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Araceli Reynoso

was born on 2 December 1919 in Cacahuatepec, Oaxaca. His parents were Francisco José María Carrillo and Candelaria Morales, a mulata originally from Juchitán, a small town located within what is today the municipality of Azoyú in the state of Guerrero. He had three more siblings. His mother died when he was still a child, after which his father married Teodora Alarcón. Álvaro took his stepmother’s last name in recognition of the fact that she had raised him and his siblings.

Álvaro liked to say that he was oaxaqueño by birth and raised by the Costa Chica of Guerrero a region that has historically identified itself as the major African presence in Mexico Costa Chica or Small Coast covers the southern Pacific coast of Mexico beginning in Acapulco Guerrero and ending in Puerto Escondido Oaxaca Africans arrived in this area of Mexico in the middle of the sixteenth century ...

Article

Jill Silos-Rooney

actor, singer, musician, and composer, was born Benjamin Sherman Crothers in Terre Haute, Indiana, the youngest of five children of Benjamin Crothers, a clothing store owner and odd jobber from Jonesboro, Arkansas, and Fredonia Lewis Crothers. Crothers's mother bought him his first drum which along with the guitar he taught himself to play Although unable to read music he began street performing for small change at age seven Crothers encountered discrimination in largely segregated Terre Haute when black players were barred from the high school football team Responding with what would soon become his characteristic blend of superficial accommodation and subversive disregard of racist standards he tolerated such discrimination as a temporary situation and became the yell leader for school pep rallies At the same time he flouted segregation by using his winning personality to frequent whites only restaurants As he later recalled I did a lot ...

Article

Rainer E. Lotz

dancer, singer, choreographer, and director, is a person whose origins are the subject of some question. According to the English-born black entertainer Gordon Stretton, Belle Davis “was a mezzo-soprano; tall black girl, native from New Orleans, very beautiful,” but on a 1938 ship passenger list Davis signed in as a Chicagoan born in 1874. On a 1904 emergency passport issued in London she swore, “I was born at Houston, in the State of Texas” in 1872. (Besides this confusion in geography, over the years Davis apparently became younger, on other documents indicating her year of birth as 1873.) Her father was George Davis; the name of her mother is unknown. After an apprenticeship in American minstrelsy, she spent most of her professional career touring Europe from 1901 until 1938 Not only had she performed in front of a movie camera ...

Article

LaVerne Gyant

actress, activist, and elocutionist, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Mansfield Vinton Davis, a musician, and Mary Ann (Johnson) Davis. Davis's talents as an actress and elocutionist were apparently inherited from her father, while her inclination toward activism came from her stepfather, George A. Hackett, who was a recognized leader within the African American community in Baltimore. Both Mansfield Davis and George Hackett died while she was still young After her stepfather s death Davis and her mother moved to Washington D C where she had the advantage of attending the best schools and with her fondness for books made rapid progress in her studies At the age of fifteen she passed the necessary exams to become a teacher and began teaching in the Maryland school district During this time she was recruited by the Louisiana State Board of Education who tendered her ...

Article

JoAnna Wool

dancer and vaudevillian was born in Covington, Kentucky, in 1872. According to her husband, Charles E. Johnson, Dean was born Dora Babbige, and her brother, Clarence Babbige, served as a judge in Kentucky during the Reconstruction period. By the mid-1880s her family moved to Indiana, and Dean found employment as a nursemaid in nearby Ohio.

Dean entered show business as a “statue girl” in The Creole Show, a popular touring production staged by Sam T. Jack. Dean possessed a striking figure, a pleasing smile, and a quality of warmth and personal charm that she was able to project from the stage; billed as “The Black Venus,” she struck dramatic poses during musical numbers and made a hit with the audience. Paired with talented soft-shoe dancer Charles E. Johnson Dean also became known for her performance of the cakewalk a dance developed by blacks ...

Article

Randall Clark

singer and actor, was born Franceine Everette in Louisburg, North Carolina. Although Everett always gave her birth year as 1920, there is some evidence that she might have been born as early as 1915. Very little is known about her childhood. Everett got her start in show business in the early 1930s, appearing in the musical production Hummin' Sam in New York City in 1933 and performing with a nightclub act called the Four Black Cats Even though she enjoyed some success as a singer Everett aspired to be an actress as well and with that in mind she began studying acting and appearing in plays produced by the Federal Theatre Project FTP The FTP was an important part of Franklin Roosevelt s Works Progress Administration and had established sixteen theater units around the United States that were staffed by African Americans Everett joined the Harlem ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

film and television cameraman, the first of African descent known to have been admitted to full membership in the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, and Allied Crafts union (IATSE), was born Robert Antonio Puello in Yonkers, New York. He was the son and firstborn child of Roberto Puello and Merceda Castizzo Puello, both born in Havana, Cuba.

His mother died in childbirth along with the baby when Puello was about two years old His father a deep water sailor left Puello in the care of a friend when out on a voyage when Puello was around five or six years old his father died at sea Although his father s friend was very kind to young Robert Puello the man s wife was harsh and eventually his teacher Amanda Kempt sought and was awarded custody when Puello was ten years old He attended a boarding ...