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Adam W. Green

United Statescongressman, was the third child born to Frank Winston Ballance, a sharecropper, and Alice Eason Ballance, a homemaker and care worker. Ballance was born and raised on a farm in Windsor, eastern North Carolina, part of the rural tobacco farming communities of the impoverished and segregated Bertie County. Ballance learned at an early age the import of fighting for civil rights; his mother was heavily involved in black voter registration drives when he was a child. After graduating W.S. Etheridge High School in 1959, he moved to attend North Carolina Central University in Durham.

In college, Ballance became involved in marches and sit-ins in the city, including ones aimed at larger department stores like Woolworth's. After receiving his B.A. in 1963, he remained at the university to study law. In 1965 he taught law at South Carolina State College but the following ...

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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 ...

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Patricia E. Canson

U.S. congresswoman, was born Shirley St. Hill in Brooklyn, New York, the eldest daughter of Charles St. Hill, a laborer born in British Guiana (now Guyana), and Ruby Seale, a seamstress born in Barbados. Shirley's first three years were spent in Brownsville, a predominantly Jewish area of Brooklyn. Finding the wages for unskilled factory work insufficient to care for three children properly, the St. Hills sent their three daughters to Barbados, where they lived with their maternal grandparents on the family farm. Shirley credits her grandmother Emily Seale with instilling in her a strong character and determination.

The girls returned to Brownsville in 1934 after their mother gave birth to another daughter Despite the social and financial hardships of the Depression Ruby encouraged her children to respect the values of civility thrift poise humility education and spirituality though the sisters endured a substantial amount of teasing in the ...

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Mary Krane Derr

U.S.Congressman, educator, and public administrator, was born in rural Parkdale, Ashley County, Arkansas, to low-income sharecroppers Hezekiah “H. D.” Davis and Mazzie L. Glass Davis, who had four other sons and seven daughters. Danny Davis grew up in and remained in the Missionary Baptist Church. Although known in adulthood for his distinctive, eloquent orator's voice, as a child he stuttered. His teachers, especially Mrs. Beadie King, and his family elders encouraged his enjoyment of reading and learning. Danny Davis attended segregated public schools and graduated from Parkdale's Savage High School in 1957.

Majoring in history and minoring in education, he earned a B.A. from Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical, & Normal College (later the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) in 1961 In college he found inspiration in the student activities of the African American civil rights movement Davis and six of his siblings ...

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Danny K. Davis was born in Parkdale, Arkansas. He received a bachelor's degree from Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal College (now the University of Arkansas) in Pine Bluff in 1961, and a master's degree from Chicago State University in Chicago, Illinois, in 1968. In 1977 he received a Ph.D. from Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio. His political career began in 1979 when he was elected to the Chicago City Council, a position he held for eleven years. In 1984 and 1986 Davis unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives. He was named to the Cook County Board of Commissioners in 1990 and held the position until 1997. In 1991 he made an unsuccessful bid for mayor of Chicago. Davis was elected to the U.S. House from Illinois's Seventh Congressional District in November 1996 Currently serving his fourth term in ...

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LaVerne Gray

minister, politician, educator, and writer. After serving as a U.S. representative from New York, Flake became the minister and leader of New York City's largest African American church, the Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal Cathedral in Queens. He elevated the membership to over eighteen thousand and assisted the economic growth of the church through concentrated efforts in community development. In 2002 Flake became president of Wilberforce University, one the oldest historically black colleges, in Ohio. He worked in the private, educational, and government sectors while simultaneously serving in the church.

Floyd Harold Flake was born in Los Angeles, the third of thirteen children born to Robert Flake, a janitor, and Rosie Lee Flake a homemaker When Flake was still small the family relocated to Houston Texas Growing up Flake was resourceful and his parents stressed a strong work ethic He was always working delivering ...

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Sholomo B. Levy

minister, U.S. Congressman, educator, and business executive, was born in Los Angeles, California, the eighth of thirteen children of Robert Flake Sr., a janitor, and Rosie Lee Johnson. Shortly after Floyd's birth, the family moved into a two-bedroom home in Houston, Texas. The roots of many of Floyd's political beliefs can be traced to his southern upbringing: his family was poor, but proud; racism abounded, but faith and optimism ruled the Flake home.

Floyd s early education took place in segregated poorly equipped schools but his teachers were dedicated and took a stern interest in his academic development One teacher cared enough to make sure that Floyd spent much of his free time involved in youth programs at her African Methodist Episcopal AME Church After graduating from high school Flake entered Wilberforce University the nation s oldest private African American University in Ohio He ...

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Ann T. Keene

lawyer, politician, and professor, was born Barbara Charline Jordan in Houston, Texas, the daughter of Benjamin M. Jordan and Arlyne Patten Jordan. Her father, a graduate of the Tuskegee Institute, was a warehouse employee until 1949 when he became a minister at Houston s Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church in which his father s family had long been active Arlyne Jordan also became a frequent speaker at the church The Jordans were always poor and for many years Barbara and her two older sisters shared a bed but their lives improved somewhat after their father became a minister Jordan attended local segregated public schools and received good grades with little effort She gave scant thought to her future beyond forming a vague desire to become a pharmacist until her senior year at Phillis Wheatley High School when a black female lawyer spoke at the school ...

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Niambi Lee-Kong

lawyer, politician, and educator. Barbara Jordan, a woman of many political firsts, is best known as the first African American woman from a southern state to serve in the United States House of Representatives; she served as a representative from Texas from 1973 to 1979.

The youngest of three girls, Barbara Charline Jordan was born 21 February 1936 in Houston, Texas, to Benjamin Jordan and Arlyne Patten Jordan. Her childhood was centered on church life: her father was a Baptist preacher, and her mother was also a teacher in the church. She attended local public schools throughout her primary and secondary education and graduated from Phillis Wheatley High School with honors. A speech given by Edith Sampson a black lawyer at a career day event at her high school inspired Jordan to become a lawyer herself She attended Texas Southern University and graduated magna ...

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Roanne Edwards

Barbara Jordan was a political pioneer in her time. She was the first African American since 1883—and the first woman ever—to be elected to the Texas State Senate, and the first Southern black woman to serve in the U.S. Congress. A spellbinding orator, Jordan may be best remembered for the speech she gave as a member of the House Judiciary Committee that determined the impeachment of U.S. president Richard Nixon in 1974. She stated that, although the U.S. Constitution's clause beginning “We the people” had not originally included her as an African American and as a woman, she had faith in the Constitution and refused to be what she called “an idle spectator” to its “subversion” by the president.

Jordan was raised and educated in one of the predominantly black districts of Houston, Texas the Fifth Ward She was the youngest of three daughters born to warehouse ...

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Merline Pitre

Barbara Charline Jordan was the first black woman to sit in the Texas Senate (1967-1973) and the first from the South to be elected to the United States House of Representatives (1973-1979). She was born in the Fifth Ward of Houston, Texas, to a Baptist minister, Benjamin Jordan, and a domestic worker, Arlyne (Patten) Jordan. Her early childhood was spent with her parents, her two older sisters, Bennie and Rose Mary, and her grandfathers, Charles Jordan and John Ed Patten.

Jordan’s outlook on life and politics, as well as her strength and determination, can be attributed to the influence of her maternal grandfather, John Ed Patten, the son of Edward A. Patten one of the forty two African Americans who sat in the Texas legislature during Reconstruction As a child Jordan spent most of her free time with Patten While ...

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Deborah Lois Taylor

U.S. congresswoman and teacher, was born Carolyn Jean Cheeks in Detroit, Michigan, the third of five children of Marvel Cheeks, a businessman.

When Carolyn was ten years old she decided to become a secretary. In an effort to prepare herself for that occupation, she enrolled in Detroit's High School of Commerce, a nationally acclaimed public high school that prepared students for office-related careers. She was elected president of her graduating class. She married Bernard Kilpatrick. They had two children before the marriage ended in divorce. Hardworking and civic minded, Carolyn Kilpatrick raised her children to have the same values.

After finishing high school in 1963, Kilpatrick worked as a secretary for a short time. She then pursued a teaching certificate. She attended Ferris State College and Western Michigan University, earning a BS in Education in in 1972 She earned a master s degree in Education ...

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Carrie Meek was born in Tallahassee, Florida, the daughter of sharecroppers and the granddaughter of slaves. After receiving a bachelor's degree in 1946 from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and a master's degree in 1948 from the University of Michigan, Meek worked as an administrator for Miami-Dade Community College from 1949 to 1992. Her political career began in the Florida State House, where she served from 1979 to 1982; she also served in the Florida State Senate from 1982 to 1992. Meek was elected to represent Florida's seventeenth Congressional District in 1992 after winning the Democratic primary election with 83 percent of the vote. At age sixty-six, she became the oldest woman elected to Congress. She was returned to office in four subsequent elections. While in Congress, she was a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and served on the Appropriations Committee.

In 2002 Meek ...

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Daniel A. Dalrymple

When the Democratic congresswoman Carrie Meek stepped down from her position in the House of Representatives in 2002, she did so with the knowledge that she had served her district with distinction. In 1992 Meek became the first African American elected to the United States Congress from Florida since Reconstruction. Meek is most often remembered for her key role in securing $100 million in relief after Hurricane Andrew wreaked havoc on southern Florida in 1992. However, during her stay in office, Meek also established a solid reputation as a loyal representative of her constituents, a supporter of cooperation across party lines, and a sympathetic voice for Haitian refugees.

The granddaughter of a slave, Carrie Meek was born in Tallahassee, Florida, the last of the twelve children of Carrie and Willie Pittman The Meek family lived in one of the poorest sections of Tallahassee known as Black ...

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Caryn E. Neumann

the granddaughter of slaves who became the first African American elected to Congress from Florida since Reconstruction, grew up as one of twelve children born to the sharecropper William Pittman and the domestic worker Carrie Pittman in Tallahassee, Florida. Meek grew up in the shadow of the Capitol in a neighborhood called the Bottom and attended Primitive Baptist churches. A gifted track and field athlete, she graduated with a bachelor's degree in biology and physical education from Florida A&M University in 1946. Unable to attend graduate school in Florida because African Americans were not permitted to do so, she went to the University of Michigan and earned a master's degree in public health and physical education in 1948 Meek returned to her home state to work as a physical education instructor at Miami Dade Community College She would ultimately spend more than forty years at the school as ...

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Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Juanita Millender-McDonald earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Redlands and a master's degree from California State University, Los Angeles. She taught in the Los Angeles School District and received national recognition when she served on the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future. In 1990 Millender-McDonald became the first African American elected to the Carson City Council. During her second year on the council, she was elected mayor pro tem for Carson. In 1992 she won a seat in the California State Assembly.

After Representative Walter R. Tucker III resigned as U.S. representative for California's Thirty-Seventh Congressional District, Millender-McDonald announced her candidacy for the vacant seat. She defeated eight other candidates in the March 1996 Democratic primary. In the general election, she ran unopposed. She was sworn into office in April 1996 and was reelected in subsequent elections She was a ...

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William C. Hine

Thomas Ezekiel Miller was born in Ferrebeeville, South Carolina, the son of Richard Miller and Mary Ferrebee, occupations unknown. Miller's race was a source of periodic concern and speculation. Although he always considered himself to be black, Miller's very fair complexion led to allegations during his political career that he was white, the abandoned child of an unmarried white couple.

Miller moved to Charleston with his parents in the early 1850s, where he attended schools for free black children. His mother died when he was nine. As a youngster he distributed the Charleston Mercury to local hotels, and during the Civil War he worked aboard South Carolina railroad trains delivering newspapers between Charleston and Savannah. When the Confederate government seized the railroads, Miller found himself in the service and in the uniform of the Confederacy. Union forces captured him as they advanced into South Carolina in January 1865 ...

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William C. Hine

political leader and educator, was born in Ferrebeeville, South Carolina, the son of Richard Miller and Mary Ferrebee, occupations unknown. Miller's race was a source of periodic concern and speculation. Although he always considered himself to be black, Miller's very fair complexion led to allegations during his political career that he was white, the abandoned child of an unmarried white couple.

Miller moved to Charleston with his parents in the early 1850s, where he attended schools for free black children. His mother died when he was nine. As a youngster he distributed the Charleston Mercury to local hotels and during the Civil War he worked aboard South Carolina Railroad trains delivering newspapers between Charleston and Savannah Georgia When the Confederate government seized the railroads Miller found himself in the service and in the uniform of the Confederacy Union forces captured him as they advanced into South Carolina ...