Alexander was born in Helena, Arkansas, the son of slave parents. Details of his early life are unknown, but in 1882 he enrolled as a freshman at Ohio's Oberlin College. He did well academically and was described by one of his professors as having “very rare ability as a student.” In May 1883 he was offered an appointment as alternate to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, from the 14th Congressional District of Ohio. He made the highest score on the academic part of the examination but was made an alternate because another candidate—the son of Chief Justice Morrison Waite scored better on the physical Friends who were skeptical of the military medical evaluation felt that Alexander was pigeon breasted they held parties in Oberlin and Cleveland raising enough money to send him to West Point anyway When the young Waite failed his entrance examination ...
John F. Marzalek
Antoine was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1836. His father was a veteran of the War of 1812; he had fought the British at the Battle of New Orleans. Antoine's mother was a native of the West Indies and the daughter of an African chief; her parents were taken as slaves from the shores of Africa. On his father's side (so the story goes), Antoine's grandmother Rose Antoine was a remarkable woman who purchased her freedom and acquired a small fortune through her work as a midwife.
Caesar C. Antoine spent his childhood in New Orleans and attended private schools. He was fluent in both French and English. After graduating, he entered one of the few occupations open to African Americans in the antebellum South: the barber trade. After federal troops captured Baton Rouge in 1862 Antoine organized a black company known subsequently as Company ...
Steven J. Niven
Union army officer and politician, was born in New Orleans, the son of a West Indian midwife and a free black soldier who had served in the Corps d'Afrique with General Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812. His parents' names are not recorded. Family lore had it that Caesar's maternal grandfather, an African chief, had been enslaved and taken to America and that his paternal grandmother, Rose Antoine, had earned enough money from her work as a midwife to purchase her freedom. Rose Antoine also left each of her seven sons twenty thousand dollars in her will.
As a free black child in New Orleans Antoine attended private schools the public schools of the city were closed to blacks and became fluent in both English and French Upon leaving school as a teenager in the early 1850s he then apprenticed and worked as a barber one of ...
Jeffery Othele Mahan
soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Manuel Caldera and Beulah Baker. After the deaths of his parents, Vernon and his sisters, Irma and Katherine, were raised by their maternal grandparents, Joseph Samuel Baker, a retired brakeman for the Union Pacific Railroad, and Dora Lucas. Although his grandparents never officially adopted him, Vernon took the surname Baker and did not know his original surname until later in life. Baker was educated at various elementary and secondary schools, including two years at Father Flanagan's Boys Home in Omaha, Nebraska. Baker finally earned his high school diploma at Clarinda, Iowa, in 1939.
After graduation, Baker returned to Cheyenne, where he found work at the army depot at night doing maintenance, repair, and cleaning jobs. Baker was rejected on his first attempt to join the army. Finally in June 1942 he enlisted and was ...
Michael J. Ristich
military officer and conservationist, was born in Troy, New York, the son of James Boutelle of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and Emeline Lamb Boutelle. Little is known of his childhood and adolescent years. However, at age twenty‐one, possibly passing as white, Boutelle began his ascent through the ranks of the military to become a highly decorated officer, including earning the rank of adjutant general.
On 15 August 1861 Boutelle enlisted in the Fifth New York Calvary Regiment. On 4 November 1862 he was promoted from quartermaster sergeant to second lieutenant. Boutelle and his regiment were then assigned to Pennsylvania to battle against Robert E. Lee's Confederate forces. During the Gettysburg campaign Boutelle was injured when he fell from his horse during a charge on Hanover on 30 June 1863. Because of his injuries Boutelle was assigned to the First Brigade, Third Calvary Division on 17 January 1864 as an ...
Born on September 12, 1840, in Troy, New York, Frazier Augustus Boutelle was the son of James Boutelle from Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and Emeline Lamb Boutelle. He began his army career in 1861, the year the Civil War began, as a member of the Ira Harris Cavalry, subsequently designated the 5th New York Cavalry Regiment. After serving as quartermaster sergeant, he was commissioned a second lieutenant on November 5, 1862. Participating in the Gettysburg campaign, Boutelle was injured on June 30, 1863, when he fell from his horse during a charge at Hanover, Pennsylvania. Consequently, he was assigned to First Brigade, 3rd Cavalry Division, on January 17, 1864, as an ambulance officer. Boutelle did not return to his regiment until he reenlisted in the army in 1864 and he remained with the regiment until he was discharged with the rank of captain on ...
Born on November 25, 1861, in Port Royal, Virginia, to William and Elizabeth Hall Brooks, Arthur Brooks arrived in the District of Columbia at an early age. He was later employed as a laborer until he applied for employment in the federal government. Brooks served in several positions, but the most significant was as the custodian for the White House. Simultaneously, he was actively involved in military activities.
Enlisting in the National Guard, Brooks began his military career his in the Washington Cadet Corps under Captain Christian A. Fleetwood. Serving as a first lieutenant in Company A, he was promoted to captain when his company was reorganized into the Sixth Battalion of the District of Columbia Militia on July 2, 1887. This battalion was redesignated as the Seventh Battalion on April 22, 1889, and again as the First Separate Battalion in 1891 Brooks ...
literary critic. Anatole Broyard was born in New Orleans, the son of Paul Broyard, a carpenter, and Edna Miller. Young Anatole was the second of three children. His older sister, Lorraine, was fair complexioned and his younger sister, Shirley, was brown complexioned. Anatole was pale to olive skinned as a boy. This color distinction is important, because that issue defined the future writer's life.
Anatole's family moved to Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant in the 1920s. Anatole's father arrived in town as a master carpenter, but he learned that the carpenters’ union barred applicants of color. Paul Broyard decided to identify himself as white in order to work. The rest of the family did not overtly pass for white; they muted their racial identity, and that worked in multiethnic Brooklyn.
Young Anatole meanwhile picked up the nickname “Buddy,” according to the historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. In ...
Edward L. Lach
business executive and civic leader, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Hayward G. Burrell and Fannie Miles. Although his parents’ occupations are unknown, both his father and his mother were natives of the District of Columbia, and Burrell's roots in the area ran deep. After graduating from Dunbar High School at the age of fifteen, he worked as a driver for a local pharmacy and apparently also drove a cab for a while. He married at age sixteen (his wife's name is unknown), and the marriage produced a son before ending in divorce seven years later.
In 1941 Burrell gained a position at the federal Bureau of Standards, where he worked in the glass section producing prisms and bombsights. He also attended nearby Howard University between 1941 and 1943 but did not graduate. He entered the U.S. Army in 1945 and rose to the rank of ...
Frank N. Schubert
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, C. Thomas Butler studied for the priesthood at a Jesuit college in Annapolis but went to sea before completing his preparation. After an 1887 shipwreck off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, he enlisted in the Ninth Cavalry and served with that unit at Fort McKinney, Wyoming, and Fort Robinson, Nebraska. During the federal campaign against the Sioux in 1890 and 1891, Butler participated in the rescue of the Seventh Cavalry from the Sioux at Drexel Mission on the Pine Ridge reservation. In 1895 he transferred to the Twenty-fifth Infantry, then in Montana, and remained in that regiment through the Cuban campaign of the Spanish-American War in 1898.
During the battle for Santiago, Cuba, on July 1, 1898 the Twenty fifth Infantry attacked the Spanish garrison on El Caney a key hill northeast of the city After a hard fight the black infantrymen ...
Linda Rochell Lane
In 1985, when Sherian Grace Cadoria was promoted to brigadier general, she was the first black woman in the regular U.S. Army to achieve this rank and the second black woman in history to earn the honor.
Cadoria was born in Marksville, Louisiana, and was brought up by her mother, Bernice Cadoria. As a young child, she worked in the cotton fields alongside her mother and her brother and sister. Because of racism on public transportation, the three children walked five miles to school. Bernice Cadoria was strict, a strong disciplinarian, preparing her daughter well for life in the military.
Cadoria received a BS in Business Education from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1961 The year Cadoria made first lieutenant and became a platoon officer in Company B of the Women s Army Corps Training Battalion at Fort McClellan Alabama a ...
James Robert Payne
After careers in government service, law, the Army, and academia, Cyrus Colter began writing at fifty. Colter placed his first short story, “A Chance Meeting,” in Threshold in 1960. He went on to place stories in such little magazines as New Letters, Chicago Review, and Prairie Schooner. Fourteen of his stories are collected in his first book, The Beach Umbrella (1970). In 1990 Colter published a second collection of short fiction, The Amoralists and Other Tales.
Colter's first novel, The Rivers of Eros (1972) relates the efforts of Clotilda Pilgrim to raise her grandchildren to lives of respectability When Clotilda discovers that her sixteen year old grandaughter is involved with a married man the grandmother becomes obsessed with the idea that the girl is repeating her grandmother s own youthful mistakes Clotilda eventually kills the girl in order to stop what ...
Clement Alexander Price
Born in Washington, D.C., the son of a black army officer, Benjamin O. Davis, Sr., young Benjamin Davis attended school in Tuskegee, Alabama, and Cleveland, Ohio, and the University of Chicago, before entering the all‐white U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where the last African American had graduated in the 1880s. Davis graduated in 1936 (35th in a class of 276). His request for assignment to the Army Air Corps was refused because there were no black aviation units; instead, he was assigned to an all‐black infantry regiment and then to Tuskegee Institute as an instructor. In 1941, the War Department finally allowed blacks into the Air Corps, although in segregated units. Davis established a flight program at Tuskegee, and as a lieutenant colonel took command of the 99th Pursuit Squadron (the “Black Eagles”), the first black air unit.
In 1943 during World War II he led ...
Benjamin Oliver Davis, Jr., was the son of Elnora and Benjamin Oliver Davis, the first black general of the United States Army. After living on a number of military bases during his childhood, Davis entered a predominantly white high school in Cleveland, Ohio. He was elected president of his class and went on to attend Cleveland's Western Reserve University. He transferred to the University of Chicago but hoped to enroll in the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. At the time, the academy actively discouraged blacks from applying. With the help of black Chicago congressman Oscar DePriest, however, Davis took the entrance examinations and entered the academy in 1932.
At West Point Davis because he was black was subjected to a four year silencing campaign no one ate with him roomed with him answered his questions or spoke to him unless issuing an order He nonetheless graduated ...
Tanu T. Henry
was born Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. in Washington, D.C., the son of the U.S. army's first black general, Benjamin O. Davis Sr., and his wife, Elnora Dickerson. Davis spent most of his childhood living on different military bases. By the time he entered high school, his family had settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where he attended a predominantly white school. At his high school, he began to prove his leadership ability, winning elections for class president. After high school, he enrolled in Cleveland's Case Western Reserve University and later the University of Chicago, before he was accepted in 1932, through the influence of the congressman Oscar DePriest, into the United States Military Academy at West Point.
At West Point, which discouraged black cadets from applying at the time, Davis faced a hostile environment and routine exclusion by his peers His classmates shunned him and only talked ...
Brian F. Neumann
U.S. Air Force general and commander of the Tuskegee Airmen. Born in Washington, D.C., Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. was the son of Benjamin O. Davis Sr., the first African American general in American history, and first flew at the age of fourteen, developing a deep love of flying that defined his life and career.
After attending the University of Chicago, Davis entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1932. The last African American to graduate from the academy had done so in 1880, and Davis endured four years of isolation from his fellow cadets before graduating in 1936, thirty-fifth in a class of 276. Davis's request for assignment to the Army Air Corps was denied because there were no black aviation units. After marrying Agatha Scott Davis was assigned to the all black Twenty fourth Infantry Regiment the buffalo soldiers and served as ...
Clement Alexander Price
Born the son of a U.S. government worker in Washington, D.C., Davis attended Howard University, then in the Spanish‐American War helped recruit a company for the 8th U.S. Volunteer Infantry as a lieutenant. In 1899, after demobilization, he enlisted as a private in one of the army's traditional black cavalry units. Two years later, he passed a competitive examination and was commissioned a lieutenant in a black regiment. For the next three decades, Davis served in a number of positions—most of them designed to keep him from commanding white officers or white troops in the segregated army. These assignments included military attaché to Liberia, military science instructor at Wilberforce University and at Tuskegee Institute, and instructor with the Ohio and New York National Guard.
In 1930, Davis became the first black colonel. One week before the 1940 presidential election, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Davis a brigadier ...
Benjamin Oliver Davis was the youngest of three children of Henrietta, a nurse, and Louis, a messenger for the federal government. Shortly after completing high school in Washington, D.C., Davis volunteered to serve in the army, which was then fighting in the Spanish-American War of 1898. He was given a temporary posting as a second lieutenant. After the war Davis decided to continue his military career, enlisting as a private in the Ninth Cavalry. Sent to the Philippines, he became a sergeant major, the highest enlisted rank in the army. Although racism routinely thwarted blacks' efforts to reach higher ranks, in 1901 Davis took and passed examinations to become an officer. As a second lieutenant, he served at Fort Washakie in Wyoming.
In 1902 Davis married Elnora Dickerson his high school girlfriend The Davises were the only black couple at Washakie and were essentially shunned by the white ...
Lisa E. Rivo
U.S.Army officer, was born Benjamin Oliver Davis in Washington, D.C., the youngest of three children of Louis Patrick Henry Davis, a messenger for the U.S. Department of the Interior, and Henrietta Stewart, a nurse. Benjamin attended the Lucretia Mott School, one of Washington's few integrated schools, and then the segregated M Street High School. Impressed in his interactions with Civil War veterans and black cavalrymen, Benjamin joined the M Street Cadet Corps, earning a commission in the all-black unit of the National Guard for his senior year.
Although he had taken courses at Howard University during his senior year of high school, and despite his parent's objections, Davis chose a military career over college. He enlisted during the Spanish-American War in 1898 and joined the all black Eighth U S Volunteer Infantry in Chickamauga Georgia A year later Davis reenlisted in the regular army He served ...
Brian F. Neumann
first African American general in American history. Evidence has been presented that Davis was born 28 May 1880 and then lied about his age to enlist in the army; the earlier date is the one on his tombstone at Arlington National Cemetery. Born to a government worker in Washington, D.C., Benjamin Oliver Davis came from a middle-class home and benefited from the educational opportunities this presented. He attended Washington's M Street High School, gaining a taste for military life in the cadet corps. After a brief stint at Howard University, he helped recruit a black company of U.S. volunteer infantry in 1898 after the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. He served in the all-black unit as a lieutenant. The unit was not sent overseas, and Davis was mustered out in 1899 Denied enrollment at the U S Military Academy at West Point he enlisted as a private in the ...