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Mason R. Hazzard

police officer, civil rights activist, and litigant, was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, to Cicero B. Booker Sr., the first African American police officer in the town of Waterbury, and Addie Booker, a homemaker.

Booker attended and graduated from the local public schools before going on to further his education, earning an associate's degree in Police Science and Administration from Mattatuck Community College, now known as Naugatuck Valley Community College, in Waterbury in 1978. He also attended Western Connecticut State University. In 1955, at the age of seventeen, Booker enrolled in the US Marine Corps as a private, remaining on active duty for three years until he left the military in 1958 at the rank of corporal.

Booker then joined the police department in his hometown of Waterbury in 1961. He quickly ascended to the rank of patrol officer, but by 1985 his ...

Article

Brian Tong and Theodore Lin

retiring room attendant, activist, most renowned for winning the 1873 Supreme Court Case Railroad Company v. Brown, was born Katherine Brown in Virginia. There are many variations of her name; in some documents, she is referred to as “Catherine Brown,” “Katherine Brown,” “Kate Brown,” or “Kate Dodson.” In the New York Times article “Washington, Affairs at the National Capital,” her name appears as “Kate Dostie.” Very few records of Brown's life survive today; as a result, much of her childhood and personal life remains unknown.

Kate Brown's recorded personal life begins with her marriage to Jacob Dodson. Jacob Dodson had a colorful past. Born in 1825, Dodson was a freeman. He spent most of his early life as a servant for the Missouri senator Thomas Hart Benton, but in 1843 Dodson began to accompany John C. Fremont, son-in-law of Senator Benton ...

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Paul Finkelman

civil rights pioneer, lawyer, and educator, was born Ada Louis Sipuel in Chickasha, Oklahoma, the daughter of Travis B. Sipuel, a minister and later bishop of the Church of Christ in God, one of the largest black Pentecostal churches in the United States, and Martha Bell Smith, the child of a former slave. Her parents moved to Chickasaw, Oklahoma, shortly after the Tulsa race riot of 1921.Ada s brother Lemuel had initially planned to challenge the segregationist policies of the University of Oklahoma After returning from service in World War II however he went to Howard University Law School because he did not want to delay his career with protracted litigation Ada who was younger and had been in college during the war was willing to delay her legal career for the opportunity to challenge segregation She entered Arkansas A M College on ...

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Paul Finkelman

Fisher, Ada Lois Sipuel (08 February 1924–18 October 1995), civil rights pioneer, lawyer, and educator, was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma, the daughter of Travis B. Sipuel, a minister and later bishop of the Church of Christ in God, one of the largest black Pentecostal churches in the United States, and Martha Bell Smith, the child of a former slave. Her parents moved to Chickasaw, Oklahoma, shortly after the Tulsa race riot of 1921.

Her brother Lemuel had initially planned to challenge the segregationist policies of the University of Oklahoma After returning from service in World War II he went to Howard University Law School instead because he did not want to delay his career with protracted litigation Ada who was younger and had been in college during the war was willing to delay her legal career for the opportunity to challenge segregation She entered Arkansas A M ...

Article

Paul Finkelman

The daughter of a minister, Ada Lois Sipuel was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma. Her brother had planned to challenge the segregationist policies of the University of Oklahoma but instead went to Howard University Law School, in part because he did not want to delay his career, having already been delayed by serving in World War II. Ada, who was younger and who had been in college during the war, was willing to delay her legal career in order to challenge segregation.

In 1946 Fisher applied for admission to the University of Oklahoma Law School but was denied because of her race. A lengthy court battle ensued. In 1948 the Supreme Court ruled that the state of Oklahoma must provide instruction for blacks equal to that given whites Unfortunately since this decision did not invalidate segregated education the regents created the Langston University School of Law located at the ...

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Kristal L. Enter

activist and lawyer, was born in Leesburg, Florida, and graduated from high school in 1930. He then attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, but soon left because of the hardships of the Great Depression. Hawkins married Ida (maiden name unknown) and returned to Florida to sell insurance, and sometimes took on teaching positions. Hawkins was later a resident of Daytona Beach, Florida, and received his bachelor's degree from Bethune-Cookman College in 1952.

Seeking a law degree, Hawkins applied to, and was rejected from, the University of Florida Law School. At this time, the University of Florida in Gainesville, like other Southern universities, was segregated and barred African Americans from being admitted. After his application was rejected, Hawkins then filed a lawsuit against the law school in 1949 along with five other black applicants with the help of the attorneys of the National Association for the Advancement of ...

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Nicole S. Ribianszky

free woman of color, property holder, and washerwoman, was born into slavery in Natchez, Mississippi. The exact date of her birth is not now known. She was born to an enslaved woman, Hannah Frey, and to J. S. Miller, a white planter who lived outside of Natchez near the small town of Washington. Mrs. Margaret Overaker, a white woman, and her husband, George, owned Leiper and her mother. While Leiper was still a young girl, her mother was manumitted, but Leiper herself remained enslaved. Sometime around 1831, when Leiper was approximately twenty or twenty-one, she was freed, reportedly at the insistence of her father, who paid her owner $300. In 1834 or thereabouts, following the instructions of her white father, she was taken by boat up the Mississippi River to Cincinnati, Ohio, in the footsteps of her mother.

As was the case with ...

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Linda W. Reese

educator and civil rights pioneer, is a person about whom. Little is known prior to his residence in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1942. He earned a bachelor's degree from Langston University and in 1943, a master's degree in Education from the University of Kansas. Throughout his career McLaurin taught education courses at Langston University, Oklahoma's segregated institution of higher education for African Americans. McLaurin and his wife, Peninah, placed a high value on education. Peninah also graduated from Langston, taught there, and operated a bookstore out of their home. In 1923 she applied for admission for a graduate degree at the University of Oklahoma and was rejected because of her race. However, Peninah and all three of their children, Dunbar, J. C., and Phyllis completed master s degrees McLaurin s sons Dunbar and J C completed doctorates after their military service during World War ...

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David Brodnax

slave and civil rights litigant, was born Rafe Nelson in Virginia and renamed after his master in infancy; nothing is known about his parents. In 1834 Montgomery, then a slave in Marion County, Missouri, heard stories of fortunes to be made in the lead mines of Dubuque, a rough frontier village of about two thousand people located on the upper Mississippi River in the Iowa Territory. Montgomery's sister Tilda was already living in Dubuque, where she was one of seventy-two other African Americans and sixteen slaves recorded in the county in the 1840 census, although slavery was illegal in Iowa. Ralph and his master Jordan Montgomery drew up an agreement allowing him to work in the mines for five years, after which he would pay $550 for his freedom; he may have hoped to purchase his sister's freedom as well.

When the five year period ended Montgomery had barely ...

Article

Connie L. McNeely

physician and civil rights activist, was born in Marshall, Texas, the son of Charles Nixon, chief steward of a private railroad car owned by the general manager of what was then the Texas and Pacific Railroad. When the private car was moved in 1886, the Nixon family followed it to New Orleans, where Charles Nixon was able to send his four children to private school, providing them with a better education than was available in the substandard public schools reserved for black children. When the family returned to Marshall in 1892, Lawrence's schooling continued through Wiley College, the oldest historically black college west of the Mississippi River, where he completed his undergraduate education.

Nixon worked at various jobs while obtaining his education, but began to fulfill his true professional dreams in 1902 when he entered Meharry Medical College in Nashville Tennessee Earning his medical degree ...

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Donald Yacovone

abolitionist, printer, journalist, and civil rights litigant, was born in the heart of Boston's black community on Beacon Hill, the second of Sarah Easton Roberts and Robert Roberts's twelve children. Both parents were active abolitionists—his mother was the daughter of James Easton, the successful black Massachusetts businessman and reformer, and his father was an author and household manager for the elite white families of Christopher Gore and Nathaniel Appleton. Roberts's father had been born in Charleston, South Carolina; he moved to Boston in-1805 and married in 1813. His second son, named-for the famed Benjamin Franklin, reflected the family's commitment to the principles of the American Revolution and foretold his career as a printer.

As a young man Roberts became a shoemaker s apprentice but after completing his training whites refused to hire him They refused I suppose merely on account of ...

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Alfred L. Brophy

businessman, lawyer, and civil rights litigant, was born John the Baptist (“J. B.”) Stradford (also sometimes spelled “Stratford”) probably in slavery at Versailles, Kentucky, the son of Julius Caesar Stradford. Little is known about Stradford's childhood. He studied at Oberlin College from 1882 to 1885 and Indianapolis Law School (later Indiana University–Indianapolis. He married Augusta, and they lived in Lawrenceberg, Kansas, among other places, before moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1899. Stradford owned and operated a rooming house, the Stradford Hotel, in Greenwood, the black section of Tulsa. Like other leaders of the Greenwood community (including fellow lawyers A.-J. Smitherman and Buck Colbert Franklin, the father of John Hope Franklin), Smitherman was concerned with aggressively preventing lynching and other violence. In 1909 Stradford challenged Oklahoma s statute that permitted unequal treatment on segregated railroad cars The statute permitted railroads to provide ...

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John R. Howard

civil rights plaintiff and social worker, was born in Houston, Texas, to James Leonard Sweatt and Ella Rose (Perry) Sweatt, whose occupations are unknown. Sixteen years before Heman's birth the United States Supreme Court had held in Plessy v. Ferguson that state-imposed racial segregation did not offend the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and hence the Texas in which Sweatt grew up was rigidly segregated. He attended the all-black Jack Yates High School, graduating in 1930, and went from there to the all-black Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, graduating in 1934.

The decade following his graduation from college saw Sweatt trying to find himself. He taught in a public school for a couple of years and then in 1937 entered the University of Michigan matriculating in biology in hopes of attending medical school He left after a year returned to Houston took a ...

Article

Travis Boyce and Winsome Chunnu-Brayda

attorney, symbolic legal figure, pastor, was born John Howard Wrighten to Rosa Wrighten on 10 July 1921 in Edisto Island, South Carolina. While Wrighten grew up living “fairly well” with both parents along with his siblings, little is known of his father (Baker, p. 64). According to the 1930 federal manuscript census, Wrighten's father was not listed, and his mother was listed as a widow. Wrighten attended Central Elementary School between 1929 and 1934. He was encouraged to pursue secondary education past the seventh grade when public support for African American education ended. Many African Americans in the lowcountry area moved to Charleston to enroll at the all-black Burke Industrial School. Wrighten, however, managed to save money for tuition and attend Avery Normal Institute in Charleston. Organized in 1865 Avery Normal Institute was the first African American accredited school in Charleston Initially serving the prominent African ...