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Marinelle Ringer

journalist, author, and public speaker, was born Melba Joy Pattillo in Little Rock, Arkansas, the daughter of Howell “Will” Pattillo, a hostler's helper for the Missouri Pacific Railroad, and Dr. Lois Marie Peyton Pattillo, a junior high school English teacher who was among the first African Americans to attend the University of Arkansas (graduating in 1954). In 1957, spurred by the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, mandating public school desegregation, Beals, at the age of fifteen, became one of the first African American students—later known as the “Little Rock Nine”—to enroll in Central High School, then Arkansas' finest high school.

Prior to 1957 Beals s deepest anguish had been her parents divorce when she was seven She found solace in the hours she spent with her cherished grandmother India Anette Peyton while her mother worked and studied and ...


David A. Gerber

educator, politician, and civil rights leader, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Michael Clark, a barber, and his wife (name unknown). Clark was the product of a complex, mixed racial ancestry that formed the basis for a lifelong struggle to find a place for himself in both the white and African American worlds. The oral tradition of Peter Clark's family and of the Cincinnati African American community contends that Michael Clark was the son of the explorer William Clark, a Kentucky slaveowner who had children by his biracial slave Betty. Major Clark is said to have freed Betty and their children and settled them in Cincinnati. There she married and started another family with John Isom Gaines an affluent black man who owned a steamboat provisioning business Though it was never authenticated there is little doubt that Peter Clark himself believed the story of this ...


Colleen Cyr

barber, orator, and activist, was born in Middletown, Connecticut, the son of Mary Ann (Campbell) and George W. Jeffrey. George's father was one of the first trustees of the Cross Street African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church of Middletown that was formed in 1828. Middletown's small black activist community shaped the life and work of George S. Jeffrey. There were several intermarriages between the Jeffrey family and the family of the Reverend Jehiel C. Beman, Cross Street AME Zion's first minister. Jeffrey's maternal aunt Clarissa Marie Campbell Beman founded the Middletown Colored Female Anti-Slavery Society. Citizens of color of Middletown, including his grandparents, uncles, and father, petitioned the Connecticut state legislature seven times between 1838 and 1843 over such issues as repealing the “Canterbury Law” (which effectively restricted young women of color from attending the boarding school founded for them by Prudence Crandall ...


Alexander J. Chenault

theologian, pastor, orator and civil rights leader was born in LaGrange, Georgia on 26 February 1935, to Magnolia Moss and Otis Moss Sr., the fourth of the couple's five children. Otis became an orphan in 1951 when he was just sixteen; by nineteen, he decided that he wanted to be a preacher. In 1954, while still a student at Morehouse College, the teenaged Moss became the pastor of Mount Olive Baptist Church in LaGrange, Georgia. He attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1956. In 1959, he received a master's of divinity degree from the Morehouse School of Religion at Interdenominational Theological Center. Moss married Edwina Hudson Smith with whom he had three children, Kevin, Daphne, and Otis, III.

Because of his great oratory skills for a few years during the 1950s he was simultaneously leading two congregations ...


Charles Lenox Remond was born into a family of abolitionists and activists. His mother helped found the Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society and his father was a lifetime member of the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS). Like himself, his younger sister, Sarah Parker Remond, was a respected abolitionist speaker.

Charles Remond was involved with the AASS nearly from its beginning. Philosophically, he concurred with William Lloyd Garrison's doctrines of nonresistance and moral persuasion. In 1838 the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society named him its first full-time black lecturer. In a tour of the British Isles he pressed the cause of abolition, although this was not the sole focus of his advocacy. When the 1840 World's Anti-Slavery Convention, meeting in London, refused to seat women delegates, he spoke against the policy and left the meeting. After returning to the United States he traveled through the Midwest on a speaking tour with Frederick Douglass ...


Stacy Kinlock Sewell

abolitionist and civil rights orator, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of John Remond and Nancy Lenox, prominent members of the African American community of that town. His father, a native of Curaçao, was a successful hairdresser, caterer, and merchant. Remond attended Salem's Free African School for a time and was instructed by a private tutor in the Remond household. His parents exposed him to antislavery ideas, and abolitionists were frequent guests in their home. He crossed the paths of a number of fugitive slaves while growing up and by the age of seventeen considered himself an abolitionist. He had also developed considerable oratorical talent.

Remond was impressed by William Lloyd Garrison's antislavery views, particularly the notion of slaveholding as a sin. He heard Garrison speak in 1831 in Salem, and the two became longtime associates when in 1832 Remond became a subscription agent for ...


Delano Greenidge-Copprue

Charles Lenox Remond was born free in Salem, Massachusetts, the first son of John and Nancy (Lenox) Remond. Remond was educated in Salem's Free African Schools and privately tutored in his home. Like his father, Remond worked as a barber in his hometown and was involved in the antislavery movement from an early age, meeting fugitive slaves and hearing his parents' views against slavery. Abolitionists visited the Remond home frequently.

In 1831 Remond heard the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison lecture in Salem against slavery and was moved by Garrison's idea that slavery was a moral sin. Garrison's influence on Remond proved indelible. In 1832 Remond became a subscription agent for Garrison's abolitionist newspaper the Liberator. As an agent, Remond traveled throughout New England, gaining subscriptions and encouraging the development of antislavery societies. In 1833 Remond then a member of the Colored Association of Massachusetts became an officer ...


Michael Flug

union organizer and human rights activist, was born Sarah Claree White in Inverness, Mississippi, the daughter of Willie White, a farm laborer, and Annie Bell White, a worker at a dry-cleaning store. She was the fifth child in an impoverished family with eleven children. When Sarah was two years old, her mother was severely injured in an automobile accident. Her father left the family shortly after the accident, and Clara Grayson, her maternal grandmother, raised the children through much of White's childhood in a three-room shotgun house at the edge of a cotton field. In 1971, when she was twelve years old, a tornado struck Inverness, killing dozens and destroying much of the town, including their home. They were forced to move to Moorhead, another small town in Sunflower County, in the Mississippi Delta.

During the 1960s Sunflower County became a special focus of the ...