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James G. Spady

One of thirteen children, Robert Mara Adger was born in Charleston, South Carolina. His father, Robert Adger, was black, and his mother, Mary Ann Morong, was Native American. In 1848 the family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Adger's father first found a job as a waiter in the Old Merchant's Hotel. Later, while working as a nurse, he industriously saved enough funds to open a furniture business. He was involved in many activities and was a founder of the Benjamin Banneker Institute.

Robert Mara Adger received his early training at the Bird School, an early black educational institution in the United States. During his teenage years, he worked in his father's furniture stores, which had expanded from one in 1850 to three by 1858 Serving as a manager provided him with the business experience that he later found valuable as director of the Philadelphia Building and ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

the first African American to manage a public library, founded a widely acclaimed program to train African Americans as library assistants in Louisville, Kentucky, where he supervised the first library department established for African Americans in an era of Jim Crow exclusion. Blue was the first person of African descent to appear in an American Library Association conference program (1922) and a founder of the Conference of Colored Librarians in 1927.

Blue was born in Farmville, Virginia, the second child of Noah and Henri Ann Crowly Blue, who had previously been enslaved. By 1870, Noah Blue was listed in the U.S. Census as a carpenter; he may have been the twelve-year-old male listed in the 1850 slave census as the property of Thomas Blue District No 24 Hampshire County Virginia now West Virginia The family included a six year old daughter Alice and a ...

Article

Dorothy A. Washington

educator, librarian, and activist, was born Doris Hargrett in Hyde Park, Florida, the daughter of Andrew Joshua Hargrett and Delia Leana Green, both educators. Clack was the eighth of nine children born into a nurturing family and in small, tightly knit African American village. The children were “fed a constant diet of positive life-sustaining sense of values,” and she “learned many valuable lessons about community, trust, honesty, love of learning, faith in God” (Clack, 1995). Although her father died when Doris was three, his values of education, hard work, and a can-do attitude were instilled in her and her siblings by their mother. Experiencing economic hardship during the Great Depression, her mother was forced to send Doris to live with her older brother O. V. Hargrett for three years in Plant City, Florida. She rejoined the Hyde Park family at the age of nine.

Upon returning ...

Article

Louis M. Abbey

periodontist, public health specialist, and educator, was born Clifton Orin Dummett in Georgetown, British Guiana (later Guyana), the youngest of four children of Eglantine Annabella Johnson, a homemaker, and Alexander Adolphus Dummett, a pharmacist and registered dentist. Clifton attended St. Phillips Elementary School from 1924 until 1930 and Queen's College high school from 1930 until 1936, both in Georgetown, British Guiana. His values were strongly influenced by his father, mother, and uncle, Reginald Johnson, an Edinburgh-trained public health physician in Georgetown. “I came from a family that believed in the equality of man. I respected all peoples and demanded similar respect from those with whom I came in contact” (personal communication with the author).

Right after high school, in 1936 Alexander Adolphus Dummett obtained a student visa for his son to study in the United States at Howard University in Washington D ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

librarian, journalist, and African Methodist Episcopal lay church leader, was born in Shannon, Mississippi, the son of William and Sarah Forbes, who had been enslaved until freed by the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, the arrival of the United States Army in Mississippi, and the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Working at a young age in brickyards and farms, Forbes left the state at the age of fourteen, attended Wilberforce University in Ohio for a time, then moved to Boston in the 1880s. Mr. and Mrs. Mungin of Smith Court, a forgotten couple who assisted many struggling students, assisted him in finding work as a laborer at Memorial Hall in nearby Cambridge, saving money and studying. In 1888 Forbes enrolled at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he was a classmate of Sherman W. Jackson later principal of M Street High School in ...

Article

J. James Iovannone

collector, historian, author, and social personality, was born in Maryland, the son of Levi Thomas and Louisa Morris Gumby. In 1901 Gumby and his sister were sent to live with their grandparents, and it was there, at age sixteen, that Gumby began his scrapbook collection, making his first book—a practice that he would continue throughout the rest of his life—out of wallpaper, paste, and clippings of the September 1901 assassination of President McKinley. In 1902 Gumby entered Dover State College (later Delaware State University) in Delaware and began to study law. Before completing his studies Gumby withdrew from school and moved to New York City around 1906, where he would live until his death nearly sixty years later.

Gumby was immediately dazzled by life in the big city and sought to integrate himself into the urban community During his early years in New ...

Article

Courtney L. Young

was born in Tallahassee, Florida, the daughter of Colleen Dowling (Hayden), a music teacher and social worker, and Bruce Kenard Hayden, Jr., a college music professor (specializing in stringed instruments). Carla Diane Hayden was raised in Brooklyn, New York and Chicago.

In 1973 Hayden received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Roosevelt University in Chicago. She later received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Library Science from the University of Chicago, a program that closed in 1989. Her professional library career began in 1973 as a library associate and children’s librarian at the Chicago Public Library. In 1979 she became the young adult services coordinator, a position she held until her first departure from the library system in 1982. She set up and operated the library at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry from 1982 to 1987 In this position Hayden became a library advocate skilled in ...

Article

Publishers' fair and literary festival organized by three black presses in London, New Beacon Books, Bogle‐L'Ouverture, and Race Today Publications, to promote black literature and politics in the context of anti‐colonial movements in the Third World. The Book Fair ran annually from 1982 to 1991, and again in 1993 and 1995, its venue from 1985 the Camden Centre near King's Cross. In 1985 regional events were started in Manchester and West Yorkshire (Leeds or Bradford), and also in Glasgow in 1993 and 1995. In 2005 a commemorative volume was published by New Beacon Books in association with the George Padmore Institute, containing reproductions of the brochures and programmes for the twelve festivals, as well as a historical synopsis and participants' memoirs.

Founded by John La Rose and Jessica Huntley following the New Cross fire and the Black People's Day of Action in 1981 the Book Fair ...

Article

Mark L. McCallon

librarian, was born Elonnie Junius Josey in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of Willie and Frances Josey. The eldest of five children, Josey attended a segregated school in Port Smith, Virginia. After studying the organ at the Hampton Institute, Josey attended Howard University's School of Music. Graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1949, he then went to Columbia University in New York and earned a master's degree in history. Unable to obtain a teaching job following graduation, Josey worked as a desk assistant in the Columbia University libraries. He developed a strong interest in libraries while working there and decided to pursue a master's degree in library science from the State University of New York at Albany.

Josey's first position was as a librarian in the Central Library of the Free Library of Philadelphia from 1953 to 1954. In 1954 Josey accepted a teaching position as ...

Article

Robert Fikes

dentist, civil rights activist, and art and book collector, was born Jack Johnson Kimbrough in Lexington, Mississippi, the son of Samuel Gulbridge Kimbrough, a blacksmith, and Mary Hoover. Jack was named after the famed African American boxer Jack Johnson. When he was seven, the Kimbroughs, intimidated by local Ku Klux Klansmen and seeking better economic opportunities, moved from Mississippi to Alameda, California, where relatives resided. After graduating from Alameda High School in 1926 Jack attended Sacramento Junior College He continued his studies at the University of California at Berkeley where he studied chemistry while working as a janitor waiter cook and landscaper His interest in science as well as the relatively shorter time that it took to earn a dentistry degree than a medical degree persuaded him enroll in the University of California Dental School in San Francisco from which he graduated with ...

Article

Richard Pankhurst

Treasures looted by British troops from Emperor Tewodros of Ethiopia's mountain capital of Magdala (now Amba Mariam) on 13 April 1868. Most came from Tewodros's palace and the nearby church of Medhane Alem. The loot was transported, on fifteen elephants and 200 mules, to a nearby site, where a two‐day auction raised ‘prize money’ for the troops. Most of the booty was purchased by the British Museum's representative Sir Richard Holmes, who also secretly acquired an icon for himself. Over 400 manuscripts went to the British Museum (later British Library), while the finest were given to the Royal Library in Windsor Castle. The Victoria and Albert Museum received two crowns, one of solid gold, and the Museum of Mankind, two embroidered tents.

Tewodros's successor Emperor Yohannes IV in 1872 requested the return of the icon and a manuscript on the Queen of Sheba The Museum which had ...

Article

David H. Anthony

NAACP publicist, author, journalist, and editor of The Crisis was born in Pendleton, South Carolina, to William J. Moon and Georgia Bullock. Henry Lee Moon was raised in Cleveland. Much of his life became intertwined with the NAACP and its chief print organ, The Crisis, which began publication in 1910. Moon's connection to the NAACP dated back to June 1919, when, as a graduating high school senior he met the national leaders of the then decade-old organization when its national conference was hosted in his hometown of Cleveland. Among the luminaries he met were Mary White Ovington, W. E. B. Du Bois, Joel Spingarn, William Pickens, James Weldon Johnson, and Walter Frances. As his father was a founder of the Cleveland branch, Moon literally grew up with the group.

Educated at Howard University he earned a master ...

Article

Elizabeth Simoneau

librarian, bibliographical researcher, and political figure, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the youngest son of George Murray, a free black who worked as a timber inspector, and Eliza (Wilson) Murray, a woman of mixed African and American Indian ancestry. Daniel Murray, who was named after his father's close friend, the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church bishop Daniel Alexander Payne, began school at the age of five at a small primary school in his neighborhood. He continued to study in Baltimore public schools and entered a Unitarian seminary, graduating in 1869. On 19 April 1861 he witnessed the attack on the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment in Baltimore. An early account of Murray's life in Colored American Magazine reported that as a young boy he supplied Union soldiers with water during an attack in Baltimore and earned accolades for spying a rebel soldier trying to ...

Article

Museums  

Madge Dresser

Black British history was apparently little considered by British museums until pioneering campaigners in the 1970s and 1980s raised the subject, and it was not until the accession of the New Labour government in 1997 with its concerns about social inclusion that museums embraced black history to any significant ...

Article

Brian Purnell

librarian, community activist, and six-term member of the House of Representatives (1983–2007). Major Robert Odell Owens was born 28 June 1936 in Collierville, Tennessee, near Memphis. He was the second of eight children born to Edna Owens, a homemaker, and Ezekiel Owens a furniture factory worker During Major Owens s childhood Memphis was racially segregated and African Americans were forced to live in separate neighborhoods attend inferior schools and make do with other Jim Crow public facilities Despite these poor conditions the Owens parents nurtured in their children a belief that advancement would come through thrift diligence and academic success In the Owens household Ezekiel gave small monetary gifts when one of his children memorized a historic speech and Edna organized games that quizzed the children on their knowledge of state capitals and advanced spelling From an early age Major excelled in these academic ...

Article

Jeff Bloodworth

librarian, civil rights activist, state senator, and congressman, was born in Collierville, Tennessee, one of the eight children of Ezekiel Owens and Hannah Owens. During Owens's childhood his family moved to Memphis, where Owens graduated from Hamilton High School in 1952 at the age of sixteen. After graduation and upon the receipt of a Ford Foundation scholarship, Owens attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he majored in mathematics, earning his bachelor's degree in 1956. In 1957 Owens earned a master's degree in Library Science from Atlanta University.

After earning his master's degree Owens married Ethel Werfel, whom he met at Morehouse College, and moved to New York City. Employed in the Brooklyn Public Library system, Owens also became active in politics and civil rights in the early to mid-1960s. In 1964 he was named community coordinator for a federal program to encourage ...

Article

Sowande' Mustakeem

Undoubtedly one of the few professors of history to have a second career as a singer-songwriter, Bernice Johnson Reagon continues to focus her work on sharing the historical legacy of the African American experience amid the relentless quest for freedom and justice within America.

Reagon was born in Albany, Georgia, one of eight children of Jessie Johnson, a carpenter, and Beatrice Johnson, a housekeeper. On days off from her housekeeping job, Beatrice Johnson picked cotton. Jessie Johnson served onSundays as minister at four different rural Baptist churches. Reagon’s musical foundation was largely shaped by the influence of the southwestern Georgia choral tradition in her father’s church, which was part of a tradition dating back to the nineteenth century. Reagon entered Albany State College in 1959 where she studied Italian arias and German lieder as a contralto soloist During this time she became active in the civil ...

Article

Barbara McCaskill

and muse and confidante to Harlem Renaissance intellectuals and literati. Anne Spencer was born inauspiciously on a Virginia plantation. Yet the combination of loving, though irreconcilable, parents and an unorthodox, isolated youth formed her extraordinary independence, introspection, and conviction.

Her father, Joel Cephus Bannister of African American white and Native American descent and her mother Sarah Louise Scales the mulatta daughter of a slaveholder separated when Spencer was six While her mother worked as an itinerant cook Spencer roomed with foster parents in Bramwell West Virginia where no other black children lived In insular and parochial Bramwell she was groomed for the African American bourgeoisie Her mother dressed her in the finest frocks she could afford and withheld her from an outlying school that enrolled working class children until she could attend Lynchburg s Virginia Seminary with socially suitable African American students Spencer entered the seminary at age eleven ...

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Barry T. Ryan

Spingarn, Arthur Barnett (28 March 1878–01 December 1971), lawyer, was born in New York City, the son of Elias Spingarn and Sarah Barnett. He received an A.B. from Columbia University in 1897, as well as an A.M. in 1899 and an LL.B. in 1900. Spingarn also received an LL.D. from Howard University in 1941 and an L.H.D. from Long Island University in 1966. In 1918 he married Marion Mayer, a social worker; they had no children.

Admitted to the New York bar in 1900 Spingarn began private practice in New York City He was soon associated with what later would be known as civil rights activism both in and out of the courtroom Consequently in 1911 he was appointed vice president and chairman of the national legal committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People NAACP a position he held until 1940 His work ...

Article

Carolyn Wedin

lawyer, NAACP official, and bibliophile. Arthur Barnett Spingarn was one of four sons born to Elias and Sarah Barnett Spingarn in New York City. His father, who had emigrated from Austria—his mother was from Hull, England—entered the wholesale tobacco business in 1861, and the family became wealthy and socially prominent in Manhattan. Spingarn received his BA from Columbia College in 1897, his MA from Columbia University in 1899, and his LLB from Columbia Law School in 1900, when he was also admitted to the New York bar. He married Marion Mayer, a social worker, on 27 January 1918; she died in 1958.

With his oldest brother, Joel Elias Spingarn, Arthur Spingarn joined the fledgling NAACP soon after its founding in 1909 and was made a vice president in 1911 and director of legal defense work separately incorporated as ...