businessman and politician, was born a free person of color in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Bernard Cohen and Amelia Bingaman, a free woman of color. Although Cohen's father was Jewish, he was raised as and remained throughout his life a Roman Catholic. His parents died when he was in the fourth grade, whereupon he had to quit school, though he later attended Straight University in New Orleans for several years. As a boy Cohen became a cigar maker and later worked in a saloon. His entrée into the world of politics came during the period of Reconstruction, when he worked as a page in the state legislature, then meeting in New Orleans. There, Cohen became acquainted with several influential black Republicans, among them Oscar J. Dunn, C. C. Antoine, and P. B. S. Pinchback Pinchback founder of and dominant figure in the city ...
John N. Ingham
Benjamin R. Justesen
editor and public official, was born in Tarboro, North Carolina, the younger son and third child of John C. Dancy and Eliza Dancy, slaves owned by John S. Dancy, a local planter. After the Civil War, John C. Dancy became a prosperous carpenter and contractor, and was later elected as an Edgecombe County commissioner. John Campbell Dancy was educated in the common schools in Tarboro, where he worked briefly as a newspaper typesetter before entering the normal department at Howard University in Washington, DC.
After his father's death, John Dancy interrupted his studies to return to Tarboro, where he became a schoolteacher and principal of the public school for African American children. U.S. Congressman John Adams Hyman (R-NC) secured an appointment for Dancy at the U.S. Treasury Department in 1876, and Dancy briefly returned to Washington. By 1880 he was again teaching in Tarboro where ...
Benjamin R. Justesen
politician and public official, was born in Georgetown, South Carolina, the son of a slave mother owned by the white planter E. H. Deas of Charleston, where the youth lived in 1860. Little is known of his childhood or early education in the small Sumter County town of Stateburg, where Edmund Deas moved after the Civil War and lived until the early 1870s.
By 1874, Deas had moved to Darlington, South Carolina, where he became active in Republican Party politics. Though not yet able to vote, he served as precinct chairman and campaign worker that year for the black Republican U.S. congressman Joseph H. Rainey, seeking reelection in the 2nd district, and by 1876, had become a federal constable in South Carolina. In 1878 he became chairman of his party's congressional district committee, serving for eight years, and in 1880 he was elected ...
politician, was born in Memphis, Tennessee, son of Harold Ford Sr., a U.S. Congressman, and Dorothy Bowles, an employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Harold Jr. was the oldest of five children: brothers Jake, Isaac, and Andrew, and sister Ava. The Ford family was an institution in the Memphis area; schools, churches, roads, and buildings were named after family members. They ran a successful funeral services business and were active in the civil rights movement and the cause of social justice. Besides his father, two of Ford's uncles were also politicians: John, a local councilman, and Emmitt, who succeeded Ford's father as a member of the Tennessee state legislature.
From an early age Ford expressed an interest in politics. In 1979 Ford s family moved to Washington D C where he attended St Albans School an exclusive school for boys In ...
Kristal L. Enter
lawyer and civil rights activist, was born in Wichita, Kansas, to Ocenia Bernice (Davis), teacher, baker, and domestic worker, and Harrison Hannibal Hollowell, custodian and prison guard. Donald Hollowell married Louise Thornton in 1943.
In 1935, Hollowell left high school and enlisted in the army with the all-black 10th Cavalry, one of the regiments also known as the Buffalo Soldiers. During his time with the army, Hollowell earned his high school diploma. In 1938, he enlisted in the army reserves and enrolled in Lane College, an all-black college in Tennessee. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, Hollowell reenlisted in the army, earning the rank of captain, and served in the European theater.
Hollowell was shaped by his experiences with segregation and discrimination in the army when he was stationed at bases in Georgia Texas Louisiana and Virginia While finishing at Lane College ...
optometrist, educator, administrator, and poet, was born Frank Smith Horne in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Edwin Fletcher and Cora Calhoun Horne. He attended the College of the City of New York (now City College of the City University of New York), and after graduating from the Northern Illinois College of Ophthalmology and Otology (now Illinois College of Optometry) in 1922 or 1923, he went into private practice in Chicago and New York City. He also attended Columbia University and later received a master's degree from the University of Southern California (c. 1932). He was married twice, to Frankye Priestly in 1930 and to Mercedes Christopher Rector in 1950, ten years after his first wife's death.
In 1926 Horne was forced to leave his optometry practice and move to the South owing to poor health He became a teacher ...
Donnie D. Bellamy
educator and government official, was born in Sparta, Hancock County, Georgia, the son of Mariah and Henry Alexander Hunt Sr., a tanner and farmer. Mariah, who exhibited some of the fundamentals of an education and had studied music, was a freewoman of color; Henry Sr. was white. Available evidence suggests that the couple lived together before the Civil War but maintained separate households afterward. Henry Jr. was the fifth of eight racially mixed children At age sixteen having completed the formal education available to him in Hancock County he followed his older sister and enrolled at Atlanta University A popular campus leader Hunt was captain of the baseball team moot court judge and president of the Phi Kappa Society In addition to his college course Hunt learned the builder s trade and during vacations worked as a journeyman carpenter to earn money for his education He graduated ...
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 ...
Elizabeth K. Davenport
attorney and civic leader, was born in Chicago into an African American family of successful lawyers. Her father, C. Francis Stradford, was a prominent attorney on Chicago's South Side and the founder of the National Bar Association (NBA), which he established in 1925. In 1940 C. Francis Stradford successfully argued the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark case Hansberry v. Lee, which abolished the restrictive covenants that had limited racial integration in Chicago neighborhoods. Her grandfather, J. B. Stradford, was a well-known lawyer in the African American community and the owner of the only black hotel in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her mother, Aida Arrabella Carter Stradford, was an artist and a homemaker.LaFontant's indoctrination to the legal profession occurred early. As a student at Englewood Public High School in Chicago, she spent the summers working in her father's law office. In the autumn of 1939 she ...
Todd M. Brenneman
athlete and attorney, was born in Selma, Alabama, to William Henry Matthews, a tailor, and Elizabeth Abigail Matthews. Little is known about his early childhood, but he attended Tuskegee Institute from 1893 to 1896 and came to the attention of Booker T. Washington, who arranged for him to attend Phillips Andover Academy in Massachusetts in 1896. At Andover Matthews excelled at football, baseball, and track as well as academics. He was also popular with his classmates who gave him a silver loving cup, a large cup that has multiple handles on it so it can be passed around to various people at a banquet, at graduation.
As successful as he was at Andover, Matthews truly came into his own as an athlete during his college career. Enrolling at Harvard in 1901 Matthews earned places on the varsity football and baseball teams in his freshman ...
Christine Rauchfuss Gray
playwright, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, the only child of Willis Wilder, a laborer, and Agnes Ann Harper. In 1898, when Richardson was nine years old, a white mob burned down the newspaper offices of a Wilmington newspaperman named Alexander Manly and precipitated a coup d'état in North Carolina's largest city, which resulted in the deaths of at least sixteen blacks. Many African Americans left Wilmington in the months that followed, among them Richardson and his family, who moved to Washington, D.C., because of the riots and the threats made on his father's life. Richardson would live in Washington until his death in 1977.
After completing elementary school, Richardson attended the M Street School (later Dunbar High School) from 1906 until 1910. At the school, Richardson had contact with people who would later be important in his development as a dramatist. Carter G ...
Benjamin R. Justesen
businessman and federal officeholder, was born in Washington, Georgia, the older son of slaves owned by Dr. William King. After the Civil War, Rucker's parents moved to Atlanta, where his father, Edward, became a skilled plasterer and whitewasher and his mother, Betsy, ran a boarding house. As a youth, Rucker attended the city's first school for freedmen in the Tabernacle Church Building on Armstrong Street.
Rucker briefly attended Atlanta University, founded by the American Missionary Association in 1865, where he financed his tuition by tutoring other students. He later devoted his primary energies to a series of business ventures, acquiring a profitable barbershop and an eleven-room house, which he purchased jointly with his father, and to civic and political affairs. In the late 1870s he joined one of Atlanta's black militia companies, and in 1880 was chosen as a delegate from the state s Fifth Congressional ...
actress, was born in Lawrenceville, Virginia, but grew up, from the age of one, in Boston. No information about her parents is available. At the age of sixteen she married Lloyd Thomas, the owner of a custom tailoring business. It is not known when the couple left Boston, but by 1918 they were living in Harlem, where Edna Thomas performed in a benefit performance for Rosamond Johnson's music school at the Lafayette Theatre. The elegant Thomas, who looked much younger than her thirty-two years, was pursued by the Lafayette manager Lester Walton to become a member of the stock company. Despite her husband's objections, Thomas finally succumbed, making her professional debut in Frank Wilson'sConfidence at the Putnam Theatre in Brooklyn. Thomas quickly became a Lafayette favorite, appearing over the next several years in Turn to the Right, The Two Orphans, Nothing But the Truth ...
laborer, machine operator, carpenter, contractor, and administrator, was born in Pike County, Mississippi, the second oldest son of six children. Jesse attended a rural, one-room school that typically had seventy-five to one hundred students per teacher ranging across seven grade levels. Because teaching everyone at one time was impossible, students were given weekly assignments to learn and perform on each Friday for the community. As a young boy Jesse had a knack for public speaking and looked forward to making speeches to the community.
Thomas s family lived comfortably despite the fact his mother was ill and often bedridden While the family could not be considered wealthy they always had more than enough to eat Thomas had always believed that his family owned the land they worked on but when they were suddenly evicted he learned that his father was actually a sharecropper not a ...
(b Grand Gulf, MS, Nov 8, 1842; d Hyde Park, Boston, Feb 26, 1892). American music historian. He was the son of a slave owner, Richard S. Trotter, and a black slave named Leticia. He studied music with William F. Colburn in a school for Negroes in Cincinnati run by the Methodist minister Hiram S. Gilmore, working between terms as a cabin boy on a steamer plying the Cincinnati–New Orleans run. About 1856 he moved to Hamilton, Ohio. Between 1857 and 1861 he attended Albany Manual Labor University near Athens, Ohio, and then taught in Muskingum and Pike Counties, Ohio. After service in the Civil War he worked in the Boston post office (1866–83), and on 3 March 1887 President Cleveland appointed him Recorder of Deeds in Washington this being the highest office in the nation reserved by custom for Negroes ...
Stephen R. Fox
James Monroe Trotter was born on February 7, 1842, in Grand Gulf, Mississippi, the son of a white man, Richard S. Trotter, and his slave Letitia. When Richard Trotter was married in 1854, Letitia, her son, and two younger daughters from the union were sent to live in the free city of Cincinnati. Here Trotter attended the Gilmore school for freed slaves and worked as a hotel bellboy and as cabin boy on a riverboat. Later he briefly attended academies in Hamilton and Athens, Ohio, but according to his son he was largely self-educated. When the Civil War came, he was a schoolteacher in Pike County, southwestern Ohio.
In 1863 Trotter was recruited by black lawyer and activist John Mercer Langston and traveled to Boston to join the Fifty fifth Massachusetts Regiment a black unit with mostly white officers Trotter rose through the ranks ...
Eric S. Yellin
soldier, music historian, and government officeholder, was born to a slave woman named Letitia and her white owner, Richard S. Trotter, in Grand Gulf, Mississippi, near Vicksburg. After escape or manumission, Letitia settled with her children in the free city of Cincinnati around 1854. Trotter completed his secondary school education and attended the Albany Manual Labor University, near Hamilton, Ohio, where he majored in art and music. During his school vacations and summers he worked as a cabin boy on shipping boats running on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. After graduating from Albany, Trotter taught school in Chillicothe, Ohio, until June 1863.
In that year Negro regiments were created for the Union army and he enlisted in Company K of the Fifty fifth Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry While in the army Trotter continued to teach holding class sessions for his fellow soldiers ...
Benjamin R. Justesen
clergyman, legislator, and diplomat, was born in Princeton, New Jersey, the oldest surviving child of Mathias and Diana (Oakham) Van Horne. He was educated in the Princeton schools, before enrolling in 1859 at Pennsylvania's Ashmun Collegiate Institute for Colored Youth (renamed Lincoln University in 1866), studying theology, education, Greek, Hebrew, and Latin. In 1868 he became one of the first six students to receive a bachelor's degree from Lincoln University, where he also pursued graduate studies beginning in 1871.
While still a student, Van Horne was married in 1862 to Rachel Ann Huston of Princeton, New Jersey. The couple had four children: daughters Florence V. (Miller) and Louisa S. A., and sons Mahlon H. and Mathias Alonzo Van Horne(Mathias was educated at Howard University and later became Rhode Island's first African American dentist). After being ordained as a minister in 1866 ...
Charles Pete Banner-Haley
journalist, lawyer, and activist, was born Robert Lee Vann in Hertford County, North Carolina, the son of Lucy Peoples, who cooked for the Albert Vann family, and an unidentified father. His mother named him following a custom from slavery times, giving the last name of her employer to her children. The paternity of Vann, according to his major biographer Andrew L. Buni, is uncertain. It is thought that his father was Joseph Hall, a field worker, but there are no birth records to this effect. There is the possibility that his father was white but not the Vann that his mother worked for.
Vann spent his childhood on the Vann and Askew farms. He entered the Waters Training School in Winston, North Carolina, at age sixteen. In 1901 he enrolled in Virginia Union University in Richmond After two years Vann moved to Pittsburgh and ...
Michele Valerie Ronnick
university president, register of the U.S. Treasury, and bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, began life in Lebanon, Missouri. He was the first of two children born to Margaret Hooker Vernon (d. 1931) and Adam Vernon (1835–1916), a former slave. His sister, Essie Jean Vernon Landor (1882–1935), born more than a decade later, was a late addition to the family. His father, Adam Vernon, was born in Tennessee and had been brought by his owner, James W. Vernon, to Laclede County, Missouri. After the Civil War, Adam Vernon settled in Lebanon and worked for the Wallace Brothers Mercantile Company, which had been established by the brothers W. I., J. C., and D. C. Wallace. Adam also worked at the private home of J. C. Wallace. William matriculated at the Lincoln Institute in Jefferson City, Missouri, in 1886 and graduated in 1890 After ...