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Teri B. Weil

military leader, nurse, educator, and entrepreneur, was born Clara Mae Leach Adams in Willow Springs, North Carolina. Her parents, Otha Leach and Caretha Bell, were sharecroppers, and she was the fourth of ten children. Her parents were staunch supporters of education and made sure that all of their children knew this. Her parents further instilled in the children a sense of self-respect and a belief that with knowledge they could do anything.

As a child growing up in a family of sharecroppers, Adams-Ender realized early that she wanted more out of life. Her perseverance in continuing her education while missing school to work the farm with her family was evident when she graduated second in her class at the age of sixteen. Although she enrolled in a nursing program, her first career choice was to be a lawyer. However, in 1956 her father believed that ...

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John F. Marzalek

Alexander was born in Helena, Arkansas, the son of slave parents. Details of his early life are unknown, but in 1882 he enrolled as a freshman at Ohio's Oberlin College. He did well academically and was described by one of his professors as having “very rare ability as a student.” In May 1883 he was offered an appointment as alternate to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, from the 14th Congressional District of Ohio. He made the highest score on the academic part of the examination but was made an alternate because another candidate—the son of Chief Justice Morrison Waite scored better on the physical Friends who were skeptical of the military medical evaluation felt that Alexander was pigeon breasted they held parties in Oberlin and Cleveland raising enough money to send him to West Point anyway When the young Waite failed his entrance examination ...

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Charles Vincent

Antoine was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1836. His father was a veteran of the War of 1812; he had fought the British at the Battle of New Orleans. Antoine's mother was a native of the West Indies and the daughter of an African chief; her parents were taken as slaves from the shores of Africa. On his father's side (so the story goes), Antoine's grandmother Rose Antoine was a remarkable woman who purchased her freedom and acquired a small fortune through her work as a midwife.

Caesar C. Antoine spent his childhood in New Orleans and attended private schools. He was fluent in both French and English. After graduating, he entered one of the few occupations open to African Americans in the antebellum South: the barber trade. After federal troops captured Baton Rouge in 1862 Antoine organized a black company known subsequently as Company ...

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Jeffery Othele Mahan

soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Manuel Caldera and Beulah Baker. After the deaths of his parents, Vernon and his sisters, Irma and Katherine, were raised by their maternal grandparents, Joseph Samuel Baker, a retired brakeman for the Union Pacific Railroad, and Dora Lucas. Although his grandparents never officially adopted him, Vernon took the surname Baker and did not know his original surname until later in life. Baker was educated at various elementary and secondary schools, including two years at Father Flanagan's Boys Home in Omaha, Nebraska. Baker finally earned his high school diploma at Clarinda, Iowa, in 1939.

After graduation, Baker returned to Cheyenne, where he found work at the army depot at night doing maintenance, repair, and cleaning jobs. Baker was rejected on his first attempt to join the army. Finally in June 1942 he enlisted and was ...

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Charles Johnson

Born on September 12, 1840, in Troy, New York, Frazier Augustus Boutelle was the son of James Boutelle from Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and Emeline Lamb Boutelle. He began his army career in 1861, the year the Civil War began, as a member of the Ira Harris Cavalry, subsequently designated the 5th New York Cavalry Regiment. After serving as quartermaster sergeant, he was commissioned a second lieutenant on November 5, 1862. Participating in the Gettysburg campaign, Boutelle was injured on June 30, 1863, when he fell from his horse during a charge at Hanover, Pennsylvania. Consequently, he was assigned to First Brigade, 3rd Cavalry Division, on January 17, 1864, as an ambulance officer. Boutelle did not return to his regiment until he reenlisted in the army in 1864 and he remained with the regiment until he was discharged with the rank of captain on ...

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Elizabeth D. Schafer

physician, was born in Louisburg, North Carolina, the son of the Reverend Joel Branche and Hanna Shaw. He attended the Mary Potter Academy in Oxford, North Carolina. The Branche home was located near this Presbyterian school; George Branche enjoyed playing on the campus, and he acquired his early education there.

After his high school graduation in 1913, Branche enrolled at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where he participated as an athlete. He graduated in 1917 and served in World War I as a master sergeant. After the armistice he focused on medicine as a career. Branche graduated from the Boston University Medical School in 1923, and he was an intern at the Boston Psychopathic Hospital.

While Branche was in medical school federal officials sought a site to establish a hospital for black veterans African American World War I veterans suffered from treatment at inferior hospitals or were neglected ...

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Charles Johnson

Born on November 25, 1861, in Port Royal, Virginia, to William and Elizabeth Hall Brooks, Arthur Brooks arrived in the District of Columbia at an early age. He was later employed as a laborer until he applied for employment in the federal government. Brooks served in several positions, but the most significant was as the custodian for the White House. Simultaneously, he was actively involved in military activities.

Enlisting in the National Guard, Brooks began his military career his in the Washington Cadet Corps under Captain Christian A. Fleetwood. Serving as a first lieutenant in Company A, he was promoted to captain when his company was reorganized into the Sixth Battalion of the District of Columbia Militia on July 2, 1887. This battalion was redesignated as the Seventh Battalion on April 22, 1889, and again as the First Separate Battalion in 1891 Brooks ...

Article

Laura M. Calkins

physician, was born in Raleigh, North Carolina. Little is known about his family or upbringing. Some sources suggest that Brown briefly attended Shaw University, the Baptist-affiliated postsecondary school for blacks founded in Raleigh in 1865; contemporary accounts indicate that Brown graduated from Cleveland High School in Cleveland, Ohio. Brown pursued undergraduate studies at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, earning a BA in June 1888. That fall, Brown enrolled in the medical school of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He earned his MD with a special qualification in surgery in 1891. At his graduation, friends from Ann Arbor's Second Baptist Church presented him with a new medical case, as a token of recognition and thanks for his active involvement in the church's choir and social activities during his student days in Ann Arbor.

Brown soon moved to Jefferson County Alabama where a local examining board certified ...

Article

Wayne Dawkins

literary critic. Anatole Broyard was born in New Orleans, the son of Paul Broyard, a carpenter, and Edna Miller. Young Anatole was the second of three children. His older sister, Lorraine, was fair complexioned and his younger sister, Shirley, was brown complexioned. Anatole was pale to olive skinned as a boy. This color distinction is important, because that issue defined the future writer's life.

Anatole's family moved to Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant in the 1920s. Anatole's father arrived in town as a master carpenter, but he learned that the carpenters’ union barred applicants of color. Paul Broyard decided to identify himself as white in order to work. The rest of the family did not overtly pass for white; they muted their racial identity, and that worked in multiethnic Brooklyn.

Young Anatole meanwhile picked up the nickname “Buddy,” according to the historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. In ...

Article

Edward L. Lach

business executive and civic leader, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Hayward G. Burrell and Fannie Miles. Although his parents’ occupations are unknown, both his father and his mother were natives of the District of Columbia, and Burrell's roots in the area ran deep. After graduating from Dunbar High School at the age of fifteen, he worked as a driver for a local pharmacy and apparently also drove a cab for a while. He married at age sixteen (his wife's name is unknown), and the marriage produced a son before ending in divorce seven years later.

In 1941 Burrell gained a position at the federal Bureau of Standards, where he worked in the glass section producing prisms and bombsights. He also attended nearby Howard University between 1941 and 1943 but did not graduate. He entered the U.S. Army in 1945 and rose to the rank of ...

Article

Frank N. Schubert

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, C. Thomas Butler studied for the priesthood at a Jesuit college in Annapolis but went to sea before completing his preparation. After an 1887 shipwreck off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, he enlisted in the Ninth Cavalry and served with that unit at Fort McKinney, Wyoming, and Fort Robinson, Nebraska. During the federal campaign against the Sioux in 1890 and 1891, Butler participated in the rescue of the Seventh Cavalry from the Sioux at Drexel Mission on the Pine Ridge reservation. In 1895 he transferred to the Twenty-fifth Infantry, then in Montana, and remained in that regiment through the Cuban campaign of the Spanish-American War in 1898.

During the battle for Santiago, Cuba, on July 1, 1898 the Twenty fifth Infantry attacked the Spanish garrison on El Caney a key hill northeast of the city After a hard fight the black infantrymen ...

Article

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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Clement Alexander Price

Born in Washington, D.C., the son of a black army officer, Benjamin O. Davis, Sr., young Benjamin Davis attended school in Tuskegee, Alabama, and Cleveland, Ohio, and the University of Chicago, before entering the all‐white U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where the last African American had graduated in the 1880s. Davis graduated in 1936 (35th in a class of 276). His request for assignment to the Army Air Corps was refused because there were no black aviation units; instead, he was assigned to an all‐black infantry regiment and then to Tuskegee Institute as an instructor. In 1941, the War Department finally allowed blacks into the Air Corps, although in segregated units. Davis established a flight program at Tuskegee, and as a lieutenant colonel took command of the 99th Pursuit Squadron (the “Black Eagles”), the first black air unit.

In 1943 during World War II he led ...

Article

Benjamin Oliver Davis, Jr., was the son of Elnora and Benjamin Oliver Davis, the first black general of the United States Army. After living on a number of military bases during his childhood, Davis entered a predominantly white high school in Cleveland, Ohio. He was elected president of his class and went on to attend Cleveland's Western Reserve University. He transferred to the University of Chicago but hoped to enroll in the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. At the time, the academy actively discouraged blacks from applying. With the help of black Chicago congressman Oscar DePriest, however, Davis took the entrance examinations and entered the academy in 1932.

At West Point Davis because he was black was subjected to a four year silencing campaign no one ate with him roomed with him answered his questions or spoke to him unless issuing an order He nonetheless graduated ...

Article

Tanu T. Henry

was born Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. in Washington, D.C., the son of the U.S. army's first black general, Benjamin O. Davis Sr., and his wife, Elnora Dickerson. Davis spent most of his childhood living on different military bases. By the time he entered high school, his family had settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where he attended a predominantly white school. At his high school, he began to prove his leadership ability, winning elections for class president. After high school, he enrolled in Cleveland's Case Western Reserve University and later the University of Chicago, before he was accepted in 1932, through the influence of the congressman Oscar DePriest, into the United States Military Academy at West Point.

At West Point, which discouraged black cadets from applying at the time, Davis faced a hostile environment and routine exclusion by his peers His classmates shunned him and only talked ...

Article

Brian F. Neumann

U.S. Air Force general and commander of the Tuskegee Airmen. Born in Washington, D.C., Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. was the son of Benjamin O. Davis Sr., the first African American general in American history, and first flew at the age of fourteen, developing a deep love of flying that defined his life and career.

After attending the University of Chicago, Davis entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1932. The last African American to graduate from the academy had done so in 1880, and Davis endured four years of isolation from his fellow cadets before graduating in 1936, thirty-fifth in a class of 276. Davis's request for assignment to the Army Air Corps was denied because there were no black aviation units. After marrying Agatha Scott Davis was assigned to the all black Twenty fourth Infantry Regiment the buffalo soldiers and served as ...

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Clement Alexander Price

Born the son of a U.S. government worker in Washington, D.C., Davis attended Howard University, then in the Spanish‐American War helped recruit a company for the 8th U.S. Volunteer Infantry as a lieutenant. In 1899, after demobilization, he enlisted as a private in one of the army's traditional black cavalry units. Two years later, he passed a competitive examination and was commissioned a lieutenant in a black regiment. For the next three decades, Davis served in a number of positions—most of them designed to keep him from commanding white officers or white troops in the segregated army. These assignments included military attaché to Liberia, military science instructor at Wilberforce University and at Tuskegee Institute, and instructor with the Ohio and New York National Guard.

In 1930, Davis became the first black colonel. One week before the 1940 presidential election, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Davis a brigadier ...

Article

Benjamin Oliver Davis was the youngest of three children of Henrietta, a nurse, and Louis, a messenger for the federal government. Shortly after completing high school in Washington, D.C., Davis volunteered to serve in the army, which was then fighting in the Spanish-American War of 1898. He was given a temporary posting as a second lieutenant. After the war Davis decided to continue his military career, enlisting as a private in the Ninth Cavalry. Sent to the Philippines, he became a sergeant major, the highest enlisted rank in the army. Although racism routinely thwarted blacks' efforts to reach higher ranks, in 1901 Davis took and passed examinations to become an officer. As a second lieutenant, he served at Fort Washakie in Wyoming.

In 1902 Davis married Elnora Dickerson his high school girlfriend The Davises were the only black couple at Washakie and were essentially shunned by the white ...

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Lisa E. Rivo

U.S.Army officer, was born Benjamin Oliver Davis in Washington, D.C., the youngest of three children of Louis Patrick Henry Davis, a messenger for the U.S. Department of the Interior, and Henrietta Stewart, a nurse. Benjamin attended the Lucretia Mott School, one of Washington's few integrated schools, and then the segregated M Street High School. Impressed in his interactions with Civil War veterans and black cavalrymen, Benjamin joined the M Street Cadet Corps, earning a commission in the all-black unit of the National Guard for his senior year.

Although he had taken courses at Howard University during his senior year of high school, and despite his parent's objections, Davis chose a military career over college. He enlisted during the Spanish-American War in 1898 and joined the all black Eighth U S Volunteer Infantry in Chickamauga Georgia A year later Davis reenlisted in the regular army He served ...

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Brian F. Neumann

first African American general in American history. Evidence has been presented that Davis was born 28 May 1880 and then lied about his age to enlist in the army; the earlier date is the one on his tombstone at Arlington National Cemetery. Born to a government worker in Washington, D.C., Benjamin Oliver Davis came from a middle-class home and benefited from the educational opportunities this presented. He attended Washington's M Street High School, gaining a taste for military life in the cadet corps. After a brief stint at Howard University, he helped recruit a black company of U.S. volunteer infantry in 1898 after the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. He served in the all-black unit as a lieutenant. The unit was not sent overseas, and Davis was mustered out in 1899 Denied enrollment at the U S Military Academy at West Point he enlisted as a private in the ...