was born on 24 October 1790 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Lucas Andino, a cigar maker and teacher, and Rita Molina, teacher. On his baptismal record, his full name is listed as Rafael Cordero y Molina, and in later life he was known as “El Maestro.” Rafael Cordero’s mother was the daughter of Bibiana Molina, a freewoman of African descent. His father was related to José Campeche, a Puerto Rican artist of African descent, and the son of Juan Eugenio Valentín, a slave of African descent and cigar maker, and Ana Cordero, a freewoman of African descent. It is believed that Rafael’s parents, Lucas Andino and Rita Molina, reclaimed the name “Cordero” as a symbol of Ana Cordero’s freedom. It is not known how Bibiana Molina, Ana Cordero, or Juan Eugenio Valentín obtained their freedom. From 1508 to 1873 slavery was legal and commonly practiced in Puerto Rico ...
entrepreneur, abolitionist lecturer, and autobiographer, was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, the only child of Clarissa Haywood and Edward Lane. Clarissa Haywood was the slave of Sherwood Haywood, an agent for the Bank of Newburn and clerk of the North Carolina State Senate from 1786 to 1798. Edward Lane belonged to John Haywood, the brother of Sherwood Haywood, and though manumitted at the death of John, circa 1830, continued to serve the family as a steward for fourteen years. As a slave, Lunsford Lane was fortunate to be raised by both of his parents who were certainly models for what Lane would later achieve in his life.
About the time that Lane became emotionally aware of his enslaved state when set to work at the age of ten or eleven he recalls that his father gave him a basket of peaches ...
was born in Havana on 29 May 1911. His family struggled financially, forcing him to begin working at the age of 12. Although apprenticed as a cigar roller, he worked sporadically because the depressed nature of the tobacco industry left him frequently unemployed. He was involved in trade union politics from an early age, and in 1929 he joined the Communist Party, where he was elected to the Central Committee in 1934. During the dictatorship of Gerardo Machado (1925–1933), he spent seventy days in prison for his role in a tobacco workers’ strike in 1932. Peña quickly rose to prominence, and he gave the closing address at the clandestine Second National Sugar Workers’ Congress in Camagüey in June 1933.
Peña was a union activist across the trades, and following the fall of the Machado regime in 1933 he was elected general secretary of ...
Kyle T. Bulthuis
tobacconist, sexton of John Street Methodist Church, and founding trustee of the African or Zion Chapel (later named “Mother Zion,” the first African Methodist Episcopal Zion, or AMEZ, church in the United States), was born on Beekman Street in New York City, the son of the African slaves George and Diana. At the time of his birth as many as one in five New York City residents were slaves, a percentage greater than any other British colonial area north of the Chesapeake. Two events in Peter Williams's early adulthood dramatically shaped his future. At some undetermined time, his owners sold him to James Aymar in New York City From Aymar Williams learned the tobacconist trade providing him skills that would one day make him one of the wealthiest blacks in the city Also as a young man Williams attended Methodist meetings and he converted to Methodism ...
Born a slave in the New York City area, Peter Williams, Sr., joined a Methodist church and became sexton in 1778. When his master, a Loyalist, returned to England in 1783 the church s trustees bought Williams Williams firmly believed in equality and was upset when black members ...
Graham Russell Hodges
Peter Williams Sr. was one of ten children born in New York City to George and Diana Williams, slaves of James Aymar, a prominent local tobacconist. Born in an annex to Aymar's cowshed, Williams often said, “ I was born in as humble a place as my Lord!” Encouraged by Aymar to attend services at the newly formed Wesley Chapel, later known as the John Street Methodist Church, Williams worshipped in the slave gallery. At the chapel he married Mary Durham, also known as Molly, who was an indentured servant for Aymar's wife and a legendary volunteer for Fire Company #11. She served hot coffee and sandwiches to the firemen and is shown in a famous painting pulling a fire truck through blinding snow.
During the American Revolution Aymar, a staunch Loyalist, fled to New Brunswick, New Jersey, taking with him his slaves and indentured servants. In 1780 shortly ...