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Sibyl Collins Wilson

lawyer, State Supreme Court Justice, mayor of Detroit, Michigan, and president of the American Bar Association, was born in Detroit to Ernest and Frances Archer, and was raised in Cassopolis, Michigan. Determined to raise himself from poverty, and encouraged by his parents to value education, Archer was steadfast in his studies. He graduated from Cassopolis High School in 1959 and entered Western Michigan University that fall. While attending Western Michigan he pledged Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the first black collegiate fraternal organization. He graduated in 1965.

Archer had a desire to teach, so he relocated to Detroit and took a position in the Detroit schools teaching and assisting emotionally disturbed students. He met Trudy Duncombe, another young teacher, during this tenure, and they married on 17 June 1967 Although dedicated to education Archer began to prepare himself for another level of public service when he entered ...


Steven J. Niven

mayor of Los Angeles, was born in a log cabin on a cotton plantation near Calvert, in Robertson County, Texas, the son of Lee Thomas Bradley and Crenner Hawkins sharecroppers Calvert had thrived in the late nineteenth century buoyed by the cottonseed industry and the Southern Pacific Railroad but its economy had declined by the time of Thomas s birth Life for sharecroppers like the Bradleys was precarious little better in fact than it had been for Lee s father a slave in the Carolinas They knew the certainty of picking cotton for eighteen hours a day and the annual uncertainty of the price of that cotton Heavily indebted to white landlords Lee and Crenner struggled to provide their family with vital necessities such as food and health care five of their children died in infancy Like many southern blacks in the 1920s the Bradley family saw only one ...


Arthur Matthew Holst

politician, was born Willie Lewis Brown Jr. in Mineola, Texas, to Lewis Brown, a part-time waiter, and Minnie Collins, a maid. From the age of four he was raised by his mother and his grandmother, Anna Lee Collins, after his father abandoned the family. What Brown lacked in wealth was more than made up for by the caring and love given to him by these two women and his three siblings. Driven by his desire to make his mother and grandmother proud, he tackled any task given to him with determination. Later in life he said of his family, “They believed in me, taught me the value of hard work and the importance of education, and nurtured my sense of dignity of self worth.”

Willie Brown s childhood was plagued by segregation racism and hatred In a society where Jim Crow laws were the norm Brown excelled ...


Roger Biles

mayor of New York City, was born David Norman Dinkins in Trenton, New Jersey, the first of two children of William H. Dinkins, a barbershop owner and real estate agent, and Sally (maiden name unknown), a domestic worker and manicurist. David's parents divorced when he was six years old, and he lived briefly with his mother after she moved to Harlem, New York, although he soon returned to Trenton to live with his father and stepmother, Lottie Dinkins (maiden name Hartgell), a high school English teacher.

After graduating from high school in Trenton, Dinkins became one of the first African Americans to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps, and he graduated magna cum laude in 1950 from Howard University, where he majored in mathematics. He graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 1956 and practiced law in New York City until 1975. Dinkins and his wife, Joyce Burroughs ...


Quito Swan

was born in that city, the son of Albert Dismont and his wife Ivy; they were a well-known and much-respected couple. Albert Dismont was the first black man to own property and a business in Hamilton city, the bastion of Bermuda’s white oligarchy. Cecil Dismont would also challenge the dominance of that ruling elite, and his remarkable and full life was, in many ways, a microcosm of the racial, class, and social tensions that marked twentieth-century Bermuda.

Dismont attended the Berkeley Preparatory and Excelsior Secondary Schools. He subsequently studied at the Ontario Business College in Canada and assisted in the family business, the Dismont Cycle Shop, upon his return to Bermuda.

Dismont was raised in a political family His father had unsuccessfully run for mayor and his older brother Russell studied law at the University of London s School of Economics While there he rubbed shoulders with actors Earl Cameron ...


Deborah F. Atwater

mayor of Washington, D.C., was born Sharon Pratt, the elder child of Carlisle Pratt, a superior court judge, and Mildred Petticord. When Sharon was four years old, her mother died of cancer. With her younger sister, Benaree, and their father, she went to live with her paternal grandmother and aunt. Some years later her father remarried, and Sharon lived with her father and stepmother. She attended Gage and Rudolph elementary schools and McFarland Junior High School and graduated from Roosevelt High School with honors. In 1965 she graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C., with honors and a BA in Political Science; three years later she earned a JD from Howard's law school. While in law school, she married her first husband, onetime D.C. council member Arrington Dixon, and they had two daughters, Aimee Arrington Dixon and Drew Arrington Dixon The couple divorced ...


Thaddeus Russell

politician and mayor of Chicago, was born on the South Side of Chicago, the son of Roy Lee Washington, a stockyard worker, and Bertha Jones, a domestic worker. Harold Washington attended a Benedictine boarding school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, until the age of six. He was then enrolled in Chicago public schools but dropped out of high school after his junior year to take a job in a meatpacking plant. His father, who had become an attorney and a precinct captain for the Democratic Party in Chicago's largely African American Third Ward, secured a job for Washington at the Chicago office of the U.S. Treasury Department. In 1941 he married Dorothy Finch. They had no children and divorced in 1950.

Following U.S. entry into World War II in December 1941 Washington was drafted into the U S Army He was stationed in the South Pacific with ...


Miguel Gonzalez Perez

was born on 15 September 1948 in Bilwi along the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua to a working class family Bilwi also known as Puerto Cabezas is the capital city of Nicaragua s North Atlantic Autonomous Region home to a multiethnic population of which around 25 percent are of African descent Her father Sidney Marcus Wilson was employed for more than forty years in the gold mines operated by US multinationals in the northern region of the coast also known as the Mines subregion Dorotea s mother Ambrozine Tathum Forbes was an active church member and made a living by selling pastries to workers in the export led timber industry of Bilwi Dorotea received a religious education in various Catholic schools including the Santa Inés and Maryknoll colleges The decision to pursue a Catholic religious education represented a significant personal challenge since she had been born into a Protestant Moravian ...


Alton Hornsby

civil rights leader, United Nations ambassador, U.S. congressman, and mayor, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Andrew Jackson Young, a dentist, and Daisy Fuller, a teacher. Young received a BS degree in Biology from Howard University in 1951 and a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Hartford Theological Seminary in Connecticut in 1955. In the same year he was ordained as a minister in the United Church of Christ. As a pastor he was sent to such places as Marion, Alabama, and Thomasville and Beachton, Georgia. During this time the civil rights movement was reaching its height under the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr. and others who followed the nonviolent resistance tactics of Mohandas Gandhi, the pacifist who had led Indian opposition to British colonial rule. By the time of the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott in 1955 Young ...


Edward L. Lach

mayor, was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the son of William Coleman Young, a barber and a tailor, and Ida Reese Jones Young. After his family moved to Detroit in 1923 Young grew up in the Black Bottom section of town where his father ran a dry cleaning and tailoring operation and also worked as a night watchman at the post office Although Young enjoyed his early years in the then ethnically diverse neighborhood his family did not altogether escape discrimination A gifted student he was rejected by a Catholic high school because of his race and after graduating from public Eastern High he lost out on college financial aid for the same reason Young became an electrical apprentice at Ford Motor Company only to see a white man with lower test scores get the job He then worked on Ford s assembly line but was fired ...