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Willie Strong

(b Anniston, AL, Sept 23, 1899; d Montgomery, AL, May 2, 1990). American composer and choral conductor. He first heard black American folksongs as a child in rural Alabama. At the age of 15 he left home to attend the Tuskegee Institute, where he studied the piano and composition, and participated in the band and choir. After his graduation he moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where he played the trombone in local jazz ensembles and on the Redpath Chautaugua circuit (1921). During this period he taught music at Kansas Vocational College (Topeka, 1921–2) and Lincoln High School (Kansas City, 1922–7), and obtained the BMus degree from the Horner Institute of Fine Arts, Kansas City (1925).

After moving to Chicago where he played the bass with jazz performers such as Louis and Lillian Armstrong Johnny Dodds and Earl Hines ...

Article

Susan Love Brown

journalist, educator, politician, and statesman. Mervyn Malcolm Dymally, born in Cedros, Trinidad, achieved many “firsts” in American politics. His mother, Andreid Richardson, of Trinidadian descent, and his father, Hamid Dymally, of South Asian descent, educated him through high school, at Naparima College in San Fernando, Trinidad, after which he worked as a reporter for the Oilfields Workers Trade Union newspaper, The Vanguard, in Trinidad. This spurred his interest in a journalistic career, which took him to Lincoln University in Missouri at the age of nineteen. Eventually, he moved to Los Angeles State College of Applied Arts and Sciences, where he majored in education, receiving his bachelor's degree in 1954. From then on he combined education, politics, and involvement in international issues as the interests that guided his career.

While working as a science special education teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District ...

Article

Rodney P. Carlisle

U.S. congressman, historian, and attorney, was born on Tacony plantation near Vidalia, Louisiana, the son of Patrick Lynch, the manager of the plantation, and Catherine White, a slave. Patrick Lynch, an Irish immigrant, purchased his wife and two children, but in order to free them, existing state law required they leave Louisiana. Before Patrick Lynch died, he transferred the titles to his wife and children to a friend, William Deal, who promised to treat them as free persons. However, when Patrick Lynch died, Deal sold the family to a planter, Alfred W. Davis, in Natchez, Mississippi. When Davis learned of the conditions of the transfer to Deal, he agreed to allow Catherine Lynch to hire her own time while he honeymooned with his new wife in Europe Under this arrangement Catherine Lynch lived in Natchez worked for various employers and paid $3 50 ...

Article

Charles Orson Cook

sprinting champion who later served as a U.S. congressman. Although overshadowed by Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics, the track-and-field star Ralph Harold Metcalfe was America's premier sprinter for several years in the early 1930s. He was born in Atlanta on 30 May 1910, the third son of Clarence and Mamie Holmes Metcalfe, but shortly thereafter the family moved to Chicago, where his father found employment in the city's stockyards and his mother was a dressmaker. Metcalfe was the national interscholastic sprint champion in 1929, and at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he was the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) champion in the 100- and 220-yard dashes for three successive years, from 1932 through 1934.

In the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles he won the silver medal in the 100 meter dash and the bronze in the 200 meters He equaled or broke world ...

Article

David L. Porter

Metcalfe, Ralph Harold (30 May 1910–10 October 1978), track and field athlete and U.S. congressman, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Clarence Metcalfe, a stockyard worker, and Marie Attaway, a seamstress. He moved to Chicago, Illinois, in 1917, grew up in a slum area on the South Side, and attended Tilden Technical High School. Metcalfe won the 1929 interscholastic track-and-field sprint championship and, as a member of the Chase Athletic Club, captured the 1930 Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) junior 100-yard title in 9.7 seconds.

A 5′ 11″, 180-pound speedster, Metcalfe attended Marquette University, breezing through the 1932 track-and-field season undefeated in both the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes and taking both events at the NCAA and AAU championships. That same year Metcalfe dethroned Eddie Tolan as the dominant American sprinter On 11 June he tied Tolan s world mark in the 100 yard dash and shattered ...

Article

David L. Porter

track-and-field athlete and U.S. congressman, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Clarence Metcalfe, a stockyard worker, and Marie Attaway, a seamstress. He moved to Chicago, Illinois, in 1917, grew up in a slum area on the South Side, and attended Tilden Technical High School. Metcalfe won the 1929 interscholastic track-and-field sprint championship and, as a member of the Chase Athletic Club, captured the 1930 Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) junior 100-yard title in 9.7 seconds.

A 5-foot 11-inch, 180-pound speedster, Metcalfe attended Marquette University, breezing through the 1932 track-and-field season undefeated in both the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes and taking both events at the NCAA and AAU championships. That same year Metcalfe dethroned Eddie Tolan as the dominant American sprinter. On 11 June he tied Tolan s world mark in the 100 yard dash and shattered the world record in the 220 yard dash ...

Article

Prudence D. Cumberbatch

television and radio host, U.S. congressman, and president and chief executive officer of the NAACP, was born Frizzell Gray, the first of four children of Mary Elizabeth Willis in Turners Station, Maryland. His mother worked at several occupations, including as an elevator operator and as a domestic, while Clifton Gray his stepfather was employed as a truck driver Gray was raised believing that he shared the father of his three sisters only later did he learn that he was not Clifton Gray s biological son Gray spent his early childhood in Turners Station a small rural black community thirteen miles south of Baltimore City wedged between predominantly white Dundalk and Sparrows Point home to Bethlehem Steel the largest employer in the area Founded in the late 1880s by an African American doctor Turners Station was isolated on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay In ...

Article

Yvette Walker

politician, minister, activist, and writer. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1908. Powell's father, Adam Clayton Powell Sr. (1865–1953), was the minister of the famous Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York. In his autobiography Adam by Adam (1971), Powell states that his paternal grandmother, Sally, was part Cherokee and part black and that she bore a son by a white slaveholder of German descent. A former slave named Dunn took them in and raised Adam Clayton Powell Sr.

Powell Sr was actively involved in the struggle against racism he was a proponent of racial pride built on a foundation of education and hard work and he believed that the church should be a pillar of the community beliefs that he passed on to his son Adam Clayton Powell Jr recounts childhood memories of sitting on ...

Article

Steven B. Jacobson

athlete, minister, political leader, entrepreneur, and commentator, was born Julius Caesar Watts Jr. in Eufaula, McIntosh County, Oklahoma, the fifth of six children of Helen Pierce and J. C. “Buddy” Watts Sr., a policeman, preacher, cattle owner, handyman, and local entrepreneur. The Eufaula area, part of the Creek Nation Indian Territory until 1907 had a historical tradition of Native American slaveholding and racial segregation persisted there during Watts s youth Only blacks were allowed to attend Watts s first elementary school and Eufaula s only public swimming pool excluded blacks until his father and his uncle Wade Watts who later became head of the NAACP s Oklahoma chapter and a member of the U S Civil Rights Commission successfully lobbied to open it to all races Watts had other experiences with segregation Until he was in high school whites sat on the ground ...

Article

Rachelle Gold

Republican politician. Born in Eufaula, Oklahoma, J. C. Watts Jr.—who has said that although “J. C.” does not stand for anything, he has often joked that it stands for “Julius Caesar”—was the fifth of six children. His parents, Buddy and Helen Watts, raised their children in the Baptist Church and urged them to excel in academics and athletics through hard work and personal responsibility. As a boy J. C. was one of two black children to integrate Eufaula's all-white elementary school. He graduated from high school in 1976 and then, recruited by the famous coach Barry Switzer, attended the University of Oklahoma. As quarterback for Oklahoma, Watts led the team to two consecutive Big Eight championships and Orange Bowl victories, in 1980 and 1981, and was voted most valuable player in both Orange Bowls. He graduated from Oklahoma with a degree in journalism in 1981 From ...