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Corrine Brown was born in Jacksonville, Florida. She received a bachelor's degree in 1969 and a master's degree in 1971 from Florida A&M University. She also received an education specialist degree from the University of Florida in 1974 and an honorary doctorate in law from Edward Waters College. Brown was a college professor, a guidance counselor, and owner of a travel agency before entering politics. In 1982 she was elected to the Florida State House of Representatives, where she served for ten years. In 1992 she was elected to Congress from Florida's Third Congressional District. She was reelected to a sixth term in 2002. In Congress, Brown has worked on economic development, transportation policies, veterans' affairs, environmental policies, and issues of importance to working families. Brown is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

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Rozalynn S. Frazier

A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Corrine Brown was born to the West Palm Beach native Voney Brown and Delia Covington, a cosmetologist from Georgia. The only child of this union, Brown was essentially raised by her mother and stepfather, William Covington, an Alabama native who served in the U.S. Navy.

Brown graduated from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee with a bachelor of science degree in Sociology in 1969. She also obtained her master’s degree in 1971 from Florida A&M University. In 1974, Brown earned her education specialist degree from the University of Florida in Gainesville. In addition to her chosen studies, Brown received an honorary doctor of law degree from Edward Waters College in Jacksonville. Now divorced, Brown is the mother of daughter Shantrel Brown, an attorney for the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC.

Before election to her first political office Brown ...

Article

Lisa Clayton Robinson

“I visualize a time within the next ten years when we should have fifty black congressmen … It's just a matter of time until we have a black governor and yes, a black president.” In this 1974Ebony magazine interview, Congresswoman Yvonne Braithwaite Burke outlined her hopes for the political future of African Americans—a future her own career helped bring closer to reality. Born Yvonne Watson in South Central Los Angeles, Burke attended the University of California at Berkeley and the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). After graduating from the University of Southern California Law School in 1956, she began a private law practice, and was appointed to the 1965 commission that investigated the Watts Riot of 1965.

A year later Burke was elected to the first of three terms in the California assembly becoming the state s first black assemblywoman In the state assembly ...

Article

Dorsia Smith Silva

the son of Tanya Carson. He was raised by his maternal grandmother, Julia Carson, because his father did not want to be involved in his life and his mother suffered from schizophrenia. André grew up in a political household: his grandmother Julia served in the Indiana House of Representatives from 1972 to 1976 and the Indiana Senate from 1976 to 1990. She was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for Indiana’s 10th District, covering Indianapolis, in 1997. After redistricting in 2003 she represented Indiana’s 7th district, which included much of her old seat.

While attending Arsenal Technical High School in his native city, André developed an interest in law enforcement. Carson continued studying this field by obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice management from Concordia University Wisconsin in 2003 Two years later he obtained a Master s degree in Business Management from Indiana ...

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Julia Carson was born in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1965, while working as a secretary for the United Auto Workers union, Carson was hired by Indiana congressman Andrew Jacobs Jr. She worked on his staff for eight years. In 1972 she was elected to the Indiana House of Representatives, and in 1976 she was elected to the Indiana Senate, where she served on the Finance Committee and the Health Committee. In 1990 Carson was elected trustee of Center Township and directed an agency that provided assistance to the needy. Congressman Jacobs retired in 1996, and Carson ran for his position. She won fifty-two percent of the vote and became the first African American to represent Indianapolis.

Representing Indiana's Tenth Congressional District since 1997, Carson has written legislation on consumer protections and gun control, and sponsored the National Defense Rail Act. In 1999President Clinton signed her ...

Article

Roanne Edwards

Known for her integrity and her powerful oratory skills, Shirley Chisholm is widely considered one of the foremost female speakers in the United States. With a character that she has described as “unbought and unbossed,” Chisholm became known as a politician who refused to allow fellow politicians, including the male-dominated Congressional Black Caucus, to deter her from her goals. In 1969 her first statement as a congressperson before the United States House of Representatives reflected her commitment to prioritizing the needs of the disadvantaged especially children She proclaimed her intent to vote No on every money bill that comes to the floor of this House that provides any funds for the Department of Defense While Chisholm advocated for civil rights for African Americans she regularly took up issues that concerned other people of color such as Native Americans and Spanish speaking migrants She also delivered important speeches on ...

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Daniel A. Dalrymple

Chisholm made a career out of breaking down barriers. She was both the first black woman to be elected to United States Congress and the first woman or African American to mount a serious run at a major party’s nomination for president. Chisholm forged a strong reputation for doing things her own way, spurning both the New York Democratic political machine and political decorum. Despite the obstacles that came with bucking the system, Chisholm always held her ground on important issues such as abortion, women’s rights, and civil rights.

Chisholm was born the eldest of three sisters to West Indian parents, Charles St. Hill and Ruby Seale in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn New York Shirley s father worked as a baker s helper and later a factory hand and her mother found employment as a seamstress However Hill and Seale quickly realized that their wages were insufficient ...

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Julie Gallagher

politician, women's rights advocate, and educator. Chisholm was born Shirley Anita St. Hill in Brooklyn, New York, to Charles St. Hill and Ruby Seale, immigrants from the Caribbean island of Barbados. During the Depression, Chisholm and her two younger sisters were sent to live with their grandmother in Barbados. They stayed there for seven years. Chisholm claimed that her sense of pride in herself and her race came largely from her father, an ardent follower of Marcus Garvey.

Chisholm attended Brooklyn College from 1942 to 1946, where she developed her oratorical skills in the Debate Society. At the same time, her membership in the Harriet Tubman Society and the Political Science Society stimulated her racial and political consciousness. Her leadership skills attracted attention, and one of her professors suggested that she consider entering politics.

Chisholm's career in early childhood education spanned nearly two decades. Between 1946 ...

Article

Donna Christian-Christensen, who was formerly known while in office as Donna Christian-Green, comes from a family of public servants. Her father, Almeric L. Christian, was a Virgin Islands chief district court judge, and her paternal grandmother, Elena L. Christian, was an educator in the Virgin Islands. Christian-Christensen graduated with a bachelor's degree from St. Mary's College in Indiana and earned a medical degree at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. After a medical career of more than twenty years, she entered politics as vice chairperson of the U.S. Virgin Islands Democratic Territorial Committee in 1980. She subsequently served on the U.S. Virgin Islands Board of Education and the U.S. Virgin Islands Status Commission. In 1996 Christian-Christensen became the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from the U.S. Virgin Islands. She was reelected in subsequent elections.

Article

William Lacy Clay was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He earned a bachelor's degree from St. Louis University in 1953 before serving in the United States Army (1953–1955). During military training at Fort McClellan in Alabama, Clay displayed an interest in civil rights activism, leading an effort to give blacks equal access to the swimming pool, the barbershop, and the noncommissioned officers club.

Returning to St. Louis in 1955, Clay became active in the Civil Rights Movement. He participated in both the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1959 Clay was elected to the St. Louis Board of Aldermen. He remained an alderman until 1964, when he became an official in the local Democratic Party.

In 1967 Missouri s voting districts were reorganized and most of St Louis s blacks were located ...

Article

Charles Orson Cook

politician, community activist, and sixteen-term United States congressman. William Clay Sr. was one of Missouri's most successful champions of civil rights in the twentieth century. Born one of seven children to Luella Hyatt and Irving Clay in Saint Louis, Missouri, young Clay attended Roman Catholic schools, where he was academically successful despite the disadvantages inherent in a segregated education. After high school, he enrolled in Saint Louis University and graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science in 1953. Clay completed a two-year tour of duty with the U.S. Army in 1955 After a brief flirtation with a career in business he became a labor organizer a community activist and ultimately a congressman from Missouri s First Congressional District for thirty two years Clay has spoken of the racial injustices he encountered early in life He recalled initiating a movement of black servicemen to desegregate the base swimming ...

Article

Eva Clayton was born in Savannah, Georgia. She received a B.A. degree from Johnson C. Smith University in 1955 and a M.A. degree from North Carolina Central University in 1962. Clayton worked as director of a civil rights organization called the Soul City Foundation before she began a four-year tenure as assistant secretary for community development in the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources and Community Development in 1976. She started a management and consulting firm in 1981. In 1982 she also joined the Warren County Board of Commissioners, which she chaired for eight years.

When long-time U.S. representative Walter Jones died in September 1992, Clayton won a close primary contest against Jones's son, Walter Jones, Jr., for the Democratic nomination to fill the seat in North Carolina's First Congressional District. Her victory in the 1992 general election made her the first African ...

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Charmaine A. Flemming

As the first black woman elected to U.S. Congress from North Carolina, Eva Clayton continued to achieve “firsts” throughout her eleven years of representing the citizens of her home state. In the 103rd Congress, she became the first woman president of the Democratic Freshman Class, which was the largest such incoming group since 1948. She was also named the Most Influential Newcomer after taking her seats on the agricultural and budget committees. In addition, she was noted for frequently steering activity on both the Congressional Rural and Black Caucuses.

Eva Clayton was born in Savannah, Georgia, to Josephine Martin, who was a teacher, dressmaker, and the superintendent of a children’s home, and Thomas McPherson an insurance agent After moving to Augusta Georgia the McPhersons were very active in the Presbyterian Church which inspired Eva to work as a public servant She remembers dreaming of becoming a doctor ...

Article

A civil rights activist since his youth, James Enos Clyburn became the first black since 1897 to represent South Carolina in Congress. He was born in Sumter, South Carolina, and received a B.A. degree from South Carolina State College (now South Carolina State University) in 1962. Over the next decade, he worked as a teacher, ran a neighborhood youth organization, and headed the South Carolina Commission for Farm Workers. In 1974 he took over as the state's human affairs commissioner, a position he held until 1992. After two unsuccessful attempts while commissioner to win the statewide Democratic nomination for secretary of state, Clyburn ran for South Carolina's redrawn Sixth Congressional District in 1992 Defending the strangely shaped Sixth District as a way of correcting past political discrimination against blacks he won handily after the white Democratic incumbent fearing a racially divisive campaign in the new black ...

Article

Dawne Y. Curry

In 1991 the 102nd Congress had an almost unprecedented number of African American women joining its political corps—three. The triumvirate, consisting of delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and congresswomen Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Barbara-Rose Collins (D-MI), formed the largest black women’s contingent since the early 1970s. Collins entered the congressional arena armed with an ambitious platform that included economic development, an urban renewal program, and strong ideas about the plight of the African American man.

Barbara-Rose Collins was the eldest daughter of four children born to Lamar and Versa Richardson The future politician grew up in one of Detroit s predominantly Polish communities and the children there served as her primary social group until she attended school and met other children of color Collins attended Wayne State University where she also served as the purchasing agent for the institution s physics department She began her career of advocacy when ...

Article

LaVerne Gray

U.S.congresswoman. Cardiss Collins distinguished herself as the longest-serving African American woman in the U.S. Congress: at the time of her retirement in 1996 she had served twenty-three years (twelve terms) in office. A Democrat representing Illinois's Seventh Congressional District, Collins was the first African American woman elected from Illinois to serve in Congress. In 1973 she filled the post vacated by her late husband George W. Collins, who died in an airplane crash.

Cardiss Collins was born Cardiss Robertson in Saint Louis, Missouri, the only child of Finley Robertson, a laborer, and Rosia Mae Cardiss Robertson a nurse When Cardiss was ten the family moved to Detroit Michigan where she attended Bishop and Lincoln elementary schools and graduated from Detroit s High School of Commerce She subsequently moved to Chicago where at first she found a job at a mattress factory She then secured a position ...

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Daniel A. Dalrymple

Democratic Congresswoman Collins was a mainstay in the United States House of Representatives for more than twenty years. She was the first woman and African American to serve as the Democratic whip-at-large and the first African American to chair a subcommittee of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. Collins’s career was defined by her strong congressional record on a wide variety of issues, focusing on African Americans, women, and the environment. She was a congresswoman who refused to be pigeonholed as a single-issue representative and spoke up whenever she saw injustice.

Cardiss was born to the laborer Finley Robertson and the nurse Rosia Mae Robertson in St. Louis, Missouri. Her family relocated to Detroit in 1941 when she was ten years old. While in Detroit she attended Bishop and Lincoln Elementary Schools before graduating from the Detroit High School of Commerce. In 1958 Cardiss married George W. Collins before ...

Article

Joseph Wilson

U.S. congressman since 1965 who has been distinguished during his long career as a leading advocate for human rights and civil rights in the United States. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, John Conyers Jr. graduated from Northwestern High School in Detroit and then served in the Michigan National Guard (1948–1950) and the U.S. Army (1950–1954). During his time in the army he served in Korea as an officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Back in Michigan he acquired his BA in 1957 and his law degree in 1958, both from Wayne State University in Detroit. Before winning office in 1964 as a representative from Michigan, Conyers, a Democrat, worked as an assistant for the Democratic Michigan congressman John Dingell. As of 2008 Conyers and Dingell were the two longest-serving members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

During his tenure Conyers rose ...

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John F. Conyers, Jr., was born in Detroit, Michigan, and earned a bachelor's degree in 1957 and a law degree in 1958 from Wayne State University. He was a member of the Michigan National Guard from 1948 to 1952. In 1952 he joined the United States Army and fought in the Korean War. He was an assistant to U.S. Representative John Dingell from 1958 to 1961, and from 1961 to 1963 he worked for the Michigan Workmen's Compensation Department. In the 1964 Democratic primary for the newly created, black-majority 14th Congressional District in Michigan, Conyers won by only 108 votes on a platform of “Equality, Jobs and Peace.” When Conyers went to Congress, he was one of only six black representatives. He was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus. In 2002 Conyers was elected to his nineteenth term in the House with ...

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Joseph Wilson

a leading African American attorney, judge, and congressman from Detroit, Michigan. Born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, George Crockett graduated from Morehouse College and the University of Michigan Law School. Subsequently he started a law practice and later was a cofounder of the National Lawyers Guild, the nation's first racially integrated lawyers' organization which he then served as vice president. In 1939, Crockett became the first African American attorney in the United States Department of Labor and, later, in the Federal Employment Practices Commission. In 1943, he directed the United Auto Workers' Fair Practices Commission, which sought to prevent white workers from engaging in “hate” strikes designed to bar black workers from working in auto plants.

In 1946 in Detroit, he helped form the country's first integrated law firm (Goodman, Eden, Crockett and Robb) and served as a partner until 1966. In 1949 Crockett was sentenced ...