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Kathryn Lofton

community organizer and Pentecostal bishop, was born in a Hyde Park apartment on Chicago's South Side. His parents were among the waves of African Americans who migrated from the South to the North in pursuit of greater economic opportunity and social mobility during the Great Migration. His mother, Geneva, was a household domestic and lay Pentecostal preacher, eventually leading the Universal Church of Christ in Chicago. His father, Robert, was a maintenance man at the Hyde Park Laundry Company from 1921 to 1940. One of five children, Brazier grew up in a highly segregated black community, since restrictive covenants bound blacks to certain areas of the city.

From his early teenage years, Brazier worked whenever he wasn't in school, first as a milkman's helper for the Bowman Dairy Company and later as a parking attendant at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933 and 1934 During the Depression Brazier ...


Janelle Harris

activist and author, was the eldest of six children born to working-class parents in Orangeburg, South Carolina. When Carson was three years old, his parents moved the family to Brooklyn, New York, where they were among the first African Americans to integrate the predominantly Irish-Italian neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant. This racially charged environment and the young Carson's experience as a black student in a white school helped shape his later beliefs as an activist.

In his teenage years Carson was an excellent student but showed an equal propensity for street life He became a ranking member of a neighborhood gang the same year he entered junior high school By the time he was sixteen years old Carson had been arrested several times for petty crimes ranging from stealing cigarettes to throwing a snowball at a teacher He committed his first serious crime when he robbed a Western Union messenger of $100 ...


Charles Rosenberg

Baltimore area leader of the Congress On Racial Equality (CORE), and founder of Activists for Fair Housing, was born in Monroe, North Carolina, the son of Walter L. and Carrie P. Carter. Census records suggest he had at least four older sisters and an older brother, as well as a younger sister.

Carter entered North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College (NCAT) in 1941, but his studies were interrupted for military service in World War II. He enlisted as a private at Greensboro on 15 December 1942, was assigned to the Signal Corps (Natl. Archives WW II Army Enlistment Records, Record Group 64), and won five battle stars (MD House Joint Resolution 29, 26 Apr. 1972). Discharged in June 1946, Carter resumed studies at NCAT where he worked on voter registration campaigns participated in the campus debate team and joined the Progressive Party Many Americans ...


Connie Park Rice

newspaper editor and civil rights lawyer, was born in Williamsport, Virginia (later West Virginia), the youngest of three sons born to Isaac Clifford, a farmer, and Mary Satilpa Kent, free blacks living in Hardy County. John Robert joined the Union army on 3 March 1865, rising to the rank of corporal in the 13th U.S. Heavy Artillery. After serving in Kentucky, Tennessee, and eastern Virginia under General Ulysses S. Grant, Clifford volunteered for service at Chicago, Illinois.

After the Civil War, Clifford remained in Chicago, staying from 1865 to 1868 with the Honorable John J. Healy, an acquaintance of his father, and graduating from Chicago High School. Clifford worked as a barber before going to live with an uncle in Zeno, Muskingum County, Ohio, where he attended a school taught by Miss Effie McKnight and received a diploma from a writing school conducted by a Professor ...


Donald Yacovone

Civil War soldier, reformer, and businessman, was the second of five children of the abolitionist leader and orator Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) and Anna Murray Douglass (1813–1882). Lewis, born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where his father settled shortly after his flight from slavery, proved the most successful of the Douglass children and the one his father most relied upon in later years. After the family moved to Rochester, New York, the eight-year-old Lewis and his siblings became beneficiaries of his father's successful efforts to desegregate the city's public schools—a tradition that Lewis maintained as an adult when he lived in the District of Columbia. As soon as he was old enough, he helped his father with the publication of his antislavery newspapers and after his father fled Federal authorities in the wake of John Brown's 1859 raid at Harpers Ferry the nineteen ...


Mark G. Emerson

and a son of Frederick Douglass. Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, Lewis Henry Douglass was the second child and eldest son of Frederick and Anna Murray Douglass. When Lewis was eight the family moved to Rochester, New York, where the boy was educated in public schools. After finishing his education, Lewis helped his father with his newspaper North Star, learning the printer's trade. Considered the ablest of Douglass's children, Lewis was the person Frederick Douglass asked to secure his papers from John Brown after the Harpers Ferry raid to prevent federal marshals from discovering them.

During the Civil War, Lewis enlisted in the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, attaining the rank of sergeant major and taking part in the attack on Fort Wagner, South Carolina, in July 1863 After the war Lewis and his brother Frederick Jr went to Denver Colorado where Lewis worked as a ...


Benjamin Letzler

law professor, dean, and diplomat, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, to the Reverend Clarence Clyde Ferguson Sr. and Georgeva Ferguson. After a childhood in Baltimore he served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1946, earning a Bronze Star, before attending Ohio State University on a football scholarship. He soon left the football squad to focus on his academic work, completing his AB cum laude in two and a half years. Ferguson earned his LLB cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1951, one of three black members of the class.

After a year as a teaching fellow at Harvard Law School and a year in private practice in New York, Ferguson served as assistant general counsel to the Moreland Act Commission to Investigate Harness Racing. Ferguson married the artist and sculptor Dolores Zimmerman in 1954 After her death in the late ...


Kimberly M. Curtis

politician. Arthur Allen Fletcher, the reputed “father of affirmative action enforcement,” was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and raised in Junction City, Kansas. He graduated from Junction City High School in 1943 and enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was wounded in combat in Germany and earned a Purple Heart. As a World War II veteran, Fletcher enrolled at Washburn College in Topeka, Kansas, where he studied history and political science, set football records, and participated in Republican politics. He graduated from Washburn College in 1950.

In 1954 Fletcher served as Kansas governor Fred Hall's legislative liaison agent. Fletcher was vice chairman of the Kansas Republican Party from 1955 to 1957. In 1965 he and his wife and children moved to Pasco Washington As a city councilman Fletcher developed the East Pasco Self Help Cooperative which enabled East Pasco s poor black residents to purchase stock in ...


M. A. Peterson

politician, teacher, and executive director of the United Negro College Fund, was born in Phoenix, Arizona, the son of Cotton Fletcher, a buffalo soldier in the U.S. Ninth and Tenth Cavalry, and Edna Miller Fletcher, a nurse and graduate of Prairie View A&M. Arthur was raised on military bases in the American west and southwest with periods spent in central Los Angeles and Oklahoma City. In 1936 when Fletcher was in the seventh grade in Oklahoma City, he heard Mary McLeod Bethune speak. He was later inspired by the way she had persuaded Eleanor Roosevelt and Secretary of Labor Francis Perkins to convince President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the need for an executive order mandating fair employment practices in federal hiring. (Roosevelt would not implement such a plan, however, until further pressured by Bethune, the NAACP's Walter White, and A. Philip Randolph s ...


Brian J. Daugherity

pastor, educator, civil rights activist, was born Calvin Coolidge Green at Laneview, Essex County, Virginia, the son of James H. Green and Levalia C. Green. One of eleven children, Green spent most of his youth and adolescent years in Middlesex County, Virginia, graduating from high school in Stormont (later Saluda), Middlesex County, in 1950. Green's father worked a variety of different jobs, often as a lumberman, but also as a farm laborer and general laborer. His mother was a homemaker. Green himself worked many of the same jobs, supplementing the family income until he left Middlesex after high school.

In 1950 Green attended Virginia State College (later Virginia State University) for a semester, before leaving for financial reasons, and joined the military, spending the next two years overseas. In 1951 he fought and earned commendations in the Korean War with the First Cavalry Division ...


John Bryan Gartrell

basketball player, was born Harold Everett Greer in Huntington, West Virginia. After graduating from Douglass High School in Huntington, Greer would become one of the greatest high school basketball players in the history of West Virginia. He broke a significant racial barrier when he enrolled at Marshall University in his home state in 1954. He became the first African American to receive a scholarship to Marshall and the first African American to play a sport at the university. Listed at six feet two inches and 175 pounds, Greer averaged 19.2 points per game during his college career, earning all-conference honors in 1957. In his senior year of 1958 he not only made the all-conference team for a second consecutive year, but he was also named a college All-American.

Greer was known as a quick shooting guard with a near unstoppable mid range jump shot Following his graduation ...


Jennifer Jensen Wallach

civil rights activist and politician. Born in Dublin, Mississippi, to sharecroppers who encouraged him to get an education, Aaron Henry joined the U.S. Army after high school and then, with the help of the GI Bill, attended Xavier University in New Orleans. He graduated with a pharmacy degree in 1950 and that same year opened a drugstore in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

A charismatic and successful businessman, Henry was a natural civil rights leader. In 1951 he was a cofounder of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership, and in 1959 he was elected president of the Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP, a position that he held until 1993. During the 1960s he was arrested thirty-eight times for civil rights activities. In an attempt to damage his effectiveness as a leader and to prey upon local prejudices, Henry's opponents spread rumors that he was a homosexual. In 1962 he ...


Françoise N. Hamlin

civil rights activist, was born to sharecroppers in Coahoma County in the Mississippi Delta. When Henry was five years old, his birth parents died, and he went to live with his maternal uncle and his wife, Ed and Mattie Henry, whom he considered his parents thereafter. He spent his early years on the Flowers Plantation in Coahoma County before the family moved to Clarksdale and he could attend the black Coahoma Agricultural High School, graduating in 1943.

As with many men who played major roles in the civil rights movement, including his fellow Mississippians Medgar Evers and Amzie Moore Henry s World War II experience in the segregated military affected him profoundly He remembered that his fellow black servicemen knew little about the rich African American history crediting his teachers for supplementing the curriculum with black history lessons When he returned home from his station in ...


Nigel Watson

a post office worker who gained notoriety by claiming to have been abducted by extraterrestrial aliens, was born in Newport News, Virginia, the fourth and youngest son of a shipyard worker. Family lore had it that Hill's maternal great-great grandfather was a white plantation owner. Hill's maternal great-grandmother's fair skin allowed her to live inside her father's home, where she was brought up by her aunts, even though technically she was still a slave. When she was married, her father gave her 250 acres of land, and it was on this land near Newport News that Barney Hill grew up along with his parents and an aunt and uncle, who then owned the farm.

Hill was unhappy when his family moved from Virginia to Philadelphia Pennsylvania where he attended high school for two years and spent a freshman year at Temple University He found life in Philadelphia tough and a ...


Daniel Donaghy

civil rights attorney. Oliver White Hill was born in Richmond, Virginia, to William Henry White Jr. and Olivia Lewis White. His parents separated when he was very young, and Hill eventually took his stepfather's surname. His family lived in Roanoke for a time and then moved to Washington, D.C., where Hill attended Dunbar High School. After graduation, he attended Howard University, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1931 and his law degree in 1933. At Howard, Hill befriended the future Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall.

From the beginning of his law career, Hill was interested in civil rights work. He opened a practice in Richmond in 1939, and the next year he worked with Marshall and others to win Alston v. School Board of Norfolk, Virginia which secured equal pay for African American teachers As World War II mounted in Europe Hill enlisted he ...


Brian J. Daugherity

NAACP attorney, politician, and civil rights activist, was born Oliver White in Richmond, Virginia, the son of William Henry White Jr. and Olivia Lewis White, both resort employees. His parents divorced in 1911, and when his mother married Joseph C. Hill, Oliver took his stepfather's last name.

Oliver Hill spent much of his youth and adolescent years in Roanoke, Virginia. For most of these years he lived with friends of his family—the Pentecosts—while his mother and stepfather lived and worked in Hot Springs, Virginia, and then in Washington, D.C. Hill went to school in Roanoke until the eighth grade, when he moved to Washington, D.C., to join his mother and stepfather. He then went to Dunbar High School there, which enjoyed a reputation for academic excellence.

Hill obtained his bachelor's and law degrees from Howard University, completing his studies in 1933 He was ...


Kitty Kelly Epstein

civil rights activist and school board president, was one of six boys born in Montrose, Arkansas, to Chester and Maggie Hodges. His family moved from Arkansas to Oakland, California, in 1946. Sylvester attended Prescott Elementary, Lowell Junior High School, and McClymonds High School. He married Lola Ingram in 1965, and the couple had one son.

Hodges became a passionate reader while serving in the U.S. military. He was influenced by The Autobiography ofMalcolm X and was particularly interested in the changes in Malcolm's strategic thinking that took place immediately before his death in 1965.

Hodges s first foray into electoral politics occurred when he attended Merritt College in Oakland during the late 1960s the same school at which the Black Panthers were organizing at the time There were no African Americans in student government positions although African Americans made up a large portion of ...


J. D. Jackson

journalist, newspaper editor, and civil rights activist, was born in Buena Vista, Georgia. In 1919 he moved with his parents and six siblings to Birmingham, Alabama. There he attended the city's first, oldest, and once the South's largest high school for African Americans, Industrial (now A. H. Parker) High School. After graduation Jackson returned to Georgia—not to his hometown of Buena Vista but to Atlanta, the home of his college of choice, the historically black Morehouse College. At Morehouse he majored in labor relations. He also laid the foundation for his future career by writing for the school newspaper, the Maroon Tiger. He graduated from Morehouse in 1932, two years into the Great Depression.

After graduating from Morehouse Jackson did not immediately enter the newspaper business Instead he returned to Alabama and taught school at Carver High School in Dothan and at Westfield High ...


Daniel Douglas

businessman and politician. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, McCall earned his bachelor's degree at Dartmouth College in 1958. At the time the prestigious school only matriculated eight African American students each year. He furthered his education at the Andover Newton Theological Seminary, where he earned a master's degree in divinity. He also studied at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. McCall is also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first Greek letter organization established for African Americans.

McCall's career in public service began as deputy administrator of the New York City Human Resources Administration from 1965 to 1969. From 1975 to 1979 he represented Harlem's Twenty-eighth District in the New York State Senate. He left that position when President Jimmy Carter nominated him to serve as a deputy United Nations ambassador McCall served in this ...


Michaeljulius Idani

minister, civil rights activist, New York state legislator and official, and ambassador, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the oldest of six children of Herman Carl McCall Sr., a waiter on a train, and Carolesa McCall a homemaker During his early years McCall s father lost his job and abandoned the family leaving Herman s mother struggling to raise him and his five sisters McCall grew up poor in the Roxbury section of Boston shifting through low income housing His mother collected welfare as a means to support the family they also received support from caring members of their United Church of Christ parish Despite the difficulties of being a single parent she was active in his life and stressed the importance of a good education and a close relationship with God McCall was a talented student and knew he wanted to attend college He ...