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Robert Jr. Johnson

chemist, was the third of five children born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, to parents whose names are not recorded. The grandson of a former slave, his father worked in the local post office, and his mother was self-educated. His was a close-knit family that embraced education as the main route to economic independence and prosperity. All of the children graduated from high school. Knox's older sister went to normal school, and his brothers earned their doctorates. New Bedford had fewer than one thousand blacks when Knox was a child there, yet it was a prosperous community with black physicians and lawyers and even its own black police force. Frederick Douglass had lived there following his escape from slavery and the town had also been an important stop on the Underground Railroad Knox s sense of independence and self reliance was derived from this cultural milieu and it became ...