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Robert L. Harris

entrepreneur, journalist, and government adviser, was born in Sanford, Florida, the son of William Barnett, a hotel worker, and Celena Anderson. His father worked part of the year in Chicago and the rest of the time in Florida. Barnett's parents separated when he was young, and he lived with his mother's family in Oak Park, Illinois, where he attended school. His maternal ancestors were free blacks who migrated from Wake County, North Carolina, to the black settlement of Lost Creek, near Terre Haute, Indiana, during the 1830s. They then moved to Mattoon, Illinois, where Barnett's maternal grandfather was a teacher and later a barbershop owner, and finally to Oak Park. While attending high school in Oak Park, Barnett worked as a houseboy for Richard W. Sears cofounder of Sears Roebuck and Company Sears offered him a job with the company after he graduated from high school but ...

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SaFiya D. Hoskins

political administrator and lawyer, was born Constance Ernestine Berry in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Ernestine Siggers and Joseph Alonzo Berry. Her mother was a social worker and a nurse, her father was a physician. Berry was young when the family relocated to Tuskegee, Alabama, where she was reared and attended Tuskegee Institute High School located on the campus of Tuskegee University a private historically black university established in 1881. She was a member of the Government Club and an honor roll student. Upon graduating from high school in 1952, Berry enrolled at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science in 1956. Three years later, in 1959 she graduated with a Juris Doctorate from the University of Minnesota Law School The same year she was married to Theodore Newman a member of the United States ...

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John N. Ingham

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 ...

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Paulette Poujol-Oriol

Massillon Coicou is considered one of the greatest poets in Haitian literature. His works include intimate love poems (Passions) as well as poems with nationalist themes (Poésies Nationales). His poem “Impressions” reflects the metaphysical preoccupations of the author. His two theatrical plays, Féfé Candidat and Féfé Ministre, offer a caustic tableau of Haitian politics, in which Coicou revealed his lack of consideration for political puppets. Other works include Oracle (1893), Liberté (1894), The Son of Toussaint Louverture (1895), and Emperor Dessalines (1906).

Born in Port-au-Prince, Coicou studied at the religious institution of the Frères de l'Instruction Chrétienne (in Saint Louis de Gonzague) and then at the Lycée National. After serving in the army, he worked as a public servant and as a teacher.

President Tiresias Simon Sam on friendly terms with Coicou s family appointed Coicou ...

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Michaeljulius Idani

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 ...

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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 ...

Article

Hugh Davis

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 ...

Article

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 ...

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Donnie D. Bellamy

Hunt, Henry Alexander, Jr. (10 October 1866–01 October 1938), 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 free woman of color Henry Alexander was white Available evidence suggests that the couple lived together before the Civil War but maintained separate households afterward Henry 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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

Article

Pamela Newkirk

journalist, diplomat, and United States Information Agency director, was born in Ravenscroft, Tennessee. He was one of three children of Thomas David Rowan, a lumberyard worker with a fifth-grade education who had served in World War I, and Johnnie Bradford, a domestic worker with an eleventh-grade education. When Rowan was an infant, his family left the dying coal-mining town of his birth to go to McMinnville, Tennessee, lured by its lumberyards, nurseries, and livery stables. But there, in the midst of the Great Depression, they remained mired in poverty. The elder Rowan sometimes found jobs stacking lumber at twenty-five cents an hour and, according to his son, probably never made more than three hundred dollars in a single year. Meanwhile his mother worked as a domestic, cleaning houses and doing the laundry of local white families.

The family lived in an old frame house along ...

Article

Cheryl Black

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 ...

Article

Christine Schneider

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 ...

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Robert Stevenson

(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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...