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Susan B. Iwanisziw

commercial painter, artist, and activist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the only known child of Jeremiah Bowser from Maryland and Rachel Bustill, daughter of the prosperous black abolitionist and educator Cyrus Bustill. The intermarriage among the region's free black Quaker families headed by Cyrus Bustill, Robert Douglass Sr., Jeremiah Bowser, and David Mapps created a dynamic force that benefited all African Americans and particularly spurred David s personal growth and accomplishments Jeremiah a member of the Benezet Philosophical Society served as a steward on the Liverpool lines and later it seems he was the proprietor of an oyster house near the intersection of 4th and Cherry Streets where David Bowser first hung up his sign as a commercial painter Later the Bowser family moved to the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia into a house at 481 North 4th Street where Bowser remained for the ...

Article

Rachel L. Jones Williams

conservationist, landscaper, and the first African American forester in the United States, was born in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, the fifth of six children born to Alcinda (Dickson) a homemaker, and the Reverend John Calvin Brock, an educator and minister in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Reverend Brock was a veteran of the Civil War, serving as quartermaster sergeant of Company F of the 43rd Pennsylvania Regiment. The Brock family moved throughout south central and south eastern Pennsylvania, settling in West Chester, Pennsylvania, around 1890. Four of the six Brock children (including Ralph) were known to be college educated and active in the community. Maria L. (8 May 1879–1968) taught in the West Chester School District for over thirty years; she was the English and Elocution teacher of the civil rights campaigner, Bayard Rustin and bequeathed the family home to the Charles A Melton Arts ...

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Donna L. Halper

suffragist and political activist, was born in Danville, Virginia, in 1872 (some sources, notably U.S. Census records, say 1874) to Alfred and Barbara Dillard. Little is known of her early life, but she received training as a dressmaker and clothing designer, studying in London and Paris as well as in the United States.

On 28 September 1898 she married William Harvey Higgins, who had recently graduated from medical school in North Carolina. They lived in New York City while he completed some additional training at Long Island Medical College, and during that period Bertha operated her own dressmaking shop. By 1903William Higgins had opened a medical practice in Providence, Rhode Island, where he was one of the city's few black physicians. As was customary in those days, Higgins gave up her profession after the birth of the couple's first child, Prudence, in 1913 However ...

Article

folk artist, community activist, and Mardi Gras Indian leader, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Alfred Montana, “Big Chief” of the Yellow Pocahontas, a leading Mardi Gras Indian organization, and Alice Herrere Montana, both natives of New Orleans. When he was young, one of his cousins nicknamed him Tootie, and the name stuck. Masking as Mardi Gras Indians ran deep in the Montana family. Tootie was a third-generation black Indian leader. His great-uncle Becate Batiste was the legendary founding Big Chief of the Creole Wild West, the city's first and oldest masking Indian society; his father Alfred Montana was a famous leader of the Yellow Pocahontas, which was an offshoot of the Creole Wild West; but Tootie eventually surpassed both by far in terms of craftsmanship, influence, and fame.

The Mardi Gras Indian culture developed as an expression of black resistance ...

Article

Aaron Myers

During a lifetime that spanned the abolition movement, the emancipation of the slaves, and the beginning of modernization in Brazil, Manoel Raimundo Querino distinguished himself as an artist, teacher, social activist, and above all, historian. He was born free one year after the abolition of the slave trade in Brazil. In 1855, a cholera epidemic swept Bahia claiming the lives of some 30,000 people, including Querino's parents. He was then sent to the state capital, Salvador, where Manuel Correira Garcia, a state deputy and a professor in the state teacher training institute, became his guardian. Garcia provided the orphan Querino with an education, which at that time was a privilege enjoyed by few Brazilians—black or white. At the age of seventeen, Querino enlisted in the army and served from 1868 to 1871, during the latter part of the Paraguayan War.

Querino s career as an ...

Article

Dorothy B. Porter

Patrick Henry Reason was born in New York City, one of four children of Michel and Elizabeth Melville Reason. He was baptized on April 17, 1816, as Patrice Rison. His father, Michel Rison, was from Sainte-Anne, Guadeloupe, and his mother, Elizabeth Melville, was from Santo Domingo (in what is now the Dominican Republic). Patrick's young sister, Policarpe, died in 1818 at age four. His brother Elver (or Elwer) did not attain the prominence that Patrick or his brother Charles Lewis did. All three brothers received their early education at the New York African Free School, established on Mulberry Street by the New York Manumission Society. Patrick Reason's skill as an engraver was recognized at age thirteen when he made an engraving of the African Free School that was printed as a frontispiece of Charles C. Andrews's History of the New York African ...

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Theresa Leininger-Miller

printmaker and abolitionist, was born in New York City, the son of Michel Reason of St. Anne, Guadeloupe, and Elizabeth Melville of Saint-Dominique. Reason was baptized as Patrick Rison in the Church of St. Peter on 17 April 1816. While it is not known why the spelling of his name changed, it may have been an homage to the political leader Patrick Henry. While he was still a student at the African Free School in New York, his first engraving was published, the frontispiece to Charles C. Andrews's The History of the New York African Free-Schools (1830). It carried the byline “Engraved from a drawing by P. Reason, aged thirteen years.” Shortly thereafter, Reason became apprenticed to a white printmaker, Stephen Henry Gimber and then maintained his own studio at 148 Church Street in New York where he offered a wide variety of engraving ...

Article

Frank Martin

artist, educator, and community activist, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Edward Rose Sr. and Mary Marshall. Arthur Rose attended the segregated public schools in Charleston. In 1942 Rose enlisted as a ship serviceman in the U.S. Navy; he served until 1945. A member of Company 1621, 18th Regiment, 28th Battalion of the U.S. Naval Reserve Corps, Rose entered basic training in Chicago and was later stationed at the naval base in Norfolk, Virginia, for the duration of the war, and did not see combat. He returned to Charleston and graduated from Burke High School in 1946. He later matriculated at Claflin University, South Carolina's oldest historically black institution of higher learning, established in 1869.

Rose was among the first students in Claflin s history to major in fine arts During his college tenure Rose met and married fellow ...

Article

Ann M. Shumard

Washington, Augustus (1820 or 1821–07 June 1875), abolitionist, photographer, and Liberian statesman, was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of Christian Washington, a former slave from Virginia who operated an oyster saloon, and a woman who is identified only as a native of South Asia. She apparently died soon after his birth, for his father remarried in October 1821. Washington was raised in Trenton and until early adolescence attended school with white students. When access to such schooling ended in the face of growing racism, he was left to continue his education on his own. He worked for his father for several years, studied intermittently, and became an avid reader of Benjamin Lundy's Genius of Universal Emancipation and William Lloyd Garrison's Liberator These papers aroused Washington s hatred of slavery and racial prejudice and inspired him to become an activist Eager to contribute ...