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Eric Gardner

musician, educator, and activist, was born to free parents in Drummondtown, Accomack County, Virginia. His father died when Carter was about eight, and his mother, whose maiden name was probably Drummond, cared for Dennis. When one of his cousins, Henry Drummond, was bound out to an area slaveholder named Thomas R. Joynes because of his status as an orphan, Carter's mother began to fear that her son would also be enslaved should something happen to her. Determined that her son stay free, she moved with him to Philadelphia in about 1825. There Carter's musical talents flowered, in part under the tutelage of the famous black Philadelphia bandleader Francis Johnson.

Carter toured with Johnson's band sporadically during the 1830s, 1840s, and early 1850s, reportedly joining Johnson's 1837 trip to Great Britain and an 1851 trip to Sulphur Springs Virginia In addition to working as a musician Carter ...

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Mariana Dantas

liberto (freed person) gold miner, farmer, and field commander of the pardo (mixed-raced) militia of Sabará, in the Portuguese colonial captaincy of Minas Gerais. Brazi, was born in Passagem de Mariana in the mineral-rich interior of southeastern Brazil. His father, Jacinto Vieira da Costa (?–1760), was a wealthy Portuguese miner from Braga; his mother, Inácia, was a Yoruba-speaking West African slave. Antônio assumed control of the family estate after his father’s death in 1760, becoming himself a wealthy man. An officer in the local militia, Antônio rose to the highest rank of field commander in the early 1780s. Yet while his father had been field commander of the white militia, Antônio served in the pardo militia. An example of socioeconomic mobility among persons of mixed European and African descent in colonial Brazil, his story also illustrates how colonial institutions categorized and interacted with African descendants.

Costa was ...

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Eric Gardner

activist and entrepreneur, was born to free parents in Washington, D.C. Nothing is known of his parents or his early life. However, although he trained as a barber, Hall reportedly spent two years at Oberlin College and considered the ministry before moving to New York in 1845, where he ran a restaurant called the “El Dorado” on Church Street, and became active in both black Masonic organizations and the fight for black suffrage. However, at the end of the decade, like many other Americans, Hall headed west to seek gold in California.

He had some success as both a miner and a merchant and returned to New York in late 1851. He married Sarah Lavina Bailey in New York City on 16 March 1852 in a ceremony whose “splendor,” according to an item copied in the 1 April 1852Frederick Douglass's Paper was without parallel in ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Pennsylvania, the son of the Pennsylvania natives David Kelly, a coal miner, and Nancy. The family resided in South Versailles Township, Allegheny County, McKeesport, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, in the heart of coal-mining country. A coal miner like his father, Alexander Kelly, at five feet, three inches, was ideally suited for a profession where working in constricted spaces was the norm. However, he took up another profession, that of soldier, and there too he proved more than able to measure up to the tasks required of him.With the Union army in need of increasingly greater numbers of men, President Abraham Lincoln and the War Department came around to the idea of raising black troops. The idea became policy in May 1863 when General Order Number 143 established the Bureau of Colored Troops which oversaw activities ...

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Bob Greene

activist, coachman, cook and waiter, was born in Gray, Cumberland County, Maine. His parents are unknown, but they could have been Boston Reuben and Zeruiah Lewis, who were married 6 December 1783 in New Gloucester, Cumberland County, Maine. Boston Reuben could have been the “Boston Black” listed in the 1790 federal census as living in New Gloucester, Maine, with four “other free persons” and the “Moston Ruby” in the 1800 federal census living in Gray with seven “other free persons.”

Reuben Ruby moved to Portland, Cumberland County, Maine, where he married Jennett C. Pierre (1805–1827) on 23 October 1821. Their only child, William, died at the age of three. Two years after the death of first wife, Ruby married Rachel Humphrey (1805–1861) in Boston, Massachusetts, on 23 December 1829 They had at least six children with three living to ...

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Alicia J. Rivera

slave, California pioneer, and miner, was born on a South Carolina plantation to a Cherokee Indian father and a slave mother whose names are not now known. In 1849, when he was thirty-two years old, he accompanied his master to the California gold mines, where he was permitted to work in the mines to buy his freedom. After obtaining his freedom, Wysinger settled in Grass Valley, California. In 1853 he married Pernesa Wilson and moved to Visalia, California, in the San Joaquin Valley. They had six boys and two girls, and Wysinger was determined that his children would have access to an education. He became a leading advocate for school desegregation in California.

Visalia had no school for African American children, although an 1869 state law required any town with ten or more black children to provide a school for them or to allow them to attend a ...