Independent Historian

Lexis Withers was born in Tacoma, Washington and has moved around the neighboring areas including Seattle growing up. She is currently a student at the University of Washington majoring in Sociology with a minor in diversity.  She plans on starting my own organization to encourage youth, specifically black youth, in inner cities to talk about their mental and emotional health and to set up different programs within the organization to promote good mental health and how to reach out for help when it is needed. Her dad and his family are predominantly from Memphis, Tennessee and Olive Branch, Mississippi. Growing up and listening to my grandparent’s stories on what it was like growing up in the deep south in the late 1920s and 1930s made me realize how strong they truly are. Lexis hopes to share their stories as well as others to encourage black youth that they are going to make it in this world even when society tells them otherwise.

Bill Duke (1943- )

Film director and actor (William) Bill Duke was born on February 26, 1943 in Poughkeepsie, New York to Ethel Douglas Duke and William Duke Sr. After earning his A.A. degree from Dutchess Community College, Duke became interested in the performing arts while attending Boston University in Massachusetts, although he initially enrolled … Read MoreBill Duke (1943- )

Margaret Tynes (1919-2024)

Margaret Tynes is an African American opera, concert, and oratorio soprano and singing actress. Tynes was born on September 11, 1919 to parents Rev. and Mrs. J. W. Tynes, in Saluda, Virginia. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 1939.  While there she … Read MoreMargaret Tynes (1919-2024)

Mario Van Peebles (1957- )

Mario Cain Van Peebles was born in Mexico City, Mexico on January 15, 1957 and is the son of writer, director, and actor Melvin Van Peebles and German actress and photographer Maria Marx. He graduated from Saint Thomas More School in Connecticut in 1974 and from Columbia University in 1978 with a bachelor’s … Read MoreMario Van Peebles (1957- )

Rafer Johnson (1935-2020)

American Olympic athlete Rafer Johnson was born on August 18, 1935 in Hillsboro, Texas to parents Lewis Johnson and Alma Gibson Johnson. When he was around nine years old, the family moved from Texas to Kingsburg, California. He attended Kingsburg High School where he was part of the football, basketball, baseball, … Read MoreRafer Johnson (1935-2020)

Melvin Van Peebles (1932-2021)

Actor and director Melvin Van Peebles was born on August 21, 1932 in Chicago, Illinois to parents Edwin Griffin and Marion Peebles. He grew up in suburban Phoenix, Illinois, where his father worked as a tailor and graduated from Thornton Township High School in 1949. Van Peebles spent a … Read MoreMelvin Van Peebles (1932-2021)

CAMEO (1974 – )

The band CAMEO is a rhythm-and-blues influenced group that initially formed in the 1970s. They were a 14-member group originally known as the New York City Players but they later changed their name in order to avoid confusion with another well-known group, at the time, the Ohio Players. CAMEO has had … Read MoreCAMEO (1974 – )

Joseph W. Winters (1816-1916)

Joseph Winters was born in 1816 in near Harper’s Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia) to James Winters, an African American brick maker who worked at the federal arsenal there, and a Shawnee Indian mother whose name is unknown. Winters was raised by his grandmother Betsy Cross in Waterford, Virginia.  Cross … Read MoreJoseph W. Winters (1816-1916)