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Article

Carl Moneyhon

John Edward Bush was born a slave in Moscow, Tennessee. In 1862 his master moved him and his mother to Arkansas to keep them from being freed when the Union army moved into western Tennessee. His mother died when Bush was only seven years old. He was educated in the freedmen's and public schools of Little Rock and was considered a good student by his teachers. He paid his school tuition by molding bricks. In 1876 he graduated from high school with honors and was immediately appointed principal of Capital Hill School, a public institution for African Americans in Little Rock. In 1878 he moved to Hot Springs, where he was named to head that city's African American high school.

In 1879 Bush returned to Little Rock, where he married Cora Winfrey, the daughter of a wealthy African American contractor, Solomon Winfrey The couple had four children ...

Article

Shennette Garrett-Scott

insurance entrepreneur, was born Robert Alexander Cole in the small Tennessee town of Mount Carmel to former slaves Robert and Narcissa Cole. Cole grew up in a community of poor cotton sharecroppers, but his childhood was a happy one. Cole worked on the farm with his seven brothers and sisters. He was only able to complete four years of formal education. Around 1899 Cole moved to Kentucky and quickly advanced as a foreman in a machine shop. However, he chafed under southern racial proscriptions and migrated to Chicago in 1905. He eventually secured employment with the Pullman Company as a sleeping car porter. In his twenty years as a porter Cole listened closely to traveling businessmen and often asked questions. He also formed valuable professional and social relationships with prominent blacks, such as the successful undertaker and policy king Daniel McKee Jackson He gained an invaluable business ...

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Marcus Shepard

lawyer, businessman, civil rights leader, and Chicago alderman, was born in Canton, Mississippi, to Edward Dickerson and Emma Garrett Fielding. Earl Dickerson's maternal grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Garrett, bought his freedom in the 1850s and owned a livery stable as well as several other properties in Canton. His business was destroyed during the Civil War, however, and by the time Earl was born the family lived in relative poverty. Edward Dickerson, who worked away from home as an upholsterer, died when Earl was five and he was raised by his mother, who did laundry for local whites, his paternal half-sister, and his maternal grandmother, who ran a small boarding house in Canton.

In 1906 Dickerson was sent to live with relatives in New Orleans where he attended the preparatory school of New Orleans University Unfortunately family finances forced him to return to Canton ...

Article

Edward C. Halperin

physician, was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, the son of Smith Donnell, a real estate developer, and Lula Ingold. Donnell was raised in Greensboro, where he attended the public schools for African Americans and the high school operated by North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University. He received an AB in 1911 from Howard University and an MD in 1915 from Harvard University. While at Harvard he studied under Milton J. Rosenau, the world-renowned scientist in preventive medicine and founder of the world's first school of public health, at Harvard in 1909. Since few hospitals would accept African Americans as interns at the time of Donnell's medical school graduation, he rotated as a fellow and observer at Boston City Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Children's Hospital from 1915 to 1916. Donnell's subsequent career was devoted to African American health education, insurance, and banking.

African ...

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Tom J. Ward

physician and businessman, was born in New Roads, Louisiana, the second of the seven children of George Frederick and Armantine (maiden name unknown) of Point Coupeé Parish, Louisiana. Frederick received his early education at the plantation school run by the wife of Louis F. Drouillard, the landlord for whom his parents were sharecroppers. In 1890 Frederick left Point Coupeé for New Orleans, where he enrolled at Straight University. He graduated in 1894, then enrolled at the New Orleans Medical College. Because he would not have been able to study in any of the city's hospitals because of his race, Frederick did not complete his medical education in New Orleans; instead, he left for Chicago in 1896 and enrolled at the College of Physicians and Surgeons In Chicago he had the benefit of clinical training at Cook County Hospital Frederick received his MD from the College of ...

Article

Lynne B. Feldman

entrepreneur, was born Arthur George Gaston in Demopolis, Alabama, the son of Tom Gaston, a railroad worker, and Rosa Gaston (maiden name unknown), a cook. He grew up in poverty in rural Alabama before he and his mother moved to Birmingham, Alabama, after his father's death. He attended, and for a good time resided at, Tuggle Institute, where he received a moral and industrial education. In 1910 he graduated from the school with a tenth grade certificate. Before and after graduation he worked at a number of part-time jobs, including selling subscriptions for the Birmingham Reporter.

Gaston served in World War I in France as a sergeant in the 317th Ammunition Train of the all black 92nd Division of the U S army Upon his return to the United States he briefly worked at a dry cleaning factory for five dollars a day before landing a job ...

Article

Shennette Garrett-Scott

insurance executive, was born Norris Bumstead Herndon in Atlanta, Georgia, the only child of the actress and educator Elizabeth Adrienne Stephens McNeil and the entrepreneur and philanthropist Alonzo Franklin Herndon. Herndon's father, born a slave in nearby Walton County, Georgia, in 1858, was one of the most successful and respected black businessmen in the United States. In the 1880s Alonzo opened the Crystal Palace, an upscale barbershop on Peachtree Street that was reputed to be one of the largest and most elegant barbershops in the world. In 1905 Alonzo organized the Atlanta Mutual Insurance Association, which became one of the richest and most respected black-owned insurance companies in the United States. In 1922 the company changed its name to the Atlanta Life Insurance Company.

Alonzo hoped his son would take the reins of his business empire but Herndon who was close to his mother instead shared her ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Austin, Texas, the son of slaves Jack and Emily Holland. Milton had three known brothers, Toby, William, and James, all part of “the third generation of African-Americans born as slaves” on the Holland Family Plantation run by Bird Holland later the Texas secretary of state Arlington National Cemetery Perhaps because of his light complexion and the fact that he was later freed and sent to school in the North Bird Holland may have been the real father of Milton as well as his brothers William and James a fact speculated upon by some historians Bird Holland would later free Milton William and James and send them north to Ohio in the late 1850s Here Milton Holland attended the Albany Manual Labor Academy an educational institution that accepted blacks and women This school was ...

Article

Stephen L. Harris

civil rights and community activist, business leader, state legislator, and Tuskegee Airman, was born in New York state to Henry Johnson, a World War I hero and recipient of the American Distinguished Service Cross. His maternal grandfather, Herman Phoenix, was in the early 1900s a leader in organizing the Niagara, New York, branch of the NAACP. Johnson himself was thirteen when he joined the NAACP. Although he lived and worked in several cities, he was most connected with Kansas City, Missouri. He earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Cornell University in 1938 and a master's degree in business administration from the University of Chicago in 1940.

Soon after earning his master s degree Johnson was a statistician for the War Production Board During World War II he enlisted and fought with the 332nd Fighter Group known as the Tuskegee Airmen Attaining the ...

Article

Karen Cotton McDaniel

insurance salesperson, member of the Kentucky legislature, and civil rights activist, was born in Millersburg, Kentucky, to Anna Belle Leer, a domestic, and Charles Robert Jones, a white man and a son of the family for whom Leer worked. Mae was never introduced to her biological father, and he never acknowledged her as his child. Jones eventually married and had his own family, and sometimes they visited Mae and her mother. Mae, however, felt rejected by Jones and wanted nothing to do with him or his family. As the daughter of a white man who denied their relationship, Kidd faced discrimination in both the white and the black communities throughout her life.

When Mae was two years old, her mother married James William Taylor the man Mae considered to be her father and whose surname name she was given James Taylor was a tobacco ...

Article

Darius Young

U.S. Army lieutenant, businessman, Republican Party leader, and author, was born George Washington Lee to Reverend George and Hattie Lee in a small town in Sunflower County, Mississippi. Lee never knew his father. His parents separated shortly after his birth, and then his father died while Lee was still an infant. His mother single-handedly raised Lee and his older brother, Abner. She initially worked as a sharecropper for room and board. Hattie wanted a better lifestyle for her children, and every day she would hitch her wagon behind a mule and carry Lee and Abner several miles to the nearest county school. Lee remained on the cotton plantation until their landlord forced his family to leave. At that point the family packed their belongings and moved to the thriving town of Indianola, Mississippi.

Indianola was located in the heart of the Mississippi Delta and boasted one ...

Article

John N. Ingham

John Merrick was born a slave in Sampson County, North Carolina. Merrick never knew his father, but his mother, Martha, was a strong presence in his life. Little is known of Merrick's early years except that, to help support his mother and brother, he began working in a brickyard in Chapel Hill when he was twelve. In 1877 he moved with his family to Raleigh where he worked as a helper on the crew that constructed the original buildings on the campus of Shaw University Merrick could have remained in the construction trade he advanced to brick mason a highly skilled and relatively well paid occupation but he had far greater aspirations Merrick s first goal was to open his own barbershop one of the few business opportunities open to black Southerners at that time So he soon quit being a brick mason and took a menial job ...

Article

Nancy T. Robinson

business executive and social worker, was born Lily Patricia Walker in Little Rock, Arkansas, the daughter of Harriet Ish and Antonio Maceo Walker Sr., an actuary. Both of her parents descended from middle-class families. Her mother, from Little Rock, Arkansas, was the daughter of George Washington Stanley Ish, a physician, whose father, Jefferson Garfield Ish, was a teacher. Shaw's father was the son of Lelia O'Neal Walker, co-founder of the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church and daughter of the former slaves George and Pat Hill Walker of Tillman, Mississippi. Antonio Walker's father was Joseph Edison Walker, a medical school graduate, 1923 founder of the Universal Life Insurance Company in Memphis, Tennessee, and 1946 co-founder of the Tri-State Bank. Antonio Walker succeeded his father as president of Universal Life Insurance Company in 1952. In 1958 Joseph Edison Walker was murdered and Antonio succeeded his ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

businessman and civic leader, was born in Columbus County, North Carolina, one of ten children of Benjamin McIver Spaulding and Margaret (Moore) Spaulding, who together ran a prosperous farm. The Spauldings were descendants of a tight-knit, self-reliant, and fiercely independent community of free people of color who had settled in southeastern North Carolina in the early nineteenth century. Benjamin Spaulding was also an accomplished blacksmith and furniture maker, and he served as county sheriff during Reconstruction. George White the last African American to represent a Southern district in Congress until the late 1960s was a neighbor Like his nine siblings Charles Spaulding learned the dignity of labor from an early age He recalled in an unpublished autobiography that when not working with their father tending crops the children were to be found helping their mother scrub the floors of their cabin or keeping the farmyard as pristine ...

Article

In 1923 C. C. Spaulding became president of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, which became the largest insurer of African Americans in the United States. His reorganization plan for the company enabled it to survive the Great Depression during which Spaulding served on state and federal relief ...

Article

Lacey Kirk Williams was converted and baptized in 1884 at the Thankful Baptist Church, which his parents helped found in Brazos Bottom, Texas. From the start of his career as a Baptist minister he was involved in the government of the Baptist church. In 1916 Williams was named pastor of Chicago's 4,000 member Olivet Church. During his pastorship the church's membership increased to 12,000 and the church became a positive force in the life of Chicago's black community providing it numerous social services. He achieved national prominence as president of the General Baptist Convention of Illinois (1917–1922), as president of the National Baptist Convention (1922–1940), and as vice president of the Baptist World Alliance (1928–1940). He was killed in a plane crash in 1940.

See also Baptists.