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World War II

Knox, William Jacob, Jr. (1904-1995)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Harvard University Archives,
HUD 325.25
Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts on January 5, 1904, William Knox is remembered for two achievements.  He was among a handful of black scientists to work on the top secret Manhattan Project, which produced the atom bomb during World War II, and following the war he held a key development position at the Kodak Corporation, a major manufacturer of camera equipment.

Knox was the oldest of three brothers born to William and Estelle Knox. The elder Knox was a clerk at the U.S. postal service in New Bedford.  All of the brothers attended Harvard University as undergraduates with William graduating from the institution in 1925.  All three Knox brothers would go on to earn Ph.D.s.  The middle son, Everett, studied history.  The youngest son, Lawrence, studied chemistry and, during World War II, joined his eldest brother on Manhattan Project research.    
Sources: 
Jessie Parkhurst Guzman, et al., Negro Year Book: A Review of Events Affecting Negro Life, 1941-1946 (Tuskegee Institute, Alabama: Dept. of Records and Research, 1947); Patricia Carter Sluby, The Inventive Spirit of African Americans: Patented Ingenuity (Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 2004); Ray Spangenburg and Kit Moster, African Americans in Science, Math, and Invention (New York: Facts on File, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Case Western Reserve University

Sebastian's Cotton Club, Culver City, California (1926-1938)

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

The prohibition of alcohol in the United States during the early 20th century didn’t really affect the nightclubbing scene in Los Angeles, California, especially in the Culver City area during the 1920s. Sebastian’s Cotton Club, at the intersection of Washington Boulevard and National Street, was the leading and most popular jazz club in Culver City, and in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area.

The club was opened by Frank Sebastian in 1926, hence the name “Sebastian’s Cotton Club” was influenced by the famous Cotton Club in Harlem. The building was built in 1923, formerly known as “The Green Mill,” the largest entertainment emporium in the Los Angeles area, before Frank Sebastian purchased the building for his own business. Frank Sebastian was already a prominent entertainment businessman in Los Angeles having owned one other prominent and successful establishment: Sebastian’s Café, also known as Venice Café due to its location being near Venice Beach.

Sources: 
Devon McReynolds in Arts & Entertainment, LAist, Jan. 27, 2016; Devon McReynolds, "Vintage Photos From Culver City's Lively Prohibition-Era Jazz Scene,." Laist. (January. 2016), http://laist.com/2016/01/27/culver_city_jazz_scene.php#photo-1; Martin Turnbull, "Frank Sebastian’s Cotton Club – Corner National and Washington, Culver City." The Garden of Allah Novels during Hollywood's Golden Years. April 2016, https://martinturnbull.com/2014/05/23/frank-sebastians-cotton-club-corner-national-and-washington-culver-city/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Pittsburgh Courier (1907- )

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Mrs. Robert L. Vann, Publisher of the Pittsburgh Courier,
Presents a Gold Medal and NAACP Life Membership to
Indian Prime Minister Jawarhalal Nehru,
as NAACP Roy Wilkins Looks On, 1949, New York City
© Bettmann/Corbis
Sources: 
Andrew Buni, Robert L. Vann of the Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1974); Aurora Wallace, Newspapers and the Making of Modern America (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2005); http://www.pbs.org/blackpress/news_bios/courier.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

9th Cavalry Regiment (1866-1944)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Ninth Cavalry at Fort Davis, Texas, ca. 1877
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The 9th Cavalry was one of the original six regiments of the regular U.S. Army set aside for black enlisted men.  These were authorized by Congress in the act of July 28, 1866 reorganizing the army for post-Civil War service, mainly against native peoples in the West.  Colonel Edward Hatch, an officer with no military experience prior to the Civil War but who distinguished himself as the commander of an Iowa cavalry regiment during the rebellion, was the 9th’s first commander.  Initial recruiting efforts centered on New Orleans and vicinity.  By February 1867, twelve companies were organized and on their way to Texas.

The regiment participated in numerous frontier campaigns, against the Comanche, the Ute, and most notably the Apache between 1877 and 1881.  In the early 1880s it also engaged in efforts to restrain settlers seeking to take up land in Indian Territory before that area was legally open.  In the 1870s the regiment was involved in the El Paso Salt War and in the 1890s it participated in efforts to restore order in the wake of the Johnson County, Wyoming Cattle War (1892) and railroad labor disputes (1894).  Colonel Hatch remained in command until his death at Fort Robinson, Nebraska in April 1889.  Forty-four of its soldiers were killed in action during this period, 28 against the Apaches.
Sources: 
Frank N. Schubert, Buffalo Soldiers, Braves and the Brass: the Story of Fort Robinson, Nebraska (Shippensburg, PA:  White Mane, 1993); Schubert, Black Valor:  Buffalo Soldiers and the Medal of Honor, 1870-1898 (Wilmington, DE:  SR Books, 1997).
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Bruce, Samuel (Sam) Martin (1915–1944)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
In 1942 Sam Martin Bruce was a second lieutenant assigned to the 99th Pursuit Squadron, a unit piloted by men who were part of the Tuskegee Airmen. They were the African American pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff, instructors, and other personnel responsible for keeping the planes in the air. From 1941 to 1946, nearly one thousand airmen were trained at Tuskegee.   

The 99th Pursuit Squadron was the first all-African American pursuit squadron. They were the direct result of the constant pressure on the Franklin Roosevelt Administration from African Americans demanding a larger role in the military and an end to the ban on black pilots. In 1940 the federal government created the Tuskegee Airmen program and located it at Tuskegee Institute, Alabama. Members of the 99th Pursuit Squadron were some of the first Tuskegee airmen to complete their training and be sent to Europe after the United States entered World War II.
Sources: 
Jerry Large, “Saluting a Seattle WWII Tuskegee Airman,” The Seattle Times, http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/saluting-a-seattle-wwii-tuskegee-airman/; “Bruce, Samuel M., 2nd Lt.,” Together We Served, http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/usaf/servlet/tws.webapp.WebApp?cmd=ShadowBoxProfile&type=Person&ID=172042; “Northwest Connection: The Tuskegee Airmen,” 4 Culture, http://www.naamnw.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/NAAM.TuskgeeHiRes2bestcopy1.pdf; “Airmen History,” Tuskegee Airmen Inc. Same Bruce Chapter, http://sambrucetai.org/about-tuskegee-airmen/; “A Brief History,” Tuskegee Airmen Inc., http://tuskegeeairmen.org/explore-tai/a-brief-history/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Johannesburg, South Africa (1886-- )

Entry Type: 
Places
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain
Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa.  Before the 1837 arrival of the Transvaal Boers, descendants of Dutch settlers, the area that is now Johannesburg was occupied by the Sotho-Tswana peoples. In early 1886, gold was discovered on the Witwatersrand ridge. By 1889, Johannesburg boasted a population of 3,000 as well as a hospital, stock exchange, and electric lighting. Three years later this number had ballooned to 102,000.

Britain saw potential wealth in the area as well, and took control in 1899 after the Anglo-Boer War. In 1902, white miners organized into the Transvaal Mine Workers Union, the first of several organizations intended to secure preferential treatment for its members over black labor. Along with discrimination in the workforce, native Africans were forced to contend with housing discrimination. In 1904, partially in response to an outbreak of the plague, the municipal government destroyed both Chinese and native African areas of the inner city and relocated residents to Klipspruit outside the city.

Sources: 
Naomi Musiker and Ruben Musiker, Historical Dictionary of Greater Johannesburg (Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1999); Sarah Nuttall and Achille Mbembe, eds., Johannesburg: The Elusive Metropolis (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Montana State University

Quarterman, Lloyd Albert (1918-1982)

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

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

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

African Americans and the Manhattan Project, Richland, WA (1942-1945)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Black Workers at Hanford, 1944
Image Ownership: Public domain

Between the years of 1942 and 1944 around fifteen thousand blacks and fifty thousand whites were recruited to the Manhattan/ Hanford Project in Richland, Washington. The federal government required government contractor, DuPont, to keep the number of black construction workers on the project between 10 percent and 20 percent of the total workforce. The 20 percent limit was imposed because the federal government believed white workers would protest if black employees accounted for a larger percentage. Black worker participation in this project in the Pacific Northwest was driven by both President Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 8802, issued on June 25, 1941, which prohibited racial discrimination in employment by any private firms that received federal contracts and more generally by the wartime labor shortage. Regardless of the reason for the recruitment of black workers, they, along with other DuPont construction workers, provided the essential labor for building the facilities in which the plutonium for the first atomic bombs was produced.

Sources: 
Annette Cary, “Exhibit chronicles hard life for blacks at WWII Hanford,” Tri-City Herald (Feb 2016); Annette Cary, “Segregation has been a hard habit to break in Tri-Cities,” Tri-City Herald (March 2007); Annette Cary, “Black pioneers of early Hanford honored,” Tri-City Herald (Feb 2005); Annette Cary, “Segregated Labor,” Tri-City Herald (Feb 2002); Charles Mudede, “Black Americans Came to Washington State from Around the Country to Help Build the Atomic Bomb,” The Stranger (Dec 2015), “African Americans and the Manhattan Project,” http://www.atomicheritage.org/history/african-americans-and-manhattan-project.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Evers, James Charles (1922- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
James Charles Evers was born on September 11, 1922 in Decatur, Mississippi to parents Jesse Wright and James Evers.  Growing up in Mississippi during the era of Jim Crow, Evers witnessed the effects of racial discrimination and prejudice firsthand.   At the age of ten, he witnessed a horrific lynching of a black man who had been accused of insulting a white woman.  This lynching left a lasting impression on Evers, who vowed, along with his younger brother, Medgar, to exact change for the blacks of Mississippi.  
Sources: 
Charles Evers, Evers (New York: World Publishing Company, 1971); Charles Evers and Andrew Szanton, Have No Fear: The Charles Evers Story (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1997); http://www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/stories_people_evers.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

10th Cavalry Regiment (1866--1944)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The 10th Cavalry was one of the original six regiments of the regular army set aside for black enlisted men.  These were authorized by Congress in the act of July 28, 1866 reorganizing the army for post-Civil War service, mainly against native peoples in the West.  Colonel Benjamin Grierson, a music teacher with no pre-Civil War military experience, was the 10th’s first commander.  Grierson distinguished himself by leading a daring cavalry raid into Mississippi during General Grant’s Vicksburg campaign of 1863.   The regiment was organized at Fort Leavenworth and later Fort Riley, Kansas, with the last company assembled and in the field by October 1867.  It served under Grierson for more than twenty years, until his promotion to be brigadier general in November 1888.

The 10th served against the Cheyenne in Kansas at the end of the 1860s, then against the Kiowa and Comanche in Indian Territory, and in the Apache campaigns of the early 1880s.  It was involved in the pursuit of Geronimo in 1886, but did not take part in his capture.  Its only Medal of Honor recipient in the West, Sergeant William McBryar, received his award for 1890 operations against Apaches who resisted confinement to a reservation.  Nine of the 10th’s seventeen fatalities came against the Apache.
Sources: 
Edward L. N. Glass, The History of the Tenth Cavalry, 1866-1921 (Fort Collins, CO;  Old Army Press, 1972); Frank N. Schubert, On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldier:  Biographies of African Americans in the U.S. Army, 1866-1917 (Wilmington, DE:  Scholarly Resources, 1995).

Robinson, John Charles (1903–1954)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
John Charles Robinson, nicknamed the Brown Condor, was an African American aviator who fought with the Imperial Ethiopian Air Force against Benito Mussolini and Fascist Italy during the Second Italian-Ethiopian War, 1935–1936. He is also known as the Father of the Tuskegee Airmen for his contributions to the aviation programs he began at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in the early 1940s.
Sources: 
Philip Thomas Tucker, Father of the Tuskegee Airmen, John C. Robinson (Lincoln, Nebraska: Potomac Books, Inc., 2012) https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=Tucker%2C+Phillip+Thomas.+Father+of+the+Tuskegee+Airmen%2C+John+C.%20+Robinson.+Potomac+Books%2C+Inc.%2C+2012.&btnG=&as_sdt=1%2C48&as_sdtp; Thomas E. Simmons, The Man Called Brown Condor: The Forgotten History of an African American Fighter Pilot (New York, New York: Skyhorse Publishing, Inc., 2013) https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=Simmons%2C+Thomas+E.+The+Man+Called+Brown+Condor%3A+The+Forgotten+%20History+of+an+African+American+Fighter+Pilot.+Skyhorse+Publishing%2C+Inc.%2C+2013.&btnG=&hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C48.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Lagos, Nigeria (c. 1350-- )

Entry Type: 
Places
History Type: 
Global African History
Lagos Sunset
Image Ownership: Public Domain 

Lagos is the largest city and chief port of modern Nigeria. The area that is now Lagos was settled by Yoruba people during the fourteenth century.  The founders created a coastal village they called Eko.  In the 1760s, Portuguese traders settled there and began using Eko as a port for the slave trade, renaming it Lagos after the coastal city in Southern Portugal that had the greatest trading links with Africa.  Profits from the slave trade allowed the ruler of Lagos, the Oba, to become the sovereign of a regional power. In 1851, a dispute between Oba Kosoko (and his deposed anti-slavery brother, Oba Akitoye, caught the attention of the British who occupied Lagos and reinstalled Akitoye. In 1861, Akitoye’s successor, Oba Docemo signed a treaty making Lagos a British colony.

Sources: 
A. Oyewole and John Lucas, Historical Dictionary of Nigeria (Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow, Press, 2000); Margret Peil, Lagos: The City is the People (London: Belhaven Press, 1991).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Montana State University

Omohundro, Robert Johnson (1921-2000)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Sargeant Memorial
Chronicles (Winter 2008),
Sargeant Memorial Room,
Pretlow Library, Norfolk, VA
Born in Norfolk, VA in 1921, physicist Robert Johnson Omohundro was one of a select few black scientists and technicians to work on the Manhattan Project and thus contribute to the development of the atom bomb during World War II.  The eldest child of Henry Omohundro and Brownie Pierce Omohundro, Robert had one sister, Gladys and four half-siblings, Joseph, Mildred, Annie Mae, and Dorothy from his father’s first marriage.

Omohundro graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk, Virginia and then earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics and a master’s in physics from Howard University in Washington, DC.  After graduation he worked as a radio tester with the Western Electric Company.
Sources: 
Ray Spangenburg and Kit Moster, African Americans in Science, Math, and Invention (New York: Facts on File, 2003); Julius H. Taylor, et al., The Negro In Science (Baltimore: Morgan State University, 1955), Robert B. Hitchings, "Robert J. Omohundro: Local Man Works on the Manhattan Project," Sargeant's Chronicles: Vignettes About Norfolk and Virginia's History and Genealogy 2:3 (Winter 2008).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Case Western Reserve University

Dollarhide, Douglas (1923-2008)

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

Douglas Dollarhide was the first African American mayor of the city of Compton, California, and a pioneer and role model for future black politicians across the state of California.

Dollarhide was born in March 1923 in Earlsboro, Oklahoma. He was the son of two former slaves, Thomas Dollarhide and Daisy Williams Dollarhide. In the early 1940s, the family moved from Earlsboro to San Jose, California, where Dollarhide enlisted in the U.S. Army. He served during World War II and after the conflict ended, settled in Los Angeles County with his new wife, Eliza, and daughter, Barbara.

Sources: 
Richard Elman, Ill-At-Ease in Compton (New York: Pantheon, 1967); Yussuf J. Simmonds, “African American Mayors of Compton,” Los Angeles Sentinel, June 2009, 1, https://search.proquest.com/docview/369302220?accountid=14784 (login required); and Yussuf Simmonds, “Douglas Dollarhide Dies.” Los Angeles Sentinel. n.p., July 10, 2008, https://lasentinel.net/douglas-dollarhide-dies.html.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Horne, Lena (1917-2010)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
James Haskins, A Personal and Professional Biography of Lena Horne, (Detroit: Scarborough House, 1991); AlJean Harmetz, "Lena Horne Obituary," New York Times, May 10, 2010; http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/lena-horne-about-the-performer/487/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

24th Infantry Regiment (1866-1951)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Twenty-Fourth Infantry Soldiers at Yosemite Park
Image Ownership: Public Domain
When the U.S. Army was reorganized on July 28, 1866 for peacetime service after the American Civil War, six regiments were set aside for black enlisted men.  These included four infantry regiments, numbered 38th through 41st.  The 24th Infantry was organized during a reduction in March 1869 by merging the 38th and 41st.  Both had served in Texas since their establishment, and the consolidation took place at Fort McKavett.  The regiment’s first four commanders had rendered distinguished service in the Civil War.  They were Colonels Ranald S. Mackenzie (November 1869-December 1870), Abner S. Doubleday (December 1870-December 1872), Joseph H. Potter (December 1872-April 1886), and Zenas R. Bliss (April 1886-April 1895).
Sources: 
William G. Muller, The Twenty Fourth Infantry Past and Present (Fort Collins, CO:  Old Army Press, 1972); Frank N. Schubert, On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldier:  Biographies of African Americans in the U.S. Army, 1866-1917 (Wilmington, DE:  Scholarly Resources, 1995).
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Thompson, McKinley (1922–2006)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
McKinley Thompson and a Car He Designed for Africa
and the Third World
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
McKinley Thompson, the first major African American car designer, was born on November 8, 1922, in New York City, New York. As a child, Thompson was intrigued with automobiles. In an oral history interview in 2001, he discussed the first time he had seen a car when he was twelve years old, “There were patchy clouds in the sky, and it just so happened that the clouds opened up for the sunshine to come through. It lit that car up like a searchlight.” Thompson later said, “I was never so impressed with anything else in all my life. I knew that that’s what I wanted to do in life—I want[ed] to be an automobile designer.”

In 1940 Thompson graduated from Murray Hill High School in New York City. Following high school, Thompson became a professional draftsman to hone his drawing skills. When the United States entered World War II in 1941, Thompson joined the U.S. Army and began working as an engineering design layout coordinator for the Army Signal Corps, a post he held until 1953.

Sources: 
“The Warrior” on McKinley Thompson, The Henry Ford Blog, 2014, https://www.thehenryford.org/explore/blog/the-warrior; Robert Tate, “McKinley Thompson: The First African American Automotive Designer,” Motor Cities, February 2, 2013, http://www.motorcities.org/Story%20/McKinley+Thompson+The+First+African+American+Automotive+Designer+br+By+Robert+Tate-292.html; “Designer Spotlight: The First African American Automotive Designer is Hired into Ford by Alex Tremulis in 1956,” (Gyronaut X-1, 2015), http://www.gyronautx1.com/live-updates/designer-spotlight-the-first-african-american-automobile-designer-mckinley-thompson-is-hired-into-ford-by-alex-tremulis.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Luanda, Angola (1576- )

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

Luanda was founded by Portuguese explorer Paolo Dias de Novaes as St. Paul of Luanda in 1576. It became the capital of a Portuguese colony in 1586 and became the capital of independent Angola when the former Portuguese colony gained its independence in 1975.  Luanda is also the largest city in Angola with an estimated 2009 population of over 4.5 million. The city is located in the northwestern region of the country on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The most common religions are Catholic, Baptist, and Methodist but missionaries of many faiths reside in Angola. The city's major sports are basketball, soccer, and tennis.

Sources: 
Karen Ellicott, Cities of the World, Vol. 1: Africa (Detroit: Gale, 2002); Eric Young, "Luanda, Angola"  Encyclopedia of Africa, editors, Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Demby, William (1922-2013)

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

The novelist William Edward Demby, Jr. was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Christmas day, 1922, to William and Gertrude Demby.  He was raised in their family of seven children in the Fairywood district of Pittsburgh’s West Side. The family moved to Clarksburg, West Virginia, shortly after Demby’s graduation from Langley High School.

Sources: 
Melanie Masterson Sherazi, “Introduction,” to William Demby’s novel, King Comus. Berkeley: Ishmael Reed Publishing Company, 2017; Jeff Biggers, “William Demby has not left the Building: Postcard from Tuscany, A Profile,” The Bloomsbury Review Vol 24, #1, 2004; William Yardley, “William Demby, Author of Experimental Novels, Dies at 90,” The New York Times, May 31, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/01/arts/william-demby-novelist-and-reporter-dies-at-90.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Wertz, Irma Jackson Cayton (1911-2007)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Irma Cayton Wertz on right, 1942
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Irma Jackson Cayton Wertz was a member of the first Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAACS) Officer training class commissioned at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, during World War II.  Born in Brunswick, Georgia, on May 8, 1911, Jackson was the product of a military household.  Her family was stationed in Des Moines while her father, who served as a captain in the segregated army during World War I, attended officer’s training camp.  

After graduating from Fisk University and Atlanta University, Jackson moved to Chicago, Illinois where she gained employment as a social worker in the South Parkway Community Center. There she married her first husband, Horace Cayton, a noted University of Chicago sociologist. The couple divorced in 1942.

The same year, Jackson applied for entrance into the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps.  After successfully passing a battery of examinations, completing a six-week training course, and taking the oath to become an officer in August of that year, Jackson was briefly assigned to the WAAC Headquarters in Washington, D.C. as a recruiter. Shortly thereafter, she relocated to Fort Huachuca, Arizona, where she met and married William Wertz and joined the Thirty-second WAAC Post Headquarters Company.

Sources: 

Robert F. Jefferson, Fighting for Hope:  African American Troops of the 93rd Infantry Division in World War II and Postwar America (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008); Brenda L. Moore, To Serve My Country, To Serve My Race:  The Story of the Only African American WACs Stationed Overseas during World War II (New York: New York University Press, 1996).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Xavier University

The California Fair Housing Act\The Rumford Act (1963-1968)

Vignette Type: 
Misc
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Demonstration Against Proposition 14, 1964
Image Ownership: Public Domain

The California Fair Housing Act of 1963, better known as the Rumford Act (AB 1240) because of its sponsor, Assemblyman William Byron Rumford, was one of the most significant and sweeping laws protecting the rights of blacks and other people of color to purchase housing without being subjected to discrimination during the post-World War II period.  It was enacted in in response to weaknesses in earlier fair housing legislation in California; and evolved from a larger civil rights struggle that emerged over the movement to create a permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC) at the state level between 1946 and 1959.  

Sources: 
Joyce Henderson, William Byron Rumford: Legislator for Fair Employment, Fair Housing, and Public Health (Berkeley: The Regents of the University of California, 1973); Herbert Ruffin, Uninvited Neighbors: Black Life and the Racial Quest for Freedom in the Santa Clara Valley, 1777-1968 (Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Dissertation Publishing, 2007); and Robert O. Self, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

From Memphis and Mogadishu: The History of African Americans in Martin Luther King County, Washington, 1858-2014

In the extended article that appears below historians Daudi Abe and Quintard Taylor explore the history of African Americans in Martin Luther King County from 1858 to 2014.  They analyze the forces which encouraged people of African ancestry to settle in the county and discuss the rapid political, social, and economic changes that its black residents have faced since the first arrival, Manuel Lopes, came to the county in 1858.

With 119,801 people of African ancestry in a total population of 1,931,249 people, Martin Luther King, Jr. County is the most populous county in the state of Washington and is home to 29% of the state’s inhabitants and half of Washington’s black population.  It is also the only county in the United States named after the 20th Century civil rights icon.  

Hotesse, Esteban (1919-1945)

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

Esteban Hotesse was the only Dominican-born member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, as well as one of the few people born in a Spanish-speaking nation to serve the United Stated during World War II. Hotesse was born on February 11, 1919, in the town of Moca, Dominican Republic. On November 1, 1923, at the young age of four, he, his mother, and his younger sister departed Moca for New York City, New York. After traveling through Ellis Island, they took up residence in Manhattan. Little is known of Hotesse from this point until he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps on February, 21, 1942.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

The Brazzaville Conference, 1944

Entry Type: 
Events
History Type: 
Global African History
Félix Éboué and Charles DeGaulle at
Brazzaville, 1944
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The Brazzaville Conference was organized during the Second World War and took place in Brazzaville, the capital city of the colony of French Equatorial Africa from January 30 to February 8, 1944.  The Conference was sponsored by the French Committee of the National Liberation (CFLN). General Charles de Gaulle opened the Conference that brought together the representatives of the French territories of Africa. It met to determine the role and future of the French colonial Empire and to design the reforms that would perpetuate it.

Brazzaville was chosen because it was the bastion of African Gaullism and the capital of Free French Africa: it was in this city, in October, 1940, that de Gaulle established the Council of Defense of the Empire and signed an important Manifesto that placed Free France in the republican and democratic tradition.
Sources: 
Jean Muracciole, "La conférence de 1944 et la decolonization," Espoir, n° 152, September  (Paris, 2007); Brian Weinstein, Eboue (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972)
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Holland, Jerome Heartwell (1916-1985)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Ambassador Jerome Holland and His Wife
Arrive in Stockholm, Sweden in 1970
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Educator, diplomat and businessman, Jerome Heartwell Holland was born on January 9, 1916 in Auburn, New York. The parents of Holland, and that of his twelve other siblings, were Robert Holland, a gardener/carpenter, and Viola Bagby Holland. For the entirety of his life, Holland maintained the nickname “Brud” given to him by a sibling who called him “Brudder” growing up.

Sources: 
Rachel Kranz, African-American Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs (New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2004); New York Public Library, and Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library African American Desk Reference (New York: J. Wiley & Sons, 1999); http://www.aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/educator-and-diplomat-jerome-holland; http://auburnpub.com/lifestyles/article_81f428be-72a9-5553-8e54-f9c477f64479.html; http://centralny.ynn.com/content/top_stories/534762/dr--jerome--brud--holland-starts-historic-life-in-auburn/.


Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Freedmen's Town, Houston, Texas (1865- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Historic Freedmen’s Town Brick Streets
Image Ownership: Public domain

Freedmen’s Town is a nationally registered historical site. The site was originally a community located in the fourth ward of Houston, Texas that began in 1865 as the destination for former enslaved people from surrounding plantations in Texas and Louisiana after the Civil War.

Freedmen’s Town is located southwest of downtown. After emancipation was proclaimed in Texas on June 19, 1865, former slaves began migrating to Austin, Dallas, Galveston, and other cities but the largest migration was to Houston. Many of these newcomers traveled along San Felipe Road into the city from Brazos River Plantations south and southwest of Houston.  Once there they paved many of the streets in brick. These new residents established a community where they were able to live mostly without the daily onslaught of racism and discrimination.

Sources: 
Gladys Marie House of the Freedmen's Town Association, Inc., A Brief History of Freedmen's Town, http://www.isocracytx.net/hp-org/FTAbrief.html; Margo Walker Taylor, “Preservation of Houston’s Freedmen’s Town jeopardized,” The Weekly, Metro Newspaper, April 14, 1998, p.19; Angelo Podagrosi and Igor Vojnovic, “Tearing Down Freedmen's Town and African American Displacement in Houston: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Urban Revival,” Urban Geography, May 1, 2008, pp. 371-401.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Sciences Po Paris

32nd and 33rd WAACS Headquarters Companies (World War II)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
WAACS at Fort Huachuca (Courtesy of Fort Huachuca Museum)

Organized in the fall of 1942, Iowa, the all-black Thirty-Second and Thirty-third Women's Auxiliary Army Companies would become the first contingent of WAACS assigned to a military installation in the United States during World War II. Composed of nearly 200 auxiliaries and seven officers, company members completed six weeks of intensive training in Iowa before reporting to Fort Huachuca, Arizona, on December 4, 1942.  At the time, the army post was the largest black military post in the country.  There, the units were assigned to the Ninth Service Command and the post headquarters, respectively.

Under the command of the first group of Fort Des Moines's graduating class of black commissioned officers—Irma Jackson Cayton, Vera Ann Harrison, Frances Alexander, Violet Askins, Natalie Donaldson, Mary Kearney, and Corrie Sherard—auxiliaries ably performed clerical and administrative work as stenographers, typists, telephone switchboard operators, clerks, messengers, reception ists, and motor pool drivers and mechanics.  The positions held by the WAACs and the duties they performed cohered with the racial and gendered employment policies developed by senior Army leaders and Women's Auxiliary Army Corps officials, relieving the men of the U.S. Ninety-third Infantry Division also stationed at the military outpost to undergo extensive field training in the Arizona desert.

Sources: 

Robert F. Jefferson, Fighting for Hope:  African American Troops of the 93rd Infantry Division in World War II and Postwar America (Baltimore:  The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008).  Brenda L. Moore, To Serve My Country, To Serve My Race: The Story of the Only African American WACs Stationed Overseas during World War II (New York: New York University Press, 1996).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Xavier University

Watts, Los Angeles (1903- )

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Watts, 1912
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Watts, one of the most famous neighborhoods in Los Angeles, California, is located approximately seven miles southeast of downtown.  Originally part of the Rancho La Tajauta Mexican land grant, Watts was incorporated in 1903 and began to grow as a community in 1907, when the Watts Station was built and transportation within Watts became easier.   The town was attractive to working class families and differed from other suburban communities in that it welcomed white, black, and Latino families.  By 1920, 14% of Watts' population was African American which at that time was the highest in California.  
Sources: 
Mary Ellen Bell Ray, The City of Watts, California: 1907 to 1926 (Los Angeles: Rising Sun Publishing, 1985); Gerald Horne, Fire This Time: the Watts Uprising and the 1960s (New York: Da Capo Press, 1997); Jerome Fortier, Art and Social Change in Los Angeles 1965-2002 (Milwaukee: Marquette University, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Hull, England

The Pan-African Congresses, 1900-1945

 

Speakers at The Pan African Congress,
Brussels, Belgium,1921
Image Ownership: Public Domain

In the nearly half century between 1900 and 1945 various political leaders and intellectuals from Europe, North America, and Africa met six times to discuss colonial control of Africa and develop strategies for eventual African political liberation. In the article that follows, historian Saheed Adejumobi describes the goals and objectives of these six Pan African Congresses and assesses their impact on Africa.     

 

Pan-Africanist ideals emerged in the late nineteenth century in response to European colonization and exploitation of the African continent. Pan-Africanist philosophy held that slavery and colonialism depended on and encouraged negative, unfounded categorizations of the race, culture, and values of African people. These destructive beliefs in turn gave birth to intensified forms of racism, the likes of which Pan-Africanism sought to eliminate.

Summary: 
In the nearly half century between 1900 and 1945 various political leaders and intellectuals from Europe, North America, and Africa met six times to discuss colonial control of Africa and develop strategies for eventual African political liberation. In the article that follows, historian Saheed Adejumobi describes the goals and objectives of these six Pan African Congresses and assesses their impact on Africa.
Sources: 

Saheed A. Adejumobi, “The Pan-African Congress,” in Organizing Black America: An Encyclopedia of African American Associations, Nina Mjagkij, ed. (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 2001).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle University

Lunceford, Jimmie M. (1902-1947)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Jimmie Lunceford and his Orchestra
Image Ownership: Public domain

James Melvin “Jimmie” Lunceford, a popular band leader during the swing era, was born near Fulton, Mississippi, in Itawamba County to James Leonard and Beulah Idella Tucker Lunceford in June, 1902. His grandparents, Daniel and Gracie Lunceford, had arrived in Mississippi as slaves from North Carolina in 1860.

The Lunceford family moved to Oklahoma around 1910 and then to Denver, Colorado, where they maintained a home for many years. There, Lunceford studied music under Wilberforce Whiteman, the father of Paul Whiteman, a prominent white musician and band leader of the 1920s and 1930s.

Sources: 
Eddy Determeyer, Rhythm Is Our Business: Jimmie Lunceford and the Harlem Express (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006); Leo Walker, The Big Band Almanac (Pasadena: Ward Ritchie Press, 1978); http://itawambahistory.blogspot.com/2007/06/orchestra-leader-jimmie-luncefords.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

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

Scott, Benjamin Franklin (1922-2000)

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

Born in Florence, South Carolina, October 19, 1922, Benjamin Franklin Scott was an African-American chemist who worked on the Manhattan Project in World War II.  The son of Benny and Viola Scott, Benjamin had two older sisters, Mary and Rosa.

Scott earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1942 from Morehouse College, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) located in Atlanta, Georgia. Scott continued his education at the University of Chicago where he earned a Master of Science degree in 1950.

Between the years of 1943-1946, Scott worked as a chemist on the Manhattan Project at the University of Chicago's Metallurgical Laboratory. The Manhattan Project, one of the most important scientific projects of the 20th century, led to the development of the atomic bomb, which ended World War II. Other notable African-American scientists who worked with Scott at the Chicago laboratory include Harold Delaney, Moddie Taylor, and Jasper Brown Jeffries. Scott – like both Jeffries and Taylor – earned a graduate degree from the University of Chicago, but his came after World War II and his involvement on the Manhattan Project. 

Sources: 
Vivian Ovelton Sammons, Blacks in Science and Medicine (New York: Hemisphere Publishing, 1980); Nuclear Instrument and Chemical Company. http://national-radiation-instrument-catalog.com/new_page_40.htm; Scott, B.F. “Automatic Calculation of Specific Activities from Liquid Scintillation Counter Data Using a Desk-top Computer,” Journal of Radioanalytical Chemistry, 1968, 1(1), 61-71; Scott, B.F. and Kennally, J.R. “Oxygen-tube combustion method for liquid scintillation assay of carbon-14 and tritium,” Analytical Chemistry, 1966, 38(10), 1404-5; Driscoll, W.J.; Scott, B.F.; Huff, E.A. “Radiometric Methods for Industrial Process Control,” From the United States Atomic Energy Commission[Unclassified and Declassified Reports Published by the Atomic Energy Commission and Its Contractors](1961), 62pp; Bessie Joyce Sampson Scott, The State, May 6, 2005.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
College of Wooster

Booker T. Washington Community Center, Spokane, Washington (1937-1948)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Dance at G.W. Carver USO, 1943
Image Courtesy of Eastern Washington Historical Society,
Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

The Booker T. Washington Community Center was founded on February 1, 1937, to provide a place for people to socialize and recreate free from the racial prejudices and judgments that plagued Spokane, Washington at the time. The Center was founded by Rosa D. Malone, a graduate of the Tuskegee Institute, under the supervision of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. The center employed several African American women as choral directors, secretaries, and janitors at the end of the Great Depression when there were few other opportunities outside of domestic employment.

Sources: 
Dwayne Mack, Black Spokane: The Civil Rights Struggle of the Inland Northwest (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2013); Mike Prager, “Black USO was Hoppin,” http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2008/oct/28/black-uso-was-hoppin/#/0
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, Inc. (1896)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History

 

"Oklahoma Federation of Colored Women Banner, 1910"
Image Ownership: Public Domain

The National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, Inc. (NACWC), was established in July 1896 as a merger between the National League of Colored Women and the National Federation of Afro-American Women.  The merger enabled the NACWC to function as a national umbrella group for local and regional Black women’s organizations.

The NACWC adopted the motto of “Lifting as We Climb,” promoting self-help among women. During the early years of the organization, the largely educated and middle-class constituency supported temperance, positive images of women through moral purity, and women’s suffrage, issues also pursued by white women’s groups. However, unlike those groups, the NACWC saw their organization in terms of gender and race; viewing their women’s movement as a way to uplift black women, men, and children. For example, the NACWC saw the struggle for suffrage as the right to vote not just for women, but also for black men still disfranchised through the political maneuverings of whites.

Sources: 

Lillian Serece Williams and Randolph Boehm, Records of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, 1895-1992, A Microfilm Project of University Publications of America, Microfilm Reels; Elizabeth Davis, Lifting as They Climb (Washington D.C.: NACW, 1933); Deborah Gray White, Too Heavy a Load: Black Women in Defense of Themselves, 1894-1994 (New York: Norton, 1998).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Tacoma

Marin City, California (1942- )

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Marinship with Marin City in Background, Fall, 1944
Image Courtesy of the Archives of W.A. Bechtel Company
In 1940, Marin City did not exist. During World War II, however, the W.A. Bechtel Company of San Francisco was given the contract to construct transport vessels for the U.S. Navy. It created Marinship, which during World War II built nearly 100 liberty ships and tankers. The Bechtel Company was also given permission to develop a community to house some of its workers. That community, Marin City, would eventually be hailed as a model city for the company’s workers and a bold social experiment in race relations.

Marin City was located along the western shore of San Francisco Bay, about two miles northwest of downtown Sausalito. Its first buildings were constructed in 1942 to house workers at the Marinship facility in neighboring Sausalito. Marin City, re-designed by Aaron Green, a prominent architect affiliated with Frank Lloyd Wright, initially had no mayor, no city council, nor a city hall. Besides housing for shipyard workers, it had in 1942 a mercantile building with a drug store, department store, beauty salon, a soft drink and candy shop. A public school was built for worker’s children. One year after its founding it had a population of 5,500 with African Americans comprising 10% of that total.
Sources: 
Charles Wollenberg, Marinship at War: Shipbuilding and Social Change in Wartime Sausalito (Berkeley: Western Heritage Press, 1990); “The Marin-er’s Journey – Marin City,” The Marin-er, May 29, 1943; United States Census, 2010.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa, California

Juneteenth: The Growth of an African American Holiday (1865-- )

Former Texas Slaves Celebrating Juneteenth in Austin, ca. 1900
Image Ownership: Public Domain

In the article below, historian Quintard Taylor describes the origins and evolution of the Juneteenth holiday sine 1865.  

Summary: 
In the article below, historian Quintard Taylor describes the origins and evolution of the Juneteenth holiday since 1865. 
Sources: 
The Texas Emancipation Proclamation, Archives of the Dallas Historical Society, Dallas, Texas; Alwyn Barr, Black Texans: A History of Negroes in Texas, 1528-1971 (Austin, 1973); James M. Smallwood, Time of Hope: Time of Despair: Black Texans During Reconstruction (Port Washington, NY, 1981); Merline Pitre, Through Many Dangers, Toils and Snares: The Black Leadership of Texas, 1868-1900 (Austin, 1985); "Felix Haywood Remembers the Day of Jublio," in Quintard Taylor, ed., From Timbuktu to Katrina: Readings in African-American History, Volume 1, (New York: Thomson Wadsworth, 2008), National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, http://www.njof.com/; National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign, http://www.juneteenth.us/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Watson, James Lopez (1922-2001)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
James Lopez Watson was the first African-American to serve as the head of a federal court in the Deep South. He was born in Harlem, New York City, New York, on May 21, 1922, to Violet and James S. Watson, a New York judge. James Lopez Watson’s first job was with his father during the senior Watson’s tenure as municipal judge.

During World War II, Watson served in Italy with the all-black 371st Infantry Regiment, and he was wounded in battle. He returned to the United States with a Purple Heart, a military honor given to those wounded or killed in the line of duty. After the war, he attended New York University, from which he graduated from in 1947. Watson graduated from the Brooklyn Law School in 1951, and then entered private law practice in New York City.
Sources: 
Wolfgang Saxon, “James Lopez Watson, 79, Judge on U.S. Trade Court,” New York Times (Sept. 6, 2001); Biographical Directory of Federal Judges https://www.fjc.gov/history/judges/watson-james-lopez.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Windhoek, Namibia (1840- )

Entry Type: 
Places
History Type: 
Global African History
Image Ownership, Public Domain
Windhoek, also known by its more traditional names—|Ai||Gams (in the Khoekhoe language) and Otjiomuise or Otjoherero, all of which mean “place by streams”—is the capital and largest city of Namibia, as well as its cultural and economic center.  Though likely named for the mountain ranges near the home of its founder, South African Capt. Jonker Afrikaner, Windhoek's name was officially changed to “Otjomuise” as a part of a broader Africanization plan for many of the more important cities and towns across the country.
Sources: 
Werner Manges, “Windhoek?!  Rather make that Otjomuise” (Windhoek, Namibia: AllAfrica.com, The Namibian, 12 May 2005); Christos Retief, “Windhoek slaan Afrika-rekord [Windhoek beats Africa record]” (Windhoek, Namibia: Die Republikein, 2 July 2013); Windhoek Municipality, Polytechnic of Namibia, The Windhoek Structure Plan (Windhoek, Namibia: Polytechnic of Namibia, 1996); http://www.windhoekcc.org.na/tour_attractions.php.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Knox, Lawrence Howland (1906-1966)

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

Dr. Lawrence Howland Knox, noted chemist, was born on September 30, 1906 in New Bedford, Massachusetts to William Jacob and Estella Knox.   Knox was one of five children, two girls and three boys, and remarkably for that time, all of the boys earned PhDs; the oldest brother, William Jr. also earned a PhD in chemistry, and the younger brother, Clinton, earned a PhD in history.

Knox attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine for his undergraduate schooling.  He majored in chemistry and played on the school football team.  He graduated in 1928 and began teaching chemistry at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.  After teaching at Morehouse for two years Knox attended Stanford and in 1931 attained his Master’s degree.  That same year he married his wife, Hazel and the two had one son.  After receiving his Master’s degree, Knox began teaching at the Agriculture and Technical College of North Carolina in Greensboro, and in 1933 he transferred to North Carolina College for Negroes in Durham.  In 1936 he took another break from teaching and began working for his doctorate at Harvard.  In 1940 he achieved a PhD in organic Chemistry and went back to teaching at North Carolina College.

Sources: 
Leon Gortler and Stephen J. Weininger, “Chemical Relations:  William and Lawrence Knox, African American Chemists” Chemical Heritage Foundation www.chemicalheritage.org; American Men of Science (New York: Jacques Cattel Press, 1955).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Compton, California (1867- )

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

Compton is a city in Southern California, located in south Los Angeles County. Compton was settled in 1867 by thirty pioneer families led by Griffith Dickenson Compton, after whom the city was named. The first black families came to the city just before World War II. Throughout the twentieth century, Compton was a middle-class suburb with relatively inexpensive housing.

Prior to World War II, Compton was 95 percent white. The city adopted racially restrictive covenants in 1921 to bar African Americans and other people of color from the municipality. Civic leaders, real-estate agents, and law-enforcement agencies perpetuated this racial exclusion with their own practices.

Compton’s demographics began to change during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Many African Americans in south central Los Angeles were now prosperous enough to move to Compton. They took advantage of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ban on restrictive covenants in 1948 and began to purchase houses in Compton. Some of the first black families entering Compton neighborhoods were met with violence, vandalism, and terror.

Sources: 
Jessica Bennett, “How Compton Got Its Groove Back,” Newsweek, May 17, 2011, http://www.newsweek.com/how-compton-got-its-groove-back-76361; Angel Jennings and Paloma Esquivel, “‘Straight Outta’ a Different Compton: City Says Much Has Changed in 25 Years,” Los Angeles Times, August 14, 2015, http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-0815-compton-image-20150815-story.html; Josh Sides, “Straight into Compton: American Dreams, Urban Nightmares, and the Metamorphosis of a Black Suburb,” American Quarterly 56 no. 3 (2004): 583–605; and Carman Tse, “How Compton Became the Violent City Of ‘Straight Outta Compton.’” Laist, August 14, 2015, http://laist.com/2015/08/14/city_of_compton.php.
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

President's Committee on Fair Employment Practice (FEPC)

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

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

Sources: 

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Tacoma

Pitre, Clayton (1924- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Clayton Pitre (right) with Fellow Montford Point Marine
at White House Ceremony, June 2012
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Clayton Pitre is a long time Seattle, Washington-based community activist, former Chief Housing Developer for the Central Area Motivation Project (CAMP), and a retired Montford Point Marine.

Born on June 30, 1924 to Gilbert Pitre and Eugenie Lemelle, Clayton Pitre was the fourth child of seven siblings. He was born and raised in Opelousas in Saint Landry Parish, Louisiana. His father was a cotton and yam farmer, and his mother was a homemaker.  Pitre attended Catholic schools until the 9th grade when he gave up his education to work in various defense plants in early World War II Texas.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

The Trillion Dollar African American Consumer Market: Economic Empowerment or Economic Dependency?

"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Sometime in 2013, the African American consumer market exceeded the trillion dollar mark for the first time.  To put this figure in perspective, that market is larger than the market for the entire nation of Spain.  In the article below business historian Robert Weems briefly describes rise of African American purchasing power since the end of slavery and what it means for both black Americans and the entire economy.

Collective African American net income (spending power) now exceeds $1 trillion dollars annually. Because of this economic reality, a wide variety of contemporary companies continually create marketing campaigns to effectively reach this important segment of the U.S. consumer market. Yet, in the not-too-distant past, black consumers were all but ignored in the American marketplace.  This article will provide an overview of this historical (and business) phenomenon.

Summary: 
Sometime in 2013, the African American consumer market exceeded the trillion dollar mark for the first time.  To put this figure in perspective, that market is larger than the market for the entire nation of Spain.  In the article below business historian Robert Weems briefly describes rise of African American purchasing power since the end of slavery and what it means for both black Americans and the entire economy.
Sources: 
Robert E. Weems, Jr., Desegregating the Dollar: African American Consumerism in the Twentieth Century (New York: New York University Press, 1998); Resilient, Receptive and Relevant: The African American Consumer, 2013 Report (New York: The Nielson Company, 2013).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Wichita State University

Huiswoud, Otto (1893-1961)

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

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

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

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

Yaoundé, Cameroon (1888- )

Entry Type: 
Places
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Yaoundé is the capital and second largest city of Cameroon. Georg Zenker, a German scientist, led a group of people who settled Yaoundé in 1888. Yaoundé is located in the Ewondo region between the Nyong and Sanaga rivers in southern Cameroon. In 2012 an estimated 2.4 million people resided in Yaoundé.

Cameroon emerged as a major source of the slave trade in the sixteenth century. The Portuguese, British, French, Dutch, and Americans were heavily active in the New World trade along the coast. The Transatlantic Slave Trade was abolished in the 1800s, but European countries remained active in Africa. On the eve of the Partition of Africa Gustav Nachtigal, a German diplomat, signed a treaty with two Duala chiefs in 1884 that led to the establishment of German Kamerun. In 1909, Yaoundé became the capital of German Kamerun.
Sources: 
Mark W. DeLancey and H. Mbella Mokeba, Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Cameroon (Metuchen, NJ and London: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1990); Eric Young, “Ahidjo, El Hajj Ahmadou”; “Biya, Paul”; “Cameroon”; “Yaoundé, Cameroon” all in  Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience 2nd Edition, editors Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (New York, Oxford University Press, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Trice, Virgil Garnett, Jr. (1926-1997)

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

Virgil Garnett Trice, Jr., a respected chemical engineer and official with the U.S. Department of Energy, was one of only a small number of African Americans who held positions as nuclear scientists in the middle decades of the twentieth century. During a long career in public service, Trice specialized in both the development of nuclear energy and in the management of radioactive waste. He worked for a variety of agencies and also taught college courses part-time.

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana on February 3, 1926, Trice received a BS degree and an MS degree in chemical engineering from Purdue University. He completed an MS degree in industrial engineering in 1970 from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. In later years, while working in Washington, D.C., Trice served as Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Howard University.

Sources: 
Black Contributors to Science and Energy Technology (Washington, D.C.: U. S. Department of Energy Office of Public Affairs, 1979); Vivian O. Sammons, Blacks in Science and Medicine (New York, NY: Hemisphere Publishing Corp., 1990); “Atom Scientists: Ten negro Scientists at Argonne Lab Help in Race to Harness Atomic Materials for Peaceful Uses,” Ebony, September 1949, p. 26.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Hudson, Elbert T. (1920-2017)

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

Police official, business leader, and civil rights advocate Elbert T. Hudson was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, on November 16, 1920. Three years later, his family moved to Los Angeles, California. In 1924, his father, H. Claude Hudson, became president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Sources: 
“Legendary LA Business Leader Elbert Hudson Passes Away at 96,” Los Angeles Sentinel, August 10, 2017; Frank Shyong, “Elbert T. Hudson, 1921-2017, Advocate for black issues,” Los Angeles Times, August 12, 2017; “Elbert T. Hudson was an Advocate, Activist and Businessman,” Los Angeles Sentinel, August 17, 2017.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Los Angeles

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

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

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

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

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

Sources: 

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

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Wooten, Howard A. (1920-1948)

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

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

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

Africans and African Americans in China: A Long History, A Troubled Present, and a Promising Future?

In the article below independent historian Robin Loftin explores the past, present, and possible future relationship between the world’s most populous nation and people of African ancestry.

Africa and China have had contact for more than a thousand years. Some scholars assert that the contacts began as early as 4th century A.D. but convincing evidence is sporadic or lacking. Beginning with the Tang dynasty (618 A.D. to 907 A.D.) documented evidence of contact and trade exists showing a relationship between China and the city-states of east Africa. This relationship has evolved over the centuries and led to a migration of Africans to China to study, trade, and act as diplomats. At least one account indicates that Du Huan was the first Chinese to visit Africa, probably in Nubia, during the 8th century A.D.

Summary: 
In the article below independent historian Robin Loftin explores the past, present, and possible future relationship between the world’s most populous nation and people of African ancestry.<br /> <br /> Africa and China have had contact for more than a thousand years. Some scholars assert that the contacts began as early as 4th century A.D. but convincing evidence is sporadic or lacking. Beginning with the Tang dynasty (618 A.D. to 907 A.D.) documented evidence of contact and trade exists showing a relationship between China and the city-states of east Africa.  This relationship has evolved over the centuries and led to a migration of Africans to China to study, trade, and act as diplomats. At least one account indicates that Du Huan was the first Chinese to visit Africa, probably in Nubia, during the 8th century A.D.
Sources: 
Don Wyatt, The Blacks of Premodern China (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010); Philip Snow, The Star Raft: China’s Encounter with Africa (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988); Adams Bodomo, Africans in China: A Sociocultural Study and its Implications for Africa-China Relations (Amherst, New York: Cambria Press, 2012); Julie Wilensky, “The Magical Kunlun and ‘Devil Slaves’: Chinese Perceptions of Dark-skinned People and Africa before 1500,” Sino-Platonic Papers 122: 1 (July 2002);Marc Gallicchio, The African American Encounter with Japan and China: Black Internationalism in Asia, 1895 – 1945 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2000); Robin D. G. Kelley and Betsy Esch, “Black Like Mao: Red China and the Black Revolution,” Souls (Fall 1999). http://africansinchina.net/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Clardy Craven, Erma (1918-1994)

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

Erma Clardy Craven was an African American leader in the pro-life movement. Craven helped start various “pro-life” organizations such as African-Americans Against Abortion, the National Right to Life Committee, Black Americans for Life, National Democrats for Life, and Americans United for Life. Craven was also a public speaker and was the second African American woman to address a Democratic National Convention.

Sources: 
“More than 20 years ago, she exposed abortion as Black genocide,” Executive Intelligence Review, http://www.larouchepub.com/eiw/public/1994/eirv21n32-19940812/eirv21n32-19940812_074-more_than_20_years_ago_she_expos.pdf;  Sandy Banisky, “Blacks split on issue of abortion Genocide to some is vital choice to others,” The Baltimore Sun, http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1992-06-15/news/1992167070_1_women-have-abortions-genocide-craven; Dave Andrusko, “Pro-Life Pioneers: Erma Clardy Craven,” National Right to Life News Today, http://www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/news/2017/02/black-pro-life-pioneers-erma-clardy-craven/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Monrovia, Liberia (1821- )

Entry Type: 
Places
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Monrovia is the capital of Liberia as well as its largest city. It is located on Bushrod Island and Cape Mesurado along the Mesurado River. A 2008 census showed its population as 970,824.

Monrovia was founded on April 25, 1822 by members of the American Colonization Society (ACS), an organization created to return U.S.-born former slaves to Africa.  ACS representatives first arrived on the Mesurado River in 1821. The original name of Monrovia was Christopolis. In 1824 it was renamed “Monrovia” after James Monroe, who was the American President at the time as well as a supporter of the American Colonization Society. The indigenous populations of the areas surrounding Monrovia felt that the city was built on stolen land and began attacking it as early as 1822. Those attacks continued sporadically until the mid-nineteenth century.

Monrovia’s first settlers were former Southern slaves. Not surprisingly the early architecture of the city was largely influenced by the style of the Southern antebellum buildings.
Sources: 
James Ciment, Another America (New York: Hill & Wong, 2013); Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 1999); “Monrovia,” Encyclopedia Americana, Grolier Online, 2014; Encyclopedia Britannica, Online, 2014; The CIA World Fact Book https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/gv.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Broyard, Anatole Paul (1920-1990)

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

New York Times literary critic, author, and teacher Anatole Broyard was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on July 16, 1920, the son of carpenter Paul A. Broyard and Edna Miller, two light-skinned African Americans. With the nation in the throes of the Great Depression his family moved from the city’s historic French Quarter to a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. It was then that his father decided to pass for white in order to secure a job.

Sources: 
Henry Louis Gates Jr., “White Like Me,” The New Yorker (June 17, 1996); Herbert Mitgang, Broyard’s obituary in The New York Times (October 12, 1990); Farai Chideya, “Daughter Discovers Father’s Black Lineage” at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=14896871.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Harare, Zimbabwe (1890- )

Entry Type: 
Places
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Harare (formerly known as “Fort Salisbury” or “Salisbury”) is the largest city in Zimbabwe with a population of 1.6 million. It serves as Zimbabwe’s seat of government and Zimbabwe’s commercial and industrial center.  The city is located in Northern Zimbabwe in the region of the Shona speaking people.

Cecil Rhodes and the British South African Company (BSAC) founded the settlement as “Fort Salisbury” on September 12, 1890.  The fort began when the BSAC’s Pioneer Column, under the command of Major Frank Johnson, invaded Shona territory and seized land held by the Shona and other indigenous groups. Britain recognized the fort as a colonial municipality in 1897 and in 1923 the settlement became the capital of the Rhodesia Colony which then included both Northern and Southern Rhodesia.  In 1953 Salisbury became the capital of the newly forged Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland which includes the contemporary nations of Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. After the collapse of the Federation in 1963 Salisbury remained the capital of Southern Rhodesia.
Sources: 
“Harare,” New Encyclopedia of Africa, editors John Middleton and Joseph Miller (Detroit: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2008); "Robert Mugabe," Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 71 (Detroit: Gale, 2009); Mary Johnson Osirim, Enterprising Women in Urban Zimbabwe: Gender, Microbusiness, and Globalization (Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2002); Oyekan Owomoyela, Culture and Customs of Zimbabwe (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Joaquin Delta College

Carter, George Sherman (1911-1998)

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

George Sherman Carter, research chemist, was born on May 10, 1911 in Gloucester County, Virginia. Carter, called Sherman, was one of four boys and one girl born to George Peter and Emily Maude Carter.  Not much is known of Carter’s childhood or of his move north but in 1936 Carter began his studies at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania where he majored in biology.  Carter was very active in the school community, joining Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, the track team, the New York Club and Wissenschaft Verein (Science Club).  After graduation in 1940 Carter attended Columbia University’s Teachers College as well as the College of the City of New York.

Carter married Kathleen Francis and the two of them had a daughter, Beverly Kathleen. In 1943 Carter was hired at Columbia University in New York to work in tandem with the University of Chicago studying nuclear fission. This project was set up by the Army Corps of Engineers as part of the famed Manhattan Project that produced the first atomic bomb.  While at Columbia, Carter worked for Isidor Isaac Rabi, who led the Columbia group of scientists.  That group included William and Lawrence Knox.

Sources: 
“George Sherman Carter, noted chemist and Harlem resident, dies at 87,” New York Amsterdam News (Dec. 9, 1998); George S. Schuyler, “Negro Scientists Played Important Role in Development of Atomic Bomb,” The Pittsburg Courier (Aug. 18, 1945); Lincoln University Alumni Magazine (Lincoln University, 1946); www.dailypress.com, Obituaries (Dec. 11-20, 1998)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Garrott, Homer L. (1915-1998)

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

Homer L. Garrott was the first African American California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer. He served for 22 years with the department. While serving as a highway patrolman, he attended law school and later became a Los Angeles municipal judge.

Homer L. Garrott was born in Los Angeles, California in 1915. In the years before World War II, Garrott attended Los Angeles Junior College. He later joined the U.S. Army but was discharged and in 1939 he returned home and found a job as a mail-carrier. He later married Bertha Tabor and they had one child, a daughter named Dianne.

The California Highway Patrol was created by the state legislature in 1929.  For the first 13 years of its existence the patrol had only hired white men. In 1942, Garrott took the civil service test for the CHP. He passed the exam and became its first black patrolman.

Sources: 
“Homer Garrott; Judge, 1st Black CHP Officer,” Los Angeles Times, March 1998, http://articles.latimes.com/1998/mar/20/news/mn-31038; California Association of Highway Patrolmen “Homer Garrott blazed a trail for the CHP,” https://www.thecahp.org/post/homer-garrott-blazed-trail-chp; LeGrand Jordan, The Jordan Motorcycle, http://thegrandfathersofmotocross.com/; “Black Chrome Exhibit Explores African-American Motorcycle Culture,” http://news.aaa-calif.com/news/Black-Chrome-0908.
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Reed, Ishmael (1938 - )

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

Ishmael Reed is an African American poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, songwriter, cartoonist, editor, publisher, lecturer and public media commentator. Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on February 22, 1938, he grew up in Buffalo, New York, after his mother Thelma Coleman moved there during the Great Migration of World War II.  When his mother married Bennie Reed, Ishmael took his stepfather's last name.

Reed attended the University of Buffalo between 1956 and 1960, but did not receive a degree. In 1995, the university, now State University of New York at Buffalo, awarded him an honorary Doctorate in Letters and named him Distinguished Alumni of the Year 2014.

Sources: 

Ishmael Reed Website, http://www.ishmaelreed.org/; “KONCH Magazine,” http://ishmaelreedpub.com/; “Before Columbus Foundation,” http://www.beforecolumbusfoundation.com/;  “PEN Oakland,” https://www.penoakland.com/; “The Art of Poetry No. 100,” The Paris Review, #218, Fall 2016 (36-62).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Canson, Virna Mae (1921-2003)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Civil rights activist Virna Mae Canson was born in Bridgeport, Oklahoma, to William A. and Eula Gross Dobson on June 10, 1921. Both of her parents were schoolteachers. She grew up in Lima, Oklahoma, a mostly African American town where her father served as mayor. Virna Dobson graduated from high school in 1938 and then studied home economics at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.  There she met Clarence Canson who majored in tailoring at the Institute. They married in 1940 and returned to the bridegroom’s home in Sacramento, California.

During World War II, Virna Canson helped some African Americans in Sacramento gain employment at Safeway, Pacific Telephone, and other companies. She also served as a youth advisor to the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Sources: 
Virna M. Canson, “Waging the War on Poverty and Discrimination in California through the NAACP, 1953-1974,” an oral history conducted in 1984 by Sarah Sharp, in Citizen Advocacy Organizations, 1960-1975, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 1987; Wyatt Buchanan, “Virna Canson - NAACP leader for Western U.S.,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 18, 2003; Mary Rourke, “Virna Canson, 81; Activist, Director of NAACP’s 9-State Western Region,” Los Angeles Times, April 21, 2003.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Los Angeles

The Construction of the Alaska Highway, 1942: The Role of Race in the Far North

In the following article independent historians Christine and Dennis McClure describe the role race played in the construction of the Alaska-Canada (ALCAN) Highway during World War II. The highway, constructed in eight months, stretched 1,600 miles from Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Delta Junction, Alaska. It was built by 11,000 soldiers in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  About one third of the soldiers were African Americans organized in three newly formed Negro Regiments, the 93rd Engineer General Service Regiment, 95th Engineer General Service Regiment, and the 97th Engineer General Service Regiment. The 388th Engineer Battalion, formed around a cadre from the 93rd, remained in Yukon in 1943 to build the Canol Road from the Highway to Norman Wells. The account also highlights in particular experiences of these black soldiers which are described further in their new book on the subject, We Fought the Road.

Summary: 
In the following article independent historians Christine and Dennis McClure describe the role race played in the construction of the Alaska-Canada (ALCAN) Highway during World War II. The highway, constructed in eight months, stretched 1,600 miles from Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Delta Junction, Alaska. It was built by 11,000 soldiers in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  About one third of the soldiers were African Americans organized in three newly formed Negro Regiments, the 93rd Engineer General Service Regiment, 95th Engineer General Service Regiment, and the 97th Engineer General Service Regiment. The 388th Engineer Battalion, formed around a cadre from the 93rd, remained in Yukon in 1943 to build the Canol Road from the Highway to Norman Wells. The account also highlights in particular experiences of these black soldiers which are described further in their new book on the subject, We Fought the Road.
Sources: 
Christine and Dennis McClure, We Fought the Road (Seattle: Epicenter Press, 2017); Heath Twichell, The Northwest Epic: The Building of the Alaska Highway (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992); https://www.93regimentalcan.com/.
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Goodwin, Luther Ambrose (1920-1982)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Luther and Joye Goodwin (Holding Their Child)
in 1964 Civil Rights Demonstration
Image Ownership: Public domain
Sources: 
Robert Fikes, Jr., “The Incomparable Mr. Goodwin” (unpublished paper); Luther Goodwin obituary in The San Bernardino County Sun (January 7, 1982); “Angela Davis Kin Jailed in Shooting,” San Diego Union (November 19, 1969).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Black Soldiers and the Ledo Road (1942-1945)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
U.S. and Chinese Soldiers Plant Flags Upon Completion of
the Ledo Road, 1945
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The Ledo Road, which was later renamed The Stillwell Road in honor of Army General Joseph W. Stillwell, the commander of the China-Burma-India Theater in World War II, was built during World War II in response to the Japanese Army’s capture of the Burma Road, the main route for Allied military supplies between India and China. Without a land route the Allies were forced to fly supplies to the Chinese over the Himalayan Mountains. The 271 mile Ledo Road ran from Ledo, India to a junction on the old Burma Road at Shingbwiyang, Burma. The Ledo Road is considered a wartime engineering miracle due to the obstacles that were presented. Six African-American companies, a headquarters, service, and four combat engineer units, did most of the construction. The United States spent around $149 million dollars to build the road.
Sources: 
Dr. Geraldine Seay, "Black WWII Vet Recalls Terrible Time Building 'Ledo Road,'"Defense.gov News Article: Black WWII Vet Recalls Terrible Time Building 'Ledo Road,' Department of Defense, http://archive.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=25745; Burma Road, Encyclopædia Britannica Online, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/85526/Burma-Road; "Burma's Stilwell Road: A Backbreaking WWII Project Is Revived, "Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-road30-2008dec30-story.html#page=1.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Kansas

Evans, Harold Bethuel (1907-1995)

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

Harold Bethuel Evans, research chemist, was born on October 31, 1907 in Brazil, Indiana.  Evans attended Michigan State University for his undergraduate degree beginning in 1927; he majored in applied science and graduated in 1931. In 1932 he received his master’s degree in science from Michigan State, with his thesis on the Benzylation of Thymol, a chemical process. That same year he married and later had one child. After graduating, Evans sought a teaching position at an all-black college, as many educated blacks did at this time. He taught chemistry at Georgia State Normal College (now Georgia College) for the 1935-1936 school year.

Evans held a series of odd jobs between 1936 and 1941 when he moved to Illinois and was hired by the federal government’s Kankakee Ordnance Works (otherwise known as Illinois Ordnance Works).  He stayed there until 1943 working as a chemist on projects designed to support Great Britain until the U.S. officially entered World War II on December 8, 1941. From 1941 to 1943 he worked on U.S. military projects.
In 1943 Evans was hired as an associate chemist at the University of Chicago's Metallurgical Lab, which after World War II evolved into the Argonne National Laboratory. It later relocated west of Chicago.  While with the Met Lab, Evans worked on nuclear fission projects as part of a 400-man team of scientists for the Manhattan Project, which produced the world's first atomic bombs.

Sources: 
Vivian Ovelton Sammons, Blacks in Science and Medicine (New York: Hemisphere Publishing corporation, 1990); American Men of Science (New York: R. R. Bowker, 1965); “Atom Scientists,” Ebony Magazine (Sept. 1949).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Garrott, James H. (1897-1991)

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

James Homer Garrott was an African American modernist architect. He was pivotal to the creation of many historic buildings in the Los Angeles, California area, designing more than 200 buildings throughout the city, including municipal buildings, schools, medical buildings, and over 25 churches between 1928 and 1970.

James Homer Garrott was born in Montgomery, Alabama on June 19, 1897. Garrott’s father James Henry Garrott was builder who contributed to the construction of the buildings at Tuskegee Institute; his mother was named Fannie Walker. In 1903 Garrott’s family moved to Los Angeles, where he attended Los Angeles Polytechnic High School. Six years after graduating from high school, Garrott found a job with Pasadena architect George P. Telling.

Sources: 
James Garrott Residence, James Garrott AIA 1940, The Silver Lake News, Silver Lake, Los Angeles: Architecture, History and Culture, http://thesilverlakenews.com/category/james-h-garrott/; “James H. Garrott,” https://www.revolvy.com/main/index.php?s=James+H.+Garrott; “James Homer Garrott,” Negro Who’s Who in California, https://www.archive.org/stream/negrowhoswhoinca00losa#page/.
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Gardner-Chavis, Ralph (1922- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 

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

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Jeffries, Herbert “Herb” (1913-2014)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Herb Jeffries, baritone jazz balladeer and first black singing cowboy in the movies, was born Umberto Alexander Valentino on September 24, 1913 in Detroit, Michigan, to a mixed-race father and an Irish-born mother.  His mother operated a boarding house and raised her son alone.  His grandfather had a small dairy farm in Port Huron, Michigan, where Jeffries learned to ride a horse.

Jeffries started singing professionally with Erskine Tate’s Vendome Orchestra at the Chicago Savoy Dance Hall and, at the urging of Louis Armstrong, decided to relocate to Chicago, Illinois, where the young teen met and toured with bandleader Earl Hines in 1933.  He made several recordings with the Hines band, including Just to Be in Carolina.

Sources: 
William Yardley, “Herb Jeffries, ‘Bronze Buckaroo’ of Song and Screen, Dies at 100 (or So)” New York Times, May 25, 2014; Dennis McLellan, “Herb Jeffries dies at 100; Hollywood's first black singing cowboy,” Los Angeles Times, May 25, 2014; http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0420370/bio.
Affiliation: 
University of Texas, El Paso

Young, Coleman A. (1918-1997)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Coleman Young arrived in Detroit, Michigan with his family when he was five.  The Colemans settled in the working class neighborhood of Black Bottom (East Detroit), where his father operated a dry cleaning business and his mother was a schoolteacher.  Early in his life Coleman suffered various forms of racial discrimination from denial of scholarships to a racially motivated firing at an automobile plant.
Sources: 
Wilbur C. Rich, Coleman Young and Detroit Politics: From Social Activist to Power Broker (Detroit: Wayne State University, 1998); The Coleman Young Foundation, http://www.cayf.org/; A Life Remembered, http://drnissani.net/MNISSANI/elephant/young.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Montgomery College (Maryland)

Powell, Barbara Rose Johns (1935-1991)

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

Barbara Rose Johns Powell was an American civil rights leader.  She is best known as the student who, at the age of sixteen, led a student strike at Robert Russa Moton High School (now Robert Russa Moton Museum) in Farmville, Prince Edward County, Virginia on April 21, 1951. The strike led the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to file a lawsuit, Davis v. Prince Edward County, which would become one of the five cases that led to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.

Sources: 
“Barbara Rose Johns Powell,” Biography, https://www.biography.com/people/barbara-johns-206527; “Barbara Rose Johns Powell,” All About Barbara Rose Johns, http://www.barbararosejohns.com/brief_bio.html; “Barbara Rose Johns Powell,” Public Broadcasting  Service, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/stories_people_johns.html; “Barbara Rose Johns Powell,” Robert Russa  Moton Museum, http://www.motonmuseum.org/biography-barbara-rose-johns-powell/; “Barbara Rose Johns,” Digital SNCC Gateway, https://snccdigital.org/events/barbara-johns-leads-prince-edward-county-student-walkout/; Teri Kanefield, The Girl from the Tar Paper School: Barbara Rose Johns and the Advent of the Civil Rights Movement (New  York: Harry N. Adams, 2014).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Niamey, Niger (1902- )

Entry Type: 
Places
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Niamey is the largest city and capital of the West African nation of Niger.  Niamey is located in the southwestern part of the country along the left bank of the Niger River.  Niger is the largest nation within West Africa in terms of physical size, and Niamey is the administrative, economic, and cultural center of the country.

Historians debate the early history of Niamey.  Some argue it was originally a Songhai fishing village named after the local Niami tree, while others maintain it was founded by a Djerma chief named Kouri Mali.  Yet, most agree that the site was inhabited by small numbers of Hausa, Djerma-Songhai, and Wazi peoples before European colonization.

In the late 1890s the French began to colonize Niger.  In 1902, the French built a military fort in Niamey, a small fishing village at the time.  Then, in 1926, the French moved their colonial capital from Zinder to Niamey to facilitate trade along the Niger River with other French territories in West Africa.  
Sources: 
Carina E. Ray, “Niamey, Niger,” Paul Tiyambe Zeleza and Dickson Eyoh, eds., Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century African History (London: Routledge, 2003);  Elizabeth Heath, “Niamey, Niger,” Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., eds., Encyclopedia of Africa (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010);  “Niamey,” R. Hunt Davis, Jr., ed., Encyclopedia of African History and Culture, Volume 5: Independent Africa (1960 to Present) (New York:  Facts on File, Inc., 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Washington State University

Brown, Willa B. (1906-1992)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Willa Beatrice Brown, one of a small group of pre-World War II black women aviators, was born in Glasgow, Kentucky on January 22, 1906.  The daughter of Reverend and Mrs. Erice B. Brown, she graduated from Wiley High School in Terra Haute, Indiana.  In 1927, Brown earned a Bachelor’s degree from Indiana State Teachers College (now Indiana State University) and ten years later a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Northwestern University.  

After briefly teaching at Roosevelt High School in Gary, Indiana, she moved to Chicago, Illinois to become a social worker.  It was there, however, that she decided to learn how to fly.  In 1934 Brown began her flight instruction under the direction of John Robinson and Cornelius Coffey.  She also studied at the Curtiss Wright Aeronautical University and in 1935 earned a Masters Mechanic Certificate.  

Sources: 
Edmond Davis, Pioneering African-American Aviators featuring the Tuskegee Airmen of Arkansas (Little Rock: Aviate Through Knowledge Productions, LLC, 2012); George L. Washington, The History of Military and Civilian Pilot Training of Negroes at Tuskegee, Alabama, 1939-1945 (Washington, D.C., George L. Washington, Publisher, 1972);  Samuel L. Broadnax, Blue Skies, Black Wings: African American Pioneers of Aviation (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008);
http://avstop.com/history/blackwomenpilot/willabrown.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Arkansas Baptist College, Little Rock

Mulzac, Hugh (1886-1971)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Sources: 
Robert A. Hill, Emory J. Tolbert, and Deborah Forczek, The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers, Vol. III, Vol. IV (University of California Press 1984); http://www.marad.dot.gov/education_landing_page/k_12/k_12_salute/k12_hugh_mulzak/Hugh_Mulzac_detail_page.htm; http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/garvey/index.html; http://www.npg.si.edu/exh/harmon/mulzharm.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Kelly, Samuel Eugene (1926-2009)

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

369th Infantry Regiment “Harlem Hellfighters”

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
First organized in 1916 as the 15th New York National Guard Infantry Regiment and manned by black enlisted soldiers with both black and white officers, the U.S. Army’s 369th Infantry Regiment, popularly known as the “Harlem Hellfighters,” was the best known African American unit of World War I.  Federalized in 1917, it prepared for service in Europe and arrived in Brest, France in December.  The next month, the regiment became part of the 93rd Division (Provisional) and continued its training, now under French instructors.  In March, the regiment finally received its Federal designation and was reorganized and reequipped according to the French model.  That summer, the 369th was integrated into the French 161st Division and began combat operations.
Sources: 
American Battle Monuments Commission, 93d Division: Summary of Operations in the World WarThe Employment of Negro Troops (Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, 1966); Bernard C. Nalty, Strength for the Fight: A History of Black Americans in the Military (New York, New York: The Free Press, 1986); Emmett J. Scott, Scott’s Official History of the American Negro in the World War (Chicago, Illinois: R.L. Phillips Publishing Company, 1919). 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Woodson, Waverly Bernard, Jr. (1922-2005)

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

World War II hero Waverly B. “Woody” Woodson was born August 3, 1922 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Waverly B. Watson Sr., a postal carrier. The historical record reveals nothing about his mother. A pre-med student at Lincoln University when World War II started, Waverly left during his sophomore year to enlist in the U.S. Army on December 15, 1942.

Despite completing Officer Candidate School in Anti-Aircraft Artillery (AAA), he was informed there were no positions for blacks as officers in AAA. He was instead steered into medic training and was assigned to the racially segregated 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, a black unit that specialized in strategically positioning balloons in battle areas to destroy enemy aircraft.

Sources: 
Linda Hervieux, Forgotten: The Untold Story of D-Day’s Black Heroes, at Home and at War (Harper Collins, 2015); “Woodson, Waverly – Enclosed Docs sent to Army” at http://stateside.digitalnewsroom.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Woodson-Waverly-Enclosed-Docs-Sent-to-Army-11.5.15.-No-PR.pdf; John Chambers, “Lincoln University Honors a World War II Hero” at http://www.chestercounty.com/2015/03/13/64967/lincoln-university-honors-a-world-war-ii-hero.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

McKaine, Osceola Enoch (1892-1955)

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

Ruth, William Chester (1882-1971)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
William Chester Ruth, 1950
Image Courtesy of Anita Wills

William Chester Ruth was an African American inventor, business owner, and community leader in Chester County, Pennsylvania.  Ruth was the son of Samuel and Maria Louisa Pinn-Ruth.  The 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment liberated Samuel, a former slave, when it occupied Savannah, Georgia in 1865 while Maria Louisa was born free in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  The couple was married in 1872 in Chester County, Pennsylvania.  Ruth was one of twelve children, born on the family farm on July 19, 1882.

As a child, Ruth had an inquisitive nature, which led him to invent numerous pieces of farm equipment and machinery.  Although he was not well educated, he learned farming and blacksmithing from his father.  Ruth married Gertrude Miller on June 6, 1906, and they had one son, Joseph.  In 1917, the couple moved to Gap, Pennsylvania where six years later he opened Ruth’s Ironworks Shop, instantly becoming the only African American in the region to have his own manufacturing business.  Ruth designed and patented numerous agricultural devices from 1924 to 1950.   

Ruth’s first patented invention was the Combination Baler Feeder in 1924.  He sold over 5,000 Baler-Feeder machines across the U.S. Around the same time Ruth also invented the farm elevator used to transport hay to silos and in the American commercially harvested mushroom industry.  

Sources: 
“Ruth Claims Invention of Secret Weapon,” Ebony Magazine, October 1950; Joan M. Lorenz, A History of Salisbury Township (Morgantown, West Virginia: Masthof Press, 2002); Anita L. Wills, Pieces of the Quilt: The Mosaic of an African American Family (Charleston, South Carolina: BookSurge, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Fauset, Crystal Bird (1894–1965)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Crystal Bird Fauset with Eleanor Roosevelt
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Eric Ledell Smith, "Crystal Bird Fauset Raises Her Voice for Human Rights," Pennsylvania Heritage 13: 1 (Winter 1997)34-39; Nancy Joan Weiss, Farewell to the Party of Lincoln: Black Politics in the Age of FDR (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983); American Friends Service Committee website, afsc.org (Philip Clark); Explorepahistory.com (2009, WITF).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sussex (England)

Joseph, Emmanuel Francis (1900–1979)

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

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

Belafonte, Harry (1927- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Courtesy of ©Bettmann/CORBIS

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

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

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

Monnerville, Gaston (1897–1991)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Born in Cayenne, French Guiana to parents Marc Saint-Yves Monnerville and Marie-Françoise Orville, Gaston Monnerville was the grandson of a slave. His family was from Case-Pilote in Martinique, but moved to French Guiana where two sons were born: Pierre and Gaston.

Gaston was a brilliant student at Cayenne High School, and with a fellowship moved to Lycée Pierre-de-Fermat in Toulouse, France in 1912. He resented the cold French winters but his record was excellent especially in Philosophy and Mathematics.  He won numerous awards before graduating in 1915.  He then enrolled in Toulouse University, following a double academic program: literature and law. In 1921 he completed his Law thesis cum laude. His brother Pierre graduated in medical studies.
Sources: 
Rodolphe Alexandre, Gaston Monnerville et la Guyane (Paris: Ibis Rouge Editions, 1999); Jean-Paul Brunet, Gaston Monnerville, le Républicain qui défia de Gaulle (Paris: Albin Michel, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Emeritus Professor, University of Paris

Warfield, William (1920-2002)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gideon, Russell S. (1904-1985)

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

Miller, Doris [“Dorie”] (1919-1943)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership, Public Domain
World War II war hero Doris “Dorie” Miller was born in Waco, Texas on October 12, 1919 to Conery and Henrietta Miller who were farmers just outside the city.  Miller grew to 6 feet 3 inches, weighed over 200 pounds, and played football at Waco’s A.J. Moore Academy.  He dropped out of school at the age of 17 and enlisted in the US Navy in 1939 at the age of 20.  He was made a mess attendant, one the few positions available to African Americans at the time.  Miller was eventually elevated to Cook, Third Class and assigned to the USS West Virginia stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Sources: 
Darlene Clark Hine, William C. Clark and Stanley Harrold, The African American Odyssey, Combined Volume  (New York: Prentice Hall, 2003); Matthew C. Whitaker, Peace Be Still: Modern Black America from World War II to Barack Obama (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2014).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Arizona State University

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

Élizé, Raphaël (1891-1945)

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

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

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

Woodard, Isaac (1919-1992)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Isaac Woodard, Jr. Escorted by Joe Louis
and Unidentified Man, 1946
Image Ownership: Public Domain
In 1946, U.S. Army Sergeant Isaac Woodard challenged a Greyhound Bus driver while traveling from Georgia to North Carolina after being discharged from service in World War II.  Police officers who met him at the next stop brutally attacked him and left him permanently blinded. The attack on Woodard and similar stories of mistreatment of other black servicemen returning from the war let to new national pressures on racial segregation and discrimination and to the integration of the Armed Services in 1948.
Sources: 
“The Isaac Woodard Case,” The Crisis 53 (September 1946);  Lynda G. Dodd, “Presidential Leadership and Civil Rights Lawyering in the Era Before Brown,” Indiana Law Journal 85 (Fall 2010): John Egerton, Speak Now Against the Day: The Generation Before the Civil Rights Movement in the South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994);  Andrew H. Myers, “Resonant Ripples in a Global Pond:  The Blinding of Isaac Woodard,” available at:  http://faculty.uscupstate.edu/amyers/conference.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Georgia Southwestern State University

National Council of Negro Women (1935- )

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Dorothy D. Height, Open Wide the Freedom Gates: A Memoir (New York: Public Affairs Press, 2003); Tracey A. Fitzgerald, The National Council of Negro Women and the Feminist Movement, 1935-1975 (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1985); Nina Mjagkij, Organizing Black America: An Encyclopedia of African American Associations (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 2001); http://ncnw.org/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

McHenry, Gordon Alexander (1921-2001)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Courtesy of Black Heritage
Society of Washington" 
In 1943 Gordon Alexander McHenry became the first African American engineer hired by the Boeing Company in Seattle, Washington.  He was later promoted to Boeing Executive management (1955).  Prior to 1943 Boeing labor unions had hindered the hiring of African American engineers.

During his forty-year career with Boeing, McHenry advanced from a supervisor to a member of several engineering management teams.  McHenry was part of the Boeing workforce that viewed itself as focused on preserving the national security and defense of the United States.  As part of that team he contributed his engineering and managerial talents to the development of the B-17, B-29, B-47 and B-52 bombers; the C-97/377 Stratocruiser transport; the BOMARC interceptor missile, as well as the Minuteman and MX Peacekeeping Missile Systems.
Sources: 
Carol M. Ostrom, “Gordon McHenry, Boeing Executive,” Seattle Times May 24, 2001 (Obituary); http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20010524&slug=mchenryobit24m; Mildred McHenry, “Gordon McHenry,” Telephone Interview, March 6, 2015.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle Central College

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

Cleveland’s Hough Riots of 1966

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
Front Page of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 23, 1966
Image Ownership: Public domain

Cleveland’s Hough Riots of 1966 was the first major racial uprising of the decade in an Ohio city but preceded by two years the much more extensive uprising there in the aftermath of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in April 1968.  It was, however, a continuation of a series of national confrontations that began sweeping across the nation in 1964 and to that date, the longest riot in the 1960s.

Between 1950 and 1965 the Hough neighborhood in eastern Cleveland, which had been predominantly white and middle class, transitioned into an overwhelmingly black area. This rapid transition, which negatively impacted property values and dramatically increased the neighborhood’s population, came when the entire city experienced post-World War II economic decline. Those reasons combined to generate growing racial tensions in that area and across the city.

Sources: 
Brian Albrecht, “Hough riot, 50 years ago, couldn't destroy a neighborhood,” Cleveland.com (2016), http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2016/07/hough_riot_50_years_ago_couldn.html; Olivia Lapeyrolerie, "’No Water for Niggers’: The Hough Riots and the Historiography of the Civil Rights Movement" (2015), Cleveland Memory 28; http://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/clevmembks/28/; Ohio History Central, “Cleveland Civil Disorders (1966-1968),” Ohio History Connection, http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Cleveland_Civil_Disorders_(1966_-_1968); The [Cleveland] News-Herald, “PHOTOS: 1966 Hough riots in Cleveland,” July 19, 2017, http://media.news-herald.com/2017/07/19/photos-1966-hough-riots-on-cleveland/#15.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Salvador, Henri (1917-2008)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Henri Salvador with Ray Charles
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Henri Salvador was a popular 20th Century French entertainer, pop singer, and humorist.  His most popular and emblematic song was “Le lion est mort ce soir” or “Syracuse.” Salvador was born in Cayenne (French Guiana) on July 18, 1917 to parents from Guadeloupe.  His father, Clovis, was a civil servant and his mother, Antonine Paterne, was a Caribbean Indian.

In 1929 the family moved to France.  Henri quit school at 15 over the objections of his father and discovered circus life, becoming a street clown.  His aunt, Leona Gabriel, herself a professional singer, however, taught him to play music and introduced him to the violin, trumpet, drums, and guitar.
Sources: 
Henri Salvador, Attention ma vie (Paris: Éditions Jean-Claude Lattès, 1994); Olivier Miquel,  Henri Salvador: le rire du destin (Paris: Éd. du Moment, 2007); Serge Le Vaillant, Henri Salvador. L'élégance du funambule (Paris: Textuel, 2009).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Emeritus Professor, University of Paris

Bunche, Ralph J. (ca. 1903-1971)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

Ralph Johnson Bunche, American political scientist, renowned scholar, award winner, and diplomat, was one of the most prominent African Americans of his era.  Bunche was born on August 7, 1903 or 1904 (there is some disagreement about the year of his birth) in Detroit, Michigan. His father Fred was a barber who owned a racially segregated barbershop that catered solely to white customers. His mother, whose maiden name was Olive Agnes Johnson, was an amateur musician.

Young Ralph spent his early years in Michigan. However, due to the relatively poor physical constitution of his mother and grandmother’s uncle, Charlie Johnson, the family settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico when he was ten years old. The family believed the dry climate of the region would be more conducive to his parents’ health. Yet both his mother and uncle died when Ralph turned twelve. His mother died of tuberculosis in 1917. His uncle committed suicide the same year. The circumstances surrounding his father are less fully known. The common narrative is that he left the family, remarried, and never returned.

Sources: 
Benjamin Rivlin, Ralph Bunche: The Man and His Times (New York: Holmes & Meyer, 1990); Brian Urquhart, Ralph Bunche: An American Life (New York: W.W. Norton, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Pruitt-Igoe Housing Project, St. Louis, Missouri (1956–1976)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History

Demolition of Pruitt-Igoe Housing Project

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Sources: 
John F. Bauman, Roger Biles, & Kristin M. Szylvian, From Tenements to the Taylor Homes, (University Park, Pa: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000); Lee Rainwater, Behind Ghetto Walls: Black Families in a Federal Slum (Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company, 1970); Colin Gordon, Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008); Kathrine G. Bristol, "The Pruitt-Igoe Myth", Journal of Architectural Education, 44;3 (Spring 1991);Clarence Lang, "Between Civil Rights and Black Power in the Gateway City:
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Holmes, Emory Hestus (1924-1995)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
“Won’t Bow to Bigots,” Jet Article on Emory Holmes, Jan. 7, 1960 
Dr. Emory Hestus Holmes, World War II veteran, social scientist, professor, and California civil rights leader, was born on November 17, 1924 in Birmingham, Alabama to David H. and Dora Catherine Holmes. He attended segregated schools in Alabama and, at the age of 17, joined the U.S. Army. During World War II he helped construct the Burma Road from India across northern Burma into China and was wounded in combat.  Decorated for his wartime valor, Holmes returned to the United States where he pursued his undergraduate and graduate education at Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee.
Sources: 
Frank Barnes, “Statement of Frank Barnes, President, NAACP, Southern California Area Conference,” Hearings Before the United States Commission on Civil Rights (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1960); David E.  Brady, “Emory Hestus Holmes; Civil Rights Activist,” Los Angeles Times, April 14, 1995; US Bureau of the Census, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1940): T627, 4,643 rolls, accessed online through http://ancestrylibrary.com on March 25, 2015.
Affiliation: 
University of California Center for Racial Studies

Ellison, Ralph (1913-1994)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born on March 1, 1913 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Ralph Waldo Ellison entered the world with a name that almost presumed for him a literary career. But his road to and in literature would be torturous. Many of the initial comforts enjoyed by Ellison vanished when his father died in 1916. His mother worked long and hard to insure that Ralph Ellison had an education, but the family existed in precarious economic circumstances. When an opportunity arose for Ralph to escape from home, he jumped at it, enrolling in 1933 as a music student at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. While Ellison learned much about music at the school, he also spent an immense amount of time and energy devouring modern literature at the school library.
Sources: 
Arnold Rampersad, Ralph Ellison: A Biography (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007); George Cotkin, Existential America (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003); Kenneth W. Warren, So Black and So Blue: Ralph Ellison and the Occasion of Criticism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003); Jerry Gafio Watts, Heroism and the Black Intellectual: Ralph Ellison, Politics, and Afro-American Intellectual Life (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Cal Poly

Greenberg, Jack (1924-2016)

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

Jack Greenberg was a prominent civil rights lawyer, directing the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) for 23 years and arguing crucial cases at the U.S. Supreme Court. He was born in New York City, New York on December 22, 1924 to Jewish immigrant parents Max and Bertha Greenberg. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Navy and participated in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. While serving, he was distressed by the racial inequality that he saw in Navy ranks. In 1945, he graduated from Columbia University.

Sources: 
Richard Severo and William McDonald, “Jack Greenberg, a Courthouse Pillar of the Civil Rights Movement, Dies at 91,” New York Times Oct. 12, 2016; Gary Gately, “Jack Greenberg, civil rights lawyer who helped argue Brown v. Board, dies at 91,” Washington Post, Oct. 12, 2016.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Beaver, Fitzgerald Redd (Fitz) (1922–1991)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership:Public Domain"
Fitzgerald Redd Beaver was a mid-and late 20th century media entrepreneur in the Pacific Northwest. He was the founder and publisher of The Facts, one of the two major black newspapers in Seattle, Washington since the 1960s. Building on a long tradition of African American journalism and newspaper ownership dating back to the 1890s in Seattle, he became through his newspaper an influential voice in the city and the region.
Sources: 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Cabrini Green Housing Project, Chicago (1942 -2009)

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

The Cabrini-Green Housing Project was a Chicago (Illinois) Housing Authority (CHA) managed housing project located on the city’s Near North Side neighborhood.  The project was authorized by the Housing Act of 1937 which called for the construction of public housing as part of the effort to eliminate slums in major U.S. cities.  The Frances Cabrini Homes, completed in 1942, was the first major public housing project in Chicago and the first section of what would eventually be called the Cabrini-Green Project.   Its 586 units provided residence for soldiers temporarily stationed in Chicago during World War II and replacement housing for those who had formerly lived in the “Little Hell” neighborhood, the community demolished to allow construction of this project.   

Sources: 
D. Bradford Hunt, Blueprints for Disaster: The Unraveling of Chicago Public Housing (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2009); Brian J. Miller, “The Struggle Over Redevelopment at Cabrini Green, 1989-2004,” Journal of Urban History, 34:6 (Fall 2008); Arnold R. Hirsch, Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago, 1940-1960 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Calhoun, William Henry (1890–1967)

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

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

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

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

Tuskegee Airmen

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Tuskegee Airmen at Army Air Base, Ramitelli,
Italy, March, 1945 (U.S. Army Archives)

Over the past seven decades the exploits of the Tuskegee Airmen have been celebrated, occasionally mythologized, and used as a recent reminder of the patriotism and heroism of African Americans in times of national crisis.  Mounting pressure by black leaders such as union activist A Philip Randolph, NAACP chief executive Walter F. White, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and the black press to increase their presence in all branches of military service eventually persuaded a reluctant War Department to allow for the training of blacks as fighter pilots (initially no training for bomber crews) at an isolated field at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, thus preempting contact with white trainees. 

Sources: 
Von Hardesty, Black Wings: Courageous Stories of African Americans in Aviation and Space History (New York: HarperCollins, 2008);Lawrence P. Scott, Double V: The Civil Rights Struggle of the Tuskegee Airmen (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1994); Charles W. Dryden, A-Train: Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman (Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 1997); http://tuskegeeairmen.org/pages/2/index.htm
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Amos, Harold (1918-2003)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Harold Amos in his Laboratory ca. 1966
Image Ownership: Public domain

SPONSORED ENTRY: Pat Sadate-Ngatchou

The first African American to chair a department of the Harvard Medical School, Dr. Harold Amos was an esteemed teacher, researcher, and mentor at the institution for more than four decades. Amos dedicated much of his career to supporting the advancement of historically underrepresented individuals and communities within the fields of medicine and science. He also pursued an impressive research agenda, gaining international recognition for his work on bacterial metabolism, nutrition, animal cell culture, virology, and the effects of hormones.

Sources: 
Roberto Kolter, “Harold Amos: Faculty of Medicine, Memorial Minute,” Harvard Gazette, https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2007/02/harold-amos/; Eric Nagourney, "Harold Amos, 84, Pacesetter Among Blacks in Academia." New York Times, March 6, 2003; Ray Spangenburg, Diane Moser, and Douglas Long, African Americans in Science, Math, and Invention (Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 1995), 2-3.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Sabac el Cher, Gustav Albrecht (1868-1934)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Afro-German band conductor and restaurateur Gustav Albrecht Sabac el Cher, born March 10, 1868 in a palace in Berlin, was the son of August Sabac el Cher (1836?-1885), a Sudanese man who as an orphaned boy in Egypt was presented as a gift to Prussian Prince Friedrich Heinrich Albrecht and accompanied him back to Germany to serve the prince as valet, butler, and decorated soldier. Gustav’s mother, Anna Maria Jung, was the daughter of a prosperous textile merchant.  

Proficient with the violin since childhood, at age 17 Gustav entered military service as a musician and eventually received training at the Royal Academy of Music in Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin. During his tenure as Band Meister of the First Prussian Regiment of Grenadiers in Konigsberg he became somewhat of a celebrity known for his arrangement of military marches and Mozart overtures. Leaving the German Army in 1909, Gustav found freelance work directing orchestras in several cities and in the early 1920s was a pioneering radio orchestra conductor. He later owned a garden restaurant popular with tourists in Königs Wusterhausen in the state of Brandenburg.  

Sources: 
Gorch Pieken and Cornelia Kruse, Preussisches Liebesglu?ck: Eine Deutsche Familie aus Afrika (Berlin: List Taschenbuch Verlag, 2007; http://www.articlesbase.com/literature--articles/prussian-blind-love-445517.html; “Saba-el-Cher,” http://www.realhistoryww.com/world_history/ancient/Misc/Art/Saba_el_Cher.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Wright, Nathan Jr. (1923-2005)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Black Power advocate Nathan Wright, Jr. was born on August 5, 1923 in Shreveport, Louisiana. He and his brother and sisters grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. Wright attended St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1941 and 1942 and then transferred to Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1943 and 1944. He served in the U.S. Army Medical Administrative Corps during World War II.
Sources: 
“Negro Spokesman. Nathan Wright Jr.,” New York Times, July 22, 1967;
Chuck Stone, “The National Conference on Black Power,” in The Black Power Revolt: A Collection of Essays, ed. Floyd B. Barbour (Boston: Porter Sergeant, 1968); Jon Thurber, “Nathan Wright Jr., 81: Minister Was Figure in 1960s Black Power Debate,” Los Angeles Times, March 4, 2005; Margaret Alic, “Gale Contemporary Black Biography: Nathan Wright, Jr.,” Contemporary Authors Online, October 26, 2005.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
California State University, Los Angeles

Bullard, Eugene James ["Jacques"] (1895-1961)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of
National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
Eugene James (Jacques) Bullard, the first African American combat aviator, was known as the “black swallow of death” for his courage during missions. He led a colorful life, much of it in Europe.

Bullard was born in Columbus, Georgia, on October 9, 1895, the seventh child of Josephine Thomas and William O. Bullard. Eugene received a minimal education but learned to read, a key to his later successes. After witnessing the near-lynching of his own father and other racial violence, Bullard ran away from home in 1906. In Atlanta, he joined a group of gypsies and traveled with them, tending and learning to race their horses.

In 1912 as a teen, Bullard stowed away on German merchant ship bound for Aberdeen, Scotland. For the next two years, he performed in a vaudeville troupe and supported himself as a prizefighter in Great Britain and elsewhere in Europe. He first appeared in Paris, his long-time destination, at a boxing match in November 1913.
Sources: 
Craig Lloyd. “Eugene Bullard (1895-1961).” New Georgia Encyclopedia. 01 October 2014. Web. 30. August 2015. Craig Lloyd, Eugene Bullard: Black Expatriate in Jazz-age Paris (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2000); P.J. Carisella, James W. Ryan, and Edward W. Brooke, The Black Swallow of Death: The Incredible Story of Eugene Jacques Bullard, The World's First Black Combat Aviator (Boston: Marlborough House, 1972); William A. Shack, Harlem in Montmartre: A Paris Jazz Story Between the Great Wars (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001); “Eugene Bullard," Contemporary Black Biography. Vol. 12 (Detroit: Gale, 1999).
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

Till, Emmett Louis (1941-1955)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Emmett Till was a fourteen year-old African American boy who was tortured and killed in Money, Mississippi in 1955 after allegedly insulting a white woman.  Born in Chicago, Illinois, Till lived with his mother, Mamie Till. His father, Louis Till, died while serving in the U.S. Army in Italy in 1945. In the summer of 1955, Till went to visit with his 64-year-old great-uncle Mose Wright and family. Before leaving home, Till’s mother instructed him to follow Southern customs and mind his manners, but having grown up in a Northern city like Chicago, Till was unaware of the legacy of lynching and the rigid social caste system in the South. 
Sources: 

“The Murder of Emmett Till,” The American Experience, pbs.org; Ruth Feldstein, “I Wanted the Whole World to See’: Race, Gender, and Constructions of Motherhood in the Death of Emmett Till” in Not June Cleaver: Women and Gender in Postwar America, 1945-1960, Joanne Jay Meyerowitz, ed., (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994); Mamie Till Bradley, “Speech given at Bethel A.M.E. Church, Baltimore, Maryland, Oct. 29, 1955,” in Women and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965, eds., Davis W. Houck and David E. Dixon, (Oxford: University Press of Mississippi, 2009).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

95th Engineer Regiment

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

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

The African American-manned 95th Engineer Battalion (General Service) was formed in April 1941 at Fort Belvoir, Virginia as part of the U.S. Army buildup preceding World War II.  Unlike many construction units, the 95th received considerable training, participating in the Carolina Maneuvers and receiving practical experience at Camp AP Hill, Virginia, and Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  Expanded to regimental size following Pearl Harbor, it was sent to Canada in June 1942 to assist in building the Alaska-Canada (Alcan) Highway.

Sources: 
Ulysses Lee, The Employment of Negro Troops (Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, 1966); Lael Morgan, “Writing Minorities out of History: Black Builders of the Alcan Highway,” Alaska History, 7:2 (Fall, 1992); Heath Twichell, Northwest Epic: the Building of the Alaska Highway (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992).

 

Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Jacovacci, Leone (1902–1983)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Afro-Italian boxing champion Leone Jacovacci (a.k.a. John Douglas Walker and Jack Walker) was born in 1902 in the village of Pombo in the Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of the Congo), the son of Umberto Jacovacci, a contracted Italian agronomist, and Zibu Mabeta, a local woman. His father took him to Italy to be raised by grandparents in Viterbo while he remained in Africa and had two more children with Zibu. Growing up with brown skin among Italian peasants was often challenging, and, as a restless sixteen-year-old, Leone Jacovacci, posing as an Indian from Calcutta, hopped aboard a British merchant ship docked in Naples to work as cabin boy.
Sources: 
Mauro Valeri, Nero di Roma: storia di Leone Jacovacci: l'invincibile mulatto italico. (Rome: Palombi, 2008); https://sportallarovescia.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/in-memoria-di-leone-jacovacci/; http://insorgenze.net/2009/07/04/leone-jacovacci-il-nero-che-prese-a-pugni-il-fascismo/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Brown, Dorothy Lavinia (1919-2004)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Dr. Dorothy Lavinia Brown was a medical pioneer, educator, and community leader.  In 1948-1949 Brown became the first African American female appointed to a general surgery residency in the de jure racially segregated South.  In 1956 Brown became the first unmarried woman in Tennessee authorized to be an adoptive parent, and in 1966 she became the first black woman representative to the state legislature in Tennessee.

Brown was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on January 7, 1919. Within weeks after she was born, Brown’s unmarried mother Edna Brown moved to upstate New York and placed her five-month-old baby daughter in the predominantly white Troy Orphan Asylum (later renamed Vanderhyden Hall) in Troy, New York. Brown was a demonstrably bright child, and became interested in medicine after she had a tonsillectomy at age five.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Gibbs, Jr., George W. (1916-2000)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
George Gibbs, Jr. in the Antarctic, 1941
Image Courtesy of Leilani Henry (Gibbs)

George W. Gibbs, Jr. was the first person of African descent to set foot on Antarctica (the South Pole).  He was also a civil rights leader and World War II Navy gunner.

Gibbs was born in Jacksonville, Florida on November 7, 1916. He moved to Brooklyn, New York where he enrolled in Brooklyn Technical School and later received his GED. He also served in the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

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/2001/11/phoenix-rising/10262/.
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Weaver, Robert Clifton (1907-1997)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

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

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

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

Washington, Jr., James (1909-2000)

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

 

"Image Ownership: Public Domain"

The painter and sculptor James Washington, Jr. was a leading member of the Northwest School, a group of artists, writers, and sculptors who became internationally prominent in the mid-20th Century. Washington was born and raised in Gloster, Mississippi, one of six children of Baptist minister James Washington and his wife, Lizzie.  While Washington was a child, his father fled Mississippi due to threats of violence and the two never met again. 

Washington's mother encouraged his talents. He began to draw around the age of 12, becoming an expert pavement chalk-artist, making random marks by other children into figures and faces. In 1938 at the age of 29 he became involved with the Federal Works Progress Administration when he was employed as an assistant art instructor at the Baptist Academy in Vicksburg, Mississippi.  Excluded from shows in Mississippi that featured white artists, he organized the first WPA-sponsored exhibition for black artists in the state. 

Sources: 
HistoryLink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "Washington, James Jr.: Art as Holy Land" (by Deloris Tarzan Ament), http://www.historylink.org/essays/output.cfm?file_id=5328; Paul Karlstrom, The Spirit in the Stone: The Visionary Art of James W. Washington, Jr. (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1989).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
HistoryLink.org

Marincola, Giorgio (1923–1945)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Anti-fascist Afro-Italian partisan Giorgio Marincola lived a brief but heroic life. Born September 23, 1923, in the south central coastal town of Mahaday in what was then called Italian Somaliland, he was the son of Italian military officer Joseph Marincola and a Somali woman, Aschiro Hassan. His father, unlike most white colonizers who had children by native women, insured that his son and a younger daughter, Isabella, would be Italian citizens and packed them off the seaport town of Pizzo Calabro, Italy, to be raised by relatives.
Sources: 
“Storia Giorgio Marincola,” at http://www.razzapartigiana.it/?page_id=8; “Giorgio Marincola, First Somali Mulatto,” at  http://www.somalinet.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=327444; Michele Robecchi, “Giorgio Marincola:Razza Partigiana di Dacia Valent,” at  http://digilander.libero.it/anpimuggio/ANPI/Storia/Voci/1945/5/4_Giorgio_Marincola.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Knox, Clinton E. (1908–1980)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownershp: Public Domain"
Clinton Everett Knox was the first African American secretary to the United States Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and former United States Ambassador to the countries of Dahomey (Benin) and Haiti.

Clinton E. Knox was born May 5, 1908, in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He was the youngest of five children born to Estella Briggs Knox and William J. Knox Sr.  Knox’s older brother, William J. Knox, Jr., was one of the scientists who helped develop the atomic bomb during World War II.  His other older brother, Dr. Lawrence Howland Knox, was a noted chemist.

Sources: 
The Clinton Knox Family Papers, 1909-1989, Amistad Research Center, New Orleans, Louisiana); Wade Baskin and Richard N. Runes, Dictionary of Black Culture (New York: Philosophical Library, 1973); Who’s Who Among Black Americans (Northbrook, Illinois: Gale Research, Inc., 1977); U.S. State Department, Office of the Historian, http://history.state.gov/departmenthistory/people/knox-clinton-everett.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

William "Willie the Pro" Thrower (1930-2002)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
William ‘Willie the Pro” Thrower was the first African American to play as a quarterback in the National Football League (NFL). Thrower was born on March 22, 1930, in New Kensington, Pennsylvania. Although his statistics as a college and high school football player are good, and his pro statistics are decent, his greater achievement was in breaking the racial barrier of what was then a predominantly white sport.

Thrower first started playing competitive football during high school, and became an All-American.  That achievement brought some interest from some major colleges and universities. Duffy Daugherty, who was then the assistant coach at Michigan State University, recruited Thrower. Since a number of players from his high school team attended Michigan State, Thrower chose the institution for both academic and athletic reasons.  Although he was only 5 feet 11 inches tall, he could throw the ball as far an accurately as anyone then playing in college.  
Sources: 
Charles K. Ross, Outsides the Lines: African Americans and the Integration of the National Football League (New York: New York University Press, 1999); https://www.theguardian.com/news/2002/apr/17/guardianobituaries.americansports; http://www.biography.com/people/willie-thrower-213033.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

McKinney, Herman (1938-2014)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Businessman, educator, community leader, and political activist Herman McKinney was born on October 2, 1938 in Klamichi, Oklahoma to Herman L. and Ozella (Harris) McKinney.  His family moved to Vancouver, Washington when Herman was young child.  His family was part of the Great Migration of African Americans during World War II, who left the South and other regions to find work in the burgeoning war industries that sprang up on the West Coast.
Sources: 
Sanjay Bhatt, “Herman McKinney, 75, dies; African American leader worked for equal opportunity,” Seattle Times, April 13, 2014; “Herman McKinney, Civil Rights Activist, Seattle Businessman,” The Skanner, April 14, 2014; “Obituary: Herman L. McKinney,” The Seattle Medium, April 22, 2014.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
St. Martins University

Edwards, Thyra J. (1897-1953)

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

Thyra J. Edwards, born in 1897, the granddaugher of runaway slaves, grew up in Houston, Texas and started her career there as a school teacher.  Eventually she moved to Gary, Indiana and later Chicago, Illinois where she was employed as a social worker.  Edwards would eventually become a world lecturer, journalist, labor organizer, women's rights advocate, and civil rights activist all before her 40th birthday.   

Sources: 
Gregg Andrews, Thyra J. Edwards: Black Activist in the Global Freedom Struggle (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2011); E. Carlton-LaNey, ed., African American Leadership: An Empowerment Tradition in Social Welfare History (Washington, D.C.: National Association of Social Workers, 2001). 
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Howard University

Chester, William H. (1914-1985)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Dr. Martin Luther King with Bill Chester,
January 25, 1963
"Image Courtesy of Anne Rand Library, International
Longshore and Warehouse Union"
William “Bill” Chester, Vice President and Assistant to Harry Bridges, President of the International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union (ILWU), was the highest ranking African American in the ILWU and a leading trade union official and civil rights leader in the San Francisco Bay Area from the 1950s through 1970s.

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, on January 6, 1914, Chester’s mother’s maiden name was Fuller. Chester, an only child, moved with his parents to Kansas City, Missouri when he was a year old and spent his entire childhood there.  His father, a railroad worker, died when he was 11.  Chester graduated from high school in 1932 and spent two years at Western College in Quindaro, Kansas.

Sources: 
William Chester, Interview by Robert E. Martin, Howard University, July 23, 1969, transcript at ILWU Library, San Francisco; “Bill Chester: ILWU Civil Rights and Community Leader, 1938-1969,” ILWU Oral History Project, Volume VI, Part I, Introduction and interview by Harvey Schwartz, ILWU Dispatcher, February 2003, pp. 8-9; “Bill Chester helped lead ILWU during tough times,” ILWU Dispatcher, November 12, 1985, p. 5.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Western Illinois University

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

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

Vanport, Oregon (1942-1948)

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Vanport, Oregon was the largest WWII federal housing project in the United States, and as such, attracted national attention to the region.  At its peak, Vanport was home to over 42,000 residents, making it the second largest population center in the state.  The housing project was “hidden” beyond Portland’s city limits. For many long-time Portland residents, Vanport was known as the “Negro Project” despite the fact that African Americans were no more than 25% of residents at any given time.

Portland had become, in early 1941, one of the major shipbuilding centers in the United States.  The primary shipbuilder, Henry J. Kaiser, fearful that workers would leave the area due to a lack of housing, purchased 648 acres of land outside of Portland city limits to build a wartime housing complex.  City officials were unhappy with Kaiser’s independent approach, but the contractor had become impatient with the inevitable slowness of municipal government.
Sources: 
Rudy Pearson, “African Americans in Portland, Oregon, 1940-1950: Work and Living Conditions – A Social History” (Ph.D. Dissertation, Washington State University, 1996) Manley Maben, Vanport (Portland: Oregon Historical Society Press, 1987).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
American River College, Sacramento

Ruben Um Nyobè (1913–1958)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Ruben Um Nyobè is a little known but major figure in the African independence campaign.  He was the first African political leader to claim independence for his country before the General Assembly of the United Nations. He is called the “black Hô Chi Minh” by some authors and “Mpodol” (spokesman) for his country, Cameroon.

Um Nyobè was born at Song Mpeck in the Cameroon on April 10, 1913, when it was still a colonial possession of Germany. His first education came in Presbyterian Church primary schools, and he was baptized in 1921 as a Presbyterian. While he was in school, colonial administration of Cameroon was transferred from recently-defeated Germany to France and Great Britain at the end of World War I. Eventually, Nyobè and other Cameroonian nationalists sought to reunite the now divided territory.
Sources: 
J.A. Mbembe, La naissance du maquis dans le sud du Cameroun (The birth of the Maquis in the Southern Cameroon) (Paris: Karthala, 1996); R. Um Nyobè, Le problem national Kamerunais (The Kamerunian national problem), Edited by J.A. Mbembe (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1984); http://www.bonaberi.com/article.php?aid=1544.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Rhodes University, South Africa

Perry, Cynthia Shepard (1928- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Cynthia Shepard Perry, a Republican and 25 year career diplomat, has served three Republican presidents. President Ronald Reagan appointed her as Chief of Education and Human Resources of the U.S. Agency for International Development where she served from 1982 to 1986, and named her Ambassador to Sierra Leone from 1986 to 1989. 

President H.W. Bush appointed her ambassador to Burundi where she served from 1989 to 1993.  President George W. Bush appointed her as U.S. Executive Director of the African Development Bank in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, and Tunis, Tunisia in 2001.  As director, she promoted microlending projects for small start-up loans, especially for women. In addition, she analyzed African loan requests for schools, bridges, and projects to reduce poverty.
Sources: 
Council of American Ambassadors, http://www.americanambassadors.org/; “George Bush,  Nomination of Cynthia Shepard to be United States Ambassador to Brunei,” Nov. 7, 1980, The American Presidency Project, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/; Charles Stuart Kennedy, “Ambassador Cynthia Perry,” Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, Foreign Affairs Oral History Project, March 21, 1999; Cynthia Shepard,  All things Being Equal: A Woman’s Journey  (New York: Stonecrest International, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle Central College

Georgia Infirmary (1832 - )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History
Historical Marker for the Georgia Infirmary
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The Georgia Infirmary was the first hospital for African Americans built in the United States. Chartered on December 24, 1832 “for the relief and protection of aged and afflicted Africans,” it was established by the Georgia General Assembly and funded by a $10,000 grant from the estate of Thomas F. Williams, a local merchant and minister. Today the institution is known as the Adult Day Center-Georgia Infirmary and is part of St. Joseph’s/Candler healthcare network.

Mistreatment and poor living and working conditions often left slaves in prematurely bad health, and many were cast out by their owners when they were no longer able to work. Williams’ grant, as well as proposals for the state of Georgia to take on the care of old and unwell slaves while recouping the cost from slave holders, contributed to the impetus for the creation of the hospital. The Infirmary was built 10 miles south of Savannah, Georgia, on a 50-acre parcel of land donated by Richard F. Williams, the brother and executor of Thomas F. Williams’ estate. Richard F. Williams was elected as the first president of the hospital’s board of trustees. Upon the infirmary’s opening, the state government provided $20 per patient a year.
Sources: 
Harry Hewes, “Georgia Infirmary, First Hospital in the United States Founded for Negroes,” The Negro History Bulletin, Vol. 9, No. 1 (October 1945): Mitchell F. Rice and Woodrow Jones, Public Policy and the Black Hospital System: From Slavery to Segregation to Integration (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1994); Whittington B. Johnson, Black Savannah: 1788-1864 (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press: Fayetteville, Arkansas, 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sydney, Australia

Leo Lythel Robinson (1937–2013)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Courtesy of David Bacon"
A rank-and-file activist in the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU), Leo Robinson was best known for fighting apartheid by helping lead a massive boycott of South African cargo that galvanized anti-apartheid movement in California's San Francisco Bay Area in 1984.  

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, on May 26, 1937, to Arthur and Pearl Lee Young, Robinson and his family moved to Oakland during World War II. Both parents worked at Moore Shipyard, one of numerous large shipbuilders in the area’s booming wartime economy. Along with his parents and four siblings, he lived in the Cypress Village housing projects in West Oakland, a segregated ghetto that gave birth to the Black Panther Party two decades later.  

Sources: 
David Bacon, “Leo Robinson: Soul of the Longshore,” In These Times, January 19, 2013, http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/14448/leo_robinson_soul_of_the_longshore; Peter Cole, “Leo Robinson: leader of the ILWU anti-apartheid struggle,” ILWU Dispatcher 71:1 (January 2013), http://www.ilwu.org/leo-robinson-ilwu-activist-led-anti-apartheid-struggle/; Leo Robinson, Interview by Peter Cole, Raymond, California, July 20, 2011; Leo Robinson, Interview in The Oakland Army Base: An Oral History, ed. by Martin Meeker, The Bancroft Library, University of California, City of Oakland, and Port of Oakland, 2010.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Western Illinois University

Elder, Lee (1934- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Lee Elder, a member of the United Golfers Association (UGA), Professional Golfers Association (PGA), and the PGA Senior Tour, was the first African American to break the color barrier and play in the Masters Golf Tournament.

Lee Elder was born in 1934 in Dallas, Texas.  His father died in WWII, and his mother very shortly after.  With Elder’s sister running the household, Lee was lured to golf as a way to earn additional income for the family.  He began caddying at the all-white Tennison Park Golf Club in Dallas and soon became favored by the head pro of the course, who allowed Elder slip in after hours to play on the mostly obscured back six holes.  Elder became an accomplished golfer who eventually attracted the attention of hustler and con artist “Titanic” Thompson.  Using Thompson’s financial backing, Elder began playing in tournaments while honing his skills in the game and developing the ability to succeed under pressure.  
Sources: 
Pete McDaniel, Uneven Lies: The Heroic Story of African-Americans in Golf (Greenwich, Connecticut: The American Golfer, Inc., 2000); Pete McDaniel, “The Trailblazer”, Golf Digest (October 2000); Eric L. Smith, “Star Profile: Lee Elder,” Black Enterprise (September 1995).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Dunjee, Roscoe (1883-1965)

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

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

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

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

The Second Italo-Abyssinian War (1935–1936)

Entry Type: 
Events
History Type: 
Global African History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The Second Italo-Abyssinian War was Italy’s conquest of Ethiopia, a process it began after the 1885 Partition of Africa. Italy was defeated in its first attempt at conquest at the battle of Adwa in 1896, allowing Ethiopia to become the only African nation to remain free of European control. Italian colonial forces however still remained in neighboring Eritrea and Somalia, and it was only a matter of time before the two nations would clash again.

The prospect of war increased dramatically after the fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini, took control of Italy in 1922. He sought Ethiopia for its resources but also to salvage the pride of the only European nation defeated by an African country. Taking Ethiopia would have also completed the Italian domination over the Horn of Africa.

Sources: 
Michael C. Anderson, “Italo-Ethiopian War, 1935-1936,” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2015; George W. Baer, “Test Case: Italy, Ethiopia, and the League of Nations,” Hoover Institute Press, Stanford University, 1976; Anthony Mockler, Haile Selassie’s War: The Italian-Ethiopian Campaign, 1935-1941 (New York: Random House, 1984).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Bolen, David Benjamin (1923- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Ambassador David Bolen Presenting His Credentials
to East German Chancellor Eric Honeker, 1977
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Sources: 
“Former Olympic Sprinter Now Diplomat, The Crisis (April 1966); Who’s Who Among African Americans (New York: Gale Research, 2011); Irv Moss, “CU’s Bolen Had His Day at London Games” at http://www.denverpost.com/london2012/ci_21287840/bolen-had-his-day-at-london-games.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Young, Jr., Perry (1919-1998)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Perry Young, Jr, an airplane and helicopter pilot, was the first African American person to be hired by a commercial airline with regularly scheduled passenger flights. Young was born to his parents Henry Young, Sr. and Edith Lucille Young on March 12, 1919 in Orangeburg, South Carolina. His father ran a dry cleaning store and also owned several garages.

The Young family moved to Oberlin, Ohio in 1929.  Right after graduating from Oberlin High School in 1937, Young took his first flight on an airplane and decided he would become a pilot. Later that summer, Young started his flight lessons and flew his first plane on Christmas Day 1937.  He paid for the lessons by washing cars over the summer. The next year, Young decided to attend Oberlin College instead of accepting a four-year scholarship to the prestigious Oberlin Conservatory of Music. In 1939, he received his private pilot's license after dropping out of college to pursue this goal full time.
Sources: 
Betty Kaplan Gubert, Miriam Sawyer, Caroline M. Fannin, Distinguished African Americans in Aviation and Space Science (Westport, Connecticut: Oryx Press, 2002);
http://www.nytimes.com/1998/11/19/nyregion/perry-h-young-jr-79-pioneering-pilot-dies.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

555th Parachute Infantry Battalion [Triple Nickles], (1944–1947)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
The Triple Nickles Before a Jump, ca. 1945
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
On August 6, 1945, Private First Class Malvin L. Brown was killed after falling one hundred and forty feet during a “let-down” from a tree while fighting a forest fire in the Umpqua National Forest in southern Oregon. Brown was the first smokejumper to die while fighting a wildfire since the program’s inception by the U.S. Forest Service in 1939. He was also the only member of the “Triple Nickles” 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion to die in the line of duty during World War II.

The 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion was nicknamed “Triple Nickles” because of its numerical designation and because seventeen of its original twenty-member “colored test platoon” were from the 92nd Infantry (“Buffalo Soldiers”) Division of the U.S. Army. Their identifying symbol is three buffalo nickels joined in a triangle and the oddly-spelled “Nickle” is one of their trademarks.  
Sources: 
Triple Nickle website, http://www.triplenickle.com/home.htm; Bradley Biggs, Triple Nickles: America’s First All-black Paratroop Unit (Lancaster, United Kingdom: Gazelle Book Services, Ltd., 1986); Tanya Lee Stone, Courage Has No Color, The True Story of the Triple Nickles: America’s First Black Paratroopers (Somerville, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press, 2013); and Bob Zybach and Ken McCall 1994. Rex Wakefield, Douglas-Fir Forester: Western Oregon Forest History, 1911-1991 (Corvallis, Oregon: USDA Siuslaw National Forest and Oregon State University Research Forests, 1994).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Montford Point Marines (1942-1949)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Montford Point Marines, ca. 1944
Image Ownership:  Public Domain

With the beginning of World War II African Americans would get their chance to be in “the toughest outfit going,” the previously all-white Marine Corps.  The first recruits reported to Montford Point, a small section of land on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina on August 26, 1942.  By October only 600 recruits had begun training although the call was for 1,000 for combat in the 51st and 52nd Composite Defense Battalions. 

Sources: 
Gerald Astor, The Right to Fight: A History of African Americans in the Military (Novato, Ca.: Presidio Press, 1998); Gail Buckley, American Patriots (New York: Random House, 2001); Bernard C. Nalty, The Right to Fight: African-American Marines in World War II (Washington, D.C.: Center for Military History, The United States Army, 1985).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Juneteenth: The Birth of an African American Holiday

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

Ethiopian-Somali War Over the Ogaden Region (1977–1978)

Entry Type: 
Events
History Type: 
Global African History
Somali Tanks Entering Ethiopia at the Start of the
Ethiopian-Somali War, 1977-1978
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
In 1977 Ethiopia and Somalia engaged in a brief territory conflict over the Ogaden region situated between and claimed by both nations. This conflict however held significance greater than most territorial disputes because Ethiopia was backed by the Soviet Union and Somalia was supported by the United States, thus bringing the Cold War to eastern Africa.

Long before the 1977 conflict, the Ogaden had been subject to dispute. Following World War II, when Ethiopia had been aligned with the Allies against the Axis Powers, Great Britain relinquished its claim on the Haud and Ogaden regions as part of British-Somaliland. When British Somaliland became part of the newly independent nation of Somalia in 1960, that government took control over the region. They intensified their control when a military coup led to the assassination of Somali President Abdirashid Ali Shermarke, and the army’s seizure of control of the nation in 1969.
Sources: 

Martin Plaut, "Ethiopia–Somalia: A History of Conflict," Martinplaut, January 2013; Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds. Africana: The encyclopedia of the African and African American experience. Oxford University Press, 2005 https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=Anthony+Appiah+and+Henry+Louis+Gates%2C+eds.+Africana%3A%20+The+encyclopedia+of+the+African+and+African+American+experience.+Oxford+University+Press%2C+2005&btnG=&hl=%20en&as_sdt=0%2C48; Kenneth G. Weiss, The Soviet Involvement in the Ogaden War. No. CNA-PP-269, Center for Naval Analyses, Institute of Naval Studies, Alexandria, Virginia, 1980 https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=Kenneth+G.+Weiss%2C+The+%20Soviet+Involvement+in+the+Ogaden+War.+No.+CNAPP-269%2C+Center+for+Naval+Analyses%2C+Institute+of+Naval%20+Studies%2C+Alexandria%2C+Virginia%2C+1980.&btnG=&hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C48.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Smythe, Hugh Heyne (1913-1977)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Ambassador Hugh Smythe and His Wife Mabel
Murphy Smythe, Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic, 1965
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Sources: 
Mark Anderson, “The Complicated Career of Hugh Smythe,” Transforming Anthropology, 16 (October 2008); Tor Eigeland, “Our Man in Damascus,” Ebony (December 1966); Cathal J. Nolan (Ed.), Notable U.S. Ambassadors Since 1775: A Biographical Dictionary (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Baker, Vernon (1919-2010)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Vernon Baker with President Bill Clinton, 1997
Image Courtesy of Wordpress.com
Vernon Baker, belated recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, was born on December 17, 1919 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. His father, Manuel Caldera, was a carpenter from New Mexico. His mother was named Beulah. At the age of four, Baker lost his parents in a car accident and he and his two sisters, Irma and Cass, were raised by his grandparents in Cheyenne and Clarinda, Iowa.  Baker graduated from high school in Clarinda, Iowa in 1937 and found the only available work for blacks locally at that time.  He was a shoe shine boy and later a railroad porter.

On July 26, 1941, five months before Pearl Harbor, Baker joined the U.S. Army as a private and trained as an infantryman at Camp Wolters, Texas.  When officers recognized his leadership capabilities he was allowed to attend Officer Candidate School. On January 11, 1943, Baker was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and assigned to the segregated 370th Regiment of the 92nd Infantry Division, one of two all-black divisions.  

In June 1944, the 92nd Infantry Division landed in Naples and initially experienced heavy fighting on its way to central Italy.  In October, Baker, while on night patrol, was wounded in an encounter with a German soldier.  Treated in a hospital near Pisa, Italy, he was reunited with his unit in December 1944.  
Sources: 
Vernon J. Baker, 1st ed., Lasting Valor (Jackson, Mississippi: Genesis Press, Inc., 1997); A&E Television Networks, “Vernon J. Baker” Biography.com, 2010, Accessed Dec 6, 2010; http://www.biography.com/articles/Vernon-J.-Baker-403080
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Seattle Royal Giants (1928-1945)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Seattle Royal Giants, ca. 1933
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The Seattle Royal Giants was a semi-professional baseball team that played through the Pacific Northwest in the first half of the 20th Century.  The Giants began in 1928 under the leadership of three former professional players in the Negro Baseball League, Elmer Wilson, Jimmy Claxton, and Powell S. Barnett. For three decades this team was the main attraction for Sunday afternoon baseball in African American Seattle.  As many as 3,500 white, black and Asian fans came to Garfield Park and 5,000 to Woodland Park to see the Giants play.

The 1929 team roster included second baseman Powell Burnett and pitcher Bob Saunders both of Roslyn, Washington. Saunders, who grew up in Rainier Valley, graduated from Broadway High School in Seattle in 1922.   Barnett, also a noted musician, was founder of the Northwest Baseball Umpires Association.  In 1949 the Seattle Parks Department named a park in his honor to recognize his accomplishments.
Sources: 
Lyle Kenai Wilson, Sunday Afternoons at Garfield Park, Seattle’s Black Baseball Teams 1911-1951 (Everett, Washington: Lowell Printing and Publishing, 1997); Powell S. Barnett Papers, University of Washington Special Collections, Seattle, Washington.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Newton, Huey P. (1942–1989)

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

Williams, Paul R. (1894-1980)

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

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

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


Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Western Washington University

Roumain, Jean Baptiste (Jacques) / Roumain, Jacques (1907-1944)

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

Jacques Roumain (Born Jean-Baptiste Roumain) was a Haitian author, poet, novelist, essayist, political activist, and diplomat born on June 4, 1907. He was one of the more famous twentieth century Haitian intellectuals.

Jacques Roumain was born in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital. He was the first of eleven siblings, son of Auguste Roumain, a landowner, and Emilie Auguste, daughter of Tancrède Auguste, who was president of the Haitian Republic between 1912 and 1913. Roumain began his education at Saint-Louis de Gonzague, a prestigious private academy, but in 1922, he was sent to Switzerland to continue his studies. In 1926 Roumain left Switzerland for Spain to study agronomy, yet he gave up his studies and focused on bullfighting. His interest in the sport led him to attend classes on the subject and to write the poem “Corrida” in Madrid in May 1926.

Sources: 
Jacques Roumain, Oeuvres complètes. Edition critique coordonnée par León-François Hoffmann. Madrid et Nanterre: Allca XX, 2003; “Roumain, Jacques (1907–1944),” Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/roumain-jacques-1907-1944;  Alexis, Jacques Stephan, “Of the Marvelous Realism of the Haitians,” Presence Africaine (June-November 1956): 249-275.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Sciences Po Paris

Walton, Lester Aglar (1882-1965)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Lester Walton was a journalist, entertainment professional, and diplomat who promoted civil rights at home and abroad. Born Lester Aglar Walton on April 20, 1882 in St. Louis, Missouri, his early life was spent as a journalist. At the age of 20 in 1902, when he was hired by the St. Louis Star to be its golf writer and later its court reporter, he became the first black reporter to write for a white daily paper in St. Louis.

In 1906 Walton moved to New York City, New York and in 1908 he became theatrical editor for the New York Age, which was the largest black newspaper in the nation at the time.  He remained at the Age until 1914.  In 1912 he married Gladys Moore, the daughter of Fred Moore, publisher of the newspaper.  The couple had two daughters.
Sources: 
Jesse Mongrue, Liberia: America’s Footprint in Africa: Making the cultural, social, and political connections (Bloomington, Indiana: Jesse Mongrue, 2011); New York Public Library: http://archives.nypl.org/scm/20633; Gerald Lyn Early, Ain’t But a Place: An anthology of African American writings about St. Louis (St. Louis, Missouri: The Missouri Historical Society Press, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training

Whitehead, James T., Jr. (1934- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
U2 Spy Plane
Image Ownership: Public Domain

James Whitehead, Jr., the first African American Lockheed U2 pilot, was born in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1934.  From a young age Whitehead was surrounded by a strong military presence in his family including relatives who served in World War II.  Coming of age during that war he also remembered the Tuskegee Airmen who inspired his desire to learn to fly.   

Whitehead enlisted in the New Jersey Army National Guard in May 1952 and served until 1955. He later became the first African American graduate of the University of Illinois Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).  He graduated in June 1957 with a degree in Physical Education and was commissioned a second lieutenant.

Sources: 
Whitehead, James. Personal Interview by Elliot Partin. 16 DEC 2010; "Black Generals of the National Guard," On Guard (Feb. 1990) Vol. 29(5).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Robert Browning Flippin (1903–1963)

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

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

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

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

Davis, Benjamin O., Sr. (1877-1970)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Benjamin O. Davis Sr. was the first African American to be named a general in the American military. Davis claimed to have been born on July 1, 1877, but, according to some sources, his birthdate may have been in May 1880 and that he lied about his age to enlist in the Army without the permission of his parents. Davis was born in Washington, D.C., to Louis P. H. Davis and Henrietta Stewart Davis. His father was a messenger for the Interior Department and his mother was a nurse. Davis attended M Street High School in Washington, D.C., but during his senior year, he took classes at Howard University.
Sources: 

Marvin E. Fletcher, America’s First Black General: Benjamin O. Davis, Sr., 1880–1970 (Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas, 1989); “Benjamin O. Davis, Sr., https://history.army.mil/html/topics/afam/davis.html; David P. Kilroy, For Race and Country: The Life and Career of Colonel Charles Young (New York: Greenwood Press, 2003).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Augusta State University

Watts Rebellion (August 1965)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History in the West
103rd Street, Watts Riot, 1966
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Following World War II, over 500,000 African Americans migrated to West Coast cities in hopes of escaping racism and discrimination. However they found both in the west. For many black Los Angeles, California residents who lived in Watts, their isolation in that community was evidence that racial equality remained a distant goal as they experienced housing, education, employment, and political discrimination. These racial injustices caused Watts’ African American population to explode on August 11, 1965 in what would become the Watts Rebellion.

Sources: 
Gerald Horne. Fire This Time: The Watts Uprising and the 1960s (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1995); Josh, Sides. L.A. City Limits: African American Los Angeles from the Great Depression to the Present (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003; Governor’s Commission on the Los Angeles Riots.  Violence in the City—an End or a Beginning? (Los Angeles: Governor’s Commission on the Los Angeles Riots, 1965).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Nicholas, Jean Marcel (a.k.a. Johnny Nicholas, 1918-1945)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Hans Pape and Jean Marcel Nicholas in Paris, Date Unknown
Image Ownership: Public domain

Expatriate, impersonator, and concentration camp survivor Jean Marcel Nicholas was born October 5, 1918 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, one of the three children of Hilderic Nicholas, a secretary of the British Embassy in that city, and Lucie Dalicy Nicholas. His family was financially secure and able to send him to France to be educated at the Lycée Aristide Briand (Aristide Briand School) at Saint-Nazaire and the College de Garcon at Grasse. In 1937, he left for Martinique and enlisted in the French Navy. After discharge from the Navy with a head injury in 1939 he returned to France and briefly attended medical school at the University of Paris.

Sources: 
Hugh Wray McCann and David C. Smith, The Sear for Johnny Nicholas: The Secret of Nazi Prisoner No. 44451 (CreateSpace, 2011); Hugh McCann, “Macho ‘American’ Posed as Doctor in Nazi Prison Camps,” in Los Angeles Times (March 29, 1984); “Blacks in Nazi Germany” at  https://www.lipstickalley.com/threads/blacks-in-nazi-germany.1177802/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Mercer, Mabel Alice Wadham (1900-1984)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Mabel Mercer was one of the most important jazz cabaret singers of the 20th Century. Her personal singing style emphasizing interpretation, diction, lyrics, and projection over vocal proficiency influenced numerous leading singers including Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Nat “King” Cole, Lena Horne, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Johnny Mathis, and Barbra Streisand. Mabel Alice Wadham was born on February 3, 1900 in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England.  Her unmarried teenage Anglo-Welsh mother, Emily Mame Wadham, was a music hall actress and singer, and her father, Benjamin Mercer, was reported to have been an itinerant black American musician.  
Sources: 
Darlene Clark Hine, Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia (New York: Carlson Publishing Inc., 1993); John S. Wilson, “Mabel Mercer, Phraser of Songs, Dies,” New York Times, April 21, 1984; Terry Teachout, “Music; Mabel Mercer: The Subtle Truth,” New York Times, January 6, 2002; Stephen Bourne, Black Poppies: Britain's Black Community and the Great War (Stroud, England: The History Press, 2014).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Crenchaw, Milton Pitts (1919-2015)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Tuskegee Airmen Pilots in Training, ca. 1942,
Milton Crenchaw is in the Cap in the Middle
Image Courtesy of Edmund Davis
Milton Crenchaw was the only civilian flight instructor (of the first class) for the Tuskegee Airmen. He was the first Arkansas African American to be called a Tuskegee Airman.

Milton Pitts Crenchaw was born on January 13, 1919 in Little Rock, Arkansas to Ethel Pitts Crenchaw, a beautician, and Reverend Joseph C. Crenchaw. Milton Crenchaw studied auto mechanics at Dunbar Junior College and in 1939 enrolled in the mechanical engineering program at Tuskegee Institute in 1939. He was in the school’s pilot training program and did not continue his studies after earning his pilot’s license.  

Sources: 

Robert A. Rose, D.D.S., Lonely Eagles, (California: Tuskegee Airmen Incorporated, Los Angeles Chapter, 1976); Charles Dryden,  A-Train: Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman, (Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 1997); Edmund Davis, Pioneering African American Aviators Featuring the Tuskegee Airmen (Little Rock: Aviate Through Knowledge Productions, 2012); http://www.lwfaam.net/ww2/aaf_66th_ftd/66th.htm; http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=4925; http://earlyaviators.com/eanderso.htm; http://www.central.aero/about-us/.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Arkansas Baptist College

Seattle Steelheads (1946)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Poster for Seattle Steelheads at Borchert Field,
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, August 12, 1946
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The Seattle Steelheads were the all-black minor league baseball team formed in the spring of 1946 as part of the West Coast Negro Baseball League organized by Abe Saperstein who became president of the league with Jesse Owens as vice-president. Other teams in the league included the Oakland Larks, the San Diego Tigers, the Los Angeles White Socks, the Portland Rosebuds (owned by Owens), and the San Francisco Sea Lions.  
Sources: 
Jay Berman, “The Forgotten League: West Coast Baseball Association,” Orange County Register, Santa Ana, California, Nov. 20, 2012; “Former Steelheads on Globe Trotters,” Seattle Daily Times, June 5, 1947; Jonathan Shipley, “The Seattle Steelheads: A Hard-Hitting Ball Club in the Short-Lived West Coast Negro League,” Columbia: The Magazine of Northwest History 25:1 (Spring 2011).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Seattle Central College

Civil Rights Congress (1946-1956)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Paul Robeson & Civil Rights Congress Picketing
the White House, August, 1948
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Founded in Detroit, Michigan in 1946, the Civil Rights Congress (CRC) arose out of the merger of three groups with ties to the Communist Party USA:  the International Labor Defense (ILD), the National Negro Congress, and the National Federation for Constitutional Liberties. Embodying the spirit and tactics of all three of its predecessors, the CRC concentrated on legal defense and mass political action on behalf of victims of legal frame-ups. It briefly became a major force in post-WWII battles for civil rights for African Americans, and civil liberties for white and black labor movement radicals, before becoming a victim of Cold War anticommunism and government repression. Former ILD secretary William Patterson led the group throughout its existence.
Sources: 
Gerald Horne, Communist Front? The Civil Rights Congress, 1946-1956 (Rutherford:  Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1987); Horne, "Civil Rights Congress," in Mary Jo Buhle, Paul Buhle, and Dan Georgakas, eds., Encyclopedia of the American Left (New York: Garland Publishing, 1990), 134-135.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

July, Johanna (1857?-1946?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Johanna July, a black Seminole, was born around 1857 in Nacimiento de Los Negros, the settlement established in northern Mexico following the emigration of Indian and black Seminoles from the Indian Territory in 1849.  

By 1870, the U.S. Army, desperate for translators and scouts familiar with the border country, employed the black Seminoles leading to their return to the United States. Most of them, including the July family, settled in or near Eagle Pass, Texas in 1871.  There Johanna July learned to tame horses and herd the family’s goats and cattle. With the death of her father, she worked the stock and continued to tame wild horses for the U.S. Army and area ranchers.

Johanna developed her own method of taming horses. She would lead a horse into the Rio Grande, swim up, grab the mane, and gently ease astride. As the horse tired from swimming, he lost the strength to buck.
Sources: 
Jim Coffey, “Johanna July: A Horse-Breaking Women,” Black Cowboys of Texas, Sara R. Massey, ed. (College Station, Texas A&M University Press, 2000), 73-84.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Merritt, Jesus Villanueva (1913- ?)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Merritt Talking to Police Officer
Image Ownership: Public domain

Afro-Filipino author, journalist, and government official, Jesus V. Merritt was born in Agoo, a city in the province of La Union in the Philippines, on October 15, 1913. He was the son of Julius Merritt of Cincinnati, Ohio, a United States Army veteran of the Philippine-American War (1899-1902) who as an expatriate worked as a physician and married the former Timotea Villanueva, the sister of a prominent politician. Having attended high schools in Dagupan City and Lingayan, he studied at the National University and was awarded the bachelor’s degree at the University of Santo Tomas in 1933.

Early on, Merritt found success as a journalist. He was editor of his college newspaper and contributed writings to the Ilocano provincial press. In 1934, he published an article in the Philippines Free Press fittingly titled “A Newspaper Man Without Newspaper,” recalling his experiences as a young freelancer. Some of his writings focused on the principal island of Luzon and its larger municipalities: Baguio, Quezon City, and Manila.

Sources: 
Era Bell Thompson, “Veterans Who Never Came Home,” Ebony (October 1972); ‘Tan Yanks Help Rescue Negro and White Manila Prisoners,” Indianapolis Recorder (July 7, 1945); “About the Author” in Jesus V. Merritt’s Our Presidents: Profiles in History; “Gloman Merritt” at http://www.glomanmerritt.com/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Jones, Richard Lee (1893-1975)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Richard Jones was a decorated military leader, serving in both World Wars I and II, and an early United States Ambassador.

Born Richard Lee Jones on December 21, 1893 in Albany, Georgia, Jones studied at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, receiving his Bachelor of Science degree (Circa 1914). He then studied law at the University of Illinois, until the outbreak of World War I, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army.  He served in the 317th Engineer Battalion and as a lieutenant in the Military Police (1917-1919).
Sources: 
Chicago Tribune, October 15, 1927, and October 18, 1970; Clovis E. Semmes, The Regal Theater and Black Culture (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006); U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian, “Foreign Relations of the United States, 1955-1957,” Volume XVIII, Africa, Documents 141, 145, and 146.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training

Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia (1892-1975)

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

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

Martinsville Seven (1949-1951)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The Martinsville Seven were a group of young black men executed in 1951 after being convicted of raping a white woman.  Their trials and the electrocutions became a cause célèbre similar to the Scottsboro Case of the 1930s.

On the evening of January 8, 1949, Ruby Stroud Floyd accused 13 black men of raping her while she passed through a poor African American neighborhood in Martinsville, Virginia.  The police first arrested Frank Hairston, Jr. and Booker T. Millner, and soon picked up James Luther Hairston, Howard Lee Hairston, John Clabon Taylor, Francis DeSales Grayson, then James Henry Hampton as additional suspects.  The young men with spotty employment records but no real criminal history soon became known as the Martinsville Seven.  Most of the men were between 18 and 20 years old and worked as laborers in small-scale furniture factories and warehouses.  At age 37, World War II veteran Francis DeSales Grayson was the oldest of the defendants.  
Sources: 
Eric W. Rise, "Race, Rape, and Radicalism: The Case of the Martinsville Seven, 1949-1951." The Journal of Southern History LVIII, no. August (1992): 461-490; Eric W.  Rise, The Martinsville Seven: Race Rape and Capital Punishment  (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1995).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Georgia Southwestern State University

Edward A. Carter, Jr. (1916–1963)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Edward A. Carter, Jr. was a career noncommissioned officer for the United States Army and one of the only African American recipients of the Medal of Honor during World War II.

Carter was born May 26, 1916, in Los Angeles, California to missionary parents and was raised in Calcutta, India, and Shanghai, China. Fluent in Hindi, Mandarin, English, and German, Carter ran away from home and enlisted in the Chinese Nationalist Army at the age of fifteen to fight the Japanese after the Shanghai Incident of 1932. He rose to the rank of lieutenant before he was found to be underage and discharged.

Sources: 
Dan Elder, CSM, “Remarkable Sergeants: Ten Vignettes of Noteworthy NCOs,” The NCO Historical Society, November 8, 2008, http://www.ncohistory.com/files/RemarkableSgts.pdf; Wayne V. Hall, “Edward A. Carter II, Sergeant, United States Army,” Arlington National Cemetery, http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/eacerter.htm; Ernest McPherson, Ernest, “Medal of Honor: African-American Hero Recognized Decades after Brave Act,” United States Army February 24, 2009, http://www.army.mil/article/17391/.
Contributor: 

DuBois, Shirley Graham (1896-1977)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Shirley Graham DuBois and
her Husband, W.E.B. DuBois
Image Courtesy of David Graham DuBois
Musicologist, playwright, novelist and political activist Lola Shirley Graham, born in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1896, became the second wife to W.E.B. DuBois in 1951.  Lola Shirley Graham was taught at a young age to stand up to injustice.  She wrote her first editorial to an Indianapolis paper protesting racial discrimination when she was 13, after she was denied access to a YWCA swimming pool.
Sources: 
Gerald Horne, Race Woman: The Lives of Shirley G. DuBois (New York: New York University Press, 2002); Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., eds., Africana, Arts and Letters: An A-Z Reference of Writers, Musicians, and Artists of the African and African-American Experience (New York: Running Press, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Black and Tan Club, The (1922-1966)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Black & Tan Club, Seattle, 1937
Image Courtesy of Puget Sound Regional Branch of the
Washington State Archives
The Black and Tan Club was a leading jazz nightclub located in Seattle, Washington, operating from 1922 until 1966.  The nightclub flourished and was known as the most famous nightclub in Seattle at the onset of World War II.  It derived its name from the black, white, and Asian patrons who attended the club during its four decades of operation.  
Sources: 
Paul de Barros, Jackson Street After Hours: The Roots of Jazz in Seattle (Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 1993): Clark Humphrey and Art Chantry, Loser: The Real Seattle Music Story (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1999); http://pnwbands.com/blackandtan.html; http://www.raycharles.com/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

William, John a.k.a. Huss, Ernest Armand (1922-2011)

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

Ivorian-French pop singer John William was born Ernest Armand Huss on October 9, 1922 in the coastal town of Grand-Bassam, Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast). He was born to a Frenchman, Ernest Charles Huss, and an Ivorian woman, Henriette Amoussan, with whom he never had much acquaintance. At 18 months of age, his father sent him to live with relatives in the Seine-et-Marne region of France. After attending boarding school, at age 17, he became an apprentice toolmaker in the automobile industry in Boulogne-Billancount, a suburb of Paris.

During the German occupation of France in World War II in 1943, William was forcibly enlisted in the Service Civique Rural (Rural Civic Service) to assist the Nazi war effort as a laborer. He, like many young men, made aeronautical equipment for German aircraft. Suspected of assisting workplace sabotage, the Gestapo tortured and sent him to the Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg, Germany. It was there that William began singing to inmates to relieve the harsh circumstances of camp life.

Sources: 
John William, Si toi aussi tu m'abandonnes (Paris: Cerf, 1990); “Ces alsaciens, célèbres inconnus: John William” at https://lettresdestrasbourg.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/ces-alsaciens-celebres-inconnus-john-william-ernest-armand-huss/; “Passion Chanson: Octobre 9” at http://www.passionchanson.net/tag/edith-piaf/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Withers, John Lovelle, II (1948- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
In 2007, Ambassador John L. Withers II, a second generation diplomat, was appointed by President George H.W. Bush to serve as ambassador to Albania. Withers was born in 1948 in Guilford, North Carolina, to John L. Withers, Sr. and Daisy P. Withers.
Sources: 

U.S. Department of State, “John Withers II,” http://m.state.gov/md116125.htm; Los Angeles Times, “U.S. ambassador to Albania cleared in ammo cover-up,”  http://articles.latimes.com/2009/mar/19/nation/na-diplomat-cleared19; Besar Likmeta, “WikiLeaks, Corruption Lost Albania Millions in Aid,” in BalkanInsight, http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/albania-lost-millions-of-us-aid-due-to-corruption.

 

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Syracuse University

Senghor, Léopold Sédar (1906-2001)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Scholar, African traditionalist poet, and Senegal’s first president, Léopold Sédar Senghor was born on October 9, 1906 in Joal, Senegal. His father, Basie Diogoye Senghor, was a Malinké landowner. His mother, Gnilane Bakhoum, came from a Christian Fulani family. They gave Senghor a European name to reflect both the noble Serer culture they identified with, as well as their Catholic faith. Senghor grew up with his father’s four wives and his twenty-four siblings.

At the age of seven, Senghor was sent to a Catholic mission school, where he first learned French. At 13, he decided to enter the Catholic priesthood. He attended Libermann seminary in Dakar but in 1926, dissuaded by the seminary, switched to the secondary school Lycée Van Vollenhoven. He graduated from high school with honors and his classical languages teacher persuaded the colonial administration to grant Senghor a scholarship to pursue literary studies in France.

Sources: 
Melvin Dixon, Léopold Sédar Senghor: The Collected Poetry, Trans. by Melvin Dixon (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1991); Kevin Shillington, ed., Encyclopedia of African History (New York: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2005).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Evergreen State College

Taylor, Moddie Daniel (1912-1976)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Scurlock Studio Records, Archives Center,
National Museum of American History,
Smithsonian Institution
Moddie Daniel Taylor, a chemist by training, was a member of the small, elite group of African American scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project, the code name for the top-secret effort to create an atomic bomb during World War II.  Taylor was born in Nymph, Alabama on March 3, 1912, the son of Herbert L. Taylor and Celeste (Oliver) Taylor.  The Taylors later moved to St. Louis where Herbert worked as a postal clerk.  Moddie Taylor attended Charles H. Sumner High, graduating in 1931.  He then attended Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri where he majored in chemistry.  Taylor graduated in 1935 as the valedictorian of his class.

Moddie Taylor began his teaching career at Lincoln University the same year, working as an instructor until 1939 and then as an assistant professor from 1939 to 1941 while enrolled in the University of Chicago graduate program in chemistry.  He received an M.S. from the University in 1939 and a Ph.D. in 1943.

Taylor married Vivian Ellis in 1937.  The couple had one son, Herbert Moddie Taylor.
Sources: 
Kenneth R. Manning, “Science and Opportunity,” Science, Volume 282 (November 6, 1998): 1037-1038; “Scientists in the News,” Science, Volume 131 (May 20, 1960): 1513-1514; “Records of Meetings,” Daedalus, Volume 86 (September, 1956): 137-16; Ebony, January 1961; "Moddie Taylor Biography," BookRags.com, http://www.bookrags.com/biography/moddie-taylor-woc/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Case Western Reserve University

Albina, Portland (1870- )

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Albina Neighborhood, 1962 (Oregon Historical Society)
"Image Ownership: Oregon Historical Society"
Albina is a neighborhood located in Northeast Portland, Oregon that for most of the 20th century was home to the majority of the city’s African American population. Before it was annexed into Portland in 1891, Albina was a rapidly growing city on the east side of the Willamette River from Portland. During the 1870s and 1880s, Albina’s population consisted mostly of new immigrants from Europe who worked at the Union Pacific Railroad terminal or on the docks. In the 1890s and 1900s, wealthy Portlanders from across the river began to purchase land in Albina. Most African American residents of Portland at the time rented homes or apartments on the west side of the river, closer to the city center.

By 1910, the black neighborhoods of northwest Portland were too crowded, and black Portlanders began to cross the river to look for homes, often choosing Lower Albina for its proximity to jobs at the docks or with the railroad. In response, the newer white neighborhoods of east Portland began adopting restrictive covenants, effectively confining African American home-seekers of east Portland to the Albina neighborhood.
Sources: 
Kimberley S. Moreland, History of Portland’s African American Community (1805 to the Present), City of Portland Bureau of Planning, 1993, https://multco.us/file/15283/download; Mark Friesen, “Graphic: Portland’s Central City Gets Whiter,” The Oregonian, April 30, 2011, http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2011/04/graphic_portlands_central_city_gets_whiter.html; Richard Ross, Ralph Ahselhn, and Malcolm Cross, Albina: Portland’s Ghetto of the Mind, KGW Broadcasting, 1967, http://legacy.kgw.com/story/features/2013/07/10/documentary-albina-portland-s-ghetto-of-the-mind-1967-/11775000/; Trudy Flores and Sarah Griffin, “The Albina Riot, 1967,” The Oregon Historical Society, 2002, http://oregonhistoryproject.org/articles/historical-records/albina-riot-1967/#.Vuh7AxIrKXQ; Tanya Hyatt Evenson, Sarah Griffith, and Amy E. Platt, “Albina Residents Picket Emmanuel Hospital,” Oregon Historical Society, 2002, http://oregonhistoryproject.org/articles/historical-records/albina-residents-picket-emanuel-hospital/#.VwFZ5Uc73d6; Karen J. Gibson, “Bleeding Albina: A History of Community Disinvestment, 1940-2000,” Transforming Anthropology, vol. 15, issue 1, 2007; Stuart McElderry, "Building a West Coast Ghetto: African-American Housing in Portland, 1910-1960," Pacific Northwest Quarterly, 92 (Summer 2001).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Pickens, William (1881-1954)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of The History Cooperative
William Pickens was born January 15, 1881 in Anderson County, South Carolina. His parents were liberated slaves who migrated to Arkansas when he was a young boy.  Young Pickens worked in cotton fields and in sawmills while attending the local segregated public school.  Pickens entered Talladega College in Alabama in 1898 and left four years later as the school’s most illustrious graduate in its history. In 1902 he entered Yale University in Connecticut and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa where he won the Henry James Ten Eyek Prize over thirty seven competitors in 1903.  Pickens became an expert linguist and graduated from Yale with a second B.A. degree in classics in 1904.  In 1905 Pickens married Minnie Cooper McAlpine. The couple had three children.  
Sources: 
William Pickens, Bursting Bonds (Boston: Jordan & More Press, 1923); William M. Brewer, The Journal of Negro History 39:3 (July 1954): 242-244: Sheldon Avery, Up from Washington: William Pickens and the Negro Struggle for Equality (Newark, University of Delaware Press, 1989).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Beaumont Race Riot, 1943

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Shipyard Warkers, Beaumont, Texas, ca. 1943
Image Ownership: Public Domain

The Beaumont Race Riot of 1943 was sparked by racial tensions that arose in this Texas shipbuilding center during World War II.  The sudden influx of African American workers in industrial jobs in the Beaumont shipyard and the subsequent job competition with white workers forced race relations to a boiling point.

The riot itself exploded on June 15, 1943 with most of the violence ending a day later.  White workers at the Pennsylvania Shipyard located in Beaumont, Texas confronted black workers after hearing that a local white woman had accused a black man of raping her.  The woman who made the accusation was later unable to identify her attacker from the number of black inmates held at the city jail.

Sources: 
James S. Olson, “Beaumont Riot of 1943,” The Handbook of Texas Online, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/BB/jcb1.html (accessed 11 June, 2008); Glen Yeadon and John Hawkins, The Nazi Hydra in America: Suppressed History of a Century (Joshua Tree: Progressive Press, 2007).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Martin, Ora Mae Lewis (1918–2005)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Ora Mae Lewis on Her Wedding Day, 1946
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Newspaper columnist and poet Ora Mae Lewis was born March 29, 1918, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her father, Nathan Leopold Lewis, was a native of Jamaica and a decorated soldier in the British Colonial Army, and her mother Cecelia Della Atkinson, a New Orleans Creole, was a pianist. Cecelia Atkinson died when Ora was seven years old, and her father later re-married. Ora Mae and her siblings lived with her grandmother and great-grandmother. Her parents and grandparents spoke English, French, German, and Creole; however, her father forbade her from speaking anything but the King’s English. Lewis attended New Orleans public schools. Her short story, “The First Christmas,” was published in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the city’s largest newspaper, when Lewis was nine.
Sources: 
Ora M. Lewis.com; Jari Honora, “The Twinkling Smiles of Ora Mae Lewis’ Twinkle Magazine,” http://www.creolegen.org/2015/11/20/the-twinkling-smiles-of-ora-mae-lewis-twinkle-magazine/; Sister Mary Anthony Scally, R.S.M., Negro Catholic Writers (1900-1943) A Bio-Bibliography, http://www.nathanielturner.com/negrocatholicwriters2.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Ligue Universelle pour la Défense de la Race Noire (1924)

Entry Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
Global African History
George Marke, Prince Kojo Tovalou-Houenou,
and Marcus Garvey, 1924
Image Ownership: Public Domain

The Ligue Universelle pour la Défense de la Race Noire (LUDRN) was a Pan-African association created on April 30, 1924, by Kojo Tovalou Houénou known as Tovalou, descendant of the last King of Dahomey (today’s Benin). The headquarters of the association was located in Paris and the executive committee composed of seven black members from the French Empire. Tovalou, a military doctor during the First World War, was designated president of the association and René Maran, a colonial administrator for Martinique, was vice president. The objectives of the association were the defense and protection of the rights of black people all over the world, the development of solidarity amongst the black population, and the evolution of the race through education.

Sources: 

Emilie Derlin Zinsou and Luc Zoumémou, Kojo Tovalou Houénou,
précurseur, 1887-1936: pannégrisme et modernité (Paris: Maisonneuve
& Larose, 2004); Imanuel Geiss, The Pan-African Movement: A history
of Pan-Africanism in America, Europe, and Africa
(New York: Africana
Publishing Co., 1974); Iheanachor Egonu, “Les Continents and the
Francophone Pan-Negro Movement,” Phylon 42:3 (Fall 1981).

Affiliation: 
University of Nantes, France

Delaney, Harold (1919-1994)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 24, 1919, Harold Delaney was one of several African American scientists to work on the Manhattan Project in World War II.  The eldest child of William and Henriette Delaney, Harold had four sisters, Mildred, Gertrude, Laura, and Ethel, and a brother, William.

Delaney studied chemistry at Howard University in Washington, D.C. and earned his B.S. and M.A. degrees in 1941 and 1943, respectively. In March 1943, Delaney co-authored an article with his graduate adviser, Dr. Robert Percy Barnes, and with Dr. Victor Julius Tulane and Dr. Stewart Rochester Cooper in the Journal of Organic Chemistry, a prestigious peer-reviewed journal. Tulane and Cooper were also faculty members in the Department of Chemistry at Howard University. In November 1943, Delaney published a second article with Barnes in the Journal of the American Chemistry Society, another prestigious peer-reviewed journal.  Publication of these two articles completed the requirements for Delaney’s M.A. degree. In addition, Barnes, Tulane, and Rochester were highly productive chemistry researchers publishing several peer-reviewed journal articles.  Barnes authored approximately 40 scientific articles during his career. This is significant because peer-reviewed scientific articles are considered the “currency of science.”
Sources: 
Harry W. Greene, Holders of Doctorates Among American Negroes (Boston: Meador Publishing, 1946); Beyond Small Numbers: Voices of African American Ph.D. Chemists (Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 2005); W. Saxon, “Harold Delaney, Educator, 74 and Wife, Geraldine, Are Slain,” The New York Times, Aug 9, 1994, p B10; “Harold and Geraldine Delaney; Slain Couple Were Educators,” The Washington Post, Aug 7, 1994, p B6; K. Heise,  “Harold Delaney And Wife, Geraldine,” Chicago Tribune. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1994-08-11/news/9408110021_1_mr-delaney-chicago-state-university-interim-president (accessed Jul 20, 2011); "Nephew convicted of murdering his uncle, Dr. Harold Delaney, gets death sentence," Jet, FindArticles.com. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1355/is_n4_v89/ai_17801936/ (accessed Jul 21, 2011).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
College of Wooster

Gipson, Carl (1924– )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Carl Gipson was the first African-American city council member in the city of Everett, Washington, serving from 1971 until 1995. Born in Lincoln County, Arkansas, on January 11, 1924, Gipson grew up as the grandson of former slave, Doc Gipson, who had accumulated a substantial amount of land to grow cotton, corn, and other crops. In his upbringing, Carl Gipson encountered the many disadvantages of the Jim Crow South on a daily basis. His family was also struck by natural disasters. In 1927, for example, Lincoln County became flooded, and only a few years later, it suffered a year-long drought from 1930 to 1931. In this troubling time, Gipson’s family became impoverished. Because local African American children had only a slight chance to receive an education, Gipson moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, to attend Dunbar High School. There he met Jodie Mae Waugh, whom he would eventually marry in 1942 after graduation. The two moved to Richmond, California, in 1943 where he worked as a welder in a shipyard.
Sources: 
Noah Hagland, “Award-winning artist paints mural to honor Carl Gipson,” The Everett Herald, June 11, 2014) http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20140611/NEWS01/140619883; Eric Stevic, “Community helps Carl Gipson celebrate his 90th,” The Everett Herald, January 17, 2014, http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20140117/COMM01/140119342; John Caldbick, “Gipson, Carl (b. 1924,” HistoryLink, http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?displaypage=output.cfm&file_id=10696.
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

93rd Infantry Division (1942-1946)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
93rd Infantry Soldiers in Japanese Territory, Bougainville
Island, New Guinea, May 1, 1944. 
Image Courtesy of U.S. Army Archives

Activated on May 15, 1942, at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, the U.S. Ninety-third Infantry Division was the first segregated division-size infantry unit mobilized during the Second World War.  Composed of White general staff officers and African American junior officers and enlisted men, the Ninety-third was made up of the draftee 369th and the veteran 368th and the 25th Infantry Regiments along with an assortment of field battalions and companies. 

After its formation, the division conducted its basic training at Fort Huachuca, before heading to Louisiana during the spring of 1943 where the unit staged field operations against the Eighty-fifth Infantry Division during the Third Army Maneuvers.  In late 1943, the Ninety-third moved westward to California where the unit went through desert training exercises before departing from the United States for the South Pacific Theater of Operations in January, 1944.

Sources: 
Robert F. Jefferson, Fighting for Hope:  African American Troops of the 93rd Infantry Division in World War II and Postwar America (Baltimore:  The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Xavier University (Ohio)

The Moore’s Ford Lynching (July 1946)

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
On July 14, 1946, four African American sharecroppers were lynched at Moore’s Ford in northeast Georgia in an event now described as the “last mass lynching in America.” Yet the killers of George Dorsey, Mae Murray Dorsey, Roger Malcolm, and Dorothy Malcolm were never brought to justice. The violence and public outcry surrounding the event reflected growing African American challenges to Jim Crow in the post-World War II years as well the failures of state and federal authorities to address racial inequality and violence in the South.  
Sources: 
Laura Wexler, Fire in a Canebrake: The Last Mass Lynching in America (New York: Scribner, 2003);  Wallace H. Warren, "'The Best People in Town Won't Talk': The Moore's Ford Lynching of 1946 and Its Cover-Up," in Georgia in Black and White: Explorations in the Race Relations of a Southern State, 1865-1950, ed. John C. Inscoe (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1994);  Mark Auslander, “Touching the Past:  Materializing Time in Traumatic ‘Living History’ Re-enactments,” Signs and Society 1 (March 2013), 161-83.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Georgia Southwestern State University

Soweto, South Africa (1904- )

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

Soweto, an acronym for “South Western Townships,” is a grouping of townships scattered across twenty kilometers southwest of Johannesburg, South Africa.  A quintessential example of segregationist planning, Soweto initially was the result of mass evictions and evacuations of black residents of the city of Brickfields by the British colonial authorities in the first years of the 20th Century.  Though initially serving as an evacuation camp, Soweto was later designated to house black laborers who worked in British-operated mines and industrial sites away from the city center.  

Sources: 
Kevin Shillington, Encyclopedia of African History (New York: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2004); Baruch Hirson, Year of Fire, Year of Ash: The Soweto Revolt: Roots of a Revolution? (London: Zed, 1979); D. Du Toit, Capital and Labor in South Africa: Class Struggle in the 1970s (London: Kegan Paul International, 1981); http://www.sahistory.org.za/pages/places/villages/gauteng/johannesburg/02_suburbs.htm#top
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Massie, Samuel Proctor (1919-2005)

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

Born July 3, 1919 in North Little Rock, Arkansas, Samuel Proctor Massie was as one of the few African American scientists to work on the Manhattan Project during World War II.  He later became a distinguished professor of chemistry.

Massie graduated from Dunbar High School in Little Rock at the age of 13.  At age 18, he earned his bachelor’s in science and was summa cum laude from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in 1937.  With a scholarship from the National Youth Administration he earned a master’s degree in chemistry at Fisk University in 1940 when he was only 21 years old.  Massie said his desire to find a cure for his father's asthma spurred him to become a chemist.

As he neared the completion of his doctorate in chemistry at Iowa State University in 1942, Massie lost his draft deferment.  When he was about to be drafted in his home state of Arkansas, his major professor at Iowa State, Henry Gilman, who was already working on the Manhattan Project, assigned Massie to his research team.  Massie performed his research at Iowa State University from 1942 to 1946 where he helped in the development of uranium isotopes for the atomic bomb.   
Sources: 
Samuel Proctor Massie (with Robert C. Hayden), Catalyst: The Autobiography of an American Chemist (Laurel, Md.: S.P. Massie, 2001); Neal Thompson, "The Chemist: An Interview with Samuel P. Massie," American Legacy 7 (Spring 2001); "Samuel Proctor Massie, Jr.," The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture, http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=4443; “Obituary,” Jet, May 9, 2005, 24.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Case Western Reserve University

Caldwell, Elvin R., Sr. (1919-2004)

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

Politician Elvin R. Caldwell Sr. was born on April 11, 1919 in Denver, Colorado. Raised in Five Points, Denver’s predominantly black community, Caldwell was one of 12 children in his family. After graduating from Eastside High School in 1937, Caldwell earned a track scholarship to the University of Colorado and then transferred to the University of Denver, graduating in 1941.

During World War II Caldwell worked as a Chief Statistician for the Remington Arms Company.  This munitions manufacturer had 19,500 employees and produced 6.5 million rounds a day during the height of the conflict. After the end of the war, many Denver blacks who had been employed in the war economy were displaced and faced issues of racial discrimination from the larger community.  This discriminatory environment led Caldwell into local politics.

Sources: 
Diana DeGette, “Tribute to Elvin R. Caldwell, Sr.,” 150 Cong. Record, E768 (May 6, 2004).; Monica Pirolo, "Elvin R. Caldwell," Colorado Encyclopedia, https://coloradoencyclopedia.org/article/elvin-r-caldwell; “Legislator Record,” http://www.leg.state.co.us/lcs/leghist.nsf/5e6acf1f4ca35ab9872573830079a7bf/e34c422128aa66b3872578e2005d53ff.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

761st Tank Battalion (1942-45)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
Able Company, 761st Tank Batalion Crossing the Seille River
in France, Nov. 9, 1944
Image Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Defense

The 761st Tank Battalion was formed in the spring of 1942 and was the first African American tank battalion to see combat in the Second World War. Commanding this battalion was a white Lt. Colonel, Paul L. Bates.  As the unit fell under the scrutiny of other white officers who were critical of blacks as soldiers and especially as tankers, Bates pushed the 761st in its quest for excellence. 

Sources: 

Charles W. Sasser, Pattons’ Panthers: the African American 761st Tank Battalion in World War II (New York: Pocket Books, 2004); Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII’s Forgotten Heroes.  (New York: Broadway Books, 2004); Ulysses Lee, The Employment of Negro Troops (Honolulu: University Press of the Pacific, 2004).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Graves, Letitia A. (1863-1952)

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Holmes, Oscar W., Jr. (1916–2001)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
Oscar Wayman Holmes Jr., the first African American commissioned officer in the United States Navy and its first black aircraft pilot, was also the first black air traffic controller. Born January 31, 1916, he was the son of Oscar Sr. and Grace Holmes of Dunbar, West Virginia. After completing Garnet High School in Charleston, West Virginia, Holmes graduated from West Virginia State College in 1938. He later received a master’s degree in chemistry at Ohio State University in 1939. Holmes taught chemistry at Claflin College, a historically black school in Orangeburg, South Carolina, from 1937 to 1940.
Sources: 
Robert J. Schneller Jr., “Oscar Holmes: A Place in Naval Aviation,” Naval Aviation News, (January-February 1998; Terry Kraus, “Oscar Holmes: He Broke Three Color Barriers, But Few Knew,” at http://www.faa.gov/about/history/people/media/Oscar_Holme_article.pdf; Dionne Irving, “Longtime Mitchellville Resident Dies, Leaving Aviation Legacy,” at http://ww2.gazette.net/gazette_archive/2001/200149/bowie/news/82815-1.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
San Diego State University

Bokassa, Jean-Bédel (1921-1996)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History

 

Image courtesy of ©Bettmann-Corbis

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

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

Jeffries, Jasper Brown (1912-1994)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History