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Marlene L. Daut

Medal of Honor recipient, actor, and playwright, was born in Richmond, Virginia, of unknown parentage. Beaty (sometimes spelled Beatty) was born a slave, but little else is known of his early years or how he came to be free. Beaty left Richmond in 1849 for Cincinnati, where he would spend the majority of his life, and became a farmer. Later, Beaty's education consisted of an apprenticeship to a black cabinetmaker in Cincinnati, as well as a tutelage under James E. Murdock, a retired professional actor and dramatic coach.

On 5 September 1862 Powhatan Beaty along with 706 other African American men was forced to join Cincinnati s Black Brigade after Confederate troops repeatedly threatened the city The Black Brigade was one of the earliest but unofficial African American military units organized during the Civil War but it did not engage in any military action since the city was ...

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Moya B. Hansen

Buffalo Soldier, was born in Big Flats, New York, along the banks of the Chemung River, not far from the town of Elmira. Nothing is known about Denny's family aside from the fact that he had a sister. Denny's career as a Buffalo Soldier in the Ninth Cavalry spanned thirty years, during which time he earned the nation's highest military honor, the Medal of Honor. Denny enlisted in the U.S. Army on 13 June 1867, one year after President Andrew Johnson signed legislation establishing two cavalry and four infantry regiments composed of African American men. All of these units were sent to the western frontier to defend settlers from Indian tribes, rustlers, thieves, and bandits.

Denny was assigned to Company C Ninth Cavalry stationed at Fort Davis Texas near the Mexican border Its orders were to protect stage and mail routes between El Paso and San Antonio patrol ...

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Mark G. Emerson

Born in Lynn, Massachusetts, Charles Remond Douglass was the third and youngest son of Frederick and Anna Murray Douglass. Named for his father's friend and fellow black antislavery speaker Charles Lenox Remond, Charles attended the public schools in Rochester, New York, where the family moved in late 1847. As a boy, he delivered copies of his father's newspaper, North Star.

As a young man, Charles became the first black from New York to enlist for military service in the Civil War, volunteering for the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. Unlike his brother Lewis, who also served in the Fifty-fourth and became a sergeant major in that regiment, Charles was unable to deploy with his fellow troops owing to illness. As late as November 1863 Charles remained at the training camp in Readville Massachusetts He ultimately joined another black regiment the Fifth Massachusetts Cavalry rising to ...

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Maureen Honey

commander of the only African American unit of the Women's Army Corps stationed in Europe during World War II, was born Charity Edna Adams, the eldest of four children. She was raised in Columbia, South Carolina, where her father was a minister in the African Episcopal Methodist Church. Her mother was a former teacher.

Adams graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in Columbia as valedictorian of her senior class and then from Wilberforce University in Ohio, one of the top three black colleges in the nation in the 1930s. She majored in Math and Physics and graduated in 1938. After returning to Columbia, where she taught junior high school mathematics for four years, Adams enrolled in the MA program for vocational psychology at Ohio State University, pursuing her degree during the summers.

As a member of the military's Advisory Council to the Women's Interests Section (ACWIS), Mary ...

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Amy M. Hay

In her memoir One Woman’s Army (1989), Charity Adams Earley recorded her experiences training women to become soldiers and fighting segregation in the United States Army as a black officer in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (later the Women’s Army Corps, or WAC) during World War II. In recording her story, Earley recognized the need for a personal account of how women and minorities gained acceptance with the military. During her military career, Adams fought not only for her country but for equality, challenging the army’s policy of segregation and individual racism, and left the military with the rank of lieutenant colonel, the highest possible rank after that of the WAC commander herself.

Charity Adams was born in Columbia, South Carolina, and grew up in the Jim Crow South, one of four children born to the Reverend Eugene Adams and Charity A. Adams In her early ...

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Michael Frank Knight

, clerk, editor, Civil War veteran, and recipient of the Medal of Honor, was born to Charles and Anna Marie Fleetwood, free people in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1863 Christian left a lucrative position as a clerk in the Brune shipping and trading empire and joined the Fourth United States Colored Troops as a private. Just over a year later Fleetwood received the Medal of Honor for bravery and coolness under fire at the Battle of New Market Heights (Chaffin's Farm), 29 and 30 September 1864. He was one of only sixteen African American soldiers to receive the Medal of Honor during the Civil War.

Christian Fleetwood's remarkable story begins in the home of the prominent Baltimore businessman John C. Brune Fleetwood s father served for a long time as the majordomo in the Brune household and it was there that Christian received his early education in reading ...

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John Howard Smith

tavern owner and innkeeper in New York City and Philadelphia, was probably born in the French West Indies. There seems to be some controversy regarding his race, as his nickname, “Black Sam,” would indicate an African American identity, while some primary sources imply that he was either white or a Mulatto. Historians are generally agreed, however, that Fraunces was African American. Much of what is known about him comes from his 1785 petition for compensation from Congress for services rendered during the American War of Independence, letters from George Washington, and an obituary in the 13 October 1795 issue of the Gazette of the United States. He owned an inn in New York City in 1755 and the following year obtained a license to operate an ordinary which was a tavern serving meals as well as the usual ales and spirits At this time he was married ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Gloucester, Virginia, and was likely a slave prior to the Civil War. When Gardner enlisted for service in the Union army on 15 September 1863, he listed his occupation as that of an oysterman. The service of James Gardner and thousands of other African Americans in the Union army represented a quest to destroy slavery and establish a foundation for postwar demands for full citizenship For the federal government and most of the North however black patriotism was unwillingly accepted only out of sheer necessity two years of battle and staggering Union casualties compelled Northerners to swallow their opposition to black recruitment and the measure of racial equality that service implied in order to fill their depleted army ranks Indeed early war time fever had dissipated and voluntary enlistments faded making it difficult for states to ...

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Gordon  

Frank H. Goodyear

escaped slave and Union soldier, was likely born on the plantation of John Lyon near Washington, Louisiana, an important steamboat port before the Civil War. Lyon was a cotton planter whose property was located on the Atchafalya River. The names of Gordon's parents and details about his youth are not known.

Gordon received a severe whipping for undisclosed reasons from the plantation's overseer in the fall of 1862. This beating left him with horrible welts on much of the surface of his back, and for the next two months Gordon recuperated in bed. Although Lyon discharged the overseer who carried out this vicious attack, Gordon decided to escape.

In March 1863 Gordon fled his home heading east toward the Mississippi River and Union lines Upon learning of his flight his master recruited several neighbors and together they chased after him with a pack of bloodhounds Gordon had anticipated ...

Article

John Hanners

football player, social activist, author, singer-actor, and ordained minister, was born Roosevelt Grier on a farm in Cuthbert, Georgia, the seventh of Joseph and Ruth Grier's eleven children. At age thirteen he moved with his family to Roselle, New Jersey. Offered an athletic scholarship to Penn State University, he enrolled in 1950 and studied psychology, music, and education. His college athletic career was exceptional. Not only did he receive first-team All-American football honors in 1955, but he also set an Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletics of America shot-put record (fifty-eight feet) in track and field.

In 1965 Grier signed with the National Football League's New York Giants for a $500 bonus and a yearly salary of $6,500. During a long career that lasted from 1955 through 1968 Grier was a dominant defensive tackle in an era known for excellent defensive players His size ...

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Cheryl A. Alston

artist and activist, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the third of ten children of Betty Solomon Guyton and George Guyton, a construction worker. His mother reared the children on her own after George Guyton left the-family, when Tyree Guyton was nine years old. Guyton grew up on the east side of Detroit in an area called “Black Bottom,” one of the oldest African American communities in the city. He attended Northern High School, but he did not graduate and earned his GED at a later date.

Guyton began painting at the age of eight when his grandfather, Sam Mackey a housepainter at the time who later became a painter of fine art gave him the tool to create a paintbrush Because of his family s poverty Guyton felt all he had was his art He felt like he had no freedom and he realized early on that ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was born free in Cincinnati, Ohio. Details of Hawkins's early life are unknown, but by 1863 he would join the Union army in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and soon he became an accomplished soldier. By 1863, two years into the war, President Abraham Lincoln and the Union army faced a dilemma. Despite victories, albeit at a high cost, at Antietam, Gettysburg, and Vicksburg, Northern states found it increasingly difficult to raise their quotas of men for the Union army. It may have been Chaplain George Hepworth of the 47th Massachusetts Regiment who summed up the situation best when he wrote in late 1863 We needed that the vast tide of death should roll by our own doors and sweep away our fathers and sons before we could come to our senses and give the black man the one boon he has ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Austin, Texas, the son of slaves Jack and Emily Holland. Milton had three known brothers, Toby, William, and James, all part of “the third generation of African-Americans born as slaves” on the Holland Family Plantation run by Bird Holland later the Texas secretary of state Arlington National Cemetery Perhaps because of his light complexion and the fact that he was later freed and sent to school in the North Bird Holland may have been the real father of Milton as well as his brothers William and James a fact speculated upon by some historians Bird Holland would later free Milton William and James and send them north to Ohio in the late 1850s Here Milton Holland attended the Albany Manual Labor Academy an educational institution that accepted blacks and women This school was ...

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Kathleen Thompson

Hull was born free in Northampton, Massachusetts. In later years, according to Thomas Egleston, General Paterson's biographer, Hull would say that he was the son of an African prince. He was taken to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, when he was six years old by a black man named Joab. On 1 May 1777, when he was eighteen, he enlisted in the Massachusetts Line, the state militia, as a private. For the next two years he was Paterson's orderly, known among those with whom he served for his intelligence and wit. He was almost certainly among the more than eight hundred African Americans at the battle of Monmouth on 28 June 1778, since he was serving under Paterson at the time and Paterson's brigade fought in the battle. The historian Richard S. Walling includes Hull in a list of those whose presence at the battle is probable but not ...

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Michael C. Miller

Hall of Fame football player, was born in Austin, Texas, to Johnnie Mae King, a prostitute, and her pimp, known only as “Texas Slim.” King abandoned her baby in a garbage dumpster when he was three months old, and Ella Lane, a widow, discovered and adopted him, naming him Richard. He attended Anderson High School, playing football and basketball and running track. Anderson won the state title in 1944 in the Prairie View Interscholastic League, a league for black high schools in Texas.

After high school, Lane moved to Scottsbluff, Nebraska, to live with his birth mother, who had straightened out her life. Though the town was predominantly white, Lane remembered it as open and friendly to him. In 1947 he signed a professional baseball contract with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Baseball League and was assigned to their farm team the Omaha Knights ...

Article

Michaeljulius Idani

minister, civil rights activist, New York state legislator and official, and ambassador, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the oldest of six children of Herman Carl McCall Sr., a waiter on a train, and Carolesa McCall a homemaker During his early years McCall s father lost his job and abandoned the family leaving Herman s mother struggling to raise him and his five sisters McCall grew up poor in the Roxbury section of Boston shifting through low income housing His mother collected welfare as a means to support the family they also received support from caring members of their United Church of Christ parish Despite the difficulties of being a single parent she was active in his life and stressed the importance of a good education and a close relationship with God McCall was a talented student and knew he wanted to attend college He ...

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Chandra M. Miller

Reconstruction politician and U.S. congressman, was born in Opelousas, Louisiana, the son of free blacks Richard Nash and Masie Cecile. He received little public school education and as a young man worked as a bricklayer in New Orleans.

In 1863 nineteen-year-old Nash joined the Tenth Regiment of the Corps d'Afrique, later renamed the Eighty-second U.S. Colored Infantry. He joined the army as a private but was soon promoted to the rank of sergeant major. Nash's regiment fought at the Battle of Port Hudson, Louisiana, and was involved in the last infantry battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Fort Blakely, Alabama, in April 1865 While storming Fort Blakely Nash received wounds that cost him most of his right leg and earned him an honorable discharge Apparently about ten days before his discharge he received promotion to first lieutenant but the promotion was not approved His ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Stark County, Ohio. His father was a native of Virginia, while his mother was from Pennsylvania. Federal Census records of 1870 classify Robert Pinn as a “Mulatto,” an indicator that one of his parents was probably white, or perhaps that he was fair in complexion. Little is known about Pinn's early life, but he was most likely raised in Massillon, Canton, or the surrounding area in Stark County. The early years of the Civil War found Pinn a resident of Massilon, Ohio, making a living as a farmer. At the age of twenty, on 15 September 1863, Pinn set aside his farming tools and traveled the eighty-odd miles westward to the town of Delaware to enlist in the 127th Ohio Regiment, the state's first regiment of black soldiers raised to fight in the Civil War.

Little prior ...

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Karen E. Sutton

Revolutionary War veteran, credited with causing the death of the British lieutenant colonel James Abercrombie at the Battle of Bunker Hill on 17 June 1775. Folklore has it that a teenage Lydia Abbott and her father purchased an African American male infant at a Salem, Massachusetts, slave auction block. The Abbotts lived in nearby Andover and were traveling by horseback. According to tradition, the baby rode either on the “bow” of the saddle or in the saddlebag of Lydia's horse. However he got to Andover, Lydia's family owned him, and had him baptized in the Congregational Church in 1747. In later years, Lydia Abbott gave Poor to her daughter, Chloe. As a child this African American male slave became known as “Salem Pony.” At approximately twenty-seven years of age, Salem purchased himself for twenty-seven pounds. The date was 10 July 1769 and the other party ...

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Lois Kerschen

Salem Poor was an African American hero at the battle of Bunker Hill. Little is known about Poor's life before or after the American Revolution. Some biographical sources say that he was born free in the late 1740s or early 1750s, while others say that he was born a slave but managed to buy his own freedom in 1769 for twenty-seven pounds. He lived and attended church in Andover, Massachusetts, with his wife, Nancy, a free African American woman, and their son. However, in May 1775 he left his family to join the fighting.

Poor belonged to Captain Benjamin Ames's company in Colonel James Frye's Fifth Massachusetts Regiment. There were approximately three dozen black soldiers at Bunker Hill (near Boston), including Peter Salem, Alexander Ames, Cato Howe, Barzillai Lew, and Titus Coburn According to surviving documents Poor was sent to Bunker Hill to build ...