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Pamela Lee Gray

wood carver, sculptor, and folk artist, was born Jesse James Aaron in Lake City, Florida, to descendants of slaves and Seminole Indians. Aaron attended school for less than one year before he was sent to work as a contract laborer for local farms. Trained as a baker when he was twenty-one years old, he found he enjoyed the creativity it required. He opened several bakeries, worked as a cook at Gainesville's Hotel Thomas from 1933 to 1937, and then cooked for a variety of fraternities and hospitals in Florida. Aaron also worked as a cook aboard the Seaboard Air Line Railroad during this time.

Aaron married Leeanna Jenkins, and when the family settled in northwest Gainesville in the 1930s they opened a nursery. From this point until 1968 when Aaron became a folk artist at the age of eighty one it is difficult to determine what is ...

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Gillian Whitlock

the Danish writer also known as Isak Dinesen, who lived in British East Africa (present-day Kenya), was born Karen Dinesen at Rungstedlund, Denmark, on 17 April 1885. Her father, Wilhelm Dinesen, was a military officer, landowner, and Member of Parliament; the Dinesens were an ancient Danish family of landed gentry. Her mother, Ingeborg Westenholtz, was the eldest daughter of the wealthy businessman and finance minister Regnar Westenholtz. Following the suicide of Wilhelm Dinesen in 1895, Ingeborg Dinesen raised her three daughters and two sons in a maternal household, where Karen was known as “Tanne.” As a young woman, Karen Blixen attended art school, mastered several European languages, frequented the aristocratic circles of upper-class young people in Denmark, and began to publish short stories in Danish periodicals in 1907 under the pseudonym Osceola None of these early stories attracted particular attention and she felt discouraged as a writer ...

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Gabrielle P. Foreman

Slave narratives are usually recognized and treated as an antebellum genre. Yet a significant group of exslaves who were children at the close of the Civil War also published their autobiographies. Annie Burton is one of the few such authors who, instead of dictating her story to someone else, wrote her own narrative. For some readers, Burton's Memories of Childhood's Slavery Days (1909) may seem to be a disjointed and nostalgic tale of what she calls the “Great Sunny South.” She breaks the narrative into eight sections: two autobiographical sketches, “a vision,” a piece she authored for her graduating essay, a radically progressive essay by the black minister Dr. P. Thomas Stanford entitled “The Race Question in America”, her own short “historical composition”, and her “favorite poems” and “favorite hymns” The first section is a wistful sketch of her childhood in Clayton Alabama which then ...

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Larvester Gaither

businessman, author, and presidential candidate, was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the elder son of Lenora (Davis) Cain and Luther Cain Jr. His mother, from Georgia, worked as a domestic, while his father, from Arlington, Tennessee, worked mainly as a private chauffeur for Robert Woodruff, president of the Coca-Cola Company. Cain's parents were both raised by poor subsistence farmers (sharecroppers) in the South. In 1943, at the age of eighteen, Cain's father migrated to Mansfield, Ohio, and landed a job working for a tire factory. While there he met Lenora Davis, who had also come there in search of better opportunities. The two moved to Memphis in 1945 for a brief stay and then settled in Atlanta, Georgia, shortly after Herman Cain was born. Thus, while born in Memphis, Cain, along with his younger brother, Thurman (who died in 1999 was raised in Atlanta ...

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Marcie Cohen Ferris

businesswoman, chef, restaurateur, and community activist, was born Mildred Edna Cotten in Baldwin Township, Chatham County, North Carolina. The youngest daughter in a family of seven children, she was raised by her father Ed Cotten, a farmer and voice teacher. Council's mother Effie Edwards Cotten, a teacher trained at Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, died at age thirty-four when her daughter was twenty-three months old. Mildred Council was nicknamed “Dip” by her brothers and sisters because her long arms allowed her to reach deep into the rain barrel and retrieve a dipper full of water, even when the barrel was low.

Council recalled as a significant moment the day in 1938 when her father asked her to stay home and “fix a little something to eat” while the rest of the family worked in the fields (Mama Dip's Kitchen, 2).

From a young age Council ...

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Charles Rosenberg

best known as the reputed inventor of the potato chip, who established his own restaurant in the resort community of Saratoga Springs, New York. His ancestry and ethnicity are a matter of speculation; he may have been best described in Saratoga Springs, New York: A Brief History as “of thoroughly mixed American blood.” He is generally reported in census data from 1850 to 1880 as mulatto and in later censuses as black. It is commonly said that his mother was of Native American descent and that he “looked Indian.”

Crum was born in Malta, New York, to Abraham (or Abram) Speck and his wife Catherine. Although oral accounts suggest Speck was from Kentucky and possibly had been enslaved there, the 1820 Federal Census shows a “Free Colored Person” male, age twenty-six to forty-five, of that name, living in New York, and the 1840 Census shows a free ...

Article

was born in South Carolina to an African American mother and a white father from France. Based on her biracial ethnic heritage and the racial dynamics of the antebellum South, some historians have claimed that Fisher was most likely enslaved, but that conclusion remains a matter of speculation. Fisher became a cook, and she eventually made her way to Mobile, Alabama. There she met and married Alexander C. Fisher—another person with a biracial heritage (African American and white). The Fishers stayed married the rest of their lives, and they had eleven children. As an adult Fisher continued to work as a cook.

After Emancipation the Fishers sought their fortune in the western United States and moved to San Francisco, California. City records from that era indicate that Abby’s husband, Alexander, arrived sometime during 1878 Abby may have been with him but she is not explicitly listed as a city ...

Article

María de Lourdes Ghidoli

a celebrated chef in Buenos Aires during the early decades of the twentieth century, was born in the province of Corrientes in 1875. The details surrounding his family are unknown, except that his great-grandson Horacio Gonzaga also dedicated himself to cooking. Antonio Gonzaga wrote various cookbooks in which he revived rural cooking traditions and as a result became a well-known author.

Records suggest that Gonzaga’s career as a chef began during his naval service in the last decade of the nineteenth century. On the front jacket of his books, Gonzaga offered one small paragraph that outlined his career as a chef. According to it, his endeavors in the field of gastronomy commenced in 1891. Later, he worked as the head of the kitchen on the maiden voyage of the training ship Fragata Sarmiento between January 1899 and September 1900. In 1901 he was part of the ...

Article

Nazneen Ahmed

Left‐winger for Plymouth Argyle Football Club and one of the first prominent black footballers in the English League, rumoured to have been recommended to England selectors. Leslie's football career began at his local club, Barking Football Club. He was 20 years old when he was spotted and signed by Plymouth Argyle's manager Robert Jack. In his first season at Argyle between 1921 and 1922 he played in nine games. During the 1924–5 season he became a regular player, missing only two League fixtures and scoring 40 goals. His partnership with Sam Black from 1924 onwards proved a huge success. His last match for Argyle came in 1934 after an Argyle career that spanned 400 League and FA appearances and 134 goals Leslie and Black were famous nationwide for being one of the country s finest left flanking partnerships However only one of the two left wingers was eligible ...

Article

Donna Tyler Hollie

chef, restaurant owner, author, and teacher, was born in Orange County, Virginia. She was one of eight children, three sons and five daughters, born to Eugene and Daisy Lewis. Her community, called Freetown, was established by her grandfather, Chester Lewis, a farmer, and other freedmen after the Civil War. Her grandfather's home was the site of the community's first school.

Although little is known about Lewis's formal academic education, she learned to cook by observing and assisting her mother and paternal aunt, Jennie These women cooked in the tradition of their African forebearers using seasonal ingredients frying in oil flavoring vegetables with meat improvising and relying on their senses to determine whether food was appropriately seasoned and thoroughly cooked For example whether a cake was done could be determined by listening to the sound made by the cake pan Wonderful dishes were created ...

Article

Mary Krane Derr

blues bar owner and talent promoter, was born Theresa McLaurin in Meridian, Lauderdale County, Mississippi. She was the only child of Will and Minnie McLaurin, both natives of Mississippi. Needham's birth year is commonly given as 1912, but it was 1911 according to the Social Security Death Index. As a young girl, she was baptized as a Roman Catholic. The 1920 U.S. Census recorded her as living in Meridian with her uncle, aunt, and cousin. The 1930 Census noted her recent marriage to Robert Needham, then a bricklayer. They had a son together, Robert Needham Jr. Theresa Needham's educational history is unclear, but, according to this census report, she reached adulthood knowing how to read and write.

After World War II Needham and her family joined the large number of African Americans who migrated from the Mississippi River Delta to Chicago s South Side in search of ...

Article

Carmen De Michele

Nigerian soccer player known as Jay-Jay, was born in Enugu in the Nigerian Delta State Ogwashi on 14 August 1973. He became famous for his mesmerizing dribbling and spectacular goals as well as for his sometimes mercurial temper. Immediately after finishing his secondary school education, the seventeen-year-old Okocha joined the local side Enugu Rangers in 1990 but only stayed with them for seven months He quit the team even before the end of the season and moved to Germany where he had a trial run with Borussia Neunkirchen a third division German soccer club based in Saarland Soon after his arrival the teenage Okocha impressed the German fans with his audacious play Dragoslav Stepanovic the coach of a rival team Eintracht Trier noticed Okocha s talent and took the young player with him when he was appointed coach of Eintracht Frankfurt in the German Bundesliga Okocha debuted for ...

Article

Jennifer Ky

painter, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the son of Holdridge Primus, a porter at a grocery store and an active member of the Talcott Street Congregational Church, and Mehitable Jacobs, a dressmaker. The Primuses, one of the few African American families in the state to own property, consisted of the parents, Nelson, and his siblings Rebecca, Isabelle, and Henrietta, and their home was located on Wadsworth Street in Hartford. During Reconstruction, Rebecca Primus was active in efforts to educate the southern freedmen. Nelson Primus discovered his artistic talent at an early age. At the Hartford County Fair, he was recognized twice: in 1851, when he was only nine years old, he received a diploma for his sketches, and in 1859 he received a medal for his drawings.

Nelson Primus wanted to pursue that talent by painting professionally His father likely thought that this ...

Article

John Saillant

Sancho was baptized as an infant in a Roman Catholic Church but confirmed as a youth in the Church of England. His baptismal name was Ignatius, while his surname came from his first owners in England, who fancifully named him after Don Quixote's servant in Miguel de Cervantes's famous novel. Charles Ignatius Sancho was the name he used in 1758 to sign his marriage certificate. Two volumes of his letters were gathered from their recipients and published in 1782, prefaced by Joseph Jekyll's Life of Ignatius Sancho; Jekyll undertook this work, from which virtually all biographical information on Sancho derives, after his acquaintance Samuel Johnson, the poet, critic, and compiler of A Dictionary of the English Language, failed to fulfill his intention to write Sancho's biography himself. Additional information survives in vital records, as do a few comments from such contemporaries as Johnson.

Jekyll wrote that ...

Article

Vincent Carretta

author, is now best known for the posthumously published two-volume Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, an African (London, 1782), edited by Frances Crewe, one of his younger correspondents. Virtually the only source of information about the first thirty years of Sancho’s life is Joseph Jekyll’s anonymously published biographical preface to the Letters According to Jekyll Sancho was born on a slave ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Africa to the Spanish colony of New Granada present day Colombia Jekyll reports that the bishop of Granada baptized him naming him Ignatius Shortly thereafter his mother died of disease and his father committed suicide rather than endure slavery The unnamed owner of the orphan brought him to England when he was two years old and gave him to three unmarried sisters in Greenwich They surnamed him Sancho because they thought that the pudgy toddler resembled the fictional Don Quixote s ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Africanwriter whose letters, published posthumously in 1782, became best‐seller, attracting 1,181 subscribers including the Prime Minister, Lord North.

Sancho was born on board a slave ship en route to the West Indies. His mother died soon after, of a tropical disease, and his father chose to commit suicide rather than endure slavery. Sancho was brought to England by his master, at the age of 2 or 3, and given to three maiden sisters living in Greenwich. The sisters named him Sancho, thinking he resembled Don Quixote's squire. They kept him in ignorance, not teaching him to read or write. He was rescued by the Duke of Montagu who lived nearby in Blackheath The Duke encountering the boy by accident took a liking to his frankness of manner and frequently took him home where the Duchess introduced him to the world of books and of high culture He ...

Article

Anthon Davis

music producer, record-label founder, manager, publisher, promoter, restaurateur, and entrepreneur, was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, but raised in Chicago. Little is known about his early years. He later studied at the University of Illinois. After attending college, he served in the army and played football on a team that traveled throughout Europe.

In the late 1950s, he moved to New York and began his entry in the music business by opening a soul food restaurant, “Sapphire's,” which he claimed was “the first black-owned club south of 110th Street.” (New York Times, 2012) After the opening of Sapphire's, Sims formed a promotions company, Hemisphere, and booked the top black stars of the day, including singers Aretha Franklin and Brook Benton, and civil rights activist Malcolm X. When the singer Dinah Washington died Sims absorbed the license for her booking ...

Article

Richard Carlin

ragtime pianist, composer, and bar owner, was born Thomas Milton J. Turpin in Savannah, Georgia, the son of John L. “Jack” Turpin, a bar owner and amateur wrestler, and Lulu Waters. The Turpin family was prominent in Savannah's African American community, but by 1880 they had relocated to St. Louis, Missouri, where John Turpin opened the Silver Dollar Saloon. Young Tom began playing piano at an early age and was employed at one of the best-known bars in the city, the Castle Club, by the early 1890s. By 1893 he had opened his own saloon, which eventually became known as the Rosebud Bar, with Turpin grandly proclaiming himself “President of the Rosebud Club.” The bar became a meeting place for local pianists, including Louis Chauvin.

Along with his brother Charles Turpin performed locally at the bar and in tent shows The duo became ...

Article

professional cook, singer, and entrepreneur, was born Ernestine Caroline Williams in Nicodemus, Kansas, the seventh of thirteen children of Charles and Elizabeth Williams. The members of the Williams family were descendants of Tom Johnson, a former slave of Vice President Richard M. Johnson of Georgetown, Kentucky. In 1877 the Johnson family migrated and settled in the historic all–African American town of Nicodemus. The tradition of cooks in the Johnson and Williams families dates back to days of slave kitchens, when Vice President Johnson hosted a large barbecue for the French general the Marquis de Lafayette in 1824. His slaves prepared over fifteen hundred pounds of barbecue meat for the event.

Ernestine grew up assisting her mother in the kitchen and learned to cook pies in a wood burning stove Her favorite pie to make as well as to eat was lemon meringue The recipe ...