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Pamela Lee Gray

wood carver, sculptor, and folk artist, was born Jesse James Aaron in Lake City, Florida, to descendants of slaves and Seminole Indians. Aaron attended school for less than one year before he was sent to work as a contract laborer for local farms. Trained as a baker when he was twenty-one years old, he found he enjoyed the creativity it required. He opened several bakeries, worked as a cook at Gainesville's Hotel Thomas from 1933 to 1937, and then cooked for a variety of fraternities and hospitals in Florida. Aaron also worked as a cook aboard the Seaboard Air Line Railroad during this time.

Aaron married Leeanna Jenkins, and when the family settled in northwest Gainesville in the 1930s they opened a nursery. From this point until 1968 when Aaron became a folk artist at the age of eighty one it is difficult to determine what is ...

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Jeremy Rich

politician, business leader, and historian, was born in the late nineteenth century in Burundi. He belonged to the Batare royal family that had controlled Burundi prior to the entrance of German military officers in the 1890s. He originally came from southern Burundi as his father was a chief in the Vyanda region not far from the town of Bururi. He received a primary education at a German school at Gitega. After the Belgian government took over Burundi following World War I, Baranyanka became one of the most fervent supporters of the new administration in the entire colony. He was a firm supporter of Catholic missions and the development of cash-crop production. Baranyanka converted to Catholicism after undertaking instruction for four years. He established an extremely large coffee business that consisted of thirty-five thousand coffee bushes by 1935. A young Belgian tourist in 1949 expressed the views of most ...

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Frank R. Levstik

Edwin C. Berry was born in Oberlin, Ohio, on December 10, 1854, the son of free parents who were born in Gallia County, Ohio. In 1856 his family moved to Athens County, where Berry remained for the rest of his life. In Athens County Berry attended Albany Enterprise Academy, one of the earliest educational institutions in the United States that was conceived, owned, and operated by blacks. The Berry family took in boarders, two of whom were to gain fame in their own right: Medal of Honor winner Milton M. Holland and his brother, William H. Holland, Texas legislator and educator.

Berry first found employment in Athens manufacturing bricks for the state mental hospital that was being constructed in town. In 1868 he secured work in a local restaurant as an apprentice cook for five years. On October 18, 1877 Berry married Mattie Madra of Pomeroy ...

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Gillian Whitlock

the Danish writer also known as Isak Dinesen, who lived in British East Africa (present-day Kenya), was born Karen Dinesen at Rungstedlund, Denmark, on 17 April 1885. Her father, Wilhelm Dinesen, was a military officer, landowner, and Member of Parliament; the Dinesens were an ancient Danish family of landed gentry. Her mother, Ingeborg Westenholtz, was the eldest daughter of the wealthy businessman and finance minister Regnar Westenholtz. Following the suicide of Wilhelm Dinesen in 1895, Ingeborg Dinesen raised her three daughters and two sons in a maternal household, where Karen was known as “Tanne.” As a young woman, Karen Blixen attended art school, mastered several European languages, frequented the aristocratic circles of upper-class young people in Denmark, and began to publish short stories in Danish periodicals in 1907 under the pseudonym Osceola None of these early stories attracted particular attention and she felt discouraged as a writer ...

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Larvester Gaither

businessman, author, and presidential candidate, was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the elder son of Lenora (Davis) Cain and Luther Cain Jr. His mother, from Georgia, worked as a domestic, while his father, from Arlington, Tennessee, worked mainly as a private chauffeur for Robert Woodruff, president of the Coca-Cola Company. Cain's parents were both raised by poor subsistence farmers (sharecroppers) in the South. In 1943, at the age of eighteen, Cain's father migrated to Mansfield, Ohio, and landed a job working for a tire factory. While there he met Lenora Davis, who had also come there in search of better opportunities. The two moved to Memphis in 1945 for a brief stay and then settled in Atlanta, Georgia, shortly after Herman Cain was born. Thus, while born in Memphis, Cain, along with his younger brother, Thurman (who died in 1999 was raised in Atlanta ...

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Steven J. Niven

sharecropper and minister, was born in the Mississippi Delta, the tenth of twelve children of Miles Carter, a sharecropper descended from Georgia slaves owned by the forebears of President Jimmy Carter. The name of Miles Carter's wife is not recorded The Carters lived a peripatetic existence moving from one plantation to another but never escaping the cycle of poverty that characterized much of black life in the Jim Crow South Despite the hopelessness of that situation Miles Carter was an ambitious man who occasionally advanced to the position of renter Unlike sharecroppers who usually possessed antiquated farming tools and equipment and received only half of the value of their crop renters often owned their own mules and implements and could expect to earn a three quarter share of their crop which in the Delta was inevitably cotton Miles Carter s success as a renter required however that his ...

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Jane Brodsky Fitzpatrick

chef and the “Queen of Creole cooking,” was born Leah Lange in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Charles Robert Lange, a caulker in a Madisonville shipyard, and Hortensia (Raymond) Lange. She was the eldest girl in a family of fourteen children, eleven of whom lived to adulthood. She was raised in the small rural fishing town of Madisonville, about thirty miles north of New Orleans. The family was poor, living mainly on vegetables from her father's garden. Her mother had only a sixth-grade education. In a 2003 interview Chase said that poverty, not segregation, was the most difficult experience of her childhood.

Chase s parents instilled in her a deep religious faith as well as the importance of family and service to the community They were strict and believed strongly in education She started school at age four Her father did not want her to associate with non Catholics so ...

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Marcie Cohen Ferris

businesswoman, chef, restaurateur, and community activist, was born Mildred Edna Cotten in Baldwin Township, Chatham County, North Carolina. The youngest daughter in a family of seven children, she was raised by her father Ed Cotten, a farmer and voice teacher. Council's mother Effie Edwards Cotten, a teacher trained at Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, died at age thirty-four when her daughter was twenty-three months old. Mildred Council was nicknamed “Dip” by her brothers and sisters because her long arms allowed her to reach deep into the rain barrel and retrieve a dipper full of water, even when the barrel was low.

Council recalled as a significant moment the day in 1938 when her father asked her to stay home and “fix a little something to eat” while the rest of the family worked in the fields (Mama Dip's Kitchen, 2).

From a young age Council ...

Article

Ayesha Kanji

marketing executive and educator, was born in Washington, D.C., to William H. Fitzhugh, a messenger for the Department of Agriculture, and Lillian (maiden name unknown), a counselor at one of the local junior high schools. Both of his parents were involved in the community, his mother in civic affairs and his father through his membership in the Order of the Elks, a fraternal organization whose mission is to cultivate good fellowship and community spirit. In the 1920s, Fitzhugh attended a predominantly black high school, Dunbar High School, during a period of racial segregation in the United States.

Graduating from high school at the age of 16, Fitzhugh distinguished himself with a scholarship to Harvard University, where he was one of only four black students in the entering class. He was not allowed to live in the campus dormitories, but Fitzhugh excelled and graduated with honors in 1931 ...

Article

Linda M. Carter

entrepreneur and consultant, was born in Oconee, Georgia, one of twenty-three children born to Berry Gordy, a successful farmer who owned at least 168 acres, and Lucy Hellum Gordy. He was one of nine Gordy offspring who lived to adulthood and the fifth oldest child. Gordy's maternal great-grandfather was Native American, and his maternal great-grandmother was African American. Gordy's paternal grandmother, Esther Johnson, was a slave, and his paternal grandfather, Jim Gordy, was a plantation owner.

Gordy Sr. and his family lived in a log house in Oconee. When he and his siblings (Sam, Lula, Esther, Mamie, Lucy, John, Joe, and Charlie were old enough to attend grammar school they worked on the family farm after the school day ended During the summer the Gordy children also worked one hour before they attended school When they completed elementary school ...

Article

Luis Gómez-Acuña

was born in Lima, Peru, on 10 March 1934. Her mother, an immigrant from a southern coastal town called San Luis de Cañete who worked in Lima as a chef, taught Teresa how to cook. However, her mother did not want Teresa to spend her life in a kitchen; instead, she pushed her to obtain a professional degree. Teresa decided to become a midwife but quit after only a few classes.

Teresa Izquierdo dedicated the rest of her life to cooking. During the 1960s, she began to sell food in Lima during cockfight and bullfighting sessions, when attendees would consume what is known as comida criolla, a mix of pre-Columbian and Hispanic ingredients. Some of the criollo dishes that Izquierdo offered had been created in colonial times, such as anticucho, composed of small pieces of grilled skewered meat (beef heart) that is served with boiled potatoes.

Like ...

Article

Sholomo B. Levy

preacher, missionary, and educator, was born the son of Robert Keeble, a street cleaner and minister, and Mittie Keeble in Rutherford County, Tennessee. For several generations the black Keeble family had been the slaves of the family of Major Horace Pinkney Keeble, a prominent white lawyer in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Marshall was named after his grandfather, who served as a personal valet to the Confederate major Keeble during the Civil War. According to some accounts, his grandfather was killed by advancing Union soldiers, but Marshall disputed those accounts, claiming that he knew his grandfather. However, his family must certainly have been favored and personal slaves of the white Keebles because Robert and the elder Marshall were taught to read and write by their masters, which was highly unusual given the widespread prohibition against the education of slaves.

Marshall s grandfather and uncle were both preachers in ...

Article

was born Lois Cecilia Carby in Kingston, Jamaica, to Cecil Carby, a civil servant, and Yvette Robin Carby, a housewife. Lake-Sherwood attended St. Andrew High School for Girls in Kingston and in the late 1940s and early 1950s studied French and art in Haiti, and art at the Instituto Allende San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She also participated in several art workshops at the Pastel Society of New York City and Phoenix.

Her business career began in 1953 as co-owner of Grace Furniture Store on Orange Street, Kingston, and in 1966 she opened Mahogany House, the first antique shop in Jamaica, with her husband, Rodwell A. Lake. The couple would have three children— Richard, Michael, and Ann Lake—before they divorced. She subsequently married Kenneth N. Sherwood. In an interview with the Sunday Gleaner Magazine in 1969 she briefly stated why she undertook the Mahogany House venture She said with ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

Baptist minister, grocer, printer, and civil rights leader, reported by Ebony magazine as “the first Negro to qualify to vote in Belzoni [Mississippi] since Reconstruction days,” was born in Edwards, Mississippi. There is no well‐established record identifying his parents. His mother died when he was still a child; at the age of seventeen he appears to have been living with an aunt and uncle, Garfield and Minnie B. Holmes, in Sunflower County, Mississippi.

After graduating from high school Lee worked on the docks in New Orleans unloading bananas while studying typesetting through a correspondence course He served for a time as pastor of St James Church in Jackson Mississippi then accepted a call seventy miles to the north in the predominantly African American Delta community of Belzoni As in many churches the offerings of members were not sufficient to support a full time pastor He opened a grocery store ...

Article

Nazneen Ahmed

Left‐winger for Plymouth Argyle Football Club and one of the first prominent black footballers in the English League, rumoured to have been recommended to England selectors. Leslie's football career began at his local club, Barking Football Club. He was 20 years old when he was spotted and signed by Plymouth Argyle's manager Robert Jack. In his first season at Argyle between 1921 and 1922 he played in nine games. During the 1924–5 season he became a regular player, missing only two League fixtures and scoring 40 goals. His partnership with Sam Black from 1924 onwards proved a huge success. His last match for Argyle came in 1934 after an Argyle career that spanned 400 League and FA appearances and 134 goals Leslie and Black were famous nationwide for being one of the country s finest left flanking partnerships However only one of the two left wingers was eligible ...

Article

Donna Tyler Hollie

chef, restaurant owner, author, and teacher, was born in Orange County, Virginia. She was one of eight children, three sons and five daughters, born to Eugene and Daisy Lewis. Her community, called Freetown, was established by her grandfather, Chester Lewis, a farmer, and other freedmen after the Civil War. Her grandfather's home was the site of the community's first school.

Although little is known about Lewis's formal academic education, she learned to cook by observing and assisting her mother and paternal aunt, Jennie These women cooked in the tradition of their African forebearers using seasonal ingredients frying in oil flavoring vegetables with meat improvising and relying on their senses to determine whether food was appropriately seasoned and thoroughly cooked For example whether a cake was done could be determined by listening to the sound made by the cake pan Wonderful dishes were created ...

Article

Mary Krane Derr

blues bar owner and talent promoter, was born Theresa McLaurin in Meridian, Lauderdale County, Mississippi. She was the only child of Will and Minnie McLaurin, both natives of Mississippi. Needham's birth year is commonly given as 1912, but it was 1911 according to the Social Security Death Index. As a young girl, she was baptized as a Roman Catholic. The 1920 U.S. Census recorded her as living in Meridian with her uncle, aunt, and cousin. The 1930 Census noted her recent marriage to Robert Needham, then a bricklayer. They had a son together, Robert Needham Jr. Theresa Needham's educational history is unclear, but, according to this census report, she reached adulthood knowing how to read and write.

After World War II Needham and her family joined the large number of African Americans who migrated from the Mississippi River Delta to Chicago s South Side in search of ...

Article

Robert Maxon

Kenyan herbalist, cook, farmer, and the paternal grandfather of US President Barack Obama, was born in Kanyadhiang near Kendu Bay on Lake Victoria in what is now Rachuonyo District in Kenya’s Nyanza Province. Onyango’s grandfather, Opiyo, had moved to the Kendu Bay region from Alego, north of the Nyanza Gulf, earlier in the nineteenth century in search of more and better land than was available to the family in Alego.

From an early age Onyango was characterized by a seriousness of purpose and a wanderlust His wandering off on his own and desire to learn led to study with specialists to become an herbalist Onyango s curiosity and thirst for knowledge also led him to leave his home for the port town of Kisumu Colonial rule was not established in the Kendu Bay area until some five years after the transfer of Nyanza Province from Uganda to the East Africa ...

Article

Shennette Garrett-Scott

the first African American McDonald's restaurant franchisee, was born on August 10, 1935, in Chicago. Petty was educated in local schools on the South Side of Chicago, went into the military after graduating high school, and received a degree from Roosevelt University. After high school, Petty opened his own barbershop in the Stony Island neighborhood. For six years in the late 1960s, he worked as a barber by day and for the Chicago Transit Authority at night to save enough money to buy a McDonald's restaurant.

In 1968 Petty became the first African American to own a McDonald s franchise restaurant He overcame the daunting challenges of not only raising enough capital to open a restaurant about $150 000 in 1960s dollars but also running one in an inner city neighborhood Two white investors approached Petty about taking over a white owned restaurant in Chicago s inner ...

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Yvonne L. Hughes

restaurant owner and chef, was born Willie Mae Johnson in Hinds County, Mississippi, outside of Crystal Springs, the only child of Zella Moncure and Oscar Johnson, farmers. Seaton grew up immersed in a rich southern tradition of hand-me-down, unwritten recipes and culinary techniques. She described her southern upbringing in an interview with Carol Wilkinson for the Observer Food Monthly in 2006. “I'm a country girl,” she said. “We used to raise a little cotton, corn, peanut, potatoes and all kinds of vegetables. We'd get it out and fix it up good and then peddle it in Jackson, the state capital. I learnt to cook in my mother's kitchen and I've been cooking all my life. We had a stove kitchen with a warm-up on top and those old iron pots” (Wilkinson).

At the young age of seventeen, she married L. S. Seaton a Mississippi sharecropper ...