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Robert S. Abbott was born in Frederica, Georgia, the son of Thomas and Flora (Butler) Abbott, both former slaves. From 1892 to 1896, he attended Hampton University in Virginia, where he learned the printing trade. Abbott moved to Chicago, Illinois, to attend Kent College of Law, graduating in 1898. He practiced law for a few years, then changed careers to become a journalist.

Abbott founded the Chicago Defender, a weekly newspaper in May 1905. He launched the paper with $25, and operated at first out of his kitchen. Under his direction, the Defender became the most widely circulated African American newspaper of its time and a leading voice in the fight against racism. Abbott cultivated a controversial, aggressive style, reporting on such issues as violence against blacks and police brutality. The Defender raised eyebrows with its antilynching slogan If you must die ...

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Clint C. Wilson

newspaper publisher, was born Robert Abbott in Fort Frederica, St. Simons Island, off the coast of Savannah, Georgia, the son of Thomas Abbott and Flora Butler, former slaves who operated a grocery store on St. Thomas Island. Thomas Abbott died the year after Robert was born, and Robert's mother moved to Savannah, where in 1874 she married John Herman Henry Sengstacke. Sengstacke was the son of a German father and a black American mother and, although born in the United States, was reared in Germany. He returned to the United States in 1869 and pursued careers in education, the clergy, and journalism. In the latter role Sengstacke became editor of the Woodville Times a black community weekly newspaper that served Savannah area residents Abbott s admiration for his stepfather inspired him to add the name Sengstacke to his own and to attempt to become a publisher in ...

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Benjamin R. Justesen

journalist and public official, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the younger son of the Reverend Henry and Margaret Priscilla (Corbin) Adams. Their father administered a respected school in Louisville. Cyrus and his older brother, John Quincy Adams (1848–1922), received excellent educations, Cyrus graduating from preparatory school and college at Oberlin College. In 1877 Cyrus began to teach in the Louisville public schools, and soon pooled savings with his brother to open the weekly Louisville Bulletin. They ran the newspaper until 1885, when it was acquired by the American Baptist newspaper owned by William Henry Steward, chairman of trustees at State University, a black Baptist university in Louisville, where Cyrus taught German. Already a dedicated traveler, Cyrus had spent much of 1884 in Europe, and was also fluent in Italian, French, and Spanish.

Both brothers had served as Louisville correspondents for the Western Appeal ...

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Wilbert H. Ahern

John Quincy Adams was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of Henry Adams, a prominent minister and educator, and Margaret Corbin. Both his parents were free persons of color. Following private schooling in Wisconsin and Ohio, Adams graduated from Oberlin College. After a brief teaching stint in Louisville, in 1870 he followed his uncle, Joseph C. Corbin, to work in Arkansas in the Reconstruction. By 1874 he had risen from schoolteacher to assistant superintendent of public instruction. His lifelong activism in the Republican Party began in Arkansas; there he twice served as secretary to Republican state conventions, was elected as justice of the peace on the party ticket, and held the offices of engrossing clerk of the state senate and deputy commissioner of public works. The defeat of the Arkansas Republican Party in 1874 and the racial repression that followed led Adams to return ...

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Kevin D. Roberts

author of an autobiographical slave narrative, was born near Winchester, Virginia, to slave parents whose names are now unknown. Adams and his family were owned by George F. Calomese, a member of a prominent planter family. John Quincy Adams and his twin brother were one of four pairs of twins born to their mother, who had twenty-five children.

What we know of Adams's life comes from his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of John Quincy Adams (1872), which briefly traces Adams's life as a slave and as a freeman. Written in simple, plain language, the Narrative captures the tragedy of slavery in powerful ways. The most poignant events in Adams's early life involve the sale of family members and friends. In 1857 the sale of his twin brother Aaron and his sister Sallie left Adams very sad and heart broken Adams 28 Though crushed by the ...

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Linda Allen Bryant

editor and publisher, was born in Peoria, Illinois, to Dr. Cecil Bruce Ford and Florence Henderson Ford. She was the granddaughter of Major George Ford and a great-great-granddaughter of West Ford, who may have been the African American son of George Washington. Cecil Bruce Ford, a graduate of Meharry Medical College, was Peoria's first African American dentist, while Elise's mother, Florence, was a well-known seamstress. Elise Ford was baptized at the age of three at Bethel Methodist Church and attended the Peoria public school system with her siblings Bruce, Florence, and Harrison. Later Ford acted as her grandfather's secretary when he was the president of the Springfield chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and wrote his correspondence as his eyesight failed in his later years.

The Ford oral history, which held that she was the three-times great-granddaughter of George ...

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Joel Gordon

Egyptian journalist and newspaper magnate in collaboration with his twin brother, Mustafa Amin, was born in Cairo on 21 February 1914. Their father was Amine Youssef Bey, a prominent lawyer and politician, and their mother was a niece of nationalist leader Saʿd Zaghlul. The boys grew up in Zaghlul’s Cairo villa, a political nerve center, eventually known as Bayt al Umma (the “House of the Nation”). In 1919 Zaghlul headed the national delegation that sought British permission to attend the Paris Peace Conference. Their arrest and exile sparked the 1919 “revolution” that inaugurated the constitutional monarchy (1923–1953). In 1922, the Amin twins embarked upon their first journalistic ventures, a series of handwritten magazines.

Ali attended the Royal Awqaf School from 1926 to 1928 but was expelled for participating in demonstrations against one of numerous minority governments He attended several preparatory schools one associated with the ...

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Rami Ginat

Egyptian journalist, novelist, scriptwriter, publisher, and politician, was born in Cairo on 21 February 1914. He said, “When I hold my pen I feel that I hug the most beautiful woman in the world; I have therefore lived a long love-story. I cannot imagine myself live a single day without my pen … When I pass away I ask to lay my pen next to me in my tomb since I may need it when I write a journalistic research story about the resurrection day” (Mustafa, p. 6). Mustafa Amin, or al-Ustadh the teacher as he was often referred to by his colleagues and followers was one of Egypt s most eminent journalists of the twentieth century Many in the Arab world have regarded him as the father of Arab journalism His pen Mustafa Amin kept reminding his readers was mightier than the dictator s sword a reference ...

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Mary Krane Derr

poet, writer, educator, and chiropractor, was born Jewel Christine McLawler in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was the oldest of six children born to William McLawler, a minister, and Alma Bazel McLawler, a gospel songwriter. During her childhood, Jewel McLawler's elders, especially the religious poet Frances Theresa Smith, her grandmother on her mother's side, encouraged her to cultivate her precocious intelligence. As a preschooler Jewel learned to read, memorize poetry, and excel in math. The Pittsburgh Courier, a leading black newspaper, reported on her rapid progression through school.

At age twelve, Jewel graduated from McCosh Elementary School on Chicago's South Side. At sixteen she finished Englewood High School and married her first husband. She had two children with him: a son, Kim Allan, and a daughter, Marcianna called Marci She returned to school at age thirty two when she found herself ...

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Charles Rosenberg

spent his childhood and early adulthood in Pennsylvania, and may have been born in Philadelphia. Various censuses suggest his year of birth may have been 1818, 1820, or 1824, but a likely 1850 census entry shows his age as thirty-two.

Anderson’s parents have yet to be identified, and little is known about his life growing up in Pennsylvania. Contemporary accounts in California refer to him having worked as a waiter, and a Peter Anderson referenced as mulatto, who worked as a waiter, was recorded in the 1850 federal census living in Philadelphia’s Spruce Ward. Living with him were a woman named Mary Anderson—possibly his wife, or maybe his sister—two boys named Peter and George Anderson, and an unidentified nineteen-year-old named Elizabeth Purnell.

Anderson arrived in California in 1854, as the Gold Rush of 1849 was declining and established a tailor shop described in some directories ...

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Joy Gleason Carew

civil rights lawyer, community activist, editor, and publisher, was born in Winston, North Carolina, the sixth and last son of nine children of Simon Green and Oleona Pegram Atkins. His father was the founder and first president of the Slater Industrial Academy, later known as Winston‐Salem State University. Atkins graduated from the Slater Academy in 1915 and then went to Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, graduating magna cum laude in chemistry in 1919.

When Atkins obtained his LLB cum laude at Yale University in 1922, he was the first African American to graduate with honors from that institution. While there, Atkins was a member of the debate team and served as a monitor of the Yale Law Library, where he oversaw the indexing of thirty‐one volumes of the Yale Law Journal. In 1921 he was the first African American elected to the editorial board of the Yale ...

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Richard L. Kaplan

journalist and the first African American editor of the Los Angeles Times, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, one of five sons of Myrtle Baquet and Eddie Baquet Sr., prominent restaurant and bar owners. After years as a mail carrier, Baquet's father retired from the postal service, sold the family home, and opened a restaurant and bar, Eddie's Place, in 1966. At first the family moved into the restaurant's back rooms, with the brothers sharing one bed. The restaurant became famous for its authentic Creole cuisine, attracting such celebrities as Bill Cosby while still catering to the discriminating tastes of local residents. The Baquets, in fact, had long-established roots in the New Orleans community dating back 200 years, and many family members were local jazz musicians of note.

After graduating from the Catholic all boys St Augustine High School Baquet attended Columbia University in New York City ...

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Born in Sanford, Florida, Claude Barnett was sent at a very young age to live with his grandparents and other relatives in suburban Chicago, Illinois. He returned to the South to study engineering at Alabama's Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University), from which he graduated in 1906. Back in Chicago, he worked as a postal clerk and, exposed to a wide range of advertising journals, decided to make a career in advertising. In 1913 he produced a series of photographs of famous blacks, which he sold through the mail, furthering his interest in business.

Five years later Barnett and several other entrepreneurs formed the Kashmir Chemical Company which sold cosmetics Barnett left the post office took the job of advertising manager at Kashmir and toured the country selling cosmetics as well as his photographs In each town he visited the local black newspaper hoping to bargain for ...

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Robert L. Harris

entrepreneur, journalist, and government adviser, was born in Sanford, Florida, the son of William Barnett, a hotel worker, and Celena Anderson. His father worked part of the year in Chicago and the rest of the time in Florida. Barnett's parents separated when he was young, and he lived with his mother's family in Oak Park, Illinois, where he attended school. His maternal ancestors were free blacks who migrated from Wake County, North Carolina, to the black settlement of Lost Creek, near Terre Haute, Indiana, during the 1830s. They then moved to Mattoon, Illinois, where Barnett's maternal grandfather was a teacher and later a barbershop owner, and finally to Oak Park. While attending high school in Oak Park, Barnett worked as a houseboy for Richard W. Sears cofounder of Sears Roebuck and Company Sears offered him a job with the company after he graduated from high school but ...

Article

Kathleen Thompson

journalist, activist, and vice presidential candidate, was born Charlotta Amanda Spears in Sumter, South Carolina, the sixth of eleven children of Hiram Spears and Kate (maiden name unknown). The details of her childhood are unknown, but sometime before her twentieth birthday she went to live with her brother in Providence, Rhode Island, and began work at the Providence Watchman, selling ads and helping in the office. After ten years, suffering from exhaustion, she went for a rest to California on the advice of her doctor.

At the beginning of what was to have been a two-year stay, Spears went against her doctor's orders and took a job at the Eagle, a newspaper with a largely black readership. Her job was to sell advertising and subscriptions. However, when the newspaper's editor, John Neimore became ill he began to turn the operations of the Eagle over to ...

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Charlotta Bass, born in South Carolina, was the sixth of eleven children of Hiram and Kate Spears. At the age of twenty, she left South Carolina to live with an older brother in Providence, Rhode Island, where she worked for ten years at a local newspaper. Suffering exhaustion, she moved to Los Angeles, California, to recuperate but soon ran out of money and began collecting subscriptions for the Eagle, the oldest black newspaper on the West Coast.

By 1912 she was the newspaper's managing editor. She renamed it the California Eagle and transformed it into a tool for publicizing and attacking racial discrimination. In 1912 she also met her future husband, John Bass, who had founded the Topeka Plaindealer and who had recently been named editor of the California Eagle.

The Basses won widespread attention for their assault on The Birth of a Nation ...

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Norah C. Chase

Bass, Charlotta Spears ( October 1880?–12 April 1969), editor and civil rights activist, was born in Sumter, South Carolina, the daughter of Hiram Spears and Kate (maiden name unknown). Before 1900 she joined her oldest brother (one of her ten siblings) in Rhode Island and worked for a newspaper. In 1910 she went to Los Angeles, California, for her health. She remained in Los Angeles except for a brief stay in New York City. She took journalism courses at Brown University, Columbia University, and the University of California at Los Angeles.

She worked for the Eagle in Los Angeles, the oldest African-American newspaper on the West Coast. It was edited by John Neimore, who soon had Bass running the paper. After Neimore’s death, Captain Hawkins paid fifty dollars in 1912 to own the Eagle and gave Bass ownership in return for a promise of payment She changed ...

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Charles Orson Cook

one of the twentieth-century South's most consistent and effective civil rights leaders, perhaps best remembered for her role in the desegregation of Little Rock, Arkansas, Central High School in 1957–1958. Her name has become synonymous with racial integration, and her memoir The Long Shadow of Little Rock (1962) has emerged as one of the standard texts on the subject.

Although accounts vary, she was born Daisy Lee Gaston, probably in 1913 in Huttig Arkansas a small mill town in the southeastern part of the state near the border with Louisiana Her childhood memories are dotted with several episodes of racial discrimination but her recollection that she grew up with foster parents because her mother had died while resisting the assault of white rapists her father subsequently left town and her life left an indelible and horrific mark on her psyche Though her recollections have never been ...

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Jeff Loeb

Barry Beckham began his first novel, My Main Mother (1969), while he was a senior at Brown University, completing it while living in New York City. He returned to Brown in 1970 as a visiting lecturer in English and, after being appointed to a professorship, remained there for seventeen years, several as director of the graduate creative writing program. In 1972, his second novel, Runner Mack, was nominated for the National Book Award, and his play Garvey Lives! was produced in Providence. In 1974, he was commissioned to write a biography of New York playground basketball legend Earl Manigault. The book The book was published in 1981 as a “novelized biography,” Double Dunk. In 1987, Beckham moved to Washington, D.C., teaching at Hampton University for two years. Partly because of difficulties with publishers over another of his projects, The Black Student s Guide ...

Article

Frank A. Salamone

author, editor at Ebony magazine for more than fifty years, and popular historian of African American history. Lerone Bennett Jr. was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, on 17 October 1928 to Lerone Bennett Sr. and Alma Reed. He grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, and graduated from Morehouse College in Georgia in 1949. He became a journalist for the Atlanta Daily World that same year. Four years later he joined Jet in Chicago as associate editor, and the next year he moved to Ebony as associate editor. He moved up the editorial ranks at Ebony, becoming senior editor in 1958. In 1987 he became executive editor. While at Ebony, Bennett also continued to write, and the magazine published his articles on African American history.

Bennett collected his early articles for his first book, Before the Mayflower: A History of the Negro in America, 1619–1962 (1962 ...