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aviator and instructor of the Tuskegee Airmen, was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, to Janie and Iverson Anderson, of whom little else is known. During his early childhood, he lived with his grandmother in Staunton, Virginia. There Anderson longed for an airplane so he could fly to see what was on the other side of the mountains that surrounded Staunton and the Shenandoah Valley. He frequently left home in search of airplanes that were rumored to have crashed in the valley. His constant disappearances frustrated his grandmother, and she sent him back to his parents. Once back in Pennsylvania, however, he continued leaving home in search of airplanes.

At the age of thirteen Anderson applied to aviation school, but was denied admission because he was African American. In 1926 at the age of nineteen he used his savings and borrowed money from friends and relatives to purchase a ...

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Charles Orson Cook

one of the most prolific white scholars of African American history in the twentieth century. Herbert Aptheker was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1915 and was educated at Columbia University in the 1930s, where he took an undergraduate degree in geology and an MA and a PhD in history. His first important publication, American Negro Slave Revolts (1943), was based on his doctoral dissertation and challenged the prevailing wisdom that slaves were largely passive victims of white masters. In part an outgrowth of Aptheker's master's thesis on Nat Turner, American Negro Slave Revolts immediately became a controversial work and has remained so since. He was befriended by the influential African American historian Carter G. Woodson and the legendary black intellectual W. E. B. Du Bois, both of whom encouraged his interest in Negro history. Aptheker's other writings include a seven-volume Documentary History of the Negro People ...

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Jared A. Ball

law professor, writer, and theoretical pioneer in critical race theory, narrative scholarship, and the economic-determinist approach to race history. As a student and professor of law, Derrick Bell pioneered critical race theory as a tool to explain and challenge the centrality of an apparently immutable racism that permeates every aspect of U.S. society. Bell sees this amorphous yet unremitting racism as essential to the maintenance of the U.S. socioeconomic order. His perspective derives from his personal experience coming of age in an era marked by global struggles for liberation. In his essay “Great Expectations” he vividly describes the effect of government policies on black Americans:

If the nation s policies towards blacks were revised to require weekly random round ups of several hundred blacks who were then taken to a secluded place and shot that policy would be more dramatic but hardly different in result than the policies ...

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Sophie Sanders

artist and educator, later known as John “Anansa” Thomas Biggers, was born in Gastonia, North Carolina, to Cora Biggers, a homemaker who excelled in sewing and quiltmaking, and Paul Biggers, an educator, preacher, carpenter, and farmer. The youngest of seven children, John learned to appreciate the creativity, industry, and struggle of African American families in the example of his parents. When his father died in 1937, John was only thirteen. Cora Biggers took a job as a matron in an orphanage for black children and sent John and his brother Joe to Lincoln Academy, a boarding school that prepared black students to be teachers and ministers.

Biggers's artistic self‐discovery began in 1941 when he enrolled at a black college in Virginia Hampton Institute later Hampton University Although he intended to study the practical trade of plumbing he ultimately majored in art because he was encouraged ...

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Edward M. Burmila

soldier, author, and educator, was born in Newark, New Jersey, to Bradley Biggs, a bootlegger, and Julia DeFreece, a domestic. The couple divorced when Bradley was an infant, and he recalled his childhood as one of abject poverty. His mother struggled to earn enough to support him and his younger brother Burton, and the family lived in public housing.

In his high school years consumed by a desire to escape his harsh surroundings Biggs developed two interests that helped define his path flying and athletics As a member of the Falcon Aeronautical Club of East Orange New Jersey the first and perhaps only black flying club in the East he was exposed to the basics of flight and the mechanics of airplanes At a burly six feet three inches tall he was also able to use his athleticism to win a place on the New York Brown Bombers ...

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Jeremy Rich

educator and politician, was born 17 February 1909 in Kinshasa, then known as Leopoldville, in the Belgian Congo, and now the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo. His family, which originally came from the town of Umangi near the city of Lisaka in the Equateur Province of northwestern Congo, identified with the Ngombe ethnic community. He received his primary and secondary education from the Catholic Sheut religious fathers from 1919 until 1926. That year he received his teaching license, and then taught at various schools for the next thirty-two years. Bolikango later recalled his experience as a veteran teacher: “I spent 32 years in the mission schools where I earned my pay. I was a teacher. Can you believe I never became the head of a small school in 32 years? But the past is the past” (Artigue 1961 p 46 By the 1940s Bolikango ...

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Charles Edward Wiles

first black marine officer and distinguished educator, was born in Hamlet, North Carolina, the son of a Methodist minister. Little is known of his parents or his early education, but he was educated in New York state public schools and attended Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, until he was drafted into the U.S. Marine Corps in 1943 Branch completed basic training at the segregated Marine Corp Recruit Depot for black recruits known as Montford Point located on a desolate portion of Camp Lejeune in North Carolina Following basic training Branch served overseas as part of the Fifty first Defense Battalion a supply unit stationed on a Pacific island near the International Dateline While in the Pacific Branch applied to the navy s V 12 commissioning program for college draftees and was accepted After participating in the V 12 program he attended the Sixteenth Platoon Leaders Class at the Marine ...

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Erin L. Thompson

lawyer and civil rights activist. Wiley Austin Branton was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. His father, Leo Branton, owned and operated a prosperous taxicab business, and his mother, Pauline Wiley, was a schoolteacher and a graduate from the Tuskegee Institute. Branton's education at the Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal College (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) was interrupted in 1943, when he was drafted into the U.S. Army and fought in World War II, working in intelligence and bridge construction.

Branton returned to Pine Bluff to inherit his father's business. Horrified by the discrimination he had witnessed in the segregated army, Branton became active in civil rights, joining the Arkansas State Conference of NAACP Branches. His efforts to instruct local African Americans how to mark election ballots during a 1948 voter registration drive resulted in a misdemeanor conviction for teaching the mechanics of ...

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Elvin Holt

teacher, historian, and folklorist, was born in Goliad, Texas, one of five children of John Henry Brewer, a cattle drover, and Minnie Tate Brewer, a teacher. John Mason grew up with his three sisters, Jewel, Marguerite, Gladys, and his brother Claude in a household that provided a fertile environment for his imagination. His father told exciting stories about his adventures on the cattle drives from the Media Luna Ranch in Texas to the cattle market in Kansas. His mother, a teacher in Texas for over forty years, read the poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar to John Mason during his early childhood. As an adult poet, Dr. Brewer would write dialect verse in the manner of Dunbar. Dr. Brewer's love for the oral tradition in African American culture was also nurtured by his grandfathers, Joe Brewer and Pinckney Mitchell, who told him folktales. John Mason ...

Article

Suzanne Cloud

jazz trumpeter, composer, arranger, and educator, was born Cecil Vernon Bridgewater in Urbana, Illinois, into a family of musicians. His mother, Erma Pauline Scott Bridgewater, was the daughter of Ramon Mack Scott, who sang, played saxophone, piano, and drums, and led a band called Mack Scott and the Foot Warmers, in which Erma played piano for a time. Bridgewater's father, Cecil Bernard Bridgewater, played trumpet in the U.S. Navy band during World War II, and he was stationed at Great Lakes Naval Base with other African American musicians such as Clark Terry, Marshall Royal, Jerome Richardson, and others. Bridgewater's grandfather, Preston Bridgewater, played trumpet and cornet professionally with the circus.

When Cecil Bridgewater was a student at Marquette Grade School in Champaign Illinois the school s band director noticed his potential and encouraged his parents to find a private trumpet teacher for ...

Article

Darius V. Echeverría

economist and educator. Some individuals are important because they exemplify the historical past, while others are important because they embody generational change toward social progress. As the first African American governor of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board (1966–1974), Andrew Felton Brimmer is both the former and the latter.

The life story of this extraordinary leader began on 13 September 1926 in Newellton, Louisiana. The son of Andrew Brimmer Sr., a sharecropper, and Vellar Davis Brimmer, a warehouse worker, Brimmer picked cotton as a child in rural northeastern Louisiana while attending segregated public schools. Rather than allowing the hardships of poverty and racial injustice to discourage him, Brimmer used these experiences as a motivating force. Early on he was determined to earn a college degree so that he could serve in positions where he could help others.

Brimmer graduated from high school in 1944 and ...

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Michael C. Miller

Hall of Fame football player, was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, to Roosevelt Brown, a railroad worker, and Catherine Jackson Brown. He attended Jefferson High School, where he played trombone in the school band because his father forbade him from playing football. The football coach saw Brown and decided that a 180-pound thirteen-year-old should be playing football, not trombone. Rosey's father, who was worried because Rosey's uncle had died from a football injury, finally relented after Rosey played a full season injury free in 1945. Brown played four years of high school football, graduating in 1948.

After high school, Brown attended Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, mainly because his high school coach was an alumnus. Brown was a standout lineman on the football team and was named to the 1952 Negro All-America team selected by the Pittsburgh Courier He also wrestled while in college and ...

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Marlene L. Daut

escaped slave, navy landsman, and U.S. Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Natchez, Mississippi, in 1841 of unknown parentage. Brown was a slave in Mississippi on a cotton plantation, and nothing is known of his childhood or to whom he belonged. In the early 1860s, at the start of the Civil War, Brown ran away from his master on a skiff that eventually managed to reach a Union ship stationed on the Mississippi River. This encounter with the navy probably accounts for his subsequent enlistment. The navy was a likely choice for an escaped slave; many escaped slaves, as well as free blacks from the North, were often drawn to the service because of its better pay and purported fairer treatment of blacks. Brown enlisted in the Union navy on 18 March 1863 under the title 1st Class Boy and was officially described as a Contraband Negro five ...

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Boyd Childress

white soldier, minister, educator, and administrator. Horace Bumstead was a pivotal figure in the education of African Americans at the turn of the twentieth century. Born in Boston to well-to-do parents, Bumstead was educated at Boston Latin School and Yale, from which he graduated in 1863. He was commissioned as a major during the Civil War and commanded black troops serving in the Richmond and Petersburg campaigns in 1864 and 1865. After the war Bumstead graduated from Andover (Massachusetts) Theological Seminary in 1870, studied in Europe, married in 1872, and served a Congregationalist church in Minneapolis. In 1875 he joined his Yale classmate Edmond Asa Ware at Atlanta University to teach natural science and Latin; he was named interim president in 1886 and president in 1888.

Bumstead an advocate of industrial instruction as well as of traditional higher education for blacks ...

Article

Genevieve Skinner

Civil War veteran, preacher, and teacher, was born free to an English sea captain and an African American mother on a ship sailing on the Atlantic Ocean. When Angus was two years old, his father died, and Angus and his mother were sold into slavery in Virginia, and later taken to Kentucky. He spent a majority of his early years in Virginia and learned how to read prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, an illegal pursuit for slaves. In 1864, now enslaved in Kentucky, at the age of sixteen Burleigh ran away from his master and enlisted in the Union Army at Frankfort, Kentucky. Upon enlisting Burleigh was trained at Camp Nelson in Kentucky, which was one of the largest areas for gathering African American soldiers during the Civil War. Burleigh became a sergeant with Company G 12th United States Colored Troops U ...

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Donna M. Abruzzese

psychologist, activist, and children's advocate, was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas, the elder of two children born to Kate Florence Phipps and Dr. Harold Phipps. Dr. Phipps, who was a native of the West Indies, provided a privileged environment for his family in a time of entrenched racism. He owned his own medical practice and also managed a hotel and spa for elite black patrons in the resort town of Hot Springs.

Although Clark remembered a happy childhood, her father's status did not entirely shield her from the racist world around her. At the age of six, Clark experienced her first lynching. A black man was dragged through the streets of Hot Springs, taken out of town, and hanged. Clark did not witness the actual hanging, but the intense emotion of the experience remained with her for the rest of her life.

As a whole however Clark never felt ...

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Rochell Isaac

educator, nationalist, Pan-Africanist, writer, historian, and poet. Born John Henry Clark to Willie Ella Mays and John Clark, a sharecropper, Clarke changed his name, legalizing Henry to Henrik and adding an “e” to Clark, thereby cementing his admiration of the Scandinavian playwright Henrik Ibsen. The Clark family moved from Union Springs, Alabama, to Columbus, Georgia, when Clarke was four years old. Clarke's mother, a laundrywoman, died of pellagra, a diet deficiency, when Clarke was still very young. With his mother's illness and subsequent death, the Clark family began to feel the effects of poverty.

Though he clearly demonstrated academic ability along with a strong desire to learn and excel Clarke s academic goals encountered much resistance As a teenager Clarke held a number of menial jobs he was a part time student and a part time farmer and worker As a result he ...

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James Robert Payne

After careers in government service, law, the Army, and academia, Cyrus Colter began writing at fifty. Colter placed his first short story, “A Chance Meeting,” in Threshold in 1960. He went on to place stories in such little magazines as New Letters, Chicago Review, and Prairie Schooner. Fourteen of his stories are collected in his first book, The Beach Umbrella (1970). In 1990 Colter published a second collection of short fiction, The Amoralists and Other Tales.

Colter's first novel, The Rivers of Eros (1972) relates the efforts of Clotilda Pilgrim to raise her grandchildren to lives of respectability When Clotilda discovers that her sixteen year old grandaughter is involved with a married man the grandmother becomes obsessed with the idea that the girl is repeating her grandmother s own youthful mistakes Clotilda eventually kills the girl in order to stop what ...

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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 ...

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Antoinette Broussard Farmer

educator, writer, and community leader, was born Lulu Mae Sadler, in Platte County, Missouri, the daughter of Harriet Ellen Samuels, a homemaker, and Meride George Sadler, a farmer and laborer. Both were former slaves. As a young man, Lulu's father ran away from the Foley plantation and his slave owner to join the military and fought for his freedom with the Second Kansas Colored Infantry, Volunteers for the Union in the Civil War. Meride registered in the military under his slave name Foley and reclaimed his father's name of Sadler after the war.

When Sadler was a little boy his mother whose name was China was tied to a tree to be whipped by her angry slave owner Lulu s grandfather Meride Sr ran to China s rescue and threw an axe that landed close to the slave master Foley s head To punish him Foley sold ...