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Article

Wanda F. Fernandopulle

politician, was born a slave in Richmond, Virginia. His parents' names are not known. In 1837 Allen was taken to Harris County in Texas and was owned by J.—J. Cain until the end of the Civil War in 1865. Allen married soon after the notification of his emancipation. He and his wife Nancy went on to have one son and four daughters. As a slave Allen was known to be a skilled carpenter; he is credited with designing and building a Houston mansion occupied by Mayor Joseph R. Morris. In 1867 Allen entered the political world as a federal voter registrar, and in 1868 he served as an agent for the Freedmen's Bureau and as a supervisor of voter registration for the Fourteenth District of Texas. Although he had not received a formal education, he was literate by 1870.

After attending several Republican Party meetings and in ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Gregory S. Bell

investment banker and entrepreneur, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the third of four children of Travers Bell Sr., a clerk at a brokerage firm, and Iona St. Ange, a teaching aide. Growing up on the tough streets of Chicago's South Side could often be rough, and Bell would later credit his experiences for giving him the wherewithal to survive and succeed on Wall Street later in his life.

After graduating from high school Bell planned to go to a teachers college At the time his father was working in the backroom of Dempsey Tegeler a Midwestern brokerage firm One summer Bell needed money so his father got him a job as a messenger at the firm On Bell s first day on the job a manager asked him to deliver a briefcase to a company across the street While walking to the destination Bell peeked into the briefcase and ...

Article

Sarah Russell

Nestled in the Jones Valley of north central Alabama, the rocky, mineral-rich land of Jefferson County has sustained a city known in its youth for rapid industrialization and later for its hard-fought battles to overcome social, political, and economic inequality. Since its incorporation in 1871, Birmingham, Alabama, pursued the economic development of a southern Magic City. By the 1960s the efforts of the local government to maintain racial Segregation had earned Birmingham a new name, the Tragic City. Efforts to remedy a history of pervasive racial inequality continue today throughout Birmingham, through alliances among citizens that were once thought impossible.

Article

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 ...

Article

Barbara A. White

prosperous businessman, whaling captain, and community leader, whose court case against Nantucket led to the integration of the public schools, was a member of one of the largest and most influential black families on the island. His father was Seneca Boston, a manumitted slave, who was a self‐employed weaver. His mother was a Wampanoag Indian named Thankful Micah. They had four sons and one daughter. Absalom Boston, the third‐born, went to sea, as did many of Nantucket's young men, signing onto the whale ship Thomas in 1809 when he was twenty‐four. Little is known about his early education. Anna Gardner, in her memoir Harvest Gleanings, mentions him visiting her family and hints that it may have been her mother, Hannah Macy Gardner, who taught the young man to read.

Shortly before he went to sea, Boston married his first wife, Mary Spywood about whom little is ...

Article

About 900 men from British Honduras (now Belize) were brought to Britain in 1941 and 1942 by the ministries of Supply and Labour to meet the expanding demand for civilian forestry workers. While the recruitment was based on a perceived labour shortage in Britain, it was also thought to help alleviate the growing unemployment, starvation, and suffering in British Honduras. The men were effectively indentured labourers who signed a contract with the British government. Among other conditions, their contracts provided for free transport to and from the forestry camps in Britain, free medical services, and a three‐year term of engagement, after which they would be immediately returned home. The workers who comprised what was known as the British Honduran Forestry Unit were based in three camps in the north and south of Scotland.

While a welfare officer was assigned to look after the men they faced a range of adverse ...

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 ...

Article

Margaret E. M. Tolbert

organic chemist and educator, was born in the Bronx, New York, the only child of Ada May Fox, a homemaker, and Freddie Brown, a maintenance worker who later became a postal worker. Brown's education was obtained in various schools of New York, and she received her high school diploma from New Dorp High School, Staten Island, NewYork; in 1952. Upon completing high school, she continued her educational pursuits by enrolling at Hunter College of the City University of New York, which was free to eligible high school graduates. In 1956 she graduated with a BA in Chemistry and two years later earned her MS at the University of Minnesota, where she was the first African American woman to receive any degree in chemistry. In her two years at the university, she conducted research titled “A Study of Dye and Ylide Formation in Salts of 9-(p ...

Article

From the colonial era to the present, black organizations and leaders have promoted business as a route to economic equality, both on an individual basis and through the encouragement of support for black business by black economic nationalists. Other long traditions among blacks include cooperative economic ventures, from the burial societies and mutual benefit societies of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to the fraternal organizations and black banks and insurance companies of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The past century saw the development of black business empires built on the black consumer market and, in the late 1900s, competition and integration of black business with white corporate America.

Article

Benjamin R. Justesen

farmer, shoemaker, and longtime state legislator, was born in Warren County, North Carolina, the third son of free, mixed-race parents Hawkins Carter and Elizabeth Wiggins, who were married in 1845. Few details are known of his early life or education, only that his father, a prosperous farmer, could afford to hire a young white teacher, W. J. Fulford, to tutor his eight children in 1861, the last year before the Civil War.

During the Civil War, the teenage Carter served as an officer's attendant for a Warrenton acquaintance, Captain Stephen W. Jones of the Forty-sixth North Carolina Regiment's Company C, raised at Warrenton in early 1862 Jones s company saw action at Antietam and other battles and Jones was wounded at Spotsylvania Court House where Carter presumably helped care for him The eldest son of the Warren County sheriff and a former deputy sheriff himself ...

Article

labor leader and human rights activist, was the fourth of five children born in Seattle, Washington, to Susie Sumner Revels Cayton, a newspaper editor and community activist, and Horace Roscoe Cayton Sr., a journalist and publisher of the Seattle Republican. He was named after his grandfather, Hiram Revels (1827–1901), the first U.S. senator of African descent (1870–1871). Revels's brother Horace Cayton Jr. became a prominent sociologist.

Unlike his father who detested and distrusted labor unions because of their record of racially discriminatory practices Revels became involved with the labor movement early in his life in the belief that unions offered all workers the best chance to better their condition He rose through the union ranks and was at one time secretary treasurer of the Bay Area District Council of the Maritime Union of the Pacific He also joined the Communist Party and wrote ...

Article

Wesley Borucki

The Chicago Defender, a leading African American newspaper, was founded in 1905 by Robert Sengstacke Abbott (1868–1940). The St. Simon's Island, Georgia, native learned printing at Hampton Institute. He first saw Chicago when he traveled there as a tenor in the Hampton Quartet. Chicago's black population reached forty thousand in 1905, and with three black newspapers there already, Abbott's nascent weekly almost failed. However, several idealistic black writers contributed free columns; among them was the freelancer W. Allison Sweeney, who skewered antiblack politicians. Pullman porters distributed the Defender nationwide to black sellers. African American actors sold copies to theater patrons. Abbott's church chorale helped with story ideas and sales until the Defender appeared on newsstands in the 1910s.

Article

Marian Aguiar

In July 1919Chicago, Illinois, erupted in a race riot that left 23 blacks and 15 whites dead, 537 people injured, and more than a million dollars of property damage. One of twenty-five race riots that swept through the country during the “Red Summer” of 1919, the conflict in Chicago was galvanized, as historian William M. Tuttle Jr. pointed out, by “gut-level animosities” between the city's white and black residents, for whom competition for residential housing and good union jobs had inflamed racial tensions.

Between 1910 and 1920, the population of the Black Belt on the South Side of Chicago had almost tripled, while the perimeter of the neighborhood had remained relatively the same. Under the pressure of the Great Migration a mass movement of blacks from the South to the North the conditions and quality of inner city living declined drastically with the black newcomers ...

Article

Regennia N. Williams

Cleveland, Ohio, celebrated its centenary in 1896, the year in which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld segregation laws in its decision in the Plessy v. Ferguson case Twenty years later Cleveland was one of several destination cities for African American migrants fleeing the hostile racial climate and economic oppression of the South Compared to the rural Jim Crow South Cleveland offered a wider variety of employment opportunities in its burgeoning industrial sector and African Americans joined native whites and European immigrants in making their way to the urban North Over time segregation ordinances racial intimidation economic conditions and individual choice combined with other factors to consolidate a predominantly African American community in the area around Central and Cedar avenues on the east side of Cleveland s Cuyahoga River Although some African Americans shared in the city s prosperity at the turn of the twentieth century evidence also suggests ...

Article

aviator, was born in Newport, Arkansas, a farming community on the banks of the White River. Although the names of his parents are now unknown, Coffey recalled in 1993 that “my daddy was a railroad man in the days when an Afro-American could hook a train together and drive a locomotive from the roundhouse to the station, but he could never become a full-fledged engineer” (Chicago Tribune, 25 July 1993). Cornelius Coffey, however, would spend a large portion of his life suspended in the air operating the controls of an airplane. This was a time when even to dream of being a pilot was considered preposterous for a black youth growing up in segregated Arkansas. In order to escape such limitations imposed on blacks in the Jim Crow South, the family sought new opportunities first in Nebraska, and then ultimately in Chicago in 1923.

Shortly after ...

Article

Paul Stillwell

pioneer black naval officer, was born in Washington, North Carolina, the eighth of eleven children of Edward L. Cooper, a sheet metal worker, and Laura J. Cooper a homemaker One of the eleven siblings died in infancy the remaining ten became college graduates During his upbringing in North Carolina Cooper often faced the tribulations of southern racism He went to segregated schools and learned from his parents that he had to go out of his way to avoid conflict with whites Once when Cooper was eight or nine years old he got into a fight with a white boy As he put it It was the wrong day for him to call me a nigger and we had it out Stillwell 76 Cooper s father had to smooth things over with the boy s father to avoid the incident s escalation When he worked as a bellhop in ...

Article

Joe W. Trotter

coal miner and officer of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), was born in Roanoke, Virginia. Little is known about his family life, including the names of his parents and the size of his family. He obtained his early education in the Roanoke schools, which he attended during the winter months. At eight years of age he took a job in a local tobacco factory. After spending nine years in the tobacco industry, Davis became increasingly disgusted with the very low wages and unfavorable conditions on the job. In 1881 he migrated to southern West Virginia and took his first job as a coal miner in the newly opened Kanawha and New River coalfields The following year he moved to Rendville Ohio a small mining town in the Hocking Valley region southeast of Columbus In Rendville Davis married supported a family and worked until he died from lung ...

Article

Jeff Shantz

writer and union activist, was born in rural Alabama. As a youth Denby endured the hardships of farm labor. During the 1920s he joined the Great Migration of African American workers who migrated to the northern industrial centers in search of employment. Denby ended up in Detroit, where he found work as an auto assembler on the production lines.

The 1930s were a period of militant mobilization and organization among workers in the auto industry and Denby became a leading participant in the wildcat strikes that swept through the industry in the 1930s and 1940s crucial struggles in the development of the United Auto Workers UAW His involvement in these organizing campaigns both reinforced his view that struggles over race and class were intricately enmeshed and convinced him that working class gains could not be made unless unions were prepared to attack systemic racism a perspective that was not ...

Article

Unlike the goal of integration—the idea that black and white Americans should not only be treated equally but also should be full and cooperating neighbors in the national community—desegregation is defined more narrowly as the fight against segregation. Although segregation is sometimes thought of as simply the separation of races, it has historically flowed from and contributed to the notion of racial inequality. Unequal treatment began with the distinctions in legal status between black and white Americans from the beginning of the United States and continued even after African Americans were legally granted equal status with the Thirteenth and the Fourteenth amendments nearly a century later.

Experts speak of two types of segregation: de jure, meaning segregation by legal restrictions based upon race; and de facto which refers to segregation created by other factors For example inferior schools for minority children are considered the result of de facto ...