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Caroline M. Brown

aviation mechanic and pilot, was born in Quitman, Wood County, Texas, the youngest of three children; both of his parents were teachers. Allen's father died when Thomas was three months old. His mother, Polly, continued to teach school and to run the family farm.

Allen became interested in flying in 1918, when an airplane made a forced landing in a pasture. The pilots paid the two young Allen brothers to guard the plane overnight so that its fabric and glue would not be eaten by cows. From this experience, Thomas Allen decided to become either an aviator or a mechanic.

In 1919 when Allen was twelve the family moved to Oklahoma City where his mother resumed teaching school Allen often bicycled to a nearby airfield In his teens he persuaded the field owner to take a $100 saxophone as partial trade for flying lessons He worked off the ...

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Samuel W. Black

stationary engineer, labor union president, was born John Lincoln Black in Burgin, Kentucky, the second child of Robert Lincoln Black, a laborer, and Bertha Ann Ball Boggs Black. After his birth the Black family moved to Keene, Kentucky, to live with John's paternal grandmother. Within a few years Bertha Black became ill with tuberculosis and sickle cell anemia, so young John was sent to live with his father's relatives while his older sister and younger brother remained with the family. After the death of his mother in 1934 Black continued to live with his great‐aunt Martha while his two siblings, Anna Mae and Wallace, lived with their paternal grandmother. After the death of his great‐aunt, John moved to Cincinnati and joined his father, stepmother, and siblings. John Black attended the Cincinnati public schools—the all‐black Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School founded by Jennie Porter Bloom Junior High and ...

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Jason Philip Miller

astronaut and pilot, was born Benjamin Alvin Drew Jr. into a middle-class home in Washington, D.C., to Muriel and Benjamin Drew Sr. Drew attended local schools and one day in class was inspired by viewing the launch of Apollo 7 (1968), the first manned space flight after the Apollo 1 disaster (1967) killed all three members of the crew. Drew later reported that from that day on, the path of his life was set. Everything he did in his education was aimed at flying in outer space. That was no simple goal. Applicants to the astronaut-training program of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) were legion, but NASA selected only a tiny fraction of them to participate. The number of successful African American applicants was fewer still.

Drew graduated from Gonzaga College High School in 1980 and from there he matriculated in the U ...

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Jeffrey R. Yost

chemist, was born in Elgin, Illinois, to Augustus Hall, a Baptist minister, and Isabel Hall. In the 1830s his paternal grandfather had been a founding member and later pastor of the first African American church in Chicago, Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal (AME). Hall developed an interest in chemistry while attending East High School in Aurora, Illinois, where he was a debater and athlete, competing in football, baseball, and track.

After receiving a number of scholarship offers, Hall chose to attend Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He graduated with a BS in Chemistry in 1916 He continued his studies in chemistry taking graduate courses at the University of Chicago During World War I he served in ordnance as a lieutenant working on explosives in a Wisconsin weapons factory He suffered from racial harassment at this factory and requested and was granted a transfer after which things improved ...

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James Bethea

inventor and educator, was born in Macon, Missouri, to Philip Alexander Hubbard, a draftsman, and Rosa Belle (Wallace) Hubbard, a teacher who later worked as an elevator operator and freelance dressmaker. Hubbard's parents selected his middle name in recognition of Warren Gamaliel Harding's inauguration as U S president on the day he was born Hubbard s father died eighteen days after he was born and his mother was left to care for him and his three brothers The family was close knit and Hubbard and his siblings were cared for by relatives while his mother taught school When he was four years old his mother sacrificed her teaching career and moved the family to Des Moines Iowa in hopes of better educational opportunities for her sons An avid reader from an early age Hubbard thrived at Nash Elementary School where he won a spelling bee competition ...

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Charles Rosenberg

a self-taught mechanical genius, best known for inventing the refrigeration system used in long-haul trucking and rail shipment (under the Thermo King label), held over forty patents, including the first feasible two-cycle gas engine. He was most likely born in Ohio, in the vicinity of Cincinnati, but may have lived in West Covington, Kentucky, as well. There is little documentation for his life prior to arrival in Hallock, Minnesota, on Christmas Eve 1912. By appearance and social experience he was African American; his death certificate describes him as “Indian and Negro.” For the rest of his life he called Hallock home, and Hallock followed the career of its beloved favorite son with affectionate pride.

Knowledge of his childhood comes from brief remarks Jones made to news writers and recollections shared with friends in Minnesota His mother either died or abandoned him when he was very young He recalled ...

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Ian Jones

African‐American scientist and inventor who worked in Britain. Lewis Latimer's parents were Rebecca and George Latimer, fugitive slaves from Virginia who gained their liberty in the free state of Massachusetts, where Lewis was born. Lewis served in the American Civil War (1861–5), after which he worked as an office boy in a patent law firm. His employers soon recognized his talent for drawing and made him head draughtsman. He married Mary Wilson (1848–1937) in 1873 and wrote a poem for his wedding, which he later published in his collection Poems of Love and Life.

When he was 25, Lewis invented an improved toilet for railway carriages, and in 1876Alexander Graham Bell hired him to produce the drawings he needed to patent the telephone. Lewis was later headhunted by the US Electric Lighting Company, and in 1882 was awarded a patent for a ...

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Jason Philip Miller

astronaut and military pilot, was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, one of two children of Deems and Grace Melvin, both middle-school teachers. He attended the local Heritage High School, where he was a strong student and an outstanding athlete. Melvin set his sights on a career in the National Football League, and when he graduated from high school in 1982, he matriculated at the University of Richmond on a football scholarship.

As a wide receiver for the Richmond Spiders, Melvin set a number of school records, including one for number of receptions, some of which continue to stand as of this writing. In his senior year, he was named National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I All-American. He graduated from Richmond in 1986 with a bachelor's degree in chemistry. He entered the National Football League draft and was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1986 but a hamstring injury in ...

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Lisa M. Bratton

instructor pilot for the Tuskegee Airmen, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Adolph J. Moret Sr., a printer, and Georgianna Perez. Moret grew up in an integrated neighborhood in the Creole community in New Orleans's Seventh Ward, but he attended segregated schools and used segregated public transportation. He attended Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and Xavier Prep Catholic schools in New Orleans. As a pole vaulter in high school, Moret won a bronze medal at the Tuskegee Ninth Relays at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in 1935.

From 1935 to 1937 Moret attended Xavier University in New Orleans After completing nearly two years of college Moret found employment as a spotter at the Pinkerton Detective Agency the leading agency at that time His primary responsibility was to observe bus drivers to ensure that they placed fares in the designated receptacle This was an uncommon position for ...

Article

Russell H. Davis

George Peake, whose name was variably spelled Peek and Peak, was a native of Maryland. After living in Pennsylvania, he became the first permanent black settler in Cleveland, Ohio. He was a British soldier in the French and Indian War (1752–1763) and served at the battle of Québec under General James Wolfe. He was later reported to be a deserter from the British army with money entrusted to him to pay the soldiers.

Peake's residence in Cleveland dates from 1809 when he arrived with his family He bought a forty hectare 100 acre farm on the western outskirts of the city Along with his four sons he was remembered for giving to the community a highly prized labor saving device a new type of hand mill that he invented Prior to this mill grain was processed with a rather crude instrument called a stump mortar and ...

Article

Trevor Hall

was born in Lisbon in mid-fifteenth century. His father João Pereira was from a distinguished Portuguese family. Not much is known about his early life. His earliest biographical information dates to 1471, when he was a soldier in the Portuguese army that capture captured Arzila, in Muslim Morocco. Pereira’s reason for renown is that he was the governor of the Portuguese-built Elmina fortress, on the Gold Coast of modern-day Ghana in 1482. He was the first Portuguese to sail to West Africa and write a long narrative about Portuguese maritime trade in West Africa, from the Sahara to the Congo and beyond. His Esmeraldo de Situ Orbis (1508) was translated into English by the Hakluyt Society.

Pereira was an exceptional cartographer who mapped the West African coast from Morocco to South Africa. He provided data on Atlantic winds, currents and tides, and wrote roteiro Portuguese ...

Article

Alice Eley Jones

carpenter, statesman, and inventor, was born free in Bertie County, North Carolina, the eldest son of John A. Robbins, a farmer and carpenter, and Mary Robbins. Robbins hailed from a family and community of mixed-race, free black, and Chowanoke background in the counties of Bertie, Gates, and Hertford in northeastern North Carolina. The Algonquian-speaking Chowanokes lived on the west bank of the Chowan River that bears their name in northeastern North Carolina. Governor Ralph Lane was impressed by their villages in a 1585 Roanoke Island expedition. Parker's grandfather John Robbins was one of the chief men of the Chowanokes in 1790.

War and disease greatly reduced the Chowanoke population, and by 1790 during a sale of Chowanoke land it was reported whether falsely or not is unknown that the Chowanoke men had all died and the remaining women had intermarried with several free ...

Article

Charles W. Jr. Carey

astrophysicist, was born in Youngstown, Ohio. His father owned and operated an auto repair shop and his mother was a homemaker. After finishing high school in 1944, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and sent to study engineering at Howard University, Penn State University, and New York University. Discharged in 1946 without a degree, he worked as an engineering draftsman before entering Case Institute of Technology (later Case-Western Reserve University) in Cleveland, where he received a BS in Physics in 1951. He then entered the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and became a research assistant to Carl D. Anderson, who won the 1936 Nobel Prize in physics for discovering the positron a subatomic particle with the same mass as an electron but with a positive charge Anderson had made his discovery in a cloud chamber a closed vessel filled with supersaturated steam through which ...

Article

Jason Philip Miller

astronaut, was born Winston Elliott Scott in Miami, Florida, to Rubye Scott (maiden name unknown) and Alston Scott. Information about his parents is difficult to come by. What is known is that Scott attended local schools and was a gifted student, showing a particular interest in music. He graduated from Coral Gables High School in 1968 and matriculated at Florida State University, from which he earned a bachelor's degree in music in 1972. After graduation Scott's career plans changed, however, and he applied for and was accepted into the Naval Aviation Officer Candidate School with the goal of becoming a pilot.

Two years later, in 1974 Scott earned his helicopter wings and went on to serve with the Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Light 33 unit in northern California Four years later he enrolled in the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey California and earned a master s degree in aeronautical ...

Article

J. Todd Moye

aviation pioneer, was born and raised in Lynchburg, Virginia, the son of Edward Alexander Spencer, a postman and real estate developer, and Anne Bethel (Scales) Spencer, a teacher, librarian, and writer. Anne Spencer was an important, if now little known, poet and editor associated with the Harlem Renaissance and the NAACP. Her Lynchburg home and legendary garden became a way station for eminent blacks traveling between the North and the Deep South at a time when hotel facilities for African Americans were few and far between. From a young age Chauncey Spencer was used to rubbing elbows with celebrities. The likes of W. E. B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, and Adam Clayton Powell Sr. were guests in the Spencer home during his youth. “Of all of them, I think I was most impressed by Paul ...

Article

Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born Archie Franklin Williams in Oakland, California, the oldest of three children of Wadsworth R. Williams and Lillian Wall Williams. His father worked at the United States mint and died in 1925; his mother worked as a housekeeper and cook. Educated in the Oakland public school system, Williams attended Cole and Peralto elementary schools, Claremont and Edison junior high schools, and University Senior High School. After graduating high school in 1933, Williams entered San Mateo Junior College, completed the two-year degree in one year, and transferred to the University of California Berkeley in 1934.

Beginning in high school Williams participated in track and field, primarily as a quarter-miler, competing in the 440-yard dash and the 4 × 440-yard relay. He began the 1936 track season at UCB with a personal best time of 49 7 seconds in the 440 At the Pacific Coast Conference Championship ...

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Mary A. Waalkes

civil rights activist, was born in Attapulgus, Georgia, to an unwed teenage mother who died while Williams was still a child. Raised in poverty by his grandparents, Williams left home at age fourteen and wandered for a period of time before joining the army to serve during World War II. Returning as a wounded veteran, he endured further physical assault at the hands of Georgia whites who severely beat him for drinking from a water fountain.

Using his veteran's benefits, Williams gained a master's degree in Chemistry from Atlanta University and worked until 1963 for the Department of Agriculture in Savannah, Georgia. Williams married Juanita Terry and settled into a middle-class lifestyle. Anguish at not being able to purchase sodas for his sons in a drugstore provided the emotional trigger that launched Williams into civil rights activism in the 1950s.

Williams maintained his job with the Department of Agriculture ...

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Joann Buckley

then part of the Danish Virgin Islands, to William Wilson and Charlotte Petersen. His mother died when he was only five years old. He was the last of eight children and was raised by his older sister Alice, a dressmaker. His early education was at Danish schools in Frederiksted, St. Croix. In 1905 he emigrated to the United States and lived with older siblings in the New York area. He was one of four black graduates of Jersey City High School in 1910. He had the highest grade point average in his class—93.84 percent.

In 1910 Wilson was accepted into a special program that enabled students to complete their A.B. at Columbia College in New York City and medical degrees at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in six years. After graduating in 1916 he obtained a one year internship at Freedman s Hospital in Washington DC When ...