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Vincent Carretta

servant to Samuel Johnson, was the son of an unidentified enslaved woman in Jamaica. His father may have been his owner, Richard Bathurst, a colonel in the Jamaica militia. Barber’s slave name, Quashey, suggests that his mother may have come from the Akan-speaking area of Africa that is now Ghana. Quashey was one of only four slaves Colonel Bathurst kept when he sold his 2,600-acre sugar plantation and 140 slaves in Jamaica in 1749. Barber later recalled having been 7 or 8 years old when Colonel Bathurst brought him to London, England, in 1750 to live with his son, Dr. Richard Bathurst, a close friend of Samuel Johnson. Johnson was soon to become the most eminent man of letters in the British Empire.

Colonel Bathurst had Quashey baptized and renamed Francis Barber in London The date and place of his baptism are unknown He sent Barber to Yorkshire for ...

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Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born in Laurel, Mississippi, the youngest of ten children born to Peter and Eulalia Boston. His father, who worked as a fireman for the Gulf, Mobile, and Ohio Railroad before losing sight in his right eye, provided for the family by farming, hauling junk, and doing other odd jobs. His mother was a homemaker. As a student at Oak Park High School in Laurel, Boston developed both academic and athletic skills. As quarterback on the football team, he led Oak Park to the African American state high school football championship in 1956. In track and field, Boston excelled in the hurdling, sprinting, and jumping events. As a junior in 1956 he established a national high school record in the 180-yard low hurdles and led Oak Park to the first of two consecutive African American state high school track championships.

After graduating high school in 1957 Boston earned ...

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Linda M. Perkins

educator, civic and religious leader, and feminist, was born a slave in Washington, D.C., the daughter of Lucy Jackson. Her father's name and the details of her early childhood are unknown. However, by the time she was age ten, her aunt Sarah Orr Clark had purchased her freedom, and Jackson went to live with relatives in New Bedford, Massachusetts. By 1851 she and her relatives had moved to Newport, Rhode Island, where Jackson was employed as a domestic by George Henry Calvert, a descendant of Lord Baltimore, the settler of Maryland. Jackson's salary enabled her to afford one hour of private tutoring three times a week. Near the end of her six-year stay with the Calverts, she briefly attended the segregated public schools of Newport. In 1859 Jackson enrolled at the Rhode Island State Normal School in Bristol In addition to the normal course she also studied ...

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Linda M. Perkins

When Fanny Jackson became principal of Philadelphia’s Institute for Colored Youth in 1869, she held the highest educational appointment of any black woman in the nation at the time. While most of her attention, both before and after her marriage in 1881, was given to the institute, she was also active in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the National Association of Colored Women, and, in later life, as a missionary to Africa.

Fanny Jackson Coppin was born a slave in Washington, DC, in 1837. Her freedom was bought during her early childhood by a devoted aunt, Sarah Orr. Jackson moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts, and, by the early 1850s, to Newport, Rhode Island, to live with relatives. While in Newport, Jackson worked as a domestic in the home of George Henry Calvert, great-grandson of Lord Baltimore settler of Maryland Calvert s wife Mary was ...

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Lisa Clayton Robinson

Of her college experience, Frances (Fanny) Jackson Coppin remembered: “I never rose to recite in my classes at Oberlin but I felt that I had the honor of the whole African race upon my shoulders. I felt that, should I fail, it would be ascribed to the fact that I was colored.” This describes a burden that many blacks still carry 150 years later—the suspicion that for their white peers, they somehow represent the entire race. Despite this pressure, however, Coppin shone at Oberlin College in Ohio, and she went on to shine as a teacher, school principal, and activist throughout the next fifty years.

Coppin was born a slave in Washington, D.C. the daughter of a slave mother and a white father An aunt purchased Coppin s freedom when she was twelve years old and sent her to live with another aunt in New Bedford Massachusetts They moved ...

Article

John David Smith

William Hooper Councill was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, the son of William Councill and Mary Jane (maiden name unknown), both slaves. In 1854 Councill's father escaped to freedom in Canada, leaving his wife and children to be dispersed in the South by slave traders. In 1863 young William, his mother, and his youngest brother escaped from a plantation in northern Alabama to a U.S. Army camp in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Councill attended a freedmen's school in Stevenson, Alabama, from 1865 to 1867 and later was tutored at night in Latin, physics, chemistry, and mathematics. In 1867 he established a school for freedmen in Jackson County and in 1869 began another in Madison County, laboring under the constant threat of Ku Klux Klan violence.

As a young man, Councill made contacts and received appointments that established him as an emerging black Republican leader in Alabama He was active ...

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John David Smith

educator, was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, the son of William Councill and Mary Jane (maiden name unknown), slaves. In 1854 Councill's father escaped to freedom in Canada, leaving his wife and children to be dispersed in the South by slave traders. In 1863 young William, his mother, and his youngest brother escaped from a plantation in northern Alabama to a U.S. Army camp in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Councill attended a freedmen's school in Stevenson, Alabama, from 1865 to 1867 and later was tutored at night in Latin, physics, chemistry, and mathematics. In 1867 he established a school for freedmen in Jackson County and in 1869 began another in Madison County, laboring under the constant threat of Ku Klux Klan violence.

As a young man Councill made contacts and received appointments that established him as an emerging black Republican leader in Alabama He was active in the state s African ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

educator and nonprofit executive, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of William Foster and Ruth (Alexander) Foster, who were both missionaries in the Bahá’í faith. He was named after Badí’ (1852–1869), an important early Persian Bahá’í martyr whose Arabic name translates as “wonderfulness” in English. That William Foster was African American while Ruth Foster was white would have made their marriage illegal in most American states, though not Illinois, at the time their son was born. The couple met in the 1930s in Chicago through their common interest in radical, left-wing politics and gravitated toward the pluralistic Bahá’í faith, which teaches the unity of humankind and promotes racial and gender equality.

Badi Foster was raised on Chicago's South Side, where he was a Boy Scout patrol leader, enjoyed singing doo-wop, and earned extra money by selling Jet magazine When he was eleven Foster moved with his ...

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Anthony A. Lee

Badi Foster was born in Chicago to an interracial Baha'i family. His father (William) was black, and his mother (Ruth) was white. When Badi (which means “wonderful” in Arabic and is the name of a celebrated Baha'i martyr) was eleven, his parents moved to Morocco as pioneers (missionaries) for the Baha'i religion. He spent his adolescence in that country, learning French and Arabic. He attended the American School in Casablanca to the eighth grade, and then transferred to the American School of Tangiers where he completed his high school education in 1960.

As a consequence of learning new languages and negotiating new cultures Foster discovered that although Morocco had its own structures of inequality and oppression American notions of race were unknown there He explains that as a boy therefore he was vaccinated against racism never internalizing ideas or racial inferiority and gaining important insights even as a teenager ...

Article

Richard Newman

Jesuit priest and university president, was born in Jones County, Georgia, the son of Michael Morris Healy, an Irish American planter, and Eliza Clark, an African American woman he had purchased. The senior Healy deserted from the British army in Canada during the War of 1812 and by 1818 had made his way to rural Georgia, where he settled, speculated in land, and acquired a sizable plantation and numerous slaves. Healy acknowledged Eliza as “my trusty woman” in his will, which provided that she be paid an annuity, transported to a free state, and “not bartered or sold or disposed of in any way” should he predecease her. Healy also acknowledged his nine children by Eliza, although by state law they were slaves he owned, and he arranged for them to leave Georgia and move to the North, where they would become free.

After first sending his older ...

Article

Teresa A. Booker

slave, Union soldier, state legislator, teacher, and school superintendent, was one of three brothers born in Marshall, Texas, either to Emily and Jack Holland and later purchased by Captain “Bird” Holland, or to Captain “Bird” Holland himself and a slave.

Despite indeterminable origins, Holland's father purchased the freedom of the three men and sent them to Ohio in the 1850s, where each of them went to Albany Enterprise Academy, a school for blacks. In addition to reading and writing, students there were exposed to a range of subjects, including algebra, geometry, geography, history, chemistry, and astronomy. One of the school's first trustees was Thomas Jefferson Ferguson.

At the age of twenty-three, Holland fought on the side of the Union to end slavery by joining the 16th U.S. Colored Troop (USCT) on 22 October 1864 The 16th was a Tennessee contingent which opened ...

Article

Frank R. Levstik

William H. Holland was born a slave in Marshall, Texas, the son of Captain Byrd “Bird” Holland, who later became secretary of state of Texas. In the late 1850s, while living in Panola County, Bird purchased William and his two brothers, Milton and James, and sent them to Ohio to attend school just prior to the Civil War. William and Milton attended the Albany Enterprise Academy, one of the early educational institutions in the northern United States that was conceived, owned, and operated by blacks.

On October 22, 1864, Holland enlisted in the Sixteenth U.S. Colored Troops. The regiment, organized in Nashville, Tennessee, included enlistees sent from Ohio. During the war, the regiment participated in the battles of Nashville and Overton Hill, the pursuit of Confederate brigadier general John Bell Hood to his defeat at the Tennessee River and garrison duty in Chattanooga as well as ...

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Jason Philip Miller

businessman and politician, was born in Kaufman County in the eastern part of Texas to George McDonald, a native Tennessean who had once (reportedly) been owned by the Confederate officer and founder of the Ku Klux Klan, Nathan Bedford Forrest. George was a farmer by trade. McDonald's mother, Flora Scott, was either a former slave or a freewoman, depending on the source. What appears certain is that she was from Alabama and died when McDonald was still very young. His father soon married a woman named Belle Crouch. Education in the family was a matter of great importance; McDonald was in fact named after William Shakespeare and the former U.S. president James Madison. He attended local schools and graduated from high school around 1884 As a young man he took work from a local cattle rancher and lawyer named Z T Adams who discussed the law ...

Article

Shennette Garrett-Scott

world-record-holding typist and business school owner, was born in Maryland and grew up in Washington, D.C. His father and mother's names and occupations are not known. Peters's father, a watchmaker, gave his eleven-year-old son a used typewriter. J. C. Wright, a teacher in the business department of Washington's Dunbar High School, recognized Peters's abilities and coached him to develop his exceptional typing speed and accuracy. Peters graduated from Dunbar High School in 1923. He first worked as a typist for a congressional committee. In 1926 Underwood Typewriter Company hired him as an “expert typing demonstrator.”

Peters won his first major typing title in April 1925 the Underwood Diamond Emblem from the Washington office of the Underwood Typewriter Company He typed an average of 109 five stroke words per minute for more than thirty minutes using one of Underwood s manual typewriters A few months later Peters shattered ...

Article

Arthur Ben Chitty

educator and priest, was born on the Hendrick Estate in Mecklenburg County near Palmer Springs, Virginia. His father, Solomon, and his mother, Araminta (maiden name unknown), both lived as slaves on adjoining properties with the North Carolina state line between them. With the ambiguity of slave status following Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, the largely illiterate black people were left wondering how they might survive. After sharecropping during and following the war, in 1868 Solomon rented a nearby plot with his brother as partner. They raised a good crop of corn and eighty dollars worth of tobacco. Then the brothers' barn burned and the Russells, with son James, ten years old, were again destitute. In spite of their poverty Araminta insisted that her son learn to read, and even in the absence of public schools for blacks, James's fortunes improved.

A plantation overseer, Thomas Wade ...

Article

Arthur Ben Chitty

Russell, James Solomon (20 December 1857–28 March 1935), educator and priest, was born on the Hendrick Estate in Mecklenburg County near Palmer Springs, Virginia. His father, Solomon, and his mother, Araminta (maiden name unknown), both lived as slaves on adjoining properties, with the North Carolina state line between them. With the ambiguity of slave status following Abraham Lincoln s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 the largely illiterate black people were left wondering how they might survive After sharecropping during and following the war in 1868 Solomon rented a nearby plot with his brother as partner They raised a good crop of corn and $80 worth of tobacco Then the brothers barn burned and the Russells with son James ten years old were destitute again In spite of their poverty Araminta insisted that her son learn to read and even in the absence of public schools for blacks ...

Article

Sandy Dwayne Martin

William James Simmons was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of enslaved parents, Edward Simmons and Esther (maiden name unknown). During his youth Simmons, his mother, and two of his siblings escaped from slavery, relocating in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Simmons's uncle, Alexander Tardieu (or Tardiff a shoemaker became a father for the children as well as protector and provider for the fugitive slave family He moved them from city to city Philadelphia Roxbury Massachusetts and Chester Pennsylvania to elude persistent slave catchers before permanently settling in Bordentown New Jersey While Simmons never received formal elementary or secondary school education his uncle made a point of teaching the children to read and write As a youth Simmons served as an assistant to a white dentist in Bordentown At the age of fifteen he joined the Union army participating in a number of major battles in Virginia ending up ...

Article

Sandy Dwayne Martin

Baptist leader, educator, and race advocate, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of enslaved parents, Edward Simmons and Esther (maiden name unknown). During his youth, Simmons's mother escaped slavery with him and two of his siblings, relocating to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Simmons's uncle, Alexander Tardieu (or Tardiff a shoemaker became a father to the children and a protector and provider for the fugitive slave family He moved them among the cities of Philadelphia Roxbury Massachusetts and Chester Pennsylvania constantly eluding persistent slave catchers before permanently taking residence in Bordentown New Jersey While Simmons never received formal elementary or secondary school education his uncle made a point of teaching the children to read and write As a youth Simmons served as an assistant to a white dentist in Bordentown At the age of fifteen he joined the Union army participating in a number of major battles ...

Article

teacher, high school principal, and librarian, was the first African American public school teacher in Little Rock, Arkansas. She was born to slave parents, William Wallace Andrews (usually known as Wallace) and Caroline Sherman Andrews, in Little Rock. When he was four years old, Wallace Andrews had begun working in the home of Colonel Chester Ashley, later the U.S. senator from Arkansas and Little Rock's most prominent citizen. The Ashleys were unusually generous with their slaves, and the senator's wife, seeing Wallace's keen intellect, taught him to read. After Wallace Andrews married Caroline Sherman Colonel Ashley worked with Caroline s owner to enable Caroline to hire her time out This made it possible for the young couple to live together and gave them a home in which to live Caroline Andrews ran a laundry business from her home to compensate her owners for permission ...

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Angela Bates

professional football player, businessman, and historic preservationist, was the youngest of six children born to Fred and Ora Switzer of Nicodemus, an all African American town in northwestern Kansas. He grew up playing football on the dusty dirt streets of Nicodemus. He liked fishing and hunting and especially helping with farm chores. He attended grade school at Nicodemus until the eighth grade and then attended nearby Bogue High School. While in high school he played on the football and basketball teams and ran track. He lettered each year in all three sports.

Upon graduation in 1950, Switzer entered Kansas State University as one of the first African Americans to receive a football scholarship to the university. While at Kansas State he lettered three years in both football and track and was named to the All Big Seven three years in a row. In 1952 Switzer ...