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Cynthia Neverdon-Morton

educator, school founder, and social welfare advocate, was born in Athens, Georgia, the daughter of Julia Porter. Various biographical accounts indicate that Barrett's parents were former slaves, while others speculate that her father was white. Little is known about either parent. During her early childhood, Barrett resided in the home of the Skinners, a white family whom her mother served as housekeeper. After her mother's marriage to a railway worker, Barrett remained with the Skinners, who encouraged her to further her education.

Though the Skinners suggested that she move north, Barrett, at her mother's urging, attended Hampton Institute in Virginia, graduating in 1884. While at Hampton she became convinced that it was her duty as an educated black woman to work assiduously for the betterment of all African Americans. That belief led her to teach in Dawson, Georgia, and at Lucy Craft Laney s Haines Normal ...


Darlene Clark Hine

organizer of black women and advocate for social justice, was born Mary Jane McLeod in Mayesville, South Carolina, the child of the former slaves Samuel McLeod and Patsy McIntosh, farmers. After attending a school operated by the Presbyterian Board of Missions for Freedmen, she entered Scotia Seminary (later Barber‐Scotia College) in Concord, North Carolina, in 1888 and graduated in May 1894. She spent the next year at Dwight Moody's evangelical Institute for Home and Foreign Missions in Chicago, Illinois. In 1898 she married Albertus Bethune. They both taught briefly at Kindell Institute in Sumter, South Carolina. The marriage was not happy. They had one child and separated late in 1907. After teaching in a number of schools, Bethune founded the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Training Negro Girls in Daytona, Florida, in 1904 Twenty years later the school merged with a boys school the ...


Elaine M. Smith

Long deemed the most influential black American woman, Bethune is, by scholarly consensus, one of the most important black Americans in history regardless of gender, alongside Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Martin Luther King Jr. Unflinchingly, she championed the democratic values that define the nation. She took personally the well-being of the body politic, particularly in the crisis of two world wars. President Franklin D. Roosevelt viewed Bethune as a great patriot devoted to advancing all Americans. Bethune’s accomplishments were so impressive in relationship to resources, and her interest in people, regardless of nationality and locality, was so genuine, that any freedom-loving country could feel proud to claim her as its own.


Julian C. Madison

athlete, actor, civic activist. Jim Brown is generally recognized as the greatest football player and the greatest lacrosse player of all time. At 6 feet 2 inches tall, weighing 228 pounds, and with a 32-inch waist, Brown combined great speed with a powerful running style and fearsome stiff-arm to terrorize National Football League (NFL) defenders for nine years. The only person in history voted into three halls of fame (college football, college lacrosse, and the NFL), Brown is arguably the greatest athlete of the twentieth century.

James Nathaniel Brown was born on Saint Simons Island, Georgia, to Swinton “Sweet Sue” and Theresa Brown Swinton Brown left his family barely two weeks after his son was born and they rarely heard from him afterward When Jim was two his mother left him in the care of his great grandmother and moved to Great Neck Long Island where ...


Edelman was born Marian Wright, the youngest of Arthur and Maggie Wright's five children. When blacks in her hometown of Bennettsville, South Carolina, were forbidden to enter city parks, her father, a Baptist minister, built a park for black children behind his church. Edelman would later credit him with instilling in her an obligation to right wrongs. She attended Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, and spent her junior year in France, Switzerland, and Eastern Europe. Returning to Spelman in 1959, she helped organize protests for the developing Civil Rights Movement. The following year she graduated from college as valedictorian of her class, then entered Yale University, where she received a degree in law.

By 1964 the young law graduate was working as a lawyer in Mississippi where volunteers for the Civil Rights Movement were often beaten and jailed on phony charges While representing these volunteers ...


Rosetta E. Ross

civil rights attorney and founder of the Children's Defense Fund, was born Marian Wright in Bennettsville, South Carolina, to Arthur Jerome Wright, a Baptist minister, and Maggie Leola Bowen, an active churchwoman. Both parents were community activists who took in relatives and others who could no longer care for themselves, eventually founding a home for the aged that continued to be run by family members in the early twenty-first century. The Wrights also built a playground for black children denied access to white recreational facilities, and nurtured in their own children a sense of responsibility and community service. As soon as Marian and her siblings were old enough to drive, they continued the family tradition of delivering food and coal to the poor, elderly, and sick. Arthur Wright also encouraged his children to read about and to revere influential African Americans like Mary McLeod Bethune and Marian Anderson ...


William C. Hine

Edelman was born in Bennettsville, South Carolina, one of five children of Arthur Jerome Wright and Maggie Leola Bowen Wright. She was named in honor of the singer Marian Anderson. Her father was the pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church, and her mother was the choir director and organist.

After graduation from all-black Marlboro Training High School, she enrolled at Atlanta’s Spelman College, where she intended to major in music. She changed her major to history after coming under the influence of the historian Howard Zinn and of President Benjamin E. Mays of Morehouse College. As an undergraduate she joined thousands of black high school and college students in the burgeoning civil rights movement. She was among several hundred people arrested at sit-ins in Atlanta in March 1960. She graduated from Spelman in 1960 and planned to pursue a scholarly career in Russian and Soviet studies But ...


Omar H. Ali

developmental psychologist, educator, and national independent political leader, was born Lenora Branch in Chester, Pennsylvania. A youth leader in the black Baptist Church, Fulani grew up in a working-class black community; her mother, Pearl, was a nurse, and her father, Charles Lee, was a baggage carrier on the Pennsylvania Railroad. As a child, Fulani briefly participated in the public school desegregation process following Brown v. Board of Education (1954). While still in her early teens she decided to become a psychologist to help her immediate community; during the 1970s, reflecting her pride in being of African descent, she changed her surname to Fulani, the name of various West African nomadic groupings of people.

Fulani won a scholarship to Hofstra University on Long Island, New York, where she majored in psychology. Divorced when her two children, Ainka and Amani were still very young she ...


David H. Jr. Jackson

was born Dorothy Irene Height in Richmond, Virginia, the daughter of James Height, a building and painting contractor who became active in Republican politics, and Fannie Burroughs, a nurse and household worker, both twice widowed with children from earlier marriages. As a child, Height loved to read, liked challenges, and always kept busy. When she was four, she and her family moved to Rankin, Pennsylvania, a small borough of Pittsburgh, during the Great Migration. Fannie participated in the black women's club movement through the Pennsylvania Federation of Colored Women's Clubs, and Height recalled going with her mother to every state and national meeting and hearing the imperative of “uplifting the race.”

Rankin was an ethnically diverse community and Height attended school with Germans Croatians Jews Italians Poles and children of other ethnicities Growing up she generally experienced very little prejudice Her first brush with racism however occurred when ...


Mary Krane Derr

physician and community leader, was born Edith Mae Irby in Conway, Arkansas, to Mattie Irby, a domestic worker, and her husband Robert, a sharecropper. Several childhood experiences—some traumatic—shaped Edith's early choice of medicine as her profession and the relief of racial health disparities as her special focus. When she was only five, an illness rendered her unable to walk for eighteen months. At six she lost her thirteen-year-old sister and almost lost an older brother in a typhoid fever epidemic. She noticed that people who could afford more medical care fared better with the disease. When she was eight a horse-riding accident fatally injured her father.

The year of her father s death a white doctor and his family hired Edith to help care for their eighteen month old child They told Edith that she was highly intelligent and encouraged her to consider a medical career Members ...


Sibyl Collins Wilson

minister and youngest daughter of the slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., was born Bernice Albertine King in Atlanta, Georgia. The youngest daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, she was named after both her maternal and paternal grandmothers, Alberta Williams King and Bernice McMurray. One of the most memorable images of young King was a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of her as a sad girl leaning on her mother during her father's funeral taken by Moneta Sleet Jr. and published in Ebony magazine In the shadow of her father s murder their mother covered King and her siblings protectively as she promoted her husband s legacy Every attempt was made to provide a normal upbringing for her and the other three King children The strength of her family history propelled her desire to chart her professional course in life so ...


Beth Tompkins Bates

civil rights and women's suffrage advocate and NAACP leader, was born Daisy Elizabeth Adams, the only child of George S. Adams and Rosa Ann Proctor. Sources differ as to the exact date and place of her birth. Lampkin's obituary in the New York Times states that she was 83 years old at the time of her death in 1965, which places her birth in either 1881 or 1882. Other sources claim that she was born on 9 August 1888. It is also uncertain whether she was born in Washington, D.C., or Reading, Pennsylvania, but she completed high school in the latter city before moving to Pittsburgh in 1909. In 1912 she helped organize a gathering for the woman's suffrage movement and joined the Lucy Stone League, an organization connected with the suffrage movement. She became president of the league in 1925 and ...


Andrew James Kellett

professional football quarterback, was born in Los Angeles, California, the fourth of seven children (and only son) born to Harold Warren Moon, a janitor, and Pat Moon, a nurse. In 1963 the elder Harold Moon died suddenly of liver and heart ailments, leaving Pat to raise Warren and his six sisters. Warren played almost every sport growing up, but had decided by the age of fourteen that football offered his likeliest shot at a professional career. Thus he attended Los Angeles's Hamilton High School even though it was outside his school district, as much because of its reputation for football as for its academic strength.Moon was the varsity starting quarterback his junior and senior years at Hamilton overcoming Los Angeles s rising gang culture more than once his life was threatened by gang members at rival high schools and apparent racism though a prolific passer on ...


“I cannot be bought and I will not be sold!” These words of Mary Modjeska Monteith Simkins characterize the bold, outspoken, and defiant stance that this human rights activist of Columbia, South Carolina, claimed for herself. Born in that city, Simkins lived for ninety-two years, becoming legendary in her hometown, native state, and beyond for the role she played in furthering the causes of justice and equality among all people.

Henry Clarence Monteith and Rachel Evelyn Hull Monteith were a prosperous married couple who decided to make a secure home for the large family they planned; much to their joy, their first child was a daughter, whom they named both for Rachel’s younger sister, Mary Ellen, and for a favorite Polish actress, Helena Modjeska To provide the best family life possible the couple purchased a farm on the outskirts of Columbia so that Mary Modjeska and their other seven ...


Thomas A. Mogan

professional basketball player, college coach, author, and foundation president, was born Dawn Michele Staley in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Clarence and Estelle Staley. The youngest of five children, Staley grew up playing sports with neighborhood boys on the streets of North Philadelphia.

Staley enjoyed success at every level of athletic competition, beginning with her high school basketball career. She led Dobbins Tech to three Philadelphia Public League titles and was named USA Today Player of the Year during her senior season in 1988. Staley went on to the University of Virginia, where she led the Cavaliers to three National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Final Four tournaments in her four seasons in Charlottesville. Standing only five-feet six-inches tall, Staley relied on her quickness, intelligence, and unmatched intensity to succeed as a point guard. She was named National Player of the Year in 1991 and 1992 She ...


Lillian Serece Williams

“Clear and insistent is the call to the women of my race today—the call to self development and to unselfish service. We cannot turn a deaf ear to the cries of the neglected little children, the untrained youth, the aged and the poor.” These words, spoken by Talbert on the eve of the twentieth century, characterize the work to which she dedicated her life as educator, lecturer, and human rights advocate.

Born in the college town of Oberlin, Ohio, Mary Burnett was able to build on the firm foundation that her parents, Cornelius and Caroline Nicholls Burnett, had laid for her and their other seven children. Initially members of the Episcopal Church, the Burnetts later changed their affiliation to the Congregational Church, which was actively involved in the abolition movement and which promoted the education of black youth. Cornelius Burnett participated in the politics of both and ...


Lisa E. Rivo

civil rights and women's rights activist, community leader, and the first black woman to found and become president of a chartered bank in America, was born in Richmond, Virginia, to Elizabeth “Lizzie” Draper, a former slave, and Eccles Cuthbert, a white writer. Unwed at the time of Maggie's birth, Lizzie Draper worked as an assistant cook in the home of Elizabeth Van Lew, an ardent abolitionist and Union spy. In 1869 Lizzie married William Mitchell, a former slave, who worked as Van Lew's butler and later as the headwaiter at the posh St. Charles Hotel. A son, Johnny, was born shortly after the family's move to downtown Richmond. In 1878 William was robbed and murdered, leaving Lizzie and her two young children without savings insurance benefits or financial support circumstances that informed Maggie s adult work on behalf of the economic status of black women Lizzie ...


third wife of Booker T. Washington and lady principal of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute. A writer and teacher, Washington helped found both the Tuskegee Woman's Club and, in 1896, the National Association of Colored Women.

Margaret James Murray was born in Macon, Mississippi, where she was one of ten children. Her father, a sharecropper, was of Irish descent, and her mother, a washerwoman, was African American. When she was seven her father died, and she went to live with the Sanders, a white Quaker family who were teachers in the community. As a child, Murray was an avid reader and excelled in school; when she was fourteen she became a teacher at her school. At about age twenty Murray enrolled in Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she completed the college preparatory course as well as the college course in 1889.

In 1889 the commencement address ...


Bernadette Pruitt

educator and clubwoman, was born Margaret James Murray in Macon, Mississippi, near the Mississippi-Alabama border, to Lucy (maiden name unknown), a washerwoman who was possibly a slave, and James Murray, who had immigrated to the United States from Ireland. After her father's death, seven-year-old Margaret left home to-live with her northern-born, white siblings, the Sanders. The Sanders, who were Quakers, taught school in their community and encouraged their little sister to pursue a career in education. Margaret's Quaker surroundings fostered in the growing girl a sense of social responsibility, community building, self-help, and obligation. Taking the advice of her siblings, she passed the qualifying exam and began teaching local schoolchildren at age fourteen.

The ambitious young woman, known to her friends and family as Maggie, quit her teaching job and entered Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1881 at the age of twenty She shaved four years ...


Michelle Rief

Margaret Murray Washington was one of the most revered women of her time and her accomplishments are notable. She was a pioneer in the black women’s club movement, championed interracial cooperation, promoted black history in schools, and attempted to unite women of color around the world. Yet Margaret Murray Washington’s historical legacy remains overshadowed by both her marriage to Booker T. Washington, the most renowned black leader of the early twentieth century, and her own conservative approach in the face of more radical peers.

Ambiguity surrounds the birth and early upbringing of Margaret James Murray, known to friends as Maggie. Her birthplace is sometimes mistakenly identified as Macon, Georgia, but she was actually born in Macon, Mississippi, a small town located halfway between Jackson, Mississippi, and Birmingham, Alabama. The exact date of her birth is unknown. Although it is most commonly reported as 9 March 1865 census ...