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Charles F. Casey-Leninger

first black mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio, was born in Maysville, Kentucky, to a white farmer whom he never knew and Cora Berry. When he was a toddler, Berry's mother brought him to Cincinnati, where they settled in the emerging African American community in the city's West End. Severely hearing impaired and with difficulty speaking, his mother earned little as a domestic, and Berry's sister Anna, fifteen years his senior, eventually assembled the family in her own household.

Berry attended the segregated Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School and graduated from the racially mixed Woodward High School in 1924 as valedictorian, the first black student in Cincinnati to achieve that honor in an integrated high school. Berry received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1928 and his juris doctorate from the UC College of Law in 1931 He worked his way through school by selling ...

Article

Charles L. Hughes

singer, songwriter, and politician, was one of four children born to J. T. and Alveria Butler, in Sunflower, Mississippi. The Butlers, a Mississippi sharecropping family, moved to Chicago in 1942, where they lived in the Cabrini-Green Housing Projects. J. T. Butler worked a variety of jobs to support his family until his death in 1953, and, following his passing, relatives and friends moved in to help the family make ends meet. Jerry, active in the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), soon became known around his community for his musical ability and rich baritone voice, and he quickly began performing as a gospel artist with friends and fellow COGIC members. One of Jerry's friends, a prodigious musician and songwriter named Curtis Mayfield would soon join Butler in a singing group called the Roosters The group subsequently changed its name to the Impressions Signing to Vee Jay Records ...

Article

Bergis K. Jules

civil rights activist, sheriff, and probate judge, was born in Gordonville in Lowndes County, Alabama, to Jim Hulett and Daisy (Baker), both farmers. Before 1950 John Hulett was eager to travel outside the Black Belt to see more of America. After graduating from Central High School in Gordonsville around 1945 and already planning to be a policeman, he took classes in law enforcement at Stanford University, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Alabama in preparation for his future career. Upon his return to Alabama in 1950 he settled in Birmingham and began working for the Federal Rural Housing Alliance as a housing consultant Hulett traveled throughout six southern states helping to provide homes for the poor in rural areas While in Birmingham he also became affiliated with the organized labor movement working to secure jobs for African Americans in the city During this time ...

Article

Francesco L. Nepa

newspaper publisher, municipal official, and politician, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Robert Pelham, a plasterer and mason, and Frances Butcher. The Pelhams were a prosperous free black family who at one time owned a farm in Petersburg, Virginia. They were forced to sell, however, because of the harassment of townspeople, who were probably jealous of the family's success. The need to leave Virginia became apparent when the Pelhams attempted to purchase a license for their pet dog but were turned down by local authorities, who claimed that only whites and slaves could purchase dog licenses. The family decided to head north, and around 1862, after brief stops in Columbus, Ohio, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Pelhams settled in Detroit shortly after Benjamin's birth.

Pelham attended Detroit public schools and the fashionable Barstow private school While still a student he became a newsboy ...

Article

Rose C. Thevenin

educator and scholar, was born in Baldwin City, Kansas. Little is known about his parents; his mother died when he was nine and he was raised by his three maternal uncles, Elbert, Giles, and Theodore Wright, and his grandparents. In 1928 Porter enrolled at Talladega College in Alabama with a major in chemistry and a minor in biology. Upon graduation, he became a teacher at Booker High School in Sarasota, Florida. After only four months at his teaching position, the institution closed due to financial woes, so Porter returned to college. He enrolled at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU). Upon graduation, he became principal of Tivoli Junior High School in Defuniak Springs, Florida.

Porter moved to New York during the 1930s and worked as a redcap at the New York Central Railroad Station He later moved to Michigan to pursue a master s degree in ...

Article

elected county official and Macon, Georgia, civil rights leader, was born in Valdosta, Georgia, the fourth of six children of Harry and Carrie Randall. He was reared in Macon, where his father, formerly the Valdosta manager for the Afro-American Life Insurance Company, had returned to work for his own mother's grocery wholesale and retail business. William P. Randall graduated from Hudson High School and Beda Etta Business College in Macon before going to work as a carpenter. He worked for a large construction company but after World War II went into business with his brother, a bricklayer. Eventually he became one of the major black contractors in the Southeast, working on large-scale commercial and residential projects.

In an era when Jim Crow custom forced African Americans to step aside when a white approached on the sidewalk Randall s father taught him not to give way As ...

Article

David H. Anthony

Pullman porter, labor leader, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP) functionary, political organizer, and Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC) panelist, was born in Clarksville, Tennessee, in 1887, two years after the birth of Asa Philip Randolph, the visionary, charismatic, intellectual founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. As the first vice president of the BSCP, his public profile is linked to that of Randolph, the BSCP, and the struggle for civil rights.

Webster went to Chicago as a working youth; there he became a porter on the railroad. By 1925 he was serving as a bailiff in Cook County and a ward leader who established strategic ties to the black Republican establishment. His work and political associations soon proved decisive.

Webster's reach extended to the powerful black Republican politician Oscar De Priest as well as to present and past porters who respected him for ...

Article

Robert Fikes

politician and public administrator, was born in Weeletka, Oklahoma, the eldest son of the twelve children of Lloyd Williams, a laborer, and Elvira Lott. Williams moved with his impoverished family to Bakersfield, California, during the Great Depression in 1934. Soon after his graduation from Kern County Union High School in 1941, Williams settled in San Diego, California, where he found work as a mechanic's helper at the North Island Naval Air Station. In 1946 he married Dorothy Nisley. Williams enrolled in courses at San Diego City College in 1947 and, after completing military duty in the army air corps, became a full-time student at San Diego State College, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1950. As a college student, in 1947 and 1948 Williams along with some fellow black and white students under the direction and training of ...