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Michael J. Ristich

military officer and conservationist, was born in Troy, New York, the son of James Boutelle of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and Emeline Lamb Boutelle. Little is known of his childhood and adolescent years. However, at age twenty‐one, possibly passing as white, Boutelle began his ascent through the ranks of the military to become a highly decorated officer, including earning the rank of adjutant general.

On 15 August 1861 Boutelle enlisted in the Fifth New York Calvary Regiment. On 4 November 1862 he was promoted from quartermaster sergeant to second lieutenant. Boutelle and his regiment were then assigned to Pennsylvania to battle against Robert E. Lee's Confederate forces. During the Gettysburg campaign Boutelle was injured when he fell from his horse during a charge on Hanover on 30 June 1863. Because of his injuries Boutelle was assigned to the First Brigade, Third Calvary Division on 17 January 1864 as an ...

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Charles Johnson

Born on September 12, 1840, in Troy, New York, Frazier Augustus Boutelle was the son of James Boutelle from Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and Emeline Lamb Boutelle. He began his army career in 1861, the year the Civil War began, as a member of the Ira Harris Cavalry, subsequently designated the 5th New York Cavalry Regiment. After serving as quartermaster sergeant, he was commissioned a second lieutenant on November 5, 1862. Participating in the Gettysburg campaign, Boutelle was injured on June 30, 1863, when he fell from his horse during a charge at Hanover, Pennsylvania. Consequently, he was assigned to First Brigade, 3rd Cavalry Division, on January 17, 1864, as an ambulance officer. Boutelle did not return to his regiment until he reenlisted in the army in 1864 and he remained with the regiment until he was discharged with the rank of captain on ...

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Edward L. Lach

business executive and civic leader, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Hayward G. Burrell and Fannie Miles. Although his parents’ occupations are unknown, both his father and his mother were natives of the District of Columbia, and Burrell's roots in the area ran deep. After graduating from Dunbar High School at the age of fifteen, he worked as a driver for a local pharmacy and apparently also drove a cab for a while. He married at age sixteen (his wife's name is unknown), and the marriage produced a son before ending in divorce seven years later.

In 1941 Burrell gained a position at the federal Bureau of Standards, where he worked in the glass section producing prisms and bombsights. He also attended nearby Howard University between 1941 and 1943 but did not graduate. He entered the U.S. Army in 1945 and rose to the rank of ...

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Robert C. Hayden

physician, was born in New York City, the son of George DeGrasse, a prosperous landowner, and Maria Van Surly. After obtaining his early education in both public and private schools in New York City, he entered Oneida Institute in Whitesboro (near Utica), New York in 1840. Oneida was one of the first colleges to admit African Americans, nurturing a strong antislavery stance. In addition to welcoming black students to its campus, the institute invited abolitionists as lecturers and provided both a manual arts and an academic program.

In 1843 DeGrasse attended Aubuk College in Paris, France. Returning to New York City in 1845, he started medical training through an apprenticeship with Dr. Samuel R. Childs. After two years of clinical work and study under Childs, DeGrasse was admitted into the medical studies program at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, in 1847 Finishing his ...

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Paul J. Polgar

abolitionist and Union soldier, was born a slave in Virginia. Little is known about Douglass's early years except that he escaped slavery and fled to Louisiana in the late 1840s. He spent the 1850s in the upper Midwest, where he worked as a barber and an abolitionist. There he gave emphatic speeches calling for immediate emancipation and became known for his persuasive speaking style and oratorical prowess. He took his surname from his fellow abolitionist and mentor, Frederick Douglass, with whom he traveled on the abolitionist speaking circuit.

Ford Douglass was a radical figure who viewed the United States as an inherently racist nation. He believed that the Constitution systematically endorsed the institution of slavery, while the nation's politicians acted insidiously to spread the sin of bondage. An excerpt from a speech he gave at the State Convention of the Colored Citizens of Ohio in 1851 captures ...

Article

Jean M. Brannon

businessman and civic leader, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Frank Gardner, a U.S. federal employee, and Eva. Residing in his parents' West Chesterfield home on Chicago's far South Side, Gardner attended Gillespie Elementary. In elementary school Gardner exhibited his gifts of salesmanship and initiative when he began delivering the Chicago Defender newspaper door-to-door in his neighborhood. The community contacts he developed as a newspaper boy continued long after he had given up his paper route. He and his older brother Frank were the only two African American students enrolled in Fenger High School. Edward's high school extracurricular interests were intramural sports, primarily basketball, and creative art. His artistic abilities resulted in summer scholarships to the Ray Vogue Art School. Gardner was drafted into the U.S. military after his high school graduation in 1943 Stationed in Japan and the Pacific islands in World War II ...

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Lisa M. Bratton

Tuskegee Airman, was born in Amherst, Virginia, where he lived with his paternal grandfather until the age of five. The federal judge A. Leon Higginbotham was his distant cousin. In Amherst, Mitchell Higginbotham went to school with his older aunts and uncles and learned the alphabet multiplication and division before he entered kindergarten At the age of five he was taken to live with his parents in Sewickley Pennsylvania His parents worked in the steel mills but during the Great Depression the mills closed and they entered domestic service Schools in Sewickley were integrated but the YMCA the theaters and many of the sports programs were closed to African Americans When Higginbotham enrolled in school in Sewickley he was so advanced that he skipped first grade There were six African Americans out of the 106 students in Higginbotham s high school graduating class He motivated his fellow African ...

Article

Amanda Harmon Cooley

businessperson, corporate executive, and educator. Dennis Fowler Hightower, the son of Marvin W. Hightower and Anna Virginia Hightower, was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in LeDroit Park, a neighborhood in the District of Columbia in which many other prominent African Americans, from Duke Ellington to the Reverend Jesse Jackson, have lived. As a child Hightower spent time at Camp Atwater in North Brookfield, Massachusetts, which was established in 1921 by William N. DeBerry with the mission to help African American children. After graduating from McKinley High School at age sixteen, Hightower continued his studies at Howard University, earning a bachelor of science degree in 1962.

Then Hightower enlisted in the U S Army beginning an eight year military career that included active service in the Vietnam War His leadership advanced him to the rank of major by the age of twenty seven ...

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Charlotte S. Price

Campbell Carrington Johnson was born in Washington, D.C., on September 30, 1895, the son of clergyman William Henry and Ellen Berry (Lee) Johnson. His father served at different periods as pastor of Israel Baptist Church in Washington and Beulah and Liberty Baptist churches in Alexandria, Virginia. The young Johnson received his education in those cities. Following his graduation from Washington's M Street High School in 1913, he worked at various jobs to earn college tuition, enrolling in Howard University, Washington, D.C., in the fall of that year. When he was forced by lack of funds to withdraw before the school year was over, Johnson returned to work, but he reentered Howard in 1915. World War I (1914–1919) interrupted his education once again in 1917 He volunteered and entered the Officers Training Corps at Fort Des Moines Iowa receiving his commission as ...

Article

Stephen L. Harris

civil rights and community activist, business leader, state legislator, and Tuskegee Airman, was born in New York state to Henry Johnson, a World War I hero and recipient of the American Distinguished Service Cross. His maternal grandfather, Herman Phoenix, was in the early 1900s a leader in organizing the Niagara, New York, branch of the NAACP. Johnson himself was thirteen when he joined the NAACP. Although he lived and worked in several cities, he was most connected with Kansas City, Missouri. He earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Cornell University in 1938 and a master's degree in business administration from the University of Chicago in 1940.

Soon after earning his master s degree Johnson was a statistician for the War Production Board During World War II he enlisted and fought with the 332nd Fighter Group known as the Tuskegee Airmen Attaining the ...

Article

Elizabeth D. Schafer

aerospace surgeon, was born at Fort Washikie, Wyoming, the son of Vance Hunter Marchbanks Sr., an army cavalry captain, and Mattie (maiden name unknown). Marchbanks Jr. was influenced by the military career of his father, who was a veteran of both the Spanish-American War and World War I. A childhood operation inspired Marchbanks's passion for medicine, after which he operated on cherries in his backyard, opening them up, removing the stones, and sewing shut the incision.

Marchbanks encountered discrimination when he enrolled at the University of Arizona in 1927. Not allowed to live in the dormitories or participate in normal student activities, he lived in an off-campus boardinghouse. He ate at the railroad station restaurant, where he was expected to enter through the back door and was harassed; he often found cockroaches in his soup. Marchbanks graduated in 1931 and was accepted at the Howard University ...

Article

J. Todd Moye

military pilot and veteran, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Lewis Allen McGee Sr., a World War I veteran, teacher, social worker, and African Methodist Episcopal minister, and Ruth Elizabeth Lewis. Ruth McGee died in 1921, leaving three small children. Almost constantly in search of work, Lewis McGee Sr., a graduate of Wilberforce College, moved his family at least nine times before Charles finished high school. Charles was introduced to the Boy Scouts of America as a youngster, and he thrived under the scouts' program rewarding loyalty, discipline, and service.

In spring 1938 McGee graduated ninth out of a class of 436 from DuSable High School in Chicago and took a job with the Civilian Conservation Corps in northern Illinois. He entered the University of Illinois at Champaign in 1940 studied engineering enrolled in the ROTC and pledged Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity He worked in ...

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Yvonne Latty

U.S. Marine Corps sergeant, U.S. Navy captain, World War II and Vietnam veteran, Montford Point marine, and Iwo Jima survivor, was born in Lumberton, North Carolina, the eleventh and last child and only son of Elizabeth Morrissey and Thomas Matthew McPhatter, a master barber. During the Depression his family lost everything they had in the bank and they struggled for food and clothing. On 19 May 1941 he graduated from high school, registered for the draft, and enrolled at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, intending to study history. His parents could not afford to pay his tuition so he worked summers and during the school year.

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941 McPhatter did not want to go to war He was exempted as an only son and had a deferment as a pre theological student because he ...

Article

Yvonne Jackson Edwards

community and civil rights activist, was born the youngest of five children of Charles Henry and Cornelia Tate Mease in Buxton, Iowa, a coal-mining town called a “Black Utopia.” At different times Charles was a coal miner, union organizer, and justice of the peace. Cornelia was a seamstress and came from a long line of freeborn persons of color.

For the first twelve years of his life, Mease lived in Buxton, where he spent many hours at the YMCA that was the town's center of activity. The Buxton YMCA was established by the Consolidated Coal Company in an attempt to prevent its workers from joining unions. Considered “welfare capitalists,” the company executives hoped the Y would improve the lives of its workers and families and thus make unions less attractive.

In 1918 Mease s father died and his mother moved the family to Des Moines Iowa Mease completed ...

Article

Chasity Bailey-Fakhoury

educator and founder of the National Alliance of Black School Educators, was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to James Nathaniel Moody and Rosetta Ella Hall. Moody's parents were both educators, his mother a teacher and his father a supervisor of rural, black schools for the Jeanes Fund. The Jeanes Fund was created by Anna T. Jeanes a Quaker from Philadelphia Pennsylvania who used her wealth to provide educational assistance to black schools and students across the rural South As the youngest of eight children Moody insisted upon coming out from underneath the shadow of his brothers and sisters Instead of attending Southern University in his hometown of Baton Rouge he ventured to Central State University in Wilberforce Ohio a place where he knew no one and no one knew him There Moody s accomplishments or failures were his own not measured against those of his siblings While ...

Article

Claude Johnson

was born Hudson Jones Oliver, Jr. in New York City, the third child of Hudson Jones Oliver, Sr. and Cecelia Washington Oliver. His father was a longtime stenographer and confidential secretary for Thomas Prosser & Son of Brooklyn, the United States agents for the steel and arms producer Friedrich Krupp AG of Essen, Germany. His mother was a homemaker.

Hudson “Huddy” Oliver was a brilliant player for several historically important African American basketball teams during the late 1900s and early 1910s. He later graduated from Howard University Medical School and became a prominent Harlem physician.

“Huddy” Oliver was the first “superstar” of the Black Fives Era of basketball, the period from 1904, when the sport was first introduced to African Americans on a wide scale organized basis, through the racial integration of the National Basketball Association in 1950 Dozens of African American teams emerged and flourished in New ...

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SaFiya D. Hoskins

basketball player, was born David Maurice Robinson in Key West, Florida, the second child of Ambrose and Freda Robinson His father was a naval officer and his mother was a nurse Robinson s father was required to travel frequently The family moved to Virginia Beach Virginia when he was young and when his father retired from the navy they finally settled in Woodbridge Virginia Robinson was an excellent student and from the age of six attended schools for gifted children In junior high school he continued his exceptional scholarship and standing 5 feet 9 inches tall demonstrated extraordinary athleticism in many sports with the exception of basketball It was not until his senior year at Osbourn Park High School in Manassas Virginia that the then 6 foot 7 inch tall Robinson joined the basketball team He earned area and district honors in his first season Robinson achieved high ...

Article

astrophysicist and university administrator, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Arthur Bertram Cuthbert Walker Sr., a lawyer, and Hilda Forte, a social worker. At age five his family moved to New York City. Thanks to his mother, who recognized the boy's fondness for science and repeatedly intervened to prevent teachers from discouraging him, Walker enrolled in the Bronx High School of Science, where his interest in chemistry and physics heightened. In 1957 he graduated with honors in physics from the Case Institute of Technology (later Case Western Reserve University) in Cleveland, Ohio. He was elected to Tau Beta Pi, an engineering honor society, in 1955, and to Sigma Xi, a scientific research society, in 1960. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with the aid of fellowships and a research assistantship, Walker earned his master's degree in 1958 and a doctorate ...

Article

Joann Buckley

was born in Davidson County, Tennessee. There is little known of Henry H. Walker’s family or early life, but his college years were spent at Walden University in Nashville. He then went on to earn his medical degree from Meharry Medical College, one of the nation’s leading historically black colleges in the Jim Crow era. He spent the majority of his adult life in Nashville, Davidson County’s most important city.

After graduation in 1913 Walker served as surgical assistant to John H. Hale at Hale Hospital until 1917 Dr Hale was a notable surgeon who worked studied and traveled to the prestigious Mayo and Crile clinics to advance his knowledge which he passed on to Walker Walker joined the Meharry faculty teaching anatomy as well as minor and orthopedic surgery During these prewar years he married Elizabeth a local music teacher The two of them were active in the ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

U.S. naval officer and submarine commander, was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Johnny Watson, who worked at a printing plant, and Virginia Watson, a community liaison and teacher's aide. One of six children, Anthony John Watson was raised in the Cabrini-Green public housing community and attended Chicago's Lane Technical High School, where he was a starter on the football team. Upon graduating in 1966 he entered the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle, and in June of that year he was recruited to the U.S. Naval Academy, where he became a “plebe” (first-year) midshipman.

Watson was one of only six African Americans to graduate in the class of 1970 at Annapolis. Indeed, at all of the nation's service academies by 1969 only 116 cadets were nonwhite Foner 211 Watson remained engaged in spite of the distractions and challenges faced by African American midshipmen at Annapolis in the late ...