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Wood, Robert A. (ca. 1966– )

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People
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African American History
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Robert A. Wood is a diplomat who has spent his career in public affairs, helping to shape the image of the United States, and in roles that guide the country’s relations with multilateral organizations.
Sources: 
U.S. Department of State, Official Bio (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/biog/231689.htm); Introductory Statement by Ambassador Robert A. Wood at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) Plenary, Tuesday, August 19, 2014.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Collecting African American Art: From the Harlem Renaissance to the Obama Era

Flight into Egypt
Image Ownership: Public Domain
In the following article sociologist and African American Studies professor Patricia A. Banks describes the rise of private art collectors and collections among African Americans. Her article also shows the growing acceptance of African American art and artists in major museums and galleries across the nation.
Summary: 
<i>In the following article sociologist and African American Studies professor Patricia A. Banks describes the rise of private art collectors and collections among African Americans.  Her article also shows the growing acceptance of African American art and artists in major museums and galleries across the nation. </i>
Sources: 
Patricia A. Banks, Represent: Art and Identity Among the Black Upper-Middle Class (New York: Routledge, 2010); George N’Namdi, “George N’Namdi on Collecting,” in Seminal Works from the N’Namdi Collection of African-American Art. Curated by Dick Goody (Rochester, MI: Oakland University Art Gallery, 2008).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Mount Holyoke College

Mills, Florence (1896-1927)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

Sources: 

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

McKune, Elizabeth Davenport (1947- )

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People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Ambassador Elizabeth Davenport McKune was born on November 15, 1947 in Detroit, Michigan. She became a Foreign Service officer in 1973 and specialized in the Middle East. McKune is the daughter of West Point graduate Colonel Clarence M. Davenport, Jr. and distinguished National Institute of Mental Health psychiatric social worker Yolande Davenport (née Bradfield). Ambassador McKune earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Carleton College (Minnesota) in 1970 and received her Master of Arts degree in Advanced International Studies from Johns Hopkins University (Maryland) in 1972. She also received a Distinguished Graduate Certificate in 1992 from the National War College in Washington, D.C.
Sources: 
Ambassador-Designate to Qatar McKune’s Senate Statement (July 16, 1998), http://www.usembassy-israel.org.il/publish/press/state/archive/1998/july/sd4717.htm; Elizabeth Davenport McKune: Ambassador to State of Qatar: Biography, http://www.state.gov/1997-2001-NOPDFS/about_state/biography/mckune_qatar.html; Adam Bernstein, “Obituaries:  Yolande Davenport, Psychiatric Social Worker,” The Washington Post (March 7, 2014); Patricia Sullivan, “Obituary: West Point Graduate Clarence M. Davenport, Jr.,” The Washington Post (August 9, 2007).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Morgan State University

Sowell, Thomas (1930- )

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Thomas Sowell,
Hoover Institution, Stanford University
An influential African American economist who is known for his controversial views on race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, Thomas Sowell was born in Gastonia, North Carolina in 1930.  When he was eight, his family moved to Harlem, New York.  His father, a construction worker, did not encourage Sowell to pursue higher education even though he showed early signs of academic promise. Sowell dropped out of high school in the tenth grade, worked at various jobs, and obtained a high school degree in an evening program. After two years of service with the U.S. Marines receiving training as a photographer, Sowell entered Howard University in Washington, D.C. where he matriculated for three semesters before transferring to Harvard University. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and later earned Master's and Ph.D.
Sources: 
Thomas Sowell, A Personal Odyssey (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2002);
Thomas Sowell website, http://www.tsowell.com/; Advocates for Self Government, "Thomas Sowell – Libertarian,"    https://www.theadvocates.org/libertarianism-101/libertarian-celebrities/thomas-sowell/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Montgomery College (Maryland)

Republic of New Africa (1968- )

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Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

The Republic of New Africa (RNA) is a black nationalist organization that was created in 1969 on the premise that an independent black republic should be created out of the southern United States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, which were considered “subjugated lands.” The group’s manifesto demanded the United States government pay $400 billion in reparations for the injustices of slavery and segregation. It also argued that African-Americans should be allowed to vote on self-determination, as that opportunity was not provided at the end of slavery when the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution incorporated African-Americans into the United States.

Sources: 
Chokwe Lumumba, “Short History of the U.S. War on the Republic of New Africa,” Black Scholar 12 (January-February 1981);  William L. Van Deburg, Modern Black Nationalism: From Marcus Garvey to Louis Farrakhan (New York: New York University Press, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bailey, Thurl Lee (1961– )

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People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Thurl Bailey With Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert
Upon Bailey Being Named the Governor’s Ambassador
to Utah’s Refugee Community
"Image Courtesy of FamousMormons.org"
Thurl Lee Bailey is a retired American professional basketball player who played in the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1983 to 1999 with the Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves. Bailey has also been a broadcast analyst for the Utah Jazz and the University of Utah and an inspirational speaker, singer, songwriter, and film actor.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Burroughs, Nannie Helen (1883-1961)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Nannie Helen Burroughs was born in Orange, Virginia on May 2, 1879 to parents John and Jennie Burroughs.  Young Burroughs attended school in Washington, D.C. and then moved to Kentucky where she attended Eckstein-Norton University and eventually received an honorary M.A. degree in 1907.

Despite the absence of a college degree, Burroughs sought a teaching position in Washington, D.C.  When she did not receive it, she moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and became associate editor of The Christian Banner, a Baptist newspaper.  Burroughs returned to Washington, D.C. where, despite receiving a high rating on the civil service exam, she was refused a position in the public school system.  Burroughs took a series of temporary jobs including office building janitor and bookkeeper for a small manufacturing firm, hoping to eventually become a teacher in Washington, D.C.  She then accepted a position in Louisville as secretary of the Foreign Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention.
Sources: 
Darlene Clark Hine, Elsa Barkley Brown, and Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, Black Women in America: an Historical Encyclopedia (University of Michigan: Carlson Publishing Company, 1993); Darryl Lyman, Great African-American Women (New York: Jonathan David Publishers, Inc., 2005); http://www.toptags.com/aama/bio/women/nburroughs.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Afro-American Council (1898-1907)

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Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Afro-American Council Annual Meeting,
Oakland, California, 1907
Online Archive of Ca., Bancroft Library
Sources: 
Cyrus Field Adams, The National Afro-American Council, Organized 1898, A History (Washington, D.C.: Cyrus F. Adams, 1902); Alexander Walters, My Life and Work (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1917); Emma Lou Thornbrough, "The National Afro-American League, 1887-1908," Journal of Southern History 27:4 (November 1961); Nina Mjagkij, Organizing Black America (New York: Garland Publishing Inc., 2001); Colin Palmer, Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (New York: Thomson Gale, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Reason, Joseph Paul (1941- )

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Reason and President Jimmy Carter
Image Ownership: Public domain

J. Paul Reason was the first African American to attain the rank of four-star admiral in the United States Navy.  Reason was born March 22, 1941, in Washington, D.C., the son of Howard University librarian and French language professor Joseph Henry Reason, and schoolteacher Bernice Reason (née Chism). As a teenager at McKinley Technology High School, he showed interest in the military but his application to enroll in the school’s Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) was rejected. A year at Swarthmore College and a year at Lincoln University preceded Reason’s attendance at Howard University where, during his junior year he was contacted by Congressman Charles Diggs Jr. and persuaded to apply to the U.S. Naval Academy. Joseph Reason graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a degree in naval science and was commissioned a Navy Ensign in 1965.

Sources: 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Parks, Gordon (1912-2006)

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

On November 30, 1912, in Fort Scott, Kansas, Sarah and Andrew Parks welcomed their fifteenth child, Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks, into their home. Though struggling against poverty and racism in Fort Scott, young Gordon was nurtured there. His mother was especially influential, and her early lessons sustained him throughout his remarkable life. Because of Parks’s vast intellectual and artistic accomplishments, he was described as a “Renaissance man.” He accomplished many firsts, including the distinction of being the first black photographer at Vogue, Glamour, and Life magazines. He worked at Life for nearly 25 years and completed over 300 assignments. He was a documentary and fashion photographer; a film director, writer, producer; a poet, novelist, essayist; and a composer. Among his notable films are Shaft and The Learning Tree.

Sources: 
John Edgar Tidwell “Gordon Parks and the Unending Quest for Self-fulfillment,” in Virgil W. Dean, ed., John Brown to Bob Dole: Movers and Shakers in Kansas History; http://www.pdngallery.com/legends/parks/.
Affiliation: 
University of Kansas

Carolyn L. Robertson Payton (1925–2001)

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People
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African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Dr. Carolyn L. Robertson Payton was the first African American and the first woman to become the director of the U.S. Peace Corps. She was appointed in 1977 by U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

Carolyn L. Robertson Payton was born on May 13, 1925, in Norfolk, Virginia, to Bertha M. Flanagan, a seamstress, and Leroy S. Robertson, a ship steward. She graduated from Booker T. Washington High school in Norfolk in 1941 and received her B.S. degree in Home Economics from Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1945. Payton remained close to Bennett College, establishing a scholarship fund there in the late 1990s.

Payton then attended the University of Wisconsin where her tuition and other expenses were paid by the state of Virginia as part of the state’s policy of sending black graduate students to out-of-state institutions rather than allowing them to received advanced degrees at the state’s universities. Payton received her Master’s in Psychology from Wisconsin in 1948.
Sources: 
Gwendolyn P. Keita, “Heritage Column: Carolyn Robertson Payton (1925-2001),” in PsycEXTRA Dataset: Gwendolyn Keita and Tressie Muldrow, “Carolyn Robertson Payton,” in A.N. O'Connell & N. Felipe Russo (eds.), Women in psychology: A Bio-bibliographic sourcebook (New York: Greenwood Press, 1990); Carolyn L. Robertson Payton Obituary, Washington Post, April 22, 2001.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Grimké, Charlotte Forten (1837-1914)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Charlotte Forten Grimké grew up in a rich intellectual and activist environment.  Born into a wealthy Black abolitionist family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Charlotte Louise Forten became famous in her own right as a writer and poet.  Her grandparents, James, Sr. and Charlotte Forten, hosted leading black and white abolitionists into their home on a regular basis.  James Forten was one of the wealthiest blacks in Philadelphia, having amassed a fortune in the sail making business. Her parents, Robert Bridges Forten and Mary Woods Forten, continued the family’s activist tradition as had her uncles and aunts, including Sarah, Harriet, and Margaretta Forten, who helped establish the bi-racial Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. 
Sources: 
Janice Sumler-Edmond, “Charlotte Forten Grimké,” in Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, vol. I (New York: Carlson, 1993): 505-507; Julie Winch, A Gentleman of Color: The Life of James Forten (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002); and Brenda Stevenson, ed., The Journals of Charlotte Forten Grimké (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

National Negro Business League (1900 - )

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Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
National Negro Business League Executive Committee
Image Ownership: Public Domain

The National Negro Business League (NNBL) was founded by Booker T. Washington in Boston, Massachusetts in 1900.  The league, which predated the United States Chamber of Commerce by 12 years, strives to enhance the commercial and economic prosperity of the African American community. The NNBL was formally incorporated in 1901 in New York, and established hundreds of chapters across the United States.  In 1966, the National Negro Business League was reincorporated in Washington, D.C. and renamed the National Business League.

Sources: 

Cary D. Wintz, ed.  African American Political Thought, 1890-1930: Washington, DuBois, Garvey, and Randolph (New York: M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 1996); http://nblgw.org/; http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/coolhtml/coolennr.html.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Myrick, Bismarck (1940- )

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People
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African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Bismarck Myrick is a retired United States Ambassador to Lesotho from 1995 to 1998 and the Republic of Liberia from 1999 to 2002. Originally from Portsmouth, Virginia, Myrick has held multiple positions with the U.S. government over a number of decades.  

Myrick entered the U.S. Army in 1959 as a private and continued with the Army for the next 20 years. During the Vietnam War, Myrick saw intense combat (1968-1969) and as a result received a Meritorious Service Medal, the Purple Heart, several Bronze Stars, and the Silver Star.  In addition to Vietnam, the U.S. military deployed Myrick to Germany, South Korea, and Japan.
Sources: 
“Portsmouth native new ambassador to Lesotho,” Free Lance-Star, March 27, 1995, B2, http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1298&dat=19950327&id=kegyAAAAIBAJ&sjid=wAcGAAAAIBAJ&pg=2900,4997063; Jayne Thurber-Smith, “Veteran Spotlight: Ambassador (Ret.) Bismarck Myrick,” Citizen of Chesapeake,  March 10, 2013, http://thecitizenofchesapeake.com/2013/03/10/veteran-spotlight-ambassador-ret-bismarck-myrick/; “Biography: Bismark Myrick,” U.S. Department of State, http://2001-2009.state.gov/outofdate/bios/m/8829.htm; “Bismarck Myrick (1940-),” Office of the Historian, http://history.state.gov/departmenthistory/people/myrick-bismarck; “Faculty,” Old Dominion University, http://catalog.odu.edu/previous/2013-2014/undergraduate/faculty/.
Affiliation: 
Morgan State University

Thomas, Clarence (1948- )

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People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of the U.S. 
Supreme Court

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

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

Wharton, Jr., Clifton Reginald (1926- )

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

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

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

Morgan, Michael (1957- )

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

As a classical music conductor, Michael Morgan has been instrumental in bringing his eclectic orchestral leadership style to a diverse audience. Since becoming musical director of the Oakland East Bay Symphony Orchestra in 1990, Morgan has become well respected, particularly in the African American community of the area, and has served as an inspiration to groups that have been underrepresented in classical music.

Michael Morgan was born in Washington, D.C. in 1957.  Morgan’s parents were government health researchers and notably active in the area public schools he attended. A child prodigy, at the age of 12 Morgan conducted his first classical performances.  He soon afterwards became involved with the District of Columbia Youth Orchestra Program.  After high school graduation, he would continue his study of musical performance at Oberlin College. During his college years, he was exposed to numerous notable classical conductors and performers including Leonard Bernstein, Gunther Schuller, Seiji Ozawa, and Julius Rudel.

Sources: 
“Conductor Courts Diverse Audiences,” https://www.voanews.com/a/conductor_courts_diverse_audiences/666331.html; “Michael Morgan: Music Director & Conductor,” https://www.oaklandsymphony.org/artist/michael-morgan/; “Oakland’s Season Symphony Opens, Mixing it Up,” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/04/us/oaklands-symphony-season-opens-mixing-it-up.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Height, Dorothy Irene (1912-2010)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Darlene Clark Hine, Elsa Barkley Brown, Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, eds., Black Women in America: an Historical Encyclopedia (Carlson Publishing Company, 1993); http://www.naswfoundation.org/pioneers/h/height.htm; www.ncnw.org/about/height.htm; Dorothy Height Obituary, Seattle Times, April 21, 2010.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Washington, Walter Edward (1915-2003)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Walter Washington Sworn in as Mayor of
Washington D.C., 1967
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Walter Edward Washington, attorney and politician, was born in Dawson, Georgia, on April 15, 1915 to Willie Mae and William L. Washington.  After his mother’s death in 1921, Washington moved with his father to Jamestown, New York.  Washington excelled academically and athletically in the public school. His trumpeting skills in school also earned him the nickname Duke II.   In 1934, he enrolled at Howard University in Washington, D.C.  Washington earned his B.A. degree in 1938 and his law degree from the same institution in 1948.  While attending law school, Washington met and married Benetta Bullock.

Following law school, Washington was employed as a supervisor for the District of Columbia’s Alley Dwelling Project.  In 1961, President John F. Kennedy named Washington the executive director the National Capitol Housing Authority, becoming the first African American to hold that position.

Sources: 
Michael W. Williams, ed., The African-American Encyclopedia (New York: Marshall Cavendish Corp., 1993, 1st edition): 1667; R. Kent Rasmussen, ed., The African-American Encyclopedia (New York: Marshall Cavendish Corp., 2001, 2nd edition): 1625; Donna M. Wells, Washington History, Vol. 16, No. 1 (Spring/Summer 2004), 4-15.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Lewis, David Levering (1936- )

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People
History Type: 
African American History

Tubman, Harriet Ross (c. 1821-1913)

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

Dubbed “The Moses of Her People,” escaped slave Harriet Tubman assisted hundreds of slaves on the Underground Railroad, leading them from Maryland to safety in Pennsylvania.  Born enslaved and raised in Dorchester County, Maryland to Benjamin and Harriett Greene Ross, Harriett was both a field hand and a domestic servant.  As a young girl, she suffered a lifelong injury after her master threw a piece of iron at her, which struck her in the head.  Throughout her life, Harriett suffered bouts of narcoleptic seizures.  In 1844, she married a free black man, John Tubman.  She escaped in 1849 in order to avoid being sold into the Deep South. Her husband refused to go with her.  Several months later, when she returned to get him, she learned he had taken another wife.  He died shortly after the end of the Civil War. Harriett later married Nelson Davis.

Sources: 
Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992) and Darlene Clark Hine, “Harriet Tubman” in Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, Vol. II (New York: Carlson, 1993): 1176-1180.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Lorenzo Dow Turner (1890-1972)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Dr. Lorenzo Dow Turner Interviewing the Gullah People
in South Carolina, 1930
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Lorenzo Dow Turner was an African American linguist who headed the English department at Howard University in Washington, D.C. from 1920 to 1928, and later headed of the English department at Fisk University (1929 to 1946). His accomplishments within his career in academia include the creation of the African Studies curriculum at Fisk University in 1943 and participation in the early African Studies program at Roosevelt University, beginning in 1946. Turner is best known for his research on the Gullah language or dialect, a provincial language spoken by descendants of African slaves in coastal South Carolina and Georgia. Later in life, Turner played a role in founding the training program for Peace Corps volunteers going to Africa.
Sources: 
Jason Kelly, "Lorenzo Dow Turner, PhD’26," The University of Chicago Magazine: Features. November-December 2010; Holland Cotter, "A Language Explorer Who Heard Echoes of Africa," The New York Times Sept. 2, 2010; "Voices from the Days of Slavery: Ten Interviews by Lorenzo Dow Turner, June 27, 1932-August 5, 1933" Interviewer Biographies (American Memory from the Library of Congress), Library of Congress.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

White, George Henry (1852-1918)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

George H. White served as a member of the fifty-fifth and fifty-sixth United States Congresses (March 4, 1897-March 3, 1901) from North Carolina’s Second Congressional District during what historian Rayford Logan has termed the nadir in race relations for the post-Reconstruction South. Born in Rosindale, North Carolina on December 18, 1852, White graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1877, and was admitted to the bar in 1879.  White practiced law and served as the Principal of the State Normal School of North Carolina until he entered politics in 1881, at which time he served for a year in the North Carolina House of Representatives.  Four years later he served for a term in the state’s senate.  From 1886 to 1894, White worked for the second judicial district of North Carolina as solicitor and prosecuting attorney. 

Sources: 
Benjamin R. Justensen, George Henry White: An Even Chance In the Race of Life (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 2001); “White, George H.,” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=W000372; “White, George H.,” Documenting the South, http://docsouth.unc.edu/nc/whitegh/whitegh.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Johnson C. Smith University

Rowan, Carl T. (1925–2000)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Carl Rowan with President
Lyndon B. Johnson
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Carl Thomas Rowan was a diplomat, author, reporter, and broadcaster. He was the first black deputy Secretary of State, and the first black director of the United States Information Agency (USIA).

Rowan was born August 11, 1925, in the mining town of Ravenscroft, Tennessee.  When he was a baby his family moved to McMinnville, Tennessee, because his parents thought its lumberyards offered more opportunity. His father, Thomas, stacked lumber for construction, and his mother, Johnnie, cleaned houses, cooked, and did laundry for wealthier families. They had five children. The Rowan family home had no electricity, running water, telephone, nor even a clock. One of young Carl's teachers encouraged him to read and write as much as possible, even going to the library for him because, as a black person, Rowan wasn't allowed to check out books for himself. He graduated at the top of his high school class.

Sources: 

Carl Rowan, Breaking Barriers: a Memoir (Boston: Little, Brown 1991); Cynthia Kirk, “Carl Rowan: The Life Story of an Influential Newsman,” People in America, Voice of America (May 14, 2005); J.Y. Smith, “Columnist Carl Rowan Dies at 75,” The Washington Post, Sept. 24, 2000; p. A1.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Young, Johnny (1940- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Angie Young and Ambassador Johnny Young
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Ambassador Johnny Young was a career diplomat and the third African American to be appointed ambassador by three presidents. In 1989 President George H.W. Bush appointed Young Ambassador to the Republic of Sierra Leone. Five years later President Bill Clinton named Young Ambassador to the Republic of Togo and then Ambassador to Bahrain in 1997. In 2001 President George W. Bush chose Young as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Slovenia. Young is one of a handful of black ambassadors to have served in four nations.

Young was born in 1940 in Savannah, Georgia, and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Temple University in 1966, and completed a fellowship study at the Fels Institute of State and Local Government at the University of Pennsylvania.
Sources: 
U.S. State Department, “Biographies: Johnny Young” (2001-2009) (URL: http://2001-2009.state.gov/outofdate/bios/y/6827.htm); U.S. Department of State, “Ambassador Johnny Young” (URL: http://slovenia.usembassy.gov/young.html); wes eichenwald, “Ljubljana Life Interview: U.S. Ambassador to Slovenia, Mr. Johnny Young” (2002) (URL: http://www.geocities.ws/ljubljanalife/Ambassador.htm)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

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).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

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, Virginia.  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), Installation Ceremony Program for Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp, Archer Alexander Distinguished Professor, Washington University in St. Louis, October 30, 2014.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Hall of Negro Life, Texas Centennial Exposition, 1936

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

The Hall of Negro Life, the first official recognition of African American achievements by a world’s fair in the United States, was a featured and well-visited part of the Texas Centennial Exposition at Fair Park, Dallas, Texas, in 1936.

Early in the planning stages of the exposition, African American representation was called for by the NAACP, the Dallas Negro Chamber of Commerce, and other black organizations. The United States government funded the construction of the hall, beginning on March 9, 1936. The Cross Construction Company, with plans designed by the architect George L. Dahl, completed the building on June 12. The hall was officially dedicated on June 19, 1936, in honor of Juneteenth celebrations.

Sources: 
Sources: “Negro Exhibits Building to Be Dedicated Formerly on June 19th, Emancipation Day,” Dallas Morning News, 7 Jun. 1936, Sec. VIII p. 10; “Negroes Stage Big Juneteenth At Centennial,” Dallas Morning News, 20 Jun. 1936, Sec. I pp. 1, 12.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Brown, Lee P. (1937- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Lee Patrick Brown, known as “The Father of Community Policing,” became the first African American Mayor of Houston, Texas in 1997.

Brown was born to sharecropper parents Andrew and Zelma Brown in the town of Wewoka, Oklahoma in 1937.  He received a B.A. in criminology from Fresno State University in California in 1960 and four years later earned an M.A. from San Jose State University in the same field.  In 1970 he received a Ph.D. in criminology from the University of California, Berkeley.
Sources: 
Alston Hornsby Jr. and Angela M. Hornsby, From the Grassroots: Profiles of Contemporary African American Leaders (Montgomery, Alabama: E-Book Time LLC, 2006); Charles M. Christian, Black Saga: The African American Experience (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1995); http://www.thehistorymakers.com/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Jackson, Alphonso R. (1946- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Alphonso R. Jackson cultivated a three-decade career in public service that included an appointment as head of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the administration of his long-time friend, President George W. Bush.  Born in Marshall, Texas, in 1946, Jackson grew up in South Dallas, the youngest of twelve children in a working-class family.  He earned a B.A. in political science (1968) and a M.Ed. (1969) from Northeast Missouri State University.  He then studied at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri, where he received a J.D. in 1972.  

Sources: 
Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 48, “Alphonso R. Jackson” (Farmington Hills, Michigan: Thomson Gale, 2005); “The Honorable Alphonso Jackson Secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development,” U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (2008) http://archives.hud.gov/secretaries/jacksonbio.cfm; Rachel L. Swarns, “Top U.S. Housing Official Resigns,” The New York Times (March 31, 2008), http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/31/washington/31cnd-jackson.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Raines, Franklin (1949- )

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

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

Douglass, Anna Murray (c. 1813-1882)

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

Armstrong Williams (1959– )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Armstrong Williams is an American conservative political figure and commentator. Williams hosts a daily radio show and a nationally syndicated TV show, The Right Side with Armstrong Williams. Outside of his political persona, Williams works in the private business sector as the CEO of the Graham Williams Group, an international public relations consulting firm. Armstrong Williams is also a published author of three books focusing on race issues, politics, and upward mobility, including Reawakening Virtues: Restoring What Makes America Great (2011). More recently, Williams has come to the attention of the public as an aide to GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson.
Sources: 
“Armstrong Williams,” The History Makers, June 9, 2003, http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/armstrong-williams-39; Howard Kurtz, “Administration Paid Commentator,” Washington Post, January 8, 2005, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A56330-2005Jan7.html; Jason Zengerle, “The Man Who Would Make Ben Carson President.” GQ (Gentlemen’s Quarterly), March, 2015, http://www.gq.com/story/armstrong-williams-ben-carson-manager; Eugene Scott, “Ben Carson Separates Campaign from Longtime Adviser,” CNN (Cable News Network), November 19, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/19/politics/ben-carson-armstrong-williams/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Turner, Henry McNeal (1834-1915)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

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

President's Committee on Fair Employment Practice (FEPC)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Fair Employment Practices Committee Meeting, 1942
Image Ownership: Public Domain

On June 25, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802, creating a Committee on Fair Employment Practices (FEPC) to investigate complaints of discrimination and take action against valid complaints in any defense industry receiving government contracts. President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802 only after A. Philip Randolph, working with other civil rights activists, organized the 1941 March on Washington Movement, which threatened to bring 100,000 African Americans to the nation’s capitol to protest racial discrimination. President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802 one week before the proposed March, and in return, Randolph called off the demonstration. However, Randolph continued to fight against discrimination and formed the March on Washington Movement (MOWM) to hold the FEPC accountable.

Sources: 

Merl Elwyn Reed, Seedtime for the Modern Civil Rights Movement: the
President’s Committee on Fair Employment Practice, 1941-1946
, (Baton
Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1991); Louis Ruchames, Race,
Jobs & Politics: The Story of FEPC
, (New York: Columbia University
Press, 1953); Herbert Garfinkel, When Negroes March: The March on
Washington Movement in the Organizational Politics for FEPC
(New York:
Athenaeum, 1969).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Tacoma

Riley, Jerome R. (1840-1929)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Jerome R. Riley, medical doctor, author, political and civil rights activist, was born in St. Catharines, Canada West on March 17, 1840 to Isaac and Catherine Riley. His father and mother were runaway slaves who made their way from Perry County, Missouri, crossing over to Windsor and on to St. Catharines. In 1849 the family moved to the black settlement established at Buxton, Township of Raleigh, Canada by the Rev. William King. The Rileys were the first group of settlers in Buxton.  
Sources: 
Jerome R. Riley, http://www.oldstatehouse.com/exhibits/arkansas-politics/iframes/printer_version_section8.asp/; The Buxton Museum, http://www.buxtonmuseum.com/; R. Reid, “Black Doctors Challenging the Barriers,” in African Canadians in Union Blue: Volunteering for the Cause in America's Civil War (Kent, Ohio: UBC Press, 2014).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Million Man March, 1995

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
African American Men on the Mall in Washington D.C.
During the Million Man March
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Michael Janofsky, “The March on Washington: Debate on March and Farrakhan, Persists as Black Men Converge on the Capital” (New York Times, October 16, 1995).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Browne, Hugh Mason (1851-1923)

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

Hugh M. Browne was a civil rights activist and educator.  Born June 12, 1851, in Washington D.C. to John and Elizabeth (Wormley) Browne, he is known for his work as the principal of the Institute for Colored Youth and his advocacy for vocational education.

After graduating from a segregated public school in Washington D.C., he studied at Howard University and graduated in 1875. That year he enrolled in the Theological Seminary of Princeton, graduating three years later and licensed as a Presbyterian minister.

After further education in Scotland, he became a professor at Liberia College in the Republic of Liberia, serving there from 1883 to 1886.  He introduced a course on Industrial Education there, and attempted to reform Liberian higher education. This culminated in an essay he was invited to write, “The Higher Education of the Colored People of the South,” in which he advocated elementary and industrial education over abstract higher education, espousing the opinion that Liberians and blacks in the south currently need practical education and are not ready for a more literary education. His cultural and educational criticisms of Liberia created tension with the principal of Liberia College, leading to his restriction from teaching.

Sources: 
The Crisis, Vol. 27, No. 4, (New York: The Crisis Publishing Company, Inc., Feb 1924); Princeton Theological Seminary, Necrological reports and annual proceedings of the Alumni Association ... : 1875-1932 (Princeton, New Jersey: C.S. Robinson, 1891); Faustine C. Jones-Wilson, Encyclopedia of African American Education (Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Company, 1996); http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/articles/pages/4144/Browne-Hugh-M-1851-1923.html#ixzz0bzcyIaRl
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Durant, Kevin Wayne (1988- )

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

Kevin Wayne Durant is a professional basketball player for the National Basketball Association (NBA) who played for the Oklahoma City Thunder (formally known as Seattle Supersonics) and who now plays for the Golden State Warriors in California.

Durant was born September 29, 1988, in Washington, D.C. to Wanda Durant and Wayne Pratt.  Durant’s father abandoned the family when he was still an infant, leaving his mother and grandmother, Barbara Davis, to raise him. Durant’s father later returned to his life when Durant was 13 years old.

Sources: 
“Kevin Durant,” Biography, https://www.biography.com/people/kevin-durant-20929909; “Kevin Durant,” JockBio, http://www.jockbio.com/Bios/Durant/Durant_bio.html; “Kevin Durant,” Kevin Durant, http://kevindurant.com/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Crummell, Alexander (1819-1898)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Horse, John (1812?-1882)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John Horse, also known as Juan Caballo, John Cowaya, or Gopher John was the dominant personality in Seminole Maroon affairs for half a century.  He counseled Seminole leaders, served as an agent of the U.S. government, and became a Mexican Army officer.  He served the Seminole Maroons as warrior, diplomat, and patriarch, and represented their interests in Washington, D.C. and Mexico City.  He fought against the United States, the French, and Indians and survived three wars, four attempts on his life, and the grasp of slavehunters.
Sources: 
Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr., Africans and Seminoles: From Removal to Emancipation (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2001), and Kevin Mulroy, Freedom on the Border: The Seminole Maroons in Florida, the Indian Territory, Coahuila, and Texas (College Station: Texas A& M Press, 1993).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Southern California

Hansberry, William Leo (1894-1965)

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

Historian and anthropologist, William Leo Hansberry began his college education at Atlanta University, but (at the urging of W.E.B. DuBois) he transferred to Harvard in 1917. Based on his reading of classical texts and his study of archeological evidence, Hansberry became convinced as an undergraduate that sophisticated civilizations had existed in Africa–especially in Ethiopia–for centuries prior to the rise of the Greeks and Romans in Europe. He pursued that premise for the rest of his life.

A circular letter announcing his desire to develop courses in African civilization landed him a temporary job at Howard University in Washington D.C., following his graduation from Harvard in 1921. There he quickly built his new program into one of the most popular undergraduate majors on the campus, and he hosted international conferences to stimulate the study of ancient and medieval African societies. By the mid-1920s, however, he ran afoul not only of the wider white academic community, which was extremely skeptical of Hansberry’s ambitious claims, but also of senior colleagues at Howard, who believed he was giving the university a bad name by teaching assertions for which there was little or no compelling evidence. The Howard board settled the dispute by retaining the popular African program, while relegating Hansberry himself to a secondary position without tenure.

Sources: 
W. Augustus Low and Virgil A. Clift, eds., Encyclopedia of Black America; L. Mpho Mabunda, ed., The African Almanac; “The Global African Community” at http://www.cwo.com/~lucumi/hansberry.html (6-20-06) and http://www.cwo.com/~lucumi/hansberry2.html (6-20-06); “Mississippi Writers Page” at http://www.olemiss.edu/mwp/dir/hansberry_william_leo/index.html; and “Africa Within” at http://www.africawithin.com/hansberry_profile.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Oregon

Browne, Marjorie Lee (1914–1979)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Marjorie Lee Browne was a prominent mathematician and educator who, in 1949, became only the third African-American woman to earn a doctorate in her field.  Browne was born on September 9, 1914, in Memphis, Tennessee, to Mary Taylor Lee and Lawrence Johnson Lee. Her father, a railway postal clerk remarried shortly after his wife’s death, when Browne was almost two years old. He and his second wife, Lottie, a school teacher, encouraged their daughter to take her studies seriously as she was a gifted student. Browne attended LeMoyne High School, a private Methodist school that was started after the Civil War. During her schooling, she won the Memphis City Women's Tennis Singles Championship in 1929 and two years later graduated from LeMoyne High School. 
Sources: 
Biography.com, Marjorie Lee Browne, Mathematician, Educator,  (http://www.biography.com/people/marjorie-lee-browne-5602); Charlene Morrow, Teri Perl “Notable Women In Mathematics: A Biographical Dictionary” Greenwood Publishing Group, 1998; Darlene Clark Hine, “Black Women In America An Historical Encyclopedia, Volumes 1 and 2” (Carlson Publishing Inc., Brooklyn, New York, 1993)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

Drew, Charles R. (1904-1950)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Charles R. Drew, a renowned physician and medical researcher and the first black surgeon examiner of the American Board of Surgery, revolutionized medicine by creating a system that allowed the immediate and safe transfusion of blood plasma.

Born on June 3, 1904 in Washington, D.C. to Richard T. Drew and Nora Burrell, Drew grew up in the city. He attended Dunbar High School, where his excellence in academics and athletics earned him an athletic scholarship to Amherst College in Massachusetts.

After graduating from Amherst in 1926, he worked as Director of Athletics at Morgan College. In 1929, he attended medical school at McGill University in Canada, where he studied with Dr. Beattie and developed his interest in blood storage just before he graduated in 1933. In 1935, Drew returned to Washington D.C. to become a professor at Howard University’s medical school.

Sources: 

Spencie Love, One Blood: The Death and Resurrection of Charles R. Drew (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996); Chrisanne Becker, 100 African Americans who Shaped American History: Charles R. Drew (San Francisco: Blue Wood Books, 1995).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Reddick, Eunice S. (1951- )

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

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

Keckley, Elizabeth Hobbs (1818-1907)

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

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

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

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

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

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

Flipper, Henry Ossian (1856-1940)

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

Born near Thomasville, Georgia on March 21, 1856, Henry O. Flipper rose to prominence as the first African American graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1877. Despite being born into slavery to Festus, a shoemaker, and Isabella Flipper, Henry was reared in a family that emphasized excellence, and he and his younger brothers all became respected members of their communities as a military officer, AME bishop (Joseph), physician (E.H.), college professor (Carl), and farmer (Festus, Jr.).

Sources: 
Henry O. Flipper, The Colored Cadet at West Point: Autobiography of Lieut. Henry Ossian Flipper, U.S.A. First Graduate of Color from the U.S. Military Academy  (New York: H. Lee & Company, 1878); Henry O. Flipper, Negro Frontiersman: The Western Memoirs of Henry O. Flipper, First Negro graduate of West Point, Theodore D. Harris, ed., (El Paso: Texas Western College Press, 1963); Charles M. Robinson, III, The Court Martial of Lieutenant Henry Flipper (Texas Western Press: El Paso, Texas, 1994); The Online Handbook of Texas.
Affiliation: 
University of Texas, El Paso

Caliver, Ambrose (1894-1962)

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

Welsing, Frances Cress (1935–2016)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Frances Cress Welsing, a psychiatrist best known for writing The Isis Papers, was born Frances Luella Cress in Chicago, Illinois, on March 18, 1935. Welsing, who was the child of physician Henry Cress and teacher Ida Mae Griffen, grew up the middle of three daughters. She would receive her Bachelor of Science degree from Antioch College in Ohio in 1957 and her medical degree (M.D.) from Washington D.C.’s Howard University in 1962.

After earning her M.D., Welsing stayed in Washington D.C., pursuing a career in child and general psychiatry. Welsing would spend nearly twenty-five years working as a staff physician for D.C.’s Department of Human Services, and also as the clinical director of two schools catering to children with emotional troubles. Welsing opened her own private practice in D.C. in 1967. Through her published works and her research, Welsing sought to help bring about a solution to the mental health problems of the black community by understanding racism.
Sources: 
Frances Cress Welsing, “The Cress Theory of Color-Confrontation,” The Black Scholar 5:8 (May 1974); “Dr. Frances Cress Welsing Dead at 80,” The Root, January 2016; http://www.theroot.com/articles/news/2016/01/dr_frances_cress_welsing_dead_at_80.html;
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/02/461765446/activists-mourn-race-theorist-dr-frances-cress-welsing.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Locke, Alain (1886-1954)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Alain Locke, The New Negro: An Interpretation (New York: New York, Albert and Charles Boni Press, 1925); Leonard Harris, ed., The Philosophy of Alain Locke: Harlem Renaissance and Beyond (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989); Jeffrey Stewart C., “Alain Leroy Locke at Oxford: The First African-American Rhodes Scholar,” The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education 31:1 (2001):12-117.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Gregory, Frederick Drew (1941--)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of NASA

Frederick Drew Gregory was a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut, administrator, and the first black man to command a space shuttle mission.

Born January 7, 1941 to Francis A. and Nora Drew Gregory, he grew up in Washington, D.C. where he was an active member of the Boy Scouts and graduated from Anacostia High School. Gregory received a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Air Force Academy and later his master’s degree in information systems from George Washington University.

Soon after receiving his master’s degree, Gregory joined NASA and in 1977 was selected for his first mission. As a pilot aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1985, he first proved himself a capable astronaut. He was next given leadership of the Discovery mission in 1989 and made history as the first black man to command a space shuttle. The Discovery crew orbited the earth 79 times during their 120 hour flight.

Gregory's final mission was on the shuttle Atlantis. The crew preformed medical tests and experiments. They also successfully launched the defense support program satellite.

Sources: 

NASA Biographies, http://www.nasa.gov/about/highlights/gregory_bio.html and http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/gregory-fd.html; Betty Kaplan Gubert, Miriam Sawyer and Caroline M. Fannin, Distinguished African Americans in Aviation and Space Science, (Phoenix: Oryx Press, 2001).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Cook, Will Mercer (1903-1987)

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

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

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

Boghossian, Alexander Skunder (1937-2003)

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

Jackson, Samuel L. (1948- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Actor Samuel Leroy Jackson was born on December 21, 1948 in Washington, D.C. to factory worker Elizabeth Jackson. His father abandoned his mother shortly after Jackson’s birth and then died of alcoholism. Jackson and his mother moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where they lived with her family. Jackson attended Riverside High School and played the trumpet and the French horn until graduating.

Jackson attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, majoring in dramatic arts. He founded the Just Us Theater while attending Morehouse, and in 1968 he was an usher at the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr.  In 1969 Jackson and several other students held the members of the Morehouse Board of Trustees hostage on campus until they agreed to administrative and curriculum changes. An agreement was made but Jackson was forced to leave Morehouse for two years. He returned and graduated in 1972.

While in Atlanta Jackson was involved with the Black Power movement and worked with Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown, and movement leaders.  He also joined the Black Image Theater Company which performed plays illustrating racial injustice and discrimination. Jackson met his future wife, Latanya Richardson, at the Company, and the two were married in 1980. The two had a daughter (Zoe) in 1982.
Sources: 
Daniel Donaghy, Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present: From the Age of Segregation to the Twenty-first Century, Paul Finkelman, ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009); Henry Louis Gates and Samuel L. Jackson, "In Character," America behind the Color Line: Dialogues with African Americans (New York: Warner, 2004); "Samuel Leroy Jackson," 2012, The Biography Channel website. http://www.biography.com/people/samuel-l-jackson-9542182.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

American Negro Academy (1897-1924)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
American Negro Academy Members
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Founded on March 5, 1897 in Washington, D.C. by 78-year-old Reverend Alexander Crummell, the American Negro Academy (ANA) was an organization of black intellectuals who through their scholarship and writing were dedicated to the promotion of higher education, arts, and science for African Americans as part of the overall struggle for racial equality. The American Negro Academy brought together persons of African ancestry from around the world and was the first society of blacks that would specifically promote the “Talented Tenth” ideas later articulated by founding member W.E.B. DuBois. An all-male organization, the ANA consisted of those with backgrounds in law, medicine, literature, religion, and community activism.  Their collective goal, however, was to “lead and protect their people” and to be a “weapon to secure equality and destroy racism.”
Sources: 
John F. Marszalek, Encyclopedia of African-American Civil Rights: From Emancipation to the Present (Greenwood Publishing Group, 1992).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

National Urban League (1910 - )

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The National Urban League (NUL) was formed on October 11, 1910, to help African American migrants assimilate into urban life.  The NUL began with the merger of three smaller groups, The National League for the Protection of Colored Women, The Committee for Improving the Industrial Conditions for Negroes in New York, and the Committee on Urban Conditions Among Negroes in New York, all dedicated to helping Americans urban newcomers mainly from the South, expand their employment, housing, healthcare, and educational opportunities.  Its first Executive Secretary, George E. Haynes (1910-1917) established its guiding principle, promote positive interracial interaction by persuading whites that they should work with African Americans for mutual advantage.
Sources: 
Nancy J. Weiss, The National Urban League, 1910-1940 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1974) Jesse T. Moore, Jr., A Search for Equality: The National Urban League, 1910-1960 (University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University, 1981); Nina Mjagkij, Organizing Black America: An Encyclopedia of African American Associations (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 2001); http://nul.iamempowered.com/who-we-are/mission-and-history.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Washington State Federation of Colored Women (1917- )

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Founded on Aug. 9, 1917 in Spokane, Washington, the Washington State Federation of Colored Women (WSFCW) confederated several social and civic clubs organized by African American women during the early 1900s. The African American women’s club movement in Washington State began in 1908 with the founding of the Clover Leaf Art Club in Tacoma by Nettie J. Asberry. The WSFCW brought together city federations and individual clubs from Spokane, Tacoma, and Seattle as well as some in Idaho and Vancouver, B.C. At its height, the WSFCW comprised over 120 individual clubs with 500 members.
Sources: 
Nettie J. Asberry Papers. Special Collections: Manuscripts and Archives Division. University of Washington, Seattle.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Cobb, W. Montague (1904–1990)

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

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

Coates, Ta-Nehisi (1975– )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Ta-Nehisi Coates is a writer, journalist, educator, and a national correspondent for The Atlantic. His articles, regarding such topics as social, political, and cultural issues, have been featured in national publications, including the Washington Post, Time, and The New Yorker. Coates’s works have addressed complex issues in American society like racial bias, urban policing, and racial identity, particularly in relation to the African American experience.
Sources: 
Terry Gross, “Ta-Nehisi Coates’ ‘Unlikely Road to Manhood’,” National Public Radio July 17, 2011, http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=100814580; Amy Goodman, “Ta-Nehisi Coates on Moving to Paris, #BlackLivesMatter, Bill Cosby, #OscarsSoWhite & More,” Democracy Now!, February 10, 2016, http://www.democracynow.org/2016/2/10/part_2_ta_nehisi_coates_on; “Ta-Nehisi Coates,” The MacArthur Foundation, September 28, 2015, https://www.macfound.org/fellows/931/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Freeman, Robert Tanner (1846-1873)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Robert Tanner Freeman is the first professionally trained black dentist in the United States.  A child of slaves, he eventually entered Harvard University and graduated only four years after the end of the Civil War on May 18, 1869.

Robert Tanner Freeman was born in Washington, D.C. in 1846.   His formerly enslaved parents took the surname “Freeman” as did countless other people after gaining their freedom from bondage.  As a child, Robert befriended Henry Bliss Noble, a local white dentist in the District of Columbia.   Freeman began working as an apprentice to Dr. Noble and continued until he was a young adult. Dr. Noble encouraged young Robert to apply to dental colleges. 

Two medical schools rejected Freeman’s application but with the encouragement of Dr. Nobel who had contacts at Harvard Medical School, Freeman applied there.  Initially rejected, he was accepted into Harvard Medical School in 1867 at the age of 21, after a petition by Dean Nathan Cooley Keep to end the school’s historical exclusion of African Americans and other racial minorities.

Sources: 
C.O. Dummett, “Courage and Grace in Dentistry: the Noble, Freeman Connection,” Journal of the Massachusetts Dental Society, 44:3 (January 1995) , 23-26; Donald Altschiller, "National Dental Association," in Nina Mjagkij, ed., Organizing Black America: an encyclopedia of African American Organizations (New York: Taylor & Francis, 2001).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

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

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

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

Walker, George Theophilus (1922- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership, George T. Walker

Winning the Pulitzer Prize for Music is one of the multitude of richly deserved tributes to composer, pianist, and educator George Theophilus Walker. His prolific career continues into his 90s with his commissioned Sinfonia No. 4 (Strands), premiered in 2012 by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

George Theophilus Walker was born June 27, 1922 in Washington, D.C. to George T. and Rosa Walker. His father emigrated from Jamaica and became a prominent physician. His mother began his obligatory piano lessons at five years old. He grew to love music and entered Oberlin School of Music at 14, receiving a B.M. degree with class honors in 1941.

Sources: 
George Walker, Reminiscences of an American Composer and Pianist (Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2009); Interviews by mosaicclassics, “George Walker, Composer,” State of the Arts, 2012.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Kelly, Sharon Pratt Dixon (1944- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sharon Pratt Dixon was born on January 30, 1944 in Washington, D.C. to parents Carlisle Pratt and Mildred (Petticord) Pratt.  Carlisle was a Washington, D.C. Superior Court Judge.  Mildred Pratt died of breast cancer when Sharon was four years old.  Pratt’s father played a major role in her life by instilling certain values and encouraging her commitment to public service.  Sharon Pratt attended public schools in Washington, D.C. and graduated with honors from Roosevelt High School in 1961. 

Although she initially wanting to pursue an acting career, her father persuaded Pratt to attend Howard University where in 1965 she received a B.A. degree in Political Science.  She then enrolled in Howard University’s School of Law.  While in law school, she married Arrington Dixon in 1966 who later became a Washington, D.C. city councilmember.  In 1968 Dixon earned her law degree and gave birth to their first daughter, Aimee Arrington Dixon.  A second daughter, Drew Arrington Dixon, was born in 1970. 
Sources: 
Jessie Carnie Smith, Epic Lives: One Hundred Black Women Who Made a Difference (Detroit, Michigan: Visible Ink Press, 1993); http://www.exploredc.org/index.php?id=288; http://www.worldbook.com/features/whm/html/skelly.html; http://politicalgraveyard.com/bio/kelly8.html
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Menard, John Willis (1838-1893)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

John Willis Menard, abolitionist, author, journalist and politician, was born in 1838 in Kaskaskia, Illinois, to French Creole parents. He was the first African American elected to Congress, but was not seated after a dispute over the election results. Menard attended Iberia College, an abolitionist school in Iberia, Ohio.  

Sources: 
Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2008); "John Willis Menard," Notable Black American Men Book II (Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2006); John Willis Menard, Lays in Summer Lands, edited by Larry Eugene Rivers, Richard Matthews, & Canter Brown, Jr. (Tampa, FL: University of Tampa Press, 2002); John Willis Menard, Black and White. No Party—No Creed: A Lecture. (Philadelphia, no date); John Willis Menard, An Address to the Free Colored People of Illinois (no city, ca. 1860).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Juneteenth: The Birth of an African American Holiday

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History in the West
General Order No. 3, Texas Emancipation
Proclamation, June 19, 1865
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Quintard Taylor, "The Juneteenth Celebration, 1865-1992," Eugene Register-Guard, June 8, 1992, pp. 1D, 4D.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Davis, Benjamin O., Jr. (1912-2002)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. followed in the footsteps of his trail blazing father as the first black general in the U.S. Air Force. He was born in Washington, D.C. on December 18, 1912, fully committed to a military career. He entered West Point Military Academy in 1932 and graduated thirty-fifth out of a class of 276 in 1936. At as time when there were serious doubts that blacks had the mental capacity to fly airplanes, he joined a small number of African Americans in the first flying training program for blacks at Tuskegee, Alabama. His pace setting achievements led him to command the famed 99th Pursuit Squadron and later the 332nd Fighter Group in World War II. Beginning as an unwelcome addition to the Air Force, black pilots under the leadership of Colonel Davis established an enviable record of flying 15,000 sorties, shooting down 111 enemy planes and destroying or damaging 273 aircraft on the ground. White bomber pilots who once shunned the black fighter group as escorts quickly had a change of heart. The 332nd Fighter Group never lost a single escorted bomber in the group’s 200 missions.
Sources: 
Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., American: An Autobiography (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Press, 1991).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Augusta State University

Weems, Anna Maria (1840-?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Anne Maria Weems is best known as an enslaved person who gained her freedom with a daring escape from slavery.  Weems was born into slavery about 1840 in Maryland to John and Arabella Talbot Weems. Her father was a free man of color, but her mother was enslaved, and therefore so were her children. When her parents learned the family was to be separated and sold off into slavery, they began working closely with abolitionists to emancipate each enslaved member of their family. A Weems Ransom Fund, financed by Quaker abolitionists Henry and Anna Richardson, was established. The Richardsons lived in Britain, so they entrusted control of the fund to their friend, Lewis Tappan, a white Brooklyn, New York abolitionist, and Charles B. Ray, a black abolitionist living in New York City, New York.
Sources: 
Daina Ramey Berry, Enslaved Women in America (Santa Barbara, California: Greenwood Press, 2012); Eric Foner, Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2015); Mary Ellen Snodgrass, The Underground Railroad: An Encyclopedia of People, Places, and Operations (New York: Routledge, 2015).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Woodson, Carter G. (1875-1950)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Ancella Bickley Collection,
West Virginia State Archives
Sources: 
Pero Gaglo Dagbovie, The Early Black History Movement, Carter G. Woodson, and Lorenzo Johnston Greene (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2007); Jacqueline Goggin, Carter G. Woodson:  A Life in Black History (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1993); and Pero Gaglo Dagbovie, “Willing to Sacrifice”:  Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Black History, and the Carter G. Woodson Home (Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, 2010).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Michigan State University

Freedmen’s Savings and Trust Company (1865-1874)

Vignette Type: 
Misc
History Type: 
African American History
The Freedman's Bank
Image Ownership: Public Domain

The Freedmen’s Savings and Trust Company, commonly referred to as The Freedmen’s Bank, was incorporated on March 3, 1865.  It was created by the United States Congress along with the Freedmen’s Bureau to aid the freedmen in their transition from slavery to freedom.  

By late 1861, many black Americans along the border-states experienced a de facto freedom in the presence of occupying Union troops.  Some found employment in Union garrisons where they were monetarily compensated for their work.  At this time, northern abolitionists called for the creation of a freedmen’s bank to assist the ex-slaves in developing habits of financial responsibility.  

Sources: 

Walter L. Fleming, The Freedmen’s Saving Bank: A Chapter in the Economic History of the Negro Race (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1927); Claude F. Oubre, Forty Acres and a Mule: The Freedmen’s Bureau and Black Land Ownership (Baton Rouge: The Louisiana State University Press, 1978), pp. 43, 68, 159-60; http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1997/summer/freedmans-savings-and-trust.html.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Congressional Black Caucus (1971-- )

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Congressional Black Caucus, 2007
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) was established in 1971, although its roots go back to the Democratic Select Committee (DSC).  The DSC was started in 1969 by Representative Charles Diggs of Michigan, who was looking for a way the nine Black members of the House of Representatives could meet and talk about their common political concerns.  The DSC addressed a number of issues of concern to African Americans, including investigating the killings of certain members of the Black Panther Party and boycotting President Richard Nixon’s 1970 State of the Union Address.  This boycott pressured Nixon into meeting with the DSC and discussing topics such as civil rights, Vietnam, anti-drug legislation, and welfare reform.

In 1971 the group was formally organized as the CBC and Diggs was nominated as its first chairman.  In 1972 the group set out to make sure that all Democrats became more attentive to black concerns.  At the 1972 Democratic National Convention the CBC drafted the Black Declaration of Independence and the Black Bill of Rights.  The Black Declaration of Independence demanded that the Democratic Party and its nominee commit themselves to full racial equality.  The Black Bill of Rights on the other hand made more specific demands, which failed to gain the support of the Party or its nominee, George McGovern.  
Sources: 
Colin A. Palmer, ed., Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2006); Nina Mjagkij, ed., Organizing Black America (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 2001); Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc: http://www.cbcfinc.org
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

McDonald, Norris (1958- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of The African American
Environmentalist Association

Norris McDonald, a leading black environmentalist, is the founder and president of the African American Environmental Association (AAEA), an organization dedicated to protecting the environment, enhancing human, animal and plant ecologies, and increasing African American participation in the environmental movement.

Norris McDonald was born to parents Sandy Norris McDonald Sr. and Katie Louvina Best in 1958 in Thomasville, North Carolina.  Norris McDonald Sr. was a high school principal and Katie Louvina Best worked for the local public school system. She died of breast cancer at the age of 26.

McDonald attended Wake Forest University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1977. After college, McDonald moved to Washington, D.C. hoping to find a job as a Congressional staffer.  Instead, he was hired as a staffer at the Environmental Policy Institute in 1979 (now called Friends of the Earth) where he worked for the next seven years. McDonald’s primary duties included media relations, public education, researching, lobbying, and fund raising. During this time, McDonald was introduced to environmental issues across the nation.  He also noticed that there were no black professionals working for environmental groups in the Washington, D.C. area. The absence of black professionals in those organizations inspired him to create the AAEA in 1985.

Sources: 
http://grist.org/article/norris/; http://meldi.snre.umich.edu/node/12335; Norris McDonald, Norris McDonald: Diary of an Environmentalist (Washington, D.C.: Privately Published, 2010).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Rice, Condoleezza (1954- )

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

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

Poor People's Campaign (December 4, 1967 – June 19, 1968)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Rev.
Sources: 
Nina Mjagkij, Organizing Black America: An Encyclopedia of African American Associations (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 2001);http://poorpeoplescampaignppc.org/HISTORY.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Jackson-Lee, Sheila (1950 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Sheila Jackson-Lee was born on January 12, 1950 in Queens, New York.   She graduated from Jamaica High School in Queens, New York in 1968.  She then graduated from Yale University in Connecticut with a B.A. in political science in 1972 followed in 1975 by a J.D. from the University of Virginia Law School.     

After graduating from law school Jackson-Lee moved to Houston, Texas after her husband, Dr. Elwyn C. Lee accepted a job offer from the University of Houston.  Dr. Lee is currently Vice Chancellor and Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of Houston.  Jackson-Lee was in private practice from 1975 to 1987 when she was elected a Houston municipal judge.  Jackson-Lee then ran for a seat on the Houston City Council in 1990.  In 1994 Shelia Jackson-Lee was elected as a Democrat to represent the 18th Congressional District of Texas.  She currently holds that seat. 

Sources: 
Congressional Biography:  http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=j000032; Jim Doyle, “Five members of Congress arrested over Sudan protest,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 28, 2006:  http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Five-members-of-Congress-arrested-over-Sudan-2498797.php; Tim Fleck, “What's Driving Miss Sheila?” Houston Press, February 20, 2007: http://www.houstonpress.com/1997-02-20/news/what-s-driving-miss-shelia/Sheila; Jackson’s Campaign website:  http://www.sheilajacksonlee18.com/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Douglass, Frederick (1817-1895)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Frederick Douglass was born into Maryland slavery in 1817 to a slave mother and a slave master father. Young Douglass toiled on a rural plantation and later in Baltimore’s shipyards as a caulker. Douglass, however, learned to read and soon sought out abolitionist literature that alleviated what he termed the graveyard of his mind. He eventually escaped to New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1838, and took the surname Douglass, which he borrowed from the Scottish romance novel, Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott. Douglass’s wife, Anna, followed with their five children. She worked as a laborer in a New Bedford shoe factory while Douglass became a world renowned anti-slavery orator.
Sources: 
Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom (New York: Miller, Orton & Mulligan, 1855); William J. Moses, The Golden Age of Black Nationalism, 1850-1925 (Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1978); Leon Litwack, North of Slavery: The Negro in the Free States, 1790-1860 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961); Benjamin Quarles, Frederick Douglass (New York: Athenaeum, 1968); and Philip S. Foner, Frederick Douglass: A Biography (New York: Citadel Press, 1964).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Fresno

Olden, Georg (1920-1975)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The graphic designer George Elliot Olden, known for his work in television and advertising, was born in Birmingham, Alabama on November 13, 1920. Olden’s father, James Clarence Olden, was a Baptist minister and his mother, Sylvia Ward Olden, was a music teacher. When he was only a few months old, Olden’s family moved to Washington, D.C. so his father could serve as a minister in the Plymouth Congregational Church. Then, in 1933, Olden’s father mysteriously left his family in the same year that Olden began attending all-black Dunbar High School where he was first exposed to cartooning and art.
Sources: 
Jason Chambers, “Meet One of the Pioneering Blacks in the Ad Industry,” Advertising Age, February 16, 2009; Julie Lasky, “The Search for George Olden,” in Graphic Design History (New York: Allworth Press, 2001); Julie Lasky, “Georg Olden Biography,” AIGA, The Professional Association for Design, 2007, http://www.aiga.org/medalist-georgolden/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Houston, Charles Hamilton (1895-1950)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Charles Hamilton Houston, a renowned civil rights attorney, was widely recognized as the architect of the civil rights strategy that led to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 decision, Brown v. Board of Education.  He was also a mentor to Thurgood Marshall who successfully litigated the pivotal Brown case.

Houston was born on September 3, 1895 in Washington, DC to parents William Houston, an attorney, and Mary Houston, a hairdresser and seamstress. He attended M Street High School (later Dunbar High School) in Washington, DC. Following graduation, he enrolled at Amherst College in Massachusetts where he was the only black student in his class. Houston was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, the national honor society there. Upon graduating in 1915, he was selected to deliver that year’s valedictory address.

After graduating from Amherst, Houston returned to Washington.  He joined the U.S. Army in 1917 and was trained in the all-black officers training camp in Fort Des Moines, Iowa in 1917. Houston was later deployed to France. While there, Houston and his fellow black soldiers experienced racial discrimination which deepened his resolve to study law.
Sources: 
William M. Banks, Black Intellectuals: Race and Responsibility in American Life (New York, London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1996); Rawn James, Jr., Root and Branch: Charles Hamilton Houston, Thurgood Marshall, and the Struggle to End Segregation (New York, Berlin, London: Bloomsbury Press, 2010); Carole Boston Weatherford, Great African-American Lawyers: Raising the Bar of Freedom (Berkeley Heights: Enslow Publishers, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent historian

Whipper, Ionia Rollin (1872-1953)

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

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

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

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

Sources: 

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Dawson, Horace G. (1926- )

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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

Europe, James Reese (1881-1919)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
James Reese Europe and Band Members, 1918
Image Ownership: Public Domain
James Reese Europe, one of the first African Americans to record music in the United States, was born on February 22, 1881 in Mobile, Alabama to Henry and Lorraine Europe.  When he was ten, his family moved to Washington D.C. where he began to study violin with Enrico Hurlei, the assistant director of the Marine Corps Band.  In 1904, Reese moved to New York to continue his musical studies.  
Sources: 
F. Reid Badger, A Life in Ragtime: A Biography of James Reese Europe (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995); Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, “Europe, James Reese,” Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1983); http://jass.com/europe.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Williams, Doug (1955-- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
When Doug Williams took the field for the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XXII, it marked the first time in National Football League (NFL) history that an African American quarterback played in a Super Bowl. Douglas Lee “Doug” Williams was born August 9, 1955 in Zachary, Louisiana to parents Robert and Laura Williams. After high school, he played for legendary coach Eddie Robinson at Grambling State University. Williams led Grambling to three Southwestern Athletic Conference championships in four years between 1974 and 1977. He was named a first-team All-American by the Associated Press in 1977 and finished fourth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy. Along with his athletic achievements, Williams earned a Bachelor of Science degree in health and physical education from Grambling.
Sources: 
Jill Lieber, “Well-Armed Pioneer,” Sports Illustrated, February 1 1988; Michael Richman, The Redskins Encyclopedia (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2007); Dave Scheiber, “So Who’s Laughing Now?” St. Petersburg Times, January 26, 2003.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Ellington, Edward “Duke” (1899-1974)

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

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

Taylor, Robert Rochon (1899–1957)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
D. Bradford Hunt, Blueprints for Disaster (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2009); Michelle Cottle, "The Woman to See," thenewrepublic.com, August 27, 2008; 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.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Central Contractors Association

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Tyree Scott at Central Contractors Association Rally, 1969
(University of Washington Library Archives)

In 1969, Walter Hundley, director of the Seattle Model Cities Program, encouraged local black independent contractors to organize in an effort to gain lucrative building construction contracts that required minority participation.  When the contractors responded, they selected Tyree Scott, an electrician, as their leader.  They also called themselves the Central Contractors Association (CCA). The CCA defined itself as an outgrowth of many participating individual and organizations participating in Seattle’s Model Cities Program and characterized itself as a organization seeking equal compliance in contracts granted on Federal building projects.

The CCA Board included five diversified members. Luene Curry owned Washington Drywall and Paint; and James Takisaki owned Takisaki Construction Company.  Along with Scott (who was Board President) they had the direct experience as construction workers.  The fourth board member, Lembhard Howell, was an attorney while the fifth member, Benjamin F. McAdoo was an architect.

Sources: 

“A Letter to the Clergy of the Greater Seattle Area,” in file Materials Distributed by Various Groups at 12/14/69 Meeting, Location VF0643, Accession # 1346-001, Collection Name Central Contractors Association, Archival Materials, University of Washington Special Collections; Quintard Taylor, The Forging of a Black Community: Seattle’s Central District form 1870 through the Civil Rights Era (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994); William A. Little, “Community Organization and Leadership: A Case Study in Minority Workers in Seattle,” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Washington, 1976).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Tacoma

Van Der Zee, James (1886-1983)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
James VanDerZee was an African American photographer during the Harlem Renaissance who was best known for his pictures that captured the lives of African Americans in New York City, New York. He had a gift for capturing the most influential individuals and riveting artistic moments of the era.  Early 20th century black activist Marcus Garvey, black entertainer/ dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and renowned black poet Countee Cullen were among his more prominent subjects.

VanDerZee was born in Lenox, Massachusetts in 1886.  He demonstrated a gift for music and initially aspired to a career as a professional violinist.  
Sources: 
James VanDerZee, Drop Me Off in Harlem (Washington D.C., The Kennedy Center, 1922: Photographs).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Detter, Thomas (1821- ? )

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People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

Thomas Detter, Nellie Brown, or the Jealous Wife with other Sketches (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996); William L. Andrews, Francis Smith Foster, and Trudier Harris, The Concise Oxford Companion to African American Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Walton, James L. (1939- )

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

James L. Walton is Tacoma, Washington's first black city manager.  Born in Dallas, the youngest of five children, he grew up in the small Texas town of Mineola.  After high school graduation in 1959, he followed his brother, Willie Brown, who would become a prominent California politician, in moving to California.  He lived in San Diego, where he attended community college, then served two tours of duty in the Army during the Vietnam War, concluding his military service at Fort Lewis, Washington.  The assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., redirected his resolve.  In 1968 he enrolled at Tacoma Community College, where he became president of the Obi Society, the black student union, whose members fought an entrenched status quo for an education equal to that offered white students.  

Sources: 

Jason Hagey, “Walton’s Legacy of Quiet Activism,” The News Tribune (Tacoma), June 3, 2005; Ron Mills, “TCC alumnus speaks out about racism, The Challenge, Tacoma Community College, June 6, 2002, http://www.tacoma-challenge.com/news1.htm.
The Safe Streets Campaign: Tacoma and Pierce County Respond to Youth Violence, interviews by Janice M. Foster, University of Washington Tacoma Community History Project, UWT Library, 1994 #1.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Young, Charles (1864-1922)

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

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

Carruthers, George (1939- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The physicist and inventor George Carruthers, known for inventing the ultraviolet camera and spectrograph, was born on October 1, 1939 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Dr. Carruthers is the oldest of four siblings. Carruthers’s father, George Carruthers, Sr., died when Carruthers was only 12 years old. However, before his death the senior Carruthers, a civil engineer in the United States Army, played a significant role in Carruthers’s budding interest in science. For example, Carruthers had built his own telescope from cardboard tubing and mail-order lenses from the money he had made as a delivery boy at the age of 10 years old.

Following the loss of his father, Carruthers’s mother, Sophia Carruthers, moved the family to Chicago, Illinois in search of employment.  She eventually worked for the U.S. Postal Service. Carruthers’s love for science remained strong, eventually becoming one of only a handful African American students to attend Chicago’s Englewood High School. During his time at Englewood, Carruthers won three science fair awards.

Sources: 
Kamau Rashid, Jacob H. Carruthers and the African-Centered Discourse on Knowledge, Worldview, and Power (London: Pluto Press, 2004); George Carruthers, Rocket Observation of Interstellar Molecular Hydrogen (Washington, D.C.: E.O. Hulburt Center for Space Research, 1970); Donna McKinney, NRL’S Dr. George Carruthers Honored with National Medal of Technology and Innovation (Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Research Laboratory, 2013).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Frazier, E. Franklin (1894-1962)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Edward Franklin Frazier, the most prominent African American sociologist of the 20th Century, was born on September 24, 1894 and died on May 17, 1962. Best known for his critical work on the black middle class, Black Bourgeoisie (1957), Frazier was also a harsh critic of Jim Crow as the great inhibitor of the American Dream for the “American Negro.”

Frazier was born to James H. and Mary Clark Frazier. His father worked as a bank messenger and his mother was a housewife. Both parents stressed the worth of education as a path to freedom and as an instrument to fight for social justice.  

Sources: 
Anthony M. Platt, E. Franklin Frazier (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1991); August Meier and Elliot Rudwick, Black Historians and the Historical Profession, 1915-1980 (Urbana/Chicago, University of Illinois Press, 1986).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Fresno

Jordan, Vernon E. (1935 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of DePauw University
Publications Office

Vernon Eulion Jordan, civil rights leader, lawyer, and presidential advisor, was born in Atlanta, Georgia on August 15, 1935.  Growing up in the segregated American South, Jordan attended David T. Howard High School, where he graduated with honors in 1953. 

Upon graduation Jordan entered DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, where he was the only African American in his class.  A gifted athlete, Jordan excelled at basketball until his graduation in 1957.

Sources: 

Vernon E. Jordan, Vernon Can Read: A Memoir (New York: Public Affairs, 2001); NAACP, NAACP Administration 1956-65.  General office file.  Register and Vote –Taconic Foundation Voter Education Project, 1961-1964 (Bethesda: University Publications of America, 1995); Pat Rediger, Great African Americans in Civil Rights (New York: Crabtree Publication, Co., 1996); https://www.akingump.com/en/lawyers-advisors/vernon-e-jordan.html.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

Carter, Robert L. (1917-2012)

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


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

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

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

Northup, Solomon (1808- ? )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Solomon Northup in his Plantation Suit,
Illustration from the Book, Twelve Years a Slave
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Solomon Northup was a free black man who was illegally held in bondage for twelve years before he regained his freedom.  Northup was born to free parents in Minerva, New York in 1808. Little is known of his mother other than she was born a free mulatto.  His father Mintus Northup, an emancipated slave, was a farm owner, voted in local elections, and valued education for his sons, Solomon and elder brother Joseph.

On December 25, 1829 Solomon Northup married Anne Hampton and the couple had three children:  Elizabeth, Margaret, and Alonzo. The Northup family sold the family farm and moved to Glens Falls, New York where he worked numerous seasonal jobs around their county of residence.  His wife also contributed to the family’s income as a part-time cook at various taverns in rural New York State.  Northup eventually gained a reputation as a brilliant violinist who entertained large audiences throughout rural New York.

Sources: 
Solomon Northup. Twelve Years a Slave: Narrative of Solomon Northup, a citizen of New York, Kidnapped in Washington City in 1841 and Rescued in 1853, from a cotton plantation near the Red River in Louisiana (Buffalo: Derby, Orton, and Mulligan, 1853); David Fiske, Solomon Northup: His Life Before and After Slavery. (Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2012); Michael Cipley. “Escape From Slavery Now a Movie, Has Long Intrigued Historians,” New York Times. (September 23, 2013). B4.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Eastern Kentucky University

Alexander, Clifford L., Jr. (1933-)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the U.S. Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission
 
Clifford L. Alexander Jr. was born in New York City on September 21, 1933, the son of Clifford L. and Edith (McAllister) Alexander.  Alexander received a Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, from Harvard University (1955) and a L.L.B. degree from the Yale University Law School in 1958.  In 1959, Alexander became Assistant District Attorney for New York County.  From 1961 to 1962, he became the Executive Director of the Manhattanville Hamilton Grange Neighborhood Conservation Project (1961-62).

Alexander left the private practice of law in New York City in 1963 to become a Foreign Affairs Officer in the National Security Council (NCS) in Washington D.C.  The next year, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed him as a Special Assistant to the President; then, in succession, Associate Special Counsel and Deputy Special Counsel to the President.  From 1967 to 1969, Alexander served as chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC).  In 1968, he was also named a special representative of the President, with the rank of ambassador.  In this capacity, he led the U.S. delegation to ceremonies marking the independence of Swaziland.  After Alexander left the EEOC, he returned to the private practice of law.  
Sources: 
Alton Hornsby, Jr., Angela M. Hornsby, “From the Grassroots” Profiles of Contemporary African American Leaders (Montgomery, Alabama: E-Book Time LLC, 2007), pp. 6-7.
Affiliation: 
Morehouse College and University of Mississippi

Frazer, Victor O. (1943- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

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

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

Gayton, Gary D. (1933- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Courtesy of Siebert Brandford
Shank & Co., L.L.C

Attorney and businessman Gary D. Gayton has spent most of his adult life as a civil rights advocate for those without a representative voice, including African Americans, Native Americans, and women. He was the country’s first black Assistant U.S. Attorney, appointed to the position by Attorney General Robert Kennedy in 1962.  Later in private practice, his controversial clients included Black Panthers and activists opposing the Vietnam War.
Sources: 
Alyssa Burrows, Gayton, Gary David (b. 1933), HistoryLink.org; Gary D. Gayton, Who’s Who Among African Americans (Detroit: Gale, 2010), Dan Raley, Where Are They Now: Trish Bostrom, Seattle Post Intelligencer, March 9, 2004.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independant Historian

Henson, Matthew (1866-1955)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
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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

Washington, D.C. Race Riot (1919)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Soldiers with Black Resident of Washington, D.C.
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The race riot in Washington, D.C. was one of more than twenty that took place during the “Red Summer” of 1919. Lasting a total of only four days, this short-lived riot was more accurately described as a “race war” taking place in the nation’s capital.

On Saturday night, July 19, 1919, in a downtown bar, a group of white veterans sparked a rumor regarding the arrest, questioning, and release of a black man suspected by the Metropolitan Police Department of sexually assaulting a white woman. The victim was also the wife of a Navy man. The rumor traveled throughout the saloons and pool halls of downtown Washington, angering the several soldiers, sailors, and marines taking their weekend liberty, including many veterans of World War I.

Later that Saturday night, a mob of veterans headed toward Southwest D.C. to a predominantly black, poverty-stricken neighborhood with clubs, lead pipes, and pieces of lumber in hand. The veterans brutally beat all African Americans they encountered. African Americans were seized from their cars and from sidewalks and beaten without reason or mercy by white veterans, still in uniform, drawing little to no police attention.
Sources: 
Peter Perl, “Race Riot of 1919 Gave Glimpse of Future Struggles”, The Washington Post Company, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/local/2000/raceriot0301.htm; Rawn James Jr., “The Forgotten Washington Race War of 1919,” History News Network, http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/123811; “Race Riots of 1919”, Global Security, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/riots-1919.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Brooke, Edward, III (1919-2015)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

 

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Edward William Brooke III was the first African American to be elected by popular vote to the United States Senate.  Brooke, an African American, Protestant Republican, won elective office in the overwhelmingly white, Catholic, Democratic state of Massachusetts and emerged as a leader in the US Senate.  Edward Brooke III, the son of Helen (Seldon) Brooke and Edward W. Brooke, was born October 26, 1919 in Washington, D.C.  Brook's father, Edward, earned a law degree at the Howard University School of Law and later served as an attorney with the US Veterans Administration. 

Sources: 
Edward Brooke, Bridging the Divide: My Life (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press; 2006); "Edward Brooke" in the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress (http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=B000871); “The Senate: An Individual Who Happens to be a Negro,” Time Magazine, Feb. 17, 1967.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Moryck, Brenda Ray (1894-1949)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
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Brenda Ray Moryck was a Washington, D.C.-based black writer and social activist often associated with the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s.  While Moryck and her female peers did not receive as much mainstream public attention as did many black male artists, she published short stories, essays, and book reviews in important journals such as the Urban League’s Opportunity and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) Crisis.  

Brenda Moryck was born in 1894 in Newark, New Jersey.  The great-granddaughter of Reverend Charles Ray, editor of the important antebellum black newspaper, the Colored American, Moryck noted that “writing is a tradition in our family.”  In 1916, she graduated from Wellesley College and returned to New Jersey to do volunteer work with the Newark Bureau of Charities.  Married to Lucius Lee Jordan in 1917, Moryck was widowed within a year and later remarried Robert B. Francke in 1930.  During this interim, she taught English at Armstrong Technical School, one of two segregated high schools for African American youth in Washington, D.C.  

Sources: 

“A Point of View (An Opportunity Dinner Reaction),” Opportunity 3 (August 1925); “Our Prize Winners and What They Say of Themselves,” Opportunity 4 (June 1926), 188-189;  Brenda Ray Moryck, “Days,” The Crisis 35 (June 1928): 187-188; and Lorraine Elena Roses and Ruth Elizabeth Randolph, “Moryck (Francke), Brenda Ray,” in Harlem Renaissance and Beyond:  Literary Biographies of 100 Black Women Writers, 1900-1945 (Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., 1990), 243-246.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Georgia Southwestern State University.

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

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

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

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

Reid, Philip (1820-1892)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Statue of Freedom on the U.S. Capitol Dome
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Craftsman Philip Reid is best known as the enslaved African who worked on the casting of the Statue of Freedom which sits atop the Capitol building housing the United States Congress.  Reid is the most famous of the enslaved workers who comprised 50% of the workforce which built the structure that currently houses the United States Senate and House of Representatives.  
Sources: 
Ernest B. Furgurson, Freedom Rising: Washington in the Civil War (New York: Vintage, 2005); Jesse J. Holland, Black Men Built the Capitol: Discovering African-American History In and Around Washington, D.C. (Guilford, Connecticut: Globe Pequot, 2007); Wevonneda Minis, “Magazine Highlights Charleston Connection to Bronze Cast,” The Charleston Post and Courier, March 24, 2009, http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20090324/PC1205/303249915 ; Peter Zavodnyik, The Rise of the Federal Colossus: The Growth of Federal Power from Lincoln to F.D.R. (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2011).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Hyman, John Adams (1840-1891)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
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John Adams Hyman was born into slavery on July 23, 1840 in Warren County, North Carolina. Hyman's thirst for knowledge resulted in him being sold away from his family for attempting to read a spelling book that was given to him by a sympathetic white jeweler. He continued to seek knowledge at his new residence in Alabama and was sold again for fear that he would influence other slaves. Hyman was sold eight more times for his attempts to educate himself.  

At the age of 25 Hyman was freed by the Thirteenth Amendment and returned to his family in North Carolina. He quickly enrolled in school where he received an elementary education. Hyman also became a landowner and merchant.  Hyman, a Mason, soon emerged as a leader of the post-Civil War North Carolina black community.  
Sources: 
Stephen Middleton, ed. Black Congressmen During Reconstruction (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2002); George W. Reid, “Four in Black: North Carolina’s Black Congressmen, 1874-1901” Journal of Negro History 64 (Summer 1979): 229-43; http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=H001025.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Porter Wesley, Dorothy (1905-1995)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Constance
Porter Uzelac
Dorothy Porter Wesley (1905-1995), a scholar-librarian and bibliographer was born in Warrenton, Virginia in 1905, to her father, Hayes Joseph Burnett, a physician, and her mother, Bertha Ball Burnett, a tennis champion.  After receiving her A.B., from Howard University in 1928, she became the first African American woman to complete her graduate studies at Columbia University receiving a Bachelors (1931) and a Masters (1932) of Science in Library Science.  

Dorothy Bennett joined the library staff at Howard University in 1928, and on December 29, 1929 married James Amos Porter. In 1930 University President W. Mordecai Johnson appointed her to organize and administer a Library of Negro Life and History incorporating the 3,000 titles presented in 1914 by Jesse Moorland.  The library opened in 1933 as the Moorland Foundation.  In 1946 Howard University purchased the Arthur Spingarn Collection.  By the time Porter retired in 1973 the library, which was now called the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, had over 180,000 books, pamphlets, manuscripts and other primary sources.  Over 43 years, Porter had successfully created a leading modern research library that served an international community of scholars.  
Sources: 
Helen H. Britton, "Dorothy Porter Wesley; a bio-bibliographic profile" In American Black Women in the Arts and Social Sciences; a Bibliographic Survey. 3rd ed. (Metuchen, New Jersey: Greenwood Press, 1996); Dorothy Porter, “Fifty Years of Collecting.”  Introduction to: Black Access: A Bibliography of Afro-American Bibliographies by Richard Newman, Comp.  (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1984)  pp. xvii-xxviii; "Dorothy Louise Burnett Porter Wesley (1905-1995)." http://www.dpw-archives.org, Thomas C. Battle, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center. http://www.founders.howard.edu/moorland-spingarn/hist.htm
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Williams, Sidney (1942- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Ambassador Sidney Williams and His Wife,
Congresswoman Maxine Waters
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Sources: 
Carla Hall, “Sidney Williams’ Unusual Route to Ambassador Post,” Los Angeles Times (February 6, 1994); State Department report in the Congressional Record at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CREC-1994-02-08/html/CREC-1994-02-08-pt1-PgS39.htm; U.S Department of State, Office of the Historian, http://history.state.gov/departmenthistory/people/williams-sidney.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Grimke, Angelina Weld (1880-1958)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

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Angelina Weld Grimke was born into a legacy of advocacy for racial justice. As the daughter of Archibald Grimke, the second black to graduate from Harvard law and vice-president of the NAACP, Grimké’s heritage of racial equality can be further traced to her grand aunts, Angelina and Sarah Grimke, prominent abolitionists and advocates of women’s rights.

Sources: 

Carolivia Herron, Selected Works of Angelina Weld Grimke (London: Oxford University Press, 1991); http://www.dclibrary.org/blkren/bios/grimkeaw.html

Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Shober, James Francis (1853–1889)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Dr. James Francis Shober was an African American doctor and the first known black physician to practice in North Carolina. Shober was born on August 23, 1853, in or near the Moravian town of Salem (now Winston-Salem), North Carolina. Shober’s father, believed to be Francis Edwin Shober, was successful white businessman and politician in the Salem Moravian community who served in the North Carolina state legislature and the United States Congress.

Francis Shober earned his law degree at the University of North Carolina in 1851 and was a co-founder of the first Sunday school in the state. Meanwhile James Shober’s mother, Betsy Ann Waugh, was a mulatto slave who was only eighteen years old when Shober was born. Betsy Ann, who lived in Salem, passed away in 1859 when Shober was between the age of six and seven. He was sent back to the Waugh Plantation near Waughtown, North Carolina, where his grandmother lived with other family relatives.

Sources: 
Ben Steelman, “James Shober, North Carolina Doctor,” http://www.aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/james-shober-north-carolina-doctor; William S. Powell, “Shober, James Francis,” http://ncpedia.org/biography/shober-james-francis; Elizabeth Reed, “James Shober” in, Find A Grave- Millions of Cemetery Records and Online Memorials, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=23080615.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Scott, Emmett J. (1873-1957)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Emmett J. Scott and Booker T. Washington
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A native of Houston, Texas, Emmett J. Scott garnered a reputation as Booker T. Washington’s chief aide.  He was also the highest ranking African American in the Woodrow Wilson’s Administration.  The son of ex-slaves, Scott was born in 1873.  In 1887, he entered Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, eventually leaving school in his third year.  Soon he worked at the Houston Post, first as a sexton, and later as a copyboy and journalist. In 1893 Scott, along with Charles N. Love and Jack Tibbit, formed the Texas Freeman, Houston’s first African American newspaper.  Scott also worked for Galveston, Texas, politician and labor leader, Norris W. Cuney. 

Sources: 
Thelma Scott Bryant, Pioneering Families of Houston (Early 1900s) as Remembered by Thelma Scott Bryant (Houston: n. p., 1991); Maceo Crenshaw Dailey, Jr., “The Business Life of Emmett Jay Scott,” Business History Review, 77 (Winter 2003), 57-68; Barbara L. Green, “Emmett Jay Scott,” in The New Handbook of Texas, Vol.. 5 (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1996), 935.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Sam Houston State University

Steele, Michael S. (1958- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 

Michael Steele, "Uniting the Republican Party,” Townhall Magazine, April 8, 2008, http://townhall.com/columnists/michaelsteele/2008/04/08/uniting_the_republican_party; Michael Steele, “Now Is the Time to Act,” Townhall Magazine, February 7, 2008,
http://townhall.com/columnists/michaelsteele/2008/02/07/now_is_the_time_to_act;
Baltimore Sun, November 6, 2002; Baltimore Sun, February 1, 2009; Washington Post, November 3, 2006, p.A20, Letters to the Editor, “Black Democrats and Mr. Steele.” Transcript of interview on “Fox News Sunday,” February 1, 2009. http://www.foxnews.com/story/2009/02/01/transcript-rnc-chairman-michael-steele-on-fox-news-sunday.html.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Montgomery College (Maryland)

Raspberry, William James (1935-2012)

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

Cromwell, John Wesley (1846-1927)

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People
History Type: 
African American History

 

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John Wesley Cromwell was a historian, editor, educator and lawyer who was born into slavery on September 5th, 1846 in Portsmouth, Virginia. He was the youngest child of Willis Hodges Cromwell and Elizabeth Carney Cromwell, who had twelve children. In 1851 Willis Cromwell obtained his family’s freedom and they moved to West Philadelphia. John attended Bird’s Grammar School at the age of ten and the Institute for Colored Youth in 1856. He graduated in 1864 and taught briefly in Colombia, Pennsylvania.

Cromwell returned to Virginia in 1865 at the age of eighteen and opened a private school for freedmen in Portsmouth, which was eventually taken over by the American Missionary Association. He returned to Philadelphia and worked with the Baltimore Association for the Moral and Intellectual Improvement of Colored People. In December of 1865, the principal of the Association recommended Cromwell to teach in the American Missionary Association’s freedman’s schools being formed across the South. Cromwell taught briefly in Maryland and Virginia through 1867.

John Wesley Cromwell soon got involved with local politics in Virginia. In 1867 he was named a delegate to the first Republican convention in Richmond. He was also named clerk in the Virginia Constitutional Convention in 1868.

Sources: 
Adelaide M. Cromwell, Unveiled Voices, Unvarnished Memories: The Cromwell Family in Slavery and Segregation, 1692-1972 (Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 2007); Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Johnson, William Henry (ca. 1835-1864)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership, Public Domain
William Henry Johnson served as the personal valet to Abraham Lincoln.  Johnson was born around 1835; however, his exact date of birth, parentage, and birthplace remain unknown.  He began working for the Lincoln family in Springfield, Illinois as a barber and valet in 1860 and accompanied Lincoln to Washington, D.C.
Sources: 
Roy P. Basler, "Did President Lincoln Give the Smallpox to William H. Johnson?"  Huntington Library Quarterly, 1972, 35:3 (1972); Tim Dennee, “African-American Civilians Interred in Section 27 of Arlington National Cemetery, 1864-1867,” www.freedmenscemetery.org
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Ferebee, Dorothy Celeste Boulding (1898–1980)

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

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

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Howard University (1867– )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Howard University Faculty, 1950:
Left to Right, James Nabrit, Charles Drew, Sterling Brown,
E. Franklin Frazier, Rayford Logan and Alain Locke.
Courtesy of the Howard University Archives,
Moorland-Spingarn Research Center
Howard University has been labeled “the capstone of Negro education,” because of its central role in the African American educational experience.  Among historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) Howard has produced the greatest number of graduates with advanced degrees.  Originally conceived as a theological school in 1866, Howard University was chartered as a university by an act of the United States Congress in 1867.  It is the only HBCU to hold that distinction.  Named after Oliver Otis Howard, a Civil War general who became commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau, the institution was from its inception committed to graduate and professional education in sharp contrast to most other black postsecondary institutions of that era.
Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan, Howard University: The First Hundred Years (New York: New York University Press, 1968); Raymond Wolters, The New Negro on Campus: Black College Rebellions of the 1920s  (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1975); http://www.howard.edu/explore/history.htm; http://www.howard.edu/library/Reference/Guides/Retrospective/default.htm; http://www.law.howard.edu/1234.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Montgomery College (Maryland)

Bullen, Roland Wentworth Boniface (1944- )

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People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Roland Wentworth Bullen was born on Carriacou, one of the six islands that comprise the nation of Grenada. The product of a prominent family that owned several businesses, including the popular restaurant “Callaloo,” Bullen arrived in the United States in 1966. After obtaining his bachelor’s degree in public administration at San Diego (California) State University in 1971, Bullen earned a master’s degree in city planning at Alliant International University (formerly United States International University) in 1973.
Sources: 
“West Indian Born Ambassadors in US Diplomatic Corp,” article at http://www.ecaroh.com/bmp/articles/wibornambassadors.htm; State Department release at  http://2001-2009.state.gov/outofdate/bios/b/22869.htm; Wikileaks article at https://saveguyana.wordpress.com/tag/dea/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Jacobs, Harriet (c.1815-1897)

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

Fields, James Apostle (1844–1903)

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People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
James Apostle Fields was a former enslaved person who became an influential black lawyer and teacher serving in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1890 to 1891. Although sources differ on the exact date in 1844 on which Fields was born, his birth is celebrated on the fourteenth of October.

James Apostle was born into slavery in Hanover County, Virginia, in 1844. Although both his parents, Washington Fields and Martha Ann Fields, were slaves, they lived on separate plantations. His mother’s maiden name is historically recorded as Berkley and Thornton.

Fields first became interested in law during his early years as a slave in Hanover County where he took care of white lawyers’ horses as they arrived for work. While tending to the horses, Fields observed courtroom proceedings and other work conducted at the Hanover courthouse.

Sources: 

Donald W. Gunter, “James A. Fields (1844–1903),” http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Fields_James_A_1844-1903#start_entry; Donald W. Gunther, “James A. Fields,” Library of Virginia, http://mlkcommission.dls.virginia.gov/lincoln/pdfs/bios/fields_james_apostles.pdf.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Randolph, Asa Philip (1889-1979)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
A. Philip Randolph with Eleanor Roosevelt
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Asa Philip Randolph, born on April 15, 1889 in Crescent City, Florida, was one of the most respected leaders of the American Civil Rights movement in the twentieth century.  Randolph was a labor activist; editor of the political journal The Messenger, organizer of the 1941 March on Washington which resulted in the establishment of the Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC), and architect of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

Sources: 
Andrew E. Kersten, A. Philip Randolph: A Life in the Vanguard (Lanham, MD: Roman & Littlefield, 2006); Cynthia Taylor, A. Philip Randolph: The Religious Journey of an African American Labor Leader (New York: NYU Press, 2006); Paula Pfeffer, A. Philip Randolph, Pioneer of the Civil Rights Movement (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1996).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Tacoma

Taylor, John Baxter, Jr. (1882-1908)

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

The first African American to win an Olympic Gold Medal, John Baxter Taylor was born November 3, 1882, in Washington, D.C. He attended Central High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he ran track and was the only African American on the team. After graduating from high school in 1902, Taylor attended Brown Preparatory School for one year, running track for an undefeated team.

Sources: 

Oceana Chalk, Black College Sport (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company,
1976).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Long Beach

Lewis, Arthur W. (1926- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Arthur W. Lewis was a career foreign officer who served in diplomatic missions in Eastern Europe and Africa before retiring in 1987.  He also played a significant role in expanding opportunities for racial and ethnic minorities in the American diplomatic corps.

Before entering the Foreign Service, Lewis spent 23 years in the U.S. Navy.  A student at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, Lewis enlisted in the Navy in 1943 and served until 1966.  He returned to Dartmouth to work with the N.R.O.T.C. and teach Naval Science while still on active duty.  He completed a Bachelor’s and a Master’s in Government while at Dartmouth in 1966.

In 1966, Lewis joined the United States Information Agency (USIA), a Cold War-era diplomatic agency intended to promote American culture abroad. Lewis chose to work with the USIA because he believed he would have more direct engagement with foreign nationals than in the State Department.  With the support of the Ford Foundation, Lewis in 1967 created an expanded minority recruitment program for the USIA, targeting African American, Latino, and Native Americans enrolled in universities around the nation.  The program brought students to Washington, D.C. for expanded training in history, language, and international affairs as preparation for successfully completing the Foreign Services entrance exam.

Sources: 
“Duggan and Others Exit Reagan Administration But Blacks Remaining Want More Posts,” Jet 67 (February 25 1985); “Ex-Navyman Named U. S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone,” All Hands (November 1983), http://www.navy.mil/ah_online/archpdf/ah198311.pdf; “Nomination of Arthur Winston Lewis To Be United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone,” April 11, 1983,  http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=41167; Transcript, Ambassador Arthur W. Lewis Interview, 6 September 1989, by Charles Stuart Kennedy for the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project, http://www.adst.org/OH%20TOCs/Lewis,%20Arthur%20W%20.toc.pdf.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Southwestern State University

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

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

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

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

Bolden, Abraham (1935- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership, Public Domain
Abraham Bolden, often erroneously referred to as the first black Secret Service Agent, was in fact the first black agent assigned to the prestigious White House Detail.  Bolden was born to Daniel and Ophelia Bolden in East St. Louis, Illinois on January 19, 1935.  He graduated from East St. Louis’s Lincoln High School in 1952 and attended Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri on a music scholarship, graduating cum laude in 1956.  After graduation, Bolden married his longtime friend and schoolmate Barbara L. Hardy.  The marriage lasted 49 years until her death on December 27, 2005.  The couple had three children.

In 1956 Bolden became the first African American to be employed as a detective by the Pinkerton National Detective Agency.  He then served as an Illinois State Highway Patrolman.  In October 1960, Bolden joined the US Secret Service, becoming their second black agent (after Charles L.
Sources: 
Abraham Bolden, The Echo from Dealey Plaza (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2008); Del Quentin, “The First Black Secret Service Agent,” The Washington Post, August 10, 2011; interview with Abraham Bolden by the author, January 4, 2014; UNITED STATES v. BOLDEN 355 F.2d 453 (1965); “Admits Bolden Trial Perjury: Spagnoli Tells of Trying to Aid Self,” Chicago Tribune, January 21, 1965; “Blunders and Wonders of Nov. 22, 1963,” Flagpole Magazine, November 19, 2008.
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Abernathy, Ralph (1926-1990)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Ralph David Abernathy was born on March 11, 1926 in Linden, Alabama.  His boyhood was spent on his father’s Alabama farm but he joined the U.S. Army and served in World War II from 1941 to 1945.  After his service Abernathy returned to his home state where he attended Alabama State College in Montgomery, Alabama, receiving a degree in Mathematics in 1950.  
Sources: 
Ralph David Abernathy, And the Walls Came Tumbling Down: An Autobiography (New York: Harper and Row, 1989); http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-2736.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

University of District of Columbia (1851- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
David A. Clarke School of Law,
University of the District of Columbia
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The University of District of Columbia was founded as a school for African American girls in 1851. The school was established by Myrtilla Miner and was initially called the Miner Normal School.  In 1879 it became part of the District of Columbia public school system. In 1873 the Washington Normal School was established for white girls in the District.  In 1913 it became known as the Wilson Normal School.  Both schools were turned into four year teacher colleges by a 1929 act of Congress.  The Miner Normal School became Miner Teachers College and the Wilson Normal School was called Wilson Teachers College. In 1955, one year after the Brown v. Board of Education Decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, the two colleges were combined to become the District of Columbia Teachers College.
Sources: 
“University of District of Columbia” Available at: http://www.udc.edu/welcome/history.htm. 27 May 2010, “Historically Black American Colleges and Universities: University of District of Columbia” Available at: http://www.petersons.com/blackcolleges. 27 May 2010, United States. Congress. House. Committee on the District of Columbia. Subcommittee on Judiciary and Education, Congressional oversight: a report on the University of the District of Columbia (Washington: U.S. G.P.O, 1984).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Spratlen, Pamela L. (1954- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Career Foreign Service officer Pamela L. Spratlen was nominated by President Barack Obama in July 2014 to become U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan, and after confirmation by the U.S. Senate was sworn in on January 6, 2015. This important Central Asian appointment rewarded her outstanding policy and leadership accomplishments across a wide variety of assignments for over 20 years, and considering her earlier assignments in the area of the former Soviet Union suggests that the State Department recognizes her as a leading authority in the region.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Boston University

Grimké, Francis (1850–1937)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Francis Grimké was a Presbyterian minister and a leading advocate of civil rights. He was born to a wealthy landowner, Henry Grimké and his slave mistress Nancy Weston. After his father’s death in 1852, he moved to Charleston, South Carolina where he lived as a free person until 1860 when his white half-brother, Montague, brought him into his household as a servant. After a severe beating he ran away, and for two years became a valet in the Confederate Army. He was discovered and returned to Montague who, after sending him to the workhouse as punishment, sold him to a Confederate officer.

After the fall of Charleston Grimke attended Morris Street School, a school for free blacks in the city. At age sixteen he moved north to attend Lincoln College, in Pennsylvania. He graduated in 1870 as class valedictorian whereupon he taught mathematics, served as the school's financial agent and studied law. Francis entered Howard Law School in 1874, but the following year enrolled in the Princeton Theological Seminary. Upon graduation in 1878 he became a Presbyterian minister at the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., and remained at that church as pastor for the next half century.  
Sources: 
Dickson D. Bruce, Jr., Archibald Grimké, Portrait of a Black Independent (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1993); “Francis Grimke,” American National Biography, Volume 9 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 627;
http://www.westminster-stl.org/Sermons/050220.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Wormley House (1871–1893)

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
The Wormley House, ca. 1884
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Just one block away from President’s Square, now Lafayette Square, in Washington, D.C. stood the Wormley House, one of the most prominent private hotels and social clubs of its time, and the only one owned by an African American.
Sources: 
Carol Gelderman, A Free Man Of Color And His Hotel; Race, Reconstruction and the Role of the Federal Government, (Washington, D.C., Potomac Books, 2012); John DeFerrari, “The Talented Mr. James Wormley,” Streetsofwashington.com, http://www.streetsofwashington.com/2012/09/the-talented-mr-james-wormley.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Miller, Kelly (1863-1939)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Dr. Scott W. Williams, “Kelly Miller,” Mathematics of the African Diaspora, http://www.math.buffalo.edu/mad/special/miller_kelley.html (Accessed September 7, 2010); Carter G. Woodson, “Kelly Miller,” Journal of Negro History 25 (January, 1940): 126-138; August Meier, "The Racial and Educational Philosophy of Kelly Miller, 1895-1915," Journal of Negro Education 29 (July, 1960): 121-27; William M. Banks, Black Intellectuals: Race and Responsibility in American Life (New York: W.W. Norton & Company), 71-72, 96, 283-284.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Stanford University

Smith, Damu (1952–2006)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Damu Smith at the United For Peace and
Justice Conference, Chicago, 2003
Image Courtesy of Diane Greene Lent, Photographer

Leroy Wesley Smith was born in St. Louis Missouri on December 6, 1951, and became a late 20th Century social activist for justice. Son of a fireman and a licensed practical nurse, Smith spent his childhood growing up in a St. Louis housing project.  He participated in an after school program for disadvantaged male youth which gave him the opportunity to travel to Cairo, Illinois where he heard other activists and community organizers for the first time.  Impressed by their passion and their organizing skills, Smith was influenced to follow a similar path.

After graduating high school in 1970, Smith entered St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota where he became the leader of The Organization of Afro-American Students.  Through this organization, Smith fought for a Black Studies program that would hire more black professors.

Sources: 

Sharon Melson Fletcher, “Damu Smith Biography” African American Biographies. (Net Industries, 2009) http://biography.jrank.org/pages/2880/Smith-Damu.html Retrieved 2009-03-06; Sara Powell, “In Memoriam: Damu Smith 1951-2006” Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs. (Jul 2006). http://www.wrmea.com/archives/July_2006/0607080.html Retrieved 2009-03-04.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bridgewater, Pamela E. (1947- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
“10 Things You Didn't Know About Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater,” Jamaica Gleaner, 1 July 2012, http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120701/out/out1.html; “Ambassador to Jamaica: Who is Pamela Bridgewater?,” February 26, 2011, http://www.allgov.com/news/appointments-and-resignations/ambassador-to-jamaica-who-is-pamela-bridgewater?news=842269; “Pamela E. Bridgewater Awkward,” https://history.state.gov/departmenthistory/people/bridgewater-awkward-pamela-e.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Georgia Southwestern State University

James, C.L.R. (1901-1989)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Frank Rosengarten, Urbane Revolutionary: C. L. R. James and the Struggle for a New Society (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2008); Selwyn Reginald Cudjoe and William E. Cain, C.L.R. James: His Intellectual Legacies (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1994); Farrukh Dhondy, C.L.R. James: A Life (New York: Pantheon Books, 2001); Anna Grimshaw, The C.L.R. James Reader (Oxford, UK; Cambridge, USA: Blackwell, 1992).
Contributor: 

Watts Jr., J.C. (1957- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Office of the Clerk,
U.S. House of Representatives
J.C. Watts, Jr., the first black Republican to be elected to a political office in Oklahoma. He was born in Eufaula, Oklahoma, on November 18, 1957.  A superior athlete, he starred as quarterback on a University of Oklahoma football team known for rarely passing the ball.  Consequently, after Watts graduated in 1981, the National Football League showed little interest in him.  Watts played professionally in the Canadian Football League for six years as a member of the Toronto (Ontario) Argonauts and the Ottawa Rough Riders.

After his athletic career ended, Watts entered politics.  Recruited by powerful Republican leaders in Oklahoma, Watts became a candidate for one of three seats on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC), a body that regulates utilities and the oil and gas industry. As soon as Watts took office, however, critics began to charge him with accepting campaign contributions and favors from the owners of the businesses that the OCC was supposed to regulate.
Sources: 
J.C. Watts and Chriss Anne Winston, What Color is a Conservative?  My Life in Politics (New York: HarperCollins, 2002); Chris Casteel, “Lawmakers Say Goodbye, for Now—Watts Still Uncertain About Future Plan,” Daily Oklahoman, December 1, 2002; Alton Hornsby, Jr., and Angela M. Hornsby, “Watts, Julius Caesar, Jr. (J.C.),” in “From the Grassroots”:  Profiles of Contemporary African American Leaders (Montgomery, Alabama:  E-BookTime, LLC, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Northwestern Oklahoma State University

Brownlee, Lawrence E., Jr. (1972- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Ken Howard
Larry Everston Brownlee, Jr., one of six children, was born on November 24, 1972 in Youngstown, Ohio.  His father, a General Motors plant worker who was also choir director at Phillips Chapel Church of God in Christ, commanded his son to perform so often that he later recalled, “I used to absolutely hate singing.”  Intending to become a lawyer when he enrolled at Youngstown State University, he soon changed his major to music and transferred to Anderson University, a private Christian school near Indianapolis, Indiana, where he developed a passion for opera.  A full scholarship allowed him to graduate with a master’s degree from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in 2001, the same year that he won the prestigious Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and, in the summer, he participated in the Young Artist Program at the Wolf Trap Opera Company in Vienna, Virginia.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Freedom Rides (1961)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Freedom Riders Bus Burned near Anniston, Alabama, 1961
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Paula Giddings, When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America (New York: Perennial, 2001); David Halberstam, The Children (New York: Random House, 1998); and Lynne Olson, Freedom’s Daughters: The Unsung Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement From 1830 to 1970 (New York: Scribner, 2001).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Blackwell, David Harold (1919-2010)

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

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

Johnson, Gregory Lee (1945- )

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

Brown, Wesley (1927-2012)

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

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

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

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

Cameron, Jr., James Herbert (1914–2006)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
James Cameron in the Black Holocaust Museum,
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
James Herbert Cameron Jr. was a civil rights activist responsible for founding three chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He later established America’s Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Cameron is also the only known person to have survived a lynching.

Cameron was born on February 24, 1914, in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His father, James Herbert Cameron, was a barber, and his mother, Vera Carter, washed clothes to help support the family’s three children. Cameron’s father left the family when he was young, and his mother moved them to Marion, Indiana.
Sources: 
James Cameron, A Time Of Terror: A Survivor's Story ( James Cameron, 1982, Black Classic Press, Baltimore, Maryland reprint 1994); E. Stewart Tolnay and E. M. Beck, A Festival of Violence: An Analysis of Southern Lynchings, 1882-1930 (Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 1992); Syretta McFaden, “He Lived,” Buzzfeed.com, June 23, 2016, https://www.buzzfeed.com/syreetamcfadden/how-to-survive-a-lynching.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Clark, Kenneth (1914- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Kenneth and Mamie Clark
Image Ownership: Public domain
In the late 1930s sociologist Kenneth Clark and his wife and collaborator, Mamie Phipps Clark, began to study the self-image of black children. The Clarks were among the first to describe the “harm and benefit” thesis in the area of civil rights and desegregation law.  Attorney Thurgood Marshall and the National association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) legal team used the Clark’s social science studies known as the “doll tests” in numerous legal challenges to the Jim Crow system of segregation. 
Sources: 
David J. Amor, Americana: Forced Justice: School Desegregation and the Law (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995); The African American Almanac, 9th ed. (Detroit: Thomson-Gale, 2003); The Encyclopedia of the African American Experience, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); Judson Knight, Encyclopedia of Psychology, 2001.
Affiliation: 
Los Angeles Community College

Ferguson, Lloyd (1918- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Lloyd Ferguson, the first African American to receive a Ph.D in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, was born February 9, 1918 in Oakland, California. Growing up in Oakland, Ferguson was always passionate about school, particularly science. In the eighth grade, he brought a chemistry set which allowed him to do experiments and create substances such as gunpowder. Raised by his parents and grandparents, Ferguson was forced to get a job while in high school because his father lost his job during the Great Depression. At first Ferguson became a paper boy and then after high school he worked as a laborer for the federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) to save money for college.

Ferguson attended the University of California, Berkeley earning a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry in 1940 and a Ph.D in chemistry in 1943. One of his main contributions at Berkeley was developing a compound that could lose and gain oxygen rapidly. This compound was a type hemoglobin and was later used as a source of oxygen for submarines. He later went on to study the sense of taste through chemistry.

Sources: 

Gabrielle S. Morris, Head of the Class: An Oral history of
African-American Achievement in Higher Education and Beyond
(New York,
Twayne Publishers, 1995);
http://jchemed.chem.wisc.edu/JCEWWW/Features/eChemists/Bios/Ferguson.htm....

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Dudley, Edward Richard (1911-2005)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Edward Dudley was the first black American to lead a U.S. Mission abroad with the rank of Ambassador. Dudley was born on March 11, 1911 in South Boston, Virginia to Edward Richard and Nellie (Johnson) Dudley. After receiving his Bachelor’s degree from Johnson C. Smith College in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1932, Dudley briefly taught in a one-room Virginia school. He later moved to Washington, D.C., and enrolled in Howard University’s dentistry program. After deciding dentistry was not for him, Dudley moved to New York City, New York, eventually enrolling at St. John’s University where he earned a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree in 1941.  While at St. John’s he served on its prestigious Law Review.
Sources: 
The New York Times, February 11, 2005; “Black Chiefs of Mission Oral History Project, Judge Edward Richard Dudley,” Phelps Stokes Fund, April 3, 1981; Pioneering African Americans in the Courts and the Legal Community Past and Present  (New York: Unified Court System of New York, February 1992).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training

Williams, Eric Eustace (1911-1981)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Historian, educator, and politician Eric Eustace Williams was born in 1911 in Port of Spain, Trinidad, to working class parents.  His family's struggles to survive economically introduced Williams to the brutal social and racial hierarchy of the British colony.  As an adult, he gave up a faculty position at Howard University to return to his homeland, eventually becoming its prime minister.
Sources: 
Colin A. Palmer, Eric Williams & the Making of the Modern Caribbean (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006); Selwyn D. Ryan, Eric Williams: The Myth and the Man (Kingston, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press, 2009); Barbara L. Solow and Stanley L. Engerman, British Capitalism and Caribbean Slavery: The Legacy of Eric Williams (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Brown, Solomon G. (1829-1906)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Solomon G. Brown, poet, lecturer, and scientific technician, became the first African American employee at the Smithsonian Institution.  He also played a significant role in the implementation of the first electric telegraph and was well versed in the study of natural history.  

Born on February 14, 1829 in Washington D.C., Brown was the fourth of six children born to Isaac and Rachel Brown, both ex-slaves.  When his father died in 1832, the Brown family was left homeless and heavily in debt. Due to this enormous setback, Solomon was unable to attain a formal education.  

At the age of fifteen he began working at the Washington, D.C. post office where he was assigned to assist Joseph Henry and Samuel F.B. Morse in the installation of the first Morse telegraph line in the nation.  Despite his young age, Brown was one of the technicians who helped set up the telegraph line between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.  Brown continued to work for Samuel F.B. Morse for the next seven years.
Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: Norton, 1982); The Smithsonian Institute Archives: http://siarchives.si.edu.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Gittens, Charles LeRoy (1928–2011)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership, Public Domain
Charles L. Gittens was an American Secret Service agent.  He joined the Secret Service in 1956, becoming the agency's first African American agent.  An Army veteran, Gittens began his career at the agency's office in Charlotte, North Carolina.  However, he was soon posted to its New York field office, where he was part of an elite “special detail” that targeted counterfeiters and other criminals across the country.
Sources: 
Jenée Desmond-Harris, “First Black Secret Service Special Agent Dies,” The Root, posted August 10, 2011, 4:15 p.m.; Abraham Bolden, The Echo from Dealey Plaza (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2008); Del Quentin Wilber, “Charles L. Gittens, First Black Secret Service Agent, Dies at 82,” Washington Post, August 10, 2011.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Bruce, John Edward (1856-1924)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John Edward Bruce was born into slavery in Piscataway, Maryland in 1856.  When Bruce was three years old his father was sold away to Georgia prompting young Bruce and his mother to escape to Washington, D.C. in fear of losing each other.  Bruce and his mother Martha resided with Martha's cousin Busie Patterson who was a body servant to Missouri senator Thomas Hart Benton. This relationship with a powerful white congressman provided the Bruce family with opportunities and access to jobs in white upper-class communities. Martha Bruce, for example, obtained a job in Connecticut working closely with a white family. While in Connecticut, John Edward Bruce enrolled in an integrated school and received his first formal education. Traveling back to Washington, he received a private education and attended Howard University.
Sources: 
Ralph L. Crowder, John Edward Bruce: Politician, Journalist, and Self-trained Historian of the African Diaspora (New York: New York University Press, 2004);
http://www.cwo.com/~lucumi/bruce.html; http://www.historicaldocuments.com/BloodRedRecord.htm
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Blackwell, John Kenneth (1948- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of the Huffington Post

J. Kenneth Blackwell, better known as Ken Blackwell, served as Ohio’s Secretary of State from 1999 to 2007. As a member of the Republican Party, he consistently advocated a conservative platform. Born on February 28, 1948, and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Blackwell graduated from Xavier University in that city with a B.S. in psychology in 1970 and in 1971 earned his M.S. in Education, also from Xavier, where he went on to teach for fifteen years before being elected mayor of Cincinnati in 1979.

Sources: 
John Kenneth Blackwell, Rebuilding America: A Prescription for Creating Strong Families, Building the Wealth of Working People, and Ending Welfare (New York: WND Books, 2006); http://ashbrook.org/event/lecture-2003-blackwell/; http://www.politico.com/arena/bio/ken_blackwell.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Jones, William B. (1928- )

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

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

Wormley, James (1819-1884)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in Washington D.C. on January 16, 1819, James Wormley was the son of free-born citizens Lynch and Mary Wormley. As a young boy, Wormley’s first job was working with his family’s hackney carriage business. This job would help Wormley gain skills and an appreciation for hard work involved in business ownership which he put to good use in post-Civil War Washington.

After owning a successful restaurant, Wormley decided to purchase a hotel in 1871 which he called the Wormley House. Located near the White House, at the southwest corner of 15th and H Streets Northwest, Wormley House soon became popular among the wealthy and politically prominent in the nation’s capital.  Wormley’s experience as caterer, club steward, and traveler in Europe helped him to perfect his culinary skills while his keen eye for detail ensured that his hotel guests were satisfied during their stay. The hotel was most famous for its well-managed rooms, early telephone, and the dining room where Wormley served European-style dishes.
Sources: 
Sandra Fitzpatrick and Maria Goodwin, The Guide to Black Washington. (New York: Hippocrene Books, 1999); Nicholas E. Hollis, “A Hotel for the History Books” Washington Post, (March 18, 2001); http://www.culturaltourismdc.org/portal/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Vaughan, Dorothy Johnson (1910–2008)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Dorothy Johnson Vaughan was a teacher who became a leading mathematical engineer in the first aerospace program with NACA (now NASA), and the first African American female promoted as supervisor in the program.
Sources: 
“Dorothy Johnson Vaughan Biography,” Biography.com http://www.biography.com/people/dorothy-johnson-vaughan-111416; Margot Lee Shetterly, Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Mathematicians Who Helped Win The Space Race, (New York: Harper Collins, 2016); Beverly Golemba, “Human Computers: The Women in Aeronautical Research,” (unpublished manuscript 1994, NASA Langley Archives).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Hughes, Langston (1902-1967)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Sources: 
Faith Berry, Langston Hughes: Before and Beyond Harlem (Westport, Ct.: L. Hill, 1983); Nathan Huggins, Harlem Renaissance (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971); Arnold Rampersad, The Life of Langston Hughes 2 vols. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986-88).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Boston College

Johnson, Hazel W. (1927-2011 )

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

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

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

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

Sources: 

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Locker, Jessie Dwight (1891-1955)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Jessie Locker was an attorney, politician, and community leader who was also the second black American to be appointed as United States Ambassador when he was sent to Liberia (1953).

Jessie Dwight Locker was born in College Hill (Cincinnati), Ohio on May 31, 1891 to Laban and Sarah Elizabeth Locker. His father, a pastor, was the first black minister in Ohio to be ordained in the Christian Church. Jessie Locker graduated as class Valedictorian from College Hill High School, and then travelled to Washington, D.C., to attend Howard University. He received his law degree from Howard University in 1915. Shortly thereafter, in 1919, Locker returned to Cincinnati and began his law practice.  He also worked as a night janitor while he built up his clientele.
Sources: 
The Cincinnati Enquirer, Friday, February 28, 1997, “Black Leaders Became Foreign Ambassadors”; The New York Age, Saturday, September 19, 1953, “New Ambassador Holds Meeting with Dulles”; U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian, “Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954,” Document 254, Locker Correspondence.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training

Catlett, Elizabeth (1915-2012)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Elizabeth Catlett and Husband Francisco Mora,
ca. 1950
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Elizabeth Catlett Mora was a prominent black political expressionist sculptor and printmaker in the 1960s and 1970s. Catlett was born to John and Mary Catlett who were public school teachers in Washington, D.C.  She was the youngest of three children. After graduating from Dunbar High School in the District of Columbia in 1933, she studied design and drawing at Howard University, also in Washington, D.C. She graduated cum laude in 1935, after changing her major to painting and studying with Lois Mailou Jones among other art professors. In 1940, Catlett became the first student to receive a master’s of fine arts in sculpting from the University of Iowa.

Sources: 
Melanie Herzog, Elizabeth Catlett; Elizabeth Catlett: in the image of the people (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 2005); http://www.pbs.org/wnet/aaworld/arts/catlett.html; http://www.sculpture.org/documents/catlett/cat_special.shtml.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Brawley, Benjamin Griffith (1882-1939)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Benjamin Griffith Brawley was a college professor, author and the first dean of Morehouse College. Born in 1882 in Columbia, South Carolina to a middle class family, Brawley was the second son of Edward McKnight Brawley and Margaret Dickerson Brawley. His father was a clergyman and taught at Benedict College. The Brawley family moved several times throughout Brawley’s childhood and he attended several different schools in Tennessee and Virginia, though he credited his parents as his first teachers.

Brawley enrolled at Atlanta Baptist College’s (renamed Morehouse College) preparatory department when he was 13 years of age. He excelled in his classes, especially English, and he often tutored other students. In addition to his studies, he was captain of the football team and helped another student found the journal, the Athenaeum (in 1925 it became the Maroon Tiger).  

In 1901 Brawley received his baccalaureate degree from Morehouse College and began teaching in a rural school in Georgetown, Florida. After a year in Florida, he was appointed instructor of English and Latin at Atlanta Baptist. In 1907 he received another baccalaureate degree from the University of Chicago and the following year received a master’s degree from Harvard. He was then given the position of professor at Morehouse College where he stayed until 1910, when he moved to Howard University.
Sources: 
Rayford Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982); John W. Parker, “Phylon Profile XIX: Benjamin Brawley—Scholar and Teacher,” Phylon (1940-1956), Vol. 10, No. 1 (1st Qtr. 1949).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

COINTELPRO [Counterintelligence Program] (1956-1976)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
COINTELPRO was a counterintelligence program run by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from roughly 1956 to 1976. It combined the efforts of the Bureau and local police forces to track, harass, discredit, infiltrate, destroy, and destabilize dissident groups in the United States. COINTELPRO targeted the Communist Party, the Socialist Workers Party, the American Indian Movement, those considered part of the “New Left,” the KKK, and most acutely, black civil rights and militant black nationalist groups.

J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the FBI, considered militant black nationalist groups to be the most dangerous threat facing the United States at that time due to their perceived potential to cause civil unrest and violence. The FBI’s COINTELPRO focused on the Black Panther Party, Malcolm X, the Nation of Islam, and others. COINTELPRO also sought to undermine, intimidate, and slander avowedly nonviolent black leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr.
Sources: 
Jared Ball, "COINTELPRO," Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present: From the Age of Segregation to the Twenty-first Century, ed. Paul Finkelman (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008); Darlene Clark Hine et al., The African American Odyssey (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson, 2010).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Tanner, Benjamin Tucker (1835-1923)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Benjamin Tucker Tanner was born on Christmas day of 1835 to Hugh and Isabella Tanner of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  As one of twelve children he brought income into the Tanner household by delivering newspapers at age nine.  In 1852 Tanner was accepted into Avery College, a training school for black youth in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania.  At Avery, Tanner met and in 1858 married fellow student Sarah Elizabeth Miller. They had four children including Henry Ossawa Tanner, the first African American artist to achieve national acclaim, and Halle Tanner Dillon Johnson, one of the first black women physicians in the United States. Benjamin Tucker Tanner continued his own education at Western Theological Seminary in Allegheny City from 1857 to 1860.  He received a Doctor of Divinity degree from Wilberforce College in 1878.

Benjamin Tanner joined the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in 1856.  Two years later, while at Western Theological Seminary, Tanner was given a license to preach.  In 1860 he received his pastoral certificate and two years later founded an AME Church in Washington, D.C.  Always an advocate of education, he established the nation’s first school for freedmen in the United States Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. and later managed freedman’s schools in Frederick County, Maryland.
Sources: 
William Seraile, Fire in His Heart Bishop Benjamin Tucker Tanner and the A.M.E. Church (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1998); Kwame A. Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2004).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Dykes, Eva Beatrice (1893-1986)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Moorland-Spingarn
Research Center Howard University

In 1921 Eva Beatrice Dykes became the first black woman in the United States to complete the required coursework for a Ph.D. and the third African American woman to receive a doctoral degree. Two other black women, Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander and Georgiana Simpson, receive their Ph.D.s, in the same year as Dykes but because their respective commencement ceremonies took place earlier, Dykes is considered the third woman to receive the advanced degree. 

Eva Dykes was born in Washington, D.C. in 1893, and attended M Street High School which was later renamed Paul Dunbar High School. In 1914, twenty-one year old Dykes graduated Summa Cum Laude from Howard University with a B.A. in English. After spending one year teaching at Walden University in Nashville, Tennessee, she decided to seek a Master’s Degree at Radcliffe College, an all women’s college which is now a part of Harvard University. Radcliffe, however, would not accept her degree from Howard, forcing Dykes to earn a second B.A. in English from the Massachusetts institution in 1917.  Nonetheless she graduated Magna Cum Laude, and the following year earned an M.A. from Radcliffe.  While at Radcliffe Dykes was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.  She returned to Howard University in 1917 to complete her doctoral studies, earning the Ph.D. in 1921.  Her dissertation focused on Alexander Pope’s views on slavery and his influence on American writers.

Sources: 
Werner Sollors, Caldwell Titcomb, Thomas Underwood, and Randall Kennedy, Blacks at Harvard: A Documentary History of African-American Experience At Harvard and Radcliffe (New York: New York University Press, 1993); http://www.oakwood.edu/academics/library/about-the-library/698-who-was-eva-b-dykes; http://www.sistermentors.org/dcmarch05.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Ray, Charles Aaron (1945- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Ambassador Charles Aaron Ray was born in Center, Texas in 1945. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in 1972 from Benedictine College in Atchinson, Kansas, and his Master’s of Science from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and a Master’s of Science in National Security Strategy from the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.

Ray joined the U.S. Army in 1962, and earned a commission of second lieutenant in 1965. In 1982, he retired from the military with the rank of major, after having served for 20 years. While in military service, Ray received two Bronze Star medals and the Armed Forces Humanitarian Service Award. During that time he did tours of duty in Vietnam, Germany, Okinawa (in Japan), and South Korea.
Sources: 
“Charles Ray,” http://harare.usembassy.gov/amb_ray.html; “In Their Own Write,” The Foreign Service Journal, November 2013; Charles Ray Blog, http://charlesaray.blogspot.com/p/about-me-if-you-dare-venture-where.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Morgan State University

Forman, James (1928-2005)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Civil rights leader and political activist James Forman was an instrumental leader in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), sending demonstrators to the South for the Freedom Ride protests. Forman, who was born in Chicago, Illinois on October 4th, 1928, lived with his grandmother in Mississippi until the age of six when he returned to live with his mother and stepfather in Chicago. Forman used his stepfather’s surname Rufus until, as a teen, he met his real father Jackson Forman, a cabdriver.
Sources: 
James Forman, Making of Black Revolutionaries (Open Hand Publishing, Inc., 1985); Joe Holley, “Civil Rights Leader James Forman Dies,” The Washington Post (January 11, 2005); http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A1621-2005Jan11.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Mitchell, Ophelia DeVore (1922-2014)

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

Ophelia DeVore Mitchell was an American businesswoman, publisher, and one of the first African American models in the United States. In 1946, she helped establish the Grace Del Marco Agency, one of the first modeling agencies in the nation.

DeVore was born on August 12, 1922, in Edgefield, South Carolina, one of ten children of John Walter DeVore, who was of German American and African American descent, and Mary Emma Strother who was of African American and Native American descent. In 1935 DeVore she moved to New York City, New York to stay with her great-aunt, Stella Carter. She graduated from Hunter College High School in 1940 and then enrolled in New York University where she majored in mathematics and minored in languages.

Sources: 
“Ophelia DeVore Mitchell,” Black American Web, https://blackamericaweb.com/2014/03/06/ophelia-devore-black-is-beautiful-pioneer-dead-at-93/; “Ophelia DeVore Mitchell,” New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/13/nyregion/ophelia-devore-mitchell-91-dies-redefined-beauty.html; Joan Potter, African American Firsts (New York, New York: Kensington Publishing Corp, 2014).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Egypt, Ophelia Settle (1903-1984)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

In the late 1920s, Ophelia Settle Egypt conducted some of the first and finest interviews with former slaves, setting the stage for the Works Progress Administration’s (WPA) massive project ten years later. Born Ophelia Settle in 1903, she was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and a researcher for the black sociologist Charles Johnson at Fisk University in Nashville.

Over the course of her career Settle helped expose the infamous Tuskegee study of syphilis among black sharecroppers, and played a leading role in Charles Johnson’s "Shadow of the Plantation" study of the sharecropper system. As the Depression wore on, she left Fisk to assist with relief efforts in St. Louis. She accepted a scholarship from the National Association for the Prevention of Blindness to study medicine and sociology at Washington University, where, as a black woman, she was required to receive all her lessons from a tutor. She also became head of social services at a hospital in New Orleans, and five years later conducted research for James Weldon Johnson, about whom she wrote a children's book. Egypt was a social worker in southeast Washington, D.C., and for eleven years was the director of the community’s first Planned Parenthood clinic, which was named for her in 1981.

Ophelia Settle Egypt died in Washington, D.C. in 1984.She was 81.

 

Sources: 
Ann Allen Shockley Interview with Mrs. Ophelia Settle Egypt conducted December 12, 1972 at Mrs. Egypt’s home in Washington, D.C., Fisk University Oral History Program, 1972; www.naswfoundation.org/pioneers/e/egypt.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Bath, Patricia (1942- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Patricia Bath

Patricia Era Bath, a prominent ophthalmologist and innovative research and laser scientist, was the first African American woman physician to receive a patent for a medical invention.  Bath was born on November 4, 1942 in Harlem, New York to Rupert Bath, a Trinidadian immigrant and the first black motorman in the New York City subway system, and Gladys Rupert, a domestic worker.  In 1959 while in high school at Charles Evans Hughes, she received a grant from the National Science Foundation to attend the Summer Institute in Biomedical Science at Yeshiva University. There, she studied the relationship between stress, nutrition, and caner.  In 1964, Bath graduated from Hunter College in New York City with a B.S. in chemistry.  Four years later, she received her medical degree from Howard University Medical School in Washington, D.C.

Sources: 

The National Library of Medicine. Changing the Face of Medicine:
Celebrating America’s Women Physicians
, “Dr. Patricia E. Bath,” https://www.nlm.nih.gov/changingthefaceofmedicine/physicians/biography_26.html;
The HistoryMakers, “Dr. Patricia Bath,” http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/dr-patricia-bath.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bost, Eric M. (1952- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Ambassador Eric Bost is currently the assistant director of External Relations for the Borlaug Institute at Texas A&M University.  Bost, a native of Concord, North Carolina, attended the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill where he earned his Bachelor’s in Psychology in 1974.  In 1985, he received his Master’s degree in Special Education at the University of South Florida.  After graduate school, Bost held management positions in human services in various states as well as Washington, D.C.
Sources: 
The American Public Human Services Association, “Executive Governing Board,” APHSA, http://www.aphsa.org/content/APHSA/en/the-association/our-leadership-and-staff/LEADERSHIP/BOARD.html.
Affiliation: 
Morgan State University

White, Joseph Silvestre (1835–1918)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Jose Silvestre de Los Dolores
White y Lafitte in 1857
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Composer and violinist Jose Silvestre White was born in Matansas, Cuba in 1835 to Don Carlos White and an Afro-Cuban mother. His father gave White his first instruction in violin, and he later studied with Jose Miguel Roman and Pedro Lecerff. In 1854, at eighteen, he gave his first concert performing themes from Rossini’s William Tell, and two of his own compositions, accompanied by Louis Moreau Gottschalk.  Gottschalk enabled White to go to France and attend the prestigious Paris Conservatory.  There he studied with the eminent violinists and composers, Jean-Delphin Alard, Henri Reber, and Ferdinand Taite. In 1856, after only a year of study, he won the Grand Prize in violin from the Conservatory. By 1858 he began a tour of Europe, the Caribbean, South America, and Mexico.

Sources: 
Robert Fikes, Jr., “’They Made the Violin Sing: Three Black virtuosos,” Crisis 89 (May 1982); Josephine Wright, “Violinist Jose White in Paris, 1855-1875,” Black Music Research Journal 10, no. 2 (1990), 213-232; http://chevalierdesaintgeorges.homestead.com/white.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Paige, Roderick Raynor (1933- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Roderick Raynor Paige, the first African American and the first school superintendent to serve as the U.S. Secretary of Education, was born on June 17, 1933 in Monticello, Mississippi. The eldest of five children, Paige was born to his mother Sophie, a librarian, and father, Raynor C. Paige, a school principal and barber.

Roderick Paige attended segregated schools in Monticello where he saw the stark differences between the education and opportunities offered to white children and black children.  In 1951, Paige graduated from high school and enrolled at Jackson State College in Jackson, Mississippi. He was an honor student and football player there. In 1955, after he graduated with a B.A. in physical education, Paige began teaching at a high school in Clinton, Mississippi. However, not long after he started, he was drafted and joined the U.S. Navy. Before he left for Okinawa (Japan) to work as a medical corpsman, Paige married his college sweetheart, Gloria Crawford.
Sources: 
Roderick Paige, The War Against Hope: How Teachers’ Unions Hurt Children, Hinder Teachers, and Endanger Public Education (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2006); Donald R. McAdams, Fighting to Save Our Urban Schools—and Winning!: Lessons from Houston. (New York: Teachers College Press, 2000).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Herring, James V. (1887-1969)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Oil Painting of James V. Herring
by James Porter, 1923
(Image Courtesy of Howard University)
James Vernon Herring was an influential American artist and teacher in the early twentieth century.  He played an integral role in devising new ways by which art would be viewed from both academic and commercial standpoints.  He was also an important figure in the promotion of works of little known African American artists.
Sources: 
Janet Gail Abbott, “The Barnett Aden Gallery: A home for diversity in a segregated city” (2013), retrieved from Udini: http://udini.proquest.com/view/the-barnett-aden-gallery-a-home-for-goid:304495536/; University of Maryland, “Artist Biographies” (2002), retrieved from Narratives of African American Art and Identity: http://www.driskellcenter.umd.edu/narratives/exhibition/artists/bio.htm#herr.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Rolle, Esther (1920-1998)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Esther Rolle as Stagecoach Mary Fields,
in South by
Northwest TV Series, 1974
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Esther Rolle was an actress primarily recognized for her role as principled, spirited Florida Evans who was first the maid on the Norman Lear sitcom Maude (starring Beatrice Arthur) and later was spun off into the starring role as the mother in the Lear sitcom Good Times (1974-79).

Despite the success of the series, Rolle clashed with the Hollywood producers because of their depiction of the oldest son, J.J. (played by Jimmie Walker) as a buffoon.  She and her co-star, John Amos, who played the father and shared her concerns, briefly quit the series.  Rolle returned during the final series to show the television family had reconciled.
Sources: 
Alvin Klein, ‘The River Niger’ in Scorching Style,” The New York Times, September 25, 1983; Eric Pace, “Chronicle,” The New York Times, August 14, 1990; James Sterngold, “Esther Rolle, 78, Who Played Feisty Maid and Matriarch,” New York Times, November 19, 1998.  B14.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Gregory, Dick (1932-2017)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Dick Gregory, comedian, actor, and civil rights activist, was born Richard Claxton Gregory in 1932 in St. Louis, Missouri.  Gregory's father left the family when Gregory was a child forcing his mother, Lucille, a maid, to raise him and his five siblings.  During his high school years Gregory joined the track team at Sumner High School and broke several school records.  He consequently won a track scholarship to Southern Illinois University in 1951.  Around 1953, Gregory’s mother died and he left college.  He was drafted into the Army, where he performed as a comedian and won his first talent show.  

Three years after leaving the Army, Gregory made his name as a comedian in Chicago nightclubs while living with his brother Presley.  In 1959, he married Lillian Smith and together they had ten children.
Sources: 
Dick Gregory and Robert Lipsyte, Nigger: An Autobiography (New York: Washington Square Press, 1964); Gerald Nachman, Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comic of the 1950s and 1960s (New York: Pantheon Books, 2003); Shelia Patrice Moses, “Dick Gregory,” in African American National Biography: Volume Four, ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Evelyn Brooks-Higginbotham (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Calhoun, William Henry (1890–1967)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Courtesy of The Black Heritage
Society of Washington"
Dr. William Henry Calhoun, a prominent early 20th century Seattle, Washington physician, was born on December 29, 1890 in Jackson, Tennessee.  Little is known about his parents or his childhood.  

Calhoun attended Meharry Medical School located in Nashville, Tennessee.  The college was established in 1876 (just 14 years before he was born) as the Medical Department of Central Tennessee College.  It was one of the first medical schools in the South for African Americans, although Howard Medical School in Washington, D.C., was the first, chartered in 1868.

Following his graduation from Meharry Medical College in the early 1920s, Dr. Calhoun migrated to Seattle, Washington.  In the early Seattle years, he practiced medicine from the Chandler Annex located on East Madison Street.  He and his wife, Verna, lived in an apartment above his office.

Sources: 
Geraldine Rhodes Beckford, Biographical Dictionary of American Physicians of African Ancestry 1800-1920, (New York: Africana Homestead Legacy Publishers 2011); “William H. Calhoun,” American Medical Association Masterfile, 1906-1969; http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/about-ama/physician-data-resources/physician-masterfile.page; James N. Simms, Simms Blue Book and National Negro Business and Professional Directory (Chicago: James N. Simms, Publisher, 1923); “Joyner, Robert Nathaniel M.D. (1913-1999),” HistoryLink, http://www.historylink.org.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Healy, Bishop James Augustine (1830-1900)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
James Augustine Healy was the first born of ten children to Michael and Mary Eliza Healy on April 6, 1830 on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Michael Healy was a former Irish soldier who immigrated to America. He became a planter after the war of 1812. In 1829 he fell in love with Mary Eliza, a mixed-race domestic slave, whom he purchased from her former owner. At that time Georgia law prohibited interracial marriage, but both decided that they would base their marriage on love and not the law, to create a family of their own.

However, James and his siblings were still considered illegitimate and slaves at birth under Georgia law. These laws banned them from attending school within the state, so to receive an education James’s parents sent their children to Quaker schools in the north in the 1840s.
Sources: 
Jessie Carney Smith, Black First: 2,000 Years of Extraordinary Achievement (Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1994); Albert Sidney Foley, Bishop Healy: Beloved Outcast; The Story of a Great Priest Whose Life Has Become a Legend (New York: Farrar, Straus and Young, 1954).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Shepard, Robert Louis (1947- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Dr. Robert Shepard

Robert Louis Shepard, Phd is an author and chemist.  He is best known for opening doors of opportunity for faculty and students in science-related fields at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Beginning in 1983 he became an advocate for inclusion of HBCUs in the federal government's university-government partnership.

Sources: 
Robert Louis Shepard, PhD, Fulfilling My Destiny, Step by Step: An Autobiography (Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2013): https://www.robertlouisshepard.com/online-store; National Technical Association, Inc., "Robert Shepard Wins Science Spectrum Award," National Technical News Fall 2006-Summer 2007 13.1 (2007): http://www.ntaonline.org/images/NTAnewsltrFall06-Sum07_fin4.pdf; Robert Louis Shepard, PhD, "Chronology - The Shepard Institute (TSI), LLC" Google Sites: https://sites.google.com/a/tsi1.org/robert-shepard-consultant/chronology-1; "Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturers, 2005-2006." Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society. https://www.sigmaxi.org/programs/lectureships/past-lecturers/2005-2006.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Kansas

DePriest, Oscar (1871-1951)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

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

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

Wills, Mary Jo (1951- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Ambassador Mary Jo Wills has worked in international affairs for over three decades. Her service to the United States has taken her to Africa, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. Most recently, she held the position of U.S. Ambassador to the island nations of Seychelles and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.

Wills holds several degrees. She earned a bachelor’s degree in History from Chatham College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1973. Wills received a master’s degree in Business Administration from Virginia Tech and a master’s degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College in Washington, D.C. As of this writing, she is a doctoral candidate at Virginia Tech’s Center for Public Administration and Policy.
Sources: 
“Mary Jo Willis,” United States Office of the Historian, https://history.state.gov/departmenthistory/people/wills-mary-jo; “Ambassador: Embassy of the United States Port Louis, Mauritius,” Embassy of the United States, http://mauritius.usembassy.gov/amb.html; “Mary Wills,” All Gov, http://www.allgov.com/officials/wills-mary?officialid=29078.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Sowande, Olufela (Fela) Obafunmilayo (1905-1987)

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

Musician, composer, professor, and conductor Fela Sowande was born May 1905 in Abeokuta, Nigeria.   He was the son of Emmanuel Sowande, who was an Anglican priest and influential in the development of Nigerian sacred music.  Fela Sowande was a musician and composer of music in the classical European style.

Sowande studied at CMS Grammar School and King’s College, Lagos and received his Fellowship Diploma (FRCO) from the Royal College of Organists in Lagos.  He also worked as a band leader and was heavily influenced by jazz and popular music as well as the church music of his father and mentor.  After moving to London, UK in 1934, Sowande received his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of London and became a Fellow of Trinity College of Music.

Sources: 
AfriClassical.com African Heritage in Classical Music, http://chevalierdesaintgeorges.homestead.com/sowande.html;  Godwin Simeon Sadoh, “The Organ Works of Fela Sowande:  A Nigerian Organist-Composer,” http://etd.lsu.edu/docs/available/etd-02212004-111053/unrestricted/Sadoh_dis.pdf; Doiminique-René De Lerma, “African Heritage Symphonic Series,”  in De Lerma, “The music of the Black composer,” http://www.africanchorus.org/Artists/Sowande.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Edelman, Marian Wright (1939- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, was born June 6, 1939 in Bennetsville, South Carolina. She was the youngest of five children born to Rev. Arthur Jerome Wright and Maggie Leola Wright.  Rev. Wright, a Baptist minister, died when she was fourteen.  He proved, however, an important influence on her life by teaching that Christianity required public service.  

Marian Wright attended racially segregated public schools, but excelled academically despite the inadequate opportunities offered to her in those institutions. After graduation Wright attended Spelman College, a prominent institution for black women in Atlanta, Georgia. While at Spelman Wright received scholarships to study abroad that took her to Paris, Switzerland, and the Soviet Union.  With that experience she planned to pursue a career in Foreign Service, but as the 1960s civil rights movement unfolded, she found herself involved in its activities. Wright participated in and was arrested in Atlanta, Georgia sit-ins in 1960.  These experiences made her realize that she could contribute to social progress through the study of law. She entered Yale Law School in 1960 on a scholarship and received her law degree in 1963.
Sources: 
“Marian Wright Edelman,” Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed. 17 Vols. (Detroit: Gale Research, 1998); Edelman biography, Children’s Defense Fund, http://www.childrensdefense.org
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

The Book of Negroes (1783)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Backpage of the Book of Negroes
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
“The Book of Negroes” is series of documents listing persons of African ancestry who were evacuated from the United States at the end of the American Revolution.  One copy is held with the Guy Carlton Papers in The National Archives of Great Britain in London, England. The second copy, titled “Inspection Roll of Negroes New York, New York City Book No. 1 April 23-September 13, 1783,” is held in the United States National Archives in Washington, D.C. These rolls were compiled over a six month period by a group of British and American representatives who convened each Wednesday from April to September, 1783 at the Queens Head Tavern owned by Samuel Fraunces, a free black resident of New York who was born in St. Catherine’s, Jamaica.
Sources: 
Lorenzo Sabine, Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1854);  Graham R. Hodges, Susan Hawkes Cook, and Alan Edward Brown, The Loyalist Directory: African Americans in Exile after the American Revolution (New York: Garland, 1996); Constance R. Cole, Samuel Fraunces “Black Sam” (Philadelphia: Xlibris 2009); “Black Loyalist,” http://www.blackloyalist.info/: Black Loyalists in New Brunswick http://atlanticportal.hil.unb.ca/acva/blackloyalists/en/.
Contributor: 

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

Johnson, Robert Louis (1946 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Robert Louis Johnson, founder, chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Black Entertainment Television (BET), is also the majority owner of the Charlotte (North Carolina) Bobcats of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the first African American billionaire. He was born in Hickory, Mississippi in 1946 as the ninth of 10 children.  After his family relocated to Freeport, Illinois, Johnson earned a Bachelor of Arts in History at the University of Illinois in 1968. He also received a Masters in Public Administration from Princeton University in New Jersey in 1972.

Sources: 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

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

Granville, Evelyn Boyd (1924- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Evelyn Boyd was born in Washington, D.C. on May 1st, 1929, the second daughter of William and Julia Boyd.  Though she was raised by a single working class mother and attended segregated schools, Boyd became the second black woman in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics.  She credits the quality and dedication of the teachers at Dunbar High School who nurtured her interest in mathematics and science and prepared her for advanced study.  Boyd graduated as valedictorian and, with the help of her aunt and a scholarship, she enrolled in Smith College in Massachusetts in 1941.  
Sources: 
Diann Jordan, Sisters in Science: Conversations with Black Women Scientists on Race, Gender and Their Passion for Science (West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 2006);  Evelyn Boyd Granville, "My Life as a Mathematician," Sage: A Scholarly Journal of Black Women 6:2 (1989). Retrieved from http://www.agnesscott.edu/LRIDDLE/WOMEN/granvill.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Manigault, Omarosa (1974- )

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

Omarosa Manigault, commonly known as simply “Omarosa,” is a political aide in the Donald J. Trump Administration.  She currently operates out of the White House as Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison.

Manigault was born and grew up in Youngstown, Ohio. She is the daughter of Theresa Marie and Jack Thomas Manigault. Manigault grew up on welfare in a housing project.  Her father was murdered when she was seven years old.

Despite this challenging background Manigault completed public schools in Youngstown, and then earned her bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism in 1996 at Central State University, a historically black institution (HBCU) in Wilberforce, Ohio. After graduation she moved to Washington, D.C. to attend Howard University, where she earned a master’s degree and started a Ph.D. but did not complete it.

Sources: 
Vanessa Williams, “Omarosa Manigault is in Trump’s White House because of her loyalty. But What is she doing there?” https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/omarosa-manigault-is-in-trumps-white-house-because-of-her-loyalty-but-what-is-she-doing-there/2017/03/29/9079294a-0387-11e7-ad5b-d22680e18d10_story.html; Sharon LaFraniere, Nicholas Confessore and Jesse Drucker, “Prerequisite for Key White House Posts: Loyalty, Not Experience,” The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/14/us/politics/trump-advisers-experience.html; Tara Palmeri, “In the White House, former TV villain Omarosa is one of the ‘blessed,’” Politico, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/03/trump-omarosa-white-house-235754.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle