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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 ...

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Patricia Sullivan

activist and politician, was born Horace Julian Bond in Nashville, Tennessee, the second of three children of Julia Washington, a librarian, and Horace Mann Bond. He grew up in the relatively insulated environment of the black college campus, a crossroads for leading black intellectuals and artists during the segregation era. Horace Mann Bond, a prominent scholar and educator, was president of Fort Valley State College in Georgia at the time of Julian's birth. In 1945 he became the first African American president of Lincoln University, outside of Philadelphia. When Julian was a child, his father and W. E. B. Du Bois had a mock ceremony dedicating him to a life of scholarship. His life took a different course, but reflected the influence of both men.

In 1957 Horace Mann Bond became dean of the Atlanta University School of Education and the family moved to Georgia Bond s ...

Article

educator, was born Lottie Hawkins in Henderson, North Carolina, the daughter of Edmund H. Hight, a brick mason, and Caroline Frances Hawkins. Accounts vary as to whether her father and mother separated before or after her birth, and it is also unclear whether her parents ever married. After her mother married Nelson Willis, Lottie (as she was called until she changed her name to Charlotte Eugenia in high school) relocated with nineteen members of her extended family to Massachusetts in 1888. By joining the widespread migration of African Americans, the family hoped to enjoy greater economic opportunities and a better life. After settling in Cambridge, her stepfather worked odd jobs to support the family, while her mother boarded African American Harvard students, operated a laundry, and babysat. Hawkins began her elementary education at the Allston School in Cambridge, where she befriended two of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ...

Article

Valinda Littlefield

Born Lottie Hawkins in Henderson, North Carolina, Charlotte Eugenia Hawkins Brown was the daughter of Carolina Frances Hawkins and Edmund H. Hight. Her mother and stepfather, Nelson Willis, along with nineteen extended family members, moved from Henderson to Cambridge, Massachusetts, when Lottie was seven years old. After graduating from high school and changing her name to Charlotte Eugenia, Brown attended the State Normal School in Salem, Massachusetts, for two years.

In 1901 Brown accepted a position with the American Missionary Association AMA to teach at a one room school housed in a run down church in Sedalia North Carolina The AMA a nondenominational society worked to develop educational opportunities for African Americans during and after the Civil War and founded more than five hundred schools for blacks in the South Brown s school consisted of fifty children from the surrounding poor area of Guilford County North ...

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Carolyn Wedin

educator. Born in Henderson, North Carolina, to Caroline Frances Hawkins, an unwed mother of sixteen, at age six “Lottie” moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her mother, with her mother's new husband, Nelson Willis, with her brother Mingo, and with several cousins and aunts. Brown excelled at the Allston Grammar School and Cambridge English High School. The whole family worked, from doing laundry to taking in boarders. Pushing a baby carriage with one hand and reading her Latin book in the other, Brown encountered Alice Freeman Palmer, president of Wellesley College, and with Palmer's assistance she ended up attending the State Normal School in Salem. Another chance encounter led to a job offer from the American Missionary Association (AMA); she accepted a teaching position at Bethany Institute, a small school in Sedalia, outside Greensboro, North Carolina.

Within a year the AMA closed the school and the ...

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Michele Valerie Ronnick

Latinphilologist, school administrator, and educational reformer, was born in Greenville, South Carolina, to Vincent Henry Bulkley and his wife Madora, freeborn African Americans. He was the couple's firstborn son, and as a child he saw his father make important contributions to the establishment of Claflin University in 1869 in Orangeburg, South Carolina. He matriculated at Claflin in 1878 and graduated four years later on 6 June 1882. The school's catalog for the academic year 1881–1882 lists him as the only member of the senior class, and he and Nathaniel Middleton were among the first students that Claflin's college program produced. Prior to graduation he taught Greek, Latin, and German at his alma mater, and from 1886 to 1899 he held the title of professor. He served as secretary of Claflin's faculty in 1895, and from 1896 to 1899 was the school's vice president.

In ...

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Marcia G. Synnott

school founder, was born Nannie Helen Burroughs in Orange, Virginia, the daughter of John Burroughs, a farmer and itinerant Baptist preacher, and Jennie Poindexter, a cook and former slave. After moving to Washington, D.C., with her mother in 1883, Burroughs graduated in 1896 with honors in business and domestic science from the Colored High School on M Street. When racial discrimination barred her from obtaining a position either in the Washington, D.C., public schools or the federal civil service, Burroughs worked as a secretary, first for the Baptist Christian Banner in Philadelphia and then for the National Baptist Convention's Foreign Mission Board. She moved to Louisville, Kentucky, in 1900, when the Board's headquarters relocated there, and she stayed in Louisville until 1909. Studying business education, she organized a Women's Industrial Club for black women, which evolved into a vocational school.

In 1900 Burroughs helped found ...

Article

Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham

As a national leader in education at age twenty-one, Nannie Helen Burroughs was catapulted to fame after presenting the speech “How the Sisters Are Hindered from Helping” at the annual conference of the National Baptist Convention (NBC) in Richmond, Virginia, in 1900. Her outspoken eloquence articulated the righteous discontent of women in the black Baptist church and served as a catalyst for the formation of the largest black women’s organization in America—the Woman’s Convention Auxiliary to the NBC. Some called her an upstart because she led the organization in the struggle for women’s rights, antilynching laws, desegregation, and industrial education for black women and girls. Most people, however, considered her an organizational genius. At the helm of the National Baptist Woman’s Convention for more than six decades, Burroughs remained a tireless and intrepid champion of black pride and women’s rights.

Burroughs was born in Orange, Virginia to John ...

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Timothy P. McCarthy

minister, educator, and politician, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of a free black woman (name unknown) and a Jewish father. It is uncertain whether Cardozo's father was Jacob N. Cardozo, the prominent economist and editor of an anti-nullification newspaper in Charleston during the 1830s, or his lesser-known brother, Isaac Cardozo, a weigher in the city's customhouse. Born free at a time when slavery dominated southern life, Cardozo enjoyed a childhood of relative privilege among Charleston's antebellum free black community. Between the ages of five and twelve he attended a school for free blacks, then he spent five years as a carpenter's apprentice and four more as a journeyman. In 1858 Cardozo used his savings to travel to Scotland, where he studied at the University of Glasgow, graduating with distinction in 1861 As the Civil War erupted at home he remained in Europe to study ...

Article

Linda M. Perkins

educator, civic and religious leader, and feminist, was born a slave in Washington, D.C., the daughter of Lucy Jackson. Her father's name and the details of her early childhood are unknown. However, by the time she was age ten, her aunt Sarah Orr Clark had purchased her freedom, and Jackson went to live with relatives in New Bedford, Massachusetts. By 1851 she and her relatives had moved to Newport, Rhode Island, where Jackson was employed as a domestic by George Henry Calvert, a descendant of Lord Baltimore, the settler of Maryland. Jackson's salary enabled her to afford one hour of private tutoring three times a week. Near the end of her six-year stay with the Calverts, she briefly attended the segregated public schools of Newport. In 1859 Jackson enrolled at the Rhode Island State Normal School in Bristol In addition to the normal course she also studied ...

Article

Linda M. Perkins

When Fanny Jackson became principal of Philadelphia’s Institute for Colored Youth in 1869, she held the highest educational appointment of any black woman in the nation at the time. While most of her attention, both before and after her marriage in 1881, was given to the institute, she was also active in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the National Association of Colored Women, and, in later life, as a missionary to Africa.

Fanny Jackson Coppin was born a slave in Washington, DC, in 1837. Her freedom was bought during her early childhood by a devoted aunt, Sarah Orr. Jackson moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts, and, by the early 1850s, to Newport, Rhode Island, to live with relatives. While in Newport, Jackson worked as a domestic in the home of George Henry Calvert, great-grandson of Lord Baltimore settler of Maryland Calvert s wife Mary was ...

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Richard Newman

Jesuit priest and university president, was born in Jones County, Georgia, the son of Michael Morris Healy, an Irish American planter, and Eliza Clark, an African American woman he had purchased. The senior Healy deserted from the British army in Canada during the War of 1812 and by 1818 had made his way to rural Georgia, where he settled, speculated in land, and acquired a sizable plantation and numerous slaves. Healy acknowledged Eliza as “my trusty woman” in his will, which provided that she be paid an annuity, transported to a free state, and “not bartered or sold or disposed of in any way” should he predecease her. Healy also acknowledged his nine children by Eliza, although by state law they were slaves he owned, and he arranged for them to leave Georgia and move to the North, where they would become free.

After first sending his older ...

Article

Donnie D. Bellamy

educator and government official, was born in Sparta, Hancock County, Georgia, the son of Mariah and Henry Alexander Hunt Sr., a tanner and farmer. Mariah, who exhibited some of the fundamentals of an education and had studied music, was a freewoman of color; Henry Sr. was white. Available evidence suggests that the couple lived together before the Civil War but maintained separate households afterward. Henry Jr. was the fifth of eight racially mixed children At age sixteen having completed the formal education available to him in Hancock County he followed his older sister and enrolled at Atlanta University A popular campus leader Hunt was captain of the baseball team moot court judge and president of the Phi Kappa Society In addition to his college course Hunt learned the builder s trade and during vacations worked as a journeyman carpenter to earn money for his education He graduated ...

Article

Sara Graves Wheeler

university president and clergyman, was born in Paris, Henry County, Tennessee, the son of the Reverend Wyatt Johnson, a stationary engine operator in a mill, and Caroline Freeman. Johnson received his grammar school education in Paris, but in 1903 he enrolled in the Academy of the Roger Williams University in Nashville, Tennessee. The school burned in 1905, so Johnson finished the semester at the Howe Institute in Memphis. In the fall of that year, he moved to Atlanta to finish high school in the preparatory department of Atlanta Baptist College (renamed Morehouse College in 1913). There he completed a bachelor's degree in 1911. While at Atlanta Baptist, Johnson played varsity football and tennis, sang in various groups, and began his long career as a public speaker on the debating team.

After graduating, Johnson became an English instructor at his alma mater. For the 1912 ...

Article

Kenneth H. Williams

clergyman, educator, and first African American senator, was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, the son of free parents of mixed blood. Little is known of his family or early years. At eight or nine he enrolled in a private school for black children, where he was “fully and successfully instructed by our able teacher in all branches of learning.” About 1842 his family moved to Lincolnton, North Carolina, where Revels became a barber. Two years later he entered Beech Grove Seminary, a Quaker institution two miles south of Liberty, Indiana. In 1845 he enrolled at another seminary in Darke County, Ohio, and during this period may also have studied theology at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

Revels's preaching career with the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church began at this time. He was ordained as a minister in the Indiana Conference at some point between 1845 and 1847 ...

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Maceo Crenshaw Dailey

private secretary and influential assistant to Booker T. Washington, advocate of racial uplift who displayed a lifelong commitment to the goals of the Tuskegee Institute–based educational and political machine and was a prominent black representative in Republican politics. Born in Houston, Texas, in 1873 to Horace and Emma Kyle Scott, Emmett Scott was surrounded with parents, relatives, and later friends who knew the horrors of enslavement either through experience, folklore, or history and were determined to rise in the American order. Scott was thus reared in a community that focused on establishing uplift institutions and organizations to enable them to realize and enjoy first-class American citizenship and life. After attending Houston's Gregory Institute, Emmett enrolled at Wiley College from 1887 to 1889 The economic circumstances of his family he was one of eight siblings did not afford Scott the opportunity to complete his college education Upon his ...

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Jaime McLean

Sizemore, professor emerita at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, was the first African American woman to head the public school system in a major city. She dedicated her career to educating the nation’s children and young adults.

Born Barbara Laffoon to Sylvester Walter Laffoon and Delila Alexander Laffoon in Chicago, Illinois, Barbara spent her childhood in Terre Haute, Indiana, where she was a student at Booker T. Washington Elementary School. Her father died when she was eight years old and her mother later remarried a man named Aldwin E. Stewart. Barbara graduated from Wiley High School and pursued a bachelor of arts degree in classical languages at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. She earned her BA in 1947 and worked as a teacher in the Chicago public school system for several years before going on to pursue an MA in Elementary Education, which she earned in 1954 ...

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Yolanda L. Watson Spiva

educator and theorist, was born Barbara Ann Laffoon in Chicago, the only child of Sylvester Walter Laffoon and Delila (Alexander) Laffoon. Her parents were both graduates of the Indiana State Teacher's College. Her father's occupation is unknown, but her mother worked as a domestic for a dentist who was also the president of the Northwestern University Alumni Association, a connection that would later facilitate Barbara's entry into that university. Barbara's father died in a car accident when she was eight years old, and her mother was remarried in 1940 to Aldwin E. Stewart. Barbara was reared in Terre Haute, Indiana, where she attended Booker T. Washington Elementary School. After graduating from Wiley High School at the age of sixteen, Barbara earned both her undergraduate (BA) and graduate (MA) degrees from Northwestern University; the former degree was in Classical Languages (in 1947 and the latter in Elementary ...

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Angela Bates

professional football player, businessman, and historic preservationist, was the youngest of six children born to Fred and Ora Switzer of Nicodemus, an all African American town in northwestern Kansas. He grew up playing football on the dusty dirt streets of Nicodemus. He liked fishing and hunting and especially helping with farm chores. He attended grade school at Nicodemus until the eighth grade and then attended nearby Bogue High School. While in high school he played on the football and basketball teams and ran track. He lettered each year in all three sports.

Upon graduation in 1950, Switzer entered Kansas State University as one of the first African Americans to receive a football scholarship to the university. While at Kansas State he lettered three years in both football and track and was named to the All Big Seven three years in a row. In 1952 Switzer ...