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Theresa A. Hammond

business leader and educator, born in rural Fallis, Oklahoma territory, to Lester Blayton, a Baptist preacher and Mattie E. Carter, a schoolteacher. Despite having only a fourth‐grade education Mattie Blayton was a schoolteacher who continually underscored the importance of academic achievement. Blayton's father, the mixed‐race, illiterate son of a Creek Indian, was a shaman before becoming a preacher. Blayton attended federally funded elementary and high schools for Native Americans in Meridian, Oklahoma. Later in life he reported that he had been unaware of the poverty of his childhood, though he noted that the only job he had ever hated was when his parents rented him and the family mule out by the day to work in the fields.

With his parents encouragement Blayton attended Langston University working menial jobs to cover his costs His education was interrupted when he volunteered for the U S Army during World War ...

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Jeff Berg

teacher, farmer, and entrepreneur, was born Frances Marion Boyer in Pelham, Georgia, the son of Henry Boyer, a former slave and one-time teamster for the U.S. Army. Nothing is known of Boyer's mother. In 1846 the elder Boyer passed through the Pecos Valley region of -New Mexico. Impressed by the -spaces the elder Boyer returned to his home in Georgia and reportedly spoke regularly about returning to New Mexico with his family and friends. Henry Boyer was never able to realize his dream, but his youn son Frank, one of eight children, probably went well beyond anything his father had thought of doing when he later founded Blackdom, one of the first -towns in New Mexico, albeit one of the last founded in -America. Frank Boyer was educated at the Atlanta Baptist Seminary and later received his bachelor s degree in teacher s education from ...

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David Killingray

Pan‐Africanist and Africantraveller. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, of black and white parents, Campbell began his working life as a printer's apprentice but gained some formal education and became a teacher. In the 1850s he emigrated to the United States, via Central America, where he worked as a teacher at an African‐American institute in Philadelphia. Campbell, ambitious for further education, was largely self‐taught.

In 1858 Martin R. Delany invited him to become a member of the Niger Valley Exploring Party, to find a site in southern Nigeria for an African‐American farm colony. ‘Return to Africa’ was controversial and divided African‐American opinion; many argued that, even with its pervasive racism, America was their home and not Africa; a further problem was that black emigration was supported by the white African Civilization Society. Campbell came to Britain in 1859 and although he failed to gain the support of missionary and ...

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Claranne Perkins

teacher, educator, and entrepreneur, was born Marva Delores Nettles in Monroeville, Alabama, the daughter of Henry Knight Jr., an entrepreneur, and Bessie Maye Knight Nettles, a housewife. A child of the Depression and segregated schools, Collins recalls the talk of grown-ups about “how times were hard and there was no money” (Collins and Tamarkin, p. 32), but she remembered that the Depression had little impact on her childhood.

Her father was one of the richest black men in Monroeville Collins and Tamarkin p 32 Their house was one of the finest in the black section of Monroeville with polished wood floors and store bought furniture Her mother dressed her like a doll in ruffled ribboned dresses and crisply pleated store bought school dresses tied in back with an ironed sash Her classmates for the most part wore homemade clothes from empty twenty five pound flour ...

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Paul Stillwell

pioneer black naval officer, was born in Washington, North Carolina, the eighth of eleven children of Edward L. Cooper, a sheet metal worker, and Laura J. Cooper a homemaker One of the eleven siblings died in infancy the remaining ten became college graduates During his upbringing in North Carolina Cooper often faced the tribulations of southern racism He went to segregated schools and learned from his parents that he had to go out of his way to avoid conflict with whites Once when Cooper was eight or nine years old he got into a fight with a white boy As he put it It was the wrong day for him to call me a nigger and we had it out Stillwell 76 Cooper s father had to smooth things over with the boy s father to avoid the incident s escalation When he worked as a bellhop in ...

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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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Damon L. Fordham

lawyer, entrepreneur, educator, and journalist, was born near Orangeburg, South Carolina, the son of the former slaves Benjamin Frederick and Henrietta Baxter. A Renaissance man among African Americans in South Carolina, Frederick earned a bachelor of arts degree from Orangeburg's Claflin College in 1889 and degrees in history and Latin from the University of Wisconsin in 1901. Shortly after graduating from the latter institution, Frederick moved to Columbia, South Carolina, where he began an eighteen-year career as the principal of the Howard School, one of the first public schools for blacks in that city. He rose to early prominence as an educator and served as president of the South Carolina State Teacher's Association, an organization of that state's black teachers, from 1906 to 1908. He married Corrine Carroll in 1904; they would have four children.

By 1913 Frederick was searching for ...

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Jean M. Brannon

businessman and civic leader, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Frank Gardner, a U.S. federal employee, and Eva. Residing in his parents' West Chesterfield home on Chicago's far South Side, Gardner attended Gillespie Elementary. In elementary school Gardner exhibited his gifts of salesmanship and initiative when he began delivering the Chicago Defender newspaper door-to-door in his neighborhood. The community contacts he developed as a newspaper boy continued long after he had given up his paper route. He and his older brother Frank were the only two African American students enrolled in Fenger High School. Edward's high school extracurricular interests were intramural sports, primarily basketball, and creative art. His artistic abilities resulted in summer scholarships to the Ray Vogue Art School. Gardner was drafted into the U.S. military after his high school graduation in 1943 Stationed in Japan and the Pacific islands in World War II ...

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James Bethea

inventor and educator, was born in Macon, Missouri, to Philip Alexander Hubbard, a draftsman, and Rosa Belle (Wallace) Hubbard, a teacher who later worked as an elevator operator and freelance dressmaker. Hubbard's parents selected his middle name in recognition of Warren Gamaliel Harding's inauguration as U S president on the day he was born Hubbard s father died eighteen days after he was born and his mother was left to care for him and his three brothers The family was close knit and Hubbard and his siblings were cared for by relatives while his mother taught school When he was four years old his mother sacrificed her teaching career and moved the family to Des Moines Iowa in hopes of better educational opportunities for her sons An avid reader from an early age Hubbard thrived at Nash Elementary School where he won a spelling bee competition ...

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Charles Rosenberg

chair of the Council of 100 Black Republicans, business owner, the first teacher of African descent in the Denver, Colorado, public schools, was born in Butte, Montana, the daughter of Russell S. Brown Sr., a minister (and later general secretary) of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, and Floy Smith Brown. The example of her grandfather, Charles S. Smith, founder of the business school at Wilberforce University in Ohio, was a strong influence in her later life. There is no record of why the Brown family was in Butte; however, small but thriving African American communities to the northeast were centered around Union Bethel AME Church in Great Falls and St. James AME Church in Helena.

By the time Elaine Brown was three years old, the family had moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where her brother, Russell Brown Jr., was born. In 1933 the family moved to ...

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Otis Westbrook Pickett

businessman, educator, and civil rights leader, was born on Johns Island off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, the only child of Eva (Campbell) and Peter Jenkins the latter a rice and cotton farmer Growing up on Johns Island Esau Jenkins experienced first hand the plight of African Americans on the Sea Islands of South Carolina which was one of hardship and impoverishment Jenkins s early formal education or lack thereof was common for many African American children on Johns Island in the early twentieth century Because of the death of his mother and in an effort to help with the family income Jenkins was obligated to leave Legareville Elementary School in the fourth grade He initially went to work on a boat in Charleston harbor but returned to Johns Island as a vegetable and cotton farmer in the early 1920s However his resolve to obtain ...

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Thomas Burnell Colbert

educator, was born in St. Joseph, Missouri, the oldest of four children and the only son of John Q. Jones, a hotel porter and barbershop owner, and Lydia Foster Jones, a seamstress and parlor room hostess. Laurence learned the value of hard work in his youth as he shined shoes, sold newspapers, and raised chickens. In 1898 he moved to Marshalltown, Iowa, where he worked for room and board at a hotel. In 1903 Jones became the first African American to graduate from Marshalltown High School. Local whites encouraged him to attend the University of Iowa (then the State University of Iowa) in Iowa City. Influenced by the ideas of Booker T. Washington, Jones decided to help educate poor blacks in the South when he graduated from the University of Iowa in 1907 with a bachelor of philosophy degree.

Jones joined the Utica Institute in ...

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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 ...

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Sharon M. Collins

businessman, was born James Hamilton Lowry in Chicago, Illinois, the younger of two sons of Camille (Caldwell) Lowry, a seamstress and postal worker, and William Abrose Lowry, a postal worker. Jim Lowry's parents had come to Chicago as children from America's rural South during the Great Migration. Grounded by their parents' race-consciousness and southern roots, Lowry and his brother, William Jr., were raised on Chicago's South Side in a comfortable and protected working-class black environment. He thrived in the strange paradox of black ghetto life in the 1940s and 1950s, which was close-knit and economically diverse and where successful black role models were visible and accessible. Lowry went to A.O. Sexton, a neighborhood elementary school, until recruited in 1953 into a high achieving private school known as the Francis W Parker School an overwhelmingly white but relatively egalitarian school on Chicago s affluent North Side ...

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Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni

Zimbabwean schoolteacher and farmer, one of the early colonially educated elite in present-day Zimbabwe, was born on 17 July 1920 in Matshetsheni at a place called Mgwanda near Mgwanda Mountain west of the Shake ward and east of the Lumene River in the district of Gwanda His full name was Phinda Mfakazi Sayimana Ndlovu Gatsheni His father Sayimana Simpa Ndlovu Gatsheni traced his historical roots from the Zulu people of South Africa owned a large herd of cattle and was a successful peasant farmer His mother Mnqgibanto Nale Moyo hailed from the Kalanga people of the Matopo area Ndlovu Gatsheni s father was born during precolonial times and experienced the colonial conquests of the 1890s during which white settlers appropriated the land of many Africans Ndlovu Gatsheni was born into a hardworking family that fought fiercely for grazing land for their cattle To this family which treasured its large ...

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Connor Killian

social reformer, teacher, and businessman, was born a slave in Durham, North Carolina, to George Pearson and Cynthia Pearson (maiden name unknown). By the time he was old enough to attend school, the Civil War was over and the slaves had been freed. Pearson attended public school six months out of the year, and taught himself in his free time.

When Pearson was twenty-one, he enrolled in Shaw University, a historically black university in Raleigh, North Carolina, and earned a B.S. in 1886 and an honorary M.A. in 1890. While there he joined the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, even earning “The Laurel Leaf,” a national award within the fraternity in appreciation of his “[contributing] to the fraternity every possible favor.” Pearson also won the Orator's medal at Shaw in 1883 He was later awarded an honorary Ph D from Kittrell College in North Carolina ...

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Amber Moulton-Wiseman

educator, was born Carlotta Stewart in Brooklyn, New York, to Thomas McCants Stewart, lawyer, minister, educator, and civil rights activist, and Charlotte Pearl Harris Stewart. In 1883 Stewart-Lai's father accepted a professorship at the College of Liberia and left his family in Brooklyn with no apparent means of support as he assessed liberal and industrial education models for the Liberian school. His absence and neglect led to a divorce from Charlotte, but by 1886 Stewart had resumed his legal practice in New York and he and his children would remain there throughout Stewart-Lai's childhood.

Stewart-Lai attended public school in New York before accompanying her father and stepmother Alice to Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1898 Entering the racially and ethnically diverse Hawaiian community with virtually no existing African American presence the Stewarts were able to live unburdened by many of the racial prejudices they had known in the ...

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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 ...

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Alec Lowman

activist, educator, and business and administrative leader, was born Constance Eileen Watts in Durham, North Carolina, to Constance Merrick and Charles DeWitt Watts, MD. Dr. Watts was North Carolina's first black board-certified surgeon, and it was his outspoken advocacy that would serve as a catalyst for the merger in 1976 of the all-black Lincoln Hospital and the all-white Watts Hospital into a single, multiracial entity, the Durham Regional Hospital. In addition to being the granddaughter of Aaron McDuffy Moore, MD, one of the founders of Durham Mutual Insurance Company and Durham's first black doctor, and John Merrick, a prominent black entrepreneur, Constance Merrick Watts was a public force in her own right, lecturing and speaking often. She served as the treasurer for the campaigns of both the first African American to be elected to the Durham County Board of Commissioners, Elna Spaulding and ...