Nat “King” Cole (1919-1965)

Jazz pianist and popular singer Nathaniel Adams Coles was born into a musical family in Montgomery, Alabama on March 17, 1919.  His mother Perlina was a choir director in his father Edward’s Baptist church.  His three brothers, Edward, Ike, and Freddy, became professional musicians.  Cole … Read MoreNat “King” Cole (1919-1965)

Vivien Thomas (1910-1985)

Described as the “most untalked about, unappreciated, unknown giant in the African American community,” by Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr., Vivien Thomas received an honorary doctorate from Johns Hopkins University in 1976, and while this was undoubtedly memorable, the decades which preceded this moment were equally … Read MoreVivien Thomas (1910-1985)

Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment (1932-1972)

Acting on the presumption that rural southern blacks were generally more promiscuous and syphilitic than whites, and without sufficient funding to establish an effective treatment program for them, doctors working with the Public Health Service (PHS) commenced a multi-year experiment in 1932. Their actions deprived … Read MoreTuskegee Syphilis Experiment (1932-1972)

Tuskegee Airmen

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 … Read MoreTuskegee Airmen

Claude McKay (1889-1948)

Harlem Renaissance writer Festus Claudius McKay was born on September 15, 1889, in Sunny Ville, in the Clarendon Hills of Jamaica, to peasant farmers Hannah Ann Elizabeth Edwards  and Thomas Frank McKay. Young Claude was tutored by his elder schoolmaster brother, Uriah Theodore McKay, who introduced … Read MoreClaude McKay (1889-1948)