was born Joseph Lloyd Simmons in Jamaica, Queens, New York, the youngest of three sons of Daniel Simmons, a teacher and public school administrator, and Evelyn Simmons, an artist. Simmons would become famous as Run of the legendary hip-hop group Run-D.M.C. Joseph Simmons grew up in the Hollis section of Queens, New York. He enjoyed listening to music on the radio at an early age, and his father supplied him with a drum set to support his interest. As a teenager, Simmons learned to be a DJ from his childhood friend Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels. When his older brother, Russell, became the promoter and manager of Curtis Walker (also known as Kurtis Blow), Simmons began to experiment with rhymes using Walker's lyrical style as an example; he eventually had the opportunity to DJ for Kurtis Blow in 1978. Russell's friends named Joe “DJ Run” ...
Regina N. Barnett
Arthur C. Verge
minister and political activist, was born in Los Angeles, California. The names of his parents are unknown. Primarily educated in Los Angeles–area schools, Russell also studied theology in Copenhagen, Denmark, in the early 1930s at the nation's International College. Russell later remarked that his experiences studying abroad profoundly influenced his thinking about the plight of fellow African Americans in the United States. Foremost among his overseas memories was a visit to Weimar Germany, where the Los Angeles cleric witnessed firsthand the rise of Adolph Hitler's Nationalist Socialist (Nazi) Party and its racist ideology.
In 1936 Russell took over the pastorate of Los Angeles's People's Independent Church. This church, which had emanated in 1915 from the black community s more conservative and powerful First African Methodist Episcopal AME Church became known for its outreach programs for poor and disenfranchised blacks Within a year into Russell s tenure the People ...
Devin C. Manzullo-Thomas
evangelist and church leader, was born Thomas P. Skinner in New York City, the eldest son of Georgia (Robinson) and Alester Jerry Skinner, the latter a Baptist minister.
Growing up in the crime- and poverty-ridden Harlem of the 1940s and 1950s, Skinner rejected the church of his parents, denouncing Christianity as a “white man's religion.” As a teenager, he became a gang leader. One night, while preparing for a gang fight, Skinner heard an uneducated radio preacher and was converted to evangelical Christianity.
As a result of this experience, Skinner became a street preacher in Harlem. On 2 June 1959, he was ordained in the ministry by the United Missionary Baptist Association of Greater New York and Vicinity.
In 1961 Skinner worked with local church and community leaders to organize the Harlem Evangelistic Association A year later Skinner preached an eight month evangelistic crusade at Harlem s ...
Amy Sparks Kolker
journalist and educator, was born in Lexington, Kentucky, the only child of Margaret Smith, who raised her on her own. It is uncertain whether Smith was born into slavery. Though her mother and she were poor and struggled to make ends meet, Smith managed to get an education, and by the age of sixteen she had begun to support her mother and herself by working as a secretary to William James Simmons, the president of the State University of Louisville. Later, after she graduated from the Normal Department at the State University in 1887, she worked as a faculty member.
Through her connection to Simmons, Smith also began working as a journalist. Simmons was an editor of the American Baptist, a newspaper owned by black Baptists, and in 1884 Smith began writing The Children s Column for the publication When Simmons became the ...
Donna L. Halper
was born Martha Jean Jones in Memphis, Tennessee, one of five children of Virgil and Florence (Mabley) Jones. Martha Jean’s first career was nursing, but she also modeled and produced fashion shows. She married jazz trumpeter Luther Steinberg circa 1949 and they had three daughters, Diane, Sandra, and Trienere, but the marriage did not work out and the two eventually separated.
Around 1954 Martha Jean Steinberg entered a contest to be an announcer on the Memphis radio station WDIA Although owned by whites the station s format was aimed at the black community She didn t win the contest but the program director liked her voice and offered her a part time shift There are several versions of how she acquired her nickname The Queen Reporter Susan Whitall says it was t hanks to her 6 foot stature and regal demeanor p 39 But Louis Cantor a former WDIA ...
Donna L. Halper
was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, the younger of two children of Charles C. Walker, a Congregationalist minister, and his wife Bessie (Trotter). Elizabeth’s mother died in childbirth, and her father remarried in 1953 to Geneva (Powell), a teacher. Elizabeth and her brother, Charles, were mainly raised by their stepmother, as their father died in 1963. Despite growing up in a deeply religious home, young Elizabeth did not plan for a career in the church. Rather, she was interested in the media. A 1969 graduate of Little Rock’s Central High School, where she was the school newspaper’s first black assistant editor, she attended Olivet College, a Christian liberal arts school in Olivet, Michigan, graduating with a B.A. in Speech and Theater in 1973 Sources that say her major was Communication are incorrect Subsequently she studied broadcasting at the University of Wisconsin school for one semester but did not ...