one of the most prolific white scholars of African American history in the twentieth century. Herbert Aptheker was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1915 and was educated at Columbia University in the 1930s, where he took an undergraduate degree in geology and an MA and a PhD in history. His first important publication, American Negro Slave Revolts (1943), was based on his doctoral dissertation and challenged the prevailing wisdom that slaves were largely passive victims of white masters. In part an outgrowth of Aptheker's master's thesis on Nat Turner, American Negro Slave Revolts immediately became a controversial work and has remained so since. He was befriended by the influential African American historian Carter G. Woodson and the legendary black intellectual W. E. B. Du Bois, both of whom encouraged his interest in Negro history. Aptheker's other writings include a seven-volume Documentary History of the Negro People ...
Charles Orson Cook
Michelle K. Massie
journalist and historian, was born Franklin Eugene Bolden Jr. in Washington County, Pennsylvania, the eldest of three sons of Franklin Eugene Bolden Sr., the first black mail carrier in the city of Washington, Pennsylvania, and Mary Woods Bolden. Frank Bolden's parents instilled in him the importance of education and achievement at an early age. His father often told him, “When you're average, you are just as far from the bottom as you are from the top” (Rouvalis, Post‐Gazette). With that mentality, Bolden's life was anything but average.
Bolden attended the Washington public school system and graduated from high school in 1930 He went on to attend the University of Pittsburgh where he was the first African American to play in the university s varsity marching and concert bands He said in a documentary film about his life that his audition for the band was ...
teacher, historian, and folklorist, was born in Goliad, Texas, one of five children of John Henry Brewer, a cattle drover, and Minnie Tate Brewer, a teacher. John Mason grew up with his three sisters, Jewel, Marguerite, Gladys, and his brother Claude in a household that provided a fertile environment for his imagination. His father told exciting stories about his adventures on the cattle drives from the Media Luna Ranch in Texas to the cattle market in Kansas. His mother, a teacher in Texas for over forty years, read the poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar to John Mason during his early childhood. As an adult poet, Dr. Brewer would write dialect verse in the manner of Dunbar. Dr. Brewer's love for the oral tradition in African American culture was also nurtured by his grandfathers, Joe Brewer and Pinckney Mitchell, who told him folktales. John Mason ...
Darius V. Echeverría
economist and educator. Some individuals are important because they exemplify the historical past, while others are important because they embody generational change toward social progress. As the first African American governor of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board (1966–1974), Andrew Felton Brimmer is both the former and the latter.
The life story of this extraordinary leader began on 13 September 1926 in Newellton, Louisiana. The son of Andrew Brimmer Sr., a sharecropper, and Vellar Davis Brimmer, a warehouse worker, Brimmer picked cotton as a child in rural northeastern Louisiana while attending segregated public schools. Rather than allowing the hardships of poverty and racial injustice to discourage him, Brimmer used these experiences as a motivating force. Early on he was determined to earn a college degree so that he could serve in positions where he could help others.
Brimmer graduated from high school in 1944 and ...
literary critic. Anatole Broyard was born in New Orleans, the son of Paul Broyard, a carpenter, and Edna Miller. Young Anatole was the second of three children. His older sister, Lorraine, was fair complexioned and his younger sister, Shirley, was brown complexioned. Anatole was pale to olive skinned as a boy. This color distinction is important, because that issue defined the future writer's life.
Anatole's family moved to Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant in the 1920s. Anatole's father arrived in town as a master carpenter, but he learned that the carpenters’ union barred applicants of color. Paul Broyard decided to identify himself as white in order to work. The rest of the family did not overtly pass for white; they muted their racial identity, and that worked in multiethnic Brooklyn.
Young Anatole meanwhile picked up the nickname “Buddy,” according to the historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. In ...
John Caesar was born in the mid-eighteenth century and joined the Seminole nation in Florida, one of the many groups of African-Seminole Indians who fought to maintain an autonomous and independent nation. There are few written records of the early life histories of the many escaped Africans and American Indians in the maroon communities across the Americas, and Caesar's life was no exception. By the time his exploits were recorded in U.S. military records, Caesar was well acculturated to Seminole life and politics, and thus he had likely been a long-time member of the Seminole nation. His work as an interpreter between Native Seminoles and the U.S. military, however, reveals his early upbringing among English-speaking Americans. He grew up in a time of intense conflict between the Seminoles and European colonists, and had become a seasoned war veteran by the time of the Second Seminole War (1835–1842 ...
African Seminole Black Seminole leader warrior and interpreter was born in the mid eighteenth century and joined the Seminole nation in Florida one of the many groups of African Seminole Indians who fought to maintain an autonomous and independent nation There are few written records to reveal the early life histories of the many escaped Africans and American Indians in the maroon communities across the Americas and Caesar s life proves no exception By the time his exploits were recorded in U S military records Caesar was well acculturated to Seminole life and politics and thus he had probably been a longtime member of the Seminole nation His work as an interpreter between Native Seminoles and the U S military however reveals his early upbringing among English speaking Americans He grew up in a time of intense conflict between the Seminoles and European colonists and had become a seasoned war ...
Sholomo B. Levy
writer and educator, was born in Petersburg, Virginia, to parents about whom little is known but who were only briefly married before Harold's father took his young son to New York City during the black migration to the North. The elder Cruse found work as a custodian with the Long Island Railroad; however, he soon realized the he could not care for a small child alone and placed Harold with a foster family in Queens. During the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s his foster mother, Aunt Henrietta, instilled a love for the black theater in the young Harold, frequently taking him to performances. With the coming of the Depression the family lost their home and was forced to move into an apartment in Harlem, where Cruse became more deeply immersed in black culture. There he would witness performances by Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Bill Robinson, and Florence ...
writer, editor, educator, artist, and intellectual, best known as a social critic. Cruse defined the relationships between African Americans and American society. His 1967 book The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual: A Historical Analysis of the Failure of Black Leadership energized activists intellectually, both within the United States and in a few black nations, and thus contributed to the roots of the so-called black revolution.
Harold Wright Cruse was born in Petersburg, Virginia; his father was a railroad porter. During Cruse's childhood his father and his stepmother divorced, and he was taken to New York to live with his father's sister in Queens. Before graduating from high school, Cruse was introduced to what remained of the Harlem Renaissance, to the country's radicalism of the 1930s, and to a lecture given by the scholar W. E. B. Du Bois all of which provoked his thinking about ...
Ellesia A. Blaque
author, poet, educator, and civil rights activist, was born in Sweet Home, Arkansas, and with his family migrated to Harlem, New York, in 1944. After graduating from Commerce High School in 1953, Dumas studied briefly at the City College of New York prior to entering the U.S. Air Force in 1953, in which he served four years, including tours in San Antonio, Texas, and the Middle East. In 1955, while still enlisted, Dumas married Loreta Ponton. Upon completing his armed services commitment in 1957, he entered Rutgers University, but his tenure was short, and he did not receive a degree. In 1958 he and his wife started a family, which comprised two sons, David, born in 1958, and Michael, born in 1962.
From 1963 to 1964 Dumas worked at IBM and it was at this ...
poet, critic, and teacher, was born James Andrew Emanuel in Alliance, Nebraska, the fifth of seven children of Cora Ann Mance and Alfred A. Emanuel, a farmer and railroad worker. Emanuel's early years were spent listening to his mother read the Bible, the poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar, the Saturday Evening Post, and Booker T. Washington's Up from Slavery. An avid reader, Emanuel borrowed Western, adventure, and mystery stories from the public library. He also memorized contemporary poems. By junior high school he was writing his own detective stories and poetry. During his young adult years he worked various jobs—elevator operator, baling machine operator, and weighmaster—before being named the class valedictorian and graduating from high school in 1939.
By age twenty Emanuel was working in Washington, D.C., as the confidential secretary to Gen. Benjamin O. Davis assistant inspector general of ...
a professional philosopher who taught for twenty years at the University of Pennsylvania, was born William Thomas Fontaine in Chester, Pennsylvania, the son of William Charles Fontaine, a steelworker, and Mary Elizabeth Boyer, who went by the name of Ballard, having been raised by her grandparents. His grandmother on his father's side, Cornelia Wilson Fontaine Smith, with whom he grew up, had been a slave. Fontaine went to an exclusively black elementary school, Booker T. Washington, and then to Chester High School. At this time he gave himself a second middle name, Valeria, a Latin name connoting physical and mental strength. At age sixteen he matriculated at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, and received his BA there in 1930, finishing first in his class. While at Lincoln, Fontaine befriended Kwame Nkrumah, the first black leader of Ghana, and Nnamdi Azikiwe the first black ...
Adele N. Nichols
sailor, clerk, attendant, author, and mason, is believed to have been born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, even though there is no substantial proof of that location. Various sources cite the District of Columbia or Maryland as his possible birthplace; nevertheless, it seems more probable that he was born in Virginia due to his family background. Grimshaw's parents were Juliet Grimshaw, a slave, and Robert Tyler, a slave owner. Even though there are limited facts on his personal childhood and education, a historical essay, “Winney Grimshaw, A Virginia Slave, and Her Family” by Richard Dunn, provides a detailed history on the Grimshaw family's enslavement and life on the Mount Airy plantation in Virginia. Grimshaw's surname, which was unusual in nineteenth-century Virginia, may have come from Samuel Grimshaw, who immigrated to Virginia in 1795 from England or from Thomas Grimshaw who lived near Alexandria and later ...
Theresa A. Hammond
consumer markets specialist and business school professor, was born in Chesterfield County, Virginia, to Thomas D. Harris Jr. and Georgia Laws Carter. Thomas Harris was a messenger for the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and also worked as an embalmer, and Georgia Carter Harris was a homemaker. Thomas stressed the importance of education for his three children, tutoring them in math, anatomy, and English after dinner. Harris attended Kingsland Elementary School (one of the black primary and secondary schools funded by Sears, Roebuck philanthropist Julius Rosenwald to improve education for black southerners) in Chesterfield County, Virginia, and D. Webster Davis High School, the Virginia State College laboratory school, in Petersburg, Virginia. While in high school, Harris earned a certificate in barber practice and science. He cut soldiers' hair on the nearby Fort Lee army base to help pay for his education at Virginia State College.
Harris s education ...
Thomas E. Carney
attorney and civil rights activist. Born in Washington, D.C., Charles Hamilton Houston was the son of Mary Hamilton Houston and William LePre Houston, an attorney in Washington. The young Houston graduated from M Street High School and received his bachelor's degree in 1915 from Amherst College, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. For two years after graduating he taught English at Howard University, and in 1917 he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He was sent to Europe but arrived just months before the armistice that ended World War I.
Houston left the military in 1918 and thereafter applied and was admitted to Harvard Law School. Houston was an outstanding student. He studied under Professor (later U.S. Supreme Court Justice) Felix Frankfurter and became the first African American editor of the Harvard Law Review. He received his bachelor of law degree in 1922 and ...
Leon F. Litwack
educator and historian, a leading scholar in the field of African American studies, was born in Chicago. Huggins was the son of an African American father, Winston J. Huggins, a waiter and railroad worker, and a Jewish mother, Marie Warsaw. When his father left the family, his mother moved her two children to San Francisco. Two years later she died, and fourteen-year-old Nathan and his sister were on their own. He divided his time between attending high school and working as a warehouseman, longshoreman, and porter. Drafted near the end of World War II, he completed high school in the army and used the GI Bill of Rights to enter the University of California.
His studies at Berkeley, particularly the classes in the history of the South, slavery, and Reconstruction taught by Kenneth M. Stampp exposed him to a revisionist view of the past that demolished ...
sociologist, promoter of the Harlem Renaissance, and first black president of Fisk University. Charles Spurgeon Johnson was born in Bristol, Virginia, where his parents, the Reverend Charles Henry Johnson and Winifred Branch Johnson, reared their son in a religious home and a nurturing black middle-class environment that facilitated his social and intellectual development. Charles H. Johnson was the pastor of the progressive Lee Baptist Church in Bristol. Winifred Johnson was a homemaker who cared for Johnson and his five other siblings.
Robert L. Gale
educator, army officer, and author, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Ulysses Lee, a businessman and grocery store owner, and Mattie Spriggs. He graduated from Dunbar High School in Washington in 1931, attended Howard University in Washington, joined the Reserve Officers' Training Corps, earned his BA in 1935, and was also a commissioned graduate and a U.S. Army reservist. Remaining at Howard, Lee taught as a graduate assistant in English in 1935 and 1936 and earned his MA in 1936. Lee also studied briefly at the University of Pennsylvania and became a member of the faculty as an instructor and then as an assistant professor of English at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania from 1936 to 1948. During these years he was twice on leave.
From 1936 to 1939 Lee was a research assistant a consultant and an editor ...
historian, teacher, and author. Rayford Whittingham Logan was a marginal civil rights figure yet a key voice in post–World War I race relations. Born in Washington, D.C., and educated in the district's segregated school system, Logan graduated from Dunbar High School, where Carter G. Woodson—later to play a key part in Logan's life—was an instructor. After continuing his education at Williams College in Massachusetts, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1917, Logan returned home and joined the District of Columbia National Guard, seeing combat in Europe as an infantry second lieutenant.
The U.S. Army in 1917 was segregated and like so many World Wars I and II black veterans Logan was deeply affected by his military experience After the war he was discharged but chose to remain in France an expatriate bitter against white Americans At home racial violence was widespread from Chicago ...
Melanie R. Thomas
educator, university librarian, and historian, was born in Texarkana, Texas, to Early Marshall, a carpenter and railroad worker, and Muskogee, Oklahoma, native Mary (Bland) Marshall. Little is known about Marshall's early life, but his father died when “A.P.” was still a boy, and the family moved to Kansas City, Missouri. There Marshall began his library work experience at one of the public library branches while he attended high school. Marshall prepared himself for a professional career by attending Lincoln University at Jefferson City, Missouri (1934–1938), earning a BA in English and History. He continued his studies at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, receiving a BS degree in Library Science in 1939.
His foremost contribution to the field of library services was A Guide to Negro Periodical Literature (vols. 1–4, Nov. 1941–Dec. 1946 which he began while working as a library ...