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James V. Hatch

playwright and minister, was born in Wichita, Kansas. Little is known about his parents, although his mother is said to have been an active reformer and a poet. Anderson completed four years of school (the only formal education that he ever received) before his father moved the family to California to take a job as a janitor in the post office. The following year Anderson's mother died, and at age twelve he left home to become a newsboy, selling the Telegraph Press on the corner of Third and Market streets in San Francisco.

After working as a porter on the railroad, Anderson worked for the next fifteen years as a bellhop in various San Francisco hotels. During this period he also became a temporary convert to Christian Science. One afternoon in 1924 he saw a performance of Channing Pollack's moralistic drama The Fool and knew immediately that he ...

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Claudia Durst Johnson

Born in Philadelphia, Anderson sang in a church choir and at age nineteen began formal voice training. At twenty-three, she made her debut with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. She later toured in concert in many European and South American capitals. Her foreign acclaim prompted an invitation to tour in the United States, where for two decades she was in demand as a performer of opera and spirituals. In 1939, because she was an African American, Anderson was barred by the Daughters of the American Revolution from performing in Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., an event that exposed the depth of racism in America. Her open-air Lincoln Memorial concert that Easter, arranged by Eleanor Roosevelt and Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, drew an audience of 75,000 and was broadcast nationally. On 7 January 1955 Anderson became the first African American to sing with the ...

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Boyd Childress

From the ground up African Americans have always contributed to the design and construction of buildings in America Sadly the participation of blacks in architecture has been one not wanting of ability but wanting of opportunity African American slaves created much of the built environment in colonial America Slaves were often skilled artisans who widely contributed to the construction of much of the plantation South Even in the northern states African Americans did construction work although few had the opportunity to design and supervise construction projects Blacks found few outlets in construction after the Civil War As industrialization expanded blacks were excluded from trade unions and recessions eliminated most economic opportunities for African Americans Only with the beginnings of education for African Americans did the professional field of architecture hold any promise for blacks and even that was limited After Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT established the first architecture curriculum ...

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Larry R. Gerlach

baseball umpire, was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Littleton Ashford, a truck driver, and Adele Bain. Ashford was two or three years old when his father abandoned the family, so he grew up under the strong influence of his mother, a secretary for the California Eagle, an African American newspaper published in Los Angeles. As a youth, Ashford exhibited the traits that marked him in adult life as a gregarious extrovert. At Jefferson High School he was a sprinter on the track team, a member of the scholastic honor society, and the first African American to serve as president of the student body and as editor of the school newspaper. He graduated from Los Angeles City College and attended Chapman College in nearby Orange from 1940 to 1941. From 1944 until 1947 he served in the U.S. Navy.

Ashford began his umpiring career ...

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Thomas E. Carney

The Baltimore Afro-American, first published in 1893, was the second-oldest African American newspaper in the United States at the beginning of the twenty-first century and has been owned and operated by John H. Murphy Sr. and his descendants for most of its history. Throughout the years it pressed for racial reform on the local, national, and international levels. In its early years it campaigned for and fostered the development of an African American middle class as it fought to open positions in local, state, and federal governments to African Americans.

The first edition of the Afro-American appeared on 13 August 1893. The paper went bankrupt in 1896, and in 1897 it came into the hands of Murphy, who controlled the paper until his death in 1922. Murphy, a former slave and a Civil War veteran, had previously managed the Afro-American s printing department In ...

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Byron Motley

baseball player, was born in Greenville, North Carolina. As a teenager working in the tobacco fields he honed his skills as a pitcher. His first exposure to professional baseball came in 1936 when the manager of the visiting Wilson Stars from Wilson, North Carolina, spotted his burgeoning talent. After the team manager promised Barnhill's mother a dollar a day for her son's pitching duties, she consented to let her son join the team.

Barnhill barnstormed for two years with several independent teams. In 1938 he began his first of twelve Negro League seasons by joining the Jacksonville Red Caps. The following year, with the Ethiopian Clowns, Barnhill took part in the team's minstrel sideshows. Earning the nickname “Impo,” Barnhill cut up with his teammates in clown makeup and wild wigs while performing comic displays to delighted fans.

In the winter of 1940–1941 Barnhill pitched in the Puerto Rican ...

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Caryn E. Neumann and Jill Dupont

[This entry includes two subentries, on the Negro Leagues and on integrated professional baseball.]

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Donald Roe

Officials at the International Young Men's Christian Training School (now Springfield College) in Massachusetts asked Dr. James Naismith, a physical education teacher, to come up with an indoor activity for winter that would reduce rowdy behavior among its students, as well as keep them in shape during the winter. As a result, in 1891 Naismith created basketball as an indoor sport. It did not take long for basketball to become popular. Although it is not known exactly when African Americans began playing basketball, it is probable that the sport had already reached many black communities in the early 1900s, especially in the YMCAs, YWCAs, and athletic clubs in the North. Several blacks—most notably Dr. Edwin B. Henderson the chief of physical education in the District of Columbia for what was then called the Colored School Division were active at the turn of the twentieth century in making basketball ...

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Charles Orson Cook

one of the twentieth-century South's most consistent and effective civil rights leaders, perhaps best remembered for her role in the desegregation of Little Rock, Arkansas, Central High School in 1957–1958. Her name has become synonymous with racial integration, and her memoir The Long Shadow of Little Rock (1962) has emerged as one of the standard texts on the subject.

Although accounts vary, she was born Daisy Lee Gaston, probably in 1913 in Huttig Arkansas a small mill town in the southeastern part of the state near the border with Louisiana Her childhood memories are dotted with several episodes of racial discrimination but her recollection that she grew up with foster parents because her mother had died while resisting the assault of white rapists her father subsequently left town and her life left an indelible and horrific mark on her psyche Though her recollections have never been ...

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Marinelle Ringer

journalist, author, and public speaker, was born Melba Joy Pattillo in Little Rock, Arkansas, the daughter of Howell “Will” Pattillo, a hostler's helper for the Missouri Pacific Railroad, and Dr. Lois Marie Peyton Pattillo, a junior high school English teacher who was among the first African Americans to attend the University of Arkansas (graduating in 1954). In 1957, spurred by the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, mandating public school desegregation, Beals, at the age of fifteen, became one of the first African American students—later known as the “Little Rock Nine”—to enroll in Central High School, then Arkansas' finest high school.

Prior to 1957 Beals s deepest anguish had been her parents divorce when she was seven She found solace in the hours she spent with her cherished grandmother India Anette Peyton while her mother worked and studied and ...

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Charles L. Hughes

record executive, producer, and activist, was born Alvertis Isbell in Brinkley, Arkansas, in 1940 or 1941. In 1945 his family moved to Little Rock, where Bell later graduated with a bachelor's degree in Political Science from the city's Philander Smith College, following this with uncompleted ministerial training; he worked as a disc jockey throughout high school and college. In 1959 Bell began working at workshops run by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His SCLC involvement was short-lived, which Bell attributed to a difference in philosophy, explaining that King's strategy of nonviolent confrontation differed from his belief in the power of black capitalist entrepreneurship in effecting social change.

Bell then worked full time at several radio stations first at WLOK in Memphis where his laid back style helped boost ratings and then at WUST in Washington D C where he introduced ...

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Bernard Demczuk

Ben's Chili Bowl (1213 U Street, NW) is a family-owned and -operated restaurant in the historically African American community of Shaw/Cardozo, Washington, DC. The restaurant sits on the former, yet famous, “Black Broadway,” so named by Pearl Bailey in the 1940s as the premier African American entertainment strip in America. During the Jim Crow Era of segregation, Black Broadways appear in urban centers across the United States but the U Street corridor, just blocks from Howard University, cultivated a sense of its own blackness with hundreds of African American businesses, churches, social clubs, banks, hotels, barbershops, beauty salons, and entertainment venues, including one of the premier African American performing arts venue in America—The Howard Theatre—established in 1910 Ben s Chili Bowl sits at the epicenter of the Black Broadway strip close to the theater that rocked with blues jazz gospel R B doo wop soul funk go go ...

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Carolyn Wedin

The Boston Guardian weekly newspaper was initiated and financed in 1901 by the successful mortgage broker, member of the black elite, and Harvard graduate William Monroe Trotter (1872–1934), with the technical help of George W. Forbes of the Boston Public Library. Until Trotter's death in 1934, the paper would be synonymous with his outspoken speeches, articles, and editorials, though it also included national news, social notes, church items, sports, fashion, and even fiction. It would be continued after his death by his sister and her husband, finally expiring by 1960.

The Guardian's and Trotter's most influential years were during the newspaper's first decade, particularly in protesting Booker T. Washington. An index of the first two years of the paper indicates the high number of anti-Washington pieces published. While W. E. B. Du Bois was still hesitant about attacking the “Wizard of Tuskegee,” Trotter's Guardian ...

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Kate Tuttle

The son of an Afrikaner magistrate, André Brink grew up moving from village to village in rural South Africa, each characterized, he says, by “conservative Protestantism … generosity and narrow-mindedness.” After receiving master’s degrees in English and Afrikaans from Potchefstroom University, Brink went to Paris in 1959 to study at the Sorbonne. By his own assessment, the 1960Sharpeville massacre in South Africa (in which the police killed at least sixty-nine innocent protesters) sparked in him a new political awareness and prompted him to return home in 1961.

Brink began to write fiction while lecturing at Rhodes University. Two novels published in the early 1960s were largely apolitical, but his views on writing changed after he spent 1968 in Paris where he witnessed student uprisings Brink came to believe that in a closed society the writer has a specific social and moral role to fill His next ...

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Jason Philip Miller

professional football player, was born in Oakland, California, to Geneva Moore and a father he would never get to know. His parents split when he was three years old, and his mother relocated the family to Omaha, Nebraska, where she had relatives and where she was able to get work at a local packinghouse. From a cousin, a youth sports coach, Briscoe learned a love of sports and athletics that would last the rest of his life.

Briscoe attended local schools, including South Omaha High, where he was both a football and basketball standout. He graduated in 1962 and accepted a scholarship to the University of Nebraska Omaha Black quarterbacks were at the time still a rarity but Briscoe had occasionally played the position at South Omaha High and he wanted to continue in college His new coach Al Caniglia recognized his talent and offered him the quarterback ...

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Eric Ledell Smith

businessman and banker, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Robert Brown, a turnkey in the local jail, and Anne Brown, a homemaker. E. C. Brown was the eldest of three children. He attended the public schools in Philadelphia and after his high school graduation worked for three years as a mail clerk at the financial firm of Bradstreet Mercantile. He took stenography and typewriting classes at the Spencerian Business College in Philadelphia and subsequently worked as a stenographer for the National Railway Company but was soon laid off. Brown then became secretary to a Frank Thompson, who ran a catering business in Florida in the late 1890s. Around 1901 Brown left Thompson and started a real estate business in Newport News, Virginia. By 1908 he was renting more than 300 houses and had more than 800 tenants. On 27 June 1908 he opened the Crown Savings Bank ...

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Martha J. Ross-Rodgers

civil rights activist and journalist. Louis Everett Burnham was born in Barbados and raised in Harlem, New York. His parents, Charles, a building superintendent, and Louise, a hairdresser, were Barbadian immigrants who moved to Harlem for better opportunities for themselves and for their children.

Graduating in 1932 from Townsend High School, Burnham enrolled in the City College of New York, where he became a proponent of racial justice. He served as president of the Frederick Douglass Society and aided in organizing the American Student Union.

Burnham's quest for racial justice did not end upon graduating from City College in 1936 Instead it accelerated and Burnham s work in the South in the 1940s led him into dangerous predicaments In Birmingham Alabama Burnham worked to end the discrimination and segregation of the Jim Crow era In the fight for desegregation of public accommodations Burnham helped to organize ...

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Christine G. Brown

writer and editor, was born in 1890; his parents’ names and his birthplace are now unknown. Little is known of his early life and education. He married Thelma Johnson, with whom he had one daughter. Carter and his wife lived in New York City at the same address, 409 Edgecombe Avenue, from the 1940s until their deaths.

A devoted New Yorker, Carter was a prolific writer and speaker for civil rights, especially concerning jobs, housing, and public office. A committed member of the National Urban League, on 23 July 1928 he delivered a speech on employment and fair housing issues during Negro Week on the Common. In September of that year he took over the editorship of Opportunity: Journal of Negro Life, the Urban League's in-house magazine, when Charles Spurgeon Johnson stepped down as editor With more than 10 000 subscribers when Carter took over the ...