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Edward L. Lach

business executive and civic leader, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Hayward G. Burrell and Fannie Miles. Although his parents’ occupations are unknown, both his father and his mother were natives of the District of Columbia, and Burrell's roots in the area ran deep. After graduating from Dunbar High School at the age of fifteen, he worked as a driver for a local pharmacy and apparently also drove a cab for a while. He married at age sixteen (his wife's name is unknown), and the marriage produced a son before ending in divorce seven years later.

In 1941 Burrell gained a position at the federal Bureau of Standards, where he worked in the glass section producing prisms and bombsights. He also attended nearby Howard University between 1941 and 1943 but did not graduate. He entered the U.S. Army in 1945 and rose to the rank 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 ...


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 ...


Karen Jean Hunt

newspaper editor,-columnist, and civil rights activist, was born Charles Sumner Stone Jr. in a segregated hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, to Charles Sumner Stone Sr., a business manager at Poro College in St. Louis, and Madalene (Chafin) Stone, a payroll director. The Stones moved to New England when Chuck was three, and he grew up with his three sisters, Irene, Madalene, and Anne, in Hartford, Connecticut.Stone trained to be a navigator and bombardier in World War II as part of the famous Tuskegee airmen squadron. After leaving the military he continued his education at Wesleyan University, where he was the only black student on campus. Stone graduated in 1948 with a BA in Political Science and Economics, and he received an MA in Sociology from the University of Chicago in 1951 He spent eighteen months studying law at the University ...


Theresa C. Lynch

writer and activist, was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the second of three sons of Elizabeth Ernestine Bowman Washington. According to one of Washington's brothers, when he was young, his mother “cleaned white women's houses” (personal communication). Later in his life, she was a file clerk for the New Jersey Department of Labor and Industry. Nothing is known of his father, who was not present in Washington's life. In 1963 his mother married Cleveland Lewis and took his last name.

After graduating in 1957 from Hamilton High School West in Trenton and serving in the Ninety-seventh Signal Company, first in Germany and then in Vietnam, Washington became active in the civil rights, antipoverty, and antiwar movements of the 1960s and early 1970s. He became friends with the activists Paul Krassner, Abbie Hoffman, Phil Ochs, and Jerry Rubin and he was considered the first black ...


Betty Winston Bayé

journalist, was born in Baltimore, Maryland. He was the third of John Trevillian and DeSylvia (Chase) Wickham's five children. John and DeSylvia Wickham were a cab driver and store clerk, respectively.

In his autobiography Woodholme: A Black Man's Story of Growing Up Alone (1995) Wickham recounted how in the early hours of 17 December 1954, his father, apparently distraught that he could not afford to buy Christmas gifts for his family, shot and killed his wife and then turned the .32-caliber revolver on himself. Wickham's parents were found inside his father's powder-blue 1950 Plymouth station wagon. Besides John Wickham's suicide note to his mother, a twenty-dollar money order, and the couple's wedding rings, police also recovered twenty-one photographs of a black boy—his school pictures, Wickham wrote.

The Wickham children were parceled out among relatives. Eight-year-old DeWayne and his brother John Rodney were taken in ...