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Arlene Lazarowitz

newspaper publisher and ambassador, was born in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, the son of William Beverly Carter and Maria Green. After a childhood spent in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Carter graduated in 1944 from Lincoln University, a historically black institution in Pennsylvania. As a student he was a member of Alpha Boule, Sigma Pi Phi, and Kappa Alpha Psi, and he served as executive secretary of the alumni association from 1952 to 1955. He attended Temple University Law School from 1946 to 1947 and the New School for Social Research from 1950 to 1951.

Early in his professional career, from 1943 to 1945, Carter worked as a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune. He was city editor of the Philadelphia Afro-American from 1945 to 1948 and publisher of the Pittsburgh Courier newspaper group from 1955 to 1964. In 1958 he served as president of the National Newspaper Publishers ...

Article

Steven Leikin

diplomat, preacher, and author, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Sallie Montgomery. Nothing is known of his biological father. His mother, however, was an African American, and Dennis was of mixed race parentage. In 1897 he was adopted by Green Dennis, a contractor, and Cornelia Walker. During his youth Dennis was known as the “mulatto child evangelist,” and he preached to church congregations in the African American community of Atlanta before he was five years old. By the age of fifteen he had toured churches throughout the United States and England and addressed hundreds of thousands of people.

Despite his success as an evangelist Dennis had ambitions to move beyond this evangelical milieu. In 1913, unschooled but unquestionably bright, he applied to Phillips Exeter Academy and gained admission. He graduated within two years and in 1915 entered Harvard.

Dennis s decisions to ...

Article

Thomas M. Leonard

diplomat, lawyer, and journalist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Samuel Durham and Elizabeth Stephens. Two of his uncles, Clayton Durham and Jeremiah Durham, were noted clergymen who helped Bishop Richard Allen establish the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Durham, who could almost pass for white, studied in the Philadelphia public schools and graduated from the Institute for Colored Youth in 1876.

For five years after leaving high school Durham taught in Delaware and Pennsylvania. In 1881 he entered Towne Scientific School, a branch of the University of Pennsylvania, from which he earned a bachelor's degree in 1886 and a civil engineering degree in 1888. He held several positions during his college career, including reporter for the Philadelphia Times. He excelled as a newspaperman, and his unique abilities eventually led him to the assistant editorship of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin ...

Article

Sylvie Coulibaly

lawyer, editor, diplomat, and civil rights activist. Archibald Henry Grimké was born a slave outside Charleston, South Carolina. His white father was the prominent plantation owner Henry Grimké, and his mother was Nancy Weston, a house slave of mixed ancestry. Widowed in 1843, Henry Grimké fathered two more sons with Weston, Francis in 1850 and John in 1852.

When Henry Grimké died in 1852, the family moved to Charleston. Still legally slaves owned by Henry Grimké's son Montague, Weston and her sons lived as free people, according to Henry's wishes. Weston supported the family alone and sent her sons to school at an early age. In 1860 Archibald and Francis became house slaves in Montague's household. They worked for their half brother for two years until Archibald ran away, hiding in Charleston until the Civil War ended.

In 1865 ...

Article

Elizabeth R. Schroeder

journalist, businessman, military leader, and diplomat, was born in Albany, Georgia, to Richard and Eliza (Brown) Jones. Richard Lee Jones, also known as Dick Jones, moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, with his family at fifteen saying

In the South, I was not the submissive kind, but I learned respect for authority. Many Negroes have not learned that yet. They come up here and try to run away with the town. I had no trouble in the South. I avoided trouble. If you see a nail, why sit on it? Much trouble could be avoided by Negroes in the South if they tried to. Get me straight! I am not for conditions down there. They are bad, but could be bettered.”

(Wilson, “Interview with Dick Jones, Manager of South Center,” Negro in Illinois Papers)

He attended the University of Cincinnati from 1912 to 1915 and later abandoned his law ...

Article

Wesley Borucki

diplomat, political commentator, and Republican presidential and U.S. Senate candidate. Alan Keyes was born in the U.S. Naval Hospital in Long Island, New York. His father, Allison Keyes, was a U.S. Army sergeant major who served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Young Alan moved often, completing his high school education at Robert G. Cole High School in San Antonio, Texas. At age sixteen he was the first African American president of the American Legion Boys Nation. In a 2001 interview on C-SPAN, Keyes stated that the civil rights movement's “deep questions of justice” moved him toward public service.

Keyes attended Cornell in 1969. While at Cornell, he developed a relationship with the conservative philosopher Allan Bloom. Bloom described Keyes (though not by name) in his book The Closing of the American Mind in an anecdote about an African American student who received death threats from ...

Article

Frank A. Salamone

journalist, diplomat, civil rights advocate, and philanthropist. Carl Thomas Rowan was born in Ravenscroft, Tennessee, but was raised in McMinnville. Rowan attended Tennessee State University and Washburn University in the 1940s and then became one of the first African American commissioned officers in the U.S. Navy. In 1943 the navy sent him to Northwestern for summer training as an officer, but Northwestern refused him residence because he was black. So the navy transferred him to Oberlin. After the war he returned to Oberlin because, according to his autobiography, Breaking Barriers (1991), “Oberlin would permit me to study in a special oasis, sheltered from the hurts, the anger, the rage, that all victims of racism experience.” He graduated from Oberlin in 1947 and from the University of Minnesota—with a master's degree in journalism—in 1948.

Rowan's journalism career began in 1948 at the Minneapolis Tribune ...

Article

Marian Aguiar

Carl Thomas Rowan was born in Ravenscroft, Tennessee. After serving as an officer in the U.S. Navy, which was segregated at the time, Rowan began a career as a newspaper journalist at the white-owned Minneapolis Tribune. One of the first African American reporters for a large urban daily newspaper, Rowan captured the racial struggles of the 1950s with a series on discrimination in the South and an article on the landmark segregation case before the U.S. Supreme Court—Brown v. Board of Education.

In 1961 Rowan entered government service as deputy assistant secretary of state to President John F. Kennedy. Appointed ambassador to Finland in 1963 he was one of the first African Americans diplomats to serve in a predominantly white nation That same year he became head of the United States Information Agency USIA the highest post in the government s executive branch that ...

Article

Pamela Newkirk

journalist, diplomat, and United States Information Agency director, was born in Ravenscroft, Tennessee. He was one of three children of Thomas David Rowan, a lumberyard worker with a fifth-grade education who had served in World War I, and Johnnie Bradford, a domestic worker with an eleventh-grade education. When Rowan was an infant, his family left the dying coal-mining town of his birth to go to McMinnville, Tennessee, lured by its lumberyards, nurseries, and livery stables. But there, in the midst of the Great Depression, they remained mired in poverty. The elder Rowan sometimes found jobs stacking lumber at twenty-five cents an hour and, according to his son, probably never made more than three hundred dollars in a single year. Meanwhile his mother worked as a domestic, cleaning houses and doing the laundry of local white families.

The family lived in an old frame house along ...

Article

Benjamin R. Justesen

lawyer, journalist, and diplomat, was born in Perry County, Alabama, the son of a slave, Rufus Carson, and an unnamed slave mother. In 1869, after teaching himself to read and write, the youth ran away from his father's cotton farm to Savannah, Georgia, and took a new surname: Taylor.

An ambitious, gifted student, C. H. J. Taylor enrolled at Savannah's Beach Institute while delivering newspapers and working as a commission house messenger. Much of the higher education he later claimed, however, cannot be documented. No definitive records exist for his claimed enrollments at Oberlin College or the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, though he may well have studied law at Wilberforce University. In 1877 he was admitted to the Indiana state bar and became a deputy district attorney, before arriving in Leavenworth, Kansas, in about 1880 (Smith, p. 494).

Taylor soon moved to Wyandotte ...

Article

Allison Blakely

politician and foreign service officer, was born in New Madrid County, Missouri, the son of Anthony Waller and Maria (maiden name unknown), household slaves of Marcus S. Sherwood. Early in the Civil War, Union troops relocated Waller's family to Inka, Iowa, where his father was able to acquire a small farm. However, they lived in such poverty that his father hired John out to a local farmer at the age of twelve to help support the family. To John's good fortune, his employer encouraged literacy and allowed him to begin formal education in a rural schoolhouse in 1863. With the aid of citizens in nearby Toledo, Iowa, he was then able to gain admission to the local high school in 1867, graduating around 1870 At about this time he began to support himself by working as a barber a trade he was also to ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

attorney and diplomat, was born in Marshalltown, Iowa, the son and eldest child of Richard and Sarah Walker Wright. Richard Wright, born like his own parents in Virginia, worked as a barber. Sarah Wright and several siblings had moved to Iowa from Kentucky by 1870, settling in Marshalltown. The only clue to their Kentucky roots was an aunt who left a $16,000 estate to Sarah Wright, her brother Joel Walker, and another sibling in 1905. Wright had at least one sister and one brother, Myrtie and Fred Wright.

Very little is documented about Wright's childhood. The family lived at times in Cedar Rapids, about seventy miles from Marshalltown, and had relatives there. No record clearly establishes what schools Wright attended. At least one source suggests that he graduated from the University of Iowa's law school in 1901 with an L.L.B.

The first ...