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Reginald H. Pitts

inventor, entrepreneur, and historian, was born in what is now Gardiner, Maine, the son of Matthias Lewis, a farm laborer of Mohegan Indian ancestry. Nothing is now known of Lewis's mother. Sometime after 28 July 1800 Lewis's father married Lucy Stockbridge of Pittston, Maine, the daughter of African slaves. It is not known whether this marriage legalized a longstanding relationship or was Matthias's actual second marriage.

Although little is known of Lewis's early life, it appears that he first went to sea in ships that worked the Atlantic rim and the coastal trade down to the Caribbean. It is known that Lewis wanted to become a missionary to Africa; after his death, his neighbors remembered, “it was said … that the Congregational Church in Hallowell [where Lewis moved around 1820 had in consequence of the intelligence he had manifested in youth obtained for him an ...

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SaFiya D. Hoskins

author, educator, and poet, was born Don Luther Lee, in Little Rock, Arkansas, to Maxine Lee and an unknown father. In 1943 his family migrated to Detroit, Michigan. Lee's father deserted the family before his baby sister was born. His mother began working as a janitor and barmaid to support her two children. Lee's mother introduced him to the Detroit Public Library, where he spent hours at a time reading. His mother, the person he credits with his interest in black arts, died of a drug overdose when he was sixteen. Upon her death he moved to Chicago, Illinois, and attended Dunbar Vocational High School. His love for reading continued to flourish as he explored works by authors such as Chester Himes, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Jean Toomer. Lee graduated in 1960 and began selling magazines when he could not ...