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Jeannine DeLombard

fugitive slave, soldier, and slave narrative author, was born on a tobacco plantation in Calvert County, Maryland, the son of slave parents whose names are unknown. When Charles was four years old, his mother and siblings were sold to slave traders to settle their late master's debts; he never saw them again. Charles was sold to John Cox, a local slave owner, and continued to live near his father and grandfather. After the sale of Charles's mother, his father sank into a deep depression, eventually escaping from slavery on the eve of his purchase by a slave trader. Charles grew close to his octogenarian grandfather, a former African warrior who had arrived in Maryland about 1730.

Cox died when Charles Ball was twelve and the young slave worked for his late master s father until he was twenty years old During this time Ball married a slave ...

Article

Thomas Aiello

football player and entrepreneur. Melvin Farr was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas, the son of Dorothea Farr, a domestic worker, and Miller Farr, a truck driver. There he attended the segregated Hebert High School, where he played baseball and basketball and earned All-State honors in football and track. Farr played at Hebert in the shadow of his older brother Miller, who went on to play collegiate football at Wichita State before a long professional career as a defensive back. Mel's success, however, drove him far from Wichita or Beaumont: he earned a football scholarship to UCLA in 1963 Although Farr remained healthy throughout his high school career he broke his arm the first of many football related injuries during his sophomore year in college Following that injury Farr was an All American running back as a junior and senior gaining 1 630 yards in those ...

Article

Angelo Costanzo

slave narrative author, wrote the earliest slave account published in North America. Practically nothing is known about him other than what he stated in the account of his life's events between 1747 and 1760. While living as a slave in New England in 1747, Hammon undertook a-sea voyage that turned out to be a thirteen-year odyssey featuring numerous perils and repeated captures by American Indians and Spaniards. A Narrative, of the Uncommon Sufferings, and Surprizing Deliverance of Briton Hammon, a Negro Man,—Servant to General Winslow, of Marshfield, in New-England, Who Returned to Boston, after Having Been Absent Almost Thirteen Years, published as a fourteen-page pamphlet, was printed and sold in 1760 by Green and Russell, a Boston publishing firm that was bringing out popular Indian captivity narratives.

This remarkable story of sea adventures treachery and multiple captivities is believed to be the first autobiographical slave narrative ...

Article

Roland L. Williams

(?-?), autobiographer. The Narrative of the Uncommon Sufferings and Surprizing Deliverance of Briton Hammon, a Negro Man (1760), which recounts almost thirteen years of Hammon's adventures at sea, contains all that is known about Briton Hammon. Covering a mere fourteen pages, Hammon's account opens with a humble introduction expressing the hope that the reader will overlook any flaws in the text, since the author's “Capacities and Condition of Life are very low.” It turns into a tale of amazing events that occur after Hammon obtains permission from his master, General Winslow, to leave Marshfield, Massachusetts, to go to sea. On Christmas day 1747 he sails from Plymouth on a sloop bound for Jamaica in due course he arrives safely on the island Returning from it however his vessel catches on a reef off the coast of Florida Hostile natives attack the ship and kill everyone on board ...

Article

Joanna Brooks

Briton Hammon wrote A Narrative of the Uncommon Sufferings, and Surprizing Deliverance of Briton Hammon, a Negro Man (1760), the first black-authored text published in America. The Narrative recalls Hammon's adventures for twelve years as a sailor, castaway, captive, prisoner, and slave around the Atlantic littoral. His story began on Christmas Day in 1747, when Hammon left the home of his master, John Winslow, in Marshfield, Massachusetts, to ship himself aboard a vessel bound from Plymouth for the Caribbean.

When the ship foundered on a reef off the Florida coast sixty American Indians attacked killing most of the crew and taking Hammon captive Hammon s captors soon released him to the captain of a Spanish ship headed for Havana Cuba In Cuba Hammon landed in the employment of the Spanish colonial governor and the local Catholic bishop then was impressed into the Spanish navy and imprisoned ...

Article

Richard J. Bell

Methodist preacher and seaman, was born in the port town of Old Calabar, in Nigeria, West Africa, to Margaret and Hambleton Robert Jea. At age two Jea and his family were captured in Old Calabar and transported to America on a slave ship. With his parents and several siblings he was immediately sold to the family of Oliver and Angelika Tiehuen, members of the Dutch Reformed Church who owned land outside New York City. This knowledge comes from Jea's narrative, The Life, History, and Sufferings of John Jea, the African Preacher, written and published in 1815; it is the only source of information about most of Jea's life and travels.

The newly enslaved family was set to work as field hands and quickly felt the hardship of poor conditions and physical abuse Jea found little comfort in the message of obedience and humility preached to ...

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John Saillant

Around 1816 he published two books, a Collection of Hymns and his Life, History, and Unparalleled Sufferings; from the latter is derived virtually all available information on his life. The autobiography, which was undoubtedly embellished in some of its particulars, recounts Jea's birth in Africa, his childhood in colonial New York, the abuses he suffered under slavery, his manumission, his family life, and the travels and religious exercises of his maturity.

Jea reported that after he became restive under slavery around the age of fifteen he was baptized in a Christian church a circumstance that he claimed to use to compel his master to liberate him He told of preaching in North America Europe and the East Indies as well as of marrying three women in succession one Native American one Maltese and one Irish His children all preceded him in death Like many early African American authors Jea ...

Article

Andrew W. Kahrl

real estate developer, general contractor, philanthropist, and shipping and excursion steamboat owner, was born in Orange, Virginia.

Jefferson spent his youth in Washington, D.C. In 1881, at the age of fifteen, Jefferson enlisted in the Navy after falsifying his age. He traveled around the world working as a coal heaver. During his service, Jefferson secured connections with wealthy, influential whites, including Canadian shipping magnate Sir Hugh Allen, from whom Jefferson received a significant bequest after his death in 1882 Following his service Jefferson returned to Washington and started a small business that furnished manure and other fertilizers to city lawns and gardens and collected and shipped it out of town His wealth grew as a result of real estate investments Partnerships and friendships with influential whites in the city s business community helped to mitigate the effects of discrimination and protect him from ...

Article

John Garst

“steel-driving man” and legendary hero, may have been a historic person born a slave in Mississippi, Virginia, or some other Southern state. In ballad and legend he is simply “John Henry,” but “John Henry” is a common combination of given names, so Henry may not have been his surname.

Songs about John Henry were collected as early as 1905. In 1916 the former West Virginia governor W.-A. MacCorkle confused him with John Hardy, an African American gambler and murderer who was hanged in Welch, West Virginia, in 1894 and is the subject of his own ballad. By the mid-1920s the ballad “John Henry” was being recorded commercially by Riley Puckett (1924), Fiddlin' John Carson (1924), and other white “hillbilly” performers, and shortly thereafter recordings by such African American bluesmen as Henry Thomas (1927) and Mississippi John Hurt (1928 began ...

Article

John Herschel Barnhill

sailor, was born on Union Island, St. Vincent, British West Indies, the son of a shipbuilder. As a child he attended St. Vincent Grammar School because his father wanted him to be an engineer. Mulzac himself wanted to be a sailor, a desire that became a passion when his father took him to visit HMS Good Hope in Kingston, Jamaica.

On completing grammar school Mulzac sailed as a seaman on the schooner Sunbeam, captained by his brother John. He subsequently sailed on a Norwegian ship from Barbados through the Caribbean and the Atlantic, again as a seaman. When the ship's captain invited Mulzac to church with him in Wilmington, North Carolina, Mulzac encountered his first taste of segregation when the sexton directed him to the black church some blocks away.

Mulzac received his training at Swansea Nautical College in South Wales and in New York City He ...

Article

Adam W. Green

football player, lawyer, and business executive, was born to Lawrence C. Perry, a dentist, and Lillian Bass Perry, a homemaker, in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Perry's father set an example for his children with not only professional but also civic success, running a prominent dental practice and serving as a member of the city's board of education.

The youngest of four children, Lowell attended Ypsilanti High School, where he played quarterback on the football team, receiving All-State honors in 1948. After graduating in 1949 Perry attended the University of Michigan his father s alma mater As an ROTC cadet majoring in history with an eye toward law Perry found triumph in athletics running track and playing for the Wolverines football team In his sophomore year Perry played both sides of the ball as offensive end and safety helping Michigan to the Big Ten Championship and a ...

Article

A. J. Peluso

deckhand, scowman, sailor, and marine artist, was born in Mobile, Alabama, the son of Nelson Selby and Margaret Hicks, occupations unknown. Nothing more is known of Selby's family, and little is known about his youth. By 1905, as a child of twelve, he was employed as a deckhand working the ships in Mobile Bay—schooners from ports around the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. One day his leg was mangled in a snapped towline and had to be amputated. In spite of the loss he managed to engage successfully in various manual and unskilled jobs and earn a precarious living.

Selby spent some of his early working years in Baltimore Maryland as a scowman for the Atlantic Transport Line Even with a peg leg he could climb a rope ladder as deftly as anyone without his disability Nor did the work of scowman suppress ...

Article

Barton A. Myers

abolitionist, activist, soldier, and journalist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennysylvania, to William and Mary Stephens, free African Americans who had fled Virginia's eastern shore in the wake of the Nat Turner rebellion. Little is known of Stephens's early education, but he likely attended a combination of segregated primary schools in Philadelphia and the Sunday school of the First African Baptist, a fervently abolitionist church that his parents attended. Prior to the war Stephens worked as a cabinetmaker, a skilled position that offered him elite status in the urban Philadelphia black community.

Stephens's antebellum exploits included a wide range of civic and political activities. In 1853 he helped found the Banneker Institute, an African American literary society and library, honoring Benjamin Banneker the African American scientist and inventor While working with the society he met influential white leaders including General Oliver Otis Howard later head ...

Article

Mark Andrew Huddle

fugitive slave, memoirist, and sailor, was born into slavery on the Wagar plantation in southern Maryland, the son of two field slaves whose names remain unknown. Although there is little information about Thompson's life beyond his memoirs, his descriptions of his experiences in slavery as well as his adventures as a black seaman are important contributions to our knowledge of both those worlds.

John Thompson's recollections of his early years are vague at best. His realization that he was a slave came at age six, when he witnessed the sale of his oldest sister. Even at that early age, as Thompson recounted in his memoirs, he was engaged in backbreaking work in the corn, wheat, and tobacco fields of the Wagar plantations. Like many slave-narrative authors, including Harriet Jacobs, Henry Bibb, Solomon Northup, William Parker, Solomon Bayley, James Mars, and William ...

Article

National Football league player, teacher, and Chrysler automobile executive, was born on 18 April 1926 in LaMott, Pennsylvania, to Mahlon Triplett and Estella Triplett. His father was a postal clerk and his mother was a housemaid. Triplett lived in LaMott for his entire childhood, playing baseball, basketball, and football while attending Cheltenham High School. Triplett was accepted by Pennsylvania State University and made the football team starting line at the position of right halfback during his sophomore year in 1946. This made him the first black athlete to earn a varsity letter at Penn State. In November 1946 Penn State canceled a game with Miami University because Miami had told Penn State to “leave the negro players at home” (Sargent), referring to Triplett. Penn State would not tolerate such treatment of its players, black or white. In 1948 Penn State played to a 13 ...