Maceo Pinkard (1897-1962)

Maceo Pinkard was born on June 27, 1897 in Bluefield, West Virginia. He was an American lyricist and music composer that emerged from the Harlem Renaissance. Some of his best known works include “Sweet Georgia Brown,” now the Harlem Globetrotters theme song, and the Broadway musical, Liza. After his death … Read MoreMaceo Pinkard (1897-1962)

Noel C. Taylor (1924-1998)

Noel C. Taylor became the first African American mayor of Roanoke, Virginia. He held office from 1976 to 1992, and was the city’s longest serving mayor. Taylor was widely considered one of the most influential leaders in the city’s history.  A Republican, he was elected mayor in 1976 after … Read MoreNoel C. Taylor (1924-1998)

Franklin D. Cleckley (1940-2017)

Franklin Dorrah Cleckley, the first African American to serve as a justice on the West Virginia Supreme Court, was born on August 1, 1940, in Huntington, West Virginia. His mother was Vivian Wood. After graduating from high school, he attended Anderson College and earned his bachelor’s degree in … Read MoreFranklin D. Cleckley (1940-2017)

Julius Henry Taylor (1914-2011)

Julius Henry Taylor was an American physicist, scholarly publisher, physics professor, and one of the first African Americans to receive a Ph.D. in physics in the nation. Taylor was born on February 15th, 1914, in Cape May, New Jersey, to his parents Julia Taylor and Coleman Taylor. Taylor grew … Read MoreJulius Henry Taylor (1914-2011)

William Demby (1922-2013)

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 … Read MoreWilliam Demby (1922-2013)

Vasco De Gama Hale (1915-2002)

Vasco De Gama Hale, educator, blinded veterans’ association organizer, and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) official, was born in Crawford, Mississippi, to Brotop and Jane Hale on February 16, 1915. His father, Brotop, toiled as a sharecropper for a short time … Read MoreVasco De Gama Hale (1915-2002)

Vernon Napoleon Johns (1892-1965)

Vernon Napoleon Johns was an American minister and civil rights activist. Johns was best known as the predecessor to Martin Luther King Jr. as pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, from 1948–1953. Johns was born in Darlington Heights, Prince Edward County, … Read MoreVernon Napoleon Johns (1892-1965)

Dorothy Johnson Vaughan (1910-2008)

Dorothy Johnson Vaughan was a teacher who became a leading mathematical engineer in the first aerospace program with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), and the first African American woman promoted to supervisor in the program. Vaughan was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on … Read MoreDorothy Johnson Vaughan (1910-2008)