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Teresa A. Booker

attorney, politician, and diplomat, was born in Louisville, Kentucky. He was the youngest of two children and the only son of Charles W. Anderson Sr., a physician, and Tabitha L. Murphy, a teacher.

Motivated by the high value that his parents placed on education, Charles W. Anderson Jr. entered Kentucky State College at age fifteen and attended from 1922 to 1925. He then transferred to Wilberforce University, one of the earliest universities established for African Americans. Although the reason for Anderson's transfer to Wilberforce University during the penultimate year of his undergraduate career is unclear, it is likely that he, like other black Kentuckians, was forced to pursue higher education outside of the state because of the still-standing Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 authorizing separate but equal educational facilities Higher educational institutions for blacks did not exist in Kentucky and rather than wait for them ...

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Lili C. Behm

politician and civil rights activist, was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the youngest son of Adlena (Gilliam) and Earnest Barbee, the latter a painting contractor and the first African American member of the Tennessee state contractor's union. Lloyd Barbee became involved with the struggle for African Americans’ civil rights when he joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1937 at age twelve. Though his family lived in poverty in the Depression‐era Jim Crow South, Barbee's father and uncles encouraged him to pursue higher education. After serving in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1946, Barbee earned his bachelor of arts degree at Memphis's all‐black LeMoyne College in 1949, and decided to pursue legal studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Law School. He had received a scholarship to the school, and sought to leave behind virulent Southern racism.

Though he suspended his studies out ...

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J. D. Jackson

civil rights attorney and political activist, was born in Birmingham, Alabama. One of three sons, he attended Birmingham public schools, including the city's first and oldest, and, at one time, the South's largest African American high school, Industrial (A. H. Parker) High.

After graduating from high school Billingsley attended two highly respected, historically black institutions of higher learning. The first was Talladega College, a private liberal arts college located in Alabama, fifty miles east of Birmingham. He graduated with high honors in 1946 and headed for Washington, D.C., where he attended Howard University School of Law. He earned his law degree there in 1950. Afterward, he returned to Alabama, where he was admitted to the Alabama state bar in 1951, one of the first ten African Americans to do so.

Instantly Billingsley threw himself behind the post World War II fight for full black citizenship in America Always ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

plaintiff in the 1928 case, Brown v. Board of Education of Charleston [West Virginia], was born in the Union South district of Kanawha County, West Virginia, the seventh living child and fifth son of Henry and Margaret A. Brown. Henry Brown, a farm laborer like his older brothers Charley and John, died before 1900. In addition to older brothers Fred and Enoch, and sisters Maria and Ruth, Anderson had a younger brother James, and younger sisters Della and Nina. All were born between 1865 and 1887.

Around 1900 he worked as a porter in a grocery store in Charleston, where his brothers held jobs as porters, baggage drivers, and a blacksmith, supporting their widowed mother and sisters. Brown moved in 1907 to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where his sister and brother‐in‐law were living, joined at least part of the time by the widowed Margaret Brown He ...

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Brian Tong and Theodore Lin

retiring room attendant, activist, most renowned for winning the 1873 Supreme Court Case Railroad Company v. Brown, was born Katherine Brown in Virginia. There are many variations of her name; in some documents, she is referred to as “Catherine Brown,” “Katherine Brown,” “Kate Brown,” or “Kate Dodson.” In the New York Times article “Washington, Affairs at the National Capital,” her name appears as “Kate Dostie.” Very few records of Brown's life survive today; as a result, much of her childhood and personal life remains unknown.

Kate Brown's recorded personal life begins with her marriage to Jacob Dodson. Jacob Dodson had a colorful past. Born in 1825, Dodson was a freeman. He spent most of his early life as a servant for the Missouri senator Thomas Hart Benton, but in 1843 Dodson began to accompany John C. Fremont, son-in-law of Senator Benton ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

attorney, was born in or near Cambridge, Massachusetts, but raised after 1913 in Charleston, West Virginia. He was a Charleston city council member, real estate agent, lead lawyer for the West Virginia NAACP in preparing the Brown v. Board of Education case for presentation to the United States Supreme Court, and the first American of African descent to sit as a judge in a court of record in West Virginia.

His parents, Anderson Hunt Brown and Nellie Lewis Brown were both natives of West Virginia. They married in Massachusetts in June 1910, where Anderson Brown had moved in 1907, and managed the stock room at Manhattan Market, Central Square, Cambridge. Their only son was born the following year. Between 1918 and 1920, Nellie Brown died in childbirth. Anderson Brown remarried to Captolia Monette Casey, and had one daughter, Della Louise later Della Louise Brown Taylor Hardman ...

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Donald Yacovone

lawyer and social activist, was born Jean Camper, the daughter of John E. T. Camper, civil rights activist and physician, and Florine Thompson. She grew up in Baltimore with her sister Elizabeth—she also had two stepbrothers and two stepsisters from her father's first marriage to Louise G. Nixon. The Camper household was a regular meeting place for local NAACP figures and national civil rights leaders, such as Thurgood Marshall and her godfather Paul Robeson. Camper drew inspiration from her father's career as a doctor and a civil rights advocate, but a series of ugly personal incidents soon underscored the need to expand the struggle for racial justice.

Jean's younger brother, John Jr. suffering from a treatable ear infection was refused treatment by Johns Hopkins University hospital because of his race The hospital eventually admitted the boy but only after the infection had spread forcing ...

Article

Marc A. Sennewald

civil rights attorney and university administrator. Julius LeVonne Chambers was born in Mount Gilead, North Carolina, where his father ran a service station. Chambers decided to pursue a career in law after his father was unable to find an attorney to help him collect a debt from a white customer. He went on to earn a law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was the first African American editor in chief of the university law review and the top-ranked student in his class. After graduating law school in 1962, Chambers earned his master of laws degree at Columbia University in 1963 and interned on the staff of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. In 1964 he opened a law office in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Chambers is best known for his role as the lead attorney in the 1971 Supreme Court case Swann ...

Article

DeCarlous Spearman

attorney, judge, poet, and activist, was one of ten children born to Albert, a laborer, and Mary Burleson Doyle, a laundress, in a four room house in Austin, Texas. In 1928 Doyle graduated Salutatorian from Anderson High School and magna cum laude from Samuel Huston College (later Huston-Tillotson College) in 1933. After college he taught in the Austin public school system and later took graduate courses at Columbia University.

On 4 March 1947 the Texas State University for Negroes (later Texas Southern University) was established to keep Heman Sweatt, a black applicant, from entering law school at the University of Texas (UT). This new school offered something unavailable to blacks in Texas, the opportunity to attend law school in their own state. On 22 September 1947 Doyle was the first student to register at the new law school This would be ...

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

Paul Finkelman

The daughter of a minister, Ada Lois Sipuel was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma. Her brother had planned to challenge the segregationist policies of the University of Oklahoma but instead went to Howard University Law School, in part because he did not want to delay his career, having already been delayed by serving in World War II. Ada, who was younger and who had been in college during the war, was willing to delay her legal career in order to challenge segregation.

In 1946 Fisher applied for admission to the University of Oklahoma Law School but was denied because of her race. A lengthy court battle ensued. In 1948 the Supreme Court ruled that the state of Oklahoma must provide instruction for blacks equal to that given whites Unfortunately since this decision did not invalidate segregated education the regents created the Langston University School of Law located at the ...

Article

LaNesha NeGale DeBardelaben

civil rights lawyer, U.S. civil rights commissioner, was born Marie Frankie Muse in Danville, Virginia, the oldest of eight children of William Brown Muse, a railroad postal clerk, and Maud Beatrice Smith Muse. Maud Muse, a 1911 graduate of the historically black Hampton University and her husband William who was one of the first African Americans employed as a railroad postal clerk in Danville exemplified for their children lives of dignity despite the indignities of Jim Crow life around them The Muse family and other black Danville residents had to travel forty eight miles to the nearest black movie theater Danville blacks also attended segregated schools and faced racial discrimination in public accommodations Frankie Muse learned at an early age to overcome these obstacles through self discipline and perseverance These were lessons that she and her siblings gleaned from their parents who taught them that moral ...

Article

Travis Boyce and Winsome Chunnu-Brayda

symbolic legal figure and civil rights pioneer, was born Lloyd Lionel Gaines to Carrie Gaines in 1911 in northern Mississippi. Little is known of his exact date of birth, nor of that of his father; however, it is known that Gaines was the youngest son of five children, and that his father passed away when Lloyd was still a child. By 1926 the Gaines family (headed by Carrie Gaines) moved from Oxford, Mississippi, to St. Louis, Missouri.

Without a father present in the Gaines household, Gaines's older brothers George and Milton delayed their education and worked to support the family. Gaines entered the all-black Vashon High School in 1928 An honor student he graduated first in his high school class earning the school s alumni award designated as the most outstanding graduate and a $250 scholarship won in an essay contest toward his college education He completed ...

Article

Steve Huntley

lawyer, presidential adviser, and boxing promoter, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the eldest of the three children of the insurance executive Truman K. Gibson Sr. and Alberta Dickerson Gibson, a school teacher. The family first moved to Columbus, Ohio, to escape the menacing racial environment of the South, and then in 1929 they moved to Chicago so that Gibson Sr. could pursue his business interests. There Truman K. Gibson Jr. enrolled at the University of Chicago. While an undergraduate he worked as a researcher for Harold Gosnell, helping Gosnell gather information for his book Negro Politicians: The Rise of Negro Politics in Chicago (1935).

After graduating from the University of Chicago Law School in 1935 Gibson was recruited to join the legal team representing the real estate broker Carl Hansberry who was challenging a restrictive racial real estate covenant that prohibited African ...

Article

Flint Whitlock

the first African American commercial passenger airline pilot, was born in El Dorado, Arkansas, the son of McKinley Green, a domestic servant for a wealthy El Dorado dentist and oilman, and Lucy Longmyre. In 1944, due to the influence of a charismatic priest, the five Green siblings, with the exception of one brother, converted from Baptism to Roman Catholicism. Green later earned a scholarship to complete his senior year of high school at the Xavier Preparatory School, affiliated with Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana.

At Xavier Prep Green did well academically graduating at the top of his class His goal was to attend Epiphany Apostolic College a Josephite seminary in Newburgh on the Hudson New York and study for the priesthood However during his first semester he was wrongly diagnosed with a medical condition and was dismissed from the school Seeking a new direction for his ...

Article

Richard Sobel

professor and civil rights advocate, was born Carol Lani Guinier, in New York City, to Ewart G. Guinier, attorney, history professor, and first chairman of Harvard's Afro-American Studies Program, and Eugenia Guinier, a school teacher. Growing up with two sisters in a Manhattan household, she graduated third in a class of fifteen hundred from Andrew Jackson public high school, where she was an editor of the school newspaper. She attended Radcliffe College/Harvard University on National Merit and New York Times scholarships, majoring in social studies, and graduated with honors in 1971. She received a JD from Yale Law School in 1974.

Guinier lived in a black Jewish household of coalition builders wherein her mother taught her daughters how to get along with others and to see themselves as bridge people able to to listen closely to hear other people s anger or feelings It ...

Article

Brian J. Daugherity

NAACP attorney, politician, and civil rights activist, was born Oliver White in Richmond, Virginia, the son of William Henry White Jr. and Olivia Lewis White, both resort employees. His parents divorced in 1911, and when his mother married Joseph C. Hill, Oliver took his stepfather's last name.

Oliver Hill spent much of his youth and adolescent years in Roanoke, Virginia. For most of these years he lived with friends of his family—the Pentecosts—while his mother and stepfather lived and worked in Hot Springs, Virginia, and then in Washington, D.C. Hill went to school in Roanoke until the eighth grade, when he moved to Washington, D.C., to join his mother and stepfather. He then went to Dunbar High School there, which enjoyed a reputation for academic excellence.

Hill obtained his bachelor's and law degrees from Howard University, completing his studies in 1933 He was ...

Article

Kristal L. Enter

lawyer and civil rights activist, was born in Wichita, Kansas, to Ocenia Bernice (Davis), teacher, baker, and domestic worker, and Harrison Hannibal Hollowell, custodian and prison guard. Donald Hollowell married Louise Thornton in 1943.

In 1935, Hollowell left high school and enlisted in the army with the all-black 10th Cavalry, one of the regiments also known as the Buffalo Soldiers. During his time with the army, Hollowell earned his high school diploma. In 1938, he enlisted in the army reserves and enrolled in Lane College, an all-black college in Tennessee. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, Hollowell reenlisted in the army, earning the rank of captain, and served in the European theater.

Hollowell was shaped by his experiences with segregation and discrimination in the army when he was stationed at bases in Georgia Texas Louisiana and Virginia While finishing at Lane College ...

Article

Bergis K. Jules

civil rights activist, sheriff, and probate judge, was born in Gordonville in Lowndes County, Alabama, to Jim Hulett and Daisy (Baker), both farmers. Before 1950 John Hulett was eager to travel outside the Black Belt to see more of America. After graduating from Central High School in Gordonsville around 1945 and already planning to be a policeman, he took classes in law enforcement at Stanford University, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Alabama in preparation for his future career. Upon his return to Alabama in 1950 he settled in Birmingham and began working for the Federal Rural Housing Alliance as a housing consultant Hulett traveled throughout six southern states helping to provide homes for the poor in rural areas While in Birmingham he also became affiliated with the organized labor movement working to secure jobs for African Americans in the city During this time ...

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Martha A. Sandweiss

wife of the eminent geologist, explorer, and writerClarence King and litigant, was born in or around West Point, Georgia. Though little is known of her early life, she was almost certainly born a slave and as a young girl acquired the name Ada Copeland. In the mid-1880s she migrated to New York City and found work as a nursemaid. In late 1887 or 1888 Copeland met a man who introduced himself as a Pullman porter named James Todd. They were married in September 1888 by the Reverend James H. Cook a prominent minister with the Union American Methodist Episcopal Church Although Todd represented himself to Ada as a Marylander of African American descent this was a false identity He was in fact Clarence King a socially and politically prominent white man from Newport Rhode Island educated at Yale who had led the Fortieth Parallel Survey ...