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Wood, Robert A. (ca. 1966– )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
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

Woodson, Carter G. (1875-1950)

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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

Gregory, Frederick Drew (1941--)

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People
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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

Riley, Jerome R. (1840-1929)

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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

Central Contractors Association

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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

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

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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

Jackson, Samuel L. (1948- )

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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

Doctor, Henry, Jr. (1932-2007)

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

Lieutenant General Henry Doctor, Jr. was a three-star general who achieved the highest rank among the 13 General Officers who have been commissioned through South Carolina State University’s Bulldog Battalion. South Carolina State’s ROTC program has been a leading producer of officers for the United States Armed Forces, with over 2,000 recruits being commissioned as second lieutenants since the program’s founding in 1947.

Henry Doctor Jr. was born on August 23, 1932 to Henry Doctor and Annie Aikens Doctor in Oakley, South Carolina and attended racially segregated Berkeley Training High School in nearby Mocks Corner. Doctor then attended South Carolina State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture in 1954. That same year he was commissioned as a second lieutenant to the U.S. Army through the school’s ROTC program, beginning his 35-year career in the military. During his service he obtained his Master of Arts degree from Georgia State University in counseling and psychological services and was later awarded an honorary doctorate by the Citadel and South Carolina State University.

Sources: 
Henry Doctor Jr., Lieutenant General, United States Army at the Arlington National Cemetery Website, http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/henry-doctor-jr.htm; “Lt. Gen. Henry Doctor Jr., SC State’s highest ranking military alumnus, has died,” South Carolina State University, https://www.scsu.edu/news_article.aspx?news_id=529; “The History of Army ROTC at South Carolina State University,” South Carolina State University, http://www.scsu.edu/armyrotc/thehistoryofarmyrotcatsouthcarolinastateuniversity.aspx; Dr. Jimmie Jones, Colonel, US Army, Shock and Awe: An Introduction to: African American Army Generals (1968-1992) (Pittsburgh, PA: Dorrance Publishing Co, 2015).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Kelly, Sharon Pratt Dixon (1944- )

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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

National Urban League (1910 - )

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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

Thornton, Robert Ambrose (1902-1982)

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

Physicist and university administrator Robert Ambrose Thornton was born in Houston, Texas, on May 6, 1902 to Frank Thornton, a laborer, and the former Mary Jane Sullivan, a midwife. Thornton attended Houston Colored High School but later graduated from Los Angeles Polytechnic High School in California. He entered Howard University in 1918 to study physics and mathematics. During his time in Washington, D.C. he worked as a student teacher and, hoping to break into show business, auditioned to sing in the hit Broadway musical comedy Shuffle Along. During this period, he became an associate of concert-tenor Roland Hayes and composer Harry T. Burleigh. In 1921, he first met Albert Einstein who gave a lecture in Washington’s Belasco Theater.

Sources: 
Robert Fikes, Jr., “Thornton, Robert Ambrose,” in African American National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008); Hollie I. West, “A Life in Physics: Robert Thornton and the Einstein Connection,” Washington Post (May 30, 1980); “Robert Ambrose Thornton,” http://prabook.com/web/person-view.html?profileId=1403301.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

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People
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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

Douglass, Frederick (1818-1895)

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People
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African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Frederick Douglass was born into Maryland slavery in 1818 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. In 1838, he escaped to New York City, followed shortly thereafter by Anna Murray, whom he married. The couple settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts, taking the surname Douglass, which he borrowed from the Scottish romance novel, Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott. Frederick and Anna Douglass had 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

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

Houston, Charles Hamilton (1895-1950)

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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

Holder, Eric H. (1951- )

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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

Reddick, Eunice S. (1951- )

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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

Walton, James L. (1939- )

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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

Congressional Black Caucus (1971-- )

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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

Waller, Lt. General Calvin (1937–1996)

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

Calvin Augustine Hoffman Waller was a United States Army officer who rose to prominence as the Deputy Commander-in-Chief for military operations with United States Central Command (Forward), during the Persian Gulf War (1990-1991).  He became at that time one of the highest-ranking African American officers in the U.S. military.

Sources: 
Godfrey Hodgson, “Obituary: General Calvin Waller,” The Independent, May 13, 1996; Calvin A.H. Waller, Lieutenant General, United States Army at the Arlington National Cemetery Website, http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/cawaller.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Lyles, General Lester (1946- )

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People
History Type: 
African American History
General Lester Lyles at U.S. Defense
Department Press Briefing
Image Ownership: Public domain

Air Force General Lester Lyles was born on April 20, 1946, in Washington, D.C. He attended public schools in the District and then in 1968, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Howard University. While at Howard he joined the Air Force ROTC program and upon graduation in 1968, became a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.  Lyles then went to New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, to receive a Master of Science degree in Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering in the Air Force Institute of Technology Program. In 1980, he attended the Defense Systems Management College in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, the Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Virginia, in 1981, and then the National War College of Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, D.C. in 1985.

Sources: 
“General Lester Lyles,” U.S. Air Force, Official United States Air Force Website, 2003, http://www.af.mil/About-Us/Biographies/Display/Article/106412/general-lester-l-lyles/; “General Lester L. Lyles,” NASA, Official National Aeronautics and Space Administration Website, Aug. 6, 2017, https://www.nasa.gov/offices/nac/members/lyles-bio.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Rice, Condoleezza (1954- )

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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

Menard, John Willis (1838-1893)

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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

Newton, Lloyd Warren (1942- )

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

Four-star general and precision flier Lloyd W. Newton was born December 24, 1942 in Ridgeland, South Carolina, the fourth of seven children of John H. Newton, a farmer, and Annie Newton. Finishing Jasper High School in Ridgeland, he majored in mechanical engineering at Tennessee State University. He completed the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program there and graduated with a degree in aviation education and an officer’s commission in the United States Air Force. Fifty-three weeks of pilot training at Williams Air Force Base in Arizona was followed in 1967 by one year of combat duty in South Vietnam flying 269 missions in the F-4D Phantom II long range fighter-bomber out of Dang Nang Air Base.  His tour included 79 missions over North Vietnam.

Sources: 
Catherine Reef, African Americans in the Military (New York: InfoBase Publishing, 2014); “Lloyd W. Newton” at  https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/person.asp?personId=545497&privcapId=308916; “Lloyd W. Newton” at http://people.equilar.com/bio/lloyd-newton-torchmark-corporation/salary/110082.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

Reason, Joseph Paul (1941- )

Vignette Type: 
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gregg, Arthur James (1928- )

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

Army General Arthur James Gregg was born on May 11, 1928 near Florence, South Carolina.  He obtained his elementary education in South Carolina, but moved to Newport News, Virginia during high school where he observed the military lifestyle. After graduating from high school, Gregg went to Chicago, Illinois to obtain training as a medical laboratory technician. Due to segregation laws that were in place at the time, Gregg was not allowed to handle white patients, so he returned to Virginia in 1945 to enlist in the United States Army at the age of 17.

Sources: 
Army Established Awards to Honor Lt. Gen. (R) Arthur Gregg, Maj. General Harold Green,” Army.mil, March 16, 2016, https://www.army.mil/article/164334/army_establishes_awards_to_honor_lt_gen_r_arthur_gregg_maj_gen_harold_greene; J.R. Earley, “Executive Summary: Senior Officer Oral History Program Interview of Lieutenant General (Retired) Arthur J. Gregg,” Army.mil, http://www.dtic.mil/get-tr-doc/pdf?AD=ADA326595; M. Lesczinski, Excelsior College Awards Honory Degree to Lt. General (Ret.) Arthur J. Gregg, Excelsior College, https://news.excelsior.edu/excelsior-college-awards-honorary-degree-to-lt-general-ret-arthur-j-gregg/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

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

Lewis, David Levering (1936- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

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

Armstrong Williams (1962– )

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

Brooke, Edward, III (1919-2015)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain


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

Whipper, Ionia Rollin (1872-1953)

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

Paste over your article text here

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

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

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

Sources: 

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Bernicat, Marcia Stephens Bloom (1957- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Born in Tinton Falls, New Jersey in 1957, Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat earned a Bachelor’s Degree in history from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, in 1975. Thinking she might teach overseas, Bernicat earned a teaching credential in social sciences at the secondary level. Rather than becoming a teacher, Bernicat worked in a managerial position at Procter & Gamble in New York City, New York.

After beginning a graduate program at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., in 1979 Bernicat worked as an intern at the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, Liberia. While there, she was the first embassy staffer to warn the local officials that debris from a disintegrating Skylab might shower Liberia.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Fullerton

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

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

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

Davis, John Preston (1905-1973)

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

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

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

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

Detter, Thomas (1821- ? )

Vignette Type: 
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

Holmes, Dorothy Evans (1943- )

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

Dorothy Evans Holmes is a psychoanalytic thinker who broke through racial, gender, and other institutional boundaries of such organizations as the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA). She is in the vanguard of discourse on gender and race, including culturally-imposed trauma. She is fluent in discussions on the ineffectiveness of psychoanalysis in dealing with the results of culturally-imposed trauma on intrapsychic and interpersonal lives. Her scholarly writing includes “success neurosis,” a condition in which clients, especially women, fear success to the point of sabotaging their professional lives.

Holmes was born in 1943 and grew up in Chicago, Illinois during the 1940s. Despite the death of an uncle during World War II and her parents’ divorce, Dorothy’s home setting encouraged her and twin sister Doris to pursue higher education.

Sources: 
Unitarian Universalist Association, https://www.uua.org/offices/people/dorothy-evans-holmes-phd; Linda Hillman and Therese Rosenblatt, editors, The Voice of the Analyst: Narratives on Developing a Psychoanalytic Identity (London: Routledge, 2018).
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Henson, Matthew (1866-1955)

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

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

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

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

Scott, Emmett J. (1873-1957)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Emmett J. Scott and Booker T. Washington
Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

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

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

Bullen, Roland Wentworth Boniface (1944- )

Vignette Type: 
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

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

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

Schwartz, Errol R. (1952- )

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

Major General Errol R. Schwartz, the first black adjutant general for the District of Columbia, was born in Georgetown, Guyana in 1952. In 1972 Schwartz arrived in the United States, following his brother and sister who emigrated from Guyana to enroll at Howard University.  Their own quest for higher education motivated Schwartz to begin to investigate enrolling in a college and focusing in engineering.

Later in 1972 Schwartz entered TESST, a private non-profit technical college in Baltimore, Maryland but which had a campus in Hyattsville, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C. Schwartz became both a full-time student and a full-time employee handing all external and internal calls for the Crestwood, an apartment complex in Washington, D.C. After completing the two-year program at TESST and graduating as an electrical technologist, he applied to Federal City College (FCC) in Washington, D.C. on the encouragement of engineering professor Dr. Gene Emmanuel, a Crestwood resident who taught at FCC. While studying at FCC, Schwartz also worked as a television repairman.

Sources: 
“Major General Errol Schwartz: Biography,” National Guard Bureau, http://www.nationalguard.mil/portals/31/Features/ngbgomo/bio/1/1513.html “UDC: "We Are Black History: Major General Errol R. Schwartz.” Major General Errol R. Schwartz, University of the District of Columbia, https://www.udc.edu/2017/02/13/errol-schwartz/; Peter Hermann and Aaron C. Davis, “Head of D.C. National Guard Removed from Post in middle of inauguration” Washington Post, January 13, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/commanding-general-of-dc-national-guard-to-be-removed-from-post/2017/01/13/725a0438-d99e-11e6-b8b2-cb5164beba6b_story.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Hyman, John Adams (1840-1891)

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

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

Benjamin, Miriam E. (1861-1947)

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

ENTRY SPONSOR: Juli Farris

On July 17, 1888, Miriam Elizabeth Benjamin became the second African American woman to receive a patent from the United States government for her invention of a gong and signal chair (U.S. Patent number 386,289). At the time of her application, Benjamin was living in Washington, D.C., working as an educator in the city’s public schools. One of only a few black women to receive a patent before 1900, Benjamin also studied medicine and law at Howard University.

Benjamin aimed to transform several industries with her innovation, including hotels, theaters, healthcare, and government. The key feature of the chair was a notification system, which allowed the seated individual to press a button and alert an attendant when assistance was needed. By depressing the button, a gong or ring would sound at the same moment that a red signal or flag on the chair itself would be made visible.

Sources: 
Mary Bellis, "The Life and Inventions of Miriam Benjamin: Black Woman Inventor Patents Gong and Signal Chair," https://www.thoughtco.com/biography-miriam-benjamin-4077063; Patricia Carter Ives, "Patent and Trademark Innovation of Black Americans and Women," Journal of the Patent Office Society 62:2 (1980); Josephine L. Wright, “Black Women in Classical Music in Boston during the Late Nineteenth Century: Profiles of Leadership,” in New Perspectives on Music: Essays in Honor Of Eileen Southern, edited by Samuel A. Floyd, Jr. and Josephine L. Wright (Detroit: Harmony Park Press, 1992); History, Art & Archives, U.S. House of Representatives, “What's Buzzing in the Chamber?,” http://history.house.gov/Blog/2013/December/12-17-Buzzer/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Grimke, Angelina Weld (1880-1958)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

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

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

Moryck, Brenda Ray (1894-1949)

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

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.

Dawson, Horace G. (1926- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

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

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

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

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: 

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

Lewis, Edmonia (1845-1907)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Edmonia Lewis, the first woman of African American and Native American ancestry to gain notoriety as a sculptor, was born near Albany, New York on July 4, 1845 to a Chippewa Indian woman and an African American man.  Her parents died when she was very young, so she was raised by her mother’s sister and the Chippewa people in Niagara Falls.  Edmonia also had an older brother, Samuel Lewis, who migrated west during the California Gold Rush.  Lewis made a small fortune in the gold fields, part of which he used to send Edmonia to Oberlin College in Ohio.  Although the college was one of the first to admit African American women and men as well as white women, Lewis encountered racial problems.  In 1862 she was accused of attempting to poison two white coeds.  She was cleared of the charges but continued to be subject to verbal attacks and a beating that left her bedridden for days. Oberlin's administration refused to allow her to enroll the next year to complete her graduation requirements.
Sources: 
Rinna Wolfe, Edmonia Lewis: Wildfire in Marble (Parsippany, New Jersey: Dillon Press, 1998); https://www.thoughtco.com/edmonia-lewis-biography-3528795.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

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

Hall, James Reginald, Jr. (1937- )

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

Lieutenant General James Reginald Hall, Jr. was born in Anniston, Alabama in 1937. He pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, studying political science. James also pursued a second degree in public administration, from Shippensburg College in Pennsylvania. Following graduation in 1957, Hall joined the United States Army.

Hall had basic training in Fort Chaffee, Arkansas and then continued to Individual Training in Colorado. Having already earned a degree, James Hall entered Officer Candidate School and earned his commission of Second Lieutenant in 1958.

Sources: 
“James Reginald Hall, Jr.” in Walter L. Hawkins, Black American Military Leaders: A Biographical Dictionary (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2009); “James Reginald Hall, Jr., “Veterans Administration Advisory Board,” https://vetjobs.com/advisory-board/; “Black General In Charge at Fort Sheridan, Ill,” Jet Magazine, June 19, 1989; “President Franklin Delivers Final Opening Convocation,” Inside Morehouse, (October 2012).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Ferebee, Dorothy Celeste Boulding (1898–1980)

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

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

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Porter Wesley, Dorothy (1905-1995)

Vignette Type: 
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

McDew, Darren Wayne (1960- )

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

Air Force 4-star General Darren W. McDew was born in Rantoul, Illinois, on September 29, 1960. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in engineering in 1982 from the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia.

Sources: 
Lango Deen, “Top Blacks in Military & Defense,” in U.S. Black Engineer & Information Technology (Winter 2010); “General Darren W. McDew,” http://www.af.mil/About-Us/Biographies/Display/Article/107925/general-darren-w-m/; “Our Shared Transportation Future,” U.S. Department of Transportation Volve Center, https://www.volpe.dot.gov/news/our-shared-transportation-future-with-general-darren-w-mcdew.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Jacobs, Harriet (c.1815-1897)

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

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

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

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)

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

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

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

Cromwell, John Wesley (1846-1927)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

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

Reid, Philip (1820-1892)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Statue of Freedom on the U.S. Capitol Dome
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
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

Chambers, Andrew P., Jr. (1931-2017)

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

Andrew Phillip Chambers, Jr. was a retired Lieutenant General in the United States Army. His brother Lawrence Chambers was a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy and together the Chambers brothers are the first black siblings to hold flag ranks together in the United States military.

Andrew P. Chambers, Jr. was born on June 30, 1931 in Bedford, Virginia, a small town near Lynchburg. His parents were Charlotte Hadessa Chambers and Lawrence Everett Chambers. Andrew, who sometimes went by Andy, had four other siblings and the entire family moved from Virginia to Washington, D.C. after the death of Andrew’s father so his mother could work for the War Department in order to support her young family.

Sources: 
AUSA Staff, “Lt. Gen. Andrew Chambers, Former AUSA Director, Dies,” Association of the United States Army, July 28, 2017, https://www.ausa.org/articles/ltg-chambers-dies; “Obituary of Lieutenant General (Retired) Andrew Chambers,” Adams Green Funeral Home, http://adamsgreen.com/tribute/details/4333/Lieutenant-General-Retired-Andrew-Chambers/obituary.html; USARCENT PAO, “Lt. Gen. (retired) Andrew P. Chambers,” Army Central, 12 June, 2017, http://www.usarcent.army.mil/News/Features/Article/1211086/lt-gen-retired-andrew-p-chambers/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

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

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)

Via, Dennis L. (1958- )

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

Army 4-star General Dennis L. Via was born in 1958 in the industrial town of Martinsville, Virginia, the son of Henry Via, a house painter and small-contract repairman, and Margaret Via, a homemaker. He had worked in a local textile mill and intended to skip college and become a building contractor until a high school teacher who taught him masonry convinced him to enroll at his alma mater, Virginia State University, a historically black school in Petersburg, Virginia, founded in 1882. At the end of his sophomore year, Via entered Army ROTC training and in 1980 graduated as a distinguished cadet with an office’s commission.

Sources: 
Jamal Eric Watson, “General Via’s Success Inspires Next Generation,” in Diverse Issues in Higher Education (October 19, 2015); Guv Callahan, “Army Bids Farewell to Gen. Dennis L. Via,” http://www.dcmilitary.com/pentagram/news/local/army-bids-farewell-to-gen-dennis-l-via/article_0b0ce5a7-7e2f-5dde-a6c8-288fce77b171.html; “Meet Your Army: Gen. Dennis L. Via, Army Materiel Command,” https://www.army.mil/article/172911/meet_your_army_gen_dennis_l_via_army_materiel_command.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Johnson, William Henry (ca. 1835-1864)

Vignette Type: 
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

New Black Panther Party (1989?- )

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

The New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (NBPP) is a black nationalist organization which claims to be based on the original Black Panther Party (BPP) founded in 1966.  Despite modeling themselves after the earlier Black Panther Party, the organization has been criticized as being anti-white and anti-Semitic. The Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights consider them to be a hate group.

Sources: 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

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

Snowden, Frank M., Jr. (1911-2007)

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

Frank M. Snowden, Jr. was a distinguished historian, professor, and diplomat most notably in the area the lives of blacks in the ancient world. Of his many esteemed works, Blacks in Antiquity is his most significant scholarship.

Sources: 
Adam Bernstein, “Frank Snowden; Major Scholar of Blacks in Antiquity,” The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/21/AR2007022101989.html; Margalit Fox, “Frank M. Snowden Jr., 95, Historian of Blacks in Antiquity, Dies,” The New York Times, February 28, 2007, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/28/obituaries/28snowden.html; Blacks in Antiquity, Harvard University Press, http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674076266.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Kansas

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

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

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

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

Raspberry, William James (1935-2012)

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

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

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

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

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

Chambers, Lawrence (1929- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Lawrence Chambers as a Navy Pilot in
South Vietnam in the 1960s
Image Ownership: Public domain

Lawrence Chambers is a retired Rear Admiral in the United States Navy. He is the first African American to command a United States Navy aircraft carrier, the second African American to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, and the first black Navy officer to reach flag rank. Along with his brother Andrew P. Chambers, a Lieutenant General in the United States Army, the two are the first African American siblings to reach flag rank in the United States Military.

Sources: 
Catherine Reef, African Americans in the Military: A to Z of African Americans (New York: Facts on File Inc., 2014) https://books.google.com/books?id=QF9grMa_84YC&pg=PA56#v=onepage&q&f=false; “Brothers-in-Arms,” Ebony Magazine, November 1981 https://books.google.com/books?id=nJ3TyeTf6tIC&pg=PA118#v=onepage&q&f=false; Robert John Schneller, Blue and Gold and Black: Racial Integration of the U.S. Naval Academy (Close Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2007) ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/washington/detail.action?docID=3038038 (login required).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

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, 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

Downing, Philip B. (1857-1934)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Downing Patent Drawings for Mailbox
Alongside a Modern U.S. Post Office Mailbox
Image Ownership: Public domain

ENTRY SPONSOR: James F. Williams

During the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century, Philip Bell Downing successfully filed at least five patents with the United States Patent Office. Among his most significant inventions were a street letter box (U.S. Patent numbers 462,092 and 462,093) and a mechanical device for operating street railway switches (U.S. Patent number 430,118). Downing also enjoyed a long career as a clerk with the Custom House in Boston, Massachusetts, retiring in 1927 after more than thirty years of service.

Sources: 
Misty Brown, "Ever Wonder," Afro-American February 6, 1988; Eyvaine Walker, Keeping a Family Legacy Alive: Unforgotten African Americans (Atlanta, GA: Twins Pub, 2011), 316 - 317. “Philip Downing, Boston, Retires After 31 Years Service in Custom House,” The New York Age, April 9, 1927.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

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

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

Ferguson, Lloyd (1918-2011 )

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kittrell, Flemmie Pansy (1904-1980)

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

ENTRY SPONSOR: Pat Sadate-Ngetchou

Flemmie Kittrell was born on December 25, 1904 to James and Alice Kittrell in Henderson, North Carolina. Kittrell attended Hampton Institution in Virginia (which has since changed to Hampton University) and received her bachelors of science in 1928. Kittrell’s undergraduate degree was in home economics and after encouragement from her professors, Kittrell enrolled in Cornell University in New York, earning her master’s in 1930 and followed by a Ph.D. in nutrition with honors in 1938. When she finished her Ph.D., Kittrell became the first African American woman to receive a doctorate in nutrition. As she began her academic career, Kittrell used her foundation to change home economics and nutrition, shaping how the fields utilized scientific research and evidence to interact within a local and global context.

Sources: 
Ray Spangenburg and Kit Moser, A to Z of African Americans: African Americans in Science, Math, and Invention (New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2003); “Flemmie Pansy Kittrell Biography (1904-1980)” http://www.faqs.org/health/bios/11/Flemmie-Pansy-Kittrell.html; Suzanne Gould, “How Home Ec Brought One Woman to India, Liberia, and Back Again,” https://www.aauw.org/2016/02/24/flemmie/.
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

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

The Martin Luther King Assassination Riots (1968)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Burning Buildings on Chicago’s West Side, April 5, 1968
Image Ownership: Public domain

The King Assassination Riots were a series of more than 100 cases of civil unrest that occurred in the wake of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This turmoil was apparent all throughout the nation as racial tensions rose to a volatile level. Different degrees of unrest were seen depending on the city in which it took place.

Sources: 
Clay Risen, “The Night New York Avoided a Riot,” The Morning News, https://themorningnews.org/article/the-night-new-york-avoided-a-riot. Elizabeth Flock, “Martin Luther King Assassination in 1968 a 'Cruel and Wanton Act,'” The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/martin-luther-king-assassination-in-1968-a-cruel-and-wanton-act/2012/04/04/gIQA2woVvS_story.html; James Coates, “Riots Follow Killing of Martin Luther King Jr,” Chicagotribune.com, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/chi-chicagodays-kingriots-story-story.html; Project Gutenberg, “King Assassination Riots.” Project Gutenberg Self-Publishing, http://www.self.gutenberg.org/articles/eng/King_assassination_riots?View=embedded.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Kansas

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

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 predominantly white 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

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

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

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

Johnson Sirleaf, Ellen (1938- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
When Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was inaugurated the 24th president of the Republic of Liberia on January 16, 2006, she became Africa’s first democratically elected female head of state.  Her election reflected the hope and belief that African nations could embrace participatory democracy.

Ellen Euphemia Johnson was born in Monrovia, Liberia on October 29, 1938, to Jahmale Carney Johnson, an attorney descended from a Gola chief, and Martha Dunbar, a mixed-race (Kru and German) teacher.  Johnson grew up with one sister and two brothers.  

From 1948 until 1955, Johnson studied accounting and economics at the College of West Africa in Monrovia.  In 1956, she married James “Doc” Sirleaf.  Over the next few years, while Doc worked as a teacher at the Booker Washington Institute, a vocational high school in Liberia, she was a homemaker.

Sources: 
"Ellen Johnson Sirleaf" in John Middleton and Joseph Calder Miller, eds., New Encyclopedia of Africa, vol. 3 (Detroit: Thomson/Gale, 2008); Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa's First Woman President (New York: Harper, 2009); Government of the Republic of Liberia website: http://www.emansion.gov.lr/2content.php?sub=121&related=19&third=121&pg=sp.
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

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

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

Gray, Robert Earl (1941-2011)

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

Lieutenant General Robert Earl Gray was the first African American to become the Commanding General of the United States Army Signal Corps and the first African American Commander of Fort Gordon, Georgia, which conducts advanced training for military occupational specialties. The United States Army Signal Corps (USASC) was established in 1860 and it is responsible for providing and managing communications and information systems which support the workings of the US armed forces.

Sources: 
ARNEWS, “First African-American chief of Signal dies,” The United States Army, November 29, 2011, https://www.army.mil/article/70014/first_african_american_chief_of_signal_dies; “First African American Chief of Signal LTG (Ret) Robert E. Gray,” Signal Corps Regimental History: US Army, November 20, 2013, http://signal.army.mil/old/history/robert_e_gray.html; Walter L. Hawkins, Black American Military Leaders: A Biographical Dictionary (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2007).
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

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

Green, Nathan “Nearest” (c.1820- ?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Nearest Green, Unidentified White Worker, and Jack Daniel
Image Ownership: Public domain

It is hard to argue that Jack Daniel’s has become the most famous brand of whiskey in the world.  However, this may have never happened without the work of a black slave named Nathan “Nearest” Green. While he was a key figure in forming the Jack Daniel’s brand, Nearest Green’s story has only become known outside of Lynchburg, Tennessee recently.

Sources: 
Lizzy Alfs, "Ex-slave who trained Jack Daniel gets new recognition," USA Today. July 21, 2017, https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/nation-now/2017/07/21/ex-slave-who-trained-jack-daniel-gets-new-recognition/498391001/; Clay Risen, "When Jack Daniel’s Failed to Honor a Slave, an Author Rewrote History," The New York Times August 15, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/15/dining/jack-daniels-whiskey-slave-nearest-green.html; "Nearest Green, The Man Who Taught Jack Daniels About Whiskey," NPR. September 3, 2017, https://www.npr.org/2017/09/03/548342180/nearest-green-the-man-who-taught-jack-daniels-about-whiskey.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

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

Shober, James Francis (1853–1889)

Vignette Type: 
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

Murray, Pauli (1910-1985)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

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

Pretoria, South Africa (1855- )

Entry Type: 
Places
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Pretoria, home to the Union Buildings where the office of the President is located, is one of three capital cities in South Africa.  The others are Cape Town and Bloemfontein. The city was first called Pretoriusdorp after Voortrekker (Afrikaans for “pioneer”) leader Andries Pretorius, though it was later changed to its current form. Its nickname is “Jacaranda City” thanks to the multitude of the purple-flowering trees of the same name within its borders.  The city’s population in 2011 was over 2.9 million people, 42% of whom are black African, 1.9% Indian/Asian, 2.5% mixed, 52.5% white, and 1.2% from other heritages.
Sources: 
Peter E. Raper, Dictionary of Southern African Place Names (Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball, 2004); Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, "Pretoria, South Africa, Encyclopedia of Africa (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010); http://www.pretoria.co.za/interesting/things-you-didnt-know.html; http://www.south-africa.me.uk/pretoria.htm; http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20100523104119724; http://www.csir.co.za/profile_of_csir.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Pierce, Roger Dwayne (1951--)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership:Public Domain"
Roger D. Pierce, U.S. Ambassador to Cape Verde, was born in Omaha, Nebraska.  Pierce earned his B.A. degree in Spanish Language and Latin American Studies at Davis and Elkins College in Elkins, West Virginia.  He received his M.A. in Latin American Literature at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland.  He also attended the National War College in Washington, D.C. in 1995.  Pierce speaks fluent Spanish, Turkish and Portuguese.  

Sources: 
“Ambassador Pierce Joins Office of Career Service (login required),” http://search.proquest.com/pqcentral/docview/749107547/55DF4D111C844326PQ; “U.S. Ambassador Pierce Inaugurates United States African Development Foundation Enterprise Development Project in Maio (login required),” http://search.proquest.com/pqcentral/docview/473117799/55DF4D111C844326PQ.
Affiliation: 
Morgan State University

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

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

Hooker, Olivia J. (1915- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Olivia Hooker (front) and Aileen
Anita Cooks on the USS Neversail
at Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn, 1944
Image Ownership: Public domain

Born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, on February 12, 1915, to Samuel D. and Anita J. Hooker, Olivia J. Hooker was one of five children. She and her family moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, when at six she experienced the Tulsa Riot. After this, they moved to Columbus, Ohio. Hooker attended Ohio State University, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education and Psychology in 1937. At Ohio State, Hooker joined Delta Sigma Theta Sorority which campaigned for African American women to be admitted to the Navy.  Nonetheless, Hooker’s application to enlist was rejected twice.

Sources: 
“Hooker, Olivia J.” by Hair Vishanada, Oxford African American Studies Center, Oxford University Press, n.d., http://www.oxfordaasc.com.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/article/opr/t0001/e5911?hi=0&highlight=1&from=quick&pos=1 (login required); “Living History” by Anna Miller, American Psychological Association, 2012, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/11/history.aspx; “Olivia Hooker: A SPAR’s Story”  by LT Stephanie Young, Coast Guard Compass, Official Blog of the U.S. Coast Guard, 2013, http://coastguard.dodlive.mil/2013/10/olivia-hooker-a-spars-story/; “ A Little Positivity: Coast Guard Names Training Facility In D.C. After 1st Black Woman In Service” by Desire Thompson, NewsOne, Interactive One, 2015, https://newsone.com/3098904/coast-guard-training-facility-dc-named-after-1st-black-woman-in-service/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

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

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

Manley, Audrey Forbes (1934- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Bruce, Josephine Beall Willson (1853-1923)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
A clubwoman, teacher, society leader, and race activist, Josephine Beall Willson Bruce was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 29, 1853, to Dr. Joseph Willson, a prominent dentist, and Elizabeth Harnett Willson, a singer and musician. In 1854 the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio where Josephine Willson received her education. An accomplished linguist, she enjoyed literature and classical music.

On June 24, 1878, she married Republican senator Blanche K. Bruce, a political leader and plantation owner from Mississippi and the only black United States senator.

Sources: 
Bruce A. Glasrud, "Josephine Beall (Willson) Bruce," in African American Women: A Biographical Dictionary, edited by Dorothy C. Salem, 75-77 (New York: Garland Publishing, 1993); Willard B. Gatewood, “Josephine Beall Willson Bruce,” in Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, edited by Darlene Clark Hine, Elsa Barkley Brown, and Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, vol. I, 187-188 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

Bromery, Randolph Wilson (1926-2013)

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

ENTRY SPONSOR: Catherine Foster

Geologist and college administrator Randolph W. Bromery was born in Cumberland, Maryland, on January 18, 1926, the son of Lawrence Randolph Bromery and Edith Edmonson Bromery. Graduating at the top of his high school class in 1942, he briefly worked as a machinist in Detroit, Michigan, before entering the United States Army Air Corps to train to be a pilot.

Sources: 
Alexander E. Gates, “Bromery, Randolph W. (Bill),” in A to Z of Earth Scientists (New York: Infobase Publishing, 2009); “Randolph Bromery: National Visionary,” http://www.visionaryproject.org/bromeryrandolph/; Legacy.com obituary,   http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/gazettenet/obituary.aspx?pid=163350315.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

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 cancer.  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

Fields, James Apostle (1844–1903)

Vignette Type: 
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

Salem, Peter (ca.1750 -1816)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Peter Salem Standing Behind Thomas Gosvenor
in the Death of General Warren
at the Battle of Bunker Hill 

Peter Salem was a Patriot of the American Revolutionary War, who spent two months fighting alongside his former owners at the Battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts. Salem is credited with killing British Major John Pitcairn during the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Peter Salem was born enslaved in Framingham, Massachusetts, on October 1, 1750. He was owned by Army Captain Jeremiah Belknap and spent most of his early life working on his owner’s farm. Early in 1775, Salem was sold to a Patriot soldier, Major Lawson Buckminster, who emancipated Salem so he could enlist in his regiment of Massachusetts Minutemen.
Sources: 
George Quintal Jr., “Patriots of Color, A Peculiar Beauty and Merit': African Americans and Native Americans at Battle Road and Bunker Hill,” Boston National Historic Park, Boston, Massachusetts; “Peter Salem,” in Leslie Alexander, Encyclopedia of African American History, (ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, CA, 2010); “Peter Salem,” in Jonathan Sutherland, African Americans at War: An Encyclopedia, Volume One,(ABC-CLIO, Denver, Colorado, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

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

Palmer, Ronald DeWayne (1932-2014)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Ronald DeWayne Palmer, U.S. ambassador to three nations—Togo, Malaysia, and Mauritius—was born on May 22, 1932, in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. He attended the University of Bordeaux in France from 1954 to 1955 and graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. from Howard University in 1955. He received an M.A. degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1957.

A Fulbright Scholar, Palmer entered the Foreign Service in 1957 as an intelligence research specialist in the Department of State in Washington, D.C. From 1959 to 1960 he had Indonesian language training at the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Virginia.  His first overseas post was as an economic officer in Djakarta, Indonesia where he served from 1960 to1962.  He served in the same post in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 1962 to 1963.
Sources: 

“Ronald D. Palmer,” U.S. State Department, Office of the Historian, http://history.state.gov/departmenthistory/people/palmer-ronald-dewayne; Washington Post, May 25, 2014, http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/washingtonpost/obituary.aspx?pid=171121545; Ronald Palmer, “Foiling an Assassinate Plot in Togo,” American Diplomacy (February 2008), http://www.unc.edu/depts/diplomat/item/2008/0103/fsl/palmer_togo.html; NNDB website, http://www.nndb.com/people/316/000119956/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Atkinson, Kelvin (1969- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
A Democratic member of the Nevada Senate, Kelvin Atkinson made history in April 2013 by becoming the fifth openly LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) member, and the first black gay member of the Nevada legislature.  He revealed his sexual orientation during a legislative debate surrounding a gay marriage ban in the state.

Kelvin Atkinson was born on April 8, 1969 in Chicago, Illinois. He was one of three children. Kelvin’s mother was a unionized employee in a Chicago factory for more than 20 years, while his father was a railroad worker. Later, his father became the first in his family to graduate from college and then law school.  He practiced as a criminal law attorney in Chicago until a former client murdered the elder Atkinson.

In 1979, Kelvin visited his fraternal grandparents in Los Angeles, California. While there, he fell in love with the city and asked his parents’ permission to stay there. Two years later his mother also relocated to Los Angeles.

Sources: 
“Kelvin Atkinson,” Retrieved from https://ballotpedia.org/Kelvin_Atkinson; “Kelvin Atkinson,” Retrieved from http://www.nvsenatedems.com/senators/25-kelvin-atkinson; James Michael Nichols; Kelvin Atkinson, Huffington Post, eds. “Nevada State Senator Kelvin Atkinson Proposes to Partner Sherwood Howard,” Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/09/kelvin-atkinson-proposal_n_5959626.html, Luke Johnson, Kelvin Atkinson, Huffington Post, eds., “Kelvin Atkinson, Nevada Lawmaker, Comes Out In Gay Marriage Debate,” Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/23/kelvin-atkinson-nevada-gay-marriage_n_3138051.html.
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: 

Coleman, James H. (1933- )

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

James H. Coleman, Jr., is an American lawyer, judge, and the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court of New Jersey. Born on May 4th, 1933, in Lawrenceville, Virginia, Coleman is the son of a poor southern sharecropper. While Coleman has since retired his position as an associate justice on the New Jersey Supreme Court, he is still recognized for his lifelong judicial career and adamant fight for racial equality, most recently receiving the New Jersey Law Journal's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016, the Best Lawyers in America’s Newark Best Lawyers Arbitration Lawyer of the Year award in 2015, and a nomination to the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

Sources: 
Kimberly McLarin, “Judge Named By Whitman To Top Court,” The New York Times (October 4, 1994); James H. Coleman, Jr., https://www.ourcampaigns.com/CandidateDetail.html?CandidateID=9435; “The Honorable James H. Coleman, Jr.'s Portrait to be Displayed in the New Jersey Supreme Court,” Porzio, Bromberg & Newman P.C., April 27, 2016.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Brown, Sterling A. (1901-1989)

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

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

Rice, Edward A., Jr. (1955- )

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

Retired 4-star Air Force General Edward A. Rice, Jr. was raised in Yellow Springs, Ohio, the son of Edward A. Rice, Sr., an Air Force major, and Josie Rice. He entered the United States Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he graduated with distinction and a bachelor’s degree in engineering sciences in 1978. He was the first African American at the Academy to be a Cadet Wing commander.

Sources: 
Tom Stafford, “Yellow Springs Grad, General, Gets Fourth Star,” Springfield News-Sun (February 24, 2011);  Beth Anschutz, “AETC Commander Retires After 35 Years of Service,” http://www.af.mil/About-Us/Biographies/Display/Article/104641/general-edward-a-rice-jr/; “General Edward A. Rice Jr” http://www.af.mil/About-Us/Biographies/Display/Article/104641/general-edward-a-rice-jr/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Jackson, Shirley Ann (1946- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Shirley Ann Jackson
Shirley Ann Jackson, born in 1946 in Washington, D.C., has achieved numerous firsts for African American women.  She was the first black woman to earn a Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.); to receive a Ph.D. in theoretical solid state physics; to be elected president and then chairman of the board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); to be president of a major research university, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York; and to be elected to the National Academy of Engineering.  Jackson was also both the first African American and the first woman to chair the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Sources: 
Diann Jordan, Sisters in Science: Conversations with Black Women Scientists on Race, Gender and Their Passion for Science (West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 2006); http://www.math.buffalo.edu/mad/physics/jackson_shirleya.html; http://www.rpi.edu/president/profile.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

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

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

Logan, Rayford W. (1897-1982)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Leading 20th Century black historian Rayford Whittingham Logan was born on January 7, 1897 in Washington, D.C.  to working class parents,  Arthur C. and Martha Whittingham Logan.   Rayford Logan spent his formative years in Washington, D.C.  While in high school, he was taught by Carter G. Woodson.  A bright student, Logan was honored with a scholarship to Williams College where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1917.  Immediately, he joined the U.S. Army in World War I and like many black veterans of that era, was disillusioned as he witnessed the racism perpetrated against black troops by white officers.  

Sources: 
Kenneth Janken, Rayford W. Logan and the Dilemma of the African-American Intellectual (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press 1993); August Meir and Elliott Rudwick, Black History and the Historical Profession, 1915-1980 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986); Rayford Logan, What the Negro Wants (South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press 1944); Rayford Logan, The Betrayal of the Negro (Cambridge: De Capo 1965), Rayford Logan, “Nat Turner: Fiend or Martyr?” Opportunity 9 (November  1931): 337-39.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Fresno

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

Murillo, Luis Gilberto (1967- )

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Sources: 
Lori Robinson, “Colombia’s Civil War, The Crisis, 108 (July-August-2001); “Mr. Luis Gilberto Murillo,” at http://www.zoominfo.com/s/#!search/profile/person?personId=51303074&targetid=profile; Carolina Garcia Arbelaez, “Luis Gilberto Arbelaez,” at http://lasillavacia.com/perfilquien/37412/luis-gilberto-murillo.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Barr, Joyce A. (1951- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Ambassador Joyce Anne Barr was born in 1951 in Tacoma, Washington. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from Pacific Lutheran University in 1976, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. Ambassador Barr earned her Master of Public Administration degree from Harvard University and also holds a Master of Science degree in National Resource Strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, a part of the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.
Sources: 
“Joyce A. Barr: Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Administration,” http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/biog/190222.htm; “Statement of Joyce A. Barr: Nominee To Be Assistant Secretary of State For Administration Before The Senate Foreign Relations Committee,” U.S. Senate Committee of Foreign Relations (July 19, 2011), http://www.foreign.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Barr_Testimony.pdf; “African American History Month: Joyce Barr,” Office of Civil Rights (February 4, 2008), http://web.archive.org/web/20081214084037/; “Officially In: Joyce A. Barr to be Asst Secretary for Administration,” Diplopundit (May 20, 2011),  http://diplopundit.net/2011/05/23/officially-in-joyce-a-barr-to-be-asst-secretary-for-administration/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Morgan State University

Hunt, Ida Alexander Gibbs (1862-1957)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

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

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

Ragsdale, Marguerita (1948- )

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

Selby, Myra Consetta (1955- )

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

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

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

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

Banneker, Benjamin (1731-1806)

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

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

Patterson, Mary Jane (1840-1894)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Educator Mary Jane Patterson is considered to be the first African American woman to receive a B.A. degree when she graduated from Oberlin College in 1862. A fellow Oberlin alumnus, Lucy Stanton Day Sessions, graduated twelve years earlier but was not in a program that awarded official bachelor’s degrees.

Although Patterson’s early years are unclear, it is believed that she was born into slavery in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1840. As a young girl, she arrived in Oberlin, Ohio with her family during the mid-1850s. In 1857 she completed a year of preparatory coursework at Oberlin College. Rather than transitioning into Oberlin’s two-year program for women, she enrolled in the school’s “gentlemen’s course,” a four-year program of classical studies that led to a Bachelor of Arts degree with high honors in 1862.
Sources: 
Jessie Carney Smith, ed., Notable Black American Women, Book 1 (Detroit: Gale Research, 1992); Dorothy Sterling, We Are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century (New York: W. W. Norton, 1984); Mary Gibson Hundley, The Dunbar Story (1870-1955) (New York: Vantage Press, 1965); “Mary Jane Patterson Residence,” Cultural Tourism DC, https://www.culturaltourismdc.org/portal/mary-jane-patterson-residence-african-american-heritage-trail.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Lloyd, Ruth Smith (1917-1995)

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

ENTRY SPONSOR: Juli Farris

Dr. Ruth Smith Lloyd was the first African American woman in the United States to obtain a doctorate degree in Anatomy.  She earned her degree at Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1941.

Ruth Smith Lloyd, was born on January 17, 1917 in Washington, D.C. Her mother Mary Morris Smith was a white Clerk at the Treasury Department, and her father Bradley Smith was a black Pullman Porter. In her youth she attended the local public schools and graduated from Dunbar High School. Smith then attended Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts where she majored in zoology, graduating Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1937.

Sources: 
Ray Spangenburg, African Americans in Science, Math, and Invention, (New York: Facts on File, 2003); Wini Warren, Black Women Scientists in the United States, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1999); Elizabeth H. Oaks, International Encyclopedia of Women Scientists, (New York: Facts on File, 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Chase, William Calvin (1854-1921)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
William Chase was born in 1854 to a free black family in Washington, D.C.  Chase was raised in integrated neighborhoods and attended local area schools including Howard University Law School.  Chase combined the practice of law with journalism for most of his career and was also active in Republican politics, serving as District of Columbia delegate to the party's national convention in 1900 and again in 1912.

William Chase is most well known for his nearly forty years of service as editor of the Washington Bee, a weekly publication that, during its run, was the oldest secular newspaper in continuous publication in the country.  As one of the great 19th-century editors, Chase served as a formidable “race man” and used his newspaper to voice a variety of opinions about all issues relating to African Americans and American race relations. William Chase’s Washington Bee was published weekly from 1882 through 1922 and documented extensive opposition to segregation and discrimination throughout the United States.  His newspaper fought for equal rights at a time when only a handful of black publications existed at all.  
Sources: 

Appiah, Kwame and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience, Vols. 1-5 (New York: Basic  Civitas Books 2004); http://www.exploredc.org/index.php?id=381

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Augusta, Alexander T. (1825-1890)

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

Alexander Thomas Augusta was the highest-ranking black officer in the Union Army during the Civil War.  He was also the first African American head of a hospital (Freedmen’s Hospital) and the first black professor of medicine (Howard University in Washington, D.C.).

Sources: 

Joseph T. Glatthaar, Forged in Battle: The Civil War Alliance of Black
Soldiers and White Officers
(New York: Free Press, 1990); Herbert M.
Morais, The History of the Negro in Medicine (New York: Publishers Co.,
1968); http://msa.maryland.gov/megafile/msa/speccol/sc2200/sc2221/000011/000018/pdf/d011488e.pdf.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

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

Wilkins, Roy (1901-1981)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership, Public Domain
Roy Wilkins, one of the leading US civil rights activists of the twentieth century, was born in St. Louis, Missouri.  Wilkins’ mother died of tuberculosis when he was four; he and his siblings were then raised by an aunt and uncle in a poor but racially integrated neighborhood in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Sources: 
Sondra Kathryn Wilson, In Search of Democracy: The NAACP Writings of James Weldon Johnson, Walter White, and Roy Wilkins (1920-1977), (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999); National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, “NAACP History: Roy Wilkins,” http://www.naacp.org/pages/naacp-history-Roy-Wilkins, accessed January 1, 2014; Tim Brady, “Remembering Roy Wilkins,” University of Minnesota Alumni Association Newsletter (November-December, 2005), http://www.minnesotaalumni.org/s/1118/content.aspx?sid=1118&gid=1&pgid=1528, accessed January 1, 2014; Roy Wilkins, Standing Fast: The Autobiography of Roy Wilkins, (New York: Da Capo Press, 1994).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Arizona State University

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

De la Cruz, Véronique (1974- )

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

Davis, Ruth A. (1943 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
At the time of her retirement from the United States Foreign Service in 2009, Ambassador Ruth A. Davis was the longest serving Career Ambassador and at the rank of Director General of the Foreign Service, had achieved the highest ranking position in the Foreign Service.  She was also the first African American to do so.

Although born in Phoenix, Arizona, on May 28, 1943, to a former World War II soldier who later became a postal worker and a schoolteacher mother, the family moved to Atlanta, Georgia during her early childhood.  Majoring in Sociology at Spelman College, Davis was awarded a Merrill scholarship which allowed her to study in France for 15 months. While there she travelled throughout Europe and the Middle East.  

Davis graduated magna cum laude from Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia in 1966 and then enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley where she earned a master's degree in social work in 1968.  While at UC Berkeley she served as an intern at the Agency for International Development (AID).  
Sources: 
Candace LaBalle, "Davis, Ruth A. 1943–," Contemporary Black Biography (2003), http://www.encyclopedia.com; Stacy D. Williams, "TLG:  Expanding Opportunities at State," Foreign Service Journal (May 2013), http://www.govexec.com/magazine/magazine-management-profile/