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John N. Ingham

businessman and politician, was born a free person of color in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Bernard Cohen and Amelia Bingaman, a free woman of color. Although Cohen's father was Jewish, he was raised as and remained throughout his life a Roman Catholic. His parents died when he was in the fourth grade, whereupon he had to quit school, though he later attended Straight University in New Orleans for several years. As a boy Cohen became a cigar maker and later worked in a saloon. His entrée into the world of politics came during the period of Reconstruction, when he worked as a page in the state legislature, then meeting in New Orleans. There, Cohen became acquainted with several influential black Republicans, among them Oscar J. Dunn, C. C. Antoine, and P. B. S. Pinchback Pinchback founder of and dominant figure in the city ...

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Paul Stillwell

pioneer black naval officer, was born in Washington, North Carolina, the eighth of eleven children of Edward L. Cooper, a sheet metal worker, and Laura J. Cooper a homemaker One of the eleven siblings died in infancy the remaining ten became college graduates During his upbringing in North Carolina Cooper often faced the tribulations of southern racism He went to segregated schools and learned from his parents that he had to go out of his way to avoid conflict with whites Once when Cooper was eight or nine years old he got into a fight with a white boy As he put it It was the wrong day for him to call me a nigger and we had it out Stillwell 76 Cooper s father had to smooth things over with the boy s father to avoid the incident s escalation When he worked as a bellhop in ...

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Marcus Shepard

lawyer, businessman, civil rights leader, and Chicago alderman, was born in Canton, Mississippi, to Edward Dickerson and Emma Garrett Fielding. Earl Dickerson's maternal grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Garrett, bought his freedom in the 1850s and owned a livery stable as well as several other properties in Canton. His business was destroyed during the Civil War, however, and by the time Earl was born the family lived in relative poverty. Edward Dickerson, who worked away from home as an upholsterer, died when Earl was five and he was raised by his mother, who did laundry for local whites, his paternal half-sister, and his maternal grandmother, who ran a small boarding house in Canton.

In 1906 Dickerson was sent to live with relatives in New Orleans where he attended the preparatory school of New Orleans University Unfortunately family finances forced him to return to Canton ...

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Laura Arata

and alderman of Knoxville, Tennessee, was born in Tennessee. Almost nothing is known of his early life. By 1850 and likely much earlier he was owned by Nathan Gammon a prominent white resident of Jonesboro in Washington County in far east Tennessee who was among the region s largest slaveholders Some significant details about Isaac s life can be gleaned through knowledge of Nathan Gammon s treatment of him Isaac attended Jonesboro Presbyterian Church and appears sporadically in their records as a member It also appears that Isaac Gammon was allowed to perform independent work and keep wages earned from it in addition to keeping house at least part of the time with a free black woman named Nancy Jones Arata forthcoming Both keeping wages and keeping company with free blacks were illegal in antebellum Tennessee but Nathan Gammon seems to have been content to ignore the law as ...

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Wendy Plotkin

the son of Robert Robinson Taylor and Beatrice Rochon Taylor. The senior Taylor, in a forty-year career starting in 1893, rose to become Tuskegee Institute’s chief architect and planner, designing most of the school’s academic and other buildings, while also serving as director of the mechanical industries program. He was also the first African American to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he received a bachelor of science in Architecture in 1892. Robert Rochon Taylor attended Tuskegee public schools and the Tuskegee Institute, the latter for a building course, constructing a rural school as a project. He studied architecture at Howard University from 1916–1919, but terminated his studies to manage an Opelika, Alabama sawmill designed by his father. In 1922 he resumed his education at the predominantly white University of Illinois (in Urbana), where, in 1925 he received a B S degree in business administration ...