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Thomas M. Leonard

diplomat, lawyer, and journalist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Samuel Durham and Elizabeth Stephens. Two of his uncles, Clayton Durham and Jeremiah Durham, were noted clergymen who helped Bishop Richard Allen establish the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Durham, who could almost pass for white, studied in the Philadelphia public schools and graduated from the Institute for Colored Youth in 1876.

For five years after leaving high school Durham taught in Delaware and Pennsylvania. In 1881 he entered Towne Scientific School, a branch of the University of Pennsylvania, from which he earned a bachelor's degree in 1886 and a civil engineering degree in 1888. He held several positions during his college career, including reporter for the Philadelphia Times. He excelled as a newspaperman, and his unique abilities eventually led him to the assistant editorship of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin ...

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Elizabeth K. Davenport

attorney and civic leader, was born in Chicago into an African American family of successful lawyers. Her father, C. Francis Stradford, was a prominent attorney on Chicago's South Side and the founder of the National Bar Association (NBA), which he established in 1925. In 1940 C. Francis Stradford successfully argued the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark case Hansberry v. Lee, which abolished the restrictive covenants that had limited racial integration in Chicago neighborhoods. Her grandfather, J. B. Stradford, was a well-known lawyer in the African American community and the owner of the only black hotel in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her mother, Aida Arrabella Carter Stradford, was an artist and a homemaker.LaFontant's indoctrination to the legal profession occurred early. As a student at Englewood Public High School in Chicago, she spent the summers working in her father's law office. In the autumn of 1939 she ...

Article

Robert F. Jefferson

postmaster, labor organizer, civil rights advocate, and community leader, was born in Hillsboro, Texas, the eleventh of twelve children of William Henry McGee and Mary Washington. The occupations of his parents are unknown. After his mother died in 1914, Henry moved to Chicago where he lived with his older brother, the Reverend Ford W. McGee—a future bishop of a South Side Holiness Church—for three years before returning to Hillsboro to rejoin his family. Then, Henry returned home to rejoin his father in Texas before the family relocated to Kansas City, Missouri.

After graduating from high school, Henry returned in 1927 to Chicago, where he attended Crane Junior College by day and worked the night shift as a substitute mail clerk in the Chicago Post Office. After earning an associate's degree in 1929 McGee had aspirations to continue his education but like countless ...