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Daniel Donaghy

was born into slavery in Roane County, East Tennessee. In his autobiography, My Own Life Story, Brown writes that his father was “at least seven-eighths Caucasian and possibly one-eighth Negro. His family record was never known by him or the general public.” His father worked as a carpenter, blacksmith, and utility man whose competence earned him the nickname “Handy.” He married Brown’s mother when she was seventeen. Brown noted that while she spoke little of religion in their home, she was a member of the Methodist church and believed that Jesus Christ was her personal savior. From an early age people called her “Aunt Clara” because her caring nature and service to those around her. Brown’s 1929 record of death lists his mother as Clarisa and his father as Handy Brown Clarisa gave birth to thirteen children only three of whom all boys were alive when Sterling Brown ...

Article

Brandi Hughes

nurse, foreign missionary, and school founder, was born to Anna L. Delaney and Daniel Sharpe Delaney in Fernandina Beach, Florida. Emma Beard Delaney came of age in the postbellum generation that witnessed the collapse of Reconstruction and the fading of the early promise of African American emancipation. Against the rising tide of segregation and racial violence, however, Delaney's family managed to sustain a measure of economic security and educational advancement. Her father, Daniel, held the distinction of being the only African American helmsman commissioned for service on the Revenue Cutter Boutwell, a federal ship that patrolled the ports of Savannah, Georgia; Jacksonville, Florida; and Charleston, South Carolina, as a forerunner of the U.S. Coast Guard. The unique benefits of her father's government employment enabled the Delaney family to support an expansive education for Emma and her sister, Annie. In 1889 shortly after completing secondary classes ...

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L. Diane Barnes

novelist, playwright, and Baptist minister. Dixon was born near the close of the Civil War near Shelby, North Carolina. The Dixon family, once a prominent southern family, was left penniless in the physical and economic devastation of the South after the war. Dixon's father, a Baptist minister, joined the Ku Klux Klan during Dixon's youth. Images of the riders in white sheets coming to save the white South had a lasting impression on Dixon. His belief that the Reconstruction era was one of history's supreme tragedies was a common theme in several of his novels and plays.

Dixon earned bachelor's and master's degrees in history from Wake Forest University, then pursued graduate work at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. There he befriended the future president Woodrow Wilson who was a few years ahead in his own graduate studies After a brief attempt at an acting career ...

Article

Dorsia Smith Silva

writer, educator, and preacher, was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Addie Mae Leonard, a teacher's aide. In 1990 Dyson was adopted by the auto worker Everett Dyson when Leonard married him. As a child, Dyson read avidly and enjoyed the Harvard Classics. His intellectual vigor earned him a scholarship to the prestigious Cranbrook Kingswood School in 1972. However, Dyson behaved poorly and was expelled in 1974. He then attended Northwestern High School and graduated in 1976.

In 1977, Dyson married his girlfriend, Terrie Dyson, who gave birth to Michael Eric Dyson II a year later. Due to the pressures of being a young couple, Dyson and his wife divorced in 1979. To help focus his life, Dyson became a licensed Baptist preacher in 1979 and ordained minister in 1981 with his pastor Frederick G. Sampson II s assistance He ...

Article

Michele Valerie Ronnick

He was the son of David Henry Ferris (c. 1847–?) and Sara Jefferson Alexander Ferris (11 October 1847– May 1923) and the brother of Mabel Irene Ferris Williams (?–6 October 1924). His father was a Civil War veteran having joined Company E of the 20th Regiment of the US Colored Troops on 20 March 1865 when he was eighteen years old in New York. After studying at the Dixwell Avenue Grammar School, the Shelton Avenue and Gregory Street schools in New Haven, the thirteen-year-old Ferris entered the oldest public school in New Haven, the James Hillhouse School, and while there organized the De Yancey Guards, a colored boys’ militia group, which marched in New Haven’s Memorial Day Parade on 30 May 1888. After graduating from Hillhouse, he matriculated at Yale University in 1891 and earned his B.A. in 1895 having studied philosophy English ...

Article

Anthony A. Lee

Born in Charleston, South Carolina during the era of Reconstruction, Louis Gregory was the son of Ebenezer George and a freed slave who was the daughter of her master. Widowed when her son was five, Gregory's mother was later married George Gregory, whose surname her son adopted. Louis Gregory attended Avery Institute in Charleston, graduating in 1891. He continued his studies at Fisk University, receiving his bachelor's degree in 1896. Gregory returned to Avery Institute as a teacher, but soon left teaching to study law at Howard University, graduating in 1902.

Gregory practiced law in Washington, D.C., until 1906, when he took a position in the U.S. Department of the Treasury. In 1909, he accepted the Baha'i faith as a result of his friendship with a white couple, Joseph and Pauline Hannen who held interracial Baha i meetings in ...

Article

Angelita D. Reyes

public lecturer, lawyer, and government administrator, was an early-twentieth-century champion or “race amity worker” for racial equality and social justice in America. A direct descendant of slavery, Louis George Gregory was born in Charleston, South Carolina. His mother, Mary Elizabeth, and his grandmother, Mary Bacot, had been enslaved on the George Washington Dargan plantation in Darlington, South Carolina. Louis Gregory stated that “my grandmother, wholly of African blood was without ceremony [Dargan's] slave [mistress] and my mother, his daughter” (Morrison, 12).

At an early age Gregory experienced racial oppression, poverty, and segregation. Gregory's father, Ebenezer George, died of tuberculosis in 1879, leaving Mary Elizabeth and her two sons, Louis and Theodore, in severe poverty. In 1885 Gregory s mother married George Gregory who became a devoted stepfather to Louis and his brother It is because of the older Gregory s support ...

Article

Steve Strimer

Methodist minister, abolitionist lecturer, and self-emancipated slave, was born to slave parents, Grace and Tony Kirkwood, at the Hawes plantation in Hanover county near Wilmington, North Carolina. About 1815 he was sold to a storekeeper from whom he took his surname. After his escape to Massachusetts, Jones became a tireless speaker on the antislavery circuit in New England. The principal source of information for his early life is his widely circulated slave narrative, The Experience of Thomas H. Jones, Who Was a Slave for Forty-Three Years. First published in 1850, his book went through at least nine printings.

Thomas succeeded in learning to read despite the disapproval of Mr. Jones, the storekeeper. Thomas was converted to Christianity around 1824. He attended services at a neighboring plantation against the objections of his irreligious owner. Upon Mr. Jones's death in 1829 Thomas began to ...

Article

Martha L. Wharton

abolitionist, writer, lecturer, women's rights activist, and social critic, was born Nancy Gardner in Newburyport, Massachusetts, the daughter of an African American and Indian mother and an African American father, Thomas Gardner, who was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts, and died within three months of Nancy's birth. What is known about her is drawn primarily from her 1850 memoir, A Narrative of the Life and Travels of Mrs. Nancy Prince. While Prince does not name her mother in her narrative, she provides descriptions of both parents that highlight their African descent, and she recounts her grandfather's violent removal to America, along with his memories of a proud life in Africa. She briefly notes the capture of her Indian grandmother by local English colonials. Her narrative speaks clearly to issues of race, gender, slavery, and morality in the United States and the Caribbean.

Prince s childhood ...

Article

Nancy Gardner Prince's 1850Narrative of the Life and Travels of Mrs. Nancy Prince, Written by Herself, chronicles the antebellum economic conditions of free blacks, her experience in the court of two Russian tsars, and the difficulties of missionary work in politically volatile, newly emancipated Jamaica. Prince's life, as told in this fascinating volume, reveals the opportunities available to and hindrances suffered by nineteenth- century black women.

Prince s early life as a free black in New England was marked by hunger hard work and racism She endured these harsh conditions by clinging to the dignity of her family history which included the exploits of an African grandfather who fought in the Revolutionary War a Native American grandmother once enslaved by the British and an African stepfather who emancipated himself by jumping off a slave ship Despite her pride in her heritage her frustration with the social and ...

Article

Australia Tarver

Prince’s autobiography, Narrative of the Life and Travels of Mrs. Nancy Prince, Written by Herself (1850), is distinctive for several reasons. Its narrator wrote it as evidence of her energy, leadership, and agency during the antebellum era, when few black American women wrote or traveled beyond the locations where they were enslaved. It is textual evidence of the presence of a limited number of blacks living in czarist Russia. It defines Prince’s leadership, spiritual prowess, and transnational awareness as a black woman traveler, missionary, and reporter across lands and cultures outside the experience of most nineteenth-century African Americans and whites as well. Prince’s narrative authenticates her family background, its multiracial origins, the history of traveling seamen, and the extreme difficulties of being nominally free in a slave society.

Prince was born free in Newburyport Massachusetts the second of eight children Although her narrative does not name her mother ...

Article

Anthony Aiello

Born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, to free parents, Nancy Prince and the details of her life are known largely through her own autobiography, Narrative of the Life and Travels of Mrs. Nancy Prince (1850). Nancy Gardner had as many as seven siblings and was the daughter of Thomas Gardner, a seaman from Nantucket who died before Nancy was three months old. Her mother, whose name Prince never gives in her autobiography, was the daughter of Tobias Wornton, or Backus, who was taken from Africa and, though he was a slave, fought at Bunker Hill in the Revolutionary army; Gardner's maternal grandmother, a Native American, was captured and enslaved by English colonists. Gardner's stepfather, Money Vose was her mother s third husband the other two having died He escaped a slave ship by swimming ashore but was later kidnapped and pressed into ship service During the ...