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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 ...


Robbie Clark

In the 1989 book titled I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America, by Brian Lanker, Eva Jessye recollected the difficult experiences she encountered while touring as choral conductor with the Porgy and Bess American Opera: “I wouldn’t let anybody get between me and my music. If I belong to anything, I belong to my music…Any woman of that time would have had the same trouble I had. They never thought a woman could be as devoted to one idea as a man.”

Her artistic talents and dedication to the preservation of African American music set the tone for a remarkable career that would span decades. As a choral director, composer, arranger, writer, poet, actor, and teacher, the multitalented Jessye was a pioneer and a significant figure in American music.

Eva Alberta Jessye was born to Albert and Julia Jessye in Coffeyville, Kansas and ...


Catherine L. Goode

pianist, composer, arranger, and choirmaster, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the fourth of five children of James Thomas Whaley, a headwaiter, and Emma Foster, a seamstress.

Thomas Whaley was a major participant in the genesis of jazz in Boston and New York. His expertise was widely sought after by his contemporaries throughout his long career. He grew up in Everett, a predominantly white suburb of Boston. His mother told him to have racial pride and to strive for excellence because he was usually the only black child in his classes.

Beginning at seven years old his mother hired a succession of piano teachers for him One was a German pastor who had a church in nearby Malden Thomas used to walk three miles to the church to practice piano and sing soprano in the choir He had the rare ability of being able to sing altissimo ...