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David Alvin Canton

lawyer and judge, was the third of five children born to Hillard Boone Alexander, a laborer from Mecklenburg County, Virginia, and Virginia Pace, from Essex County, Virginia. Alexander's parents were born slaves, but were freed by the Thirteenth Amendment following the Civil War. In 1880 they migrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where they lived in the Seventh Ward, a community that would later be made famous by W. E. B. Du Bois's seminal 1899 study The Philadelphia Negro. In 1903Alexander's mother died of pneumonia. Because his father worked long hours, Alexander and his siblings moved to North Philadelphia to live with his maternal aunt, Georgia Chandler Pace From the age of seven Alexander attended school and worked at various jobs including dockworker newspaper boy general helper at the Metropolitan Opera House in North Philadelphia Pullman porter and when he was in his early twenties ...

Article

Aaron L. Day

recreation commissioner, PTA president, and community advocate, was born Mary Dell Byrd in Greenville, Texas, to Eliza Henderson and George Byrd, who worked as a porter for the railroad. Mary had a twin sister named Adele—the only children in the family—and attended grade school and high school in Greenville. After high school, Byrd married Charlie Joe Christian and had two daughters, Georgia and Beverly. The marriage lasted only a few years, and at age twenty-one, she moved to Long Beach, California, with her two daughters. There she met Richard Butler, and the two were married in 1948. The couple had six sons: Anthony, Reginald, Douglas, Stanley, Timothy, and Eric. It was because of her children that Butler became engaged in school and civil rights activism.

The 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education declared segregation in public schools to be unconstitutional and that ...

Article

Sandra Kelman

community activist, city councilwoman, and ordained minister, was born Beatrice Frankie Fowler in Wake Forest, North Carolina, to Maude Fowler, a domestic worker, and to a father who left when she was a toddler. In a 1989Baltimore Sun Magazine article, Gaddy recalled “many days” that she and her four siblings (Mottie Fowler, Pete Young, Tony Fowler, and Mabel Beasly) “didn't eat because when my mother didn't work and couldn't bring home leftover food, there was nothing to eat. And, even when there was food, if my stepfather had been drinking, he'd come home and throw our plates out in the back yard or through the window.” A high school dropout, Gaddy was divorced twice by her early twenties. As a single mother, she struggled for years to make a living for herself and her children (Cynthia, Sandra, John, Michael, and Pamela ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

attorney, Detroit area civic leader, and nominee for the sixth circuit federal court of appeals, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to Wade Hampton McCree Jr. and Dores B. McCrary McCree, and grew up in Detroit, Michigan.

Her father served as a Michigan circuit judge for Wayne County, 1954–1961, and as a federal U.S. district judge 1961–1966, and U.S. sixth circuit court of appeals judge from 1966 to 1977, when he was appointed solicitor general of the United States by President Jimmy Carter. He was the first African American to serve on the sixth circuit court, and the second (after Thurgood Marshall) as solicitor general. Kathleen Lewis attended Detroit public schools, graduating from Cass Technical High School in 1965, then entered Fisk University (Jet, 24 Mar. 1966, 39), where Judge McCree was an alumnus and later a ...

Article

Jeffrey Green

Lawyer in Lancashire and Cheshire born in British Guiana (now Guyana). The son of a Georgetown builder, Nelson studied at St John's College, Oxford (1898–1902), where he was an officer of the Oxford Union under Prime Minister Asquith's son Raymond. He was called to the Bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1904, and established his legal practice in Manchester and his home at Bowdon, then Hale, Cheshire. He married, had a daughter, played cricket, and was elected to Hale Council from 1913 to his death. He chaired the Council in 1937.

Nelson achieved fame following the murder of George Storrs at Stalybridge in 1909. As defence lawyer, Nelson secured the acquittal of Mark Wilde, who had been accused of the crime. The Yorkshire Herald called him ‘the coloured barrister’ (29 October 1910) but the Stalybridge Reporter of that date just published his ...

Article

Elizabeth K. Davenport

community activist and lawyer, was born Margaret Wilhelmina Jackson in Portsmouth, Virginia, to Margaret and John Jackson. One of three children, she had two siblings, Gwendolyn E. Bowie, a public school teacher, and Horace Jackson, a physician. Until the seventh grade, she attended Truxon Elementary School in Truxon, Virginia, and in 1933 she graduated from J. C. Norco High School in Portsmouth.

Upon high school graduation Rolark attended Howard University from 1933 until 1937, earning bachelor of arts and master's degrees in Political Science while studying under Ralph Bunche, a civil rights leader and later a member of President Harry Truman's “black cabinet.” As a young political scientist Rolark was one of several researchers who went to the Deep South to collect data for the Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal, for his seminal book An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy ...

Article

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 ...