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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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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 ...

Article

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 ...

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Charles Rosenberg

real estate developer, publisher, insurance broker, architect, and philanthropist, was born in Stock Township, Harrison County, Ohio, the son of William Blue and Adeline L. Blue, who married in Ohio in 1863. His father, a farm laborer, was born in Virginia in 1843 and may have been at one time enslaved to Thomas Blue in Hampshire County. He may also have been related to Thomas Fountain Blue, an acclaimed librarian in Louisville, Kentucky. Blue's mother was born in Ohio in 1845, to parents also born in Virginia. He had an older brother, William Benjamin, born in 1864, and a younger brother, Richard J., born in 1871. During the 1870s the family moved to New Philadelphia in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, where William Blue worked as a teamster.

Welcome T. Blue found work in Canton Ohio around 1889 where he lived ...

Article

Lester C. Lamon

The son of Richard Henry Boyd and Hattie Moore, Henry Allen Boyd was born in Grimes County, Texas, on April 15, 1876, and grew up in San Antonio. During the early 1870s his father, a former slave and Texas cowboy, received the call to the ministry and launched a successful career as a minister, church promoter, and entrepreneur. More than any of his eight brothers and sisters, Henry Allen identified with his father's aggressive concern for race achievement and personal initiative. While still in his teens, the younger Boyd attained a clerkship in the San Antonio post office (the first African American to hold such a position), and he held this post until he moved his wife and young daughter to Nashville, Tennessee, just before the turn of the century. Nashville remained Henry Boyd's residence until his death in 1959.

Richard Henry Boyd had become active ...

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David Michel

publisher, entrepreneur, and banker, was born to Richard Henry Boyd, a publisher, and the former Harriet Moore in Grimes County, Texas, one of nine children. Henry Allen went to public school in Palestine, Texas, and attended the West Union Baptist Church. The Boyd family later moved to San Antonio and Henry found work at the local postal office. He became the first black to be hired as a postal clerk in San Antonio. He married Lula M. Smith, who bore him a daughter, Katherine. Lula did not live long after her daughter's birth. In 1908 he married again, this time to Georgia Ann Bradford. Around the early 1900s Henry Allen moved to Nashville, Tennessee, at the request of his father who had preceded him there. R. H. Boyd was making a name for himself in Nashville as founder and secretary treasurer of the National Baptist ...

Article

Robert Janis

professional football player and businessman, was born in Clairton, Pennsylvania, the first of three sons of Lawrence Brown, a baggage handler for the Pennsylvania Railroad, and Rosa Lee, a housemaid. The family moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when Brown was only two years old. He began playing football in his junior year at Schenley High School in Pittsburgh. He chose football over baseball because he thought he had a better chance to attain a college scholarship in football. Prior to his junior year, Brown played baseball. He said that his father encouraged him to play baseball because it was a game one could play as an organized sport at a young age. His dad loved baseball and was an excellent player in his own right, though he did not play professionally but rather with neighborhood friends.

Brown played fullback in high school primarily because he had good blocking skills He ...

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Julia Sun-Joo Lee

slave and minister, was born in Maryland. The names of his parents are unknown. For the first twenty-five years of his life Cooper was known as “Notly.” He escaped to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, around 1800 and took the name John Smith. Employed at a lumberyard, he married a free black woman and had four children. Around this time Cooper's identity was betrayed by a friend. He was separated from his family and sent to Washington, D.C., to be sold at auction. He managed to escape and, with the help of a friend, return to Philadelphia, where he was reunited with his family. Still in danger of recapture, Cooper concealed himself at the home of a Quaker, where he stayed for a week while his master attempted to locate him.

Cooper fled to New Jersey where he was hired by a farmer His whereabouts were again discovered and Cooper escaped by ...

Article

Jonathan J. Bean

businessman, publisher, and self-help advocate, was born Samuel Bacon Fuller in Monroe, Louisiana, the son of William Fuller, a sharecropper and commercial fisherman, and Ethel Johnson Fuller, a domestic servant. His formal education ended after the sixth grade, and the young Fuller took up door-to-door sales. In 1920 the Fuller family moved to Memphis, Tennessee. When his mother died in 1922, Fuller's father abandoned the family, leaving S.B. in charge of six siblings; they refused charity and worked various jobs to survive. In 1923 Fuller married Lorena Whitfield; they had six children before they divorced in 1945. One year later Fuller married Lestine Thornton, a long-time assistant. In 1928 Fuller moved to Chicago joining the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to northern cities There he worked for seven years first as a coal deliverer then as a life ...

Article

María de Lourdes Ghidoli

was responsible for the publication of an illustrated almanac in 1881 that published a series of biographies of relevant members of the Afro-Porteño—Porteño meaning resident of Buenos Aires—community. The name of his parents, the exact date of his birth, and whether or not he was married are all unknown. However, the parish registries indicate that he had several children. Garzón had one child, María Leocadia, with a woman named Teofila Teja in 1876. He then had seven more children with a woman named Tomasa Miranda: María Luisa was born a year later in 1877, Mónica María Vicenta in 1880, Luis Modesto in 1882, Héctor in 1885, Eulalia Amalia in 1888, Antonia Alcira in 1891 and Juana Felisa in an unknown year Additionally this documentation points to a close relationship between Garzón and the Thompson family as some of his children were the godchildren ...

Article

Gregory S. Bell

entrepreneur and publisher, was born Earl Gilbert Graves in Brooklyn, New York, the oldest of the four children of Earl Godwyn Graves and Winifred Sealy, both the children of immigrants from Barbados. Graves's parents were very different people, yet both had characteristics that would influence his career. His father, an assistant manager at the Overland Garment Company, an apparel firm in New York City, was very serious and demanding, while his mother was outgoing and involved in a host of community activities. Graves has credited his work ethic, salesmanship, and drive to his father and his involvement in various causes and organizations to the example of his mother.Growing up Graves always looked for opportunities to make money At age six he sold Christmas cards to neighbors Later while attending Morgan State University in the early 1950s Graves worked two jobs at once Seeing the reluctance of local ...

Article

Daniel Donaghy

publisher and corporate executive. Earl G. Graves was born in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York, to Earl Goodwin Graves and Winifred Sealy Graves. One of only two African American students to graduate from Erasmus High School in 1952, Graves went on to star in track, maintain a dean's list average, and undertake several business ventures at Morgan State University, from which he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics in 1958. An ROTC member, Graves graduated from college a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Before he left the military, Graves completed Airborne and Ranger's School and was promoted to Green Beret captain. In 1962, Graves worked his childhood neighborhood as a narcotics agent from the U.S. Treasury Department. Over the next few years, he entered the real estate market, buying and developing land and selling it at a significant profit.

In ...

Article

Gregory S. Bell

entrepreneur and publisher, was born Johnny Johnson in Arkansas City, Arkansas, the only child of Leroy Johnson, a sawmill worker, and Gertrude Jenkins, who worked odd jobs. He had a half sister named Beulah from Gertrude Johnson's previous marriage. Johnson's mother was his main source of encouragement. When he was eight years old, his father died in a sawmill accident. A year later his mother married James Williams.

The family lived in a caring but poor neighborhood, and Johnson attended the Arkansas City Colored School, which did not provide education beyond the eighth grade. Opportunities were limited for almost all African Americans; the adults were relegated to low-paying jobs. In his autobiography, Succeeding against the Odds Johnson says that he noticed that the poor people worked in dirty overalls and sweated for a living while the rich people wore suits so he decided that his ...

Article

Jamal Donaldson Briggs

publisher and media mogul. John Harold Johnson was born to Leroy and Gertrude Johnson in Arkansas City, Arkansas. His father was killed in a sawmill accident when John was eight. In 1927 his mother married James Williams, whom Johnson later credited as the dominant force in his life.

In July 1933, Johnson and his mother moved to Chicago so that he could further his education; there were no black high schools in Arkansas City. His stepfather joined them later. The family was on welfare for a time, having moved to Chicago during the height of the Great Depression. Johnson graduated from DuSable High School with honors in 1936. During high school he met Harry H. Pace president of the Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company one of the largest African American businesses in the North Pace encouraged Johnson to work part time at Supreme Liberty as editor ...

Article

Genevieve G. McBride

newspaper publisher and multimedia owner, was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Mary Ellen Shadd Jones, later Mary Ellen Shadd-Strong, a journalist. A descendant of Mary Ann Shadd Cary, the first female African American publisher, his mother was a correspondent for the Chicago Defender and World in an era of an only intermittent presence for the black press in Wisconsin after the loss of the legendary Wisconsin Enterprise-Blade in the 1940s under J. Anthony Josey.

Lacking a stable local black press, African Americans in Wisconsin seemed almost silent amid the civil rights movement for most of the next decade. Several attempts at a black press in the state failed until Shadd-Strong founded an affiliate of the Defender in 1956; she maintained her Milwaukee Defender until 1960 McBride 343 344 The silence was deceptive however as struggling publishers of the period were literally and figuratively ...

Article

Yvette Walker

poet, essayist, critic, publisher, and educator. Don L. Lee was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, and was raised in Detroit by his mother, Maxine Lee, who died of a drug overdose when he was sixteen years old. He has attributed his early race consciousness and self-awareness to his upbringing by his mother and his time as an apprentice and curator at the DuSable Museum of African History in Chicago in 1963. Influenced by the poets Amiri Baraka and Gwendolyn Brooks, Don L. Lee emerged as a major literary artist of the 1960s. His formal education includes undergraduate studies at various universities in Chicago and graduate school at the University of Iowa. Lee took a Swahili name, Haki R. Madhubuti, in 1973.

Madhubuti is one of the defining artists of the Black Arts Movement a cultural phenomenon of the 1960s and 1970s ...

Article

Debra Foster Greene

newspaper publisher, editor, community leader, and entrepreneur, was born Joseph Everett Mitchell in Coosa County, Alabama, one of eight children of Henry Mitchell, a farmer and sawmill owner, and his wife, Cassana. In 1898 Mitchell left Alabama for work in Atlanta, Georgia, but when President William McKinley called for volunteers for the Spanish American War, he enlisted and became a member of the Twenty-fourth Infantry Regiment, one of the six African American regiments in the U.S. Army. The regiment served in the Philippine Islands from 1899 until August 1902, during the Philippine Insurrection. After his honorable discharge Mitchell returned to Alabama to marry Mattie Elizabeth Thomas on 20 January 1901 at Cottage Grove, Alabama. On 2 June 1940, two years after Mattie's death, he married Edwina Wright, daughter of Richard Robert Wright Sr. thirty year president of Georgia State College ...

Article

James Phillip Jeter

John Henry Murphy, Sr., was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the only son of Benjamin Murphy, Jr., a whitewasher, and Susan Coby. Murphy was born a slave. The Baltimore Afro-American, the newspaper he would guide to prominence during the first two decades of the twentieth century, described Murphy's educational attainment as “limited.” A short man, he walked with a limp, the result of a childhood horseback riding incident that left one leg longer than the other. Freedom for the Murphys came via the Maryland Emancipation Act of 1863.

Despite his limp, Murphy answered Abraham Lincoln's call for troops and joined the Union army during the Civil War. He enlisted as a private in Company G of the mostly black Thirtieth Regiment of the Maryland Volunteers—an infantry unit—on March 18, 1864. During his twenty-one months in uniform he served under General Ulysses S Grant ...

Article

James Phillip Jeter

newspaper publisher, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the only son of Benjamin Murphy Jr., a whitewasher, and Susan Coby. John Henry Murphy was born a slave, and the Baltimore Afro-American, the newspaper that he guided to prominence during the first two decades of the twentieth century, described Murphy's educational attainment as “limited.” A short man, he walked with a limp, the result of a childhood horseback riding incident that left one leg longer than the other. Freedom for the Murphys came through the Maryland Emancipation Act of 1863.

Despite his limp Murphy answered Abraham Lincoln's call for troops and joined the Union army during the Civil War. He enlisted as a private in Company G of the mostly black Thirtieth Regiment of the Maryland Volunteers—an infantry unit—on 18 March 1864. During his twenty-one months in uniform he served under General Ulysses S. Grant ...