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Miriam Sawyer

Bragg, Janet (24 March 1907–11 April 1993), aviator, nurse, and nursing home proprietor, was born Janet Harmon in Griffin, Georgia, the daughter of Cordia Batts Harmon and Samuel Harmon, a brick contractor. The Batts family had long been established in Griffin. Bragg's maternal grandfather was a freed slave of Spanish descent, and her maternal grandmother was a Cherokee. Bragg's grandfather had built the house in which she and her siblings were born; her mother had been born in the same house. Bragg, the youngest of seven children, had a happy childhood, enjoying sports and games and excelling at school. In an interview conducted at the University of Arizona as part of a project called African Americans in Aviation in Arizona, Bragg reminisced: “We were a very happy family. We were not a rich family, only rich in love.”

Independence was encouraged in the Harmon household The children ...

Article

Miriam Sawyer

aviator, nurse, and nursing home proprietor, was born Janet Harmon in Griffin, Georgia, the daughter of Cordia Batts and Samuel Harmon, a brick contractor. The Batts family had long been established in Griffin. Janet's maternal grandfather was a freed slave of Spanish descent, and her maternal grandmother was a Cherokee. Janet's grandfather had built the house in which she and her siblings were born; her mother had been born in the same house. The youngest of seven children, Janet had a happy childhood, enjoying sports and games and excelling at school. In an interview conducted at the University of Arizona as part of a project called “African Americans in Aviation in Arizona,” Bragg reminisced: “We were a very happy family. We were not a rich family, only rich in love.”

Independence was encouraged in the Harmon household The children were allowed to attend any church they chose They were ...

Article

Betty Kaplan Gubert

Brown, Willa (22 January 1906–18 July 1992), pilot and aviation educator, was born Willa Beatrice Brown in Glasgow, Kentucky, the only daughter of Hallie Mae Carpenter Brown and Eric B. Brown, a farm owner. After 1910 the family, as part of the internal migration of African Americans from the rural South to northern cities, moved to Terre Haute, Indiana, hoping for greater opportunities in employment and education. There her father worked in a creosote factory; he was also pastor of the Holy Triumphant Church in 1920 and the Free Church of God in 1929.

At Wiley High School Brown was one of only seven black students in the 100 member chorus During her high school years she also did part time domestic work Brown graduated in 1923 and entered Indiana State Normal School a teacher training school that is now part of Indiana University She majored in ...

Article

Betty Kaplan Gubert

pilot and aviation educator, was born Willa Beatrice Brown in Glasgow, Kentucky, the only daughter of Hallie Mae Carpenter and Eric B. Brown, a farm owner. After 1910 the family, as part of the migration of African Americans from the rural South to northern cities, moved to Terre Haute, Indiana, hoping for greater opportunities in employment and education. There her father worked in a creosote factory. He was also pastor of the Holy Triumphant Church in 1920 and of the Free Church of God in 1929.

At Wiley High School, Brown was one of only seven black students in the hundred-member chorus. During her high school years she also did part-time domestic work. Brown graduated in 1923 and entered Indiana State Normal School a teacher training school that later became part of Indiana University She majored in business minored in French and joined the Alpha Kappa Alpha ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

Willa Brown was born in Glasgow, Kentucky, to Reverend Eric and Hallie Mae Carpenter Brown. Willa lived briefly in Indianapolis, Indiana, but she spent most of her childhood in Terre Haute, where she graduated from Sarah Scott Junior High School in 1920 and from Wiley High School in 1923.

Brown received her B.S. degree in business from Indiana State Teachers College in 1927. After graduating, she taught public school in Gary, Indiana, and Chicago, Illinois, where she developed an interest in aviation.

In 1935 Brown received a master mechanics certificate from the Aeronautical University in Chicago, and three years later received a private pilot's license by passing her exam with a nearly flawless score of 96 percent. In 1937 she earned an M.B.A. degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and in 1940 she earned a Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) ground school instructor's rating.

After ...

Article

Gregory Travis Bond

athlete, dentist, and politician, was born in Topeka, Kansas, to Gary W. Cable, a teacher and postal worker, and Mary Ellen Montgomery Cable, a public school administrator and civil rights activist. In 1894 the family moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, where Cable attended public school and graduated from integrated Shortridge High School in 1908. He moved on to the exclusive Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire for the next school year and enrolled at Harvard University in 1909.

Cable had not participated in organized athletics in high school, but he tried out for the freshman track team at Harvard and caught the eye of Coach Pat Quinn. With Quinn's guidance, Cable developed rapidly. In the annual Harvard-Yale freshman meet, he won the hammer throw and he also performed well in the 220-yard hurdles and the broad jump (now the long jump) in intramural competitions.

He easily made ...

Article

Osire Glacier

the first female pilot in Morocco and the Maghreb, was born into a bourgeois family in Fez on 14 December 1936. Her father, Abdelwahed Chaoui, was an avant-garde journalist and an actor who wanted his daughter to have an exemplary education, including training in Arabic and French and in Moroccan and Western cultures (Morocco was at the time a French protectorate). From her childhood, she distinguished herself by her exceptional intelligence, impressing her teachers as well as the director of her school.

In addition to her success in school Chaoui demonstrated strong leadership skills When she was seven years old she organized a strike in her school to protest against the violence of the colonial authorities She made her young peers promise that they would not return to their classrooms until the French authorities liberated the students who had been arrested in a public demonstration in favor of Morocco ...

Article

Leyla Keough

Elizabeth Coleman, later known as Bessie, was born in Atlanta, Texas. Her mother, Susan Coleman, was African American, and her father, George Coleman, was one-quarter African American and three-quarters Choctaw Indian. While Coleman was still an infant her family moved to Waxahachie, Texas, but a few years later her father returned to an Indian reservation in the Oklahoma Territory. Coleman's mother was left to care for the large family by picking cotton and doing domestic work. Susan Coleman enlisted Bessie's help in these jobs; in return, Bessie was allowed to save the wages she earned to help finance her college education.

Coleman finished high school, but the money she had saved was only enough to pay for one semester at the Colored Agricultural Normal University in Langston, Oklahoma (later Langston University). Coleman left the university for Chicago, Illinois where two of her brothers lived There ...

Article

Constance Porter Uzelac

aviator, was born Elizabeth Coleman in Atlanta, Texas, the daughter of George Coleman, a day laborer of predominantly Indian descent, and Susan (maiden name unknown), an African American domestic and farmworker. While Bessie was still very young, the family moved to Waxahachie, Texas, where they built a three-room house on a quarter-acre of land. She was seven when her father left his family to return to the Indian Territory (Oklahoma). The Coleman household was Baptist, and Bessie was an avid reader who became particularly interested in Booker T. Washington, Harriet Tubman, and Paul Laurence Dunbar. After finishing high school, she studied for one semester at Langston Industrial College, in Langston, Oklahoma.

Between 1912 and 1917 Coleman joined her two brothers in Chicago where she studied manicuring at Burnham s School of Beauty Culture and worked at the White Sox Barber Shop She supplemented her income ...

Article

Elizabeth Hadley Freydberg

Born in Atlanta, Texas Elizabeth Coleman was the twelfth of thirteen children Her mother Susan Coleman was African American Her father George Coleman was three quarters Choctaw Indian and one quarter African While Bessie was still a toddler the Coleman family moved to Waxahachie Texas an agricultural and trade center that produced cotton grain and cattle The town was about thirty miles south of Dallas and was recognized as the cotton capital of the West There the Coleman family made a living from picking cotton George Coleman built a three room house on a quarter acre of land but by the time Bessie was seven years old he had returned to Choctaw country in Oklahoma Susan Coleman continued to raise nine children alone as she also continued to harvest in the fields pick cotton and do domestic work to make ends meet When the children became old enough usually ...

Article

Richlyn Faye Goddard

physician and aviation pioneer, was born in Nassau, Bahamas, one of six children of Horatio A. Forsythe, a civil engineer, and Maude Bynloss. During his childhood, the family lived in Jamaica, West Indies, where Forsythe received his early education. When he arrived in America in 1912 to attend Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, his original intention was to study architecture, but as a student of George Washington Carver, he switched his focus to a career in medicine. After graduating from Tuskegee, he attended McGill University Medical School in Montreal, Canada, and in 1930 he earned his medical degree as Doctor of Public Health. Forsythe performed his postgraduate work at Providence Hospital in Chicago, Seaview Sanatorium in New York, and Douglass Hospital in Philadelphia. He moved to Atlantic City, New Jersey, where he began to concentrate on flying airplanes, a dream he had harbored since childhood.

Forsythe took ...

Article

Miriam Sawyer

Forsythe, Albert Edward (25 February 1897–04 May 1986), aviator and physician, was born in Nassau, the Bahamas, the son of Horatio Alexander Forsythe, a civil engineer, and Lillian Maud Byndloss Forsythe. When he was three, the family moved to Jamaica. His mother died of pneumonia while Forsythe was a child. His father soon remarried, eventually fathering thirteen children. The family was comfortably middle class, employing several servants. A gifted student, Forsythe attended the Titchfield School, where he excelled in mathematics. When he was fourteen, the headmaster of the school recommended that he be sent to England to complete his education. His father preferred to send him to Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama, an institution founded by Booker T. Washington to educate African Americans.

Arriving in the United States Forsythe was met in Miami by relatives who cautioned him about segregation in the South Blacks could not use ...

Article

Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, Hubert Julian, the son of Henry and Silvina (Lily) Hilaire Julian, owners of a cocoa plantation and a shoe factory, became one of the first African American pilots when he earned an aviation license at the age of nineteen. Instead of becoming a doctor as his parents hoped, Julian lived a life of international intrigue as a pilot, arms dealer, and mercenary. Sent to school in England, Julian left Europe for Canada when World War I (1914–1919) broke out. He earned a pilot's license in Canada and arrived in Harlem in the early 1920s with hopes of flying from North America to Africa.

Julian earned the name “The Black Eagle of Harlem” after a stunt in 1923 that typified his ability to parlay failures and defeats into publicity and monetary successes Flamboyant and charming Julian turned a failed parachute ...

Article

Caroline M. Fannin

Julian, Hubert F. (20 September 1897–19 February 1983), aviator was born Hubert Fauntleroy Julian in Port of Spain Trinidad the son of Henry Julian a cocoa plantation manager and Silvina Lily Hilaire Julian He was educated at the Eastern Boys School an excellent private school in Port of Spain In 1909 he saw his first airplane minutes later he witnessed its pilot s fatal crash Nevertheless Julian was instilled with a passion for both the exotic and the mechanical aspects of aviation In 1912 his parents who wanted their only child to be a doctor sent him to England for further education When World War I broke out Julian went to Canada and attended high school in Montreal Late in the war he took flying lessons with Canadian ace Billy Bishop One of the earliest black aviators he earned his Canadian pilot s license at the age ...

Article

Caroline M. Fannin

aviator, was born Hubert Fauntleroy Julian in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, the son of Henry Julian, a cocoa plantation manager, and Silvina “Lily” Hilaire Julian. He was educated at the Eastern Boys' School, an excellent private school in Port-of-Spain. In 1909 he saw his first airplane; minutes later, he witnessed its pilot's fatal crash. Nevertheless, Julian was instilled with a passion for both the exotic and the mechanical aspects of aviation. In 1912 his parents, who wanted their only child to be a doctor, sent him to England for further education. When World War I broke out, he went to Canada and attended high school in Montreal. Late in the war he took flying lessons with the Canadian ace Billy Bishop. Julian earned his Canadian pilot's license at the age of nineteen and thus became one of the earliest black aviators. In 1921 he was awarded Canadian and ...

Article

Caroline M. Fannin

aviator and astronaut, was born in Chicago, the son of Gwendolyn Annette Williams Lawrence, a civil servant, and Robert Henry Lawrence Sr., a disabled veteran. While Lawrence and his sister were quite young, their parents divorced. Their mother married Charles Duncan, who worked as a Veterans Administration underwriter and in periodicals circulation. Robert H. Lawrence Sr. remained a strong influence in his children's lives.

Lawrence a bright and self disciplined youngster attended Haines Elementary School in inner city Chicago The family was far from affluent but the Duncans provided support and intellectual stimulation nurturing Lawrence s interests in chess model airplanes and chemistry Summers spent at the home of family friends near St Louis Missouri allowed the children to enjoy country surroundings and trips to baseball games and to nearby Lambert Airfield During the school year in Chicago visits to museums concerts or the zoo were ...

Article

Caroline M. Brown

aviator and aeronautical engineer, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the third son of Alma (Price) Loving, a homemaker and housekeeper, and Hardin Clay Loving, a railroad conductor and optometrist. Neal Loving had an early love of aviation that remained with him despite family objections. Although he changed elementary schools frequently owing to his family's poverty and related evictions, he read every aviation book and magazine at nearby branches of the Detroit Public Library and raced to watch passing airplanes during school hours. At a schoolteacher's suggestion, he acquired an application for the U.S. Air Corps at the nearest post office, and read it avidly. Deterred by its unequivocal statement that applicants were to be “white, male,” he threw away the application and continued to explore. He saved his lunch and movie admission money to buy model airplane materials, and, when the Detroit City Airport opened in 1929 ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

or in the world, and the earliest known African American licensed to fly an airplane, was born in Seven Pines Point, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, the third of six children of Darius Malick, a skilled carpenter, and Susan Conrad Malick, both themselves natives of Northumberland County. Darius Malick was quite light in complexion, and may intermittently have “passed” as “white,” but by all accounts, Emory Malick was dark enough that he was generally recognized as “colored.”

In 1887 Susan Malick died of typhus at the age of thirty Her widowed husband put their two youngest daughters up for adoption This fact indirectly was to rescue Emory Malick from obscurity The second youngest daughter Annie who was light skinned was adopted by a white family She married William Frick Groce owner of a local silk mill Their children had some knowledge of their diverse ancestry but declined to speak to their ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

the son of Lulu Jenifer and a father whose surname was Lewis, although his identity is otherwise unknown. As was common during that period, William was given his mother’s family name as his middle name. Some sources suggest he was born in 1899, though census records and his academic career makes the 1897 date more likely. Lewis died when his son was four years old. William and his sister Edna then moved with their mother to Chicago, where on 25 September 1907 Lulu Jenifer married Louis N Powell a barber probably born in Texas who adopted William and Edna Lulu Powell worked as a laundress for a private family Young William sang in the choir at Ebenezer Baptist Church learned to play piano and took on a newspaper route He completed elementary education at Key School and graduated from the segregated all black Wendell Phillips High School which ...

Article

David R. Griffiths

aviator who promoted flight training for African Americans but gained his greatest fame as a pilot for Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie, was born in Carabelle, Florida. His father's name is unknown; his mother, Celest Robinson, may have been born in Ethiopia. Raised by his mother and stepfather in Gulfport, Mississippi, Robinson graduated from Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in 1924. For the following six years he was a truck driver in Gulfport. Then he moved to Chicago, where he and his wife, Earnize Robinson, operated a garage. In 1931 he graduated from the Curtiss-Wright Technical Institute in Chicago. He taught at Curtiss-Wright Institute and organized African American men and women pilots in the Chicago area into the Challenger Air Pilots Association.

Early in 1935 Tuskegee Institute invited Robinson to organize the first course in aviation entirely for African Americans By that time he held a transport ...