Baptist minister, missionary, and author, was born Charles Octavius Boothe in Mobile County, Alabama, to a Georgia‐born slave woman belonging to and carried west by the slave owner Nathan Howard Sr. Little is known of Boothe s Georgian parents but he proudly claimed that his great grandmother and stepgrandfather were Africans Boothe s description of his ancestors reflects his lifelong pride in his African heritage but he was equally effusive about the spiritual influence that these Christian elders had on his life His earliest recollections included his stepgrandfather s prayer life and singing of hymns and the saintly face and pure life of my grandmother to whom white and black went for prayer and for comfort in the times of their sorrows These early familial Christian influences were further reinforced by attending a Baptist church in the forest where white and colored people sat together to commune and to ...
Daniel L. Fountain
physician and medical researcher specializing in sickle-cell anemia, was born in Washington, D.C., to Francis L. Cardozo, a district school supervisor, and his wife Judy, last name unknown. Cardozo married sometime in the 1930s. He and his wife, Julia, a social worker, had one daughter named Judy. Cardozo's father and grandfather, both named Francis Lewis, were prominent educators in Washington, D.C. According to family lore, the Cardozos descended from a free mulatto woman who was part Indian (name unknown) and a Spanish Sephardic Jew named Isaac Nunez Cardozo. Issac Cardozo was a plantation owner in South Carolina whose son was an ordained Congregational minister and South Carolina's secretary of state during Reconstruction.
William Warrick Cardozo and his sisters were light in complexion and sometimes for business purposes his sisters were able to pass for white One of six children Cardozo was his parents only son ...
Floyd Jr. Ogburn
physician and politician, was born near Orangeburg, South Carolina. Born free and the youngest of seven children in a family with German African ancestry, he matured on an Orangeburg plantation, which his father, Darius, had inherited from his German father, who had settled in South Carolina in the early nineteenth century. The Crums owned and used forty-three slaves to farm their plantation, yet the close of the Civil War marked the death of Darius and their fortune.
The dissolution of the family fortune drove Crum's older brothers north in search of employment, but they helped him get an education. He graduated in 1875 from Avery Normal Institute in Charleston, South Carolina, and briefly attended the University of South Carolina shortly thereafter. In 1881 he obtained an MD degree from Howard University, establishing a medical practice in Charleston two years later. After setting up his medical practice Crum married Ellen ...
Laura M. Calkins
the first African American to graduate from the University of Michigan Medical School, civil rights advocate, and journalist, was born in Malden, Essex County, Ontario, the son of a former American slave. His date of birth is uncertain: some sources suggest that he was born on 22 December 1837, while others suggest that he was born on that date in 1842. He was reportedly baptized as William Henry Butler, but in his early twenties he chose not to use his first name and added the prefix “Fitz” to his surname because he found “Butler” too common, and perhaps too servile.
As a youngster Henry attended public schools for blacks in southwestern Ontario. In 1866 he married Sarah Helen McCurdy, the daughter of William H. McCurdy a prosperous Ontario farmer The couple initially lived in the predominantly black towns of Amherstburg and New Canaan Ontario where ...
Benjamin R. Justesen
teacher, physician, public official, legislator, and lay religious leader, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, to Mary Ann Sampson, a slave, and an unnamed white father of Scottish descent. Green was raised in Wilmington by his mother, who later married Reverend Cornelius Sampson, an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion clergyman. After Wilmington's fall to invading Union forces in early 1865, Green was allowed to begin his formal education at age twenty in the local Presbyterian parochial school.
For the next two years, while working as a carpenter by day, Green attended school at night. An excellent student, he supplemented his savings with loans to enter Lincoln University in May 1867 and continued to work before being granted a scholarship in his second year. He completed his bachelor's degree in 1872 taught for a year in Lincoln s normal and preparatory schools and ...
Bruce L. Mouser
trader, traditional medical practitioner, and political arbiter, was born on the coast of Guinea-Conakry. She is also known as Elizabeth, Beth, and Liza Heard. Her likely father was a British merchant attached to commercial firms maintaining factories at Bance Island in the Sierra Leone River or on the nearby Iles de Los. It was customary for African headmen to arrange a husband/wife relationship for resident foreign “strangers”—of which Heard’s father was likely one. Her mother’s name and relationship to local leaders are unknown. At a young age, Betsy was recognized as exceptionally intelligent, and she was sent to Liverpool, where she was boarded and educated, with the expectation that she would return to the Windward Coast as an agent for European commerce and Liverpool interests.
By the 1790s Heard had established a commercial footing at Bereira on the southern Guinea Conakry coast At that time Bereira was a border ...
physician, was born near Eatontown, New Jersey, the son of Joseph Johnson and Martha A. Frazier. Before moving to New York, where he would spend his entire professional career, Peter attended Roger Smith High School in Newport, Rhode Island. After completing additional studies at Clark's Collegiate Institute in New York, Johnson enrolled at the Long Island College Hospital (a precursor to the College of Medicine of the State University of New York Health Science Center of Brooklyn), a reputable private institution. On his graduation from the Brooklyn medical school in 1882, Johnson became the fifth black graduate of the institution, forty-five years after the first African American to earn a professional degree in medicine, James McCune Smith, had earned his degree in Scotland. Johnson initially practiced medicine in New York under the guidance of David K. McDonough a physician who had been born a slave ...
Glen Pierce Jenkins
obstetrician and community leader, was born near Moncks Corner, South Carolina, the son of the former slaves John Lambright and Mary Gelzer, farmers. Middleton was one of thirteen children, and although he was born free, more than half his siblings were born into slavery. As a young man he often accompanied his father to Charleston for supplies. Their route took them by the Medical College of South Carolina, and Lambright questioned his father about the young men in white coats walking on the campus. This experience established in him the notion of studying medicine. When a life-threatening accident brought him into personal contact with a physician for a period of several months, he became convinced of his life's ambition. With the support of his family, Lambright eventually graduated from Claflin College in Orangeburg, South Carolina, with an AB degree. In 1898 he received his MD from the ...
Kenyatta D. Berry
political activist and doctor, was born in Camden, South Carolina, one of the three sons and six children of James and Susan Levy. Dr. Levy's great-grandmother was a native African. James Levy attended public school in Camden and for a short time the University of South Carolina. When the school closed its doors to black students, he had to find another university. James began his career as a teacher in Mayesville in the early 1880s. During Reconstruction he was a page in the House of Representatives in South Carolina and a student at a preparatory school for boys for entrance to State University. In 1886, he taught school in Arkansas and later entered Fisk University in November 1886. Levy graduated from Fisk University in 1891 and entered the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Chicago now University of Illinois College of Medicine that same year ...
Benjamin R. Justesen
physician and diplomat, was born in Monticello, Florida, the son of James and Emily Livingston. After the Civil War, his family moved to Jacksonville, Florida, where Livingston and his older sisters, Julia and Minerva, attended public schools. He became a schoolteacher in Jacksonville while attending that city's Cookman Institute, later merged into Bethune-Cookman University in Orlando. After his graduation from Cookman in 1882, he was recommended by Florida Republican leaders for appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Livingston's quest was detailed by many U.S. newspapers that year, including a memorable sketch in the New York Sun (3 Sept. 1882) describing the youth as “conceded to have a bright, intelligent face and a fine physique. If he should prove qualified in his studies, his fellow cadets must not destroy him.” Livingston's unexpected nomination surprised the Sun which recalled the recent expulsion ...
physician, civil rights activist, and writer, was born in Waco, Texas, the son of Andrew Jackson Majors and Jane Barringer. In 1869 his family moved to Austin, Texas. After attending public schools in Austin, Majors studied at West Texas College, Tillotson Normal and Collegiate Institute, Central Tennessee College, and finally Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, from which he graduated in-1886.
After medical school Majors practiced medicine in Brenham, Dallas, and Calvert, Texas; he was the first African American doctor in Calvert. In 1886 he established the Lone Star State Medical Association for African American physicians in response to the exclusionary policies of the American Medical Association. Because of his prominence as a black doctor and his support of civil rights for African Americans, Majors became a target of racist threats. In 1888 he moved to Los Angeles to escape the rising antiblack ...
physician, newspaper founder, and attorney, initiated the challenge to Louisiana's “Separate Car Law,” which led to the U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold “separate but equal” public accommodations in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). Martinet was born free, the second of eight children born to Pierre Hyppolite Martinet, a carpenter who arrived sometime before 1850 in St. Martinsville, Louisiana, from Belgium, and his wife, the former Marie-Louise Benoît, a native of Louisiana. Benoît is generally referred to as a free woman of color, but there is a record in St. Martin Parish Courthouse that Pierre Martinet purchased her freedom on 10 January 1848 from Dr. Pierre Louis Nee, along with her mother and their infant son Pierre. They were married on 7 December 1869 in St Martin de Tours Catholic Church St Martinsville Louisiana before the Civil War Louisiana law did not permit ...
Karen Jean Hunt
physician and educator, was born Alice Woodby in Bridgewater, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Charles Woodby and Elizabeth B. Frazier. As a child Alice suffered from the loss of her sight and remained blind for three years. After recovering she attended public schools in Bridgewater, less than thirty miles from Pittsburgh.
From 1884 to 1886 Woodby attended Hampton Institute in Virginia. Although she never graduated, Woodby fully embraced the Hampton principles of “education for life” and “learning by doing.” In an 1897 letter to the Southern Workman she explained her decision to leave Hampton: “Students were sent out to teach one year before graduating. Not wishing to become a teacher, I thought it best not to begin, for fear the temptation to continue might thwart my plans for obtaining my profession.”
Woodby entered the Institute for Colored Youth (ICY) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1886 The ICY was one ...
Eduardo Spiller Pena
was born in Salvador da Bahia on 23 March 1794. Born Francisco Gomes Brandão, Montezuma was the son of Pedro (or Manoel) Gomes Brandão and Narcisa Teresa de Jesus Barreto, both of whom were born in Bahia. His mother was probably of African or mixed descent. According to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, Pedro Brandão was the captain of two vessels that shipped more than 500 slaves from the African ports of Elmina, on the Gold Coast, and the region of the Bight of Benin, to Bahia between 1811 and 1814. The father’s involvement in the slave trade and other commercial activities financed Montezuma’s studies, first at the Escola de Medicina da Bahia (School of Medicine of Bahia), between 1813 and 1815, and later in Portugal, at the Universidade de Coimbra where he graduated with a law degree in 1821 The study of the law prepared ...
Susan Knoke Rishworth
physician, civil rights and women's suffrage activist, settlement worker, and clubwoman, was born Verina Harris in Ohio, one of five children of Charlotte (Kitty) Stanly, a schoolteacher, and the Reverend W. D. Harris, a minister of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Her mother came from a family of North Carolina free blacks who had inherited slaves that they wished to emancipate in the North before the impending Civil War. Around 1850 the family moved to Ohio, where Kitty Stanly and her husband taught school. The year of Verina Harris's birth is given as 1865 in some sources, but most probably it was between 1853 and 1857. Little is known about her early life, but the family apparently moved south to Columbia, South Carolina, in 1870 while her father was serving in an AME ministry in various locations in South Carolina More information ...
Benjamin R. Justesen
physician, businessman, and political activist, was born near Rich Square, Northampton County, North Carolina, the son of free black parents who were Quakers. His father, Jonas Elias Pope, freed from slavery in 1851, was a prosperous carpenter and landowner; his mother's name was Permelia. A younger half-brother, Jonas Elias Pope II, born to his father's second wife in 1898, was his only known sibling.
A gifted student, Pope was educated first in the common schools of Northampton County, before enrolling in 1874 at the Baptist-affiliated Shaw University in Raleigh, where he received his bachelor's degree in 1879. In 1880 he worked as a schoolteacher in Halifax County, near his birthplace, and boarded at the Brinkleyville home of Hilliard J. Hewlin, a farmer and aspiring Republican legislator. In 1882 Pope entered the first class at Shaw University s new Leonard Medical ...
activist, lawyer, doctor, and dentist, was born to free parents in Salem County, New Jersey. The majority of secondary sources list his middle name as “Swett” or “Sweat,” although his biographer J. Harlan Buzby asserts that it was “Stewart.” His father, also named John Rock, lived for more than three decades in Elsinboro, Salem County, New Jersey, and married Maria Willet on 8 June 1820. The elder John Rock was a laborer, and though the family was poor, John and Maria Rock did their best to see that young Rock was educated.
By 1844 Rock was teaching at an all-black school in Salem, a position he held until 1848. While teaching he read extensively and began studying medicine with two white doctors in the area, Quinton Gibbon and Jacob Sharpe He attempted to gain admission to medical colleges in the area but ...
physician, newspaper proprietor, and Republican Party activist, was born in St. James Parish, Louisiana, the son of Louis Roudanez, a wealthy French merchant, and Aimée Potens, a free woman of color. Roudanez was raised in New Orleans as a member of the city's free black elite, but in 1844 he left to pursue a professional education in France. In 1853 the faculty of medicine at the University of Paris awarded him a degree in medicine. He graduated with a second medical degree from Dartmouth College in 1857, and soon after he returned to New Orleans to open his own office. In the same year he married Louisa Celie Seulay; their union produced eight children.
Roudanez continued to build his medical practice during the Civil War and Reconstruction but like other free men of color in New Orleans upon federal occupation of south Louisiana ...
Kenneth J. Blume
physician and diplomat, was born in Brooklyn, New York, to parents whose names and occupations are unknown. In 1865 he moved with his parents to Providence, Rhode Island, and over the next eighteen years was educated at schools in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. In 1883 he graduated from Yale Medical School with high honors and shortly thereafter married the well-educated daughter of a Yale University carpenter.
Thompson then spent eighteen months in Paris (1883–1884), further learning the latest medical techniques. He returned to the United States late in 1884 and established his residence and medical practice in New York City Quickly becoming socially and professionally prominent he was cited by contemporaries as an example of the possibilities of self improvement open to African Americans who were afforded educational opportunities He also gained a reputation within New York social circles for his proficiency in French and ...