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Susan Love Brown

journalist, educator, politician, and statesman. Mervyn Malcolm Dymally, born in Cedros, Trinidad, achieved many “firsts” in American politics. His mother, Andreid Richardson, of Trinidadian descent, and his father, Hamid Dymally, of South Asian descent, educated him through high school, at Naparima College in San Fernando, Trinidad, after which he worked as a reporter for the Oilfields Workers Trade Union newspaper, The Vanguard, in Trinidad. This spurred his interest in a journalistic career, which took him to Lincoln University in Missouri at the age of nineteen. Eventually, he moved to Los Angeles State College of Applied Arts and Sciences, where he majored in education, receiving his bachelor's degree in 1954. From then on he combined education, politics, and involvement in international issues as the interests that guided his career.

While working as a science special education teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District ...


Michaeljulius Idani

politician, was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the son of Newton Jackson Ford and Victoria Davis. He was the ninth of fifteen children, only twelve of whom survived early childhood. Ford's father led a successful funeral home, N. J. Ford & Sons, and both parents were leading figures in Memphis's African American community. Newton Ford was active in Memphis politics and encouraged Harold and his two older brothers, John and Emmitt, to advance the cause of civil rights.

As a teenager Ford moved to Nashville to pursue an education at Tennessee State University and also to manage the family funeral business. During this time he experienced his first political campaign, working on his father's unsuccessful bid for the Tennessee state legislature. That campaign helped Ford understand the challenges facing African Americans attempting to break into a political structure dominated by whites. After graduating in 1967 he studied ...


Jeff Bloodworth

congressman, was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, the son of Nyanza Hawkins, a pharmacist who moved his family to Los Angeles in 1918 when Hawkins was eleven years old, and Hattie Freeman. Thereafter Los Angeles remained Augustus Hawkins's home. He graduated from Jefferson High School and from the University of Southern California with a degree in Economics in 1931. Only five feet four inches tall and so light-skinned that he was often mistaken for white, Hawkins entered electoral politics at an early age.In 1935, after leaving a job selling real estate, Hawkins was elected to the California State Assembly. Running as a Democrat and a proponent of Upton Sinclair's End Poverty in California (EPIC) program, he defeated a longtime incumbent. Once in office Hawkins became a committed New Deal liberal, supporting Franklin Roosevelt and eschewing socialism and other radical prescriptions to end the Great ...


Debi Hamlin

Hyman, John Adams (23 July 1840–14 September 1891), North Carolina senator and U.S. congressman, was born a slave near Warrenton, Warren County, North Carolina. Nothing is known about his parents. In 1861 Hyman worked as a janitor for a jeweler who with his wife taught Hyman to read and write. When that was discovered, the jeweler and his wife were driven from Warrenton, and Hyman was sold and sent to Alabama. Having been at least eight times “bought and sold as a brute,” as he described it, Hyman in 1865 returned to Warren County, where he was a farmer and store manager. Sometime between 1865 and 1867 he became a trustee of one of the first public schools in Warren County.

Hyman s formal political career began in September 1866 when at the age of twenty six he was a delegate to the Freedmen s Convention of ...


Donna A. Patterson

lawyer, politician, state senator, and U.S. congressman, was born one of nine children in Lake Providence, Louisiana, to Mose and Angelina Jefferson. His father worked for the Army Corps of Engineers and managed a sharecropping plot. After graduating from high school, Jefferson majored in political science and English at Southern University in Baton Rouge where he met his future wife, Andrea Green. There he became involved in campus politics. His activities included organizing a protest about campus living conditions; he was also elected student body president. In 1969 he received his BA, and in 1972 he was awarded a JD degree from Harvard University. In 1996 he returned to school to complete a master of laws in Taxation from Georgetown University.

He married Green in 1970. Their union produced five daughters: Jamila, Jalila, Jelani, Nailah, and Akilah His ...


Jeff Bloodworth

librarian, civil rights activist, state senator, and congressman, was born in Collierville, Tennessee, one of the eight children of Ezekiel Owens and Hannah Owens. During Owens's childhood his family moved to Memphis, where Owens graduated from Hamilton High School in 1952 at the age of sixteen. After graduation and upon the receipt of a Ford Foundation scholarship, Owens attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he majored in mathematics, earning his bachelor's degree in 1956. In 1957 Owens earned a master's degree in Library Science from Atlanta University.

After earning his master's degree Owens married Ethel Werfel, whom he met at Morehouse College, and moved to New York City. Employed in the Brooklyn Public Library system, Owens also became active in politics and civil rights in the early to mid-1960s. In 1964 he was named community coordinator for a federal program to encourage ...


Larvester Gaither

attorney and U.S. congressman, was born in Longview, Texas, to Roy and Azalia Washington. As a legislator, Washington was widely known for his brilliant political oratory and as a champion of civil rights and civil liberties. His career as a Texas legislator and U.S. congressman spanned the course of two decades.

After graduating from Fidelity Manor Senior High School in Galena Park, Texas, in 1958, he enrolled at Prairie View A&M University, where he graduated in 1966 with a degree in Biology The path leading to Washington s career as a legislator did not run a straight course While his involvement in student councils throughout high school and college seemed to prefigure a career in politics his initial ambition upon graduating from Prairie View was to study medicine but admissions had ceased by the time he applied to medical school He somewhat fortuitously applied to Texas ...


Thaddeus Russell

politician and mayor of Chicago, was born on the South Side of Chicago, the son of Roy Lee Washington, a stockyard worker, and Bertha Jones, a domestic worker. Harold Washington attended a Benedictine boarding school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, until the age of six. He was then enrolled in Chicago public schools but dropped out of high school after his junior year to take a job in a meatpacking plant. His father, who had become an attorney and a precinct captain for the Democratic Party in Chicago's largely African American Third Ward, secured a job for Washington at the Chicago office of the U.S. Treasury Department. In 1941 he married Dorothy Finch. They had no children and divorced in 1950.

Following U.S. entry into World War II in December 1941 Washington was drafted into the U S Army He was stationed in the South Pacific with ...


Joseph Wilson and David Addams

career Democratic legislator who made history as the first African American mayor of Chicago, Illinois. Born and raised in Chicago, Harold L. Washington was a decorated World War II veteran and graduated from Northwestern University School of Law in 1952. He practiced law as a city prosecutor and state arbitrator until being elected to the state legislature in 1965. As a state legislator, he helped lead the 1973 campaign to have the state of Illinois become the first in the United States to recognize the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday as a holiday. In 1980, he was elected to Congress, after running for mayor unsuccessfully in 1977. In Congress, Washington used his influence to ensure the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act in 1982.

In 1983, black community activists solicited Washington to run for mayor against the incumbent Democrat, Jane Byrne ...


Aaron Myers

Harold Washington was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Bertha and Roy Lee Washington, who separated when he was young, and he was raised by his father. After dropping out of high school during his junior year, Washington earned a high school equivalency degree in the Army, after he was drafted during World War II. He graduated from Roosevelt University in 1949 with a degree in political science followed by a degree in law from Northwestern University in 1952.

Washington began his political career when he succeeded his deceased father in 1953 as a Democratic Party precinct captain. After positions as a city attorney (1954–1958) and a state labor arbitrator (1960–1964), he served in the Illinois House of Representatives (1965–1976). He then advanced to seats in the Illinois State Senate (1976–1980 and the United States House of Representatives ...