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Clint C. Wilson

newspaper publisher, was born Robert Abbott in Fort Frederica, St. Simons Island, off the coast of Savannah, Georgia, the son of Thomas Abbott and Flora Butler, former slaves who operated a grocery store on St. Thomas Island. Thomas Abbott died the year after Robert was born, and Robert's mother moved to Savannah, where in 1874 she married John Herman Henry Sengstacke. Sengstacke was the son of a German father and a black American mother and, although born in the United States, was reared in Germany. He returned to the United States in 1869 and pursued careers in education, the clergy, and journalism. In the latter role Sengstacke became editor of the Woodville Times a black community weekly newspaper that served Savannah area residents Abbott s admiration for his stepfather inspired him to add the name Sengstacke to his own and to attempt to become a publisher in ...


Benjamin R. Justesen

journalist and public official, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the younger son of the Reverend Henry and Margaret Priscilla (Corbin) Adams. Their father administered a respected school in Louisville. Cyrus and his older brother, John Quincy Adams (1848–1922), received excellent educations, Cyrus graduating from preparatory school and college at Oberlin College. In 1877 Cyrus began to teach in the Louisville public schools, and soon pooled savings with his brother to open the weekly Louisville Bulletin. They ran the newspaper until 1885, when it was acquired by the American Baptist newspaper owned by William Henry Steward, chairman of trustees at State University, a black Baptist university in Louisville, where Cyrus taught German. Already a dedicated traveler, Cyrus had spent much of 1884 in Europe, and was also fluent in Italian, French, and Spanish.

Both brothers had served as Louisville correspondents for the Western Appeal ...


Wilbert H. Ahern

John Quincy Adams was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of Henry Adams, a prominent minister and educator, and Margaret Corbin. Both his parents were free persons of color. Following private schooling in Wisconsin and Ohio, Adams graduated from Oberlin College. After a brief teaching stint in Louisville, in 1870 he followed his uncle, Joseph C. Corbin, to work in Arkansas in the Reconstruction. By 1874 he had risen from schoolteacher to assistant superintendent of public instruction. His lifelong activism in the Republican Party began in Arkansas; there he twice served as secretary to Republican state conventions, was elected as justice of the peace on the party ticket, and held the offices of engrossing clerk of the state senate and deputy commissioner of public works. The defeat of the Arkansas Republican Party in 1874 and the racial repression that followed led Adams to return ...


Kerima M. Lewis

The African Methodist Episcopal Church Review (AME Church Review) has the distinction of being the oldest magazine owned and published by African Americans. The denomination's first periodical, the African Methodist Episcopal Church Magazine, appeared in September 1841. The General Conference that met in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1884 changed the name of this periodical to the AME Church Review. The AME Church saw a need for a scholarly magazine to complement its Christian Recorder, which had been published as a weekly newspaper since 1852. Headquarters for the magazine was set up in Philadelphia, and Bishop Benjamin Tucker Tanner was appointed the first editor-manager.

As a quarterly magazine the Review was not limited to the news and business of the AME Church but provided thought-provoking, intellectual, and scholarly articles. The first issue of the AME Church Review appeared in July 1884 with the lead ...


Charles Rosenberg

real estate developer, publisher, insurance broker, architect, and philanthropist, was born in Stock Township, Harrison County, Ohio, the son of William Blue and Adeline L. Blue, who married in Ohio in 1863. His father, a farm laborer, was born in Virginia in 1843 and may have been at one time enslaved to Thomas Blue in Hampshire County. He may also have been related to Thomas Fountain Blue, an acclaimed librarian in Louisville, Kentucky. Blue's mother was born in Ohio in 1845, to parents also born in Virginia. He had an older brother, William Benjamin, born in 1864, and a younger brother, Richard J., born in 1871. During the 1870s the family moved to New Philadelphia in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, where William Blue worked as a teamster.

Welcome T. Blue found work in Canton Ohio around 1889 where he lived ...


David Michel

publisher, entrepreneur, and banker, was born to Richard Henry Boyd, a publisher, and the former Harriet Moore in Grimes County, Texas, one of nine children. Henry Allen went to public school in Palestine, Texas, and attended the West Union Baptist Church. The Boyd family later moved to San Antonio and Henry found work at the local postal office. He became the first black to be hired as a postal clerk in San Antonio. He married Lula M. Smith, who bore him a daughter, Katherine. Lula did not live long after her daughter's birth. In 1908 he married again, this time to Georgia Ann Bradford. Around the early 1900s Henry Allen moved to Nashville, Tennessee, at the request of his father who had preceded him there. R. H. Boyd was making a name for himself in Nashville as founder and secretary treasurer of the National Baptist ...


Hal S. Chase

editor and publisher of the Washington Bee and prominent member of the Republican Party. William Calvin Chase was born in 1854, probably at home, 1109 I Street NW in Washington, D.C., to William Chase, a blacksmith who had migrated to the District from Maryland as a free man in 1835, and Lucinda Seaton, a daughter of one of “the best and purest families in the Commonwealth of Virginia” (Gatewood, p. 57). After her husband died from a reported accidental gunshot in 1863, she instilled her extraordinary sense of family pride, her commanding presence, and her studied dignity in her only son and five daughters—to such an extent that three of her daughters lived at home their entire lives, and in the same home, Calvin Chase always maintained the office of his influential newspaper, the Washington Bee The publication s motto Honey for Friends Stings for ...


Connie Park Rice

newspaper editor and civil rights lawyer, was born in Williamsport, Virginia (later West Virginia), the youngest of three sons born to Isaac Clifford, a farmer, and Mary Satilpa Kent, free blacks living in Hardy County. John Robert joined the Union army on 3 March 1865, rising to the rank of corporal in the 13th U.S. Heavy Artillery. After serving in Kentucky, Tennessee, and eastern Virginia under General Ulysses S. Grant, Clifford volunteered for service at Chicago, Illinois.

After the Civil War, Clifford remained in Chicago, staying from 1865 to 1868 with the Honorable John J. Healy, an acquaintance of his father, and graduating from Chicago High School. Clifford worked as a barber before going to live with an uncle in Zeno, Muskingum County, Ohio, where he attended a school taught by Miss Effie McKnight and received a diploma from a writing school conducted by a Professor ...


Kristal Brent Zook

journalist and publisher, was born in an unknown year in the latter half of the nineteenth century in Warrenton, Virginia. Little is known about her early childhood, except that the Ringwood family moved to Washington, D.C., when she was still an infant and that she attended school there. However, in her final year of studies, Julia's mother fell ill and so the young woman was obliged to look for work to help the family make ends meet. Taking a position as governess in the home of a military general, Julia was exposed to the lifestyles of a wealthy family for perhaps the first time, and she was most likely able to continue her studies.

While working as a governess Julia met William Hilary Coston who was raised in Rhode Island and Connecticut At sixteen Coston had obtained a privileged position of janitorship at Hopkins Grammar School Yale Preparatory which ...


Eric R. Jackson

composer, journalist, musician, political activist, and publisher, was born in Richmond, Virginia, the son of John Dabney and Elizabeth Foster, both former slaves. John Dabney later became a caterer. Young Wendell completed his elementary and middle school education in Richmond and became influenced by the religious beliefs and political views of his father John Dabney who taught himself to read and write at a young age instilled in his children the ability to use Christianity to combat the harsh effects of racism He also embedded in his sons the belief that only the Republican Party would support African Americans As a teenager during the school year Dabney spent most afternoons selling newspapers while his evenings consisted of homework and playing the guitar with his older brother In the summer months Dabney waited tables at a local restaurant where he learned to disdain whites ...


Danielle Taana Smith

Black entrepreneurship has been important for the American economy from the 1600s, when the first Africans arrived in America.


Adah Ward Randolph

educator, politician, activist, pastor, author, and Masonic leader, was born in Essex County, Virginia, to free parents of mixed white and black ancestry. In 1831 Virginia outlawed the education of free blacks, and many of them migrated to other states, including Ohio. The Act of 1831 may account for the migration of Ferguson's family to Cincinnati, which Ferguson listed as his home when he attended Albany Manual Labor Academy (AMLA) in Albany, Ohio. While it is unclear how Ferguson attained an elementary education, the Albany Manual Labor University records list T. J. Ferguson of Cincinnati as a student in the collegiate department during the 1857–1859 academic year. James Monroe Trotter, veteran of the Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Regiment and musicologist, also attended AMLA. Incorporated as a university in 1853 Albany Manual Labor University AMLU offered an integrated education which accepted students regardless of color ...


Hopkins, Pauline Elizabeth (1859–13 August 1930), editor and author, was born in Portland, Maine, the daughter of Northrup Hopkins and Sarah Allen. During her childhood, Hopkins moved with her family to Boston, a city whose rich abolitionist history would provide her fictive milieu. She attended and graduated from Girls High School. A grandniece of poet James Whitfield, she displayed literary talent as a fifteen year old, winning first prize in an essay contest titled “Evils of Intemperance and Their Remedies.” The contest’s sponsor, abolitionist and author William Wells Brown, would subsequently influence Hopkins’s works.

Hopkins’s first artistic endeavors were two musical dramas, Colored Aristocracy (1877) and Peculiar Sam; or, The Underground Railroad (1879). Eventually, Hopkins trimmed Peculiar Sam to three acts, and it opened as Slaves’ Escape; or, The Underground Railroad in July 1880 Presented at the Oakland Garden in Boston by the Hopkins ...


James R. Grossman

politician, was born in Malta, Illinois, the son of William Jackson and Sarah Cooper. He spent most of his childhood in Chicago. At age nine he began selling newspapers and shining shoes in Chicago's central business district; he left school in the eighth grade to work full-time. By age eighteen Robert had garnered an appointment as a clerk in the post office, a position coveted by African Americans in this era because of its security compared to that of most other occupations open to them. He left the postal service as an assistant superintendent in 1909 to devote himself full-time to his printing and publishing business, the Fraternal Press. In partnership with Beauregard F. Mosely, in 1910 he cofounded the Leland Giants, Chicago's first African American baseball team. In 1912 Jackson won election as a Republican to the state legislature From there he moved to the ...


Elliott S. Hurwitt

songwriter, was born Richard C. McPherson in Norfolk, Virginia. Nothing is known of his parents or his early life. He studied at the Norfolk Mission College and at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and set his sights on the study of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. At first music was merely an avocation, but he gradually found his musical interests crowding out his medical ones; he began serious music studies in New York with the eminent Melville Charlton, the organist at some of New York's leading churches and synagogues for several decades. His activities during the years around 1900 were manifold evincing a considerable degree of energy In addition to his musical activities he was an enthusiastic member of the New York Guard rising to the rank of lieutenant He was also later active in the African American entertainment brotherhood known as the Frogs together with the ...


Lang Baradell

poet, short-story writer, magazine publisher, and entrepreneur, was one of Madison and Ellen Townsend McGirt's four children. Born in Robeson County, North Carolina, he spent his childhood on the family farm and attended Whitun Normal School, a private school for blacks in nearby Lumberton.

While McGirt was still young, his family moved first to another farm in Robeson County and then to Greensboro, North Carolina. There McGirt's father drove a wagon and his mother was a launderer. Young McGirt took part-time jobs while completing his secondary education. In 1892 he entered Greensboro's Bennett College and graduated three years later with a bachelor's degree.

While in Greensboro McGirt began writing poetry and published his first book, Avenging the Maine, a Drunken A. B., and Other Poems (1899 McGirt s apologetic preface explains that he wrote the poems when his body was almost exhausted from manual ...


Debra Foster Greene

newspaper publisher, editor, community leader, and entrepreneur, was born Joseph Everett Mitchell in Coosa County, Alabama, one of eight children of Henry Mitchell, a farmer and sawmill owner, and his wife, Cassana. In 1898 Mitchell left Alabama for work in Atlanta, Georgia, but when President William McKinley called for volunteers for the Spanish American War, he enlisted and became a member of the Twenty-fourth Infantry Regiment, one of the six African American regiments in the U.S. Army. The regiment served in the Philippine Islands from 1899 until August 1902, during the Philippine Insurrection. After his honorable discharge Mitchell returned to Alabama to marry Mattie Elizabeth Thomas on 20 January 1901 at Cottage Grove, Alabama. On 2 June 1940, two years after Mattie's death, he married Edwina Wright, daughter of Richard Robert Wright Sr. thirty year president of Georgia State College ...


Carolyn Wedin

editor, publisher, and alderman. Fred R. Moore was born in Virginia and educated in Washington, D.C., where he also sold papers as a youth. In 1879 he married Ida Lawrence, and they had eighteen children, the youngest born in 1902; only six lived beyond childhood. During the presidential administrations of Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, Chester A. Arthur, and Grover Cleveland, Moore was a messenger to successive secretaries of the treasury and then worked briefly for the Western National Bank.

Early in the twentieth century, Moore became tightly involved with Booker T. Washington of the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama, and Moore's subsequent appointments, at least until Washington's death in 1915, came about through Washington's decision and influence. After Washington's founding in 1900 of the National Negro Business League, Moore became national organizer—or enforcer—in 1903 finding many chapters activities ...


James Phillip Jeter

John Henry Murphy, Sr., was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the only son of Benjamin Murphy, Jr., a whitewasher, and Susan Coby. Murphy was born a slave. The Baltimore Afro-American, the newspaper he would guide to prominence during the first two decades of the twentieth century, described Murphy's educational attainment as “limited.” A short man, he walked with a limp, the result of a childhood horseback riding incident that left one leg longer than the other. Freedom for the Murphys came via the Maryland Emancipation Act of 1863.

Despite his limp, Murphy answered Abraham Lincoln's call for troops and joined the Union army during the Civil War. He enlisted as a private in Company G of the mostly black Thirtieth Regiment of the Maryland Volunteers—an infantry unit—on March 18, 1864. During his twenty-one months in uniform he served under General Ulysses S Grant ...