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Kimberly A. Sisson

poet, clubwoman, and political activist, was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, the daughter of Mary Evans and Joshua T. Williams, whose occupation is now unknown. In 1870 the family moved to Columbus, Ohio, where Mary Evans opened a successful wig-making business that operated for over twenty years. Carrie Williams attended the first integrated school in Columbus; whether she pursued higher education is unknown, however it is known that during the 1880s she taught in Parkersburg, West Virginia.

In 1886, at the age of twenty-four, she married William H. Clifford, a two-term Republican state representative from Cleveland. They would have two sons. As part of the black middle class in Cleveland, Clifford and her husband socialized with other important black figures such as Charles W. Chesnutt and George A. Meyers. Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois made frequent appearances in Cleveland joining the Cliffords ...

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Connie Park Rice

educator and club woman, was born Coralie Franklin in Lexington, Virginia, a daughter of Albert Franklin and Mary E. (maiden name unknown). During or immediately after the Civil War the family moved to Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, where Coralie attended the Normal Department at Storer College, graduating in 1872. She continued her education at Storer and graduated from the Academic Department in 1880. A gifted elocutionist she was described by John Wesley Cromwell, on a visit to Harper's Ferry in 1877, as “an elocutionist of grace, skill and power” (Journal of Negro History, July 1923). Franklin went on to attend Emerson College in Boston, the Shoemaker School of Oratory in Philadelphia, and the Martha's Vineyard Summer Institute of Oratory in Massachusetts. Franklin then returned to West Virginia and her alma mater, where she taught elocution at Storer College from 1882 to 1893 ...

Article

Elizabeth L. Ihle

educator and suffragist, was born Minisarah J. Smith in Queens County, New York, the daughter of Sylvanus Smith and Ann Eliza Springsteel, farmers who were of mixed Native American, black, and white descent. Although Garnet's great-grandmother had established a school that her father attended, little is known about Garnet's own early schooling other than that she was taught by her father. However, she was a teacher's assistant at age fourteen with a salary of twenty dollars per year while she studied at various normal schools in the Queens County area. By 1854 Garnet (known as Sarah) was teaching in the private African Free School in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. In 1863 she became the first African American principal appointed by the New York Public School System, serving at the all-black P.S. 80 from her appointment until her retirement in 1900.

The annual closing exercises at Garnet ...

Article

Susan Knoke Rishworth

physician, civil rights and women's suffrage activist, settlement worker, and clubwoman, was born Verina Harris in Ohio, one of five children of Charlotte (Kitty) Stanly, a schoolteacher, and the Reverend W. D. Harris, a minister of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Her mother came from a family of North Carolina free blacks who had inherited slaves that they wished to emancipate in the North before the impending Civil War. Around 1850 the family moved to Ohio, where Kitty Stanly and her husband taught school. The year of Verina Harris's birth is given as 1865 in some sources, but most probably it was between 1853 and 1857. Little is known about her early life, but the family apparently moved south to Columbia, South Carolina, in 1870 while her father was serving in an AME ministry in various locations in South Carolina More information ...

Article

Alfreda S. James

a Philadelphia abolitionist, was the daughter of James Forten, a sailmaker and landlord, and Charlotte Forten, a homemaker. The senior Fortens had a total of nine children, and they used each birth to honor personal or financial benefactors. Harriet Davy, their third daughter, was no exception; her first and middle names came from two of her father's sail-making contacts. Weaving family matters with outside interests such as abolition and social reform became a recurring theme in Forten's life. She was directly involved in the abolition movement, created women's antislavery groups, and helped finance the vigilance committees—the informal organizations that provided food, shelter, and safe transport to slaves escaping southern masters and northern deputies.

However to define Forten s activities simply in terms of abolition overlooks a key part of her personal history and that of the antebellum community of free northern blacks Forten her sisters and ...

Article

Vivian Njeri Fisher

political and civil rights activist, suffragist, and feminist, was born free in Charleston, South Carolina. The second daughter born to William and Margarette Rollin, her family and friends called her Lottie. Her parents were among the elite free Charleston families of color. Very little is known about her mother except that she was a free person of color and probably from Saint Dominque. Her father was a descendant of a French family, the De Caradeucs, who were wealthy aristocrats who left Saint Dominque in 1792 and relocated to Charleston. The De Caradeucs became involved in the lumber trade and because of his family connections, William Rollin also entered the lumber business, amassing wealth, political power, valuable real estate, and a few slaves.

To ensure that his daughters, Frances Rollin (1845–1901), Charlotte Rollin (b. 1849), Kate Rollin (1851–1876), and Louisa Rollin ...

Article

Vivian Njeri Fisher

political and civil rights activist, suffragist, and educator, was born free in Charleston, South Carolina, as Katherine Euphrosyne Rollin, the third daughter of William Rollin, wood factor, and Margarette, housekeeper. Her mother's maiden name is unknown. Family and friends referred to her as Katie. Rollin and her parents were listed as mulatto in the 1850 U.S. census. Her parents wanted their four daughters to have a fine education. A law passed in 1834 in Charleston, however, “prohibited the maintenance of schools by and for free people of color and slaves.” As a result of this legislation, free blacks were forced to find other ways to educate their children (Holt, 53). Like her older sisters Frances Rollin and Charlotte Rollin Katie was privately tutored and she attended private schools in Charleston She also enrolled in secondary schools in Boston and in ...