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Charles Rosenberg

college president, activist for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA). Born Mary Rice in Harrisonburg, Virginia, she was the acknowledged daughter of confederate general John R. Jones and Malinda Rice, who was hired as a servant in his household at the age of seventeen in 1873. There appears to have been some enduring affection between Jones and Rice. He acknowledged paternity of Mary and her brother William, and his first wife, Sarah, ill and often confined to bed, asked to see the children and gave them presents. Mary Rice was raised in part by John Rice, Malinda's brother, and his wife Dolly. She also spent time in Jones's household, and after Sarah Jones died in 1879 the general bought a house for Malinda and her children The immediate neighborhood was racially mixed ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

president of Allen University, thirty‐seventh bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, was born in Winnsboro, South Carolina, the son of Henry Chappelle and Patsy McCrory Chappelle. Contemporary sources state that he was born enslaved, as were 98 percent of African Americans in South Carolina on the eve of the Civil War. There remains a possibility that he was free, since his recently widowed mother reported in the 1900 census that she was born in November 1827, and had been married fifty‐four years. Chappelle's maternal grandparents were Samuel and Fanny McCrory. Such stability of family name and marriage bonds may mean that his parents, or one of his parents had known freedom.

Chappelle attended the Fairfield Normal Institute at Winnsboro a school funded by northern Presbyterians staffed by northern educators considered white He experienced a Christian conversion at the age of nineteen making a life long ...

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Tom W. Dillard

Joseph Carter Corbin was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, on March 26, 1833, of free parents, William and Susan Corbin. By attending several small schools he secured a basic education, and in 1850 he entered Ohio University, of Athens, Ohio. He received his bachelor's degree in 1853 and his master's in 1856. Before receiving his graduate degree, Corbin had accepted employment with a bank in Cincinnati, Ohio. Later, he taught at a school in Louisville, Kentucky. During the Civil War (1861–1865) Corbin edited a Cincinnati newspaper, the Colored Citizen. In 1866 he married Mary Jane Ward. The couple had six children, only two of whom survived their father.

Corbin and his family moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1872, where he worked as a reporter for the Republican Party newspaper, the Daily Republican Like many other African Americans of that day ...

Article

Rose C. Thevenin

college president, pastor, and educator, was born in Richmond, Virginia, and attended public schools. He received his undergraduate degree in Education from Bluefield State College in West Virginia in 1933. The following year he earned a master's degree in Chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania. Gray began his teaching career as professor of chemistry, professor of education, principal of the demonstration schools, and field director of Extension Services at Southern University in Louisiana. In the 1930s he married Hazel Yates in Louisiana. The couple had two children, a daughter Marion and a son William Herbert Gray III.

Upon the death of Nathan White Collier, the president of Florida Normal and Industrial Institute (FNII) in 1941, Gray was appointed president of that institution in 1942 and moved his family to St Augustine Florida There he sought to improve the financial crisis of FNII which ...

Article

Robert L. Harris

educator, diplomat, and administrator, was one of thirteen children born to Robert and Viola Bagsby Holland in Auburn, New York. Most of the children did not survive childhood. One of his younger siblings affectionately called him “Brudder,” later shortened to “Brud,” which he was called by relatives and friends throughout his life. His father was a gardener and handyman for several families in Auburn. “Brud” Holland began to work with his father at age eight to support their poor family. He determined early in life that education was the key to success.

Holland was a stellar basketball and football player. He played four years on the varsity football team for Auburn High School and twice earned statewide honors. His high school coach years later referred to him as the best all-around athlete ever to play for Auburn. Holland entered Cornell University's College of Agriculture in 1935 ...

Article

Donna Tyler Hollie

educator, was born in Washington, D.C., the youngest of six children of William Ross Patterson and Mamie Brooks Patterson, educators. Like countless other African Americans, the couple had migrated North in search of an improved educational, cultural, social, and racial climate for their children. Patterson's birthplace was within three blocks of the home of Frederick Douglass, for whom he was named. Patterson was only two when his parents died of tuberculosis. In a detailed will, each child was assigned to a relative or family friend. Although the will stipulated that Patterson was to be raised by “Aunt” Julia Dorsey, he was moved several times and ultimately his oldest sister, Wilhemina assumed responsibility for him From her meager earnings as a schoolteacher she financed his tuition and room and board at the elementary school operated by what is now Huston Tillotson College in Austin Texas In ...

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Sholomo B. Levy

minister, educator, and humanitarian, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of Hughes Proctor, who worked at the Norfolk Navy Yard, and Velma Gladys. His parents had met as students at Norfolk Mission College, the same college attended by Velma's parents; Hughes's mother had attended Hampton Institute during Reconstruction. It was unusual for a black family to have such educated parents and grandparents so soon after slavery, and Samuel and his six siblings were raised to believe that educational attainment was natural and expected. Music and religious devotion also helped shape Samuel's childhood. His father played the violin, he played the clarinet, and the other children were each encouraged to learn an instrument. They entertained themselves at home, and they all sang in the choir of the Baptist church founded by his great-grandfather Zechariah Hughes.

As a boy Samuel shined shoes at local barbershops one ...

Article

Michele Valerie Ronnick

university president, register of the U.S. Treasury, and bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, began life in Lebanon, Missouri. He was the first of two children born to Margaret Hooker Vernon (d. 1931) and Adam Vernon (1835–1916), a former slave. His sister, Essie Jean Vernon Landor (1882–1935), born more than a decade later, was a late addition to the family. His father, Adam Vernon, was born in Tennessee and had been brought by his owner, James W. Vernon, to Laclede County, Missouri. After the Civil War, Adam Vernon settled in Lebanon and worked for the Wallace Brothers Mercantile Company, which had been established by the brothers W. I., J. C., and D. C. Wallace. Adam also worked at the private home of J. C. Wallace. William matriculated at the Lincoln Institute in Jefferson City, Missouri, in 1886 and graduated in 1890 After ...

Article

Travis Boyce and Winsome Chunnu-Brayda

professor, architect, and college president, was born Miller Fulton Whittaker in Sumter, South Carolina, to Johnson Chesnut Whittaker and Page Harrison Whittaker on 30 December 1892. His father, a former cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point, was at the center of a violent racial incident in early April 1880 in which he was found unconscious and bound to his bed with slashed earlobes and his hair cut in several places. Having been court-martialed and found guilty of fabricating a story (self-inflicted wounds), Whittaker was expelled from the academy. Two years later, U.S. President Chester A. Arthur overturned his court-martial; nevertheless, the expulsion was upheld. Johnson Whittaker served as a teacher at the Avery Institute in Charleston, South Carolina, and would later be admitted to the South Carolina bar where he practiced law in Sumter in 1885 Johnson Whittaker later served as ...