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Glenn Allen Knoblock

was a native of South Carolina. Baker was likely born enslaved, but nothing is known of his early life. In 1880, at the age of twenty-two, he was living in Effingham, South Carolina, with his eighteen-year old wife Lavinia and earned a living as a farmer. Nearly two decades later Baker's life, and that of his family, would be turned upside down and end in tragedy as a result of a political appointment following the presidential election of 1896.

By 1897Frazier and Lavinia Baker were living in Lake City, South Carolina, their family having grown to include six children, daughters Cora, Rosa, Sara and newborn Julia, and sons Lincoln and William. In the spring of 1897Frazier Baker received a political appointment from the newly elected president, William McKinley as postmaster of the predominantly white community of Lake City How Baker gained ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

Born a slave in Richmond, Virginia, Henry Brown labored on a plantation before going to work in a tobacco factory in Richmond, under a master who was regarded as relatively benevolent. Although he later described his life in enslavement as tolerable, Brown decided to escape in 1848 when his wife, Nancy, and their three children were sold away from him. He devised an ingenious plan, which he maintained was divinely inspired.

In March 1849 Brown had a white friend, Samuel A. Smith, package him in a wooden box and ship him by Adams Express to antislavery headquarters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During the twenty-seven-hour journey, Brown spent much of the time on his head, as he was transferred back and forth from wagons, trains, and steamboats. An astonished group of abolitionists “received” him once he arrived in Philadelphia.

Antislavery groups helped Brown relocate, first to Boston, Massachusetts ...

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Nicole S. Ribianszky

free woman of color, property holder, and slave owner, was a resident of Natchez, Mississippi. Nothing is known about her early life. Her status at the time of her birth, free or enslaved, as well as her parentage, is undetermined. Butcher lived in Natchez for at least twenty years of her life and accrued property during that time due to a relationship with a white man, John Irby. She then came close to losing it when another white man, Robert Wood, attempted to wrest it from her by exploiting her vulnerability as a free woman of color.

In 1834John Irby wrote his last will and testament which clearly named Butcher as the administrator of his estate which consisted of the White House Tavern surrounding land buildings two horses and buggy household and kitchen furniture his bank deposits and two slaves Alexander and Creasy Two years later ...

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Rose Pelone Sisson

survivor of a lynching attempt, civil rights activist, and founder of America's Black Holocaust Museum, was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin, to James Herbert Cameron, a barber, and Vera Cameron who was employed as a laundress, cook, and housekeeper. At the age of fifteen months, James was the first African American baby ever admitted as a patient to the St. Francis Hospital in La Crosse, where he underwent an emergency operation on the abdominal cavity. By the time James started school, his parents had moved to Birmingham, Alabama, and his parents separated.

When Cameron was sixteen he was living with his mother, two sisters, and grandmother in Marion, Indiana. His stepfather Hezikiah Burden hunted and fished long distances from home so was away from his family most of the time The family lived in a segregated section of Marion Indiana which counted about four thousand blacks among its ...

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Steven J. Niven

schoolgirl and terrorist bombing victim, was born in Birmingham, Alabama, the seventh of eight surviving children of Oscar Collins, a busboy in a Chinese restaurant, and Aline Collins, a domestic. Addie Mae grew up in a small four-room house on a dirt road in Sixth Court West, one of Birmingham's poorest neighborhoods. When her parents separated, making an already difficult home life even harder, Addie Mae and her sisters Janie and Sarah helped the family finances by going door to door after school, selling cotton aprons and potholders that their mother made. Interviewed by the Birmingham News in April 2001, her sisters recalled that Addie Mae was a quiet—but by no means shy or timid—child who emerged as the peacemaker whenever quarrels broke out in the family. “She just always wanted us to love one another and treat each other right,” her younger sister Sarah remembered.

In ...

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Mark Newman

civil rights activist, was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the eighth of twelve children of a white father, George Dahmer, and a mother of mixed racial heritage, Ellen Kelly. Vernon Dahmer's complex heritage derived from both sides of the family. Born the illegitimate son of a German immigrant and a white American mother, George Dahmer had been raised with eight younger black siblings, the result of his mother's later marriage to a former slave. Ellen Kelly was the daughter of a white planter father, who gave Ellen and George Dahmer part of his land near Hattiesburg, Kelly Settlement. The Dahmer children looked white and three of Vernon's five brothers migrated to the North, where they married white women and passed as white. Some members of the family on both sides of the color divide were ignorant of the existence of relatives on the other. In adulthood, Vernon Dahmer ...

Article

Chris Saunders

the last state president of apartheid South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was born in Johannesburg on 18 March 1936, the son of a leading National Party (NP) politician. Widely known, from his initials, as F. W., the younger de Klerk practiced law before entering politics. After being elected as a member of Parliament for the Vereeniging constituency in 1972, he rose rapidly through the ranks of the NP until he became leader of the party in early 1989 and state president in September that year. He held that position until May 1994, when Nelson Mandela succeeded him. He then became one of two deputy-presidents under Mandela until mid-1996, when he left the government of national unity and became leader of the opposition in Parliament. He retired as leader of the NP and from politics in September 1997.

De Klerk was a key figure in ...

Article

F. W. De Klerk was born to an Afrikaner family with a long history of involvement in South African politics. His own political career began during adolescence, when he joined the youth section of the Afrikaner-dominated National Party.

In 1958 De Klerk received a law degree from Potchef- stroom University. He practiced law in Veereniging from 1961 until 1972, all the while serving as chairman of the local chapter of the National Party. He then abandoned his law career and became a member of Parliament in South Africa. De Klerk rose quickly through the party’s rank and file, with appointments to numerous cabinet posts. As a minister he had little patience for antiapartheid protests but was known as a conciliator within the party.

After South African president Pieter Willem Botha had a heart attack in 1989 De Klerk became the leader of the National Party Later that ...

Article

Mark G. Emerson

and a son of Frederick Douglass. Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, Lewis Henry Douglass was the second child and eldest son of Frederick and Anna Murray Douglass. When Lewis was eight the family moved to Rochester, New York, where the boy was educated in public schools. After finishing his education, Lewis helped his father with his newspaper North Star, learning the printer's trade. Considered the ablest of Douglass's children, Lewis was the person Frederick Douglass asked to secure his papers from John Brown after the Harpers Ferry raid to prevent federal marshals from discovering them.

During the Civil War, Lewis enlisted in the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, attaining the rank of sergeant major and taking part in the attack on Fort Wagner, South Carolina, in July 1863 After the war Lewis and his brother Frederick Jr went to Denver Colorado where Lewis worked as a ...

Article

Winsome Chunnu-Brayda

symbolic civil rights martyr, was born to Richard, a farmer, and Tessie (McKinley) Earle on 25 May 1922 in Liberty (Pickens County), South Carolina. Little is known of his formative years; however his father died in December 1939, leaving young Earle to care for his mother and four siblings at the age of seventeen.

The historical memory of Earle begins and ends in a conflicted world that was both shifting and static. By 1947 the United States, including the southern states, experienced an economic boom begun during World War II. Nevertheless the social, political, and economic opportunities for African Americans in the postwar American South were limited. For example, despite the 1944 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Smith v. Allwright, which outlawed the white primary in the American South, ten African Americans in Greenville, South Carolina were denied the right to vote in the 1946 Democratic ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

lynching survivor and litigant, was born in Noxubee County, Mississippi, to parents whose names are unknown. Nothing is known of his early life, but around 1932 he married a woman named Kate, with whom he had two children. They moved a few miles south of Noxubee, to Scooba in Kemper County, where he began working as a farm laborer for Raymond Stuart, a prominent white planter. Ellington's new home county, known since Reconstruction as “Bloody Kemper” because of its reputation for racial violence, had witnessed fourteen lynchings between 1883 and 1930, all of them of African Americans. Indeed, whites in Kemper lynched blacks at twice the rate of other counties in Mississippi, the state with the nation's worst record for lynching.

On 30 March 1934 Ellington nearly became the fifteenth black man lynched in Bloody Kemper following the discovery of his employer s dead body Raymond ...

Article

Myrlie Williams was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and raised by her grandmother, McCain Beasley, and her aunt, Myrlie Beasley Polk. She married civil rights activist Medgar Evers in 1951. Together they worked for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in its mission to end racial discrimination and segregation in Mississippi.

In 1963 white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith assassinated Medgar Evers. After her husband's death, Evers-Williams moved her family to California, where she continued to work for the NAACP by speaking publicly about her struggles for black equality. With William Peters, she coauthored For Us, the Living (1967). In 1987 Evers-Williams became the first black woman to serve as commissioner on the Los Angeles board of public works. She was elected vice chairperson of the NAACP in 1994, and in 1995 she became the organization s first ...

Article

Kimberly Springer

civil rights activist, was born Myrlie Beasley in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and was raised, following her parents divorce, by her grandmother Annie McCain Beasley and her aunt, Myrlie Beasley Polk. Both women were schoolteachers who encouraged young Myrlie in her educational pursuits through activities such as singing, public speaking, and piano lessons. Myrlie hoped to major in music in college, but neither of Mississippi's state schools for blacks, Alcorn A&M College or Jackson State, had such a major. In 1950 Myrlie enrolled at Alcorn, intending to study education and music. Only two hours after arriving on campus, however, she met Medgar Evers, an upperclassman and army veteran seven years her senior. He soon proposed, and they were married on 24 December 1951 Following Medgar s graduation and Myrlie s sophomore year the couple moved to Mound Bayou Mississippi where Medgar took a position as an insurance salesman with ...

Article

Jennifer Jensen Wallach

civil rights activist and chairperson of the NAACP. Raised by her grandmother and aunt in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Myrlie Beasely entered Alcorn A&M College in 1950 to study education and music. Shortly after enrolling she met an upperclassman, Medgar Wylie Evers, and the couple married in 1951. The next year they moved to Jackson, Mississippi, where Medgar Evers became field secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Ignoring threats from white racists, Myrlie and Medgar Evers participated wholeheartedly in the civil rights movement, but on 12 June 1963 Medgar Evers was shot and killed. His assailant, a segregationist named Byron De La Beckwith, was captured and tried but not convicted. For thirty years Myrlie Evers fought for a retrial, and on 5 February 1994 Beckwith was finally convicted of murder. The trial was dramatized in the 1996 film Ghosts of Mississippi.

Following ...

Article

Roanne Edwards

The second of three children of Obadiah and Bernice (McMurry) Scott, Coretta Scott King grew up in rural Alabama, where she helped her family harvest cotton and tend their farm. Her father hauled lumber for a white sawmill owner, a job that enabled him to purchase and operate his own sawmill. The local white community resented her father's success. Vandals allegedly burned his sawmill, and the Scotts' house, to the ground. King was deeply shaken by her family's trials. She dreamed of moving to the North, and she diligently focused on her education, enrolling in a local private high school, where she pursued her talent for music. In 1945 she won a scholarship to Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She studied music and elementary education and in 1948 debuted as a vocalist at the Second Baptist Church. Also while at Antioch, she performed in a program with Paul ...

Article

Barbara Woods

was born in Heiberger, near Marion, Alabama, the second of three children of Obadiah Scott and Bernice McMurry, who farmed their own land. Although Coretta and her siblings worked in the garden and fields, hoeing and picking cotton, the Scotts were relatively well off. Her father was the first African American in the community to own a truck, which he used to transport pulpwood, and he also purchased his own sawmill, which was mysteriously burned to the ground a few days later. The family blamed the fire on whites jealous of their success.

Wanting a better life for their children, the Scotts sent all three to college. The eldest, Edythe, graduated at the top of her class at Marion's Lincoln High School in 1943 and earned a scholarship to Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio; her brother, Obie attended Central State University in nearby Wilberforce Ohio Coretta ...

Article

Angela D. Brown and Clayborne Carson

The founding president of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia, Coretta Scott King emerged as an African American leader of national stature after the death in 1968 of her husband Martin Luther King Jr.

Born in Marion, Alabama, Coretta Scott spent her childhood on a farm owned by her parents, Obie Leonard Scott and Bernice McMurry Scott. By the early 1940s, her father’s truck-farming business had become increasingly successful, prompting harassment from white neighbors. The family suspected that resentful whites may have been responsible for a 1942 fire that destroyed the Scott family s home Hoping for better opportunities for their offspring Obie and Bernice Scott encouraged their three children to excel in school Coretta Scott graduated from Lincoln High School a private black institution with an integrated faculty and then followed her older sister Edyth to Antioch College in ...

Article

Jennifer Jensen Wallach

civil rights activist and wife of Martin Luther King Jr. Coretta Scott was born in Marion, Alabama, the second of three children of the farmers Obadiah Scott and Bernice Scott. By the standards of the time, the Scott family was financially successful. The family attributed a 1942 fire—which destroyed their home—to the actions of local whites who were envious of their prosperity.

The Scott parents encouraged all three of their children to attend college. Coretta was valedictorian of her high school class and earned a scholarship to attend Antioch College in Ohio. She graduated in 1951 with a degree in music and elementary education. A talented vocalist, she made her solo debut at the Antioch Second Baptist Church in 1948 While in college she also performed alongside the renowned singer and actor Paul Robeson After graduation she received a scholarship to attend the New England Conservatory of Music ...

Article

Timothy B. Tyson

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son and namesake of a prominent Baptist minister, King entered Atlanta's Morehouse College at age fifteen. After graduation he enrolled at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, where he encountered Walter Rauschenbusch's Social Gospel theology, Reinhold Niebuhr's justifications for the use of coercion to combat evil, and Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolent direct action. Enrolling at Boston University, he earned a Ph.D. in systematic theology (1955). He married Coretta Scott in 1953; they had four children.

In 1954, King was appointed pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. On 1 December 1955, the arrest of Rosa Parks for violating the city s racial segregation ordinances sparked a bus boycott and local organizers selected the twenty six year old King to lead it It happened so fast King remembered that I did not even have time to think ...

Article

Martin Luther King, Jr., was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, the eldest son of Martin Luther King, Sr., a Baptist minister, and Alberta Williams King. His father served as pastor of a large Atlanta church, Ebenezer Baptist, which was founded by Martin Luther King, Jr.'s maternal grandfather. King, Jr., was ordained as a Baptist minister at age eighteen.