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Adam W. Green

United Statescongressman, was the third child born to Frank Winston Ballance, a sharecropper, and Alice Eason Ballance, a homemaker and care worker. Ballance was born and raised on a farm in Windsor, eastern North Carolina, part of the rural tobacco farming communities of the impoverished and segregated Bertie County. Ballance learned at an early age the import of fighting for civil rights; his mother was heavily involved in black voter registration drives when he was a child. After graduating W.S. Etheridge High School in 1959, he moved to attend North Carolina Central University in Durham.

In college, Ballance became involved in marches and sit-ins in the city, including ones aimed at larger department stores like Woolworth's. After receiving his B.A. in 1963, he remained at the university to study law. In 1965 he taught law at South Carolina State College but the following ...


Adam W. Green

politician, was born in Mobile, Alabama, to Sanford Dixon Bishop, an educational administrator and first president of Bishop State Community College, and Minnie Bethany Slade Bishop, a librarian. When he was seven years old, the family moved to Toulminville, a transitional neighborhood in Mobile for poor and working-class whites, where a black subdivision had been built. The Deep South's segregation and hostility were not foreign to Bishop growing up: The Ku Klux Klan had been active with cross-burnings in the district, and the new black community began a neighborhood watch. As a youth, Bishop was heavily involved with the Boy Scouts, later becoming an Eagle Scout and member of the Order of the Arrow, the Scouts' honor society.

Bishop s schools Booker T Washington Junior High for blacks and Central High School for whites were segregated and the second hand textbooks and supplements were not ideal for the son ...


William Lacy Clay was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He earned a bachelor's degree from St. Louis University in 1953 before serving in the United States Army (1953–1955). During military training at Fort McClellan in Alabama, Clay displayed an interest in civil rights activism, leading an effort to give blacks equal access to the swimming pool, the barbershop, and the noncommissioned officers club.

Returning to St. Louis in 1955, Clay became active in the Civil Rights Movement. He participated in both the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1959 Clay was elected to the St. Louis Board of Aldermen. He remained an alderman until 1964, when he became an official in the local Democratic Party.

In 1967 Missouri s voting districts were reorganized and most of St Louis s blacks were located ...


politician, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the fourth of seven children born to Irving Clay, a welder, and Luella (Hyatt) Clay, a homemaker. Growing up in a run-down tenement house with no indoor toilet, Clay would later note that a severe lack of basic facilities were afforded to the disenfranchised in the heavily black city, where thousands of residents lived in abject squalor, “just blocks from the downtown business district” (Clay, A Political Voice, p. 11).

While Clay attended St. Nicholas Catholic School, a black parochial school near his house, he worked as well, delivering newspapers at eight years old and selling scrap metal during World War II. By the time he was twelve, he was working at the Good Luck Store, a downtown retail men's clothing store, full-time during the summer and part-time during the school year.

Clay attributed his political awakening and activism to ...


Charles Orson Cook

politician, community activist, and sixteen-term United States congressman. William Clay Sr. was one of Missouri's most successful champions of civil rights in the twentieth century. Born one of seven children to Luella Hyatt and Irving Clay in Saint Louis, Missouri, young Clay attended Roman Catholic schools, where he was academically successful despite the disadvantages inherent in a segregated education. After high school, he enrolled in Saint Louis University and graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science in 1953. Clay completed a two-year tour of duty with the U.S. Army in 1955 After a brief flirtation with a career in business he became a labor organizer a community activist and ultimately a congressman from Missouri s First Congressional District for thirty two years Clay has spoken of the racial injustices he encountered early in life He recalled initiating a movement of black servicemen to desegregate the base swimming ...


A civil rights activist since his youth, James Enos Clyburn became the first black since 1897 to represent South Carolina in Congress. He was born in Sumter, South Carolina, and received a B.A. degree from South Carolina State College (now South Carolina State University) in 1962. Over the next decade, he worked as a teacher, ran a neighborhood youth organization, and headed the South Carolina Commission for Farm Workers. In 1974 he took over as the state's human affairs commissioner, a position he held until 1992. After two unsuccessful attempts while commissioner to win the statewide Democratic nomination for secretary of state, Clyburn ran for South Carolina's redrawn Sixth Congressional District in 1992 Defending the strangely shaped Sixth District as a way of correcting past political discrimination against blacks he won handily after the white Democratic incumbent fearing a racially divisive campaign in the new black ...


Benjamin T. Zeigler

Congressman from South Carolina's Sixth District, was born in Sumter County, South Carolina, the son of Enos Lloyd Clyburn and Almeta (Dizzley) Clyburn. Clyburn's parents met while his mother was attending Mather Academy, a private secondary school for African Americans in Camden, South Carolina. Clyburn's father was a minister in the Church of God, and, after marrying James's mother Almeta, he accepted the pastorate of a church in Sumter, South Carolina, which would allow both him and his wife to attend Morris College in Sumter. Clyburn would later describe both his parents as having a “tremendous thirst for education,” and he would credit their commitment to learning and their struggles to obtain college degrees as the inspiration behind his lifelong dedication to seeking equal opportunities for South Carolinians and Americans in general (interview with James Clyburn, 20 Nov. 2006).

Clyburn s mother finished Morris College in three years ...


Joseph Wilson

a leading African American attorney, judge, and congressman from Detroit, Michigan. Born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, George Crockett graduated from Morehouse College and the University of Michigan Law School. Subsequently he started a law practice and later was a cofounder of the National Lawyers Guild, the nation's first racially integrated lawyers' organization which he then served as vice president. In 1939, Crockett became the first African American attorney in the United States Department of Labor and, later, in the Federal Employment Practices Commission. In 1943, he directed the United Auto Workers' Fair Practices Commission, which sought to prevent white workers from engaging in “hate” strikes designed to bar black workers from working in auto plants.

In 1946 in Detroit, he helped form the country's first integrated law firm (Goodman, Eden, Crockett and Robb) and served as a partner until 1966. In 1949 Crockett was sentenced ...


Ruth E. Martin

activist, attorney, judge, and United States congressman, was born in Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida, the son of Minnie Amelia Jenkins and George William Crockett Sr. The former was a licensed public school teacher, and the latter a railroad carpenter for the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and Baptist church pastor.

George Crockett Jr. graduated from Morehouse College in 1931, and the University of Michigan Law School in 1934, before returning to Jacksonville. He was one of a small number of practicing African American attorneys in Florida at this time. In 1934 he married Ethelene Crockett, with whom he would have three children, Elizabeth Crockett Hicks, George W. Crockett III, and Ethelene Crockett Jones.

Initiating a lifetime at the forefront of the civil rights legal struggle, Crockett was the first African American lawyer employed by the U.S. Department of Labor, from 1939 ...


Born in Jacksonville, Florida, George William Crockett, Jr. graduated with a B.A. degree from Morehouse College in 1931 and a law degree from the University of Michigan in 1934. After several years in private practice, in 1939 he became the first African American lawyer at the U.S. Department of Labor. Beginning in 1943 Crockett served as a hearing examiner for the Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC), a federal agency that attempted to secure more jobs for African Americans in wartime industries. His work with the FEPC led to a position as head of the United Auto Worker's Fair Practices Committee, which sought to eliminate racism in factories.

Throughout his long career Crockett acted according to his often-unpopular beliefs, which led to occasional controversy. In 1949, while once again in private practice (as a founding partner in the first law firm with an integrated partnership in Detroit Michigan ...


SaFiya D. Hoskins

U.S.congressman, was born Artur Genestre Davis in Montgomery, Alabama, and raised in a religious home by his grandmother (name unknown) and mother (name unknown), the latter an employee of the Montgomery County school system for thirty years. Davis lived a humble life on the lower-income west side of Montgomery. Upon graduating from Jefferson Davis High School with honors, he left his hometown to attend Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In 1990 he graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in government from Harvard and then began graduate studies at Harvard University Law School. During his tenure at Harvard he made the acquaintance of Barack Obama, the future president of the United States. Obama, then attending Harvard Law School and president of the Harvard Law Review delivered a speech to students that made a lasting impression on Davis the two men soon became friends As a ...


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 ...


Richard Sobel

civil rights activist and U.S. congressman, was born to the civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson and Jacqueline Davis Jackson in Greenville, South Carolina. Jackson had an older sister, Santita, and younger siblings, Jonathan, Yusef, and Jacqueline. As a child, he was active, assertive and intelligent.

Believing their sons “needed a more regimented form of discipline” (Chicago Magazine, May 1996, 58), in 1977 the Jacksons sent Jesse Jr. and Jonathan to a military school, LeMans Academy in Indiana, where Jesse Jr. was a student for two years. While traveling with the Reverend Jackson in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe on civil rights missions, the children were introduced to celebrities, including Pope John Paul II and Nelson Mandela, so they were familiar and comfortable with leadership and celebrity from an early age.

Jackson Jr. finished high school in 1984 at ...


Jesse Louis Jackson, Jr., was born in Greenville, South Carolina, to Jacqueline Brown and Jesse Louis Jackson, an African American minister and political activist. He graduated from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University with a bachelor's degree in 1987. He earned a graduate divinity degree from Chicago Theological Seminary in 1990 and a law degree from the University of Illinois in 1993. Jackson had been an activist and political organizer at the local and national levels since he was a teenager. Before his election to Congress, Jackson was active in the Rainbow Coalition. In that role, Jackson created programs to increase voter registration and to educate voters about the political process. Jackson was secretary of the Democratic National Committee's Black Caucus.

The second congressional district seat in Illinois was vacated when former Democratic representative Mel Reynolds resigned in October 1995 Jackson defeated three experienced ...


Carmen V. Harris

U.S. congressman for Illinois's Second Congressional District. The son of the prominent civil rights activist the Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson and his wife, Jacqueline Lavinia Brown, Jesse Louis Jackson Jr. was born in his father's hometown of Greenville, South Carolina. He is married to Sandi Stevens Jackson, who was elected alderwoman for Chicago's Seventh Ward in 2007. They have two children, Jessica and Jesse III.

Jackson's schooling paralleled that of his father. Like his father, Jackson received his undergraduate degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina. He received a master's degree in theology from the Chicago Theological Seminary in 1989 and a law degree from the University of Illinois in 1993. Both were schools that his father had attended. In 1986 Jackson was arrested and jailed in Washington, D.C., for protesting against apartheid at the South African Embassy. From 1993 ...


Robert W. Logan

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee represented the Eighteenth Congressional District of Houston, Texas, filling the seat once held by the trailblazer Barbara Jordan. In the tradition of her distinguished predecessor, Lee served as a leader on civil rights and a forceful and articulate advocate of the physical and economic health of her constituents and the welfare of children, the poor, and the elderly.

Sheila Jackson Lee was born in Jamaica, New York. She earned a BA degree, with honors, at Yale in 1972 and a JD degree from the University of Virginia Law School in 1975. Before entering politics Lee was an attorney in the Houston area and served as staff counsel to the U.S. Select Committee on Assassinations in 1977 and 1978. She was a corporate attorney for several years before becoming an associate judge of the Houston Municipal Court in 1987 She served two ...


Rachelle Gold

Democratic representative for Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives. Born and raised in Queens, New York, Sheila Jackson Lee earned a degree in political science from Yale University in 1972. She graduated from the University of Virginia Law School in 1975, one of just three African Americans in her class. Jackson Lee is married to Elwyn Lee, vice chancellor of the University of Houston System and vice president for student affairs at the University of Houston. He graduated from Yale Law School in 1975, and when he began teaching at the University of Houston as a law professor, the family moved to Texas.

In Houston, Jackson Lee was appointed as an associate municipal court judge in 1987. Then from 1990 to 1994Jackson Lee served two terms on the Houston City Council There she helped pass legislation related to homelessness and gun safety ...


Merline Pitre

U.S. congressman, was born George Thomas Leland in Lubbock, Texas, to Alice Lewis and George Thomas Leland II. After the separation of his parents Leland, along with his mother and brother, moved to the Fifth Ward of Houston, Texas. His mother worked in a drug store and later became a teacher. A “mousey” lad who was nicknamed Mickey after the world's most famous cartoon mouse, Leland attended the public schools of Houston—Atherton Elementary, Ryan Junior High, and Phillis Wheatley High School—before entering Texas Southern University in Houston in 1965 During his time there Leland became a campus activist involved in a number of civil rights health and social issues He led numerous demonstrations on campus and chided his fellow students for their apathy toward social issues and their lack of involvement in civil rights activities In north Houston he sought to improve the health system for Hispanics and ...


Timothy J. O'Brien

politician. Born in Lubbock, Texas, George Thomas “Mickey” Leland was raised in poverty in Houston's Fifth Ward neighborhood. His mother Alice, a teacher, raised Mickey and his brother William. After graduating from Phillis Wheatley High School in 1963, he attended Texas Southern University's School of Pharmacy. During his college years he gained a reputation as an activist by agitating for civil rights and other issues. He led a campus protest at the University of Houston campus seeking justice for Lee Otis Johnson, who had been sentenced to thirty years for possession of a marijuana cigarette. The demonstration prevented the Texas governor from speaking.

Leland received a bachelor's degree in pharmacy in 1970 and continued his activism by organizing black citizen action teams that protested police brutality Leland was arrested at the scene of a riot that ended with the Houston police fatally shooting the People ...