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Sibyl Collins Wilson

journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner, was born in Muskegon, Michigan, to Ezra Douglas and Natalie VanArsdale Bell. As a youngster, Bell was such a committed reader that visits to the library were withheld from him as punishment for misbehaving. His love for reading served him well throughout his life.

Bell enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1968 and remained in the service until 1970, after which he attended the University of Michigan for a year. After relocating to New York, he attended Hofstra University for free because he worked as a custodian, maintaining classrooms in 1970. Applying those same principles of hard work in exchange for opportunity, he joined the staff at Newsday and worked his way up from custodian to Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist. According to a biography written for the Pulitzer Prize award book, he held many positions in the Newsday organization including porter clerk ...

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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 ...

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William S. McFeely

“Anna Murray-Douglass” was how Rosetta Douglass Sprague referred to her mother in a reminiscence that tells almost all that is known about her. Determined to give the woman an identity separate from that of her husband, Sprague did not have an easy task. Of all the American women eclipsed by famous, articulate husbands, few have been subsumed more totally than Anna Douglass. Like Deborah Franklin, the wife of Benjamin Franklin, Anna was married to a successful, self-taught man who announced himself to the world with a famous autobiography that says virtually nothing about his wife.

Murray was born near the town of Denton in remote, interior Caroline County on Maryland’s eastern shore. Her parents, Mary and Bambarra Murray were manumitted a month before she was born so she was born free the eighth of twelve children At seventeen she like many free black people and former slaves ...

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Mark G. Emerson

Born in Lynn, Massachusetts, Charles Remond Douglass was the third and youngest son of Frederick and Anna Murray Douglass. Named for his father's friend and fellow black antislavery speaker Charles Lenox Remond, Charles attended the public schools in Rochester, New York, where the family moved in late 1847. As a boy, he delivered copies of his father's newspaper, North Star.

As a young man, Charles became the first black from New York to enlist for military service in the Civil War, volunteering for the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. Unlike his brother Lewis, who also served in the Fifty-fourth and became a sergeant major in that regiment, Charles was unable to deploy with his fellow troops owing to illness. As late as November 1863 Charles remained at the training camp in Readville Massachusetts He ultimately joined another black regiment the Fifth Massachusetts Cavalry rising to ...

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Mark G. Emerson

As the second son and namesake of his father, Frederick Douglass Jr. was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He attended public schools in Rochester, New York, where he also helped his brothers, Lewis and Charles, to aid runaway slaves who were escaping to Canada on the Underground Railroad. While he did not serve in the Civil War as his brothers did, Frederick acted as a recruiting agent for the Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Infantry regiments, as did his father. Following the war, Frederick attempted to enter the typographical workers' union. When that plan failed, he went with his brother Lewis in 1866 to Colorado, where Henry O. Wagoner, a longtime family friend, taught him the trade of typography. While he was in Colorado, Frederick worked with his brother Lewis in the printing office of the Red, White, and Blue Mining Company. In the fall of 1868 Frederick returned ...

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William B. Gould

Union navy sailor in the Civil War and journalist, was presumably born into slavery, in Wilmington, North Carolina, to Elizabeth “Betsy” Moore of Wilmington, a slave, and Alexander Gould, who was white. William had at least one sibling, Eliza Mabson, who acquired her last name by virtue of a publicly acknowledged relationship with George Mabson, a white man in Wilmington. She eventually became the mother of five children by Mabson, including her son George L. Mabson, the first black lawyer in North Carolina.

Little is known about William B. Gould's early life. As a young man he acquired skills as a plasterer or mason, and he learned how to read and write, although those skills were forbidden by law to slaves. His initials are in the plaster of one of the Confederacy's most elegant mansions, the Bellamy Mansion in Wilmington. Among his young friends were George Washington ...

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Sibyl Collins Wilson

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and radio talk show personality, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to Ruby (maiden name unknown) and Roger Henderson. When he was a teenager, he and his family moved to Oakland, California. After graduating from high school, Henderson attended the University of Kentucky and graduated in 1985 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. He pledged the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. After obtaining his degree, he interned with The Walt Disney Company and newspapers such as The Detroit Free Press and the Lexington Herald Leader.

In 1986 he took a job with the Louisville Courier‐Journal in Kentucky, after which he worked as a beat reporter for the St. Petersburg Times in Florida. In 1995 he joined the Detroit bureau of the Wall Street Journal to cover the automotive industry with a focus on the Chrysler Corporation He was appointed as the deputy bureau ...

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Meredith Broussard

Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and newspaper editor, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Jerry A. Moore, an electrician and stationary engineer at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and the Pyramid Tire Retreading Co., and homemaker Hura May Harrington. Moore grew up in West Philadelphia, where he attended Philadelphia's Overbrook High School and studied trumpet and French horn at the Settlement Music School. After graduating in 1958, he played jazz professionally for a year before enlisting in the U.S. Army, where he served as a medic. Returning to Philadelphia after being discharged from the Army in 1962, Moore applied for a job as a copy boy at the Philadelphia Inquirer—“Because I could type,” he said (telephone interview with subject, April 2007).

When Moore began as a copy clerk he was responsible for running copy to editors and reporters and was one of only three ...

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Luther Brown

journalist and editor, was born in Okolona, Mississippi, to James Lee Raspberry, a school shop teacher, and Willie Mae Tucker an English teacher and amateur poet Both parents were intensely interested in education and in seeing to it that their children were the beneficiaries of good educations They prodded their six youngsters to achieve instilling in them a passion for reading a positive approach to life and a desire for logical thinking From his mother Raspberry said that he learned to care about the rhythm and grace of words and from his father he recalled learning that neither tables nor arguments are worthwhile unless they stand solidly on four legs Raspberry went north first moving to live with an older sister in Indianapolis In a few years the rest of the family left the South to become residents of Indianapolis where Raspberry and the rest of his ...

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Maceo Crenshaw Dailey

private secretary and influential assistant to Booker T. Washington, advocate of racial uplift who displayed a lifelong commitment to the goals of the Tuskegee Institute–based educational and political machine and was a prominent black representative in Republican politics. Born in Houston, Texas, in 1873 to Horace and Emma Kyle Scott, Emmett Scott was surrounded with parents, relatives, and later friends who knew the horrors of enslavement either through experience, folklore, or history and were determined to rise in the American order. Scott was thus reared in a community that focused on establishing uplift institutions and organizations to enable them to realize and enjoy first-class American citizenship and life. After attending Houston's Gregory Institute, Emmett enrolled at Wiley College from 1887 to 1889 The economic circumstances of his family he was one of eight siblings did not afford Scott the opportunity to complete his college education Upon his ...

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Edgar Allan Toppin

educator and publicist, was born in Houston, Texas, the son of Horace Lacy Scott, a civil servant, and Emma Kyle. Scott attended Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, for three years but left college in 1890 for a career in journalism. Starting as a janitor and messenger for a white daily newspaper, the Houston Post, he worked his way up to reporter. In 1894 he became associate editor of a new black newspaper in Houston, the Texas Freeman. Soon he was named editor and built this newspaper into a leading voice in black journalism in its region. Initially, he tied his fortune to the state's preeminent black politician, Norris Cuney, and was his secretary for a while.

When Cuney retired, Scott turned to Booker T. Washington, the founder of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Scott greatly admired Washington, praising his 1895 Atlanta Compromise ...

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Moneta Sleet, Jr. was born in Owensboro, Kentucky. Wanting to be a photographer since early childhood, he studied photography and business at Kentucky State College. In 1955 he became a staff photographer for Ebony magazine. On assignment, he met Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1956 and the two ...

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Cherise Smith

photojournalist, was born in Owensboro, Kentucky, the elder of two children of Moneta Sleet Sr. and Ozetta Allensworth, both teachers. Owensboro was a segregated town, but it fostered a close-knit black community that offered a safe environment in which to raise Moneta and his sister, Emmy Lou. Moneta's parents were college educated, and they instilled in their son a high regard for education and a deep respect for their racial heritage. By the time Moneta was ten years old, he had become the family photographer, shooting with a Brownie box camera. At Western High School, he joined the camera club, learning from his chemistry teacher how to develop pictures. He graduated in 1942.

Sleet enrolled at Kentucky State College in 1942 and majored in business while working as assistant to Dean John T. Williams who was himself an accomplished photographer and from whom Sleet learned ...

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Roy E. Finkenbine

abolitionist, civil rights activist, and journalist, was born a slave and spent the early years of his life in bondage in the Mohawk Valley near Albany, New York. His master was probably a member of Albany's wealthy Van Rensselaer family. He ran away from slavery in 1819 and, although his master circulated handbills and sent slave catchers as far as Canada to recover him, he eluded recapture. Eight years later he became legally free when slavery was finally abolished in New York State. In 1837 he visited and reconciled with his master, prompting the antislavery press to label him “a modern Onesimus,” a biblical reference to Philemon 10:16.

While residing in Princeton New Jersey in the early 1830s Van Rensselaer became attracted to the emerging antislavery movement He settled in New York City by mid decade married joined an independent black church and established a restaurant that ...

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Jeremy Rich

was born on 16 April 1977 in Wau, Bahr el-Ghazal province, South Sudan to Athian Wek, a teacher, and Akuol Parek. Wek was the seventh of nine children. Her family belonged to the Dinka ethnic community. During the Sudanese civil war from 1956 to 1972, Wek’s parents spent much of their time as refugees in the Central African Republic and other countries. Wek did not know her actual date of birth, but later chose 16 April 1977 as the legal date Like many Dinka Wek was quite tall and reached nearly six feet in height Her family was reasonably well off by the standards of Wau in the late 1970s and 1980s even though they did not have access to electricity Her parents were strict but Wek later recalled their sense of discipline with respect Her education began in Wau at a primary school originally founded by European ...

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Brenna Sanchez

photographer and Pulitzer Prize–winning photojournalist, was born in Lexington, North Carolina, one of six children of an African Methodist Episcopal Zion minister, whose name is now unknown, and Ruby Mae Leverett White. White proved a slow student and was once told by a teacher that he would grow up to be nothing more than a garbageman. His father reportedly answered that remark by telling his son that what he did mattered less than wanting to be the best at whatever goal he had set for himself. White purchased his first camera at age thirteen for fifty cents and ten bubblegum wrappers. When he began studying commercial art at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina, he decided to become a professional photographer.

A turn in the U S Marine Corps gave White his first professional photography experience When he returned to civilian life he had a difficult time ...

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Joshunda Sanders

one of the nation's most prominent journalists and the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in journalism, was born in Washington, DC. Her parents, whose names are unknown, were born in Georgia and Southern Virginia and migrated to Washington, DC, where they met at Howard University. Wilkerson would later write in her epic first book, The Warmth of Other Suns (2010), that their story piqued her interest in Southern migrants moving to the urban North in what she would later call an “internal immigration.”

Wilkerson's interest in journalism began early. She edited her high school newspaper before she went on to attend her parents' alma mater. As a student at Howard, she rose through the ranks at the college newspaper, The Hilltop, to become editor in chief Her flair for narrative reporting was noticed in the early 1980s when she won a national Sigma ...