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Article

Rose Pelone Sisson

survivor of a lynching attempt, civil rights activist, and founder of America's Black Holocaust Museum, was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin, to James Herbert Cameron, a barber, and Vera Cameron who was employed as a laundress, cook, and housekeeper. At the age of fifteen months, James was the first African American baby ever admitted as a patient to the St. Francis Hospital in La Crosse, where he underwent an emergency operation on the abdominal cavity. By the time James started school, his parents had moved to Birmingham, Alabama, and his parents separated.

When Cameron was sixteen he was living with his mother, two sisters, and grandmother in Marion, Indiana. His stepfather Hezikiah Burden hunted and fished long distances from home so was away from his family most of the time The family lived in a segregated section of Marion Indiana which counted about four thousand blacks among its ...

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David Dabydeen

West Indiancarpenter murdered in Notting Hill by white youths. Britain was particularly racially tense in the late 1950s, when the white working classes felt culturally and economically threatened by the presence of Blacks. Two active political groups in the Notting Hill area were the White Defence League and the National Labour Party, one claiming to be a Nazi group, the other a racial nationalist one. The culmination of the situation were the ‘race’ riots in 1958 in Notting Hill. One of the tragic results of these events was the murder of Cochrane, an Antiguan who was on his way back from the hospital after having had his broken thumb bandaged. He was stabbed with a knife in May 1958 by six white youths who were never caught. Following Cochrane's murder, the black activist Claudia Jones campaigned for the black community and helped to organize strategies for approaching the ...

Article

Wolfgang Effenberger Lopez

a mythical figure very popular in the colonial-era oral traditions of Central America, especially those of El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Cuto derives from the indigenous Nahuatl word cutuctic, meaning “cut” or “shortened,” whereas partideño refers to a herdsman in the Spanish-language tradition. A translation to English would be “Cowboy Shorty.” From the seventeenth century (perhaps beforehand) up to the present day, stories about El Cuto Partideño have been reproduced by indigenous, mestiza, and ladina communities of partly African descent. Most often the cowboy is portrayed as a social bandit and cattle rustler, a Robin Hood figure stealing from the rich to share with the poor. But in other interpretations, he kidnaps women and takes them to his hideout. The figure is sometimes a ladino a mixed race person of Hispanic culture from the hot lands of the cattle country coastal plain of Central America although he ...

Article

Virginia A. Shadron

Rosa Lee Ingram became the focus of national and international attention following her 1948 conviction for murder in rural southwest Georgia. The granddaughter of slaves and the recently widowed mother of twelve children, Ingram was accused of killing a white man on the small farm both worked as sharecroppers. Hers was one of several southern criminal cases taken up by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Civil Rights Congress (CRC) in the late 1940s. Rosa Lee Ingram served as a symbol of the many outrages and daily indignities black women suffered in the rural south—from rape and sexual assault to the unrelenting, demeaning reminders of second-class citizenship.

The news coverage of Ingram’s appeal portrayed her as having merely defended herself against lewd advances, a case of self-defense. But Ingram’s own description of the events suggests that her neighbor John Stratford s death resulted ...

Article

H. Zahra Caldwell

Harlem gangster, was born Ellsworth Raymond Johnson in Charleston, South Carolina. He acquired the nickname “Bumpy” as a boy when his parents discovered a small marble-sized bump on the back of his head. This bump was simply an accident of birth, but it would provide Ellsworth with the nickname by which he would be known throughout his life. Little is known of Johnson's parents or childhood; however, by the age of fifteen he had moved to Brooklyn, New York, to live with an aunt. He finished high school and at sixteen he moved to Harlem to live on his own. He was soon involved in a life of petty crime. By sixteen he could already be described as a stickup gunman and a second-story burglar.

At the age of seventeen Johnson was sent to a reformatory in Elmira NewYork This stay would serve as the beginning of nearly half ...

Article

Shana L. Redmond

taxi driver whose videotaped beating by police officers in March 1991 provoked international outrage, was born in Sacramento, California, to working-class parents. His father was a construction worker and cleaner, and as a child Rodney worked long hours as a cleaner along with his father. His work schedule along with a learning disability contributed to his lack of academic success, and despite considerable athletic ability, he dropped out in 1984 during his senior year of high school. Afterward King found work in construction. During his early adulthood he had two daughters and married Crystal Waters, a woman with two children of her own. Prior to 1991 King was in and out of jail for crimes ranging from robbery to intoxication.King became an international celebrity and emblem of police abuse in 1991, when a videotape, shot by the amateur cameraman George Holliday was broadcast by Los Angeles ...

Article

Robert A. Pratt

a housewife, whose marriage in 1958 to Richard Loving sparked one of the nation's most important civil rights cases, was born Mildred Delores Jeter, of African American and Native American ancestry. Loving was one of five children born to Theoliver Jeter, a sharecropper, and Musiel Byrd, a homemaker. She also had four half brothers. She graduated from Union High School in Bowling Green, Virginia in 1957. In 1958 she married her childhood sweetheart who was white Both Jeter and Loving were born in Caroline County Virginia an area with a well known history of black white interracial sexual liaisons As was the local custom however and true for most of the South these unions occurred under cover of darkness and without legal sanction Many states had laws prohibiting interracial marriages some with restrictions dating back to the nineteenth century While enforcement of these laws ...

Article

Donald A. Ritchie

a Pentagon employee who became a celebrated witness during Senator Joseph McCarthy's investigation of Communism in the government, was born in Chester, South Carolina. One of six children of Katie and Clemon Crawford, tenant farmers, she began picking cotton at the age of five. While in her teens, she moved with her parents to Salisbury, North Carolina, where she attended but did not graduate from high school. At twenty-one she married Ernest Moss, a worker at a tobacco factory in Durham, North Carolina. They had one son.

Moss moved to Washington, D.C., in 1941, where her husband took a construction job and she ironed at a laundry. In 1943 she became a dessert cook for the Welfare and Recreation Association which assigned her to the Pentagon cafeteria As a condition of employment she joined the Washington Cafeteria Workers union a local chapter of the United Federal ...

Article

Angelita D. Reyes

cause célèbre, was born Alice Beatrice Jones, the daughter of a white mother and supposedly “black” father, both of whom had emigrated from England to the United States in 1891. While the race of her mother Elizabeth Jones was familiar and recognizable enough for Americans to classify as white, the racial background of George Jones, her father, was not as clearly determined. While general references considered him to be British of West Indian descent, he was distinctly not African American according to an array of witnesses and census documentation in the United States.

Various newspapers of the period described Alice Jones as “dusky,” “a tropical beauty,” or of a “Spanish complexion” (Lewis and Ardizzone, 63–66, 163). Not considering herself black in the American rhetorical denotation of race, Alice Jones Rhinelander affirmed during the annulment trial of the interracial marriage to Leonard Rhinelander (1903 ...

Article

Harold S. Forsythe

farmer and sharecroppers union activist, was born Ned Cobb in rural east-central Alabama. Shaw was one of six children of former slaves Hayes and Liza Culver Shaw. Ned Cobb is best known under the pseudonym Nate Shaw, because of the magnificent oral autobiography Shaw shared with Theodore Rosengarten. The book, All God's Dangers: the Life of Nate Shaw (1974), was perhaps the best single source for the consciousness and politics of the millions of illiterate black women and men who struggled in the decades after Emancipation to create a life in freedom. The fictionalized names of people and places in All God's Dangers are the best guide to this rich story.

Nate Shaw s father Hayes put Nate to work at farming tasks while he was a still a young boy Shaw s mother Liza died when he was nine years old and although he ...

Article

O.J. Simpson was born in a poor neighborhood of San Francisco, California, the third of four children. His father left the family when Simpson was a child. At a young age Simpson wore leg braces to correct weakness in his legs, but as a teenager at Galileo High School, he was a star athlete, participating in baseball, track, and football. At the same time Simpson received several suspensions from school for misbehavior. He graduated from Galileo in 1965, but his grades kept him from attending a major university. Instead, he enrolled at City College in San Francisco, where he had a remarkable first season of football and was offered several athletic scholarships. He remained another year at City College before meeting the admissions standards for the University of Southern California (USC), which he entered in 1967. That same year, he married his first wife, Marguerite.

Article

Steven J. Niven

football player, sportscaster, and actor, was born Orenthal James Simpson in San Francisco, California, to Jimmie Simpson, a cook, and Eunice Durden, a nurse's aide. The child disliked his unusual first name, which was-given to him by an aunt who had heard of a French actor named Orenthal. Sometime during his childhood—accounts differ as to when—he began using his initials “O. J.,” which friends later adapted to “Orange Juice” and, later, to “Juice.” When O. J. was four, Jimmie Simpson abandoned his wife and family, leaving Eunice to raise four children in a two-bedroom apartment in the run-down Potrero Hill public housing projects near San Francisco's Chinatown. Eunice Simpson worked long hours to provide for her children but it was often a hard struggle When O J contracted rickets as an infant for example he was left bowlegged and in need of leg braces that his ...

Article

Boyd Childress

(b. 30 October 1895; d. 19 March 1960), physician. Grandson of an Alabama slave and himself a prominent Detroit physician, Ossian Sweet was unwillingly at the center of one of the nation's major racial trials of the twentieth century. Born and raised in rural Florida, Sweet graduated from Wilberforce University and Howard University Medical School. He opened a successful practice in Detroit in 1921 and married the next year. Sweet and his wife traveled to Europe, where Sweet studied in Vienna and then in Paris under Marie Curie. After the birth of their daughter, the Sweets returned to Detroit in 1924.

In 1925 Sweet purchased a home on Garland Avenue in one of Detroit s white lower middle class neighborhoods Racial tension in Detroit was already high and a neighborhood Waterworks Improvement Association was formed in July for the unveiled purpose of maintaining ...

Article

Tekla Ali Johnson

minister of information for the Black Panther Party of Omaha, Nebraska, and political prisoner, was born David Lewis Rice in Omaha, Nebraska, to Vera (Black) Rice and Otis Rice. We Langa graduated from Creighton Preparatory School in 1965 and for the next two years he took classes at Creighton University He was active for a short while in the Nebraska Democratic Party but grew increasingly discouraged over the continued oppression of African Americans in North Omaha Nebraska and soon began writing social commentary for alternative newspapers Police violence in the segregated community led to protests by young African Americans in North Omaha including we Langa Amid mounting police violence in Omaha during the 1960s a local branch of the Black Panther Party formed Its leaders declared their intention to serve as surveyors of police activities to document incidents of physical and verbal abuse and defend Nebraska s African American ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

schoolgirl and terrorist bombing victim, was one of eight children born to a poor family in Birmingham, Alabama. When she was six she was adopted by Claude Wesley, a grade school principal, and his wife, Gertrude, a nursery school teacher. The Wesleys had waited a long time for their first child, and they did their best to provide her with a financially secure, culturally enriched childhood. Cynthia took dance and music lessons and was regarded as a promising student at both the Wilkerson Elementary School and the Ullman High School in Birmingham, where she did well in math and played saxophone in the Ullman school band. A vivacious child, Cynthia made friends easily, but she did not forget the siblings she had left behind, passing on to them books and other gifts that she received.

Claude tried to shield his daughter from the harsh reality of segregation though ...

Article

Teresa A. Booker

Tulsa Race Riot participant and survivor, was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His parents' names are now unknown, although it is known that his father worked as a bank janitor.

In the late evening of 30 May 1921 eleven-year-old Binkley Wright was attending the 10:00 p.m showing of a play held at the Dixie Theater in downtown Tulsa with some friends The theater which was restricted to use by blacks only was nonetheless located in the white section of the town Ten minutes or so into the show Wright and the other audience members were dismissed because of disturbances outside of the theater On his way home to Greenwood in the northern part of Tulsa Wright witnessed blacks running in the streets and talking about an impending race riot When he arrived home he told his parents what had happened and asked what a race riot was While corroborating his ...

Article

David H. Anthony

U.S. Navy veteran, Tuskegee student, SNCC worker, and civil rights martyr, was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, son of Renee and Samuel Younge Sr. His mother was an elementary school teacher, and his father was an occupational therapist, head of the department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Veterans' Hospital (Tuskegee) and later attached to the U.S. Forest Service. Younge's life was marked by a series of uncompromising role models within and beyond his family. In the town of Tuskegee itself, he grew up in a black middle-class enclave that valued both education and self-respect. Yet even among this relatively privileged enclave that existed for Tuskegee's educated African American elite, Samuel L. Younge Jr.'s childhood was far more individualistic than most Credit for this belonged to his mother Renee who although conscious of the negative power of racist stereotypes in limiting the horizons of talented ...