. In 1992 Sewell graduated from the Harvard Law School. During her time at Harvard Sewell worked as the editor of the Civil Rights Civil Liberties Law Review.
Sources: 
http://paw.princeton.edu/issues/2010/12/08/pages/7617/index.xml ; "Rep. Terri Sewell, Breakout Star of Congressional Black Caucus Weekend," The Washington Post 22 Sept. 2011; http://sewell.house.gov/ 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Spraggs, Venice Tipton (1905-1956)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
The Chicago Defender Front Page, November 16, 1940
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Venice Tipton Spraggs served as the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Defender and was the first African American inducted into Theta Sigma Phi, a professional journalism fraternity.  Spraggs was born in 1905 in Birmingham, Alabama to Barbara Tipton.  She attended Spelman College and married William Spraggs, a presser from Birmingham, in 1924.  The couple had no children.
Sources: 
Helen W. Berthelot, Win Some, Lose Some: G. Mennen Williams and the New Democrats (Detroit: Wayne University Press, 1995); Cheryl Mullenbach, Double Victory: How African-American Women Broke Race and Gender Barriers to Help Win World War II (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2013); United States of America, Bureau of the Census, Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930, Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1930, Census Place: Birmingham, Jefferson, Alabama (roll 30, page 17A, Enumeration District 0098, Image 35.0, FHL microfilm 2339765).
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Burroughs, Jr., John Andrew (1936–2014)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
John Andrew Burroughs, Jr. was an equal opportunity advocate and diplomat who was born in Washington, D.C. on July 31, 1936. He spent his youth in Washington, D.C. before moving to the Midwest to attend the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa.  While there he played on the varsity football team, helping it win two conference championships and two Rose Bowl games. He graduated with his Bachelor’s Degree in 1959. After graduation, Burroughs returned to Washington, D.C., where he became a social sciences teacher in the city’s public school system.

In 1960 Burroughs left teaching to become an employee in the U.S. Department of State. His first job was as an employee in the passport examiner’s office from 1960 to 1963. In 1963 he was promoted to Assistant Chief of Special Services Branch of the Passport Office, a post he held until 1964.  
Sources: 
Jet magazine, May 20, 1985 and October 20, 1986; “Ambassador Nomination,” http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=36008; Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training (ADST) Country Reader on Malawi: http://adst.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Malawi.pdf; Obituary Notice, Washington Post, September 26, 2014.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Cuffe, Paul, Sr. (1759-1817)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Paul Cuffe is best known for his work in assisting free blacks who wanted to emigrate to Sierra Leone.  Cuffe was born free on Cuttyhunk Island, Massachusetts (near New Bedford) sometime around 1759. The exact date of his birth is unknown. He was the youngest of ten children. His father, Kofi (also known as Cuffe Slocum), was from the Ashanti Empire in West Africa. Kofi was captured, enslaved and brought to New England at the age of 10. Paul's mother, Ruth Moses, was Native American. Kofi, a skilled tradesman who was able to earn his freedom, died when Paul Cuffe was a teenager. The younger Cuffe refused to use the name Slocum, which his father had been given by his owner, and instead took his father's first name.
Sources: 
Sheldon H. Harris, Paul Cuffe, Black America and the African Return (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1972).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

White, Lulu B.(1900-1957)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Lulu Belle Madison White, civil rights activist in the 1940s and 1950s, devoted most of her adult life to the struggle against Jim Crow in Texas.  She campaigned for the right to vote, for equal pay for equal work, and for desegregation of public facilities.  

Born in 1900 in Elmo, Texas to Henry Madison, a farmer, and Easter Madison, a domestic worker, Lulu Belle Madison White received her early education in the public schools of Elmo and Terrell, Texas.  She graduated from Prairie View College where she received a bachelor’s degree in English in 1928. After marrying Julius White and teaching school for nine years, White resigned her post to devote full time service to the Texas National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in its campaign to eliminate the state’s all-white Democratic primary.
Sources: 
Merline Pitre, In Struggle against Jim Crow: Lulu B. White and the NAACP 1900-1957 (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas Southern University

Maxey, Carl (1924-1997)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Carl Maxey grew up in an orphanage and became a leading attorney, civil rights activist, and champion of the underdog.  He was adopted by a Spokane, Washington, couple immediately following his birth in Tacoma but ended up in the Spokane Children's Home after his adoptive father disappeared and his mother died.  When Maxey was twelve the Home's Board decided it would no longer care for African American children and he was placed in the Spokane County Juvenile Detention Center. Years later, he said "So if you wonder where some of my fire comes from, it comes from a memory that includes this event."
Sources: 
Bill Morlin, “Spokane Loses a Champion: Carl Maxey ? 1924?1997: He Defended Civil Rights and Controversial Clients,” The Spokesman?Review, July 18, 1997, p. A1; Marsha King, “Maxey Was An Inspiration: Black Attorney’s Example of Activism Cherished,” The Seattle Times, July 18, 1997; "Carl Maxey (1924-1997)," Equal Justice Newsletter, April 1999 (http://www.courts.wa.gov/programs_orgs/pos_mjc/?fa=pos_mjc.display&fileID=new9904#A4);HistoryLink.orghttp://www.historylink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "Maxey, Carl (1924-1997)" (by Jim Kershner) and "Senator Henry Jackson overwhelmingly defeats peace candidate Carl Maxey in the Democratic primary on September 15, 1970." .
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
HistoryLink.org

Powell, Colin (1937- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Colin Powell is a retired Four-Star United States Army General who was the first African American to serve as National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff and Secretary of State.

Colin Powell was born in 1937 in the Bronx, New York to Jamaican immigrant parents.  He attended public schools in the Hunts Point area of South Bronx and was eventually accepted to New York University.  Lacking the funds to attend this private university, Powell instead enrolled at the City University of New York, where he joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), graduating with a degree in geology and as a Second Lieutenant in the Infantry. Taking his first post abroad in West Germany, Powell soon realized that the advanced racial integration of the armed forces would yield tremendous upward opportunities and he decided to make a career in the Army.
Sources: 
Karen DeYoung, Soldier: The Life of Colin Powell (Knopf, New York, NY 2006);  Jim Haskins, The Black Stars: African American Military Heroes (John Wiley and Sons Inc., New York, NY 1998);  Colin Powell, My American Journey (Ballantine Books, New York, NY 1995);  Kai Wright, Soldiers of Freedom (New York: Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers, 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Fisher, Abby (1832- ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Abby Fisher’s cookbook, What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, Soups, Pickles, Preserves, Etc. published in 1881, is the oldest known cookbook written by a former slave. Abby (maiden name unknown), was born in 1832, and grew up in the plantation kitchens in South Carolina. There she honed her culinary skills and became a phenomenal cook, which catapulted her to success later in life.

Abby Fisher married Alexander C. Fisher and the couple had eleven children.  By the end of the Civil War she and her family gained their freedom.  In 1877 the Fishers relocated from Mobile to San Francisco where her talents as a cook and caterer soon were in high demand among the city’s upper class.  Her reputation and award winning delicacies enabled the Fishers to open their own business listed in the San Francisco directories as “Mrs. Abby Fisher & Company” and later as “Mrs. Abby Fisher, Pickle Manufacturer.”

Abby Fisher expertly blended African and American cultures by combining the foods and spices from two continents. Her unique dishes with their distinctive flavor represented some of the best Southern cooking of the day. At the insistence of her friends and patrons to record her “knowledge and experience of Southern cooking, pickle, and jelly making” Mrs. Fisher authored a cookbook. Since she could neither read nor write, her recipes were carefully described to writers who compiled them in the cookbook under her name.
Sources: 
Tricia Martineau Wagner, African American Women of the Old West (Guilford, CT: TwoDot, an imprint of The Globe Pequot Press, 2007); Abby Fisher, What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, Soups, Pickles, Preserves, Etc. (Facsimile edition, with historical notes by Karen Hess. (Bedford, Massachusetts: Applewood Books, 1995); Janice B. Longone, “Early Black-Authored American Cookbooks.” Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture (February 2001) “Welcome to Applewood Books Publisher’s of America’s Living past”. http://www.applewoodbooks.com
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Lynch, James D. (1838-1872)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

James D. Lynch, a Reconstruction era politician, is best known for his position as Secretary of the State of Mississippi from 1869 to 1872. Lynch was the first African American to hold a major political office in that state. Born in 1838 in Baltimore, Maryland, his father was white merchant and minister and his mother was a slave.

Lynch received an early education at an elementary school taught by the Reverend Daniel Payne of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church, and was then send to Meriden, New Hampshire to attend the Kimball Union Academy. After studying for only two years he moved to Indianapolis and began preaching at a small church in the town of Galena, Indiana.

After the Civil War, Lynch joined other religious missionaries in South Carolina. As an official of the Methodist Episcopal Church, North, he helped establish churches and schools for African American adults and children between 1865 and 1866.  

Lynch eventually turned to politics believing that the freedmen’s political rights equally important as the development of their religious faith. In 1867 he was elected the Vice President of the first Republican State Party Convention in Mississippi. By 1869 he had become the most prominent African American politician in Mississippi and, after his nomination by the Republican Party and an exhaustive campaign; Lynch was elected Secretary of State.

Sources: 
George Alexander Sewell, Mississippi Black History Makers (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1977); http://library.msstate.edu/content/templates/?a=137&z=129 ; http://www.galenahistorymuseum.org/lynch.htm .
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Bell, James Madison (1826-1902)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

James Madison Bell, poet, orator and activist was born in Gallipolis, Ohio on April 3, 1826. Bell lived in Ohio most of his life although he briefly resided in Canada and California before eventually returning to Ohio. When Bell was 16 he moved to Cincinnati to live with his brother-in-law George Knight who taught him the plastering trade. Knight and Bell were talented plasterers who in 1851 were awarded the contract to plaster the Hamilton County public buildings.

On November 9, 1847, Bell married Louisiana Sanderlin. The couple eventually had seven children and lived in Cincinnati until 1854 when they moved to Chatham, Ontario, Canada. Chatham was a major destination for the Underground Railroad, and while there Bell became involved in abolitionist activities and later returned to Cincinnati to continue his antislavery work. 

Although he supported himself primarily as a plasterer, Bell soon became known for his speeches and poems which he used in the campaign against slavery.  His most famous poem, “The Day and the War,” was read at Platt’s Hall in Cincinnati in January 1864 for the Celebration of the first Anniversary of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Bell dedicated “The Day and the War” to friend and fellow abolitionist John Brown who was executed in 1859 for his role in the raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry.

Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982); "James Madison Bell" in Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 40, edited by Ashyia Henderson (Detroit: The Gale Group, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Whitman, Alberry Allson (1851-1901)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Alberry Allson Whitman was a romantic poet and a clergyman of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Whitman was born enslaved in Hart County, Kentucky. He became a freedman in 1863, but his family was unable to enjoy their freedom for long as his parents died shortly thereafter.
Sources: 
Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982);
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Reid, Ira de Augustine (1901-1968)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Ira de Augustine Reid, sociologist, author and professor, was born on July 2, 1901 in Clifton Forge, Virginia. His father, David A. Reid, was a Baptist minister and his mother, Willie A. James, a homemaker. Reid attended mostly private schools in Germantown, Pennsylvania throughout his childhood. When his father accepted a pastoral position in Savannah, Georgia, he spent his high school years at Morehouse Academy in Atlanta, Georgia, and then entered Morehouse College at the age of sixteen.
Sources: 
Kenneth Ives, Rosalind Cobb Wiggins, Anna Bustill Smith, Cynthia Kerman Carleton Mabee, and William Powers, Black Quakers: Brief Biographies (Chicago: Progressive Publishers, 1986);   Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Holder, Eric H. (1951- )

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

Eric H. Holder, Jr., U.S. Attorney General since 2009, was born on January 21, 1951 in the Bronx, New York to parents of Barbadian descent, Eric, a real estate agent and Miriam Holder, a telephone operator.  Holder was raised in East Elmhurst, Queens, a community which included a number of famous African Americans such as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Harry Belafonte, and Sidney Poitier. Civil rights activist Malcolm X lived two blocks from young Holder and on one occasion in 1964, then recently crowned heavy weight champion Muhammad Ali entertained him and other community children on the steps of the Malcolm’s house. 

Holder graduated from Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan and in 1969, at the height of the Vietnam War protests and Black Power movement, he entered Columbia University where he participated in sit-ins by African American students. Holder also played collegiate basketball and became co-captain of his team.  In 1973, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in U.S. history from Columbia and then entered Columbia University Law School, earning a J.D. in 1976.  While in law school Holder served as a law clerk for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense and Educational Fund (NAACP-LDF).   

Sources: 

Glenn Thrush, “The Survivor: How Eric Holder Outlasted his Many Critics”
(July/August 2014). Found in
http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/06/the-survivor-108018.html#...
http://www.cov.com/eholder/; http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/h/eric_h_h...
and http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/11/us/politics/11holder.html?_r=1; Michael D. Schear, "Holder Resigns, Setting Up Fight over Successor," New York Times, September 26, 2014, p. 1.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Brautigam, Loria Raquel Dixon ( ? - )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Sources: 
Audra D.S. Burch, "Afro-Latin Americans: A Rising Voice," The Miami Herald, June 10, 2007; Tim Rogers, "Disco's Door Policy Sparks Race Debate," Nica Times, February 2009.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Tacoma

Flood, Curtis Charles (1938-1997)

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

Curt Flood, The Way It Is (New York: Trident, 1971); Brad Snyder, A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood's Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports (New York: Viking, 2006); Curt Flood and the Reserve Clause" in Cynthia Rose, ed., American Decades Primary Sources, Vol. 8, (Detroit: Gale, 2004).

 

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Thompson, Theophilus (1855-?)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Calvin, Floyd Joseph (1902-1939)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Floyd Calvin was a journalist who also launched a newswire service and hosted the first black radio show during the Harlem Renaissance.

Calvin was born in 1902 to a school teacher and a farmer in Washington, Arkansas.  He graduated from Shover State Teacher Training College in Hope, Arkansas in 1920 and attended the City College of New York for another year after migrating to Harlem.

In 1922, after college, Calvin began working briefly as an associate editor of the Messenger, the political and literary magazine which many historians claim was at the heart of the Harlem Renaissance. There he worked with A. Philip Randolph and Chandler Owen, the founders of the magazine. In 1924 Calvin began working at the Pittsburgh Courier, which at the time was one of the two most widely circulated black newspapers in the country (the Chicago Defender was the other).  There, he was a writer and special features editor from 1924 to 1935 working in the New York office of the Courier.

In 1927, Calvin hosted a periodic radio talk show sponsored by the Courier.  It was broadcast on radio station WGBS, and it covered African-American-focused topics.  The show, the Courier Hour, was the first radio program ever sponsored by a black newspaper and the first radio talk program targeting an African American audience.
Sources: 
W. Augustus Low and Virgil A. Clift, eds., Encyclopedia of Black America (New York: Da Capo Press, 1981); Ryan Ellett, Uncovering Black Radio’s Roots: 1927 – 1929 (http://otrr.org).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

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
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Moreno Zapata, Paula Marcela (1978- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
From June 2007 until August 2010 Paula Marcela Moreno Zapata served as one of the highest government officials in Colombia, the first woman of African descent and at 29 the youngest person ever to occupy a cabinet-level post in that nation.

Moreno was born on November 11, 1978 in Bogotá, District of Colombia.  Her father Armando Moreno is retired from civil service, and her mother, Maria Zényde Zapata, is a lawyer.  

Born and raised in the coastal territory of Cauca in southwestern Colombia, Moreno graduated from the Universidad Autónoma de Colombia (FUAC) in 2001, with a degree in industrial engineering.

Proficient in Italian, French, and English, Moreno received a 2004 Master of Philosophy in Management Science at the University of Cambridge in England.  Her thesis was titled “Sustainable Use of Biodiversity by Local Communities in Colombia.”
Sources: 
Paula Moreno Zapata, “The Unifier,” Americas Quarterly, 4 (Winter 2010); Yale World Fellows profile at http://worldfellows.yale.edu/paula-moreno.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Turner, Henry McNeal (1834-1915)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Stephen Ward Angell, Bishop Henry McNeal Turner and African American Religion in the South (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992); Edwin S. Redkey, Black Exodus, Black Nationalist and Back-to-Africa Movements, 1890-1910 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1969); The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, African American Desk Reference (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 1999); Kenneth Estall, ed., The African American Almanac 6th edition (Detroit: Gale Research, Inc. 1994).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Granger, Lester Blackwell (1896-1976)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Lester Blackwell Granger was a social worker and civil rights and labor rights activist best known for leading the National Urban League (NUL) from 1941 to 1961.  Granger was born on September 16, 1896, in Newport News, Virginia, to William “Ran” Randolph and Mary Louise Granger; William, a Barbadian immigrant, was a medical doctor.  Determined to live in a racially-tolerant community where educational opportunities were available to black people, the Grangers raised Lester and his five brothers in Newark, New Jersey.  Lester Granger earned a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College in 1918 after serving in the US Army as artillery lieutenant during World War I.
Sources: 
http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/about/blogs/african-american-studies-beinecke-library/2010/09/01/lester-blackwell-granger-papers; http://ivy50.com/blackhistory/story.aspx?sid=2/5/2007; http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/encyclopedia/enc_granger_lester_blackwell/; Susan Altman and Joel Kemelhor, The Encyclopedia of African-American Heritage (New York: Checkmark Books, 2001); Kwame Anthony Appiah, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African American Experience (New York: Perseus, 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Trotter, William Monroe (1872-1934)

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

Brown, Wesley (1927-2012)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the U.S. Navel
Historical Center

Wesley Brown earned distinction in 1949 as the first African American to graduate from the United States Naval Academy.  Wesley Brown grew up in Washington, D.C. and attended Dunbar High School.  A “voracious reader,” Brown joined the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History to study his history and heritage.  At Dunbar, Brown was a member of the Cadet Corps and worked evenings as a youth mailman at the Navy Department.  Brown was nominated by Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., a New York Congressman, for appointment into the Naval Academy and was accepted.

Wesley Brown began classes in 1945 and voluntarily decided to room alone.  “I wasn’t sure I wanted them to share my burden,” he said.  He faced racism in the first year, picking up 140 out of a possible 150 demerits, but as his education continued found that many were “supportive and protective” of him.  

Sources: 
Gerald Astor, The Right to Fight: A History of African Americans in the Military (Novato, Ca.: Presidio Press, 1998);  Kai Wright, Soldiers of Freedom (New York: Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers, 2002); “This week in Black History,” Jet Magazine (June 9, 2003); http://www.navysports.com; The Seattle Times, May 27, 2012.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Ellington, Edward “Duke” (1899-1974)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington is one of the greatest jazz composers, performers, and bandleaders in American history.  His compositions, and the travels of his band, exposed the world to jazz and earned him the nickname, “The Ambassador of Jazz.”

Edward Kennedy Ellington was born in Washington, D.C. in 1899 to Daisy and James Ellington.  Ellington’s parents appreciated good manners, dress, food, and a love of music (both played piano, though neither could read music) and diligently passed these characteristics on to their son.  This “duked up” appearance earned him the nickname “Duke” growing up, and it stuck for the rest of his life.  Starting with piano lessons at age six, and continuing with private lessons from local bar players, Duke developed a love and talent for ragtime music.  
Sources: 
Richard Terrill, Duke Ellington (Chicago: Raintree, 2003);  http://www.dukeellington.com.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Juanita Millender-McDonald (1938-2007)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1938, Juanita Millender McDonald was an educator and member of the United States House of Representatives.  She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Redlands and a master’s degree from California State University at Los Angeles.  

Millender-McDonald taught in the Los Angeles School District, and was the editor of Images, a textbook designed to improve the self-esteem of young women.  As director of gender-equity programs for the school district, Millender-McDonald received national recognition when she served on the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future.  

In 1990, Millender-McDonald became the first African-American elected to the Carson City Council.  She was elected mayor pro tem for Carson in 1991, and won a set in the California State Assembly in 1992.
Sources: 
Joe Holley, California Congresswoman Juanita-Millender-McDonald, (Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/22/AR2007042201358.html ;
Juanita Millender-McDonald, Africana: Encyclopedia of The African and African American Experience, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005; Rep. Millender-McDonald, 68, dies of cancer, MSNBC (April 22 2007) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18261426/
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Church, Robert Reed, Sr. (1839-1912)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of
Tennessee State University
Robert Reed Church, Sr., was a millionaire business leader and philanthropist in Memphis, Tennessee.  Born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, on June 18, 1839, he was the product of an interracial union. His father was a steamboat captain, Charles B. Church, and his mother, Emmeline, was an enslaved seamstress who died when Robert was twelve years old.
Sources: 
Annette E. Church and Roberta Church, The Robert R. Churches of Memphis: A Father and Son Who Achieved in Spite of Race (Memphis: A.E. Church, 1974); Mary C. Terrell, A Colored Woman in a White World (Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2006; Lester Lamon, Black Tennesseans, 1900-1930 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1977); Robert A. Sigafoos, Cotton Row to Beale Street: A Business History of Memphis (Memphis: Memphis State University Press, 1979); The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Stewart, Bennett McVey (1912–1988)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the U.S. House of
Representatives Photography Office
Born in Huntsville, Alabama, on the 6th of August, 1912, Illinois Congressman Bennett McVey Stewart was the son of Bennett Stewart and Cathleen Jones. He attended local public schools in Huntsville and Birmingham before entering Miles College in Birmingham. There he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1936. His first job after graduation was assistant principal of Birmingham’s Irondale High School, from 1936 until 1938. Next he took a job as associate professor of sociology at Miles College in Birmingham. That year he married Pattye Crittenden, with whom he had three children.

Stewart left the teaching profession in 1940 to work for Atlanta Life Insurance Company were he eventually became an executive.  He moved to Chicago in 1950 to set up the Company’s new office and remained working there for the next eight years.
Sources: 
Bruce A. Ragsdale & Joel D. Treese, Black Americans in Congress 1870-1989 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1990); Leo J. Daugherty, "Stewart, Bennett McVey" in American National Biography Online edited by Mark C. Carnes and John A. Garraty, Oxford African American Studies Center, http://www.oxfordaasc.com.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/article/anb/0700662.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Morton, Ferdinand Joseph La Menthe “Jelly Roll” (1885-1941)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Ferdinand Joseph La Menthe Morton, more popularly known as “Jelly Roll” Morton, was an influential early 20th Century composer and pianist. Jelly Roll, the son of Creole parents, E.P. La Menthe and Louise Monette, was born in Gulfport, Mississippi in 1885. His father, E.P. Morton, was a trombonist who encouraged his son’s musical abilities. Morton’s early childhood was somewhat turbulent as he spent much of his time with his wandering father, who had deserted Louise Monette.

Morton showed fairly prodigious musical talent, gaining proficiency in many instruments quickly. He learned the harmonica at age 5, and his repertoire grew to include the violin, drums, trombone, and his claim to fame, the piano. Jelly Roll’s bohemian lifestyle under his father’s influence continued until his father’s disappearance. Jelly Roll returned to Gulfport to live with his mother and step-father, Willie Morton, until his mother’s death when he was 14. At that time, he and his two sisters were in the care of his godmother, Eulalie Echo, and his Aunt Lallie. Like many poor youth, he quickly found menial employment for 3 dollars a week. \
Sources: 
Alan Lomax, Mister Jelly Roll: The Fortunes of Jelly Roll Morton, New Orleans Creole and Inventor of Jazz (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973); Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982); Peter Hanley, “Jelly Roll Morton: An Essay in Genealogy,” http://www.doctorjazz.co.uk/genealogy.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Moore, Juanita (1922-2014)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Veteran actress Juanita Moore is fondly remembered for her tear-jerking role of Annie Johnson in Douglas Sirk’s 1959 remake of Imitation of Life. Moore was a groundbreaking actress best known for her role as Lana Turner's character's black friend in the film.  In 1960 she became only the fifth African American nominated for an Oscar.  The nomination was based on her role in Imitation of Life.

Born in Los Angeles, California in 1922, Moore graduated with a degree in drama from Los Angeles City College and moved to New York where she began her show business career as a nightclub singer and dancer and eventually worked as a chorus girl in New York's famed Cotton Club.

Moore eventually traveled abroad, performing in top European clubs, including the London Palladium and the Moulin Rouge in Paris, France before embarking on her film career in late 1949, making her debut as an un-credited nurse in the race-conscious film Pinky. In the early 1950s she worked in Los Angeles's Ebony Showcase, a leading black-run theater.  Later in the decade she was a member of the celebrated Cambridge Players which included other up-and-coming black performers such as Esther Rolle.

Sources: 

Ephraim Katz, The Film Encyclopedia, (New York: Harper Collins, 1994); James R. Parish, Hollywood Character Actors, (New Rochelle, NY, Arlington House Publishers, 1978);  Roy Pickard, The Oscar Stars From A-Z, (London, England: Headline Book Publishing, 1996); Edward Mapp, Directory of Blacks in the Performing Arts, (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1978).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Slater, Rodney (1955- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Rodney E. Slater, former cabinet member, attorney, and state government official, was born in Marianna, Arkansas, on February 23, 1955.  In 1977, Slater graduated from Eastern Michigan University. He earned his law degree in 1980 from the University of Arkansas.

In 1980, Slater became the Assistant Attorney General for the litigation division for Arkansas’s Attorney General’s Office.  From 1983 to 1987, Slater served as Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton’s executive assistant for Economic and Community Programs and then as the Special Assistant for Community and Minority Affairs.  In 1987, Clinton appointed Slater to the Arkansas Highway Commission.  Slater also held other positions in the state of Arkansas such as Director of Governmental Relations at Arkansas State University and was a special liaison for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday Commission.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed Slater as the Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration.   Slater’s effectiveness in that position catapulted him into the position of Secretary of Transportation in 1997.  As Secretary, he oversaw transportation projects between federal and state governments.

Sources: 
David Stout, “Senate Easily Confirms Slater as Transportation Secretary,” New York Times (February 7, 1997), p.A22; Don Phillips, “Clinton ally affords pipeline to Oval office,” Washington Post (December 21, 1996), p.A14; and Federal Government Official website:www.fhwa.dot.gov/administrators/rslater.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

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

Olajuwon, Hakeem (1963-- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Hakeem Olajuwon was a professional and collegiate basketball player, and is now retired. Olajuwon was born in Lagos, Nigeria, in January 1963, and lived there until he moved to Texas in 1980 to attend the University of Houston.  

Olajuwon grew up in Lagos playing mostly soccer but changed his focus to basketball at the age of 15 because of his height, then six feet, nine inches. However the years he spent playing goalkeeper on the soccer field paid off later in his basketball career, helping him develop good footwork and agility. Although Olajuwon did not attract a lot of attention from college basketball programs, he did catch the eye of the coach from the University of Houston and moved to the United States to attend school and play basketball for the Cougars under coach Guy Lewis. Lewis had never actually seen Hakeem play, but offered him a try out based on the recommendation of a friend who saw Olajuwon play in a tournament.
Sources: 
Hakeem Olajuwon and Peter Knobler, Living the Dream: My Life and Basketball (Boston: Little Brown, 1996); Othello Harris, Claire Elaine Nolte, and George B. Kirsch, eds., Enyclopedia of Ethnicity and Sports (Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2000); “Hakeem Olajuwon,” NBA.com http://www.nba.com/playerfile/hakeem_olajuwon/index.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Guinier, Ewart (1910-1990)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Schomburg Center
for Research in Black Culture

Ewart Guinier, labor activist and political candidate, was the first chairman of Harvard University’s Afro-American Studies Department. Born in Panama in 1910, Guinier migrated to the United States in 1925 and attended high school in Boston, Massachusetts. After his acceptance into the Harvard University Class of 1933, Guinier was denied a scholarship because he allegedly did not submit a photograph with his application and because of his race he was not permitted to reside in the all-white dormitories. Guinier nonetheless started classes at Harvard but dropped out in 1931 due to the high tuition costs.  He transferred to the City University of New York where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1935.  He later received his master’s degree from Columbia University in 1939 and his law degree from New York University in 1959.

Sources: 
Ewart Guinier, “Impact of Unionization on Blacks,” Proceedings of the Academy of Political Science, 30:2 (Dec. 1970): 173-181; http://www.nytimes.com/1990/02/07/obituaries/ewart-guinier-79-who-headed-afro-american-studies-at-harvard.html; http://www.nypl.org/archives/3674; http://mvgazette.com/article.php?22763.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Basquiat, Jean Michel (1960 –1988)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of The Estate of Jean Michel Basquiat
Artist Jean Michel Basquiat was born on December 22, 1960 to a Puerto Rican mother, Matilde Andradas, and a Haitian father, Gérard Basquiat, who raised him in the Puerto Rican barrio of Park Slope in Brooklyn, New York. Fluent in English, Spanish, and French, Basquiat was a sensitive and creative middle-class child who railed against authority, refusing to finish high school and running away from home multiple times as a teenager to live in Washington Square Park in New York’s Greenwich Village.

Fifteen-year-old Basquiat began his artistic career as a graffiti artist in lower Manhattan under the pseudonym SAMO in 1976 and over the next three years he gained notoriety and fame. Basquiat and a friend, Al Diaz, invented SAMO (Same Old Shit) in an article for a school newspaper in 1977. It became Basquiat’s notorious graffiti signature on the streets of New York. SAMO brought Basquiat into contact with a variety of artists, including Keith Haring who facilitated his unofficial entry into the art world.

In 1978, Basquiat left home for good both penniless and homeless, living with various acquaintances when he could. He produced $1 punk-inspired postcards for sale on the street to earn money and created a band called “Gray” after the anatomy book “Gray’s Anatomy.” He also frequented the Mudd Club, a hotspot for rising stars such as Klaus Nomi, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, and Sid Vicious.
Sources: 
Leønhard Emmerling, Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1960-1988 (Los Angeles: Taschen, 2006); Eric Fretz, Jean-Michel Basquiat: A Biography (Denver: Greenwood Press, 2010); Phoebe Hoban, Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art (New York: Viking Press, 1998); Frederick H. Lowe, "Sale of Basquiat Painting at $48 Million-Plus Breaks His Record," The NorthStar News, 17 May 2013, available online at: http://www.thenorthstarnews.com/may-17-2013.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Kelly, Samuel Eugene (1926-2009)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Samuel Eugene Kelly, soldier and educator, was born in Greenwich, Connecticut on January 26, 1926 to James Handy Kelly, a minister, and Essie Matilda Allen-Kelly, a homemaker.  Educated at Greenwich public schools, Kelly dropped out of high school in 1943 and joined the United States Army the following year.  Although he entered the Army as an eighteen-year-old private, fifteen months later he had completed Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, and in August 1945 was commissioned a Second Lieutenant. With World War II over in the same month, Kelly became part of the U.S. occupying forces in Japan, serving there until 1950.  
Sources: 
Samuel E. Kelly (with Quintard Taylor), Dr. Sam: Soldier, Educator, Advocate, Friend, An Autobiography (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2010).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

James, Makila (1957- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Makila James is currently serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Swaziland.  James was nominated by President Barack Obama early in 2012.  Following confirmation by the U.S. Senate on July 31, 2012, James arrived in Mbabane, the capital of Swaziland and presented her credentials to the King of Swaziland on September 20, 2012.  

Makila James, one of ten children born to Albert and Eddie Mae James, was born in July 1957 in New York.  She earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Cornell University in 1979, double majoring in Africana Studies and American History. She was one of the few African Americans inducted into Cornell’s Quill and Dagger Honor Society at the University.  Three years later James received a Juris Doctor (law degree) from Colombia Law School and in 2010 she received a Master’s Degree in National Security from the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.

James’s career as a diplomat began when she joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1988. Her first overseas posting was as a Consular Officer in Kingston, Jamaica from 1989 to 1992.  From 1993 to 1995 she was a Political/Economics Officer at the U.S. Consulate in Kaduna, Nigeria and she later served as Political Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Sources: 
“Ambassador to Swaziland: Who is Makila James?” Embassy of the United States, Mbabane, Swaziland, http://www.swaziland.usembassy.gov/ambassador.html; Matt Bewig, “Ambassador Makila James, AllGov.com, March 24, 2012, http://www.allgov.com/news/appointments-and-resignations/ambassadors,html; “Diplomatic Fallout: U.S. Ambassador crosses the line,” Swazi Observer, June 7, 2014, http://www.observer.org.sz/news/63663-diplomatic-fallout-us-ambassador.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Metcalfe, Ralph Harold (1910-1978)

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

Ralph Metcalfe, was an outstanding U.S. sprinter, track coach, and politican born in Atlanta, Georgia and raised in Chicago, Illinois. During Metcalfe’s years as a student at Marquette University (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), 1932 through 1934, he was arguably the world’s fastest human. His strong finishes earned him four Olympic medals (gold, 2 silver, and bronze), eight Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) titles, and six National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) titles from 1932 through 1936. Perhaps Metcalfe’s most interesting moments in track were not his wins but his virtual dead heat second place finishes in the 100 meter dash at the 1932 and 1936 Summer Olympics at Los Angeles, California and Berlin, Germany to rivals Eddie Tolan and Jesse Owens, respectively.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Raines, Franklin (1949- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Courtesy of Benjamin Mchie
Franklin Raines was born in Seattle on January 14, 1949, and graduated from Franklin High School in Seattle.  From here, he went to Harvard and graduated in 1971 with a B.A. in Government.  He was awarded the prestigious Rhodes scholarship and attended Oxford University for two years, returning to Harvard to earn a law degree in 1976.

Raines was hired into President Carter’s administration as the assistant director of the White House Domestic Policy Staff.  When Carter lost his reelection bid, Raines was hired as an investment banker by a Wall Street company.  He moved on to become the vice chairman at Fannie Mae.  After five years, President Clinton asked him to return to government work, and Raines accepted a decrease in salary of more than $300,000 to become the director of the Office of Management and Budget where he worked to find compromises in the budget process between the Democratic executive and the Republican Congress.
Sources: 
Charles Whitaker, “Franklin Raines: First Black Head of a Fortune 500 Corporation,” Ebony, April 2001, p. 106-112; Alton Hornsby, Jr. & Angela M. Hornsby, From the Grassroots: Profiles of Contemporary African American Leaders, p.175-176.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Redding, J. Saunders (1906-1988)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
James Thomas Saunders Redding was born in Wilmington, Delaware in 1906 to Lewis Alfred Redding and Mary Ann Holmes.  Redding earned a bachelor of philosophy (Ph.B.) in 1928 and later a master of arts (M.A.) in 1932 from Brown University.  Redding also earned the right to Phi Beta Kappa honors but the racial climate of the time did not permit him to receive the distinction until 1943.  He later attended Columbia’s graduate school from 1933-34.  

Redding’s career as an educator included both historically black and white colleges and universities.  John Hope hired Redding as an instructor at Morehouse College (1928-31).  He later taught at Louisville Municipal College (1934-36), Southern University, Baton Rouge (1936-38), and served as head of the English Department; Elizabeth City State College (1938-43).  He worked at Hampton Institute (1943-55), as professor of literature and creative writing. He was a member of the faculty at George Washington University (1968-69), and the first African American to hold the rank of professor in the College of Arts & Sciences and the first to hold an endowed chair at Cornell University (1970).  He was a Guggenheim Fellow (1944-45, 1959-60).  
Sources: 
Steven J. Leslie and Alexis Walker, “Redding, Jay Saunders,” in Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (Detroit, 2006); Helen R. Houston, “J. Saunders Redding,” in Notable Black Men in America (Detroit, 1999); Saunders Redding, No Day of Triumph (1942), and On Being Negro in America (New York, 1951).
Affiliation: 
Los Angeles City College

Dunjee, Roscoe (1883-1965)

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

Roscoe Dunjee was a prolific journalist and civil rights activist. He was the son of Rev. John William Dunjee, a Baptist minister, and Lydia Ann Dunjee. Although his father was born in Jefferson County, West Virginia, Roscoe worked for various African American newspapers in Oklahoma while attending Langston University.

In 1915, Dunjee founded his own newspaper in Oklahoma City entitled the Black Dispatch which became one of the most prominent black newspapers in America. Throughout his life, in the Black Dispatch Dunjee wrote confrontational editorials attacking the institution of Jim Crow, encouraged African Americans to vote and fight for their Civil Rights, and named his paper the Black Dispatch because whites had degraded the term to refer to African Americans as gossipers and liars. Dunjee chose to invert the term “black dispatch” as something honorable concerning the image of African Americans.

Sources: 
J. Reuben Sheeler, “Roscoe Dunjee” in Rayford Logan & Michael Winston, Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: Norton & Company, 1982), 203-204.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Cincinnati

Jackson, Michael (1958-2009)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Eleanora E. Tate, African American Musicians (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2000); Adam Woog, From Ragtime to Hip-Hop: A Century of Black American Music (Detroit: Lucent Books, 2007); Steve Huey, "Michael Jackson,"  Allmusic.com 14 Mar. 2007. http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:aex1z83ajyv5~T1.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Wideman, John Edgar (1941- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John Edgar Wideman was born in 1941 in Washington, D.C. but grew up in the predominantly black middle class community of Homewood near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. By the time Wideman was in high school, his family had moved to Shadyside, an upper middle class mostly white neighborhood where Wideman excelled as an athlete and scholar; he was a basketball player, class president, and valedictorian. In 1959 he entered the University of Pennsylvania where he majored in English and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. When Wideman graduated in 1963 he became the second African American, after Alain Locke, to receive a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University.  He graduated with an MA in eighteenth-century literature in 1966.   Between 1966 and 1967 Wideman attended the University of Iowa where he completed his first novel, A Glance Away, in 1967.

Between 1967 and 1975 Wideman was both an assistant professor and an assistant basketball coach at the University of Pennsylvania.  Wideman also served as the first director of the University of Pennsylvania’s African American Studies Department. Throughout this period he continued to write.  In 1973 he published his third novel, The Lynchers, which garnered significant attention.  
Sources: 
Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); Bonnie TuSmith, ed., Conversations with John Edgar Wideman (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1998); The Africana Research Center, Pennsylvania Black Writers: John Edgar Wideman, Pennsylvania State University http://php.scripts.psu.edu/dept/arc//index.php.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Wyoming

Banneker, Benjamin (1731-1806)

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

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

Jones, Stephanie Tubbs (1949-2008)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Currently in the political spotlight for her steadfast support of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Stephanie Tubbs Jones is a Democratic Representative of the state of Ohio. She was born on September 10, 1949 in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio and attended the county’s public schools before getting her bachelor’s degree in social work from Case Western Reserve University in 1971. She also earned a Jurist Doctorate from Case Western Reserve University Law School in 1974.

In 1981 Tubbs was elected to the Cleveland municipal court and from 1983 to 1991 was the judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Cuyahoga County, the first African American woman to sit on its bench. She also worked as a prosecutor in Cuyahoga County between 1991 and 1998, once again the first woman and the first African American to serve in this position.

In January of 1999 Judge Tubbs became the first woman to be elected to the United States House of Representatives from the state of Ohio. She still holds that position and is now in her fifth term in office as representative of the Eleventh Congressional District.
Sources: 

http://tubbsjones.house.gov/?sectionid=3&sectiontree=2,3; http://blog.washingtonpost.com/capitol-briefing/2008/03/player_of_the_week_stephanie_t.html; http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=J000284
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Plessy, Homer (1863-1925)

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

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

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

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

Blucke, Stephen ( --1792)

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

Colonel Stephen Blucke led an all-black Regiment that fought for the British during the American Revolution. He settled in Birchtown, Nova Scotia in 1783 and became a leader in the Black Loyalist community.

During the Revolutionary War, the most famous of the Black Loyalist Military units were called the Black Pioneers, which contained a small elite band of guerrillas known as the Black Brigade. The Black Brigade fought independently and later with the all-white unit Queen’s Rangers. The supplies they seized were vital to the survival of the Loyalists in New York. In a raid on a patriot militia leader, the Brigade and leader Colonel Tye were caught in a long battle. Their target was burned after Tye’s death and Blucke – a literate, free black from Barbados and officer in the Black Pioneers – succeeded Tye as Colonel of the Brigade.

Sources: 

Joseph Mensah, Black Canadians: History, Experiences, Social Conditions (Halifax: Fernwood Publishing, 2002); Simon Schama, Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution (Toronto: Penguin Group, 2006); http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/confederation/023001-2125-e.html.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Kincaid, Jamaica [aka Elaine Potter Richardson] (1949- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Writer Jamaica Kincaid was born Elaine Potter Richardson on the Caribbean island of Antigua on May 25, 1949, when it was still under British colonial rule. At age three, Kincaid was taught to read by her mother but was later neglected when three boys were born to the family.  Kincaid attended schools on the island, however with few opportunities available to females, she began apprenticing as a seamstress after school as a very young girl. Childhood experiences of exploitation and oppression would be integral themes in her later writing.

In 1965, soon after she turned 16, Kincaid left Antigua to work as an au pair in Scarsdale, New York.  She earned a high school equivalency diploma and enrolled in photography classes.  After finding her writing voice through poetry to accompany her photographs, Kincaid wrote a series of articles for Ingenue magazine, interviewing celebrities about their teen years.  In1974, she began writing for the New Yorker column, “Talk of the Town.”  Her first book, At the Bottom of the River (1983), gathers the stories she had published in the New Yorker between 1978 and 1979.
Sources: 
Justin D. Edwards, Understanding Jamaica Kincaid  (Columbia:  University of South Carolina Press, 2007); Mary Ellen Snodgrass, Jamaica Kincaid:  A Literary Companion (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland and Company, Inc., 2008).
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

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

Moten, Benjamin “Bennie” (1894-1935)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra
Image Ownership: Public Domain
As one of the most renowned big-band leaders of the 1920s, Bennie Moten succeeded in developing the “Kansas City” sound in big-band jazz.  Born in Kansas City, Missouri on November 13, 1894, Moten spent most of his youth playing baritone saxophone in the city's numerous brass bands.  In 1918, after switching to the piano and studying ragtime under students who trained with Scott Joplin, he formed the B.B.& D. Trio, who toured the Midwest throughout the 1920s.  In 1923 the trio recorded for the first time for Okeh Records in St. Louis.  Soon public demand for the group's recordings, labeled as jazz music and specifically designed for dancing, made trio leader Moten a popular figure during this time in the South and Midwest.  By 1925 the group doubled with the addition of three new members and the following year it signed with Victor Records.  By this point the band had gained a national reputation.
Sources: 
Ian Carr, Digby Fairweather, & Brian Priestly, Jazz: The Essential Companion (New York: Prentice Hall Press, 1987); Kwame Anthony Appiah & Henry Louis Gates, Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 1999); Leonard Feather, The New Edition of the Encyclopedia of Jazz (New York: Horizon Press, 1955).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Arizona State University

Gumbel, Bryant (1948- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Bryant Gumbel and Soviet Leaders on the Today Show, 1984
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Bryant Gumbel was the first African-American co-host of the National Broadcasting Company’s (NBC) The Today Show and is well known as a broadcast journalist and sportscaster.  Gumbel was born in1948 in New Orleans, Louisiana to Rhea Alice and Richard Dunbar Gumbel, a city clerk and a judge, respectively.  He grew up with two younger sisters and a younger brother, in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.

Gumbel graduated from Maine’s Bates College in 1970 with a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts.  He first worked as a salesman for Westvaco Corporation, an industrial paper company in New York City.  He left the job after six months and, in 1971, became a sports writer for Black Sports magazine.  The following year, Gumbel became a sportscaster for KNBC-TV in Los Angeles, California. In the fall of 1975, he became a co-host for NBC Sports National Football League’s pre-game show, Grandstand.  
Sources: 
"Contemporary Black Biography”: Volume 14, Profiles from the International Black Community (Book, 1997) [WorldCat.org]." WorldCat.org: The World's Largest Library Catalog. http://www.worldcat.org/title/contemporary-black-biography-volume-14-profiles-from-the-international-black-community/oclc/527366242 (Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 1997; Jessie Carney Smith, Notable Black American Men (Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 1998), Bryan Gumbel Biography, http://www.filmreference.com/film/11/Bryant-Gumbel.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Moore, Kermit (1929-2013)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Over a long distinguished career Kermit Moore has been a cellist of outstanding acclaim, an orchestra conductor, composer, teacher, and mentor. Through these activities in classical music he has been successful in breaking down racial and social barriers.

Moore was born in Akron, Ohio on March 11, 1929.  By his fifth birthday he was studying piano with his mother and at ten, had chosen the cello as his instrument. Charles McBride, a prominent mentor and instructor at the Cleveland Institute of Music, taught Moore and arranged for him to join the Cleveland Symphony. Moore also won a prestigious John Hancock Scholarship which allowed him to spend his eighteenth summer at the Tanglewood Music Festival in Lenox, Massachusetts.  There he played in a student orchestra under Serge Koussevitzky, renowned Boston Symphony conductor. At 19 Moore debuted in a recital at New York City’s Town Hall. He then studied simultaneously three years at Juilliard School of Music and New York University, receiving his MA in Music. He became principal cellist in the Hartford Symphony Orchestra in 1949.  At the time he was among a handful of African Americans regularly performing with symphony orchestras in the United States.  
Sources: 
Kermit Moore, Who’s Who Among African Americans, January 1, 2009; Program Guide, December 4, 2007 concert, Musicians Club of New York;  Stacey Lynn, ed., “Kermit Moore,” 21st Century Cellists (San Rafael: California: String Letter Publishing, 2001); Victor Koshkin-Youritzin, “An Interview with Kermit Moore,” http://www.classical.net, July 4, 2008.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Williams, Franklin Hall (1917-1990)

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

Gadsden, James I. (1948- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
In 2002, Ambassador James Irvin Gadsden, career diplomat, and educator, was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as ambassador to Iceland. Gadsden was born on March 12, 1948 in Charleston, South Carolina, to James who worked as a janitor and Hazel Gaines Gadsden who was a housewife and part-time domestic servant.
Sources: 
American Academy of Diplomacy, “James I. Gadsden” 2011, http://www.academyofdiplomacy.org/members/bios/Gadsden.html; United States Department of State, “James Irvin Gadsden 1948-” 2015 http://history.state.gov/departmenthistory/people/gadsden-james-irvin; “James Gadsden: How a young black student forged a career in the Foreign Service,” The Post and Courier, January 8, 2015, http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20150108/PC12/150109541/1002/james-gadsden-how-a-young-black-student-forged-a-career-in-the-foreign-service.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Rose, Edward (c. 1780- c. 1833)

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

Edward Rose, also known by the names Five Scalps, Nez Coupe and “Cut Nose,” was the son of a white trader father and a Cherokee and African American mother.  Little else is known about his early life including where he was born. He may have spent some years working on the Mississippi River between southern Illinois and New Orleans, Louisiana

Sources: 
Bruce E. Johansen and Donald A. Grinde, Jr., The Encyclopedia of Native American Biography (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1997); Daniel F. Littlefield,   Cherokee Freedmen  (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1978); Carl Waldman and Alan Wexler, "Rose, Edward," Encyclopedia of Exploration, Vol 1 (New York: Facts on File, Inc, 2004; LeRoy R. Hafen, ed., The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West, Vol. IX (Glendale, California: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1966).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
State University of New York at Buffalo

Robert Lloyd Smith (1861-1942)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Robert Lloyd Smith, politician and businessman, was born in 1861, to free black parents, one of whom was a schoolteacher.  Smith attended the public elementary schools in Charleston.  In 1875 he entered the University of South Carolina and remained there until 1877.  Leaving the University of South Carolina when it shut its doors to black students, Smith entered Atlanta University, where he graduated in 1880 with a Bachelor of Science degree in English and mathematics.   Smith moved to Oakland, Colorado County, Texas, where he became principal of the Oakland Normal School.  Later, he became a member of the County Board of School Examiners.  In order to help blacks economically, Smith founded the Oakland Village Improvement Society and the Farmer's Improvement Society.  In 1895 he became involved in politics and ran successfully for the legislature in predominantly white Colorado County.
Sources: 
Merline Pitre, Through Many Dangers, Toils and Snares: The Black Leadership of Texas, 1868-1900 (Austin: Eakin, 1985).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas Southern University

Douglass, Anna Murray (c. 1813-1882)

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

Walker, Maggie Lena (1867-1934)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Maggie Lena Mitchell was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1867 to parents who were former slaves.  Walker’s mother, Elizabeth Draper Mitchell, was an assistant cook and father William Mitchell a butler in a mansion own by the Van Lew family. As a young girl she was forced to take on a number of responsibilities after the tragic death of her father. Mitchell worked as a delivery woman and babysitter while attending segregated public schools in Richmond. Nonetheless Mitchell graduated at the very top of her class in 1883. She then taught grade school for three years at the Lancaster School, at the same time she took classes in accounting and business.

In 1886, Maggie Mitchell married Armistead Walker, Jr., a wealthy black contractor and member of her church. They had two sons, Russell and Melvin, whom she took care while her husband worked.
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.nps.gov/malw/details.htm.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

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

King, Coretta Scott (1927-2006)

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

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

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

Sources: 

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

 

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Muddy Waters [aka McKinley Morganfield] (1913-1983)

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

Blues singer, songwriter and musician Muddy Waters was born McKinley Morganfield on April 4, 1913 in Issaquena County, Mississippi. Waters acquired his nickname (and later stage name) because as a young child he liked to play in the mud.  When he began his musical career he adopted Muddy Waters as his legal name.

Waters, influenced by Mississippi Delta musicians Robert Johnson and Son House, first started his career as a blues singer and musician on the harmonica and then switched to the guitar.  In his late teens he played at parties in small towns in the Delta region of Mississippi.  By the early 1940s Waters had earned enough as a performer to open a small club, where he expressed his musical talent in daily performances.  Word of his music got out and in 1941 the famous folk musicologist Alan Lomax came to Mississippi to record Waters for the Library of Congress.  The attention garnered Waters his first recording contract with Testament Records.  The encounter also persuaded Waters that he could become a full-time musician.  Waters moved to Chicago to promote his career.
Sources: 
Robert Gordon, Can't Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters. (Boston: Little, Brown, 2002); Sandra B. Tooze, Muddy Waters: The Mojo Man (Toronto: ECW Press, 1997).  The Official Muddy Waters Website, http://www.muddywaters.com/
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Drogba, Didier (1978-- )

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

Didier Yves Drogba Tebily, international soccer star, was born March 11, 1978 in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast). His early childhood was spent in poverty. In an attempt to improve their son’s life, Didier’s parents sent him to France when he was just 5 years old to live with his uncle Michel Goba, an international soccer player also from the Ivory Coast. After a short three year stint in France, Didier returned to the Ivory Coast to live with his parents. But his stay would be short lived due to struggles at home. Both his parents had lost their jobs, so once again to escape poverty Didier moved to France to live with his uncle in the suburbs of Paris in 1991. In 1993 his parents followed Didier to France allowing the 15 year old to reunite with his family.The traveling over much of the course of his youth was difficult on Didier, but his hard times would become easier with the assistance of soccer.

Sources: 
John McShane, Didier Drogba: Portrait of a Hero (London: John Blake, 2007), http://www.didierdrogba.com.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Bluford, Guion Stewart, Jr. ["Guy"] (1942- )

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

Guy Bluford, a member of the SDS-8 space shuttle Challenger crew in 1983, was the first African American in space.  Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Bluford was interested in math and science and knew he wanted to work in aerospace engineering before graduating high school.  His high school counselor suggested that college was not for him.  Refusing the advice, Bluford became the only black engineering student at Pennsylvania State University in 1960.  Undaunted, he graduated with a degree in aerospace engineering in 1964 and went through pilot training at Williams Air Force Base in Arizona where he received his pilot wings one year later.  Before being sent to Vietnam in 1967, Bluford felt the sting of racial discrimination when his family was denied housing on base.  He flew 144 combat missions with the 557th Squadron in Vietnam.    

After serving his tour of duty in Vietnam, Bluford worked as a flight instructor at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas and started graduate studies at the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1972.  He received a M.S. in aerospace engineering in 1974 and a Ph.D. in 1978.  The same year, he was one of the thirty-five selected for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut training program out of 10,000 applicants.  

Sources: 

Alfred Phelps Jr., They Had a Dream: The Story of African American
Astronauts
(Novato: Presidio, 1994); Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry
Louis Gates Jr., eds. Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African
American Experience
(New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).

Video:

"A Conversation with Guy Bluford"

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Turner, Joseph Vernon ["Big Joe"] (1911-1985)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Big Joe Turner, known by many as the “Boss of the Blues,” was born Joseph Vernon in Kansas City, Missouri, on May 18, 1911. Turner is considered a major contributor to the development of the sound of Kansas City Jazz, and the early development of Rock n’ Roll. Drawing from Blues music vocal traditions, Turner’s style earned him the nickname of a “Blues Shouter,” with his resonant voice enabling him to cross over into Jazz, Rock n’ Roll and Rhythm & Blues.

Turner and his musical partner, pianist Pete Johnson, were discovered by record producer John Hammond at the Sunset Café in Kansas City in 1936. Later that same year, Hammond brought Turner and Johnson to New York, where they played for several months at the nightclub, The Famous Door. In 1938 Turner and Johnson returned to New York and were part of Hammond’s first “Spirituals to Swing” concert. The duo was well-received by the public, and in late 1938 Turner and Johnson made their first recordings, "Roll 'Em Pete" and "Goin' Away Blues" for Vocalion Studios.
Sources: 
Frank Driggs and Chuck Haddix, Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop–A History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); Terry Currier, “Big Joe Turner,” BluesNotes (October 2002), in http://www.cascadeblues.org/History/BigJoeTurner.htm ; Arthur and Murray Kempton, “Big Joe Turner, The Holler of a Mountain Jack” in Pete Welding & Toby Byron, eds., Bluesland: Portrait of Twelve Major American Blues Masters (New York: Penguin Books, 1991).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Kasavubu, Joseph (ca. 1910- 1969)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Joseph Kasavubu was the first president of the Republic of Congo, serving from 1960 to 1965.  He assumed the office when the Congo became independent from Belgium on June 30, 1960.  The date and year of his birth is not certain but it is believed to be around 1910.  He was born in the village of Kuma-Dizi in the Mayombe district of the Lower Congo region.  Kasavubu was a member of the Bakongo ethnic group. Kasavubu did not know his father and lost his mother at the age of 4.  He was raised by his older brother who sent him to a nearby Catholic mission where he was baptized in 1925.

Kasavubu attended mission schools and then between 1936 and 1939 attended a seminary where he received the equivalent of an undergraduate degree.  He took a teacher's certificate and worked in mission schools.  In 1942, Kasavubu received a bookkeeping job with the Belgian colonial administration, which was at the time one of the highest positions available to a black Congolese.
Sources: 
Crawford Young, Politics in the Congo: Decolonization and Independence (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1965); Crawford Young and Thomas Turner, The Rise and Decline of the Zairian State (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985); Kevin Shillington, Encyclopedia of African History (New York: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2004); http://www.search.eb.com/eb/article-9044787.
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

Baker, Thomas Nelson, Sr. (1860-1940)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Thomas Nelson Baker, Sr. was the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in philosophy. He was a writer, orator, ethicist, and advocate for a positive black cultural identity.  Baker was born a slave on August 11, 1860 to Thomas Chadwick and Edith Nottingham Baker on Robert Nottingham’s plantation in Northampton County, Virginia.  Baker’s mother taught him to read the Bible and he attended public school from 1868 to 1872.  He left school at the age of 12 to help support his family.  Even while working as a farmhand, he continued his studies privately and in 1881 at the age of 21, he enrolled in the Hampton Institute High School program.  Baker graduated in 1885 as valedictorian of his class.

Determined to prepare for college entrance, in May of 1886 Baker enrolled in the Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts, where despite being one of only two black students in attendance he acted as substitute principal in the summer months.  He graduated from Mount Hermon in June 1889.  

Baker entered Boston University’s Liberal Arts School in 1890 and graduated with his B.A. in 1893.  From there he enrolled in the Yale Divinity School where he earned his Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1896.  The following year he was ordained as minister at Dixwell Avenue Congregational Church in New Haven and remained there until 1901 while simultaneously studying philosophy at Yale Graduate School.
Sources: 
George Yancy, “Thomas Nelson Baker: Toward an Understanding of a Pioneer Black Philosopher,” Newsletter on Philosophy and the Black Experience American Philosophical Association 95:2 (Spring 1996); Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (Va.), The Southern Workman (Hampton, Virginia: Hampton Institute Press, 1938); Alexander McConnell, William Revell Moody, Arthur Percy Fitt, Record of Christian Work Vol. 23 (East Northfield, Massachusetts: Record of Christian Work Co., 1904).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Joyner, Tom (1949- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership, Public Domain
Tom Joyner is the first African American to become a syndicated radio show host.  His “The Tom Joyner Show” is broadcast to over 104 radio stations in the United States. He is also a muscian, author, producer, actor, and television show host.  Besides his media involvement, Joyner is best known as a philanthropist, providing fiancial assistance to students at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as well as taking part in other community projects.

Joyner was born in Tuskegee, Alabama on November 23, 1949.  His parents Frances and Hercules L. Joyner are graduates of  Florida A&M and Tennessee State University, both of which are historically black colleges.  Oscar Joyner, his grandfather, graduated in 1902 with a degree in medicine from Meharry Medical School, making him one of fewer than 3,000 black physicians in the United States at the time.  Joyner has two sons—Tom, Jr. and Oscar—by his first wife Dora.  In 2000 he married Donna Richardson, a celebrity aerobics instructor.  They divorced in 2012.
Sources: 
BlackAmericaWeb, Tom Joyner, http://blackamericaweb.com/tom-joyner/; Blackamericaweb.com, http://blackamericaweb.com/author/tomjoynerblog/; Mary F. Boyce, I’m Just A DJ but it Makes Sense To Me (New York: Warner Books, 2005); Smokey D. Fontaine, “Top 20 Black Radio Jockeys of All Time,” News One Black America, March 15, 2011, retrieved December 1, 2013 from http://newsone.com/1093115/top-20-radio-jockeys-of-all-time/; The Tom Joyner Foundation http://tomjoynerfoundation.org/about-us/history-tom-joyner-foundation/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Raspberry, William James (1935-2012)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
William James Raspberry, who wrote a prominent public affairs column for The Washington Post for nearly 40 years, was one of the first extensively read African American journalist commentators with a wide readership in the mainstream press. From 1995 to 2008 Raspberry also taught journalism at the Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina. Before his retirement from the Post in 2005, Raspberry’s popular syndicated column appeared in over 200 newspapers.  During his career Raspberry wrote over 5,000 articles reflecting his distinctly independent and often provocative observations about race, the legacy of civil rights victories, poverty, urban violence, and education.  In 1982 Raspberry won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary, only the second black columnist, after Carl T. Rowan (1980) to achieve this honor.  That same year he also won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).
Sources: 
Dennis Hevesi, “William Raspberry, Prizewinning Columnist, Dies at 76,” obituary, New York Times, July 17, 2012; http://www.olemiss.edu/mwp/dir/raspberry_william/; http://mswritersandmusicians.com/writers/william-raspberry.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Cuffe, Paul, Jr. (?-?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Paul Cuffe was born into a Pequot family that had intermarried with freed or escaped slaves in New England. His father, Paul Cuffe, Sr., became known for his attempt to begin an African American colony in Sierra Leone.  Paul Cuffe, Jr., made his living as a whaling harpooner and probably came to know Herman Melville, the author of Moby Dick and other works.  It is probable that Melville modeled his character Queequeg, the aboriginal harpooner, after the younger Cuffe.
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

Sul-Te-Wan, Madame (Nellie Conley) 1873-1959

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Madame Sul-Te-Wan was born on September 12, 1873 as Nellie Conley in Louisville, Kentucky where her widowed mother worked as a laundress.  Madame Sul-Te-Wan was a pioneering stage and film actress who became one of the most prominent black performers in Hollywood during the silent film era.  Her career spanned more than seventy years and she is best known as the first African American actress contracted to appear in D.W. Griffith’s groundbreaking and racist cinematic epic, Birth of a Nation (1915).    

Madame Sul-Te-Wan’s interest in performing was awakened when she delivered laundry to Louisville’s Buckingham Theater where the white actresses who were her mother’s customers often invited young Nellie in to watch the shows.  Two white actresses, Mary Anderson and Fanny Davenport, wrangled an audition for her at a talent contest at the Buckingham which the youngster won.  Moving to Cincinnati, Ohio with her mother, Madame Sul-Te-Wan worked in dance troupes and theater companies throughout the East and Midwest billed as “Creole Nell.” She later formed her own musical performing company, The Black Four Hundred. She reconstituted the group as the Rair Back Minstrels and toured the East Coast to great acclaim.
Sources: 
Shirley Ann Wilson Moore, “Your Life is Really Not Just Your Own,” in Lawrence B. De Graaf, Kevin Mulroy, and Quintard Taylor (eds.), Seeking El Dorado: African Americans in California  (Los Angeles: Autry Museum of Western Heritage and Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2001).
Affiliation: 
California State University, Sacramento

Williams, Cathay (1850- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Courtesy of the National Archives
Cathay Williams is the only documented African American woman who served as a soldier in the Regular U.S. Army in the nineteenth century.  Cathay was born a slave around 1850 in Jackson County, Missouri.  In September 1861 Union troops impressed Cathay into the Army to work as a cook and washerwoman for Union Army officers.  She remained with the Army throughout the Civil War serving at various locales including Little Rock, Arkansas; New Orleans and Shreveport in Louisiana; and Savannah and Macon, both in Georgia. In 1864 she briefly served as cook and washerwoman for General Phil Sheridan and his staff in the Shenandoah Valley campaign.

On November 15, 1866 Williams disguised her gender and enlisted as William Cathey, serving in Company A of the 38th Infantry, a newly-formed all-black U.S. Army Regiment, one of its earliest recruits.  Cathay said she joined the Army because “I wanted to make my own living and not be dependent on relations or friends.”
Sources: 
St. Louis Daily Times, St. Louis, MO, January 2, 1876.  “She Fought Nobly: The Story of a Colored Heroine who Served as a Regularly Enlisted Soldier During the Late War”; NARA, Washington, D.C. , U.S. Regular Army: Enlistment papers, William Cathey, November 15, 1866, St. Louis, MO; Certificate of Disability for Discharge, William Cathey, October 14, 1868, Fort Bayard, N.M.; U.S. Army Pension Bureau, Declaration for an Original Invalid Pension, filed June 1891 by Cathay Williams.
Affiliation: 
University of New Mexico

Dean, Mark (1957- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Three of the nine patents on the original personal computer (PC) by International Business Machines (IBM) are registered to Dr. Mark Dean, making him a key contributor in the development of the PC.  

Dean was born in 1957 to Barbara and James Dean in Jefferson City, Tennessee.  He attended an integrated school, Jefferson City High School, where white teachers and classmates were amazed by his intellect and straight-A grades.  Dean earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Tennessee in 1979 and an M.S. from Florida Atlantic University in 1982.  
Sources: 
Ray Spangenburg and Kit Moser, “Mark Dean” in African Americans in Science, Math, and Invention (New York: Facts on File, 2003); http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/bldean_moeller.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Drake, Mary Jane Holmes Shipley (1841–1925)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Mary Jane Holmes Shipley Drake, born in Missouri in 1841, was one of six children of Robin and Polly Holmes. From 1852 to 1853 Mary Jane was the subject of a fifteen-month legal battle known as Holmes v. Ford to obtain her freedom.  That battle also helped determine the status of slavery in Oregon Territory.  

The Holmes family was owned by Missouri farmer Nathaniel Ford.  In 1844 Ford brought the family west on the Oregon Trail, promising Robin and Polly their freedom if they would help him establish a farm in the Oregon Territory.   Ford refused to honor his promise for five years after their arrival, finally relenting in 1849.  He freed the parents and their newborn son but refused to release nine-year-old Mary Jane and her other siblings including two who had been born in Oregon Territory.  Ford intended to sell each of the four children when they reached adulthood.

Ford’s refusal to release Mary Jane Holmes and her siblings prompted Robin and Polly Holmes to file suit to regain custody over their children.  The case worked its way through lower courts and finally reached the bench of Chief Justice George A. Williams of the Oregon Territory Supreme Court.  Chief Justice Williams ruled that slavery could not exist in the territory without specific legislation to protect.  He then declared the Holmes children free.  The Holmes case was the last attempt to establish slavery in Oregon through the judicial process.    
Sources: 

Tricia Martineau Wagner, African American Women of the Old West (Guilford, CT: TwoDot, an imprint of The Globe Pequot Press, 2007); Fred Lockley, “The Case of Robin Holmes vs. Nathaniel Ford,” Oregon Historical Quarterly 23:2 (June 1922):111-137; Elizabeth McLagan, A Peculiar Paradise: A History of Blacks in Oregon, 1788-1940 (Portland: Georgian Press, 1980).  

Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Davis, Ossie (1917-2005)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee
Image Ownership: Public Domain
A veteran actor, playwright and film director, Ossie Davis, grew up in Waycross, Georgia and attended Howard University for three years before leaving to pursue an acting career in New York City with the Rose McClendon Players (1941-1942). Within a year he was inducted into the military (1942). While stationed in Liberia in the Medical Corps and Special Services, he wrote several musicals. Upon his return to civilian service in 1945, he landed a role on Broadway in Jeb giving a performance that launched his professional career.  He also met fellow performer Ruby Dee, his future wife and lifetime mate of over 50 years. Davis and Dee became legendary for their involvement in theatre and civil rights and for their contribution to the American stage, television, and film industry. In black theatre circles, they became known affectionately as “the first couple of black theatre.” Davis and Dee worked together as actors on stage, screen, television (often appearing in the same shows), hosted television shows, starred in Broadway plays, and had fulfilling film careers. For five years they had their own radio series, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee Hour.
Sources: 
Anthony Duane Hill, ed., An Historical Dictionary of African American Theater (Prevessin, France: Scarecrow Press, 2008).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Ohio State University

Whitfield, James Monroe (1822-1871)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982); The Classroom Electric, http://www.classroomelectric.org/volume1/levine/bio.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Ellison, Keith M. (1963- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Keith Ellison was born on August 4, 1963 in Detroit, Michigan.  He was raised Catholic in a middle class family which included five sons.  His father was a psychiatrist and his mother was a social worker.  Since childhood Ellison was involved with the civil rights movement and even worked with his grandfather in Louisiana for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

In 1981 Ellison graduated from the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy.  Six years later he graduated from Wayne State University in Detroit with a B.A. in economics.  While attending Wayne State University, Ellison converted from Catholicism to Islam.  After graduation Ellison attended the University of Minnesota Law School.  In 1990 he graduated with a degree of Juris Doctor.

Ellison began his professional career at the Minneapolis law firm of Lindquist and Vennum.  He worked there for three years as a litigator specializing in criminal defense, civil rights, and employment.  After leaving Lindquist and Vennum Ellison became executive director of the nonprofit Legal Rights Center in Minneapolis.  He then returned to private practice by joining Hassan & Reed where he specialized in trial practice.

Sources: 

Martiga Lohn, “Islamic Convert Wins House Nomination,” The Associated Press, September 14, 2006; Frederic J. Frommer, “Rep. Ellison Wants Forces Out of Iraq,” The Associated Press, January 10, 2007; Congressional Biography:
http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=E000288

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Lafayette, James Armistead (1760-1832)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
James Armistead [Lafayette] was an African American spy during the American Revolution. Born in Virginia as a slave to William Armistead in 1760, he volunteered to join the Army in 1781. After gaining the consent of his owner, Armistead was stationed to serve under the Marquis de Lafayette, the commander of French forces allied with the American Continental Army.  Lafayette employed Armistead as a spy.  While working for Lafayette he successfully infiltrated British General Charles Cornwallis's headquarters posing as a runaway slave hired by the British to spy on the Americans.

While pretending to be a British spy, Armistead gained the confidence of General Benedict Arnold and General Cornwallis. Arnold was so convinced of Armistead's pose as a runaway slave that he used him to guide British troops through local roads. Armistead often traveled between camps, spying on British officers, who spoke openly about their strategies in front of him. Armistead documented this information in written reports, delivered them to other American spies, and then return to General Cornwallis's camp.
Sources: 
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Alan Steinberg, Black Profiles in Courage: A Legacy of African American Achievement (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc, 1996); Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Morgan, Clement Garnett (1859-1929)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Clement Garnett Morgan, a lawyer and civil rights leader, was born in 1859 to slave parents, Clement and Elizabeth Garnett Morgan in Stafford County, Virginia. Shortly after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, the family moved to Washington D.C., where Morgan went to Preparatory High School for Colored Youth. With no way to use his diploma, Morgan became a barber. Unsatisfied with this work, Morgan moved to St. Louis, Missouri where he taught school for four years. Still unsatisfied, he decided to return to school.
Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Whipper, Ionia Rollin (1872-1953)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Courtesy of Carole Ione Lewis

Paste over your article text here

Dr. Ionia Rollin Whipper, physician and social reformer, was born September 8, 1872 in Beaufort, South Carolina. She was one of three surviving children born to author and diarist Frances Anne Rollin and Judge William James Whipper.  

By 1878, as the Reconstruction period was ending in South Carolina, the Ku Klux Klan, and white supremacist “Rifle Clubs” were gathering forces.   Amid an escalating climate of violence, Frances Rollin Whipper took Winifred, Ionia, and Leigh to Washington, D.C.  The family established a home on 6th Street NW, and Whipper saw the children through early education and graduation from Howard University.   Ionia, after teaching for ten years in the Washington, D.C. public school system, entered Howard Medical School, one of the few schools in the country to accept women.     

In 1903, Ionia graduated from Howard University Medical School with a major in Obstetrics, one of four women in her class.  That year, she became a resident physician at Tuskegee Institute, Alabama, and on her return to Washington, D.C, set up private practice at 511 Florida Avenue NW, where she accepted only women patients.

Sources: 

Ionia Rollin Whipper; Perpetual Diary 1920-‘29; Ionia Rollin Whipper, Diary: What It Means To Be God Guided ,1939, Property of Carole Ione Lewis; R.J. Abram, ed., Send Us a Lady Physician: Women Doctors in America, 1835-1920 (New York: Norton, 1985); Carole Ione, Pride of Family; Four Generations of American Women of Color (New York: Harlem Moon Classics, 2004); Lelia Frances Whipper, The Pretty Way Home (New York: iUniverse, 2003).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Mallory, Mark (1962-- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Pubic Domain

On December 1, 2005, Mark Mallory was sworn in as the first black mayor elected by popular vote in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Three other black mayors preceded him but were chosen by the City Council.  Born on April 2, 1962, and raised on the West End of Cincinnati, Mallory attended high school at the city’s Academy of Math and Science and earned a BS in administrative management from the University of Cincinnati in 1984. Before becoming Mayor of Cincinnati, Mallory replaced his father, William L. Mallory Sr., in 1994 in the Ohio General Assembly.  In 1998 Mark Mallory was elected to the Ohio Senate eventually becoming the assistant minority leader. 

Sources: 
Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 62, “Mark L. Mallory” (Farmington Hills, MI: Gale 2008); City of Cincinnati, “Mayor’s Biography” http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/mayor/pages/-3052-/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Cincinatti

Makeba, Miriam (1932--2008)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Miriam Makeba, Makeba: My Story (New York: New American Library, 1988); http://africanmusic.org/artists/makeba.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Doley, Harold, Jr (1947- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

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


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

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

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

Harris, Bernard A., Jr. (1956- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration (NASA)

Bernard Anthony Harris Jr. is a scientist, surgeon, astronaut, entrepreneur, and leader.  He is best known for having been the first African American to walk in space, and developing the non-profit known as the Harris Foundation.

Sources: 
J. Alfred Phelps, They Had A Dream: The Story of African-American Astronauts (Novato: Presidio Press, 1994); http://www.jsc.nasa.gov; http://www.theharrisfoundation.org.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle