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Gregory S. Bell

investment banker and entrepreneur, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the third of four children of Travers Bell Sr., a clerk at a brokerage firm, and Iona St. Ange, a teaching aide. Growing up on the tough streets of Chicago's South Side could often be rough, and Bell would later credit his experiences for giving him the wherewithal to survive and succeed on Wall Street later in his life.

After graduating from high school Bell planned to go to a teachers college At the time his father was working in the backroom of Dempsey Tegeler a Midwestern brokerage firm One summer Bell needed money so his father got him a job as a messenger at the firm On Bell s first day on the job a manager asked him to deliver a briefcase to a company across the street While walking to the destination Bell peeked into the briefcase and ...


John N. Ingham

Jesse Binga was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Robert Binga, Jr., a barber, and Adelphia Powers, a builder and real estate owner. (Nearly all sources cite William W. Binga as Jesse Binga's father, but all are based on a December 1927 article by Inez V. Cantley in Crisis, which may not be reliable. A family member, Anthony J. Binga, Sr., after conducting research in the census records from the Courts of Records of the Dominion of Canada, claimed that Jesse Binga's father was Robert Binga, Jr. Who's Who in Colored America [1928–1929] also names Robert Binga as Jesse Binga's father.) The Binga family owned and managed real estate properties, and, according to a number of sources, it was Adelphia Binga who possessed most of the family s business acumen As a youngster Binga helped his mother collect rents on the family s ...


Lester C. Lamon

The son of Richard Henry Boyd and Hattie Moore, Henry Allen Boyd was born in Grimes County, Texas, on April 15, 1876, and grew up in San Antonio. During the early 1870s his father, a former slave and Texas cowboy, received the call to the ministry and launched a successful career as a minister, church promoter, and entrepreneur. More than any of his eight brothers and sisters, Henry Allen identified with his father's aggressive concern for race achievement and personal initiative. While still in his teens, the younger Boyd attained a clerkship in the San Antonio post office (the first African American to hold such a position), and he held this post until he moved his wife and young daughter to Nashville, Tennessee, just before the turn of the century. Nashville remained Henry Boyd's residence until his death in 1959.

Richard Henry Boyd had become active ...


Eric Ledell Smith

businessman and banker, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Robert Brown, a turnkey in the local jail, and Anne Brown, a homemaker. E. C. Brown was the eldest of three children. He attended the public schools in Philadelphia and after his high school graduation worked for three years as a mail clerk at the financial firm of Bradstreet Mercantile. He took stenography and typewriting classes at the Spencerian Business College in Philadelphia and subsequently worked as a stenographer for the National Railway Company but was soon laid off. Brown then became secretary to a Frank Thompson, who ran a catering business in Florida in the late 1890s. Around 1901 Brown left Thompson and started a real estate business in Newport News, Virginia. By 1908 he was renting more than 300 houses and had more than 800 tenants. On 27 June 1908 he opened the Crown Savings Bank ...


Kathleen E. A. Monteith

governor of the Bank of Jamaica, is regarded as one of Jamaica’s most preeminent public servants of the post-independence era. He was born in Black River in the parish of St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, on 25 July 1922, to Samuel Austin Brown, a policeman, and Gertrude Parchment Brown, a housewife. He attended Gayle Primary and Oracabessa Primary schools (both in St. Mary Parish) before entering St. Simon’s College, then a very prestigious Jamaican Catholic school in Kingston. He was later employed at St. Simon’s as a young teacher while training for the priesthood. Brown completed three years of religious training in 1941, but came to the realization that the priesthood was not for him, given the strictures requiring celibacy. Following his graduation from St. Simon’s, Brown secured an accounting position in the Income Tax Department, where he remained until 1947 That same year he won an Issa scholarship ...


Leigh Kimmel

politician and the first African American statewide elected officeholder in Illinois, was born in Centralia, Illinois, the son of Earl, a worker with the Illinois Central Railroad, and Emma Burris. His family also ran a store to supplement his father's railroad wages. Because both of his parents were busy during the day, when Burris was four years old he would often accompany his older siblings to school, where he would sit on the platform outside the door, listening to the class being conducted inside.

While he attended Centralia Township High School he was active in sports becoming an All State defensive safety in football in spite of being only five feet six inches inches tall He also became increasingly aware of racial discrimination in his community during high school and at sixteen he helped to integrate the Centralia public pool When the city unofficially designated the pool for whites only ...


Steven Leikin

diplomat, preacher, and author, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Sallie Montgomery. Nothing is known of his biological father. His mother, however, was an African American, and Dennis was of mixed race parentage. In 1897 he was adopted by Green Dennis, a contractor, and Cornelia Walker. During his youth Dennis was known as the “mulatto child evangelist,” and he preached to church congregations in the African American community of Atlanta before he was five years old. By the age of fifteen he had toured churches throughout the United States and England and addressed hundreds of thousands of people.

Despite his success as an evangelist Dennis had ambitions to move beyond this evangelical milieu. In 1913, unschooled but unquestionably bright, he applied to Phillips Exeter Academy and gained admission. He graduated within two years and in 1915 entered Harvard.

Dennis s decisions to ...


Charles Rosenberg

building engineer, real estate investor, chairman and majority owner of a bank, was born in Panama City, Florida, the only son of Jacoby D. Dickens, Sr. and Marie Dickens, who may also have been known as Lessie Mae. The latter name is recorded in the 1940 census, but Marie is the name Dickens gave in a 1999 interview for The History Makers Digital Archive.

Dickens had two older sisters and three younger ones. His father was a longshoreman, loading and unloading ocean vessels. In Florida he attended a racially segregated two-room schoolhouse, with two teachers each handling four grades. He had a job after school in a grocery store for $1.50 a week. After his parents divorced, he moved with his father and sisters to Chicago in 1946 where Dickens held a part time job at Goldblatt Brothers and graduated from Wendell Phillips High School ...


Lynne B. Feldman

entrepreneur, was born Arthur George Gaston in Demopolis, Alabama, the son of Tom Gaston, a railroad worker, and Rosa Gaston (maiden name unknown), a cook. He grew up in poverty in rural Alabama before he and his mother moved to Birmingham, Alabama, after his father's death. He attended, and for a good time resided at, Tuggle Institute, where he received a moral and industrial education. In 1910 he graduated from the school with a tenth grade certificate. Before and after graduation he worked at a number of part-time jobs, including selling subscriptions for the Birmingham Reporter.

Gaston served in World War I in France as a sergeant in the 317th Ammunition Train of the all black 92nd Division of the U S army Upon his return to the United States he briefly worked at a dry cleaning factory for five dollars a day before landing a job ...


Lynne B. Feldman

Gaston, A. G. (04 July 1892–19 January 1996), entrepreneur, was born Arthur George Gaston in Demopolis, Alabama, the son of Tom Gaston, a railroad worker, and Rosa Gaston (maiden name unknown), a cook. He grew up in poverty in rural Alabama before he and his mother moved to Birmingham, Alabama, after his father's death. He attended, and for a good time resided at, Tuggle Institute, where he received a moral and industrial education. In 1910 he graduated from the school with a tenth grade certificate. Before and after graduation, he worked at a variety of part-time jobs, including selling subscriptions for the Birmingham Reporter.

Gaston served in World War I in France as a sergeant in the 317th Ammunition Train of the all black Ninety second Division of the U S Army On returning to the United States he briefly worked at a dry cleaning factory ...


Ntewusu Aniegye

Ghanaian business leader, nationalist, and politician, was born on 17 June 1913 in Warri, Nigeria, to Emma Dey and Awummee Gbedema from Anyarko, in the present-day Volta region of Ghana. Gbedemah was the eldest son among six siblings. He received his elementary education from 1916–1927 in Keta in the Volta region, and Accra. In 1928 he sat for the Junior School Certificate Examination and passed, enabling him to attend Achimota School.

At Achimota, after failing to earn the required grade in the qualifying examination, Gbedemah could not obtain a scholarship to pursue his dream of a career in medicine. He did, however, gain employment as a part-time proofreader and editor of the Times, owned by J B Danquah a leading Gold Coast as present day Ghana was called during the colonial era nationalist and one of the founding members of the United Gold Coast Convention UGCC His work with ...


Efraim Barak

Egyptian economist and banker, was born in the al-Jamaliya quarter of Cairo to a family of Bedouin origin that migrated to Cairo several years earlier from a village in the vicinity of the Delta. His family belonged to the middle class and his father Hasan Muhammad Harb worked at the government railroad administration. In 1885 Harb completed his studies at the al Tawfiqiya high school in Cairo and began studying at the Khedival Law College Kuliyyat al Huquq which was at the end of the nineteenth century an incubator for many of the Egyptian nationalists and modernists such as Mustafa Kamil Muhamad Farid and Ahmad Lutfi al Sayyid In the college Harb obtained in depth knowledge in Western culture as well as in French culture and law which was the basis for the study of law in Egypt at the time Following his graduation he worked as a translator ...


Maitseo Bolaane

government official and central banker in Botswana, was born in Cape Town on 23 December 1936. His father Henry Hodgson Hermans was the senior partner in a leading Cape Town law firm. His mother Marjorie Stanhope (nee Lamb) Hermans was a civil rights activist, prominent in the Black Sash organization, and in the Anglican Church. She also managed the family cattle ranch in the Bechuanaland Protectorate after the death of her father in 1945.

Hermans, nicknamed “Quill,” completed his matriculation in 1955 at Diocesan College, Rondebosch, South Africa. He holds an MA in geography (1959) from Oxford University (Trinity College), a diploma in economics, social, and industrial development from University of Pittsburgh (1960), an MA in African studies (1961) from Howard University in Washington, D.C., and an MA in development economics from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee (1967).

Before taking ...


Michael Adams

professional football player, was born in Clover, Virginia. Information about his parents is unknown. He played football at Maggie Walker High School in Richmond, Virginia, becoming a linebacker during his senior season. After graduating in 1963, Lanier originally planned to attend Virginia State University to study business administration. Yet he decided to seek a more racially tolerant environment farther north and enrolled at Morgan State University in Baltimore. He contacted Morgan State football coach Earl “Papa Bear” Banks about the possibility of playing, but Lanier was told there were no scholarships. Scoring in the top 10 percent of his incoming class on his college entrance exam, Lanier had not expected to be a scholarship athlete. Instead, he acquired a student loan and found a work-study job on campus.

Initially making the team as a walk on Lanier quickly established himself as an outstanding linebacker and eventually received a ...


Travis Boyce and Winsome Chunnu-Brayda

civil-rights activist, soldier, commercial banker, and stock broker, was born Joseph Alfred McNeil on 25 March 1942 in Wilmington, North Carolina. Even prior to entering college, civil-rights activism was not new to McNeil. As a youth in Wilmington, he participated in a boycott of Pepsi-Cola for discriminatory hiring practices. By attending a segregated school, McNeil was shielded from the hostility that one would otherwise experience at an integrated school. His teachers constantly emphasized to him and his classmates that they are entitled to the same rights and opportunities as their white counterparts.

McNeil graduated from Wilmington's Williston High School in 1959 and that fall entered North Carolina Agriculture and Technical College in Greensboro on an alumni association scholarship. An engineering-physics major, McNeil was also a cadet in the Air Force ROTC program. During his freshman year, McNeil befriended Franklin McCain, David Richmond, and Ezell Blair (later Jibreel Khazan ...


Robert Fikes

minister, educational administrator, and civic activist, was born in Hayneville, Alabama, the son of Will Smith, a sharecropper, and Amanda (Tyler) Smith, a laundress. Valedictorian of his Miller's Ferry, Alabama, Presbyterian high school class, George worked his way through Knoxville College in Tennessee majoring in chemistry with a minor in biology and German. A member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, he was awarded his bachelor's degree in 1951, the same year that he married Irene Hightower; they eventually had three children.

Smith was taking graduate courses in education at Alabama State University while teaching high school in the rural town of Annemanie, Alabama, when a series of incidents of extreme racial brutality persuaded him to leave his job and his home state and enter the ministry, a career path that he had earlier rejected. In 1953 he enrolled at the Pittsburgh ...


Elwood Watson

self-described Queen of the Harlem “numbers” racket, was born in Martinique around 1886, although she affected a strong French accent and told people that she had been born in Europe. She arrived in the United States in 1912, and like many other Afro-Caribbean immigrants at this time, she settled in Harlem. In the ethnically segregated climate of New York City, she was known by different names. In predominately white, upscale Manhattan, she was called “Queenie.” In black Harlem, she was referred to as “Madame St. Clair.” An important figure in the New York underworld, she was known for her arrogance, abrasive behavior, and fierce temper.

The earliest numbers banks an illegal lottery also known as the policy racket first flourished in New York City in the early 1920s They were primarily located in Harlem and operated by African Americans such as the South Carolina born Ellsworth Bumpy Johnson ...


Owen J. M. Kalinga

one of the most powerful and feared politicians during the thirty years of Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda's dominance of Malawi, was born on 4 September 1932 in Dedza District in the present-day Central Region of Malawi. His father, Zenas Tembo, originally from Mzimba District in the north of the country, trained as a teacher and pastor at Mvera, a major center of the Dutch Reformed Church, now part of the Church of Central African Presbyterian (CCAP). His mother, Esnati Nachulu, was from the Mphezi chieftainship of matrilineal heritage in the Matawamilonde area in Dedza, which then became the home of the Tembos.

John Tembo went to Mlanda Mission primary school from which he proceeded to Blantyre Secondary School Four years later he passed the Cambridge School Certificate and entered Pius XII College later renamed the National University of Lesotho on a Nyasaland government scholarship After graduating with a B A ...


Shennette Garrett-Scott

At the time of his birth Walker’s father, Dr. Joseph Edison Walker, served as president of the Mississippi Life Insurance Company and of the Delta Penny Savings Bank; his mother, Lelia (also Lela) O’Neal Walker, was a homemaker. He had one sister, Johnetta. The family moved to Memphis in 1920.

After graduating from Memphis’s LeMoyne High School, where he played both baseball and football, Walker earned his Bachelor’s degree from Fisk University in 1930 and his Master of Arts in Actuarial Science from the University of Michigan in 1932. He became the first African American actuary in Tennessee and was among a tiny fraternity of Africans Americans formally trained in actuarial science in the United States. As an undergraduate he worked various jobs, including sales and auditing, at the Universal Life Insurance Company, which his father founded in Memphis in 1923 after being ousted from the Mississippi ...


Steven J. Niven

banker, lawyer, and political activist, was born on the campus of Kittrell College in Vance County, North Carolina. He was the younger of two children born to John Leonidas Wheeler, the president of Kittrell College, and Margaret Hervey. Shortly after John was born, his father left Kittrell to work for the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company in nearby Durham. The family moved again in 1912 to Atlanta, Georgia, where John’s father took a position as a regional supervisor for the North Carolina Mutual. The move ensured that John Hervey Wheeler enjoyed a relatively comfortable childhood among Atlanta’s black elite. He was a member of the prestigious Big Bethel African Methodist Episcopal church, attended public school in Atlanta up to the seventh grade, earned local fame as an accomplished violinist, and completed his high school education at Morehouse College. Wheeler graduated summa cum laude from Morehouse in 1929 ...