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Nathan Zook

minister, civil rights leader, and member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, was born Avery Caesar Alexander in the town of Houma in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, to a family of sharecroppers. The names of his parents are not known. Seventeen years later, his family moved to New Orleans. Avery Alexander maintained an active life there and in Baton Rouge for the next seventy-two years.

Prior to his election to the Louisiana legislature, Alexander was employed as a longshoreman. At the same time, he pursued an education by taking night courses, receiving his high school diploma from Gilbert Academy in 1939. He became politically active by working as a labor union operative for a longshoreman's union, Local 1419. He also held the occupations of real estate broker and insurance agent.

Alexander received a degree in theology from Union Baptist Theological Seminary and became an ordained Baptist minister ...

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

Teresa A. Booker

attorney, politician, and diplomat, was born in Louisville, Kentucky. He was the youngest of two children and the only son of Charles W. Anderson Sr., a physician, and Tabitha L. Murphy, a teacher.

Motivated by the high value that his parents placed on education, Charles W. Anderson Jr. entered Kentucky State College at age fifteen and attended from 1922 to 1925. He then transferred to Wilberforce University, one of the earliest universities established for African Americans. Although the reason for Anderson's transfer to Wilberforce University during the penultimate year of his undergraduate career is unclear, it is likely that he, like other black Kentuckians, was forced to pursue higher education outside of the state because of the still-standing Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 authorizing separate but equal educational facilities Higher educational institutions for blacks did not exist in Kentucky and rather than wait for them ...

Article

M. Lois Lucas

educator and state legislator, was born in Glen Ferris, West Virginia, the only child of Solomon and Luvenia Galloway Smallwood. The Smallwoods had moved from North Carolina during the early 1900s and settled in Fayette County in southeastern West Virginia. They later relocated to Glen Ferris in Raleigh County. Growing up in Glen Ferris during the Jim Crow era, Meadows experienced racial discrimination firsthand. She attended a poorly equipped, two-room elementary school for black children. Although a high school was only two miles from her parents' home, she had to travel twenty-five miles to attend Simmons High School for blacks.

After high school Meadows enrolled in West Virginia State College, where she earned a BA in Education in 1939. Her first teaching assignment came in 1941 at Summerlee Elementary School in Fayette County She recalled that often black schools were one room structures with no running ...

Article

Julie Gallagher

civil rights lawyer and federal judge. Constance Baker Motley was an integral member of the Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) through the 1950s and the early 1960s, arguing some of the era's most important cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Motley was born in New Haven, Connecticut, to Willoughby Alva Baker and Rachel Keziah Huggins Baker, immigrants from the Caribbean Island of Nevis. Motley's father remained a loyal Republican throughout his life, but her mother supported Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal. The ninth of twelve children, Motley grew up in a strict household where education and religion were strongly emphasized. During high school she decided that she wanted to be a lawyer. Sara Lee Fleming founder of the Women s Civic League a group of influential black New Haven women encouraged young Constance ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

attorney, West Virginia state legislator, business owner, founder and president of the West Virginia conference of NAACP branches, sometimes known in public as T. Gillis Nutter, was born in Princess Anne, Somerset County, Maryland, the son of William Nutter and Emma Henry Nutter.

He was educated in public schools in Maryland, and awarded the L.L.B. degree from Howard University Law School on 28 May 1898. For two years afterward he taught school and was a principal in Fairmount, Maryland. Nutter was admitted to the bar in Marion County, Indiana, in 1900, and moved to Charleston, West Virginia, in 1903 He established his reputation as a defense lawyer by convincing a jury in the Grice murder case to convict a black man charged with killing a white man of voluntary manslaughter rather than murder then in the case of Campbell Clark charged ...

Article

Kenneth L. Kusmer

newspaper editor and politician, was born in Clarksburg, West Virginia, the son of John Smith and Sarah (maiden name unknown), occupations unknown. Accompanied by his sister and widowed mother, he came to Cleveland in 1866 and remained there for the rest of his life. A self-taught cornet player, Smith played in several bands while attending high school. After graduating in 1883 he and three friends established the Cleveland Gazette. Smith, who remained a lifelong bachelor, soon bought out his partners and became sole proprietor and editor. The first significant African American newspaper in the city, the Gazette was published weekly until Smith's death, at which time the newspaper went out of existence. Known for its militant editorial stance on racial issues, the Gazette circulated widely throughout Ohio before World War I. After 1917 its influence steadily declined as a result of competition from other African American newspapers ...