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James G. Spady

One of thirteen children, Robert Mara Adger was born in Charleston, South Carolina. His father, Robert Adger, was black, and his mother, Mary Ann Morong, was Native American. In 1848 the family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Adger's father first found a job as a waiter in the Old Merchant's Hotel. Later, while working as a nurse, he industriously saved enough funds to open a furniture business. He was involved in many activities and was a founder of the Benjamin Banneker Institute.

Robert Mara Adger received his early training at the Bird School, an early black educational institution in the United States. During his teenage years, he worked in his father's furniture stores, which had expanded from one in 1850 to three by 1858 Serving as a manager provided him with the business experience that he later found valuable as director of the Philadelphia Building and ...

Article

Robert Fikes

minister, educational administrator, and civic activist, was born in Hayneville, Alabama, the son of Will Smith, a sharecropper, and Amanda (Tyler) Smith, a laundress. Valedictorian of his Miller's Ferry, Alabama, Presbyterian high school class, George worked his way through Knoxville College in Tennessee majoring in chemistry with a minor in biology and German. A member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, he was awarded his bachelor's degree in 1951, the same year that he married Irene Hightower; they eventually had three children.

Smith was taking graduate courses in education at Alabama State University while teaching high school in the rural town of Annemanie, Alabama, when a series of incidents of extreme racial brutality persuaded him to leave his job and his home state and enter the ministry, a career path that he had earlier rejected. In 1953 he enrolled at the Pittsburgh ...

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Benjamin R. Justesen

teacher, businessman, banker, Republican Party activist, and longtime U.S. postmaster of Wilson, North Carolina, was born a slave near Castalia in Nash County, North Carolina, during the Civil War. The oldest son of five children born to carpenter Daniel Vick and Fannie (Blount) Vick, Samuel received his early education at Wilson Academy in Wilson, where the Vick family moved shortly after the war's end in 1865.

A gifted student, Vick excelled at his studies, and in 1880 he was admitted to Lincoln University (then the Ashmun Institute, after Jehudi Ashmun, leader of 1820s Liberia) in Pennsylvania, from which he received both a bachelor's and a master's degree in 1884 While his father helped finance his education Vick insisted on paying as much of his own expenses as possible by teaching school during summer vacations His philosophy of pragmatic independence guided his life thereafter ...

Article

Gertrude Woodruff Marlowe

Maggie Lena Walker was always clear about what she was trying to accomplish as the executive head of the Independent Order of St. Luke, the organization she ran for thirty-five years and built to a membership of 100,000 in twenty-two states and the District of Columbia. She wanted to create businesses that would provide employment for black Americans, particularly black women, through cooperative effort and mutual support. As a vehicle for community education, the Order had, she said in 1913, “devoted itself to the teaching of the power of organization and the lesson of confidence.” This spirit animated her career of public service, explains much about her personal style, and suggests why St. Luke’s business enterprises, with one exception, enjoyed quiet, steady success when so many similar ones failed.

There is no official record of Walker’s birth. Most sources suggest that she was born in Richmond, Virginia in ...

Article

Wanda F. Fernandopulle

Georgia to Lydia Elizabeth Howard Wright and to Richard Wright Sr., an educational advocate who progressed as a child born into slavery and challenged the status quo. Both parents attended Atlanta University. Richard Robert Wright Jr. attended and excelled academically at the Storrs School for children. Thereafter, Wright led a life committed to helping others and producing writings such as Encyclopedia of African Methodism, Mission Study Courses Nos. 1 and 2, The Negro in Pennsylvania, The Negro Problem: a Sociological Treatment, The Teachings of Jesus, Church Financing, Handbook of the A.M.E. Church, What the Negro Gives to his Church, and Wilberforce and Negro Migration to the North.

In 1892 where Richard Robert Wright Sr. served as president, young Richard Robert Wright Jr. enrolled in Georgia State College. In 1898 Wright graduated from Georgia State College and immediately entered the Seminary School at the University of Chicago Wright completed ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

exhorter, sociologist, banker, and bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church, was born in Cuthbert, Georgia, the son of Richard Robert Wright Sr., an educator and banker, and Lydia Elizabeth Howard Wright. He had a brother, Emmanuel, and sisters, Edwina MaBelle, a schoolteacher, and Julia.

Wright attended public schools and the Haines Normal and Industrial Institute in Augusta, founded in 1886 by Lucy Craft Laney, often considered Georgia's most famous African American woman educator. In 1898 he was the first graduate of Georgia State Industrial College, where his father was the first president. After graduating with an A.B. degree, he served briefly as a paymaster's clerk in the Spanish-American War, began graduate study at the University of Chicago, and was licensed to preach by the AME church in 1899. In 1900 he was ordained an AME minister and worked as an enumerator for ...

Article

Robert C. Morris

educator and banker, was born in Whitfield County, Georgia, the son of Robert Waddell and Harriet (maiden name unknown), both slaves. His father, of mixed African and Cherokee descent, was the coachman on a plantation where his mother was a house servant. When Richard was two years old, his father escaped to free territory. Richard and his mother were taken by their slave owner to Cuthbert, Georgia, where she married Alexander Wright and had two children. After emancipation Harriet Wright moved with her three children to Atlanta to take advantage of the recent opening of a Freedman's Bureau School for Negroes. While Harriet supported the family by running a boarding house, Richard entered Storrs School, which was run by the American Missionary Association. In 1866General Oliver Otis Howard then current commissioner of the Freedmen s Bureau visited the Sunday school at the Storrs Church and ...