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Crossley, Callie Yvonne  

Donna L. Halper

was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the oldest of two daughters of Samuel Crossley, a postal worker, and Mattie (Robinson), a teacher. Her parents met at Southern University in Baton Rouge, and she was raised in a home where education was a priority. She attended all-black schools until high school, when she became one of nineteen black students who integrated Memphis’s Central High School in 1966. It was a difficult experience, but one that helped her to become more confident and taught her to stand up for herself. In high school, history was her favorite subject, but her textbooks made no mention of the accomplishments of people of color. She began to research black history and wrote reports about what she learned. She also became interested in journalism, writing a theater and entertainment column for her school newspaper.

Crossley wanted to go to school somewhere outside of the South and ...

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Doctor Daddy-O  

Charles Rosenberg

an early New Orleans radio show host, who made his name in rhythm and blues, but devoted most of his life to gospel, was born Vernon Winslow in Dayton, Ohio, the son of Harry and Lenora Winslow; his father was the foreman at a sign company, while his mother stayed home raising seven children. Four brothers and two sisters were all born in Ohio; their father was born in Indiana around 1886, and their mother in Kentucky around 1888.

By 1930, his father was gone, probably deceased, and Lenora Winslow was raising her family in Chicago Illinois The oldest sons Wendell and Vernon were the primary breadwinners working as a porter for a retail store and a messenger at the office of an oil company respectively Somehow carrying this responsibility at the age of nineteen Winslow was able to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta then ...

Article

Gumbel, Bryant  

Nancy T. Robinson

broadcaster, was born Bryant Charles Gumbel in New Orleans, Louisiana, the second of four children to Richard Dunbar Gumbel, a World War II veteran, and Rhea LeCesne Gumbel During his infancy Gumbel s parents moved the family from New Orleans to Chicago Though it would ultimately benefit the entire family the major motivation for the move was Gumbel s father s personal ambition Richard Gumbel a graduate of Xavier University in Louisiana had his sights on law school Unfortunately he was denied admission to law schools in his home state something he ascribed to the racist climate of the South at that time The more liberal North seemed a logical move and he eventually pursued a law degree at Georgetown Law School in Washington D C while continuing to support his family full time Eventually becoming a Cook County Probate judge Richard raised his family in Chicago ...

Article

Gumbel, Bryant Charles  

A member of the post-World War II baby boom, Bryant Gumbel was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and reared in Chicago, Illinois, where his parents, Rhea LeCesne and Richard Dunbar Gumbel, were active in the Democratic Party. After he graduated from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine in 1970, Gumbel began his career in 1971 writing freelance articles for Black Sports magazine, where he was quickly brought onto the staff. After working as a staff writer for eight months, his journalistic career accelerated as he became editor-in-chief.

After moving into television broadcasting in 1972, Gumbel appeared as a weekend sportscaster at KNBC-TV in Los Angeles, California. In 1976 he became the sports director, a position he held until 1980. During this time, the NBC television network also used his talents as a pregame host for football, baseball, and other sports events.

In 1981 the Today ...

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Henderson, Angelo B.  

Sibyl Collins Wilson

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and radio talk show personality, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to Ruby (maiden name unknown) and Roger Henderson. When he was a teenager, he and his family moved to Oakland, California. After graduating from high school, Henderson attended the University of Kentucky and graduated in 1985 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. He pledged the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. After obtaining his degree, he interned with The Walt Disney Company and newspapers such as The Detroit Free Press and the Lexington Herald Leader.

In 1986 he took a job with the Louisville Courier‐Journal in Kentucky, after which he worked as a beat reporter for the St. Petersburg Times in Florida. In 1995 he joined the Detroit bureau of the Wall Street Journal to cover the automotive industry with a focus on the Chrysler Corporation He was appointed as the deputy bureau ...

Article

Keyes, Alan  

Wesley Borucki

diplomat, political commentator, and Republican presidential and U.S. Senate candidate. Alan Keyes was born in the U.S. Naval Hospital in Long Island, New York. His father, Allison Keyes, was a U.S. Army sergeant major who served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Young Alan moved often, completing his high school education at Robert G. Cole High School in San Antonio, Texas. At age sixteen he was the first African American president of the American Legion Boys Nation. In a 2001 interview on C-SPAN, Keyes stated that the civil rights movement's “deep questions of justice” moved him toward public service.

Keyes attended Cornell in 1969. While at Cornell, he developed a relationship with the conservative philosopher Allan Bloom. Bloom described Keyes (though not by name) in his book The Closing of the American Mind in an anecdote about an African American student who received death threats from ...

Article

Lester, Julius  

Christopher Phelps

writer and activist, was the second of two sons born to Reverend W. D. Lester, a Methodist minister, and Julia (Smith) Lester in St. Louis, Missouri. When he was two years old the family moved to Kansas City, Kansas. His father, seeking dignity, invariably wore a suit and tie, teaching his sons that separate “colored” facilities were demeaning and never to be used. The family spent its summers in the South at the rural home of Lester's maternal grandmother in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

Lester's early precocity manifested itself in his love for reading and a propensity to challenge teachers. A childhood spent deep within the folds of the black community did not shield him from terror and anger. He later wrote that under segregation, “Hope was the name some dreamer bestowed on a daughter, … change was what the white man at the store might give you ...

Article

Lester, Julius  

Karen R. Bloom

Julius Lester was born on 27 January 1939 in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Woodie Daniel Lester and Julia B. Smith Lester. He received his BA from Fisk University in 1960, with a semester at San Diego State College, and an MA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1971, where he is currently a professor. He is married to his second wife and has four children. Lester has won the Newbery Honor Award (1969) and the Massachusetts State Professor of the Year Award (1986), and was a finalist for the National Book Award (1972) and the National Jewish Book Award (1988). Lester converted to Judaism in 1982.

Julius Lester s literary career has spanned a broad variety of political events and literary genres Lester began his career as an activist with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating ...

Article

Morley-Ball, Joyce A.  

Yolanda L. Watson Spiva

educator and popular therapist, was born in Dania, Florida, the youngest of fourteen children to parents Theophilus and Lucille Morley, vegetable farmers from the Eleuthera and Bahama Islands. Joyce spent her formative years in Dania until 1969, at which time she was sent by her mother to Rochester, New York, to live with her sister. Joyce's mother thought that her daughter might have access to a better educational system and decreased racial tensions in the North. Joyce graduated from Monroe Senior High School in Rochester, New York, two months following her seventeenth birthday. In 1973, she graduated cum laude from SUNY Geneseo with a BS in Elementary Education with a concentration in Psychology. While at Geneseo, Morley, along with her high school sweetheart, Bernard Watson, gave birth to their first daughter, Yolanda. In September 1973 Morley taught first second and third grades beginning ...

Article

Pierce, Ponchitta  

Firouzeh Dianat

journalist, television host, producer, writer, and editor, was born Ponchitta Marie Ann Vincent Pierce in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Alfred Leonard Pierce, a plasterer and contractor, and Nora Vincent Pierce, a teacher. She was educated through elementary school in New Orleans. From her mother Pierce inherited “a desire to reach out to people and work to improve the life of others” (Smith, 526). Her father imparted to her a “healthy dose of realism in terms of how to conduct a business” (Smith, 526). Through four years of schooling in a Catholic all-girl high school in Los Angeles, California, Pierce fell in love with books and writing. As a University of Southern California student, Pierce wrote for the student newspaper. She also spent a summer of studying at England's Cambridge University in 1962 She received a BA degree cum laude in Journalism ...

Article

Poussaint, Renee Francine  

Luther Brown

journalist, news anchor, writer, documentary producer, and activist, was born in New York City to Christopher Poussaint, a printer, and Bobbie Vance Poussaint, a social worker who would eventually become New York City's human resources administration commissioner. Poussaint was born into a nurturing family in East Harlem, surrounded by her aunts and uncles. One of them, Alvin Poussaint, later became a well-known psychiatrist, writer, and civil rights activist.

Initially Poussaint attended a neighborhood Catholic school in Harlem, but in 1953 she, her parents, and her younger brother moved to Queens, New York. Three years later her parents divorced. In Queens, she attended public schools. She had a deep curiosity about the varied cultures of the world and a passion for literature, writing, and African dance—she performed briefly with a professional company. In-1962 Poussaint graduated as salutatorian of her class at ...

Article

Smiley, Tavis  

Karen Beasley Young

television and radio personality, political commentator, author, and social advocate, was born in Gulfport, Mississippi, the eldest of ten children, four of whom were adopted, to Emory G. Smiley, a noncommissioned officer in the United States Air Force, and Joyce M. Smiley, a missionary and apostolic Pentecostal minister. Smiley grew up in the Kokomo, Indiana, area and attended Indiana University in Bloomington. He was a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and graduated in 1986 with a degree in law and public policy. While he was at Indiana University, a close friend of Smiley's was killed by local police, who claimed to have done so in self-defense. This act of violence changed the course of Smiley's life, and he began to lead protests against the police in defense of his friend, which set Smiley on a path of social advocacy.

During Smiley s ...

Article

Tolliver, Melba  

Amber Karlins

was born in Rome, Georgia, to Emory Leonard Tolliver, a hotel bellhop, and Susan Turner Tolliver. Though she was born in Georgia, Melba was raised in Ohio. After graduating high school, she moved to New York City, where she was given a scholarship to study nursing at New York University (NYU). Though she was bright and extremely capable, even graduating with honors, she did not particularly like nursing. After graduating from NYU, she took a job as an operating room nurse, but her heart wasn’t in it. She spent every spare moment she had pursuing a career in acting and taking classes at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She did some commercial work but never found much success as an actress. So in 1967 she decided to explore the world of television She began working as a secretary at ABC and what she had intended to be a ...

Article

Walker, Elizabeth Ann (Liz)  

Donna L. Halper

was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, the younger of two children of Charles C. Walker, a Congregationalist minister, and his wife Bessie (Trotter). Elizabeth’s mother died in childbirth, and her father remarried in 1953 to Geneva (Powell), a teacher. Elizabeth and her brother, Charles, were mainly raised by their stepmother, as their father died in 1963. Despite growing up in a deeply religious home, young Elizabeth did not plan for a career in the church. Rather, she was interested in the media. A 1969 graduate of Little Rock’s Central High School, where she was the school newspaper’s first black assistant editor, she attended Olivet College, a Christian liberal arts school in Olivet, Michigan, graduating with a B.A. in Speech and Theater in 1973 Sources that say her major was Communication are incorrect Subsequently she studied broadcasting at the University of Wisconsin school for one semester but did not ...

Article

Williams, Nat D.  

Darius Young

radio personality, journalist, teacher, and master of ceremonies, was born Nathaniel Dowd Gaston Williams in Memphis, Tennessee. When he was a boy, his family moved to Beale Street, the city's vibrant center of African American life, music, and culture. At the turn of the twentieth century, Beale Street had evolved from a wealthy, exclusive, white residential neighborhood into the “Main Street of Negro America.” Beale Street epitomized black life in Memphis. Black owned businesses, banks, auditoriums, music clubs, saloons, gambling dens, and restaurants were all in the same vicinity. This certainly shaped Williams's outlook on black Memphians and helped him relate to their experiences as a writer and radio personality.

Williams is best remembered for his pioneering work as the first disc jockey for the groundbreaking radio station WDIA in Memphis However he had a much longer career as a journalist and editor for several newspapers A graduate of Columbia ...