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David Michel

pastor and religious leader, was born somewhere in the South; however, little is known about his early and adult life. He never went to school but managed to educate himself and learned both Hebrew and Yiddish. He also worked as a seaman, during which time he traveled all over the world. While overseas he claimed to have been appointed a prophet by God. He moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and founded the Church of God (Black Jews) in 1915. He probably married and fathered at least one child, Benjamin Cherry.

Cherry maintained that blacks, whom he also called Jews or Hebrews, descended from the Jews of the Bible, with Jacob as the father of all black people. Cherry was not the first African American to claim a Jewish ancestry for blacks. In 1896William S. Crowdy had founded the Church of God and Saints of Christ viewing its ...

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Eric W. Petenbrink

political theorist, was born Haywood Hall in South Omaha, Nebraska, the youngest of three children of Haywood Hall, a factory worker and janitor, and Harriet Thorpe Hall. When he was fifteen, racist violence in Omaha prompted the family to move to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Hall soon dropped out of school and began working as a railroad dining car waiter. In 1915 the family moved to Chicago, Illinois, to be near extended family, and Hall enlisted in the military in 1917. He served in World War I for a year as part of an all-black unit in France, where he grew accustomed to the absence of racism. Hall married his first wife, Hazel, in 1920, but the marriage lasted only a few months. In spite of their lengthy separation, they did not officially divorce until 1932.

Hall s experiences in World War I and defending ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

U.S. naval officer and submarine commander, was born in Monticello, Florida, one of nine children of John and Mary Isom. The farm the Isoms lived on consisted of sixty-eight acres, a portion of which was once sharecropped by Roger's grandfather. His father was an army veteran, as were six of his siblings. Ironically, when his mother asked Roger early on to consider attending the U.S. Naval Academy, he flatly refused. However, Isom later noted that “when my turn came to join the Army, I looked at the Navy instead, partly to compete with my older brother, and just to be different. I went to the Navy recruiter and said what can you do for me, I want to be an astronaut” (author's interview, 4 Mar. 2007). He subsequently enlisted in the navy in June 1983.

From his earliest navy days Isom both aspired to and was ...

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Carl E. Meacham

railroad fireman and union activist, was born Matt Meacham in the township of Springfield, Greene County, Alabama, the fifth of seven children of Anthony Meacham, an ex-slave and farmer, and Hazel Cooks, also a farmer. Almost five years old when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863, Anthony became a sharecropper in Greene County, but relocated, following a racially motivated financial dispute with the landowner, to nearby Pickens County about 1915. A defining moment in Meacham's life, it influenced his decision to confront the pervasive racism in the railroad industry in the 1940s.

Meacham's odyssey began at seventeen in July 1922 Like thousands of poorly educated yet ambitious rural Alabama black youths in the 1920s he migrated to the thriving small city of Tuscaloosa seeking a better life and in the process assumed a new surname Mitchell Hired as a coal heaver on the ...

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John Herschel Barnhill

sailor, was born on Union Island, St. Vincent, British West Indies, the son of a shipbuilder. As a child he attended St. Vincent Grammar School because his father wanted him to be an engineer. Mulzac himself wanted to be a sailor, a desire that became a passion when his father took him to visit HMS Good Hope in Kingston, Jamaica.

On completing grammar school Mulzac sailed as a seaman on the schooner Sunbeam, captained by his brother John. He subsequently sailed on a Norwegian ship from Barbados through the Caribbean and the Atlantic, again as a seaman. When the ship's captain invited Mulzac to church with him in Wilmington, North Carolina, Mulzac encountered his first taste of segregation when the sexton directed him to the black church some blocks away.

Mulzac received his training at Swansea Nautical College in South Wales and in New York City He ...

Article

Ian Rocksborough-Smith

civil rights, peace, and social justice organizer, and writer, was born Hunter Pitts O'Dell on the west side of Detroit, Michigan. Jack's parents were George Edwin O'Dell and Emily (Pitts) O'Dell. His father was a hotel and restaurant worker in Detroit who later owned a restaurant in Miami, Florida. His mother had studied music at Howard University and became an adult education teacher, a classical and jazz pianist, and an organist for Bethel AME Church in Detroit. His grandfather, John H. O'Dell, was a janitor in the Detroit Public Library system and a member of the Nacirema Club, which was a club for prominent African American Detroiters. Jack O'Dell later took his grandfather's signature, “J.H. O'Dell” as his nom de plume when he became a writer.

Raised by his paternal grandparents O Dell grew up during the Great Depression and witnessed the sit down ...

Article

Adam W. Green

football player, lawyer, and business executive, was born to Lawrence C. Perry, a dentist, and Lillian Bass Perry, a homemaker, in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Perry's father set an example for his children with not only professional but also civic success, running a prominent dental practice and serving as a member of the city's board of education.

The youngest of four children, Lowell attended Ypsilanti High School, where he played quarterback on the football team, receiving All-State honors in 1948. After graduating in 1949 Perry attended the University of Michigan his father s alma mater As an ROTC cadet majoring in history with an eye toward law Perry found triumph in athletics running track and playing for the Wolverines football team In his sophomore year Perry played both sides of the ball as offensive end and safety helping Michigan to the Big Ten Championship and a ...

Article

Burgsbee L. Hobbs

merchant mariner who was interned in the Nazi concentration camp system, was born in San Pedro de Macoris, in the Dominican Republic, to Alfred and Marie Louise Illidge Romney. He was of African and Dutch ancestry, and later immigrated to the United States; in the 1980s, he applied for citizenship.

The extremist, racist policies of Nazi Germany during the period 1933–1945 frequently extended to both its own black populace and prisoners of war. African Europeans and nationals living in occupied African territories were also singled out for persecution. In some cases, captive black soldiers were first segregated from white soldiers and then summarily executed. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, in addition to European blacks, blacks from the Americas were also detained in the Nazi concentration camp system (Carr, 47).

Romney whose surname has also been recorded erroneously as Rommney Taylor and Rombley War was one such ...

Article

A. J. Peluso

deckhand, scowman, sailor, and marine artist, was born in Mobile, Alabama, the son of Nelson Selby and Margaret Hicks, occupations unknown. Nothing more is known of Selby's family, and little is known about his youth. By 1905, as a child of twelve, he was employed as a deckhand working the ships in Mobile Bay—schooners from ports around the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. One day his leg was mangled in a snapped towline and had to be amputated. In spite of the loss he managed to engage successfully in various manual and unskilled jobs and earn a precarious living.

Selby spent some of his early working years in Baltimore Maryland as a scowman for the Atlantic Transport Line Even with a peg leg he could climb a rope ladder as deftly as anyone without his disability Nor did the work of scowman suppress ...

Article

Marie Shear

the first black flight attendant of either sex for a U.S. airline and an activist, was born Ruth Carol Taylor in Boston, Massachusetts, the older of two children of Ruth Irene Powell, a registered nurse, and William Edison Taylor, a barber and farmer, who lived in nearby Cambridge.

After several years in New York City, the family moved to a farm in Trumansburg, in upstate New York, where Taylor grew up. She attended Elmira College for Women in Elmira, New York, and New York University in New York City, became a registered nurse in 1955 upon graduation from the Bellevue Schools of Nursing at New York University, and practiced nursing for the next three years.

With the nation s airlines under pressure to break the color line Taylor became one of about eight hundred Negro girls interviewed by Mohawk Airlines a regional carrier based in Ithaca New York ...

Article

National Football league player, teacher, and Chrysler automobile executive, was born on 18 April 1926 in LaMott, Pennsylvania, to Mahlon Triplett and Estella Triplett. His father was a postal clerk and his mother was a housemaid. Triplett lived in LaMott for his entire childhood, playing baseball, basketball, and football while attending Cheltenham High School. Triplett was accepted by Pennsylvania State University and made the football team starting line at the position of right halfback during his sophomore year in 1946. This made him the first black athlete to earn a varsity letter at Penn State. In November 1946 Penn State canceled a game with Miami University because Miami had told Penn State to “leave the negro players at home” (Sargent), referring to Triplett. Penn State would not tolerate such treatment of its players, black or white. In 1948 Penn State played to a 13 ...