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Ayesha Kanji

entrepreneur, author, and inspirational speaker, was born Wallace Amos Jr. in Tallahassee, Florida, to Ruby (maiden name unknown), a domestic worker, and Wallace Amos a laborer at the local gasoline plant Hard work discipline and religion were the cornerstones of Wally s strict childhood The Christian faith was important to his parents and they took him to church regularly By the age of eight Wally had learned all the books of the Bible In their tight knit black community Friday nights were reserved for community dinners where hearty southern fare was served fried chicken potato salad black eyed peas and collard greens Schooling options for black children were less abundant however so Ruby and several of her Methodist church members started a school which Wally began attending at age ten Wally s entrepreneurial spirit surfaced in his childhood when he started a roving shoeshine stand and ...

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Michael Adams

actor, director, and educator, was born Albert Cornelius Freeman Jr. in San Antonio, Texas, to Albert Cornelius Freeman and Lottie Brisette Coleman Freeman. His parents divorced when Freeman was nine, leaving him to shuttle between his mother in San Antonio and his father, a jazz pianist, in Columbus, Ohio. Freeman later said that he regretted never getting to know his father, who died in 1968.

Freeman entered Los Angeles City College in 1951, served in the U.S. Air Force from 1951 to 1954, and returned to college in 1954, studying theater, broadcasting, and speech. He made his stage debut in a 1954 Ebony Showcase Theatre production of Sidney Kingsley'sDetective Story. Freeman also studied acting in Los Angeles with Harold Clifton, Jeff Corey, and the legendary black actor Frank Silvera. In an interview with Ebony he joked ...

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Jane Brodsky Fitzpatrick

jazz musician and Tuskegee airman, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, to Arelethia and Percy Heath Sr. Heath was raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as well as in his parents' native North Carolina, and graduated from Williston High School in Wilmington. The Heaths were a musical family; his mother, a hairdresser, sang in a church choir, and his father, an automobile mechanic, was an amateur clarinetist. Heath studied violin as a child and sang in the church choir. Both of his younger brothers, Jimmy Heath and Albert “Tootie Heath,” were also well-known accomplished jazz musicians. During World War II, Heath volunteered for the army, but was rejected (which Heath attributed to racism). He was eventually drafted into the U.S. Army Air Corps and became a fighter pilot with the Tuskegee Airmen, an elite group of black fliers, from 1943 to 1945 He did not fly combat missions ...

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Lois Bellamy

baritone, choral conductor, and Tuskegee Airman, was born in New York City, the eighth of eleven children of Samuel Alexander Henderson of St. Kitts in the Caribbean and Ruth Rebecca Waites of Florence, South Carolina. Both of Ruth Henderson's grandmothers were slaves. Samuel Henderson worked for the New York City subway system, and Ruth was a piano teacher and a seamstress. Henderson said that his mother insisted that the children learn to play the piano or find somewhere else to live. His early education was in the New York City public schools.

In 1940 Henderson graduated from Stuyvesant High School in New York City Afterward he went to school at night to learn typing and stenography For one semester he attended Alabama State Teachers College in Montgomery Alabama against his mother s wishes The discrimination in Alabama was so intense that Henderson could not withstand it ...

Article

Willie Hobbs

visual artist and educator, was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Alyce and Edward Love, about whom little is known. After attending Manual Arts High School, Love, a baseball standout, was slated to be recruited by the San Francisco Giants. The U.S. Air Force proved more attractive to Love than baseball. While serving a five-year stint in the military that ultimately took him to Japan, Love became deeply influenced by Japanese culture. He also developed an affinity for the music of Charlie Parker and Miles Davis and the discourse of the Black Arts Movement, as well as a fascination with architectural design.

After an honorable discharge, Love earned a BFA in Sculpture in 1966 and an MFA in Design in 1967 from California State University Los Angeles A postgraduate fellowship to study humanities and fine arts at Uppsala University in Sweden soon followed While there ...

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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 ...

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James I. Deutsch

film actor and athlete, was born Woodrow Wilson Woolwine Strode in Los Angeles, the son of Baylous Strode, a brick mason whose mother was a Blackfoot Indian, and Rosa Norris Strode, whose ancestors included Cherokees. Because of his imposing size—6 feet 4 inches and 215 pounds at his peak—and his physical strength and coordination, Strode first achieved renown as an athlete. At Thomas Jefferson High School in Los Angeles, he earned honors in both football and track and field (shot put, high jump, high and low hurdles), which resulted in an athletic scholarship to the University of California at Los Angeles. However Strode's scholastic credentials were insufficient, so he first had to prove himself academically. Over the next two years he took special classes, while also training for the Decathlon event at the 1936 Olympic Games though he was not selected for the team He finally ...

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Shanteé Woodards

ventriloquist, radio personality, and emcee, was the oldest child born to Bertha and Arthur Takeall in Annapolis, Maryland. His father worked at the Navy Experimental Station, and his mother was a homemaker and community activist. Takeall was a sickly child who stuttered and developed rheumatic fever in the seventh grade. To regain strength from his illness, he ran track at Wiley H. Bates High School, the area's all-black school. He also learned ventriloquism to cope with his stutter. Takeall continued to participate in a variety of sports throughout his life and learned karate from U.S. Marine Corps gunning sergeant Howard George. By the time he was seventeen, Takeall had a black belt and gave lessons to others at the nearby white school, Annapolis High School, in 1964 He also held a variety of jobs including one as a cashier at Dairy Queen which was an ...

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Charlie T. Tomlinson

ventriloquist partnered by Lester, was born Willie Tyler in River Falls, Alabama, one of ten children (three sisters and six brothers) of James Otis Tyler and Georgia Tyler. His father worked at a Ford Motor Company plant just outside of Detroit. His mother stayed home to raise the children. Seeking better economic opportunities, the family moved to Detroit, Michigan, while Tyler was young. He grew up in on Adelaide Street around the city's Hastings Street neighborhood.

Tyler became interested in ventriloquism at the age of ten when he saw an advertisement for the Maher Home Study Ventriloquism Course on the back of a magazine With the help of a teacher he signed up for ventriloquism lessons Between delivering newspapers Tyler began performing at clubs variety shows and talent contests in Detroit Michigan At the age of thirteen a teacher helped Tyler purchase his first ventriloquist dummy out of a ...