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Jennifer Jensen Wallach

author, composer, and activist. When Shirley Graham Du Bois was thirteen years old she met the prominent scholar and activist W. E. B. Du Bois. The meeting had a profound impact on her political and personal development, for she eventually married Du Bois in 1951. She became well known as W. E. B. Du Bois's second wife, causing some to overlook her tremendous personal accomplishments.

Shirley Graham was born near Evansville, Indiana, to David Graham and Etta Graham. Her father was an African Methodist Episcopal minister, a career that caused him to move his family to various locations in the United States, including Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, and Nashville. At his churches Shirley first discovered a love for music, learning to play the organ and piano. She completed high school in Spokane, Washington, and then moved to Seattle, where she married Shadrack T. McCants ...

Article

Robert L. Gale

Graham, Shirley (11 November 1896–27 March 1977), musical composer and director, author, and political activist also known as Shirley Graham Du Bois was born Lola Bell Graham in Indianapolis Indiana the daughter of the Reverend David A Graham an African Methodist Episcopal minister and Etta Bell She accompanied them when her father held pastorates in New Orleans Colorado Springs and Spokane He delighted her with stories about important blacks in American history In his churches she learned to play the piano and the pipe organ and to conduct choirs In 1914 she graduated from high school in Spokane took business school courses and worked in government offices in Spokane and Seattle After she married Shadrach T McCanns in 1921 she gave private music lessons and played the organ in white movie theaters hidden backstage She had two sons Robert and David and was either widowed in 1924 ...

Article

Daniel J. Leab

composer, orchestrator, arranger, and musician, once called the “Dean of Afro-American Composers,” was born in Woodville, Mississippi, the son of William Grant Still, a music teacher and bandmaster, and Carrie Lena Fambro, a schoolteacher. His father died during Still's infancy. Still and his mother moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, where she taught school and in 1909 or 1910 married Charles Shepperson, a railway postal clerk, who strongly supported his stepson's musical interests. Still graduated from high school at sixteen, valedictorian of his class, and went to Wilberforce University.

Still's mother had wanted him to become a doctor, but music became his primary interest. He taught himself to play the oboe and clarinet, formed a string quartet in which he played violin, arranged music for his college band, and began composing; a concert of his music was presented at the school. In 1915 ...