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Daniel Donaghy

pastor, civil rights activist, and U.S. congressman. Walter Edward Fauntroy was the fourth of seven children born in Washington, D.C., to William T. Fauntroy Sr., a U.S. Patent Office clerk, and Ethel Fauntroy, a homemaker. As a boy, Fauntroy became an active member of the New Bethel Baptist Church; the church gave Fauntroy sanctuary against the poverty and crime of secular Washington. As a high school student, Fauntroy experienced his first call to the ministry. After Fauntroy graduated second in his class from Dunbar High School in 1952, some of the members of New Bethel Baptist Church presented him with enough money to pay for his first year at Virginia Union University, where he graduated with honors in 1955 before going on to earn a divinity degree from Yale University.

While at Virginia Union, Fauntroy met the future civil rights activist Martin Luther King ...


Raymond Pierre Hylton

legislator, pastor, and civil rights activist, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of William Thomas Fauntroy and Ethel Vines Fauntroy. His father worked in the U.S. Patent Office. Upon graduating from Dunbar High School in 1952, Fauntroy entered Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia. While there he received strong support and encouragement from his pastor, the Reverend Charles David Foster, and he graduated from Virginia Union in 1955 with a BA in History. He received a scholarship to attend Yale University Divinity School, where he earned a bachelor of divinity degree in 1958. In 1959 when his longtime mentor the Reverend Foster died, Fauntroy was named to succeed him as pastor at New Bethel Baptist Church. He married Dorothy Simms on August 3, 1957, and the couple had a son, Marvin Keith, and a daughter, Melissa Alice.

During his ...


Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, William H. Gray III was the son of William H. Gray Jr., a Baptist minister and president of two Florida colleges, and Hazel Yates Gray, a high school teacher. In 1949 his father became the pastor of the large and powerful Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and moved the family north. In 1963 Gray graduated from Franklin and Marshall College and became an assistant pastor in Montclair, New Jersey. He earned a master of divinity degree from Drew Theological School in 1966, became senior minister at his church the same year, and earned a degree in theology from the Princeton Theological Seminary in 1970 As a minister Gray tried to help his poor parishioners by promoting fair housing programs He also set an important precedent by successfully suing a landlord who refused to rent an apartment to him ...


Amber Moulton-Wiseman

minister, congressman, businessman, philanthropist, was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the son of William H. Gray Jr., a minister and university president, and Hazel Yates Gray, a university dean. During Gray's early childhood, his father was president of both Florida Memorial College and Florida A&M University, and his mother was dean of students at Southern University in Baton Rouge. However, the family then moved to Philadelphia in 1949. There, Gray's father took a position as pastor of the Bright Hope Baptist Church. William H. Gray Jr.'s own father had held that post since 1925.

Gray was educated in the public school system and graduated from Philadelphia's Simon Gratz High School in 1959. Upon graduation, Gray enrolled at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and pursued his joint interest in religion and politics, even taking an internship with Democratic Congressman Robert ...


Julie Gallagher

human rights activist, lawyer, and federal legislator. Eleanor Holmes Norton was born in Washington, D.C., to Coleman Holmes and Vela Lynch Holmes. A fourth-generation Washingtonian, Norton was inspired by Mary Church Terrell, whom she saw in 1949 picketing a store for its discrimination of black people. She graduated from Antioch College in 1960, received an MA in American studies from Yale University in 1963, and earned a law degree from Yale in 1964. Norton was a law clerk for the renowned African American federal judge A. Leon Higginbotham Jr. before she took a position with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Her civil rights activism during the 1960s included work with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

In 1970 the New York City mayor John Lindsay appointed Norton to chair the city's Commission on Human Rights. In 1977 ...


Robert Fay

Eleanor Holmes Norton was born in Washington, D.C., and graduated from Yale University Law School. In the 1960s she became active in the Civil Rights Movement, joining the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. From 1965 to 1970 she was a highly visible lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union in New York City, where she specialized in controversial free speech cases. She represented Vietnam War protesters, Ku Klux Klan members, and politicians, most notably Alabama's segregationist Governor George Wallace, then a presidential candidate who had been denied a permit to hold a rally.

Norton s activist credentials led to her appointment as chair of the New York City s Human Rights Commission HRC in 1970 an agency charged with ending discriminatory practices in the workplace and schools Her seven year HRC record which ranged from reforming workmen s compensation ...


Rosetta E. Ross

women's and civil rights activist and congresswoman, was born Eleanor Katherine Holmes, the eldest of three daughters of Coleman Sterling Holmes, a public health and housing inspector, and Vela Lynch Holmes, a teacher, in segregated Washington, D.C. Oral history dates the family's residence in Washington to the early 1850s, when her paternal great-grandfather walked off a Virginia plantation to freedom in the District of Columbia. Holmes's father attended Syracuse University in upstate New York and worked his way through law school, though he never took the bar exam and never practiced law. Holmes's mother, born on a family farm in North Carolina, completed normal school in New York, where she earned a teaching certificate. After she married and moved to Washington, she earned a bachelor's degree from Howard University and passed the district's teacher certification exam, becoming the financial stronghold of her family.

As a child ...


Kennetta Hammond Perry

Eleanor Holmes Norton has established a stellar career as one of the most influential black women in politics in the United States. A tenured professor of law at Georgetown University, she serves in the U.S. House of Representatives as the congressional representative for the District of Columbia. Combining a quest for social justice with a belief in the principles of American democracy, Norton has actively worked to further the struggle for freedom and equality for all Americans.

Born in Washington, DC, to Vela Lynch, a schoolteacher, and Coleman Holmes, a government worker, Eleanor Holmes Norton could never have imagined as a child that one day she would represent her birthplace in national politics. During Norton’s early years, Washington was one of the most vibrant centers of the early civil rights legal campaign, which was led by Howard University-trained lawyers, including Thurgood Marshall Growing up there shaped ...


Donald Payne was born in Newark, New Jersey, and received a bachelor's degree from Seton Hall University in 1957. He was a community affairs executive at the Prudential Insurance Company, and he served as national president of the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) in 1970. From 1972 to 1978, Payne was a member of the Essex County Board of Freeholders. He became vice president of Urban Data Systems Incorporated in 1975, and served on the Newark Municipal Council from 1982 to 1988.

Payne made two unsuccessful bids for Congress against incumbent Democrat Peter Rodino in 1980 and 1986. When Rodino retired in 1988, Payne easily won the seat representing New Jersey's Tenth Congressional District. A member of the Congressional Black Caucus, he was reelected to an eighth term in 2002. In 2003 he was appointed a Congressional delegate to ...


Sheena C. Howard

politician, financial executive, and educator, was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of William Evander, a dock worker, and Norma Garrett Payne. Payne completed high school at Barringer High School in Newark, New Jersey, graduating in 1952. During Payne's childhood he lived in a predominately white area of Newark where the sight of a professional black man was rare. As Payne commented to Joseph F. Sullivan in a New York Times article I didn t have a black teacher all through elementary and high school until my senior year Growing up in a working class family Payne became aware of the limited economic opportunities for minorities That experience influenced his desire to improve the economic condition not only of his neighbors in Newark but also of people throughout the world Payne went on to graduate from Seton Hall University with a Bachelor ...