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Charles F. Casey-Leninger

first black mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio, was born in Maysville, Kentucky, to a white farmer whom he never knew and Cora Berry. When he was a toddler, Berry's mother brought him to Cincinnati, where they settled in the emerging African American community in the city's West End. Severely hearing impaired and with difficulty speaking, his mother earned little as a domestic, and Berry's sister Anna, fifteen years his senior, eventually assembled the family in her own household.

Berry attended the segregated Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School and graduated from the racially mixed Woodward High School in 1924 as valedictorian, the first black student in Cincinnati to achieve that honor in an integrated high school. Berry received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1928 and his juris doctorate from the UC College of Law in 1931 He worked his way through school by selling ...

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Charles L. Hughes

singer, songwriter, and politician, was one of four children born to J. T. and Alveria Butler, in Sunflower, Mississippi. The Butlers, a Mississippi sharecropping family, moved to Chicago in 1942, where they lived in the Cabrini-Green Housing Projects. J. T. Butler worked a variety of jobs to support his family until his death in 1953, and, following his passing, relatives and friends moved in to help the family make ends meet. Jerry, active in the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), soon became known around his community for his musical ability and rich baritone voice, and he quickly began performing as a gospel artist with friends and fellow COGIC members. One of Jerry's friends, a prodigious musician and songwriter named Curtis Mayfield would soon join Butler in a singing group called the Roosters The group subsequently changed its name to the Impressions Signing to Vee Jay Records ...

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Benjamin R. Justesen

farmer, shoemaker, and longtime state legislator, was born in Warren County, North Carolina, the third son of free, mixed-race parents Hawkins Carter and Elizabeth Wiggins, who were married in 1845. Few details are known of his early life or education, only that his father, a prosperous farmer, could afford to hire a young white teacher, W. J. Fulford, to tutor his eight children in 1861, the last year before the Civil War.

During the Civil War, the teenage Carter served as an officer's attendant for a Warrenton acquaintance, Captain Stephen W. Jones of the Forty-sixth North Carolina Regiment's Company C, raised at Warrenton in early 1862 Jones s company saw action at Antietam and other battles and Jones was wounded at Spotsylvania Court House where Carter presumably helped care for him The eldest son of the Warren County sheriff and a former deputy sheriff himself ...

Article

Richard Alperin

teacher, coroner, scrivener, selectman, and justice of the peace, was born in New Market (now Newmarket), New Hampshire, the only child of Hopestill, a Portsmouth, New Hampshire, housewright, and Catherine Cheswell. The name is sometimes spelled “Cheswill.” Wentworth's grandfather, Richard Cheswell, a black slave in Exeter, New Hampshire, purchased twenty acres of land from the Hilton Grant after he gained his freedom. The deed, dated 18 October 1716/17 (the discrepancy arises from the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar) is the earliest known deed in the state of New Hampshire showing land ownership by a black man. The land was located in what was to become the town of Newmarket. Richard's only child, Hopestill (1712–? became a housewright and worked mostly in Portsmouth He took part in building the John Paul Jones House as well as other important houses Hopestill was active in local affairs and ...

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Angela Bates

slave, pioneer minister, coroner, and politician, was born in Scott County, Kentucky. As a slave he was a carriage driver and house slave. It was against the law for slaves to learn to read and write, which was sometimes punishable by death, but Daniel took the risk. He learned by secretly listening to and watching his master read. He saved scraps of printed paper and taught others to read and in doing so almost lost his life after he was discovered by his master. After emancipation the Freedman's Bureau established schools to educate the formerly illiterate slaves. It was then that he could take full advantage of his freedom and spend time improving his reading skills.

In 1862, while still a slave, Hickman became a Christian, and in 1866 after emancipation he became a minister and the pastor of the Owens Baptist Church the ...

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Bernadette Pruitt

the self-reliant bondsman of the legendary Sam Houston, was born to a slave mother and reared on the Temple Lea Plantation in Marion, Perry County, Alabama, three years after the territory gained statehood. Joshua stood out at an early age. Although a field hand, the boy began learning blacksmithing and other skills. With the aid of the Lea family Joshua also began reading. The remarkable youngster garnered a reputation early on as a precocious and assiduous child. Barely eighteen, he carried this reputation with him when moved to Texas.

In 1834 Joshua's owner, Temple Lea, died and willed the twelve-year-old Joshua to his teenage daughter Margaret Moffette Lea, who six years later at the age of twenty-one married and became the third wife of the forty-six-year-old Sam Houston Houston the former general who led the Anglo American victory against General Antonio López de Santa Anna s six ...

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Bergis K. Jules

civil rights activist, sheriff, and probate judge, was born in Gordonville in Lowndes County, Alabama, to Jim Hulett and Daisy (Baker), both farmers. Before 1950 John Hulett was eager to travel outside the Black Belt to see more of America. After graduating from Central High School in Gordonsville around 1945 and already planning to be a policeman, he took classes in law enforcement at Stanford University, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Alabama in preparation for his future career. Upon his return to Alabama in 1950 he settled in Birmingham and began working for the Federal Rural Housing Alliance as a housing consultant Hulett traveled throughout six southern states helping to provide homes for the poor in rural areas While in Birmingham he also became affiliated with the organized labor movement working to secure jobs for African Americans in the city During this time ...

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Charles A. Gliozzo

civil rights activist and Chicago county commissioner, was born on a plantation in Greene County, North Carolina, the son of John Bromfield (occupation unknown), of German ancestry, and a free woman of color, whose last name was Jones (first name unknown). Because of the legal status of his parents, John Jones was considered a free person. His mother, fearing that his father might attempt to reduce Jones to slavery, apprenticed Jones to learn a trade. It was in Tennessee that he received training as a tailor.

In 1841, while working for a tailor in Memphis, Jones fell in love with Mary Jane Richardson, the daughter of a free blacksmith. The Richardsons moved to Alton, Illinois, and Jones remained in Memphis to complete his apprenticeship. At age twenty-seven, after saving about one hundred dollars, he went north to Alton and married Richardson in 1844 Little is known ...

Article

farmer, miller, the first elected public official of African American descent in the state of Virginia, and the first and only African American representative to the House of Delegates for Lancaster County. Nickens was born in Lancaster County, Virginia, the youngest child of Armistead Stokalas Nickens Sr. and Polly Weaver Nickens. Armistead Sr. and Polly were wed on 21 January 1819 in Lancaster County, Virginia, and had two other children, Robert V. Nickens and Judith A. Nickens. The Nickens family had been free since the late seventeenth century, and several members of that family served in the American Revolution. Armistead's maternal grandfather, Elijah Weaver, was also a seaman during the Revolution.

Home schooled as a youth Nickens was taught to read and write by his father and went on to further self study with books he purchased on his own Armistead lost his father as ...

Article

Francesco L. Nepa

newspaper publisher, municipal official, and politician, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Robert Pelham, a plasterer and mason, and Frances Butcher. The Pelhams were a prosperous free black family who at one time owned a farm in Petersburg, Virginia. They were forced to sell, however, because of the harassment of townspeople, who were probably jealous of the family's success. The need to leave Virginia became apparent when the Pelhams attempted to purchase a license for their pet dog but were turned down by local authorities, who claimed that only whites and slaves could purchase dog licenses. The family decided to head north, and around 1862, after brief stops in Columbus, Ohio, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Pelhams settled in Detroit shortly after Benjamin's birth.

Pelham attended Detroit public schools and the fashionable Barstow private school While still a student he became a newsboy ...

Article

Rose C. Thevenin

educator and scholar, was born in Baldwin City, Kansas. Little is known about his parents; his mother died when he was nine and he was raised by his three maternal uncles, Elbert, Giles, and Theodore Wright, and his grandparents. In 1928 Porter enrolled at Talladega College in Alabama with a major in chemistry and a minor in biology. Upon graduation, he became a teacher at Booker High School in Sarasota, Florida. After only four months at his teaching position, the institution closed due to financial woes, so Porter returned to college. He enrolled at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU). Upon graduation, he became principal of Tivoli Junior High School in Defuniak Springs, Florida.

Porter moved to New York during the 1930s and worked as a redcap at the New York Central Railroad Station He later moved to Michigan to pursue a master s degree in ...

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Benjamin R. Justesen

businessman, public official, and state legislator, was born in North Carolina, the oldest of at least six children born to Rev. George W. Price, Sr., and Eliza Price. The exact date and location of his birth are not certain, nor is his birth status as free or enslaved. Little is known of his early life or education before the Civil War, although unconfirmed accounts list him as a sailor in the Union navy during the conflict.

Price's father was a popular Methodist clergyman in Wilmington, North Carolina, a presiding elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church who abruptly left that denomination in 1871 for the newly formed Colored Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church, taking his Wilmington congregation and several other churches with him. As early as 1865 the younger Price had also moved to Wilmington where he served as an organizer of the ...

Article

elected county official and Macon, Georgia, civil rights leader, was born in Valdosta, Georgia, the fourth of six children of Harry and Carrie Randall. He was reared in Macon, where his father, formerly the Valdosta manager for the Afro-American Life Insurance Company, had returned to work for his own mother's grocery wholesale and retail business. William P. Randall graduated from Hudson High School and Beda Etta Business College in Macon before going to work as a carpenter. He worked for a large construction company but after World War II went into business with his brother, a bricklayer. Eventually he became one of the major black contractors in the Southeast, working on large-scale commercial and residential projects.

In an era when Jim Crow custom forced African Americans to step aside when a white approached on the sidewalk Randall s father taught him not to give way As ...

Article

David H. Anthony

Pullman porter, labor leader, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP) functionary, political organizer, and Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC) panelist, was born in Clarksville, Tennessee, in 1887, two years after the birth of Asa Philip Randolph, the visionary, charismatic, intellectual founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. As the first vice president of the BSCP, his public profile is linked to that of Randolph, the BSCP, and the struggle for civil rights.

Webster went to Chicago as a working youth; there he became a porter on the railroad. By 1925 he was serving as a bailiff in Cook County and a ward leader who established strategic ties to the black Republican establishment. His work and political associations soon proved decisive.

Webster's reach extended to the powerful black Republican politician Oscar De Priest as well as to present and past porters who respected him for ...

Article

Robert Fikes

politician and public administrator, was born in Weeletka, Oklahoma, the eldest son of the twelve children of Lloyd Williams, a laborer, and Elvira Lott. Williams moved with his impoverished family to Bakersfield, California, during the Great Depression in 1934. Soon after his graduation from Kern County Union High School in 1941, Williams settled in San Diego, California, where he found work as a mechanic's helper at the North Island Naval Air Station. In 1946 he married Dorothy Nisley. Williams enrolled in courses at San Diego City College in 1947 and, after completing military duty in the army air corps, became a full-time student at San Diego State College, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1950. As a college student, in 1947 and 1948 Williams along with some fellow black and white students under the direction and training of ...