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Alice Bernstein

carpenter, newspaper editor, and state representative during Reconstruction, was born free, of “unmixed African blood,” in New Bern, North Carolina, to Israel B. Abbott and Gracie Maria Green. His father died in 1844, and Abbott was raised by his mother and maternal grandmother, Hannah, the wife of Bristow Rue (Rhew). His mother's second husband was Nelson Brown, with whom she had a daughter, Hannah Cora, and stepsons Samuel H. Brown and George M. Brown. She married her third husband, the Reverend Joseph Green, a Methodist Episcopal Zion Church minister, in 1854. When Abbott was four, his grandmother contributed one dollar toward his education, and he attended a school taught by Mrs. Jane Stevens. He went to school regularly until age ten, when he began serving two years as apprentice to a carpenter, completing his trade with his stepfather, Joseph Green ...

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Joanne H. Edey-Rhodes

educator, industrial school founder, and Episcopal Church school field secretary, was born in Hurtsboro, Russell County, Alabama, one of thirteen children of former slaves, Jeanetta (Redden) and Augustus Battle Sr.

Battle's parents sent him to the district school when he was eight years old. He had not progressed far in his education when, at the age of sixteen, he joined his older brother, Augustus Aaron Battle Jr., and two sisters at Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama. Only prepared to enter the third grade, he attended class with eight-year-olds. Wallace was so determined to move forward in his education that he completed three grades in one year. He remained in attendance at Talladega College from 1889 to 1898 In the later years of his college preparatory studies there he taught during the summers at Duke Station Calhoun County Alabama He also became involved with teaching in Mission Sunday ...

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Rose C. Thevenin

educator, was born Sarah Ann Blocker in Edgefield, South Carolina, one of the five children of Sarah A. Stewart of Delaware and Isaiah Blocker of Edgefield, South Carolina. Nothing is known about her early childhood. Blocker briefly attended Atlanta University and enrolled in teacher education classes. At the age of twenty‐two, Sarah Blocker moved to Live Oak, Florida, where she taught at the Florida Baptist Institute, a school established by African American Christian ministers of the First Bethlehem Baptist Association of West Florida in 1879.

Resistance and hostility toward African Americans in Live Oak resulted in escalating violence. Blocker herself was almost wounded in a shooting incident in 1892. Blocker's determination remained steadfast, however. In 1892 she cofounded the Florida Baptist Academy, an elementary and secondary educational institution for African American girls and boys. She was assisted in this project by the reverends Matthew W. Gilbert and J ...

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Daniel A. Dalrymple

football player, was born Melvin Carnell Blount in Vidalia, Georgia. Blount was the youngest of eleven children who grew up in rural Georgia in extreme poverty, often going barefoot and living in a home with no indoor plumbing. Blount's father, a deeply religious man, instilled values in his children through hard work and high expectations, and Blount recalled that some of the most satisfying moments of his childhood came from doing chores for his father and earning his praise. Blount learned football from his seven older brothers, who played a rough brand of football in which Blount excelled at an early age. In high school Blount proved that he was a gifted athlete on the football field and beyond. He was a multiple‐sports star, running track as well as playing baseball, basketball, and football. Blount made such an impression in high school that by the time he graduated in 1966 ...

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Rose Pelone Sisson

survivor of a lynching attempt, civil rights activist, and founder of America's Black Holocaust Museum, was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin, to James Herbert Cameron, a barber, and Vera Cameron who was employed as a laundress, cook, and housekeeper. At the age of fifteen months, James was the first African American baby ever admitted as a patient to the St. Francis Hospital in La Crosse, where he underwent an emergency operation on the abdominal cavity. By the time James started school, his parents had moved to Birmingham, Alabama, and his parents separated.

When Cameron was sixteen he was living with his mother, two sisters, and grandmother in Marion, Indiana. His stepfather Hezikiah Burden hunted and fished long distances from home so was away from his family most of the time The family lived in a segregated section of Marion Indiana which counted about four thousand blacks among its ...

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Edward J. Robinson

evangelist, farmer, educator, postmaster, justice of the peace, and “race man,” was born Samuel in Prince William County, Virginia. Even though an oral tradition among Cassius's descendants insists that Robert E. Lee was his biological father, circumstantial evidence suggests that James W. F. Macrae, a white physician and politician and relative of Robert E. Lee, was probably his father and Jane, an enslaved African, was his mother (Robinson). After emancipation Cassius probably added the names “Robert” to commemorate Robert E. Lee's kindness of purchasing him and his mother to prevent them from being sold to the Deep South and he may have attached Cassius to honor the ancient Roman general as many slaves adopted names of famous people from classical antiquity Robinson Little is known about Samuel s mother a slave who served in the Macrae household While working for the Macrae family as a house servant ...

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Madge Dresser

Controversial philanthropist and merchant involved in the slave trade. He was the Bristol‐born son of a Bristol merchant who spent his early life in London, but it is in Bristol that he is most famous. A staunch Anglican and Tory, he was briefly MP for the city in 1710. His huge donations to church renovation and school building projects, mainly but not exclusively in Bristol, ensured his reputation as the city's greatest benefactor, as his major statue in the centre and his fine tomb by Michael Rysbrack attest. Several Bristol streets, schools, buildings, and venerable local charities still bear his name, and his birthday is still honoured in civic celebrations.

Colston s relevance to black history lies in the fact that he was involved in the British slave trade and in the trade of slave produced goods By the 1670s he was a City of London merchant trading ...

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Elvatrice Parker Belsches

dentist, dental and medical organizational leader, hospital founder, and author, was born in Portsmouth, Ohio, the oldest of the six children of William B. Ferguson and Cornelia Taylor Ferguson. William Ferguson was a noted educator in Portsmouth, Ohio, in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and at the Christiansburg Industrial Institute in Virginia. David's brother George R. Ferguson, MD, served as assistant secretary for the National Medical Association (NMA), and his nephew William Ferguson Reid, MD, was the first African American elected to the Virginia legislature in the twentieth century.

In 1885 William Ferguson moved his family to Bowling Green, Kentucky, where David Ferguson completed grammar school and embarked upon the first of two invaluable dentistry apprenticeships. In 1889 Ferguson began apprenticing for the white dentist Dr. E. T. Barr for whom he worked until shortly before returning to Portsmouth Ohio to enter high school ...

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Laura M. Calkins

surgeon and civic leader, was born in Washington, D.C. As a youth he attended the segregated black schools in the District of Columbia, and in 1868–1872 he attended Howard University's Normal Preparatory and Commercial Departments, whose curricula emphasized vocational training. At age sixteen Francis was sent to the elite Wesleyan Academy in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, where his studies included mathematics, philosophy, and the natural sciences. Returning to Washington, D.C., in 1875, he became an apprentice to Dr. C. C. Cox, a white physician who was head of the District of Columbia's board of health. Under Cox's supervision Francis enrolled in Howard University's medical college, studying there between 1875 and 1877. Francis left in the autumn of 1877 and enrolled at the University of Michigan as an advanced student, and in the spring of 1878 he received a degree in medicine.

Francis returned to Washington D C where ...

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Bernadette Pruitt

the self-reliant bondsman of the legendary Sam Houston, was born to a slave mother and reared on the Temple Lea Plantation in Marion, Perry County, Alabama, three years after the territory gained statehood. Joshua stood out at an early age. Although a field hand, the boy began learning blacksmithing and other skills. With the aid of the Lea family Joshua also began reading. The remarkable youngster garnered a reputation early on as a precocious and assiduous child. Barely eighteen, he carried this reputation with him when moved to Texas.

In 1834 Joshua's owner, Temple Lea, died and willed the twelve-year-old Joshua to his teenage daughter Margaret Moffette Lea, who six years later at the age of twenty-one married and became the third wife of the forty-six-year-old Sam Houston Houston the former general who led the Anglo American victory against General Antonio López de Santa Anna s six ...

Article

David T. Beito

physician, civil rights leader, and entrepreneur, was born Theodore Roosevelt Howard in the town of Murray, Calloway County, Kentucky, to Arthur Howard, a tobacco twister, and Mary Chandler, a cook for Will Mason, a prominent local white doctor and member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA). Mason took note of the boy's work habits, talent, ambition, and charm. He put him to work in his hospital and eventually paid for much of his medical education. Howard later showed his gratitude by adding “Mason” as a second middle name.

Theodore Howard attended three SDA colleges: the all-black Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama; the predominantly white Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska; and the College of Medical Evangelists in Loma Linda, California. While at Union College he won the American Anti-Saloon League's national contest for best orator in 1930.

During his years in medical school in ...

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Diana Kristine Durham

physician, hospital founder, and entrepreneur, was born in Anderson, South Carolina, to Green and Clara (Riley) Jenkins, the fourth child in a family of nine children. His father was a successful farmer who owned 319 acres of land and also owned and operated several businesses simultaneously, including a grocery store, a fish market, a theater, a dairy farm, and a wood farm. Green Jenkins had never attended school, but he was an articulate man who read exceptionally well and was also skilled in math. His wife Clara died a few months after the birth of her youngest child.

All the Jenkins children received their early education at the Taylor School in Anderson, South Carolina, and all pursued a college education. Whitner the sixth child died while attending the historically black Claflin College in Orangeburg but Joseph Newton became a Baptist minister and lecturer at Baylor ...

Article

Michelle Kuhl

Baptist minister and editor, was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to John and Matilda Johnson. He graduated from public school in Buffalo, New York, in 1868, and he was baptized in Toronto four years later. After graduating from normal school in 1874, he became a minister the next year. He moved to Washington, D.C., to attend Wayland Seminary, a school named after a northern abolitionist and backed by the American Baptist Home Missionary Society (ABHMS), a group of northern white Baptists intent on converting and ministering to the spiritual needs of freedmen. Johnson graduated with honors and won a prize for best orator in 1879. That year he was also ordained as a Baptist minister and became pastor at First Baptist Church in Frederick, Maryland. In 1881 the ABHMS appointed Johnson the General Missionary of an area that included Maryland Virginia West Virginia and ...

Article

Glen Pierce Jenkins

obstetrician and community leader, was born near Moncks Corner, South Carolina, the son of the former slaves John Lambright and Mary Gelzer, farmers. Middleton was one of thirteen children, and although he was born free, more than half his siblings were born into slavery. As a young man he often accompanied his father to Charleston for supplies. Their route took them by the Medical College of South Carolina, and Lambright questioned his father about the young men in white coats walking on the campus. This experience established in him the notion of studying medicine. When a life-threatening accident brought him into personal contact with a physician for a period of several months, he became convinced of his life's ambition. With the support of his family, Lambright eventually graduated from Claflin College in Orangeburg, South Carolina, with an AB degree. In 1898 he received his MD from the ...

Article

Jari Christopher Honora

statesman, minister, educator, businessman, and attorney, was born on the plantation of Dr. Francois Marie Prevost near Donaldsonville, Ascension Parish, Louisiana. He is purported to have been born to Rosemond Landry, a white laborer on the Prevost plantation and Marcelite, his slave mistress. He was born with the name Caliste. According to Landry's unpublished autobiography, he resided with a free couple of color and was educated at a school conducted for free children. Despite his owner's wish that he be freed, when Dr. Prevost's estate was settled on 16 May 1854 Caliste was auctioned off to Marius St Colombe Bringier a wealthy sugar planter in Ascension Parish He was sold for $1 665 Landry continued his education on Houmas the Bringier plantation and was trusted enough to live in the mansion He served various roles on Houmas Plantation eventually earning the position of superintendent ...

Article

Danica Tisdale

religious leader, college founder, and historian, was born near Jackson, Tennessee, to Cullen Lane, a white slave owner, and Rachel, a slave woman. Although born to a white father, young Isaac, by custom and law, occupied the status of his mother and was thus raised a slave by Rachel and her husband Josh, a slave and field hand. Little is known about young Isaac's parents, and, in fact, his autobiography states that he “was reared almost motherless and fatherless having no parental care and guidance” (Lane, 47). Nevertheless he was a precocious child, eager to learn. At the age of eleven he assumed the surname of his white father.

In his formative years Lane began to educate himself and would eventually learn to read write and do math Denied the advantages of early training Lane was able to seize a blue black speller and through ...

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Jacob Andrew Freedman

preacher, educator, and activist, was born in Fishdam, North Carolina, one of thirteen children born to slave parents whose names are now unknown but who were owned by the Cameron family. Latta's early years after the Civil War were scarred by the death of his father and oldest brother. By age thirteen he felt the pressure of having to provide food for his entire family and hired himself out as a laborer. Although he worked tirelessly, members of his family often went hungry. He found time to study and occasionally attend school when weather prevented him from working in the fields. As he developed academically, he also began giving speeches from a soapbox in public locations. He continued to take an active interest in politics but refused to run for elected office, believing “that there was nothing in politics for colored people” (Latta, 15).

After deciding against ...

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Sharon Leslie Morgan

medical pioneer and philanthropist who developed groundbreaking treatments for leprosy, syphilis, and cancer, was the eldest son of Dr. Alfred Lawless Jr. and Harriet Dunn. He was born on a farm in Thibodeaux, Louisiana, and with his siblings, Oscar and Helen, grew up in New Orleans.

His interest in medicine began when he was young, working as an assistant to a veterinarian. Lawless's father was a minister and a tireless advocate of civil rights and educational opportunity for African Americans. The Memorial Chapel at Dillard University and Lawless High School in New Orleans were both named in his honor. With such strong influence, it is little wonder that his eldest son, Theodore (known to friends and family as “T.K.”), would excel beyond all expectations. He earned a BA from Talladega College in 1914 and an MD (1919) and MA (1920 from Northwestern University after studying ...

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Melissa Nicole Stuckey

educator and newspaper editor, was born John Carter Leftwich in Forkland, Alabama, the eldest of the eight children of Frances Edge and Lloyd Leftwich. From 1872 to 1876 Lloyd Leftwich served as one of Alabama's last black state senators. John Leftwich and his siblings grew up on the 122-acre farm his parents purchased from Lloyd Leftwich's former owner. The former slaves instilled in their children the importance of religion and education. Not only did the couple learn to read and write after the Civil War but they also donated a portion of their property for the construction of Lloyd Chapel Baptist Church and Lloyd Elementary School. Remarkable for the time period, most of their eight children became college graduates.

In 1886 Leftwich entered Selma University in Selma, Alabama. Unhappy there, he wrote to Booker T. Washington for permission to transfer to Tuskegee Institute and he offered to ...

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Caroline M. Brown

aviator and aeronautical engineer, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the third son of Alma (Price) Loving, a homemaker and housekeeper, and Hardin Clay Loving, a railroad conductor and optometrist. Neal Loving had an early love of aviation that remained with him despite family objections. Although he changed elementary schools frequently owing to his family's poverty and related evictions, he read every aviation book and magazine at nearby branches of the Detroit Public Library and raced to watch passing airplanes during school hours. At a schoolteacher's suggestion, he acquired an application for the U.S. Air Corps at the nearest post office, and read it avidly. Deterred by its unequivocal statement that applicants were to be “white, male,” he threw away the application and continued to explore. He saved his lunch and movie admission money to buy model airplane materials, and, when the Detroit City Airport opened in 1929 ...