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Charles Pete Banner-Haley

journalist, lawyer, and activist, was born Robert Lee Vann in Hertford County, North Carolina, the son of Lucy Peoples, who cooked for the Albert Vann family, and an unidentified father. His mother named him following a custom from slavery times, giving the last name of her employer to her children. The paternity of Vann, according to his major biographer Andrew L. Buni, is uncertain. It is thought that his father was Joseph Hall, a field worker, but there are no birth records to this effect. There is the possibility that his father was white but not the Vann that his mother worked for.

Vann spent his childhood on the Vann and Askew farms. He entered the Waters Training School in Winston, North Carolina, at age sixteen. In 1901 he enrolled in Virginia Union University in Richmond After two years Vann moved to Pittsburgh and ...

Article

Todd Steven Burroughs

lawyer, politician, and newspaper publisher in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As a newspaper publisher, Robert Vann's periodical, the Pittsburgh Courier, became a newspaper not ashamed to publish sensational news and not afraid to be controversial. He saw the paper as an agitation vehicle to improve all facets of black life in Pittsburgh.

Robert Vann was born in 1879 on a North Carolina farm near a town called Ahoskie. His mother, Lucy Peoples, worked for a family named Vann. When her son's father deserted them, she gave him the Vann surname. After attending the Waters Training School in Winston, North Carolina, and the Wayland Academy (the latter a preparatory school for Virginia Union University), he attended the Western University of Pennsylvania. He became the first African American to become the editor of the Courant, the campus newspaper. Vann earned his BA from Western in 1906 and his ...

Article

Rayford W. Logan

Robert Lee Vann was born on August 27, 1879, in Ahoskie, North Carolina to former slaves who eked out a living by operating a general store. As a youth, Vann enjoyed playing with boys of prominent white families in nearby Harrellsville. After graduating as valedictorian of Baptist-run Waters Training School in Winton, North Carolina, he enrolled at Wayland Academy in Richmond, Virginia in 1901. While at Wayland, Vann was influenced by John T. Mitchell, editor of the Richmond Planet, who opposed the disenfranchisement of blacks and the virulent segregation laws known as Jim Crow.

In 1903, with the aid of a $100 Charles Avery scholarship, Vann entered Western University of Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh as a sophomore There he gained a reputation as an orator and debater and served for two years as a regular contributor to the school newspaper In his senior year ...

Article

Benjamin R. Justesen

editor, federal official, Republican activist, and state legislator, was born in Henderson, North Carolina, the son of a slave woman of whom nothing is known but that she was owned by Capt. D. E. Young, a wealthy farmer. His father, who was never named publicly, was described as a prominent white resident of Henderson who financed his son's education. Although little is known of his early life before 1865, James Young attended the common schools of Henderson after the war, and in 1874 he entered the private Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina.

In early 1877 Young left Shaw to accept a position as messenger in the office of Col. J. J. Young, the U.S. collector of internal revenue for the Raleigh district, and thus began a lengthy, intermittent career in federal service. In 1881 he married his first wife, Bettie Ellison ...