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David Dabydeen

Africanservant who served and died in Henbury, Bristol. Africanus was the servant of Charles William, Earl of Suffolk and Bindon. The Earl married into the Astry family of Henbury House. Africanus, who was named after an ancient Roman general, was a symbol of their wealth. He, like other servants of African origin who worked in aristocratic homes, was a novelty who, besides doing domestic chores, also functioned as a showpiece for wealthy guests.

In the 18th century thousands of male and female slaves arrived in Britain to become servants of the rich minority They mainly came from the New World rather than directly from Africa The common erroneous belief was that Bristol slavers brought Africans back and kept them chained in the Redcliff caves before shipping them across the Atlantic The truth was that most African slaves were part of the triangular trade being transported from ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Revolutionary War sailor, is known for his service on the Continental navy sloop Ranger under Captain John Paul Jones. A story passing as truth has been written about Scipio Africanus stating that he was a slave owned by Jones and accompanied him on the ships he commanded. In fact virtually nothing is known about Africanus except for the fact that he was a free man when he enlisted to serve on board the eighteen-gun Ranger for one year while she was building at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, sometime between March and July 1777.

While we know little about Scipio Africanus the man some guesses as to his servitude and character may be ventured That he was a slave prior to his naval service as suggested by his first name is likely Classical Roman names such as Scipio Cato and Caesar were commonly given at birth by owners to slaves ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

sailor, was one of eight African American seamen to earn the Medal of Honor during the Civil War. Likely in his early twenties when he enlisted as a landsman (for which he was tasked with the simplest sail-handling and duties like manning the yardarm) in the Union navy from Pennsylvania, Anderson was probably born a free black and, because he was rated a landsman, had little or no prior seafaring experience.

Though few details of Aaron Anderson's military service are known, and virtually nothing of his private life, his exemplary service nonetheless serves to highlight the importance of the African American contribution to the Union navy in what was, up to that time, the nation's bloodiest war. Along with such men as Joachim Pease, Robert Smalls, and John Lawson, Aaron Anderson was one of approximately eighteen thousand African Americans eleven of them women to serve ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

United States Navy enlisted man, Spanish‐American War combatant, and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Brunswick, Virginia. Though nothing is known of his early life, it is likely that he was born to parents who had been formerly enslaved and who gained their freedom during the Civil War years. Perhaps because of his childhood proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the major naval base at Norfolk, Virginia, Daniel Atkins joined the United States Navy around 1886.

The navy that Atkins joined in the 1880s was one in which opportunities for African Americans were steadily declining. In the years between the American Revolution and the close of the Civil War, black sailors served in a variety of shipboard posts, rated anywhere from cabin boy, cook, and steward to such higher positions as able‐bodied seaman and gunner. In 1842 Senator John C. Calhoun attempted to have blacks banned from ...

Article

Susan Richardson-Sanabria

musician, composer, educator, priest, and artist, was born James Hawthorne in Yamassee, South Carolina, to Mary Hugee and Roland Hawthorne. When he was still a boy he and his family moved to New Jersey, then to New York City—first to Brooklyn and later to Harlem. In Brooklyn James and his parents lived with his grandparents, and his grandfather encouraged him to join the church choir.

His musical talents became more evident after his move to Harlem, when he began to study dance and percussion with Isame Andrews, a specialist in African music and dance and a student of Asadata Dafora. Attracting notice with his vocal skills, Hawthorne was admitted to both the Eva Jessye and the Francis Hall Johnson choirs In the mid to late 1930s he studied African drum making and performance especially the ashiko drum with Moses Miannes Mianns a Nigerian who had come to ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Medal of Honor winner, was born into slavery in Santee, South Carolina. When war came he was a slave on the Arthur Blake Plantation on the South Santee River, McClellanville, South Carolina, possibly the same plantation on which he was born. The Blake Plantation, one of many rice plantations in the area, was no small affair; according to the 1860 census it had 538 enslaved men and women and was the twelfth largest plantation in the country. When the Union navy invaded the coastal areas of South Carolina, it not only created widespread panic among slave‐holders but also influenced many of those who were enslaved to emancipate themselves and flee to freedom. In May 1862, with the Union navy off the coast of South Carolina, Robert Blake and four others, Prince, Michael, Jack, and Captain Blake fled the Blake Plantation All were picked up by ...

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Steven J. Niven

sailor, Civil War veteran, and laborer, was born in Liverpool, England, to James Bond, a carter in that city's dockland, and Eliza Kelly. As one of the British Empire's major port cities, Liverpool was home to many migrants. James Bond was of African descent, though it is unclear how long he and his family had lived in England. Kelly was an immigrant from Ireland, probably of the Roman Catholic faith, but the child was baptized as an Anglican, the established state church in England, which was perhaps also James Bond's faith.

Though we know few details of his early life it is probable that Bond witnessed discrimination and violence against both black and Irish immigrants Shortly after Bond s birth the family moved to the Toxteth section of Liverpool then as now the city s most ethnically diverse and desperately poor neighborhood It is not known whether he ...

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Kari J. Winter

slave, sailor, soldier, and farmer, was born Boyrereau Brinch, the seventh of eight children (four boys and four girls) born to Whryn Brinch, the son of Yarrah Brinch, and of Whryn Douden Wrogan, the daughter of Grassee Youghgon. He lived in the city of Deauyah in the kingdom of Bow-woo, which was probably situated in the Niger River basin, in the area that would later become Mali. In 1758 when he was around the age of sixteen Boyrereau was abducted by slave traders transported to Barbados and sold to Captain Isaac Mills of New Haven Connecticut who trained him for British naval service Like thousands of other slaves and freed Africans in the Caribbean Brace as he would come to be called years later after his manumission This may have been an anglicized version of Brinch was forced to labor aboard ship during ...

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Christian Høgsbjerg

was born in 1885 in Barbados, then part of the British West Indies. As a teenager, he enrolled as a seaman in the British merchant navy, before settling in Chicago and raising a family. During the World War I, like many other black colonial seamen, he rejoined the merchant navy. After the war, Braithwaite returned to the United States, this time to New York, where he found work in a bar and possibly witnessed the month-long New York Harbor Strike in October 1919.

In the early 1920s, Braithwaite crossed the Atlantic and settled in Stepney, London, where, after meeting Edna Slack, a young white woman whom he married in 1936 he raised a new family with six children He found work with the Shipping Federation as an agent in the Pool a part of the River Thames where many ships came to dock He was charged with finding ...

Article

Agnes Kane Callum

U.S. Navy diver, was born in Tonieville, Larue County, Kentucky, the son of McDonald and Gonzell Brashear, sharecroppers. He attended the Tonieville Elementary School until he reached the seventh grade, in 1946, when he decided to quit school and go to work as an attendant at a filling station. He was dissatisfied with that job, however, and began to explore other areas of interest. In 1948, at the age of seventeen, Carl Brashear joined the U.S. Navy. His enlistment coincided with President Harry Truman's executive order to desegregate all branches of the armed forces. Brashear felt comfortable in his new position, and, being a proud member of the U.S. Navy, went on to complete the education he had abandoned in elementary school by earning his GED in 1960. His first marriage, to Junette Wilcoxson in 1952, ended in divorce in 1972.

Upon enlisting in ...

Article

Robert Fikes

physician and organization president, was born in New York City, the son of Lonnie Harlis Bristow, a Baptist minister, and Vivian Wines, a nurse. At age ten Bristow was exposed to the medical profession by his mother, who was an emergency room nurse at Harlem's now defunct Sydenham Hospital. Bristow would observe the hospital staff from a distance while waiting to escort his mother to their apartment. She introduced him to the hospital's African American doctors, who became his role models as he came to believe that a career in medicine was something he could attain. Bristow graduated from the High School of Commerce in Manhattan and entered Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1947. There he became acquainted with fellow student Martin Luther King Jr.

Two years later Bristow signed up with the U.S. Navy and was on active duty until 1950 He enrolled at the ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

a sailor during the War of 1812, served with Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry in the Battle of Lake Erie. A native of Maryland, Brown was a free man and resident of Somerset, Pennsylvania, when he married his wife Elizabeth, also from Maryland, in April 1812. Although details are lacking, Brown may have served in a local militia unit in 1812–1813 before being sent to serve in Perry's newly formed Lake Erie squadron in the spring of 1813. When Perry arrived at Erie, Pennsylvania, to finalize the construction of the twenty-gun brigs Lawrence and Niagara the mainstays of his fleet he found that he was severely lacking in manpower and requested more men from his superior Commodore Isaac Chauncey After some dispute and delay a disappointed Perry finally received 150 men commenting that The men that came are a motley set blacks Soldiers and boys Altoff ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

a soldier and sailor during the War of 1812, was born in Pennsylvania. At the beginning of the war he likely served in a Pennsylvania militia regiment, but sometime after March 1813 he was sent for duty at sea aboard the Lake Erie squadron under the command of Oliver Hazard Perry. Short on manpower during the outfitting of his fleet at Erie, Pennsylvania, including the twenty-gun brigs Lawrence and Niagara, Perry was forced to plead with his superior, Commodore Isaac Chauncey, to send him more men. After much wrangling, Chauncey finally sent Perry 150 men in two separate drafts, including African Americans Robert Brown, Jesse Walls, and James Brown Unfortunately Perry was unhappy with the caliber of the men he received complaining to Chauncey that The men that came are a motley set blacks Soldiers and boys I cannot think that you saw them after they ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War sailor and Medal of Honor winner, was born a slave in Baltimore, Maryland. Almost nothing is known of Brown's early life. However, based on the location of his residence after the Civil War, he probably worked as a slave on one of the many plantations in St. Mary's County between the Pautuxent and Potomac rivers in Maryland's Tidewater region. Brown probably fled from his master during Union army operations in Maryland and Virginia and was one of the thousands of slaves who made their way northward to Union lines. Brown and others were looking to gain their freedom as word of President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation quickly spread. The proclamation was issued on 1 January 1863 after the Union victory at the Battle of Antietam in northern Maryland and granted freedom to the vast majority of slaves in the South. By early 1864 William Brown had escaped ...

Article

Marlene L. Daut

escaped slave, navy landsman, and U.S. Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Natchez, Mississippi, in 1841 of unknown parentage. Brown was a slave in Mississippi on a cotton plantation, and nothing is known of his childhood or to whom he belonged. In the early 1860s, at the start of the Civil War, Brown ran away from his master on a skiff that eventually managed to reach a Union ship stationed on the Mississippi River. This encounter with the navy probably accounts for his subsequent enlistment. The navy was a likely choice for an escaped slave; many escaped slaves, as well as free blacks from the North, were often drawn to the service because of its better pay and purported fairer treatment of blacks. Brown enlisted in the Union navy on 18 March 1863 under the title 1st Class Boy and was officially described as a Contraband Negro five ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

Revolutionary War sailor, is a man about whom little is known. Thought to have been a slave at some time in his life, Carlisle enlisted for service in the Continental navy aboard the sloop of war Ranger in July 1777 at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. This 18-gun, 318-ton craft was commanded by the famed Captain John Paul Jones. Earlier writers have erroneously stated that Carlisle, as well as another black member of Ranger's crew, Scipio Africanus, were slaves owned by Captain Jones. Though Cato Carlisle was a free black from the Piscataqua region, records do not state whether he was already a freeman or used his enlistment bounty money to buy his freedom. Just who Carlisle's former master was is open to speculation. Two possibilities include the Carlisle family of Portsmouth or Captain Daniel Carlisle of Westmoreland, New Hampshire.

Despite the meagerness of details regarding Cato Carlisle ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

also known as Tallen and John Bull, was enslaved in Africa, shipped to America, freed by the interception of a British vessel, made prisoner of war while serving in the British navy, then tricked into slavery in Savannah, Georgia; he earned and purchased his freedom three times over, being defrauded the first two times.

From accounts he gave later in life, it is believed he was born among the Kissi, a people ethnologically related to the Malinke, in what is now Guinea, on a tributary of the Niandan River. His given name was Tallen. Captured in a local war at age 12, and brought to the coast for sale as a slave, he was being transported across the Atlantic when the ship carrying him was intercepted by a British vessel, probably in 1811. The exact circumstances remain a matter of controversy. By his own account, recorded in 1857 ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

a sailor during the War of 1812, fought in the Battle of Lake Erie with Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Little is known about Collins's personal life although it is possible he was born into slavery in Newport, Rhode Island, or the surrounding area. As of the 1790 Census there were still over nine hundred slaves in the state, which pursued a policy of gradual emancipation after 1784. Hannibal may have been a slave for less than a decade of his life, although this is not certain. The 1810 Federal Census does detail two white Collins families in Newport that either owned slaves or had black persons residing in their household; the entry for John Collins details just one person of color in his household, whereas that of Job Collins details seven Although not specifically identified as such these individuals may have been slaves However the same census ...

Article

Jane Brodsky Fitzpatrick

basketball player, was born Charles Henry Cooper in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the youngest of five children of Daniel Webster Cooper, a mailman, and Emma Caroline Brown, a schoolteacher.

Cooper played basketball at Westinghouse High School in segregated East Pittsburgh. After graduating in February 1944, Cooper attended West Virginia State College, a historically black institution. He played basketball from 1944 to 1945, until he was drafted into the U.S. Navy. He served from July 1945 to October 1946.

Upon leaving the Navy, Cooper attended Duquesne University in Pittsburgh on the GI Bill and graduated in 1950 with a B.S. in Education. Although Duquesne was a predominantly white university, it was an early leader in the recruitment of black athletes. Cooper made the basketball team, The Dukes, when only a freshman. He was their first black starter and an All-American. As captain in 1949–1950 he led ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

sailor and prisoner of war leader, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, or vicinity and was also known as Richard Seavers. His status as a free man or slave prior to his seafaring service is unknown. In 1814 Crafus, aged twenty-three, was a sailor on the Baltimore privateer schooner Requin when she was captured by British warships off Bordeaux, France, on 6 March 1814. According to one obituary, however, Crafus had joined the British Navy at about age sixteen. When or how he returned to the United States is uncertain. While little is known about Crafus before his capture, he was likely an accomplished sailor and, at six feet three inches or six feet five inches in height, surely a dominant figure among the Requin's crew. His size and forceful personality would be traits that brought Crafus to prominence during his time as a prisoner of war.

The service ...