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David Killingray

Son of Téwodros II, Emperor of Ethiopia. Alamayahu was orphaned when his father committed suicide during the British assault on Magdala in the war of 1868. He was brought to Britain in the care of Captain Tristram Speedy as a ward of the government. At Osborne, in the Isle of Wight, Alamayahu was introduced to Queen Victoria, who from then on took a distant interest in the young boy's welfare. While on the Isle of Wight, Alamayahu caused something of a sensation among the islanders, and he was photographed by Julia Margaret Cameron her pictures show a listless and sad looking boy Speed took the young Ethiopian prince with him to India but at the age of 10 and against his wishes and the advice of Queen Victoria he was sent to boarding school in Britain At the age of 17 Alamayahu entered the Royal Military ...

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Mary Krane Derr

activist, educator, and daughter of the first named plaintiff in the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court school integration case, Brown v. Board of Education, was born in Topeka, Kansas, to Leola Brown (later Montgomery) and the Reverend Oliver Leon Brown. Oliver Brown, the lead plaintiff of twelve African American parents in Brown was an African Methodist Episcopal pastor and boxcar welder for the Santa Fe Railroad The couple had two younger daughters Cheryl married surname Henderson and Terry married surname Tyler Although the Browns lived in a multiracial working class neighborhood Linda soon encountered segregation Her white friends attended Sumner Grade School seven blocks away She was forced to attend Monroe over a mile away She had to walk through a dangerous railway yard then catch a bus with a long wandering itinerary If the bus arrived too early it left the students outside ...

Article

Kenneth Wiggins Porter

William Owen Bush was born in Clay County, Missouri, on July 4, 1832. He was the oldest son of George Washington Bush and Isabella James, born in Tennessee of German ancestry. The Bush family left Missouri in 1844 for the Oregon Territory. In 1845 the family settled in what became known as Bush Prairie, a few miles south of present-day Olympia, Washington. George Bush won esteem there as a progressive, innovative, and generous farmer. William Bush married Mandana Smith Kimsey on May 26, 1859, in Marion County, Oregon. Mandana was the daughter of Dr. J. Smith and Nancy Scott Wisdom Smith, and the widow (1858) of Duff Kimsey, who had been born in Howard County, Missouri, on June 1, 1826. She had crossed to Oregon with her husband and parents in 1847 William and Mandana had three children George O ...

Article

N. Gregson Davis

Aimé Césaire (1913–2008) was a major literary figure, statesman, and intellectual leader, both in the francophone Antilles and in the international arena, from the middle of the twentieth century. As a young social activist, he played a formative role in the articulation of the seminal concept of négritude, a neologism that he is credited with having invented. As literary artist he has achieved global recognition for his poetry and lyric drama in signal ways; for example, his lyric volume Corps Perdu (Lost Body) was published in a deluxe edition with illustrations by Pablo Picasso in 1950; several of his poetry collections won literary prizes in metropolitan France (e.g., the Prix René Laporte for Ferrements [1960], and the Grand Prix National de la Poésie for moi, laminaire … [1982]). La Tragédie du roi Christophe The Tragedy of King Christophe a play based ...

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Richard Alperin

teacher, coroner, scrivener, selectman, and justice of the peace, was born in New Market (now Newmarket), New Hampshire, the only child of Hopestill, a Portsmouth, New Hampshire, housewright, and Catherine Cheswell. The name is sometimes spelled “Cheswill.” Wentworth's grandfather, Richard Cheswell, a black slave in Exeter, New Hampshire, purchased twenty acres of land from the Hilton Grant after he gained his freedom. The deed, dated 18 October 1716/17 (the discrepancy arises from the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar) is the earliest known deed in the state of New Hampshire showing land ownership by a black man. The land was located in what was to become the town of Newmarket. Richard's only child, Hopestill (1712–? became a housewright and worked mostly in Portsmouth He took part in building the John Paul Jones House as well as other important houses Hopestill was active in local affairs and ...

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Jennifer Reed Fry

politician, clubwoman, and welfare worker, was born in the Piedmont region of Virginia to Frances Dearing in approximately 1879. During her youth, the Dearing family moved to Harrisburg, where Maud was educated in the Harrisburg school system. Later in life she attended the University of Pennsylvania. On 5 September 1897Maude B. Dearing married John W. Coleman in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. They had one child, Priscilla Coleman, who died in infancy.

Throughout her adult life, Coleman was a driving force in Harrisburg's African American community. During World War I she worked tirelessly in support of African American troops and received a commendation from General Cornelius Vanderbilt for her service. This success in community organizing encouraged Coleman to become a founding member of the Phyllis Wheatley Colored Harrisburg Branch of the Young Women's Christian Association in 1920 Coleman participated in and led a variety of social ...

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Kristal L. Enter

possibly the first African American Eagle Scout, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Shortly after his birth he moved with his family to Waterloo, Iowa. Waterloo was home to African Americans who, around the World War I era, fled the Jim Crow laws and limited economic opportunities of the Deep South to work in railroad, meatpacking, and manufacturing industries in Iowa, which was also the location of an early branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), established in 1921. Cunningham later married Susie Ann Rockett on 14 September 1931, and together they had five children.

Cunningham was quite possibly the first African American to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest and most prestigious rank awarded by the Boys Scouts of America. The Boy Scouts of America was established in 1910 as an organization to help young men develop their ...

Article

William C. Hine

Edelman was born in Bennettsville, South Carolina, one of five children of Arthur Jerome Wright and Maggie Leola Bowen Wright. She was named in honor of the singer Marian Anderson. Her father was the pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church, and her mother was the choir director and organist.

After graduation from all-black Marlboro Training High School, she enrolled at Atlanta’s Spelman College, where she intended to major in music. She changed her major to history after coming under the influence of the historian Howard Zinn and of President Benjamin E. Mays of Morehouse College. As an undergraduate she joined thousands of black high school and college students in the burgeoning civil rights movement. She was among several hundred people arrested at sit-ins in Atlanta in March 1960. She graduated from Spelman in 1960 and planned to pursue a scholarly career in Russian and Soviet studies But ...

Article

Mary Fields was born a slave in Tennessee, but little else is known of her early life. Some historical accounts have placed her on the Mississippi River in the early 1870s, and at least one researcher claims that she was a passenger on the Robert E. Lee when it raced the steamer Natchez in June 1870. By 1884 Fields was living in Toledo, Ohio, where she worked as a handywoman for an order of Ursuline nuns. She became attached to the mother superior of the convent, Mother Amadeus, who is variously reported as a close friend or as the master in a master-servant relationship. Shortly after Fields arrived at the convent, Mother Amadeus left for Montana to open a school for Blackfeet Native American girls. When Mother Amadeus fell ill in Helena, Fields came to her aid and decided to stay in Montana.

Fields assisted the Catholic mission ...

Article

Kelli Cardenas Walsh

The story of Mary Fields is one of race, gender, and age. She was the antithesis of the nineteenth-century Victorian image of womanhood. In an age of domesticity, Fields lived a frontier life dependent upon no one and uninhibited by Jim Crow.

A former slave, in freedom Fields became an independent, gunslinging, liquor-drinking woman in the untamed frontier of Montana. She stood six feet tall and was stout. Details about the early life of Mary Fields are sparse, other than that she was born into slavery in 1832. Judge Dunn in Hickman County, Tennessee, owned Fields and presumably owned her family. She was befriended by her master’s daughter, Dolly, and remained with the family after Emancipation.

Once she left the Dunn family Fields spent an unspecified time in Ohio and along the Mississippi River During this time Dolly joined a convent of Ursuline nuns taking the name of ...

Article

Michael Dash

Joseph Antenor Firmin was born in 1850 in the town of Cap Haitien in the north of Haiti. He was a lawyer, a minister of government, and a diplomat. Haitian politics in the late nineteenth century were dominated by two major groups: the nationalist and liberal parties. These parties representing black and mulatto factions fought for supremacy in the 1870s and 1880s. The nationalist party championed a black ideology and claimed to speak on behalf of the masses against the elite. The liberal party played down the color question and advocated that Haiti be governed by the most competent. Firmin is particularly interesting because he was black and associated himself with the liberal party. He was a liberal candidate for the legislature in 1879. In 1889 he became a cabinet minister under President Florvil Hyppolite and as foreign minister he worked with Frederick Douglass to foil ...

Article

Leyla Keough

Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was born in Dinwiddie Court House, Virginia, to Agnes, a slave of the Burgwell family, and George Pleasant, who was owned by a man named Hobbs. When Elizabeth was in her teens, the Burgwells sold her to a slaveowner in North Carolina by whom she was raped and had one child, George. Shortly thereafter, a Burgwell daughter, Anne Burgwell Garland, bought Elizabeth and her son. They were taken to St. Louis, where Elizabeth married James Keckley. She later found he had deceived her by claiming to be a free man, and the couple separated.

To support her owner's household, Keckley worked as a seamstress. She acquired many loyal customers, one of whom loaned Keckley $1,200 to buy her freedom in 1855. In 1860, Keckley relocated to Baltimore, Maryland, and then to Washington D C where she opened a successful ...

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Anne Bradford Warner

Elizabeth Keckley became a center of public controversy with the 1868 publication of Behind the Scenes, or Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House.

Born a slave in Dinwiddie Court House, Virginia, Keckley became such an accomplished seamstress that she was able to purchase her own freedom and her son's. After manumission she moved from St. Louis to establish herself in Washington, D. C., in 1860, becoming modiste first to the wife of Mississippi Senator Jefferson Davis and finally to Mary Todd Lincoln during Abraham Lincoln's first term. Two-thirds of Behind the Scenes concerns Keckley's life with the Lincolns and the difficult period following the president's assassination, especially Mary Lincoln's desperate attempt to raise money through what became known as the “Old Clothes Scandal.” A misplaced trust in her editor, James Redpath and the sensationalist marketing of Carleton and Company culminated ...

Article

Darlene Clark Hine

First Lady of the United States of America, lawyer, and healthcare executive was born Michelle LaVaughn Robinson in Chicago's South Side to working class parents. Her father, Fraser Robinson III, was a city employee, who worked tending boilers at a water-filtration plant in the city until his death due to complications from multiple sclerosis. Her mother, Marian Shields Robinson, worked as a secretary for the Spiegel catalogue store before becoming a-stay-at-home mother. Michelle's older brother, Craig, born in 1962, would, like his sister, graduate from Princeton University. He later became the head basketball coach at Oregon State University.

As Barack Obama noted in his March 2008 speech on race at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, his wife “carries within her the blood of slaves and slave owners.” And, indeed, genealogical research has revealed that Michelle Obama's earliest known paternal ancestor, her great-great grandfather, Jim Robinson ...

Article

David Michel

minister and social activist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and during his childhood lived in Chicago, Illinois, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His Pentecostal mother was a nurse and his Muslim father a painter. Rivers's parents separated when he was three, and he was reared by his mother. While living in Philadelphia during his teenage years, Rivers joined a gang whose leaders constantly harassed him. In 1963 he responded to a message delivered by the Reverend Billy Graham through the Hour of Decision radio program. Consequently Rivers joined Deliverance Evangelistic Church, pastored by the Reverend Benjamin Smith. Smith helped Rivers get out of gang life and counseled him in many ways.

In 1968 Rivers won a scholarship to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts College studies opened a new world for Rivers who had by then become estranged from Smith The young Rivers had observed the activism of the ...

Article

Dorothy Brown

activist, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, one of the five daughters of Margarette Rollin and William Rollin, a free man of color. Rollin's father owned a lumber factory and was a man of considerable wealth and influence in Charleston. Louisa Rollin and her sisters enjoyed great educational opportunities as a result of their father's social standing. Although not much is known of her formal education, Rollin is said to have attended school in Philadelphia. Her eldest sister, Frances Rollin Whipper, a celebrated social activist and author of Life and Public Services of Martin R. Delany, is noted as having attended the Institute for Colored Youth, an elite academic institution founded by Quakers in Philadelphia. Considering her family's social standing and the documented education of her sister, Louisa Rollin is assumed to have received a strong and largely uncommon academic education for her time.

Although much ...

Article

Joy Gleason Carew

journalist, postal systems specialist, and African American expatriate in the Soviet Union from 1932 to 1946, was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His parents' names are not known. Fed up with Jim Crow in the South and discrimination and racism in the North Smith joined hundreds of highly ambitious African Americans in the 1920s and 1930s who were anxious to test out the idea that there were societies outside the United States that would welcome all those of goodwill no matter the color of their skin Many blacks turned their attention to France as a result of experiences of World War I where the French had expressed solidarity with African American servicemen For others the quest was directed to the new Soviet Union a country that overtly offered sanctuary to oppressed people As Smith wrote in his memoirs I read avidly the reports of the Soviet experiment ...