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Charles Rosenberg

businessman and journalist, was born in Richmond, Wayne County, Indiana, the son of Green H. Brascher and Rosa Lynn (Weeks) Brascher. His father was a tinsmith who was born, like his parents, in North Carolina; he moved north with returning Union soldiers in 1865. His mother was born, like her parents, in Virginia; the family moved to Zanesville, Ohio, when she was a child. His sister, Lavinia, born in 1885, later married the Indiana civic leader James La Rue.

When Brascher was an infant, his family moved to Connersville, Indiana, where he graduated from the local high school. In 1899 Brascher took a course in administration at Meredith Business College in Zanesville. He was the first colored person to graduate from both institutions. After taking a course at Chautauqua, New York, he arrived in Cleveland in August 1901 and launched his own private commercial institute Brascher Ellis School ...

Article

labor leader and human rights activist, was the fourth of five children born in Seattle, Washington, to Susie Sumner Revels Cayton, a newspaper editor and community activist, and Horace Roscoe Cayton Sr., a journalist and publisher of the Seattle Republican. He was named after his grandfather, Hiram Revels (1827–1901), the first U.S. senator of African descent (1870–1871). Revels's brother Horace Cayton Jr. became a prominent sociologist.

Unlike his father who detested and distrusted labor unions because of their record of racially discriminatory practices Revels became involved with the labor movement early in his life in the belief that unions offered all workers the best chance to better their condition He rose through the union ranks and was at one time secretary treasurer of the Bay Area District Council of the Maritime Union of the Pacific He also joined the Communist Party and wrote ...

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Benjamin R. Justesen

carpenter, merchant, public official, and legislator, was born in Beaufort County, near Washington, North Carolina, of unnamed parents, probably free. Little is known of his early life or education, only that he was both free and literate when he moved to Tarboro, the Edgecombe County seat, in 1860, according to that year's federal census.

Within just a decade of his arrival in Tarboro, the mixed-race carpenter acquired significant social standing, a comfortable income, and political influence at both the local and state levels in the state's new Republican Party. Cherry's marriage in March 1861 to Mary Ann Jones (b. 1837) secured his place in the social ranks of the largely African American town. The daughter of a white Edgecombe planter and his free mistress, Miss Jones was the owner of her own house and a respected church leader The rest of her husband s achievements came ...

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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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Paul Stillwell

pioneer black naval officer, was born in Washington, North Carolina, the eighth of eleven children of Edward L. Cooper, a sheet metal worker, and Laura J. Cooper a homemaker One of the eleven siblings died in infancy the remaining ten became college graduates During his upbringing in North Carolina Cooper often faced the tribulations of southern racism He went to segregated schools and learned from his parents that he had to go out of his way to avoid conflict with whites Once when Cooper was eight or nine years old he got into a fight with a white boy As he put it It was the wrong day for him to call me a nigger and we had it out Stillwell 76 Cooper s father had to smooth things over with the boy s father to avoid the incident s escalation When he worked as a bellhop in ...

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Marcus Shepard

lawyer, businessman, civil rights leader, and Chicago alderman, was born in Canton, Mississippi, to Edward Dickerson and Emma Garrett Fielding. Earl Dickerson's maternal grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Garrett, bought his freedom in the 1850s and owned a livery stable as well as several other properties in Canton. His business was destroyed during the Civil War, however, and by the time Earl was born the family lived in relative poverty. Edward Dickerson, who worked away from home as an upholsterer, died when Earl was five and he was raised by his mother, who did laundry for local whites, his paternal half-sister, and his maternal grandmother, who ran a small boarding house in Canton.

In 1906 Dickerson was sent to live with relatives in New Orleans where he attended the preparatory school of New Orleans University Unfortunately family finances forced him to return to Canton ...

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James Edward Ford

city commissioner, entrepreneur, state representative, and prison reformer, was born a slave in Washington, North Carolina. Little information has been found concerning his early life and his parents. But it is agreed that Ellison was apprenticed to a local carpenter at a young age. By 1852 Stewart was working in Raleigh, North Carolina, on commercial construction projects. There is little information on his life during the Civil War. However, after the war he did open a grocery store, continued his work in construction, and became a building contractor, working with the Freedmen's Bureau to erect facilities for the newly freed men and women of Raleigh. Ellison occasionally attended night school, but he was mainly self-educated.

Ellison's political career began in the late 1860s when opportunities for blacks were opened up by Reconstruction. In early October 1866 he attended the State Equal Rights League Convention of ...

Article

Laura Arata

and alderman of Knoxville, Tennessee, was born in Tennessee. Almost nothing is known of his early life. By 1850 and likely much earlier he was owned by Nathan Gammon a prominent white resident of Jonesboro in Washington County in far east Tennessee who was among the region s largest slaveholders Some significant details about Isaac s life can be gleaned through knowledge of Nathan Gammon s treatment of him Isaac attended Jonesboro Presbyterian Church and appears sporadically in their records as a member It also appears that Isaac Gammon was allowed to perform independent work and keep wages earned from it in addition to keeping house at least part of the time with a free black woman named Nancy Jones Arata forthcoming Both keeping wages and keeping company with free blacks were illegal in antebellum Tennessee but Nathan Gammon seems to have been content to ignore the law as ...

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Sheila Gregory Thomas

teacher, politician, and businessman, was born in Austin, Texas. His mother, Eliza, a slave of mixed race, was owned by John Hancock, a lawyer, judge, state legislator, and U.S. congressman whom Hugh knew to be his father. When he was five years of age and the Civil War was threatening, Hugh and his mother were sent by John Hancock to Oberlin, Ohio, a thriving community of whites and free blacks. This not only placed them in a safe environment but also guaranteed Hancock an education, as Oberlin College and its preparatory department welcomed all. For younger children there was the village elementary school.

Hancock was one of many offspring of white fathers and former slaves for whom Oberlin was a safe haven from the hostilities and limitations of life in the South Black residents of Oberlin in the 1800s included entrepreneurs teachers and elected officials ...

Article

Jeannette Elizabeth Brown

chemist, patent attorney, and legislator, was born Esther Arvilla Harrison in Stamford, Connecticut, the only daughter of George Burgess Harrison and Esther Smalls Harrison Her father was a chauffeur and custodian at a church and her mother worked in domestic service Neither of her parents had an advanced education her father had some high school education and her mother attended only primary school She started school at the same time as her older brother having tested into kindergarten at the age of three and a half She and her brother continued to go to school together through elementary school In high school Esther was on the pre college track taking all the science courses available to her She had determined to become a brain surgeon after meeting a female brain surgeon in one of the offices her father cleaned She was impressed by this woman and ...

Article

Luke Nichter

dentist, politician, and Negro Baseball League officer, was born in Memphis, Tennessee. A member of a prominent Memphis family with four brothers who all played roles in baseball in that city and beyond, John B. Martin, a dentist, was a co-owner and a club officer of the Memphis Red Sox and the Chicago American Giants. He also served as the president of three different leagues: the Negro Southern League (NSL), the Negro American League (NAL), and the Negro Dixie League.

Together with his brother, B. B. Martin, also a dentist, John B. Martin took over the Memphis Red Sox in the late 1920s from funeral director Robert S. Lewis and built a ballpark they called Martin Stadium Martin also owned a hotel next to the park and operated the concession stand Beyond baseball Martin also served the community as a pharmacist dentist real estate ...

Article

Nick J. Sciullo

realtor, prominent citizen, and bureaucrat. Whitefield McKinlay was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of George and Mary E. Weston McKinlay. He studied at the Avery Institute, Charleston's first free secondary school for African Americans. He continued his education at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the University of South Carolina, and Iowa College in Grinnell, Iowa. At West Point he suffered continued hardship from classmates and staff and was finally physically disqualified from the school. When conservatives took over South Carolina in 1876, black students were forced to leave the University of South Carolina. McKinlay was a member of the Brown Fellowship Society, which was founded in 1790 to provide education, insurance, and a cemetery to its elite membership roster.

In 1887 McKinlay married Kate Wheeler The family moved to Washington D C when conditions in South Carolina deteriorated McKinlay and Wheeler had two ...

Article

Loren Schweninger

businessman, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of George McKinlay and Mary E. Weston. His father, a free black man, had purchased a house on Meeting Street in Charleston in 1848; his grandfather, Anthony Weston, was a well-known mixed-race millwright and slave owner in antebellum South Carolina. After the Civil War McKinlay studied at Avery Institute in Charleston, and in 1874 he enrolled at the University of South Carolina, where he remained for three years, until blacks were excluded after the Democrats came to power. After teaching school in South Carolina, he matriculated at Iowa College in Grinnell, Iowa, where he remained until 1881. By the age of twenty-nine, McKinlay could boast of a very strong education.

Although the profession of teaching was open to a person of his talents McKinlay moved to Washington D C and found a job in the Government ...

Article

Jane Brodsky Fitzpatrick

civil rights activist, first African American to serve on the Miami City Commission, and first since Reconstruction to head a state agency, was born Mary Athalie Wilkinson in Key West, Florida, to Edward L. Wilkinson, a cigar factory and loading dock foreman, and Grace Shultz.

Range's family moved to Miami around 1921. She graduated from Booker T. Washington Senior High School in Overtown, a historically black town established when blacks were not allowed to live in segregated Miami. During World War II, she worked picking up trash from railroad cars. In 1937 she married Oscar Range. A certified funeral director, he opened the Range Funeral Home in Miami in 1953. They had four children.

When her husband died of a heart attack in 1960 Athalie Range enrolled in the New England Institute of Anatomy Sanitary Science and Embalming Boston Massachusetts where she earned her ...

Article

Wendy Plotkin

the son of Robert Robinson Taylor and Beatrice Rochon Taylor. The senior Taylor, in a forty-year career starting in 1893, rose to become Tuskegee Institute’s chief architect and planner, designing most of the school’s academic and other buildings, while also serving as director of the mechanical industries program. He was also the first African American to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he received a bachelor of science in Architecture in 1892. Robert Rochon Taylor attended Tuskegee public schools and the Tuskegee Institute, the latter for a building course, constructing a rural school as a project. He studied architecture at Howard University from 1916–1919, but terminated his studies to manage an Opelika, Alabama sawmill designed by his father. In 1922 he resumed his education at the predominantly white University of Illinois (in Urbana), where, in 1925 he received a B S degree in business administration ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

a prominent attorney in northern California's east bay, was born in Oakland, California, the oldest son of Wilson and Malinda Anderson Vaughns. Wilson Vaughns, whose name is sometimes listed as William, a porter and later janitor in a drug store, was born in Virginia, and Malinda Vaughns in California. George Vaughns had two older sisters, Dora and Emma, and two younger brothers, William and James. There is no record that Malinda Vaughns ever worked outside the home.

In 1918, Vaughns held a job as laborer at the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Co., still living with his parents at 2049 Market Street in Oakland. By 1920 he had a job as janitor of a department store. In 1924 he registered to vote at 1039 Folger Ave., Berkeley, listing his occupation as clerk, and his party as Republican. Four years later his mother, and sister Dora ...