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People

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

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

Woodbey, George Washington (1854- ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public
Domain

Born into slavery on a plantation in Tennessee, George Washington Woodbey was largely self-educated and as young man supported himself as a miner and factory worker before becoming an ordained minister in 1874 and pastoring churches in Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. By the mid-1880s Woodbey, a riveting and eloquent public speaker, had adopted the cause of social reform in America.  He was Nebraska’s Prohibition Party’s candidate for lieutenant governor in 1890 and was the party’s candidate for Congress in 1894.  Woodbey later bolted the Prohibition Party to endorse William Jennings Bryan of the Populist People’s Party in Bryan’s failed 1896 presidential campaign. 

By the turn of the century Woodbey had become a committed socialist and allied himself with Eugene V. Debs’s Socialist Party.  So impressed with Woodbey’s ability to captivate and inform crowds on the street corners of Omaha, A.W. Ricker, chief editorial writer for the socialist newspaper, Appeal to Reason, as well as Ricker’s associates, were of the opinion that “Comrade Woodbey is the greatest of living negro in America.”

Sources: 
Philip S. Foner (Ed.). Black Socialist Preacher. San Francisco: Synthesis Publications, 1983; Robert H. Craig. Religion and Radical Politics. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Lee, Jarena (1783-?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Born in Cape May, New Jersey, the early years of Jarena Lee were spent working as a domestic servant.  In her twenties, she was converted, sanctified, and received a call to preach.  When her request for approval to preach was rebuffed by the African Methodist Episcopal Church, she married an AME minister.  His death within a few years of the marriage left Lee a widow with two young children.  In order to support her family she renewed her request to the Rev. Richard Allen, the Bishop of the African Methodist Church who then granted her official church approval to preach. 

Lee’s evangelistic meetings took place in her home city of Philadelphia and also throughout New England, Canada and west into Ohio.  She recounted her meetings in her autobiography, the first to be published in the United States by an African American woman. In that autobiography, Lee  frequently mentions the denominational and racial composition of her audience, which, in both cases, was quite inclusive.  Between 1849 and 1857, there is no recorded history about her.  The last known event in her life was a visit she made to the home of Rebecca Cox Jackson, a Shaker leader, on New Year’s Day in 1857.  After that occasion, at the age of 73, nothing is known about her life or death.

Sources: 
Jarena Lee, The Life and Religious Experience of Jarena Lee, A Coloured Lady (1836) and Jarena Lee, Religious Experience and Journal of Mrs. Jarena Lee (1849); Priscilla Pope-Levison, Turn the Pulpit Loose: Two Centuries of American Women Evangelists (2004).
Affiliation: 
Seattle Pacific University

Richmond, David Leinail (1941-1990)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

One of the original Greensboro four who took part in the Woolworth sit-ins, David Leinail Richmond is often described by those who were closest to him as “gentle, intelligent, generous to a fault, and able to take a stand.” He was born in Greensboro and graduated from Dudley High School. At North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College (now University) he majored in business administration and accounting. He got married while still at “A&T” and was immediately faced with the demands of his classes and the needs of his family, as well as the curious celebrity that went with the movement.

David Richmond began to fall behind in his class work, cutting back on his course load, and as time went by he left A&T before receiving his degree. After leaving A&T, he became a counselor-coordinator for the CETA program in Greensboro. He lived in the mountain community of Franklin for nine years, then returned to Greensboro to take care of his parents and work as a housekeeping porter for Greensboro Health Care Center. In 1980, the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce awarded him the Levi Coffin Award for “leadership in human rights, human relations, and human resources development in Greensboro.” He was married and divorced twice and has two children with Yvonne Bryson.

Sources: 
Frye Gaillard, The Greensboro Four: Civil Rights Pioneers (Charlotte, N.C.: Main Street Rag Publishing Co., 2001); William H. Chafe, Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980).
Contributor2: 
Affiliation: 
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Johnson C. Smith University

Peters, Thomas (1738-1792)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Monument in Honor of Black Loyalists, Nova Scotia
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in Africa and enslaved in America, Thomas Peters is best known for his influence in settling Canadian blacks in the African colony of Sierra Leone. The earliest documentation of Peters’ life is as a 38-year-old slave in North Carolina.  When the Revolutionary War began in 1775, Peters escaped to British-occupied territory.
Sources: 
Simon Schama, Rough Crossings (Toronto: Penguin Group, 2005); James W. St G. Walker, “Peters (Petters), Thomas”, Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online (2000) http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=2115&interval=25&&PHPSESSID=njv4l5j5dglrp8buu4elf70is1.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Walker, Madam C. J. (Sarah Breedlove), 1867–1919

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of A'Lelia Bundles/
Walker Family Collection
Madam C.J. Walker was born Sarah Breedlove to former slaves, Owen and Minerva Breedlove in Delta, Louisiana on December 23, 1867.  Breedlove became an orphan at age seven when her parents died.  Three years later, ten-year-old Sarah and her sister moved across to river to Vicksburg, Mississippi to work as maids.  By her fourteenth birthday, Sarah married Moses McWilliams of Vicksburg and three years later gave birth to her only daughter Lelia (who later changed her name to A’Lelia).  Breedlove became a widow in 1887.  She and her daughter moved to St. Louis to join her older brothers who were barbers.  While in St. Louis she found work as a washer woman earning $1.50 per day.  She also married her second husband, John Davis, in 1894.  The marriage lasted nine years.
Sources: 
A’Lelia Bundles, On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker (New York: Scribner, 2001); Kathryn Lasky, Vision of Beauty: The Story of Sarah Breedlove Walker (Cambridge: Candlewick Press, 2000); www.walkertheatre.com; www.madamcjwalker.com.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Wesley, Charles H. (1891-1987)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Noted historian Charles Harris Wesley was born in Louisville, Kentucky on December 2, 1891, and attended local schools as a boy. He graduated from Fisk University in 1911 and, in 1913, earned a Master’s degree from Yale University. In 1925, Wesley became the third African American to receive a doctorate degree from Harvard University.  He served as the 14th General President and National Historian for seven decades of the African American fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, and wrote The History of Alpha Phi Alpha which was first published in 1929.  Wesley was also a member of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, the oldest African American Greek Letter Fraternity.
Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan, Howard University: The First Hundred Years (New York: New York University Press, 1968); Earle E. Thorpe, Black Historians: A Critique (New York: Morrow, 1971); August Meir and Elliott Rudwick, Black History and the Historical Profession, 1915-1980 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986); Charles H. Wesley biography, http://www.dpw-archives.org/chw.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Hull, England

Patterson, Floyd (1935–2006)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Clay Moyle
Floyd Patterson was born on January 4, 1935 in Waco, North Carolina. A year later the family moved to Brooklyn, New York. Soft spoken and extremely shy, Patterson fell behind in school and at age ten was still unable to read or write. He became a frequent truant and after being caught stealing a number of times, his mother had him committed to Wiltwyck, a school for emotionally disturbed boys.  Patterson described his experience at Wiltwyck as a turning point in his life. Wiltwyck gave him a sense of belonging. He learned how to make friends, to read and write, and was also encouraged to take up boxing.

At age 14 Patterson began working out in a Manhattan, New York gym operated by the noted trainer Cus D’Amato. In 1950 he began boxing as an amateur and one year later captured the New York Golden Gloves middleweight championship.  He repeated the feat in 1952 before winning a gold medal in the 1952 Olympics held in Helsinki, Finland. Capitalizing on his Olympic success Patterson turned professional and worked his way up the ranks, while growing into the heavyweight fight category at a relatively light 180 pounds.  By the time the reigning heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano retired Patterson was a leading heavyweight contender.  He was matched to fight Archie Moore for the vacant title. Patterson knocked Moore out in the fifth round of their November 30, 1956 contest to become the youngest heavyweight champion in history at that time at 21 years of age.
Sources: 
Floyd Patterson, Victory Over Myself (New York: Bernard Geis Associates, 1962); New York Times, May 11, 2006; www.cyberboxingzone.com
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Verrett, Shirley (1931-2010)

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

Shirley Verrett was a distinguished mezzo-soprano and soprano opera singer. Born in New Orleans on May 31, 1931, one of five children to strict Seventh Day Adventists, her father was a successful building contractor. She came from a musical family, her mother often sang in the house and her father occasionally worked as a choir director. Her parents encouraged her talent, but they disapproved of opera and hoped that she would pursue other interests.  The family moved to Los Angeles where Verrett grew up.

Verrett was passionate about music but after high school, with her father’s support, she became a real estate agent. After selling houses for few years, Verrett realized that her life could only be fulfilled by pursuing singing. With help from her vocal instructor, she appeared on Arthur Godfrey’s program Talent Scouts in 1955. From this appearance she was awarded a scholarship at The Julliard School, where she studied for five years with Anna Fitziu and Marion Szekely Freschl.  Verrett made her operatic debut in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia in 1957.  The following year she made her New York City Opera debut as Irina in Kurt Weill’s Lost in the Stars.  Her European debut came in 1959 when she performed in Nabokov’s Rasputin’s Tod in Cologne, Germany.

Sources: 
Elizabeth Nash, Autobiographical Reminiscences of African-American Classical Singers (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2007); Anthony Tommasini, “Shirley Verrett, Opera Singer of Power and Grace, Is Dead at 79,” New York Times (November 6, 2010); Barry Millington, “Shirley Verrett Obituary,” The Guardian (November 8, 2010); Shirley Verrett dies at 79; acclaimed mezzo-soprano," Los Angeles Times, Associated Press (November 7, 2010), retrieved November 7, 2010; http://www.shirleyverrett.com/
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Amo, Anton Wilhelm (1703? -1753)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Anton Wilhelm Amo Statue at the
University of Halle, Germany
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Anton Wilhelm Amo, also known as Antonius Guilielmus Amo Afer ab Aximo in Guinea, was the first intellectual of African ancestry to study in Germany. He obtained a doctorate degree in philosophy and held lectures at the universities of Halle and Jena. Having spent forty years of his life in Germany, Amo returned to his place of birth where he died after 1753.

Amo was born around 1700 on the African Gold Coast in the town of Axim in present-day Ghana. Aged seven, he was brought to Amsterdam, Netherlands by the Dutch West India Company who gave him as a present to the Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel in Saxony. The Duke Ulrich Anton and his son Augustus Wilhelm adopted Amo, baptized him in 1707 and gave him his Christian name Anton Wilhelm. His protectors also allowed him to be educated to a point where he was able to enter the University of Halle.
Sources: 
Burchard Brentjes, Anton Wilhelm Amo: Der Schwarze Philosoph in Halle (Leipzig: Koehler & Amelang, 1976); Paulin J. Hountondji, African Philosophy: Myth and Reality (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1996); http://amo.blogsport.de/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Augsburg

Carney, William H. (1840-1908)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Horton. Slavery and the Making of America. (New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2005); Jessie Carney Smith, editor. Black Firsts: 2,000 Years of Extraordinary Achievement.  (Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1994).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Tamano-Shata, Pnina (1981- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Pnina Tamano-Shata, a lawyer and journalist, is the first woman of sub-Saharan African ancestry elected to the Knesset or Israeli National Parliament. Tamano-Shata was born in the Gondar region of Ethiopia to a Beta Israel (Jewish) family, the granddaughter of Kais Shato-Maharata, one of the foremost spiritual leaders within the Ethiopian Jewish community.  At the age of three, she immigrated with her family to Israel as part of Operation Moses.  Tamano-Shata was educated in high-school boarding schools, like many other youth of Ethiopian families in the 1980s and 1990s, and studied in a program for gifted students.  After a two-year service in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), she studied law at Ono Academic College.  Following an internship at a law firm, Tamano-Shata worked from 2007 to 2012 for the Israeli Channel 1 TV news as a reporter and as a host of a current-affairs talk show, the first Ethiopian woman to do so.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Hadassah Academic College

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

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

Abel, Elijah (1810-1884)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Elijah Abel was born in Washington County, Maryland in 1810 to Andrew and Delilah Abel, likely in bondage.  There is some evidence that he used the Underground Railroad to escape slavery.  It is certain that he eventually found his way to the first settlement of the Latter-day Saints: Kirtland, Ohio, where, in 1832, he was baptized into the new religion.  He was subsequently ordained an Elder in the LDS Priesthood (1836) under the hands of the Church founder, Joseph Smith, Jr.

Abel, a skilled carpenter, helped build the Kirtland LDS Temple, and when the Mormons moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, he worked on the Nauvoo Temple as well.  He also represented the LDS Church as a certified missionary in New York and Canada.
Sources: 
Newell Bringhurst, Saints, Slaves, and Blacks: The Changing Place of Black People within Mormonism (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1981); Margaret Young and Darius Gray, Standing on the Promises (trilogy) (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2000-2003); http://www.blacklds.org/669/elijah-abel-black-mormon-pioneer.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Brigham Young University

Wiley, George Alvin (1931-1973)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
George Wiley was born in New Jersey in 1931 and raised in Warwick, Rhode Island.  Wiley earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Rhode Island in 1953 and his Ph.D. in chemistry at Cornell in 1957. Afterwards he accepted a post-doctoral position at the University of California, Los Angeles. Wiley taught at the University of California, Berkeley and at Syracuse University. At Syracuse, he founded the local Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) chapter, fighting for the integration of public schools and equal opportunities in housing and employment.  

In 1964 Wiley left academia to work full time with CORE as the associate national director, second in command to national director James Farmer. After an unsuccessful attempt to become the national director after Farmer, he left CORE and created his own group called the Poverty/Rights Action Center (P/RAC) in Washington, D.C. Under the influence of two Columbia University School of Social Work professors, Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward, Wiley sought to promote racial justice by providing economic opportunities for the poor. In June 1966, he organized several demonstrations that led to the formation of the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO).
Sources: 
Nick Kotz and Mary Lynn Kotz, A Passion for Equality: George Wiley and the Movement (New York: W. W. Norton, 1977); Guida West, The National Welfare Rights Movement: The Social Protest of Poor Women (New York: Praeger, 1981); Premilla Nadasen, Welfare Warriors: The Welfare Rights Movement in the United States (New York: Routledge, 2005); “George Alvin Wiley,” Discoverthenetworks.org, http://www.discoverthenetwork.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=1769
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Kanagawa University, Japan

Prioleau, George (1856-1927)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
George Prioleau was chaplain of the 9th Cavalry of Buffalo Soldiers in the late 19th century. After witnessing inequality and mistreatment of his men, he publicly challenged the hypocrisy and racial line being drawn against black soldiers.

Born in 1856 to slave parents in Charleston, South Carolina, Prioleau earned his theology degree from Wilberforce University in Ohio. He was a teacher and served as an A. M. E. pastor and denominational leader for Ohio congregations, and in 1889 he became professor of theology and homiletics at Wilberforce. Six years later, President Grover Cleveland appointed him to replace Henry Plummer as chaplain of the 9th Cavalry, U. S. Army, with a rank of captain.

In 1898 upon the outbreak of the Spanish-American war, the 9th Cavalry left the western United States for the first time in its history and was deployed to bases in Georgia and Florida for military activities in Cuba and the Caribbean.  Chaplain Prioleau was eager for an opportunity for African American soldiers to prove themselves on the field of battle, but he became ill with malaria and was unable to travel to Cuba with the rest of the 9th. Upon recovering from his illness, he served as a recruitment officer in the segregated South. While there, Prioleau was shocked by the racism the 9th faced on a daily basis.
Sources: 
Bruce A. Glasrud and Michael N. Searles, Buffalo Soldiers in the West: A Black Soldiers Anthology (College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 2007); Frank N. Schubert, Voices of the Buffalo Soldier: Records, Reports, and Recollections of Military Life in the West (Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2003); Irene K. Schubert and Frank N. Schubert, On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldier II (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2004); Richard R. Wright, Jr., Centennial Encyclopedia of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (Philadelphia, PA: A. M. E. Church, 1916); Anthony L. Powell, “An Overview: Black Participation in the Spanish-American War,” The Spanish American War Centennial Website http://www.spanamwar.com/AfroAmericans.htm; “History of Bethel A.M.E. Church,” http://www.bethelamela.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=46:history-of-bethel&catid=34:history&Itemid=59.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Henson, Matthew (1866-1955)

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

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

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

Morrow, Everett Frederic (1909-1994)

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

Everett Frederic Morrow, the son of John Eugene Morrow, a library custodian who became an ordained Methodist minister in 1912 and Mary Ann Hayes, a former farm worker and maid, was born on April 9, 1909 in Hackensack, New Jersey.  He graduated from Hackensack High School in 1925, where he not only served on the debate team for three years, but was their president his senior year.  

Morrow attended Bowdoin College between 1926 and 1930 and at the time was one of only two African American students enrolled there.   Morrow did well academically, but was forced to withdraw his senior year to help his family.  He worked as a bank messenger on Wall Street and then secured a social work job. In 1935, Morrow joined the National Urban League as a business manager of Opportunity Magazine, and two years later became field secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), traveling across the nation to promote membership and fundraising.

Sources: 
E. Frederic Morrow, Black Man in the White House: A Diary of the Eisenhower Years by the Administrative Officer for Special Projects, The White House, 1955-1961 (New York: Coward-McCann, 1963): Henry Louis Gates and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, African American Lives (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004); Wolfgang Saxon, "E. Frederic Morrow," The New York Times, July 21, 1994; http://veterans.hackensackschools.org
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Rock, John S. (1825-1866)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John S. Rock was born to free black parents in Salem, New Jersey in 1825. He attended public schools in New Jersey until he was 19 and then worked as a teacher between 1844 and 1848.  During this period Rock began his medical studies with two white doctors. Although he was initially denied entry, Rock was finally accepted into the American Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He graduated in 1852 with a medical degree. While in medical school Rock practiced dentistry and taught classes at a night school for African Americans.  In 1851 he received a silver medal for the creation of an improved variety of artificial teeth and another for a prize essay on temperance.   
Sources: 
John A Garraty and Jerome Sternstein, eds., Encyclopedia of American Biography, 2nd edition (New York: Harper Collins, 1996); Carter, Purvis, “The Negro in Periodical Literature, Part III,” Journal of Negro History (July 1967) 92-102.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Allen, Debbie (1950- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Deborah “Debbie” Allen, dancer, choreographer, actress, director, and producer was born January 16, 1950 in Houston, Texas to Arthur Allen, a dentist and Vivian Ayers, a poet. Allen comes from a creative family: Allen’s brother “Tex” Allen is a jazz musician, and older sister Phylicia Rashad is an actress best known for her role as Claire Huxtable on The Cosby Show.  Allen began dancing at a very early age and at age 12 she auditioned for the Houston Ballet School, but was denied admittance because she was African American. Luckily, a Russian dancer who saw Allen perform was so impressed with her that he secretly enrolled her in the school where she eventually became one of the top students.

At age 16 Allen auditioned at the North Carolina School of the Arts but was told that she did not have the right body type for ballet, a common criticism given to many aspiring black ballerinas to exclude them from classical ballet. Allen was so devastated by her rejection that she put her dancing career on hold for several years.
Sources: 
Ashyia Henderson, “Debbie Allen," Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 42 (Farmington Hill, Michigan: Thomson/Gale, 2004); Kenneth Estell, “Debbie Allen,” The African American Almanac, 8th ed. (Farmington Hill, Michigan: Thomson/Gale, 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Chinn, Julia Ann (ca.1790-1833)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Julia Chinn, the putative common-law wife of 9th US vice president Richard Mentor Johnson (1780-1850), was born an octoroon slave in Scott County, Kentucky.  Her parents and exact date of birth are unknown, but she was raised and educated in Johnson’s household by his mother Jemima Suggett Johnson.  By 1812, Julia had become Richard Johnson’s close companion and mother of their two daughters: Adeline J. Johnson (Scott) (ca.1812-1836) and Imogene Malvina Johnson (Pence) (1812-1885).

When Richard’s father Colonel Robert Johnson, one of the wealthiest landowners in Kentucky, died in 1815, Richard inherited Julia.  Because interracial marriage was illegal in Kentucky and emancipation would have forced Julia to leave the state, Richard M. Johnson retained the title “bachelor” and Julia remained a slave.  Rumors circulated, however, that the two had been secretly married by their Baptist minister and some contemporary newspapers referred to Julia as Johnson’s wife.
Sources: 
Ann Bevins, “Richard M. Johnson narrative: Personal and Family Life," Georgetown and Scott County Museum, 2007; “Richard Mentor Johnson, 9th Vice President (1837-1841),” United States Senate Historical Office, http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/generic/Senate_Historical_Office.htm; Carolyn Jean Powell, "What's love got to do with it? The dynamics of desire, race and murder in the slave South," PhD Diss., UMass Amherst (January 1, 2002); “The Workings of Slavery,” New York Daily Tribune, July 1, 1845.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Ball, Alice Augusta (1892-1916)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Alice Augusta Ball, a pharmaceutical chemist, was born in Seattle, Washington in 1892 to Laura and James P. Ball, Jr. Her grandfather was J.P. Ball, the well known daguerreotype photographer and her father was a promising lawyer. James P. Ball, Sr. moved to Hawaii for health reasons in 1903 with his family and opened a studio.  He died less than a year later and the family returned to Seattle in 1905.  

Alice Ball entered the University of Washington and graduated with two degrees in pharmaceutical chemistry in 1912 and pharmacy in 1914. In the fall of 1914, she entered the College of Hawaii (later the University of Hawaii) as a graduate student in chemistry.  On June 1, 1915, she was the first African American and the first woman to graduate with a master of Science degree in chemistry from the University of Hawaii. In the 1914-1915 academic year she also became the first woman to teach chemistry at the institution.
Sources: 
Paul Wermager, “Healing the Sick” in They Followed the Trade Winds (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2005) pp. 171-174.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Hawaii

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

Carson, Johnnie (1943- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Johnnie Carson is a retired diplomat who served as United States Ambassador to Uganda (1991-1994), U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe (1995-1997), and U.S. Ambassador to Kenya (1999-2003). Carson was born on April 7, 1943 in Chicago, Illinois. After attending public schools in Chicago, Carson received a bachelor of history and political science from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa in 1965 followed by a master’s degree in international relations from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London (UK) in 1975.  
Sources: 
Gabriel I. H. Williams, “ECOWAS Ambassadors in Washington Honor Outgoing U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Johnny Carson,” http://www.liberianembassyus.org/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=89&cntnt01origid=15; Steven Ruder, “Ambassador Johnnie Carson Joins USIP, Will Continue Work on African Issues,” The United States Institute of Peace, May 24, 2013, http://www.usip.org/publications/ambassador-johnnie-carson-joins-usip-will-continue-work-african-issues; Jeffrey Gettleman, “Leader of Vote Count in Kenya Faces U.S. With Tough Choices,” New York Times, March 7, 2013; http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/08/world/africa/kenyatta.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Maryland-Baltimore County

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

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

Lai, Carlotta Stewart (1881-1952)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Despite its charm, Hawaii was a peculiar setting for a young black woman from Brooklyn, New York in the late nineteenth century. The third child of T. McCants Stewart and Charlotte Pearl Harris, Carlotta Stewart was born in 1881 in Brooklyn, New York, where she attended public schools during her formative years. Although her father had spent several years in Liberia, Africa, Carlotta had never traveled outside of the continental United States before coming to Hawaii. She was eighteen when she arrived in Hawaii in 1898, accompanying her father and stepmother.

The first evidence of Carlotta's activities appears in 1902 when she graduated from the Punahou School, Oahu College. After graduation, Carlotta completed the requirements for a Normal School certificate, which she received in 1902, and promptly accepted a teaching position in the Practice Department of the Punahou Normal School in July, right after her graduation. Carlotta remained at the Normal School for several years where she taught English.
Sources: 
Albert S. Broussard, African American Odyssey: The Stewarts, 1853-1963 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas A&M University

Lester, Peter (1814- ? )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Peter Lester moved with his wife Nancy and five children to San Francisco from Philadelphia in 1850, where he was appalled to find that slavery was still a fact of life in the free state of California. In an attempt to do something about this, he invited black slaves and domestic workers into his home to lecture about their rights and to teach them anti-slavery songs.

Mr. Lester was making his living as a bootblack and boot maker in San Francisco when he met Mifflin W. Gibbs in the early California gold rush days. They became partners in the firm Lester & Gibbs, and opened up a successful shoe store in 1851 bearing the name (according to Mr. Gibbs) “Emporium for Fine Boots and Shoes, imported from Philadelphia, London and Paris.” This business saw wide success in both wholesale and retail, and the pair became very wealthy.
Sources: 
Rudolph M. Lapp, Blacks in Gold Rush California (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977).
 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Johnson, Nellie Stone (1905-2002)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Social activist and black labor leader Nellie Stone Johnson was born Nellie Saunders Allen in Lakeville, Minnesota in 1905, the eldest daughter of an activist farmer, William R. Allen and a schoolteacher, Gladys Allen.  As a child, Nellie worked on her family’s farm near Hinckley, Minnesota.  On her way to and from school, she distributed flyers for the Non-Partisan League, a radical rural organization of which her father was a member.  

When she was 17, she left the farm for Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she finished high school through the GED program at the University of Minnesota in 1925.  She attended but did not graduate from the University of Wisconsin.  In 1931, Allen married Clyde Stone, an auto mechanic.  

During the Great Depression Stone worked for the Minneapolis Athletic Club.  Concerned about a pay cut food workers received in 1935, she helped found Local 665 of the Hotel and Restaurant International Union, of which she would become Vice-President.  While with the union Stone helped to start the first health and welfare program for food workers.  She was also the first woman to serve as vice-president of the Minnesota Culinary Council.  
Sources: 

Nellie Stone Johnson, Nellie Stone Johnson:  The Life of an Activist (St. Paul, MN:  Ruminator Books, 2000); Mary Christine Pruitt, “Women Unite! The Modern Women’s Movement in Minnesota” (Dissertation, University of Minnesota, 1988); Monica Bauerlein, "Nellie Stone Johnson: 19005-2002: Minneapolis Loses a Legendary Figure," City Pages, April 10, 2002.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Paul, Susan (1809–1841)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

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

Stanford, Maxwell Curtis, Jr. (aka Muhammad Ahmad, 1941 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of
Dr.Muhammad Ahmad (Maxwell C. Stanford Jr.)
Maxwell Curtis Stanford, Jr., known since 1970 as Muhammad Ahmad, is a civil rights activist and was a founder of the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), a black power organization active during the 1960s. Born on July 31, 1941 in Philadelphia, he graduated from West Philadelphia High School and attended Central State College in Wilberforce, Ohio from 1960 to 1962. Stanford left college after founding RAM in the summer of 1962.

RAM was a black nationalist student group with a philosophy inspired by the self-defense doctrines of former National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) leader Robert F. Williams. Williams, a former head of the Monroe, North Carolina NAACP, espoused fighting the Ku Klux Klan directly, "meeting violence with violence.” Inspired by Williams’s actions, a group of college students in Wilberforce created an organization they dubbed “Challenge.” The group’s leader, Donald Freeman, hoped to create a force with the nationalist sentiment of the Nation of Islam and the direct tactics of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In the spring of 1962, members elected to dissolve Challenge, and Freeman, Stanford, and Wanda Marshall established RAM.
Sources: 
Matthew Countryman, Up South: Civil Rights and Black Power in Philadelphia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006); John H. Bracey and Sharon Harley, The Black Power Movement: Part 3: Papers of the Revolutionary Action Movement (LexisNexis: Bethesda, Maryland); Robin D.G. Kelley, “Stormy Weather: Reconstructing Black (Inter)Nationalism in the Cold War Era,” in Eddie S. Glaude (ed), Is It Nation Time?: Contemporary Essays On Black Power and Black Nationalism (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sydney, Australia

Brimmer, Andrew F. (1926-2012)

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

A writer, an economist and an advocate for affirmative action, Andrew Felton Brimmer is best known as the first African American to hold a governorship on the United States Federal Reserve Bank.

Born in Newellton, Louisiana, Brimmer moved to Bremerton, Washington in 1944 and enlisted in the U.S. Army.  He served in the Army two years, rising to the rank of staff sergeant.  Upon his return, he enrolled at the University of Washington where he received his B.A. in Economics in 1950 and M.A. shortly thereafter in 1951. Brimmer then studied at the University of Bombay for a year and completed a Ph.D. in Economics at Harvard University in 1957.

First and foremost an economist, Brimmer promoted a monetary policy that sought to alleviate unemployment and reduce the national deficit.  He also argued that racial discrimination hurt the U.S economy by marginalizing potentially productive workers.   

Sources: 
Kwame Appiah and Henry Louis Gates Jr., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 1999); Charles Christian, Black Saga: The African American Experience (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1995); Colin Palmer, Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History (Missouri: Thomson Gale, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Alexander, Archer (ca. 1810-1879)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
The Lincoln Emancipation Statue in
Washington,D.C. Archer Alexander is the
Model for the Slave Here
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Archer Alexander was born into slavery on a Virginia plantation around the year 1810.  His likeness, in face and figure, immortalizes all American slaves on a monument to emancipation that stands in Lincoln Park in Washington, D. C. The bronze monument "Emancipation," also known as the "Freedmen's Memorial," depicts Abraham Lincoln reaching out to a crouching figure who is working to free himself from his chains. Financed mainly by donations from former slaves, it was dedicated on April 14, 1876 by Frederick Douglass, himself a former slave.

Alexander was born to slave parents Aleck and Chloe on a farm outside of Richmond.  When Archer was in his teens, his father was sold in order to settle a plantation debt. Two years later when the plantation owner died, Alexander Archer was willed to the eldest son Thomas Delaney, with whom he had been raised. When Thomas Delaney moved to Missouri, Archer went with him. Settling in St. Louis, Archer met and married a slave named Louisa and started a family. When Thomas Delaney moved to Louisiana he sold Alexander to Louisa's owner, a farmer named Hollman.
Sources: 
William G. Eliot, The Story of Archer Alexander: From Slavery to Freedom (Boston: Cupples, Upham and Company, 1885; reprinted in Westport, Connecticut by Negro Universities Press, 1970); Candace O'Connor, “The Image of Freedom,” St. Louis Post Dispatch (February 23, 1989).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Dessalines, Jean-Jacques (1758-1806)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African 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
Reviled for his brutality yet honored as one of the founding fathers of Haiti, Jean-Jacques Dessalines was second in command under Toussaint L’Overture during the Haitian Revolution and was the general who emerged after L’Overture’s capture to lead the insurgents in declaring Haitian independence on January 1, 1804.

Like L’Overture, Dessalines was born into slavery in the French colony of Saint Dominque.  Born to Congolese parents, Dessalines was originally given the name Duclos, after the plantation’s owner.  He later adopted the surname Dessalines after the free black landowner who purchased him and from whom he escaped. Unlike L’Overture, Dessalines was treated harshly as a slave and violence became a way of life that marked him throughout his military and brief political career contributing both to his success on the battlefield and to his eventual downfall.
Sources: 
Laurent Dubois, Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2004); Martin Ros, Night of Fire: The Black Napoleon and the Battle for Haiti (New York: Sarpedon, 1994).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Johnson, Yvonne Jeffries (1942- )

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

Yvonne Jeffries Johnson, the first African American mayor of Greensboro, North Carolina, was born on October 26, 1942 in Greensboro to Ruby Jeffries.  She graduated from Dudley High School in 1960 and Bennett College in 1964, with a BA in Psychology.  She then enrolled in Howard University and received a Graduate Fellowship in 1965.  In 1978 Johnson received a Master of Science degree in Guidance Counseling from North Carolina A&T University.

Sources: 
Personal interview with the author, June 2011, http://www.greensboro-nc.gov/index.aspx?page=104; Personal resume.
Affiliation: 
University of Texas, El Paso

Fuller, Meta Warrick (1877-1968)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Meta Warrick Fuller was a black female artist who specialized in sculpture. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1877, her career peaked during America’s Gilded Age, a time when more women were trained as artists than ever before. She attended the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Arts in 1897 (now Pennsylvania College of Art) before traveling abroad to study in Paris, France in 1899. Warrick studied at the Académie Colarossi for sculpture and La Ecole des Beaux Arts for drawing. It was during this time that she met Auguste Rodin, who encouraged her to continue the sculptural realism that she loved. This advice invigorated her art. With her new confidence, she exhibited at Samuel Bing’s L’Art Nouveau Gallery in Paris in 1900.
Sources: 
Renée Ater, “Making History,” American Art (Vol 17 Issue 3, Fall 2003); Sharon E. Patton, African American Art (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1998).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

Aynaw, Yityish “Titi” (1992- )

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

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

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

Long, Nate (1930-2002)

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

Nate Long was a filmmaker, television producer, director, stuntman, actor and teacher who worked both in Hollywood and the Pacific Northwest. Long was born in Philadelphia in 1930.  He joined the Air Force, became a military policeman and completed his service at Paine Field near Everett, Washington in 1965. While in the Air Force he earned a black belt in judo. Long then taught judo and karate to inner-city children through Seattle’s Central Area Motivation Project, his first post-military job.

Long’s interest soon turned to mass media and in 1970 he created Oscar Productions, a Seattle-based photography, cinematography and television production training program for inner-city high school and college students.  For ten years, he and his students produced a weekly public affairs program, Action Inner City, and a monthly show titled Aggin News.  Both aired on KOMO-TV.  Former Seattle Mayor Norman Rice and former Fannie Mae Corporation CEO Franklin Raines were among his first students. 

Sources: 
"'He Was a Mover and a Shaker' in Seattle Film and TV Business," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Saturday, November 23, 2002; "Nate Long," Internet Movie Database (IMDb), retrieved April 17, 2007 from <http://imdb.com/.
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

Coleman, Wanda Evans (1946-2013)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Wanda Evans Coleman was an American poet and writer who won critical acclaim for her avant-garde work, but remained relatively unknown to a broader audience. Her 30 year literary career included a myriad of poetry and fiction publications.

Born and raised in the Watts section of Los Angeles, California on November 13, 1946, Coleman was the daughter of George and Lewana (Scott) Evans. Her father was an ex-boxer and long-time friend and sparring partner of Light Heavyweight Champion Archie Moore.  He also ran a sign shop during the day and worked the graveyard shift as a janitor at RCA Victor Records. Her mother worked as a seamstress and as a housekeeper for Ronald Reagan, among other celebrities.

When she was 13, her first poem was published in a local newspaper. As teenagers she and her brother worked for their father in his home-based publishing company, an experience that prepared her for a career as a freelance writer.
Sources: 
Priscilla Ann Brown and Wanda Coleman, "What Saves Us: An Interview with Wanda Coleman," retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3300711 (2003); Justin D. Gifford, Wanda Coleman, Emory “Butch” Holmes II, “Harvard in Hell”: Holloway House Publishing Company, Players Magazine, and the Invention of Black Mass-Market Erotica (2010), Poetry Foundation, Wanda Coleman biography, retrieved from, http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/wanda-coleman (2015); Elaine Woo, "Wanda Coleman dies at 67; Watts native, L.A.'s unofficial poet laureate," Los Angeles Times.com, http://articles.latimes.com/2013/nov/23/local/la-me-wanda-coleman-20131124-1; Wanda Coleman, The Riot Inside Me: More Trials & Tremors (New Hampshire: Black Sparrow Books, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

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

Cary, Mary Ann Shadd (1823-1893)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: Univ. of Tennessee Press, 1992); Jane Rhodes, Mary Ann Shadd Cary: The Black Press and Protest in the Nineteenth Century (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Bridges, Leon (1932- )

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

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

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

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

Taylor, Robert Robinson (1868-1942)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Architect and educator Robert Robinson Taylor was the first African American to graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  He is the father of architect and Chicago business leader Robert Rochon Taylor (1899-1957) and the great-grandfather of Valerie Jarrett (1956-  ), senior advisor to President Barack Obama (1961-  ). With a professional career as an architect and instructor that spanned four decades from 1893 to 1933, Taylor influenced generations of future African American architects in the United States.  

Robert Robinson Taylor was born on June 8th, 1868, in Wilmington, North Carolina. His father, a carpenter, and his mother were former slaves. Taylor’s earliest formal education occurred at Wilmington’s Williston School and the all-black Gregory Normal Institute (1868-1921), sponsored by the American Missionary Association (1846-?).  He entered MIT’s School of Architecture in 1888 and in 1892 was MIT’s first black graduate.
Sources: 
Dreck Spurlock Wilson, ed., African American Architects: A Biographical Dictionary 1865-1945 (New York: Routledge, 2004); Booker T. Washington, Tuskegee; Its Story and Its Work (Boston: Small, Maynard & Co., 1900); Clarence G. Williams, “From 'Tech' to Tuskegee: The Life of Robert Robinson Taylor,1868-1942,” http://libraries.mit.edu/archives/mithistory/blacks-at-mit/taylor.html; “MIT Institute Archives & Special Collections: An MIT Chronology” http://libraries.mit.edu/archives/timeline/index.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Kochiyama, Yuri (1921-2014)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

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

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

Boston King (c. 1760-1802)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Boston King Book Cover
Image Courtesy of History Collection, Nova Scotia Museum
Boston King, one of the pioneer settlers of Sierra Leone, was born enslaved on the Richard Waring plantation near Charleston, South Carolina around 1760. Through the age of 16, King was trained as a house servant before being sent to apprentice as a carpenter in Charleston. In 1780, when British troops occupied Charleston during the American Revolution, King fled to the British garrison and gained his freedom.  King was first a servant to British officers but like many black male Loyalists he joined the British Army. He worked mostly as a carpenter but on one occasion he carried an important dispatch through enemy lines, which saved 250 British soldiers at Nelson’s Ferry, South Carolina. Later, as a crewmember on a British warship, King participated in the capture of a rebel ship in Chesapeake Bay.
Sources: 
Boston King, Memoirs of the life of Boston King (Halifax: Nimbus Publishing, 2003); Simon Schama, Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution (New York: Harper-Collins Publishers, 2006); Joe Lockard and Elizabeth McNeil, eds. “Annotated Memoirs of the Life of Boston King, a Black Preacher originally published in The Methodist Magazine” (Arizona State University Antislavery Literature Project, n.d.), http://antislavery.eserver.org/narratives/boston_king/bostonkingproof.pdf/; James W. St G. Walker, “King, Boston,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=2489.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Hunton, William Alphaeus, Jr. (1903-1970)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Alphaeus Hunton at a South Africa Famine
Relief Rally, Abyssinian Baptist Church, 1946
Image Ownership: Public Domain
 
A leading intellectual and activist of the post-WWII period, Alphaeus Hunton, Jr. was the executive director of the Council on African Affairs (CAA) and editor of the CAA's publication, New Africa, from 1943 through the organization's dissolution in 1955. In this capacity, Hunton did more than perhaps any other individual to articulate an anticolonial critique of post-war liberalism and racial capitalism and to advance a vision of Pan-African black identity that stressed the inextricable linkage between African Americans, Africans, and colonized peoples around the world.

Hunton was born in Atlanta in 1903. His family migrated to Brooklyn in the wake of the Atlanta race riot of 1906. He graduated from Howard University in 1924, earned a master's degree in Victorian literature from Harvard in 1925, and studied for a doctorate at New York University from 1934-1938. Hunton's political voice began to emerge during his years at New York University. Attracted to Marxism-Leninism, he was involved in union organizing, joined the Communist Party, and served on the executive board of the National Negro Congress in 1936.
Sources: 
Penny M. Von Eschen, Race Against Empire: Black Americans and Anticolonialism, 1937-1957 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997); Hollis R. Lynch, Black American Radicals and the Liberation of Africa: The Council of African Affairs, 1937-1955 (Ithaca: Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University, 1978).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Baca, Susana (1944- )

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

Susana Baca, recording artist and the first Afro-Peruvian to sit as a Cabinet Minister, was born in 1944 in Chorrillos, a seaside district of Lima, Peru, to a working class family. Her father was a chauffeur and her mother worked as cook and laundress for upper class families. Baca began singing at home at a very young age, inspired by the large and festive weekly family gatherings and encouraged by her mom’s passion for various local musical genres. Her father also played the guitar. Baca grew up in a multicultural environment, not particularly aware of her “blackness,” but she clearly recalls the first moment when she felt discriminated against: while in high school, she and other non-white students were not chosen to participate on the school’s dance team because of their skin color.

Sources: 
Heidi Feldman, Black Rhythms of Peru. Reviving African Musical Heritage in the Black Pacific (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2006); “Music, Activism and the Peruvian Cabinet. A Word with Susana Baca” (New York Times, August 19, 2011)
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/20/arts/music/susana-baca-peruvian-musician-and-culture-minister.html; “Peru's First Black Minister Susana Baca: Barefoot Singer” (The Huffington Post, September 15, 2011)
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/16/peru-black-minister-susana-baca_n_966895.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Oregon

Grier, Eliza Ann ( ? - 1902)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Eliza Ann Grier was born a slave, but became emancipated and eventually earned her M.D., becoming in 1898 the first African American woman to practice medicine in Georgia.  Little is known of Grier’s early life beyond her growing up in Atlanta.  In 1883, nearly 20 years after her emancipation, Grier entered Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee with the goal of becoming a teacher.  She earned a degree in education from Fisk eight years later in 1891 because she took every other year off to pick cotton and perform other work to earn her tuition to continue her studies.
Sources: 

Dorothy Sterling, We Are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century (New York: W.W. Norton, 1984), http://www.nlm.nih.gov/changingthefaceofmedicine/physicians/biography_132.html

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

McKinney, Louise Jones (1930–2012)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Courtesy of Lora-Ellen McKinney
Louise McKinney (née Jones) was an African-American educator, human rights advocate, philanthropist, business woman, community activist, and patron of the arts.  She was a long-established galvanizing force of civic life in Seattle and in the State of Washington.

Born Louise Jones on July 12, 1920 in Cleveland, Ohio, McKinney graduated from Western Reserve (now Case Western Reserve) University in 1952.

In 1953 she met and subsequently married Rev. Samuel B. McKinney, a 1952 graduate of New York's Colgate Rochester Divinity School. They remained married for 59 years and had two children, Rhoda and Lora-Ellen.

Between 1955 and 1958 McKinney lived in Providence, Rhode Island, where her husband served as pastor of the Olney Street Baptist Church.  In 1958 the McKinneys moved to Seattle and for four decades she was the First Lady of Mount Zion Baptist Church.  
Sources: 
Lornet Turnbull, “Louise McKinney, longtime educator and patron of the arts, dies,” The Seattle Times Website (August 15, 2012); Tom Fucoloro, “Mount Zion mourns the passing of former First Lady at 82,” Central District News Website (August 17, 2012); “The loves of their lives,” The Seattle Times Website (February 13, 2000), “Welcome to The Hansberry Project at ACT Theatre” http://hansberryproject.org/programs.html; “Boards and Volunteers – Louise Jones McKinney,” at http://www.modelfamilies.org/htmldocs/ljmckinney.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

Ragsdale, Marguerita (1948- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Marguerita Dianne Ragsdale was born in April 1948 in Richmond, Virginia to Lillie and Vernon Ragsdale and raised alongside her five sisters on a farm in McKenney, Dinwiddie County, Virginia. After starting her undergraduate work at Virginia State University in Petersburg, she transferred to American University in Washington, D.C., where she earned a B.A. in journalism. Later, she earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia, and a J.D. from Columbia University.
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

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

Woods, Granville T. (1856-1910)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Granville T. Woods was a prominent inventor and electrical engineer who developed over 50 significant patents over the course of his life.  Because of his significant electrical inventions he is known as the “Black Edison.”

Sources: 
Robert Hayden, Nine African American Inventors (New York: Presidio Twenty First Century Books, 1992); Portia P. James, The Real McCoy: African American Invention and Innovation 1619-1930 (Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution, 1989); David M. Foy, Great Discoveries and Inventions by African Americans (Edgewood, Maryland: APU Publishing Group,1989).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Rogers, J. A. (1880-1966)

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

Self-trained historian, novelist, and journalist Joel Augustus Rogers spent most of his life debunking pseudo-scientific and racist depictions of people of African ancestry while popularizing the history of persons of black people around the world. Rogers was born September 6, 1883 in Negril, Jamaica. He and his siblings were raised, after their mother passed, by their schoolteacher father, Samuel John Rogers.  Rogers emigrated to the United States in 1906 and Joel Rogers became a naturalized citizen in 1917.  Rogers lived briefly in Chicago before eventually settling in New York City.  

Sources: 
W. Burghardt Turner, “J.A. Rogers: Portrait of An Afro-American Historian,” Black Scholar (January-February, 1978); Malik Simba, “Joel Augustus Rogers: Negro Historian in History, Time, and Space,” Afro-Americans in New York Life and History, vol. 30, no.2 , July 2006; Thabiti Asukile, "Joel Augustus Rogers: Black International Journalism, Archival Research, And Black Print Culture," Journal of African American History (Special Issue "To Be Heard in Black and White: Historical Perspective on Black Print Culture"), Vol. 95, Nos. 3-4 (Summer-Fall 2010); Thabiti Asukile, "J. A. Rogers on ‘Jazz at Home’ and Jazz in Paris during the Jazz Age,” The Black Scholar: Journal of Black Studies and Research Black Issues, Vol. 40, No. 3 (Fall 2010).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University-Fresno

Brown, James (1933-2006)

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

Born May 3, 1933, into poverty in racially segregated Barnwell, South Carolina, James Brown became the most assertively black rhythm and blues singer ever accorded mainstream acceptance before audiences throughout the world.  

Arrested for breaking and entering at age 15, Brown’s early run-ins with the authorities served as his initiation into the rough edges of the black experience that were eventually reflected in both his pleading ballads and aggressive in-your-face funk.  Brown’s rough musical style and sensual, suggestive lyrics are even credited with ushering in the age of Hip-Hop. His almost primal renditions of “Please, Please, Please,” his first hit in 1956, and later “Bewildered” and “Prisoner of Love” contrasted vividly with the serene and controlled deliveries of artists such as Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis and Dionne Warwick.

Sources: 
Peter Shapiro, Rough Guide to Soul and R&B (London, England: Penguin Books, 2006).  Also read Michael Haralambos, Soul Music: Birth of a Sound in Black America (DaCapo Press, 1985)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Gordon, Dexter (1923-1990)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

Young Gordon took up the clarinet at the age of 13 before switching to saxophone (initially alto, then tenor) at 15. His big break came in 1940 at the age of 17 when he joined Lionel Hampton’s band. From 1943 to 1944 he was featured in the bands of Louis Armstrong, Billie Eckstine and Fletcher Henderson. Gordon made his first recordings under his own name in 1945 when he signed with the Savoy label.  
By 1945, Gordon had moved to New York City where he began performing and recording with Charlie Parker. Gordon also was famous for his saxophone duels with fellow tenor sax player Wardell Gray. They recorded several albums between 1947 and 1952. In 1955 Gordon wrote the musical score for the Broadway play The Connection.

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

Foreman, George (1949 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
George Edward Foreman was born in Marshall, Texas on January 10, 1949 and raised in Houston’s Fifth Ward.  He took up boxing in his teens while working in the Job Corps. A successful amateur career was capped with a gold medal in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, Mexico.

Foreman turned professional in 1969 and quickly worked his way up the heavyweight ranks to earn a shot at the title against Joe Frazier. He captured the heavyweight crown with an impressive two-round knockout of Frazier on January 22, 1973 in Kingston, Jamaica. Most knowledgeable boxing fans thought the intimidating fighter would hold the title for the next decade, but he lost the crown to Muhammad Ali in Kinshasa, Zaire on October 30, 1974.
Sources: 
George Foreman, By George: The Autobiography of George Foreman (Baltimore: Villard Books, 1995); George Foreman, George Foreman’s Knock-Out-The-Fat Barbeque and Grilling Cookbook (Baltimore: Villard Books, 1996); http://www.ibhof.com/pages/about/inductees/modern/foreman.html; www.boxrec.com.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Wright, Richard R. , Sr. (1855-1947)

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

Richard Robert Wright Sr., college founder and banker, was born into slavery on May 16, 1855, near Dalton, Georgia. After the Civil War ended Wright’s mother moved with her son to Atlanta, Georgia where he attended the Storrs School, an institution founded by the American Missionary Association (AMA) to educate the children of the freedpeople.  Storrs was the forerunner of Atlanta University.  When retired Union General Oliver Otis Howard visited the school in 1868 and asked the students what message he should take to the North, Wright replied with the words, “Sir, tell them we are rising.”

Sources: 
June O. Patton, "'And the Truth Shall Make You Free': Richard Robert Wright, Sr., Black Intellectual and Iconoclast, 1877-1897," Journal of Negro History (Winter-Autumn, 1996): Alexa Benson Henderson, "Richard R. Wright and the National Negro Bankers Association: Early Organization Efforts Among Black Bankers, 1924-1942," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (January/April 1993); Clyde W. Hall, One Hundred Years of Educating at Savannah State College, 1890-1990 (Savannah: Clyde W. Hall, 1991), and August Meier and Elliot M. Rudwick, The Making of Black America: Essays in Negro Life & History, Volume 1 (New York: Athenaeum, 1969).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Hull, England

Brown, Hallie Quinn (1850-1949)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Teacher, writer and women’s activist Hallie Quinn Brown was born on March 10, 1850 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the daughter of former slaves who in 1864 migrated to Ontario, Canada.  The Brown family returned to the United States in 1870, settling in Wilberforce, Ohio.  Brown attended Wilberforce College and received a degree in 1873.  She then taught in freedman’s schools in Mississippi before moving to Columbia, South Carolina in 1875 where she served briefly as an instructor in the city’s public schools.  By September 1875 she joined the faculty at Allen University.  Brown taught at Allen between 1875 and 1885 and then for the next two years (1885-1887) served as Dean of the University.  Brown also served as Dean of Women at Tuskegee Institute during the 1892-1893 school year before returning to Ohio where she taught in the Dayton public schools.     

Brown had since childhood held an interest in public speaking.  In 1866 she graduated from the Chautauqua Lecture School.  By the time she began working at Allen University Brown was already developing a reputation as a powerful orator for the causes of temperance, women’s suffrage and civil rights.  In 1895 Hallie Q. Brown addressed an audience at the Women’s Christian Temperance Union Conference in London.  In 1899, while serving as one of the United States representatives, she spoke before the International Congress of Women meeting in London.  Brown also spoke before Queen Victoria.
Sources: 
Hazel V. Carby, Reconstructing Womanhood: The Emergence of the Afro-American Woman Novelist (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987); Darlene Clark Hine, Black Women in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Boykin, Keith (1965- )

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gibbs, Jonathan (1827-1874)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born a freeman in Pennsylvania in 1827, Jonathan Gibbs was the son of Maria Jackson and the Methodist minister, Jonathan Gibbs.

Gibbs was originally trained as a carpenter until in 1848.  Then he became one of only two African Americans accepted at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.  After graduating four years later he enrolled in the seminary at Princeton University.  In 1852 Gibbs became an ordained minister to black Presbyterian congregations in New York and Pennsylvania.  

During the 1850s Gibbs was a political activist who fought of the rights of African Americans.  He aided with the Underground Railroad, campaigned for the expansion of black male suffrage in New York, joined the freedmen’s relief efforts and fought segregation on New York City streetcars.  Gibbs also served as vice president of the Pennsylvania State Equal Rights League.  When the Civil War broke out Gibbs supported black enlistment into the union army.  On January 1st 1863 he gave a rousing speech “A Day to Celebrate Emancipation” to the audience of  First African Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia praising the efforts of African Americans through past heroes like Crispus Attucks up to the African American’s role during the Civil War.  He also praised the recently announced Emancipation Proclamation which took affect that day.  
Sources: 
James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Horton, Hard Road to Freedom: The Story of African America.  (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2001); Josh Gottheimer, ed. Ripples of Hope: Great American Civil Rights Speeches.  (New York: Civitas Books, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Noble, Ronald (1956 -)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Ronald Kenneth Noble is the first African American to serve as Secretary General of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) headquartered in Lyon, France.  Born in 1956 at Fort Dix, New Jersey, Noble is the son of an African American soldier and a German mother.  He is a 1979 graduate of the University of New Hampshire, earning a baccalaureate degree in economics and business administration and a 1982 graduate of Stanford Law School in California where he was the president of his graduating class and served as articles editor of the Stanford Law Review.
Sources: 
Maggie Paine, “The World’s Top Cop,” UNH Magazine Online, Winter 2002 http://unhmagazine.unh.edu/w02/noble1w02.html; "Ronald K. Noble" http://www.interpol.int/About-INTERPOL/Structure-and-governance/Ronald-K.-Noble; New York University, “Ronald K. Noble - Biography,” https://its.law.nyu.edu/facultyprofiles/profile.cfm?section=bio&personID=20172; “PUBLIC LIVES; The Long Days of Interpol's New Top Sleuth,” New York Times, July 13, 1999, http://www.nytimes.com/1999/07/13/nyregion/public-lives-the-long-days-of-interpol-s-new-top-sleuth.html.
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

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

Barnes, Emery (1929-1998)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Social worker, politician and professional football player Emery Barnes spent much of his life helping the disadvantaged in society and working for worldwide human rights and world peace.  Barnes was first elected to the British Columbia legislature in 1972 and was elected Speaker of the Legislature in 1994, serving in the provincial legislature until 1996. He was the first black person to hold the position of Speaker in any Canadian province.
Sources: 
The British Columbia Black History Society, A Resource Guide on Black Pioneers in British Columbia (Victoria: The British Columbia Black History Awareness Society, 1997); Lorraine Murray, "Reflections on Emery Barnes," http://www.darrenduncan.net/archived_web_work/voices/voices_v1_n3/emery_barnes.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Saddler, Joseph/Grandmaster Flash (1958 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Although he will more than likely be remembered best for releasing “The Message,” the first rap song to delve into social commentary about the plight of African Americans in the inner-city, Grandmaster Flash was also the original technological virtuoso of the early hip-hop movement to emerge from the Bronx borough of New York in the 1970s. A child of Barbadian immigrants, Flash was driven by the mechanical imperfections of his immediate predecessors’ equipment to create new, home-made mixing tools. Along with his technological savvy, an obsessive drive for rhythmic perfection led him to essentially create the art form of ‘turntablism,’ the use of the record player as a musical instrument.

Beginning in 1977, Grandmaster Flash began to make his name in the Bronx for the wide range of technological tricks he used to electrify the party. Though DJ Kool Herc was the first to loop the percussive break-beat of a record, his technique was, in Sadler’s mind, sloppy and lacked precision in terms of keeping time with the rhythm of the beat. Flash created a cross-fader to improve upon Herc’s innovations, dubbing his style the “Quick Mix Theory,” which also incorporated a virtuoso 13-year-old named Grand Wizard Theodore’s technique of scratching a record back and forth for musical effect. As well, Flash’s routine also utilized a new electronic percussion machine called the beatbox to great effect.
Sources: 
Jeff Chang, Can't Stop, Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation (New York: Picador Press, 2005); Steven Hager, “Afrika Bambaataa’s Hip-Hop,” in Raquel Cepeda, ed., And It Don’t Stop: The Best American Hip-Hop Journalism of the Last 25 Years (New York: Faber and Faber Inc., 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Perkins, John [aka "Jack Punch"] ( -1812)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
HMS Tartar, ca. 1804
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Captain John Perkins, nicknamed Jack Punch, was the first black commissioned officer in the Royal Navy.  His date of birth and origins are unknown but Perkins first appeared in Navy records in 1775 when he joined as a ship’s pilot aboard HMS Antelope, the flagship of the Jamaica station. In 1778 he was put in command of the Punch schooner and in 1778 and 1779 it captured 315 enemy vessels under his leadership. He then commanded the schooner Endeavour and was promoted to commander by Admiral Sir George Rodney, the commander in chief at Jamaica. The promotion was disallowed and in 1783 at the end of the American War of Independence Perkins left the Navy and remained in reserve as a half-pay lieutenant, a practice that was common at the time. What he did between 1783 and 1790 is unknown.
Sources: 
William James, The naval history of Great Britain: from the declaration of war by France in 1793 to the accession of George IV, volume 2 & 3 (London: R. Bentley 1837); J.S. Clarke, Naval Chronicle, Volumes 17 & 27 (London: Bunney & Gold 1807 & 1812); Basil Mundy, The Life and Correspondence of the Late Admiral Lord Rodney, volume 2 (London: Kessinger Publishing Co. 2007).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Bennett, Lerone (1928- )

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

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

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

Chubby Checker (Ernest Evans) (1941-- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Chubby Checker, the man credited with inventing “The Twist,” was born Ernest Evans in Spring Gully, South Carolina. He moved to Philadelphia with his parents and two brothers and attended South Philadelphia High School. Evans aspired to become a performer from a young age and eventually caught a small break after graduating from high school making novelty records that were impressions of singers like Elvis Presley and Fats Domino.

Evans' career took off when he met Barbara Clark, wife of American Bandstand host, Dick Clark. Barbara Clark is credited with giving young Evans his full stage name. He’d picked up the nickname ‘Chubby’ while working in a Philadelphia poultry market. When Barbara Clark met him he was working on his Fats Domino impression at the recording studio. She said “You’re Chubby Checker, like Fats Domino.” The name stuck.

With Barbara Clark's help, Evans got a job recording a Christmas greeting card for Dick Clark’s associates. This record spawned another called “The Class," which contained impressions of famous singers. It was a hit. Unfortunately, Chubby Checker fell into obscurity and his record label was ready to drop him.
Sources: 
John Jackson, American Bandstand: Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock 'n' Roll Empire (New York, Oxford University Press, 1997); http://www.chubbychecker.com/bio.asp
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Combs, Sean “Diddy” (1970- )

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

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

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

Yardley, William Francis (1844-1924)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
William Francis Yardley was a politician, businessman, lawyer, and civil rights advocate in post-Civil War Tennessee. Born free on January 8, 1844 to an Irish mother and a black father in Knoxville, Tennessee, he was abandoned at the doorstep of the Yardley family, a prominent white family who took him in, named, and raised him. The Yardleys apprenticed young William out to learn to read and write until he turned 21.  He was also mentored by Thomas Humes, the rector at St. John’s Episcopal Church.
Sources: 
Jack Neely, “The Singular Career of William Francis Yardley,” MetroPulse, Vol. 12, No. 8 (Knoxville, Tennessee: Feb 21, 2002); Jack Neely, “A Progressive Age,” MetroPulse (Knoxville, Tennessee: Sept 3, 2008); West Tennessee Historical Society, The West Tennessee Historical Society Papers Issue 49 (Memphis: West Tennessee Historical Society, 1995);   http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/entry.php?rec=1544
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Toussaint, Pierre (ca.1781-1853) and Gaston, Marie-Rose Juliette (1786-1851)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Pierre Toussaint
Image Courtesy of New York State Historical Society
Juliette Toussaint
Image Courtesy of New York State Historical Society
Pierre Toussaint, New York society hairdresser, devout Catholic, and wealthy philanthropist, was born a third-generation elite house slave at the Bérard family plantation in Haiti.  His father’s name is not known but he took his surname in honor of revolutionary hero Toussaint L’Ouverture.  His mother Ursule was groomed as the personal maid of the Bérard matriarch; his grandmother, Zenobie Julien, nursed the Bérard children, made five voyages to France to help them adjust to their Parisian boarding schools, and continued to work for the family long after being rewarded with her freedom.
Sources: 
Hannah Farnham Sawyer Lee, Memoir of Pierre Toussaint, Born a Slave in St. Domingo (Boston: Crosbie, Nichols and Company, 1854); James Sullivan, “Pierre Toussaint: Slave, Saint and Gentilhomme of Old New York, Parts I, II, III,” November 2011 http://teaattrianon.blogspot.ca/2011/11/pierre-toussaint-slave-saint-and.html; Arthur Jones, Pierre Toussaint: A Biography (New York: Doubleday, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Brown, Sterling A. (1901-1989)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The last of six children and the only boy born to the Rev. Sterling Nelson and Adelaide (Allen) Brown, Sterling Allen Brown graduated as the top student from Washington’s renowned Dunbar High School (1918).  His success enabled him to accept the token gesture of an academic scholarship Williams College annually extended to Dunbar’s valedictorian.  At this prestigious small, liberal arts school in Massachusetts, from 1918–1922, Brown set aside his own feelings of isolation and performed with distinction: election to Phi Beta Kappa his junior year, winning the Graves Prize for his essay “The Comic Spirit in Shakespeare and Moliere,” and receipt of highest honors from the English Department his senior year.  These accolades won for him a scholarship to study at Harvard University, where he graduated with an MA degree in English in 1923.
Sources: 
Sterling A. Brown, The Collected Poems of Sterling A. Brown (New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1980); Sterling A. Brown,  A Negro Looks at the South, eds. John Edgar Tidwell and Mark A. Sanders (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007); Joanne Gabbin, Sterling A. Brown: Building the Black Aesthetic Tradition (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1985); and Mark A. Sanders, Afro-Modernist Aesthetics and the Poetry of Sterling A. Brown (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Kansas

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

Dawson, Horace G. (1926- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Horace G. Dawson, Jr. was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Botswana by President Jimmy Carter in 1979.  After his confirmation by the U.S. Senate he served in that post until 1983.  Dawson was born in Augusta, Georgia on January 30, 1926.  He attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania where he earned a B.A. in English in 1949, M.A. in comparative literature in English from Columbia University in 1950, and a Ph.D. in mass communications from the University of Iowa in 1961. Dawson was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from Lincoln University in 1991.

Dawson was drafted into the U.S. Army while working on his undergraduate degree. He served two years of duty in both Europe and the Philippines before returning to complete his bachelor’s degree at Lincoln University.

Sources: 
http://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/usia/usiahome/pdforum/alumni/dawson.htm; http://hgdscholars.com/about.htm; Kennedy, C. S. (Interviewer) & Dawson, H. (Interviewee) (1991). Ambassador Horace G. Dawson, Jr. [Interview Transcript]. Retrieved from The Association of Diplomatic Studies and Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project Website http://adst.org/OH%20TOCs/Dawson,%20Horace%20G.Jr.toc.pdf.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Eastern Kentucky University

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

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

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

Sims, Carl (1911-1974)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Carl Sims was born in Bremond, Texas.  He moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1927.  Not long after migrating to Phoenix, he became a gardener and a painting contractor.  Despite having only an eighth grade education, Sims would eventually work for the (Arizona) Maricopa Country Highway Department, and secure a position as Deputy Sheriff of Maricopa County.  Sims became very active in Phoenix’s small African American community before and immediately following World War II, and he proved himself to be an adept Democratic agent for progressive political and social change in Arizona.  

In 1950 he and attorney Hayzel B. Daniels were the first African Americans elected to the Arizona legislature.   In 1951 Sims was one of only 36 black state legislators in the U.S, and Arizona was one of only 15  states that had African American legislators.  The only other western states that had black legislators were California (2), Colorado (2) and Washington (1).  Sims would serve six terms in Arizona’s House of Representatives.  As a lawmaker he called for the improvement and expansion of Arizona’s highways, school taxation equalization, and school integration.
Sources: 

Matthew C. Whitaker, Race Work: The Rise of Civil Rights in the Urban West. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005).
 


Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Arizona State University

Burton, Phillip (1915-1995)

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

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

Current, Gloster B. (1913-1997)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Musician, clergyman and civil rights supporter Gloster B. Current was instrumental in the growth of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples (NAACP, founded 1909).  Born in 1913 in Indianapolis, Indiana, to John T. Current and Earsy Bryant, Gloster grew up Chicago and Detroit. He earned a BA degree from West Virginia State College in 1941 and a master’s degree in Public Administration from Wayne State University in 1950.  

Current’s role with the NAACP spanned 37 years between 1936 and 1978.  He began his career with a position with the organization’s youth council in Detroit.  Two years later, he married Leontine Turpeau Current (later Kelly), who would become the first African American woman elected bishop in a mainstream denomination. They had three children and before divorcing.

Three years into his NAACP service, Current became vice chairman of national college chapters and chair of the central youth council committee.  He later held positions in the national office as a deputy to the executive director and served most of his time as director of branch and field services, supervising all NAACP membership, field service, and organizational activities.  

Sources: 
Angella P. Current, Breaking Barriers: An American Family and Methodist Story (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2001); “Gloster B. Current, Civil Rights Leader and Former NAACP executive dies” Jet Magazine (July 21 1997); Lawrence Van Gelder, “Gloster B. Current, 84, Leader Who Helped Steer N.A.A.C.P,” New York Times, July 9, 1997; “Gloster B. Current, ‘Marching Soldier’,” The Crisis 87:10 (December 1980).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Stewart, Maria Miller (1803-1879)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Maria Miller was born a free-black in Hartford, Connecticut in 1803.  Little is known about her early life.  She married James Stewart in 1826 and took up public speaking in order to support herself after her husband’s death three years later.  Cheated out of her inheritance by corrupt white Boston businessmen, Stewart relied upon income from teaching and her public speaking engagements.  As one of the first women to speak in public, Stewart was not always well-received.  In a speech to a mixed audience of men and women, she asked, “What if I am a Woman,” reminding her audience that women since ancient times had been revered for their wisdom and accomplishments.  According to Stewart, free blacks had not accorded women the same respect.  

Stewart frequently encountered hostile audiences when she openly chastised black men for intemperance.  As a result, her speaking career was short.  In 1833 she delivered a farewell address in Boston, announcing her decision to leave public speaking.  Her last speech revealed her bitterness and disappointment, stating that it was “no use for me as an individual, to try to make myself useful among my color in this city.” Stewart eventually left New England to pursue a successful career in teaching in New York, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.  Before she left, she recorded the themes of her speeches in a pamphlet, Meditations from the Pen of Mrs. Maria W. Stewart in 1832, which was reprinted shortly before she died.  Stewart died in December 1879 and was buried at Graceland Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992) and Harry A. Reed, “Maria W. Stewart,” in Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, Vol. II (New York: Carlson, 1993): 1113-14.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Churchville, John (1941- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John Elliott Churchville is a civil rights activist and black nationalist who founded Philadelphia's Freedom Library Community Project, which would become the Freedom Library Day School.

Born in Philadelphia in 1941, Churchville attended Simon Gratz High School, and, on graduation, began studying music education at Temple University. He dropped out in 1961 to become a jazz musician, and moved to New York, where he met Malcolm X at the Nation of Islam headquarters in Harlem.

Inspired by Malcolm’s black nationalism, Churchville attended the Inter-Collegiate Conference on Northern Civil Rights at Sarah Lawrence College in April 1962, where he was recruited to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Despite disagreeing with the Committee’s integrationist philosophy, Churchville joined its field staff and traveled south to Georgia and Mississippi to register voters. His experience in Freedom Schools, helping blacks in Greenwood, Mississippi pass the state’s literacy test, inspired him to see education as crucial to the civil rights movement.
Sources: 
Matthew Countryman, Up South: Civil Rights and Black Power in Philadelphia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006); John Elliott Churchville, LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/johnelliottchurchvillephd; Paul M. Washington and David Gracie, Other Sheep I Have: The Autobiography of Father Paul M. Washington (Philadelphia: Temple University Press,1994).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sydney, Australia

Butler, Jerry (1939- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Jerry Butler was born to sharecropping farmers in Sunflower, Mississippi, but at the age of three his family joined the Great Migration and moved to Chicago, Illinois (to an area now known as the Cabrini-Green Housing Projects).  His initial introduction to music began as a choir boy in church in Chicago, where he met Curtis Mayfield, and the two joined a rhythm and blues (R&B) group called The Roosters in 1957.  Later in 1957 the group changed its name to Jerry Butler and the Impressions and released its only hit “For Your Precious Love,” which Jerry wrote, on the black-owned VeeJay label in 1958.
Sources: 
Jerry Butler and Earl Smith, Only the Strong Survive: Memoirs of a Soul Survivor (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2000); http://www.vh1.com; http://www.onlinetalent.com; http://www.mtv.com
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

Walters, Bishop Alexander (1858-1917)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Alexander Walters was born in 1858 into a slave family in Bardstown, Kentucky, the sixth of eight children.  By the age of ten, Walters had shown such academic progress that he was awarded by the African Episcopal Zion Church a full scholarship to attend private schooling. In 1877 at the age of nineteen, Walters received his license to preach and began his pastoral duties in Indianapolis, Indiana. In his career as a pastor, Walter served in cities across the country including Louisville, San Francisco, Portland (Oregon), Chattanooga, Knoxville and New York. In 1892, as a minister at the Seventh District of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Walters was selected as bishop.  

In 1898, Bishop Alexander Walters began to devote his attention to the ongoing African American civil rights struggle.  In partnership with T. Thomas Fortune, the editor of the New York Age, Walters founded the National Afro-American Council and served as its president.  This organization focused primarily on challenging racially discriminatory legislation and in particular the “separate but equal” Plessy vs. Ferguson U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1896.  Walters also challenged Booker T. Washington’s ideas of accommodation to segregation and discrimination.  
Sources: 
Kwame Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience, Vols. 1-5 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); Randall Burkett and Richard Newman, eds., Black Apostles: Afro-American Clergy Confront the Twentieth Century (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1978).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

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

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

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

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

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

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

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

Dickson, Moses (1824-1901)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Moses Dickson was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on April 5, 1824. At 16, he began a three year tour of the South which persuaded him to work for the abolition of slavery. On August 12, 1846, Dickson and twelve other men gathered in St. Louis to devise a plan to end slavery in the United States. They formed a secret organization known as the Knights of Liberty which planned to initiate a national insurrection against slavery.

Dickson married widow Mary Elisabeth Butcher Peters at Galena, Illinois on October 5, 1848. They had one daughter, Mamie Augusta, and a year later the family located permanently in St. Louis.

By 1856, according to Dickson and his followers, 47,240 members of the Knights of Liberty throughout the nation stood ready to fight for freedom. In August of that year Dickson created a smaller secret organization, the Order of Twelve, in Galena, Illinois. During the war, the Knights disbanded and many of their members joined the Union Army.

Sources: 
Reverend Moses Dickson, Manual of the International Order of Twelve of Knights and Daughters of Tabor 3d. ed. (St. Louis: A. R. Fleming Printing, 1900); William A. Muraskin, Middle-Class Blacks in a White Society: Prince Hall Freemasonry in America (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1975).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
National Park Service

Bankhead, Lester Oliver (1912-1997)

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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

Williams, Serena (1981 - )

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Five-time world No. 1 ranked professional tennis player Serena Williams was born September 26, 1981 in Saginaw, Michigan. Formerly coached by parents Richard Williams and Oracene Price, Williams is the younger sister of former world No. 1 professional tennis player Venus Williams.

Williams, the youngest of five siblings, grew up in Compton, California where she began to play tennis at the age of four. At the age of nine, Williams and her family moved to West Palm Beach, Florida where she dominated the field of junior tennis competitors. She joined the professional ranks in 1995. Four years after her debut, Williams established herself as a top-ranked player when she won the U.S. Open, the Grand Slam Cup, and three other Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) singles titles. By 2003, Williams was known as “Serena Slam,” winning singles at the Australian Open, again at the U.S. Open, and twice at Wimbledon, in addition to fourteen other WTA singles titles. During this stretch from 1999 to 2003, Williams won five Grand Slam titles, and in 2002, was ranked world No. 1 for the first time.
Sources: 
Venus Williams, Serena Williams, and Hilary Beard, Serving from the Hip: Ten Rules for Living, Loving and Winning (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006); Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Official Website, http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Elaw, Zilpa (1790? - ?)

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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

Wilcox, Preston (1923-2006)

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

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

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

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

Woods, Eldrick “Tiger” (1975- )

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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

Glover, Danny (1946- )

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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

Watson, Diane Edith (1933- )

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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

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

Wideman, John Edgar (1941- )

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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

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

Jones, Stephanie Tubbs (1949-2008)

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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)

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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

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

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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

Hastings, Alcee L. (1936- )

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Alcee Hastings with the Dali Lama
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Alcee Lamar Hastings, the son of Julius C. and Mildred L. Hastings, was born on September 5, 1936 in Altamonte Springs, Florida.  His parents were domestic servants who eventually left Florida to take jobs to pay for his education.  Hastings remained in the state, living with his maternal grandmother while he attended and eventually  graduated from Crooms Academy in Sanford, Florida in 1953.  He then attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee where he received his B.A. in 1958 and then Howard University School of Law.  He received a J.D. degree, however from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee in 1964.

After graduation, Hastings went into private practice as a civil rights attorney for thirteen years .  In 1977 he was appointed a judge of the circuit court of Broward County, Florida, a position he held until 1979.  In 1979 President Jimmy Carter appointed Hastings as the United States District Judge for the Southern District of Florida.  
Sources: 
Ruth Marcus, "Senate Removes Hastings,” Washington Post, October 21, 1989, p. A01;
Kenneth J. Cooper, "Hastings Joins His Former Accusers," Washington Post, January 6, 1993, p. A10; http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=H000324
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Belafonte, Harry (1927- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of ©Bettmann/CORBIS

Born March 1, 1927 as Harold George Bellanfanti Jr. in Harlem, New York, to parents Melvine Love Bellanfanti, a Jamaican housekeepter, and Harold George Bellanfanti, Sr., of Martinique, who worked as a chef for the National Guard. Belafonte grew from being a troubled youth to an award-winning entertainer and world-renowned political activist and humanitarian.  From 1932 to 1940, he lived with his grandmother in Jamaica.  He returned to New York City and attended George Washington High School. In 1944 Belafonte joined the Navy in order to fight in World War II, and although Belafonte was never sent overseas, after the war ended he was able to use the G.I. Bill to pay for a drama workshop at the New School for Social Research in Manhattan alongside fellow students Marlon Brando and Sidney Poitier

Sources: 
James Robert Parish and Michael R. Pitts, Hollywood Songsters:  Singers Who Act and Actors Who Sing (New York: Routledge, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Dancy, John Campbell, Jr. (1888-1968)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

John Campbell Dancy, Jr.

Sources: 
John C. Dancy, Sands Against the Wind: The Memories of John C. Dancy (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1966); Richard W. Thomas, Life for Us is What We Make It: Building Black Community in Detroit, 1915-1945 (Indiana UP, 1992); Victoria W. Wolcott, Remaking Respectability: African-American Women in Interwar Detroit (University of North Carolina Press, 2001).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Rochester

Crogman, William H. (1841-1931)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

William H. Crogman was born on the West Indian island of St. Martin’s in 1841.  At age 12 he was orphaned; by age 14, he took to the sea with B.L. Bommer where he received an informal but international education as he traveled to such places as Europe, Asia, and South America. After the urging of Mr. Bommer, in 1868 he entered Pierce Academy in Massachusetts.  Throughout his schooling experience he was an exceptional and advanced student.  At Pierce he was considered the top student as he mastered in one quarter what usually took students two quarters to complete. Later as a student of Latin at Atlanta University, he completed the four-year curriculum in three years.

Sources: 
William H. Crogman Talks for the Times (Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1971).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Los Angeles

Grigsby,Jefferson Eugene, Jr. (1918 – )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of J. Eugene Grigsby
Artist and academic Jefferson Eugene Grigsby, Jr., was born on October 15, 1918 in Greensboro, North Carolina. His interest and enjoyment in art and creativity began in childhood and was later pursued through formal education. He earned a BA from Morehouse College in 1938 and an MA from Ohio State University in 1940. Grigsby continued his studies at Arizona State University, Columbia University, the American Artists School in New York, and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Marseilles, France. In 1963 Grisby was awarded a Ph.D from New York University.

In 1942, after the United States entered the World War II, Grigsby volunteered for the U. S. Army. He was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. After the war he returned to teach in Phoenix, Arizona at Carver High School, which was an all black institution until the Supreme Court declared segregated schools unconstitutional in 1954. At this point Grigsby moved to Phoenix Union High School where he stayed for eleven years before joining Arizona State University’s School of Art in 1966 where he remained for two decades.
Sources: 
Eugene Grigsby’s official website: http://eugenegrigsbyjr.wordpress.com/; Heddenart Gallery website: http://www.heddenartgallery.com/Eugene_Grigsby_Bio.html; Thomas Riggs, ed., “Jefferson Eugene Grigsby, Jr.”, St. James Guide to Black Artists (Detroit: St. James Press, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Bath, England

Farmer, James (1920-1999)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
James Farmer was born in Marshall, Texas in 1920, the grandson of a slave, and son of a minister and college professor, who was believed to be the first black man from Texas to obtain a doctorate. Farmer obtained advanced degrees from Wiley College and Howard University. A staunch pacifist and opponent of the military, Farmer refused to serve during World War II.  

Farmer’s pacifism and belief in a racially integrated society steered him toward a life of activism. With colleagues George Houser and Bernice Fisher, James Farmer co-founded the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) in 1942 in Chicago.  The civil rights organization would eventually grow to 82,000 members in 114 chapters around the nation by the mid-1960s with Farmer as its executive director.  
Sources: 
James Farmer. Lay Bare the Heart: An Autobiography of Civil Rights Movement (Arbor House: New York, 1985); Richard Severo, “James Farmer, Civil Rights Giant,” New York Times, July 10, 1999.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

Giovanni, Yolande Cornelia "Nikki" (1943- )

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

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

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

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

Barthé, Richmond (1901-1988)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Photograph by Carl Van Vechten,
courtesy of The Van Vechten Trust
Born in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi in 1901, Richmond Barthé moved to New Orleans, Louisiana at an early age. Little is known about his early youth, except that he grew up in a devoutly Roman Catholic household, he enjoyed drawing and painting, and his formal schooling did not go beyond grade school. From the age of sixteen until his early twenties, Barthé supported himself with a number of service and unskilled jobs, including house servant, porter, and cannery worker. His artistic talent was noticed by his parish priest when Barthé contributed two of his paintings to a fundraising event for his church. The priest was so impressed with his art that he encouraged Barthé to apply to the Art Institute of Chicago in Illinois and raised enough money to pay for his travel and tuition. From 1924 to 1928, Barthé studied painting at the Art Institute, while continuing to engage in unskilled and service employment to support himself.
Sources: 
Mary Ann Calo, Distinction and Denial: Race, Nation, and the Critical Construction of the African American Artist, 1920-1940 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007); A. D. Macklin, A Biographical History of African-American Artists, A-Z (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 2001); Margaret Rose Vendryes, “The Lives of Richmond Barthé,” in The Greatest Taboo: Homosexuality in Black Communities, ed. Delroy Constantine-Simms (Los Angeles: Alyson Books, 2000).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Texas at Austin

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

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

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

Ray, Emma (1859-1930)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
For nearly thirty years, Emma Ray, who was born into slavery and raised in poverty in Missouri, ministered to the poor and homeless in Seattle slums along with her husband, L.P. They came to Seattle following the 1889 fire in order for L.P. to find work as a stonemason. Shortly after, they were converted in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Emma helped to found the Frances Harper Colored Unit of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union with fifteen women from the AME Church, and she served as its president. With her WCTU Unit, Emma visited the jail, holding religious services on Sunday afternoons. On Wednesday afternoons, she and “Mother” Ryther, who ran an orphanage in Seattle, visited prostitutes and held services in the brothels. Between 1900 and 1902, Emma and L.P. ran a mission in Kansas City, Missouri, for children living in poverty, providing clothes, meals, a warm place to gather in the winter, trips to the park in the summer, and weekly Sunday School.

The Rays eventually joined The Free Methodist Church and were licensed as Conference Evangelists. Under the auspices of the Free Methodists, they preached revival meetings in churches throughout the state of Washington. Emma’s autobiography, Twice Sold, Twice Ransomed, was published by the Free Methodist Publishing House in 1926.
Sources: 
Emma Ray, Twice Sold, Twice Ransomed (Seattle: Free Methodist Publishing House, 1926).
Affiliation: 
Seattle Pacific University

Debas, Haile T. (1937- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Praised as one of the world’s most distinguished academic physicians, from 1993 to 2003 Dr. Haile Tesfaye Debas served as Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco.  Prior to becoming dean, for six years he was chairman of the Department of Surgery at UCSF.  

Born in Asmara, Eritrea on February 24, 1937, he graduated from the University College in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, earned his medical doctorate at McGill University, and worked at the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Washington before arriving at UCSF in 1987.  

Renowned as a researcher and credited with nearly 40 scientific papers, Debas was elected president of the International Hepato-Biliary-Pancreatic Association in 1991.  He was also a director of the American Board of Surgery, and a fellow of both the American College of Surgeons and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  At UCSF he revamped the medical school’s curriculum to focus on training medical students and established the Academy of Medical Educators which was renamed in his honor.
Sources: 
American Men & Women of Science, 21st Ed. Vol. 2. (New York: Bowker, 2003); http://www.cure.med.ucla.edu/PDF/Debas.pdf
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Freeman, Morgan (1937- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Porterfield Freeman, Jr. was born June 1, 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee, the son of Morgan Porterfield, Sr. a barber, and Mayme Edna Morgan.  Throughout his childhood the Freeman family moved often, living in Mississippi, Indiana and Chicago.  Freeman showed early promise as an actor but turned down a partial drama scholarship from Jackson State University to enter the United States Air Force in 1955.

Throughout the early 1960s, after leaving the Air Force, Freeman studied acting and dance in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City.  It was in New York that Freeman made his professional theater debut with The Nigger Lovers, a 1967 off-Broadway play about the Civil Rights Era Freedom Riders.  In 1971 Freeman broke into television, becoming widely known on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) children’s show The Electric Company, where he worked from 1971 to 1976.

Sources: 
Sabrina Fuchs, “Morgan Freeman,” Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History, Volume II., Colin A. Palmer, ed. (New York: Thompson Gale, 2006); "Morgan Freeman," Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 62 (Farmington Hills, MI: Gale, 2008); Eleanor Clift, "Freeman, Obama and Hollywood Immortality,” Newsweek, April 2, 2008; "Freeman Replaces Cronkite on CBS," Boston Globe, January 5, 2010; Revelations Entertainment official website: http://www.revelationsent.com/index.php.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bond, Horace Mann (1904–1972)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Horace Mann Bond served as the first president of Fort Valley State College from 1939 to 1945 and president of Lincoln University from 1945 to 1957. He was a notable educator and scholar holding degrees from Lincoln University (B.A. in 1923 and a LL.D. in 1941), University of Chicago (M.A. in 1926 and a Ph.D. in 1936), and Temple University (LL.D. in 1952). Over his long career in education, his passion for teaching took him to Lincoln University, Langston University, Alabama State Teachers College, Fisk University, and Dillard University.

Bond was born in Nashville, Tennessee, and knew the South well. In the wake of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, anti-integrationists embarked on a program of massive resistance to orders to desegregate the South. In response to the efforts to claim an I.Q. gap between racial groups, Bond issued a number of stinging critiques of the racial claims about the intelligence of blacks. His most well known essay on the subject is "Racially Stuffed Shirts and Other Enemies of Mankind": Horace Mann Bond’s parody of Segregationist Psychology in the 1950s.

It is noteworthy that the papers of Horace Mann Bond have been archived at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Much of his research emphasized the social, economic, and geographic factors influencing academic achievement as well as demonstrating that Bond was at the forefront of not only black education but also the movement for civil rights.
Sources: 
W.A. Low and Virgil A. Clift, eds., Encyclopedia of Black America (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1981). http://www.lexisnexis.com/academic/2upa/Aaas/HoraceMannBondPapers.asp
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

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

Wonder, Stevie (Steveland Morris) (1950- )

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

Stevie began singing and dancing at a young age in his church. He developed an ear for music rapidly. By the age of nine he was playing the piano, harmonica, and conga drum. When Stevie Wonder was 12 years old he was discovered by Ronnie White, a member of the Motown group the Miracles. White brought young Stevie to a Motown Record Company audition. Barry Gordy, the founder of Motown, was soon amazed by his talents and renamed him "Little Stevie Wonder."

Influenced by Ray Charles and Sam Cooke, Stevie began working immediately in the studio under record producer Clarence Paul. Wonder's first number one hit Fingertips, Part 2 (1963) displayed his skill on the harmonica. Other hits including Uptight (Everything's Alright) and Hey Harmonica Man made this instrument a trademark for Stevie.
Sources: 
Kwame A. Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2004); http://www.steviewonder.net/; http://www.steviewonder.org.uk/
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

Williams, Paul R. (1894-1980)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Architect Paul Williams in Front of His Most Famous
Project, the Theme Building, Los Angeles Airport
Paul R. Williams was one of the most well known 20th Century African American architects. Early in his career, Williams designed mostly houses, but in the 1950s and 1960s he designed some of the most distinctive public buildings in Los Angeles. Williams’s best-known building is probably the Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport, which he designed with William Pereira.

Paul Williams was born in Los Angeles in 1894, a few years after his parents had moved to Southern California from Tennessee. Williams’s father died in 1896, and his mother died two years later. Williams grew up in the home of C.D. and Emily Clarkson. He graduated from Polytechnic High School and studied at the Los Angeles School of Art, the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design, and the engineering school at the University of Southern California. While he pursued his studies in the 1910s, Williams also worked in the offices of several different Los Angeles architects. In 1917 he married Della Mae Givens. They had two daughters, Marilyn and Norma.
Sources: 

Karen E. Hudson, Paul R. Williams, Architect: A Legacy of Style (New York: Rizzoli, 1993); “Architect Paul R. Williams,”    http://www.paulrwilliamsproject.org/about/paul-revere-williams-architect/


Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Western Washington University

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

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

Whitfield, James Monroe (1822-1871)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

James Monroe Whitfield, a black abolitionist and colonizationist, was born on April 10, 1822 in New Hampshire. Little is known about his early life except that he was a descendant of Ann Paul, the sister of prominent black clergyman Thomas Paul.  Whitfield had little formal education. Nonetheless by the age of 16, he was publishing papers for Negro rights conventions.

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

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

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

Stokes, Charles Moorehead (1903-1996)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Charles Moorehead Stokes, one of three sons of Rev. Norris Jefferson Stokes and Myrtle Garner Stokes, was born on February 1, 1903 in Pratt, Kansas. He graduated from the University of Kansas Law School in 1931 and soon after opened his law practice in Pratt but later moved to Topeka to serve as an assistant attorney for the Kansas Commission of Revenue and Taxation.  

Stokes said he became a Republican as a young man because he father was and always reminded him that Lincoln freed the Slaves, while the Democrats were the Confederacy at the time.  He said he became a lawyer to have a skill so that he would not be broke and dependent upon the charity and benevolence of others, like his father had been as a minister during the Depression and Jim Crow eras.

Charles M. Stokes moved his law practice to Seattle in 1943.  When Stokes arrived in Seattle, the state had fewer than five black attorneys. He also served as vice president of the Young Republican National Federation.  
Sources: 
HistoryLink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, “Stokes, Charles Moorehead (1903-1996)” (by Mary T. Henry) http://www.historylink.org/;  Andre’ S. Wooten, “Charles Stokes Passes at 93, Afro-Hawaiian News, Feb.  1997 http://attyandrewooten.com/page41.html; Stephanie Stokes Oliver, Song for My Father: Memoir of an All-American Family (New York: Atria-Simon and Schuster, 2004).  
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Barnett, Powell S. (1883-1971)

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

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

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

Massey, Walter E. (1938 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Prominent educator Walter Eugene Massey was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, on April 5, 1938.  His father, Almar, was a steelworker and his mother, Essie, a teacher.  Massey had an exceptional mind, even at an early age.  By the time he finished 10th grade, his skills in mathematics were strong enough to earn him a college scholarship.  Massey enrolled at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, and graduated with a BS in math and physics in 1958.

While working on his master’s and doctorate degrees at Washington University in St. Louis, Massey conducted research on the quantum of liquids and solids.  He received a PhD in 1966.  Massey began his teaching career as an associate professor at the University of Illinois then moved to Brown University in 1970, becoming a full professor five years later.  

Sources: 
Douglas Lyons, “Pathfinders” Ebony (August 1989); Stephen Richards Graubard, The American Academic Profession (New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 1997);  http://www.morehouse.edu/about/bio-wmassey.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Brown, Charlotte L. ( ? -- ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Charlotte L. Brown was the daughter of James E. and Charlotte Brown and sister to Margaret Ann.  Her mother, for whom she was named, was a free, black seamstress who purchased her husband James’ freedom before they moved to San Francisco, California during the 1840s. Charlotte L. Brown was the plaintiff in one of the most important early California civil rights campaigns.  On April 17, 1863, Brown was forcibly removed from a horse-drawn streetcar in San Francisco.
Sources: 
Charlotte L. Brown et al case (San Francisco: California Historical Society, 1866). Delilah L. Beasley, The Negro Trail Blazers of California (Los Angeles: Times Mirror Publishing and Binding House, 1919), p. 65.  Marc Primus, ed. Monographs of Blacks in the West: Number 1, Manuscript Series (San Francisco: San Francisco African American Historical and Cultural Society, Inc., 1976), pp. 120-21
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tolson, Melvin B. (1898-1966)

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

 

Image courtesy of Modern American Poetry,
University of Illinois

Born on February 6, 1898 in Moberly, Missouri, Melvin Beaunorus Tolson is known as one of the most significant African American modernist poets of his time. In addition, Tolson’s work as an educator led Langston Hughes to declare him “the most famous Negro Professor in the Southwest” in the mid-twentieth century.

Sources: 
Nelson, Carl, Editor, “Modern American Poetry,” http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/s_z/tolson/tolson.htm (Accessed December 18, 2007).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

Sharpton, Alfred Charles “Al” (1954- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

 

Sources: 
Jay Mallin, Al Sharpton, Community Activist: Great Life Stories (New York: Franklin Watts, 2007), Al Sharpton with Anthony Walton, Go and Tell Pharaoh: the Autobiography of the Reverend Al Sharpton (New York: Doubleday, 1996); "Alfred Sharpton" in Anthony Appiah & Henry Louis Gates, eds. Africana : the Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience (New York : Basic Civitas Books, 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Tacoma

Nascimento, Abdias do (1914 - )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

Henry, Aaron (1922-1997)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 

Aaron Henry and Constance Curry, Aaron Henry: The Fire Ever Burning (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2000); Charles M. Payne, I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995); John Dittmer, Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1995).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Tacoma

Bennett, Chris H. (1943- )

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

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

Sources: 

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

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

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

Greene, Lorenzo Johnston (1899-1988)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

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

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

Haley, Alex (1921-1992)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Alex Haley, Alex Haley: The Man Who Traced America’s Roots (Pleasantville, NY: Reader’s Digest Association, 2007); Alan McConagha, “Alex Haley, Author of ‘Roots,’ is Dead,” The Washington Times (February 11, 1992, pg A1); “Alex Haley Biography,” Biography.com, accessed 17 September 2010, http://www.biography.com/articles/Alex-Haley-39420.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Montana State 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

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

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

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

Taylor, Cecil (1929- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Cecil P. Taylor in San Francisco, 1982
Image Ownership: Public Domain
One of the great innovators of jazz music, pianist Cecil Taylor has redefined modernist jazz improvisation and composition.  With uncompromising vision and sheer force of expression, his demanding music has both alienated and thrilled audiences, and has largely found a more receptive audience across the Atlantic.  Taylor is also an accomplished poet, often incorporating his works into musical performances.

Born in Long Island in 1929, Taylor began playing piano at the age of six at the behest of his mother, and he later formally studied music at the New York College of Music and the New England Conservatory.  In the early 1950s Taylor worked in R&B and swing ensembles, including a brief stint in Johnny Hodge's quintet.  In the mid-1950s Taylor formed his first ensemble featuring Steve Lacy, Dennis Charles, and Buell Neidlinger, all of whom participated in the recording of Taylor's 1956 debut, Jazz Advance.  Half a century after its release Jazz Advance remains one of the most extraordinary debuts in jazz, and it is an early indication of the directions Taylor's music, and indeed the whole of what would be understood as the jazz avant-garde movement, would pursue.
Sources: 
Graham Lock, Chasing the Vibration (Devon, Great Britain: Stride Publications, 1994); Valerie Wilmer, As Serious as Your Life (London: Serpent's Tail, 1992); Richard Cook and Brian Morton, The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (Eighth Edition) (London: Penguin Books, 2006); Richard Cook, Jazz Encyclopedia (London: Penguin Books, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

King, Woodie, Jr. (1937- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Black Masks
Theatre pioneer Woodie King Jr. is a director, actor, playwright, screen-writer, television scriptwriter, essayist, short-story writer, and consultant. Hailed as “the Renaissance Man of Black Theatre,” he was the most successful and prolific black producer in the world. For over 35 years, as founding director of the seminal New Federal Theatre (NFT), King produced nearly 200 theatre productions and over 5,000 performances and provided a showcase for over 1,000 actors, directors, and designers.  

King was born on July 27, 1937 in Baldwin Springs, Alabama. His family moved to Detroit where he grew up.  King received his theatrical training at Cass Technical High School in Detroit in the mid-1960s, Will-O-Way School of Theatre, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (1958-1962), Wayne State University, and the Detroit School of Arts and Crafts. He also studied drama with Lloyd Richards under a 1965 John Hay Whitney Fellowship.

As co-founded of the Concept East Theatre (CET) in Detroit with Ronald Milner in 1960, King held the position of manager and artistic director. He directed several plays by some of the leading black writers, such as Milner and Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones), and by white playwrights such as Edward Albee.
Sources: 
Anthony Duane Hill, ed., An Historical Dictionary of African American Theater (Prevessin, France: Scarecrow Press, 2008).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Ohio State University

Empress Zewditu (1876-1930)

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick, Deval L. (1956 - )

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

Deval L. Patrick, Governor of Massachusetts was elected in 2006.  He became at that time only the second African American elected as a state Governor in the history of the United States.  Patrick was born on July 31, 1956 in Chicago to Laurdine "Pat" Patrick and Emily Mae Wintersmith, and raised in the Robert Taylor housing project on that city’s “South Side.”  His father’s career as a jazz musician (with the Sun Ra band) often took him away from home. Occasionally, Patrick travelled with his father, especially to New York City, where he often stayed with the family of the African drummer, Babatunde Olatunji and his wife Amy. After his  parents were estranged, Patrick and his older sister were raised by his working mother.

Benefiting from "A Better Chance," a national non-profit organization which identified and recruited academically gifted African American students, Patrick was selected to attend Milton High School Academy.  Upon his graduation in 1974 he entered Harvard University.  After completing his undergraduate education at Harvard in 1978, Patrick worked for one year for the United Nations in the (pre-genocide) Darfur region of Sudan.  He then returned to Harvard to earn a law degree in 1982.  Two years later he married Diane Bemus, a labor and employment attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.  

Sources: 

Author interviews with Deval Patrick, March 11, 2005 and December 8,
2006, "Governor-elect Deval Patrick is Named 2006 Bostonian of the
Year," Boston Globe Magazine, Special Issue, December 31, 2006: Mary
Carmichael, "Health Section," Newsweek Magazine, May 14, 2007; Office
of Governor Deval L. Patrick.  

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Anderson, Osborne P. (1830-1872)

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

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

Sources: 

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Lowry, Henry Berry (c. 1846-1872)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

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

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

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

Cook, Samuel DuBois (1928- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of 
Clemson University
Samuel DuBois Cook is a retired Dillard University president and, with his appointment to the Duke University faculty in 1966, was the first African American professor to hold a regular faculty appointment at any predominantly white college or university in the South. Cook also served as a member of the Duke University Board of Trustees from 1981 to 1993. In 1993, Dillard University honored Cook by naming the school's new fine arts and communication center after him. That same year, Cook was elected by Duke University's Board of Trustee as a Trustee Emeritus.

Born on November 21, 1928 in Griffin, Georgia, Cook's father was a Baptist minister who instilled a passion for education in all of his children. Samuel DuBois Cook entered all-male Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia in 1943 with his friend Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) when they were both 15 years of age.  Both boys participated in the Morehouse early admission program during World War II that sought to fill the college's classrooms when many older students were in the U.S. military. At Morehouse, Cook became student body president and founded the campus chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He earned a BA degree in history in 1948. He went on to earn an MA (1950) in political science and a Ph.D (1954) from Ohio State University.
Sources: 
F. Thomas Trotter and Charles E. Cole, Politics, Morality and Higher Education: Essays in Honor of Samuel DuBois Cook (Franklin, Tennessee: Providence House Publishers, 1997); Samuel DuBois Cook, Dilemmas of American Policy: Crucial Issues in Contemporary Society (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University, 1969); “Biographical Note”, Samuel DuBois Cook Society, http://www.duke.edu/web/cooksociety/cook_Brochure2007.pdf.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

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

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

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

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

Moton, Robert R. (1867-1940)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: 
Public Domain

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

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

In 1915, Moton left the Hampton Institute to accept a post as Tuskegee Institute as its second president after the death of founder Booker T. Washington.  Soon after his arrival Moton began to expand the Institute’s academic programs, adding a new department to educate future black school teachers.  He also initiated the construction of what would become the Tuskegee Veterans Administration Hospital which would treat African American World War I veterans.  Despite local white opposition, Moton insisted that the federal hospital be staffed by black doctors, nurses, and administrators.

Sources: 
Robert Russa Moton, Finding a Way Out: An Autobiography (Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday, Page and Company, 1920); William Hardin Hughes and Frederick D. Patterson, Robert Russa Moton of Hampton and Tuskegee (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1956); Lerone Bennett, “Chronicles of Black Courage: Robert R. Moton Risked Life in Fight for Black Doctors at Tuskegee Veterans Hospital,” Ebony, July 2002; www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/flood/peopleevents/p_moton.html;
www.hamptonu.edu, www.gloucesterva.info/moton1.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

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

Rainey, Joseph Hayne (1832-1887)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
In 1870 Republican Joseph Hayne Rainey became the first African American to be elected to the United States House of Representatives and take his seat.  Others were elected earlier but were not seated.  Rainey was born in Georgetown, South Carolina, on June 21, 1832. His parents had been slaves but his father purchased his family’s freedom and taught him to be a barber. The family moved to Charleston in 1846.  Rainey, however, traveled frequently outside the South and married in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1859.

In 1861 Joseph Rainey was drafted to work on a Confederate blockade runner during the Civil War. In 1862 he escaped to Bermuda with his wife and worked there as a barber before returning to South Carolina in 1866.
Sources: 
Bruce A. Ragsdale and Joel D. Treese, Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1989 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1990); Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1982).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Remond, Charles Lenox (1810-1873)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Charles Lenox Remond was born into an elite free Black family in Salem, Massachusetts.  His parents, John and Nancy Lenox Remond, had been married by the Rev. Thomas Paul, a prominent African American minister and anti-slavery activist, in 1807.  Nancy Lenox’s father was a veteran of the American Revolution, having fought with the Continental Army.  John Remond had emigrated from the Dutch colony of Curacao as a young boy in 1798.  In Salem, John Remond was first a barber and, then, with the assistance of his wife, he operated a successful catering business.  The Remonds were also active abolitionists.  John became a life-long member of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Association.
Sources: 
Dorothy Burnett Porter, “The Remonds of Salem, Massachusetts: A Nineteenth-Century Family Revisited,” Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, 95(1985); Mark J. Sammon and Valerie Cunningham, Black Portsmouth: Three Centuries of African-American Heritage (Durham: Univ. of New Hampshire Press, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Fontaine, William Thomas (1909-1968)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 

Bruce Kuklick, Black Philosopher, White Academy: The Career of William
Fontaine
(Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Pennsylvania

Sherrod, Charles (1937-)

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

Charles Sherrod was a key civil rights leader in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) whose leadership led to the Albany Movement in southwest Georgia. Born in extreme poverty to his fourteen-year old mother in 1937 in St. Petersburg, Virginia, he worked to help support six younger children.  Sherrod worked his way through Virginia Union College, receiving a B.A. in 1958 and a Bachelors of Divinity in 1961. He joined SNCC in 1960, participating in the organization's first demonstrations and voter registration drives.

Sources: 

Clayborne Carson, In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the
1960s
(New York: Harvard UP, 1981); Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry
Louis Gates, Jr., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African
American Experience
(New York: Basic Civitas Books, 1999);
http://www.pbs.org/thisfarbyfaith/witnesses/charles_sherrod.html.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bradley, Rudolph Edward, Jr. (1941-2006)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of ©Bettmann/CORBIS

Edward Rudolph Bradley Jr., journalist, was born June 22, 1941, in Philadelphia.  His father was a businessman and his mother a housewife.  After Bradley’s parents divorced, he spent summers with his father in Detroit.  He attended primary and secondary school in Philadelphia.  In 1960 he attended Cheyney University of Pennsylvania and played defensive end and offensive tackle on the football team.  After earning a degree in 1964 in education, Bradley taught sixth grade. He also worked nights at WDAS-FM radio in Philadelphia as a jazz disc jockey and basketball play-by-play announcer.

His first reporting assignment included the north Philadelphia riot in 1964.  In 1967, WCBS Radio, an all-news station in New York City, hired Bradley.  In 1971, Bradley moved to Paris and became a stringer (freelance reporter) for CBS News.  Four years later he became a reporter at the CBS Washington bureau, covering Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign.  

In 1976 Bradley was the first African American reporter at CBS to serve as a White House correspondent and anchor the station’s Sunday evening news program. In 1978 Bradley became a correspondent for “CBS Reports,” reporting from Cambodia, China, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia.  

Sources: 
Jacques Steinberg, “Ed Bradley, TV Correspondent, Dies at 65,” New York Times, November 10, 2006; Patricia Sullivan, “Ed Bradley of '60 Minutes' Dies at 65,” Washington Post, November 10, 2006; http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/1998/07/08/60minutes/bios/main13501.shtml.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Smith, E. Russell "Noodles" (? - 1952)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
E. Russell "Noodles" Smith, so named because he always kept enough money for a bowl of noodles after a night of gambling, is considered to be "the father – or perhaps the midwife - of Seattle jazz." He arrived in Seattle during the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exhibition in 1909 with $17,000 that he claimed was won during a three night gambling spree. With a mind for business and a keen eye on the purse strings, he amassed a fortune from gambling, real estate, and bootlegging and he dominated the nightclub scene that formed the backdrop for Seattle jazz from the 1920s to the 1940s. The list of people who stayed and played in "Noodles"-owned establishments include some of the greatest names in jazz—Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Louis Jordan and Eubie Blake, to name a few.
Sources: 
Paul de Barros, Jackson Street After Hours, The Roots of Jazz in Seattle (Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 1993)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

Robinson, Matthew MacKenzie "Mack" (1912-2000)

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

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

An exceptional athlete and one of America’s leading sprinters of the 1930s, Matthew Mackenzie “Mack” Robinson, was born in Cairo, Georgia in 1912.  Matthew grew up with three other siblings, including the famed Jackie Robinson. After their father left following the birth of the last child, mother Mallie Robinson decided to take her five children to California.  The Robinson family, along with other migrants, moved to Pasadena by train in 1920 where the athletic careers of the Robinson brothers would blossom.

Sources: 
Arnold Rampersad, Jackie Robinson: A Biography (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997); Duff Hart-Davis, Hitler's Games (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1986); Mack Robinson, 85, Second to Owens in Berlin,"  Obituary; Biography - NYTimes.com. 2000. http://www.nytimes.com/2000/03/14/sports/mack-robinson-85-second-to-owens-in-berlin.html?sec=&spon=; David K. Wiggins, Glory Bound: Black Athletes in a White America (Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 1997); "Early Era Stars," Leadership and Legacy - Athletics and the University of Oregon. 2010 http://sportshistory.uoregon.edu/details/show/8; "Biography," Mack Robinson - GoDucks.com, The University of Oregon Official Athletics Web Site. 2006, “Matthew ‘Mack’ Robinson Post Office – Pasadena, CA – People-Named Places on Waymarking.com,” Matthew “Mack” Robinson Post Office – Pasadena, CA. 2010 http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM5REQ
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

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

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 dise