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John Harris-Behling

disc jockey, impresario, and businessman, was born Arthur Bernard Leaner in Jackson, Mississippi. An ambitious young man, Benson sang with the family band, performed in black vaudeville, and produced shows at Jackson's black theater, the Alamo. He also attended Jackson Normal College. In the 1920s he moved to Chicago but returned to Jackson to weather the Great Depression. As the pains of the Depression eased, Benson moved back to Chicago, where he worked as a probation officer, a railroad cook, an interviewer for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and a preacher before making his name as one of Chicago's leading radio personalities. He lived in Chicago with his wife, Norma, and their daughters, Arleta and Bertina, until he retired in 1967.

Benson began his radio career as Reverend Arthur Leaner hosting a fifteen minute Sunday morning broadcast from his storefront church on Chicago s South Side When station ...

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Doris Evans McGinty

According to Jerrold Lytton (as reported by H. S. Fortune in the Colored American, June 1900), Theodore Drury was born in Kentucky of a musical family. He was well read and able to speak both French and German. Described in contemporary reports as thoroughly trained, elegant, and highly professional in bearing, he was considered by some as the first black, highly trained male singer.

It was in New York and the New England states that Drury's early performing experience as a tenor took place, often in support of more established singers. Through these appearances, his name became known and in 1889 he organized the Drury Comic Opera Company. Toward the end of that same year, the company was renamed the Theodore Drury Opera Company and gave concerts of operatic selections under the management of G. H. Barrett. An advertisement in 1889 (New York Age October ...

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John R. McKivigan

James Redpath was born in Berwick-upon-Tweed, on the English-Scottish border, the son of Ninian Davidson Redpath, a teacher, and Maria Main. The young Redpath immigrated to the United States in 1849 and soon found work as a reporter for the New York Tribune, published by the antislavery advocate and reformer Horace Greeley. In the mid-1850s Redpath made three journeys through the South, secretly interviewing slaves and publishing their accounts of slavery in abolitionist newspapers. After the third trip Redpath published the interviews and his impressions of the South in a book titled The Roving Editor; or, Talks with Slaves in the Southern States. The book proved controversial because Redpath allowed the slaves to voice their discontent and willingness to revolt. Frederick Douglass, a leading voice for abolition and himself a former slave, published lengthy excerpts from Redpath's book in his weekly newspaper.

In 1855 ...