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Charles Rosenberg

college president, activist for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA). Born Mary Rice in Harrisonburg, Virginia, she was the acknowledged daughter of confederate general John R. Jones and Malinda Rice, who was hired as a servant in his household at the age of seventeen in 1873. There appears to have been some enduring affection between Jones and Rice. He acknowledged paternity of Mary and her brother William, and his first wife, Sarah, ill and often confined to bed, asked to see the children and gave them presents. Mary Rice was raised in part by John Rice, Malinda's brother, and his wife Dolly. She also spent time in Jones's household, and after Sarah Jones died in 1879 the general bought a house for Malinda and her children The immediate neighborhood was racially mixed ...


Debbie Maudlin Cottrell

educator, was born in Farmville, Virginia, the daughter of Tazewell Branch, a former slave who served in the Virginia legislature and worked as a shoemaker and tax collector, and Harriett Lacey, a domestic worker. Although she learned to read at home, Branch began her quest for formal education when she was thirteen. Because her mother did laundry for students and teachers at State College in Farmville, Branch often made trips to the school to pick up or deliver clothes; in time she herself became a maid in the college library. Exposed for the first time to a wide variety of books and knowledge, she was determined to obtain her own education. Within a few years she had earned a high school diploma from the normal school of Virginia State College, a land-grant college for black students in Petersburg, where she also took teacher education classes.

Eager to share her ...


Peter C. Murray

college president and lay Methodist Church leader, was born James Phillip Brawley in Lockhart, Texas, the son of Thomas H. Brawley and Emma Storey. Despite being born in the Jim Crow era, Brawley received a college education, graduating from Samuel Houston College in 1920. He did graduate work at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University, where he received his MA in Religious Education in 1925 and his PhD in Education in 1941.

Brawley took his first teaching position in 1922 at Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi, a school founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church's Freedmen's Aid Society following the Civil War. He moved from Rust College to Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1925 where he taught education and religious education Clark College was another Freedmen s Aid Society school that had traditionally emphasized the training of ministers and teachers Brawley became the college ...


Boyd Childress

white soldier, minister, educator, and administrator. Horace Bumstead was a pivotal figure in the education of African Americans at the turn of the twentieth century. Born in Boston to well-to-do parents, Bumstead was educated at Boston Latin School and Yale, from which he graduated in 1863. He was commissioned as a major during the Civil War and commanded black troops serving in the Richmond and Petersburg campaigns in 1864 and 1865. After the war Bumstead graduated from Andover (Massachusetts) Theological Seminary in 1870, studied in Europe, married in 1872, and served a Congregationalist church in Minneapolis. In 1875 he joined his Yale classmate Edmond Asa Ware at Atlanta University to teach natural science and Latin; he was named interim president in 1886 and president in 1888.

Bumstead an advocate of industrial instruction as well as of traditional higher education for blacks ...


Huel D. Perkins

Joseph Samuel Clark was born in Bienville Parish near Sparta, Louisiana, the son of Phillip and Jane Clark. His early schooling occurred near his birthplace, through the assistance of whites, while he maintained his share of the family responsibilities. Between 1891 and 1895, Clark studied in the preparatory department of Coleman College, Gibsland, Louisiana, working his way through school. He matriculated at Bishop College in Marshall, Texas, but received no degree. From 1896 to 1901 he attended Leland College in New Orleans, Louisiana, from which he received a B.A. degree in 1901. Additional studies resulted in an M.A. from Selma University in Alabama (1913) and honorary Ph.D. degrees from Leland College, Louisiana, (1914) and Arkansas Baptist College (1921). He did postgraduate study at Harvard University, in Massachusetts, and the University of Chicago, in Illinois.

Clark involved himself in several organizations ...


Lisa E. Rivo

anthropologist, educator, and college president, was born Johnnetta Betsch in Jacksonville, Florida, the second of three children to Mary Frances Lewis, an English teacher, and John Thomas Betsch Sr., an insurance executive. Johnnetta grew up in one of Florida's most prominent African American families; her great-grandfather, Abraham Lincoln Lewis, co-founded the Afro-American Life Insurance Company, Florida's first insurance company. An ambitious and civic-minded businessman, Lewis established several black institutions, including the colored branch of the public library, the Lincoln Golf and Country Club, and the seaside resort known as American Beach, the only beach allowing blacks in north Florida. Johnnetta's childhood was shaped by competing influences: her supportive family and community, and the racist attitudes and institutions of the Jim Crow South. Educated in segregated public and private schools, Johnnetta credits the influence of her teachers and her family friend Mary McLeod Bethune with encouraging her ...


Rose C. Thevenin

college president and educator, was born in Augusta, Georgia, to Madison Jordan Collier and Frances (Tyler) Collier. He attended Georgia public schools and worked with his father as a brick mason. Graduating from Ware High School in 1887, he first found work as an apprentice at the Georgia Baptist Printing Office. In 1890 Collier enrolled at Atlanta University, where he met his lifelong friend and college roommate, James Weldon Johnson. Upon graduating from Atlanta University with honors in 1894, Collier was offered a summer teaching position at the Georgia State Industrial College. Instead, he accepted a position as principal and chair of ancient languages at Florida Baptist Academy. Rooted in the Baptist tradition, Florida Baptist was founded in 1892 by the Reverend Matthew Gilbert, the Reverend J. T. Brown, and Sarah Blocker in Jacksonville, Florida. By 1896 the academy s financial and administrative ...


Alexander J. Chenault

was born in Bedford Hills, New York, to Miss Lula F. Cook. She attended school in the suburbs of New York City and then went south for college. Mattie graduated from Virginia State College (now Virginia State University) and received her master's degree in education from Teachers College of Columbia University.

She married Wilbur Cook and had a son, Louis, and daughter, Allyson. Like many black women of her day, Cook chose to become a teacher. She worked first as a New York City Public School teacher and later as a curriculum staffer. Following the birth of her two children, she began working in early childhood education. She worked in Harlem, as the director of the Addie Mae Collins Day Care Center. The center was named after Addie Mae Collins one of the four young children killed by a terrorist bomb at the 16th Baptist Street Church ...


Eric Gardner

educator and journalist, was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, the son of William Corbin and Susan, both Virginia-born former slaves. Corbin's parents eventually settled in Cincinnati to raise their family of twelve children. Corbin attended school sporadically because of economic circumstances (one of his classmates was John Mercer Langston), though his family emphasized education. In the late 1840s Corbin and his older sister Elizabeth moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where their father had family. Both lived with the Reverend Henry Adams, the pastor of the black First Baptist Church. Though the 1850 census takers listed him as a cook, Corbin taught at least some of the time in a school supported by Adams.

Thirsty for further education, Corbin traveled north to Ohio University, where he earned a BA in 1853 and an MA in 1856 He settled in Cincinnati worked as a bank messenger and steward gained prominence ...


Tom W. Dillard

Joseph Carter Corbin was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, on March 26, 1833, of free parents, William and Susan Corbin. By attending several small schools he secured a basic education, and in 1850 he entered Ohio University, of Athens, Ohio. He received his bachelor's degree in 1853 and his master's in 1856. Before receiving his graduate degree, Corbin had accepted employment with a bank in Cincinnati, Ohio. Later, he taught at a school in Louisville, Kentucky. During the Civil War (1861–1865) Corbin edited a Cincinnati newspaper, the Colored Citizen. In 1866 he married Mary Jane Ward. The couple had six children, only two of whom survived their father.

Corbin and his family moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1872, where he worked as a reporter for the Republican Party newspaper, the Daily Republican Like many other African Americans of that day ...


Melvin D. Kennedy

Crogman was born in Philipsburg on Saint Martin, Leeward Islands, on May 5, 1841. Little is known of his first few years except that he was never a slave. He was orphaned at twelve and shortly thereafter was befriended by B. L. Boomer, of a New England shipowning family. Boomer took young Crogman to his home in Middleboro, Massachusetts. In 1855, at the age of fourteen, Crogman began an eleven-year career at sea on one of the Boomer ships. During this period he visited many ports in Europe, India, and South America. These experiences had a profound effect on the keenly observant young man.

With Boomer's encouragement Crogman began preparations in 1866 to secure an education Two years later he entered Pierce Academy in Middleboro He completed with distinction the four year course in English French and bookkeeping in half the time normally required His ...


Mathias Hanses

sailor and classics professor, political activist and first black president of Atlanta's Clark University, was born on St. Martin's in the Caribbean, the son of William Crogman, Sr. and Charlotte Chippendale. A small tropical island in the West Indies' northern Leewards, St. Martin's was occupied jointly by two colonial powers in William Crogman's childhood days, and its sugar plantations had kept slave labor alive. While the French in the North abolished the “peculiar institution” in 1848, the Dutch in the South followed suit only in 1863 Observing slavery intact may have alerted young Crogman to the necessity of serving his race while the reality of at least a partial abolition increased his confidence that even the most adverse circumstances could be overcome However before an ambitious intellectual career catapulted W H Crogman to the top of the African American Talented Tenth he would roam the world ...


Leslie R. James

was born at Phillipsburg, St. Maarten, in the Dutch West Indies, on 5 May 1841. He was the son of William and Charlotte Chippendale Crogman, both of whom had died by the time he was 14.

The year 1855 proved to be momentous in Crogman’s life. The young orphan was befriended by B. L. Boomer, member of a New England shipping family, who took Crogman to live at his Middleboro, Massachusetts, home where he attended a nearby district school. The same year, Crogman began an eleven-year career as a seaman on one of the Boomer ships through which he gained widespread experience and saved money to further his education. The observations he accumulated through visits to major world ports in Asia, Australia, Europe, and South America broadened his horizons and influenced him immensely.

At the end of his mercantile travels, Crogman entered Massachusetts’s Pierce Academy in 1868 He ...


Charles Rosenberg

teacher and university president, was born in Ettrick, Virginia, near Petersburg, where his father was secretary of Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute, later renamed Virginia State University. He was the sixth child of Charles James and Carrie Green Daniel, both born of free parents in Virginia, who devoted their life to education. His older siblings were Vattel Elbert, Sadie Iola, Charles James Jr., William Andrew, and Carrie Ora. There were two younger children, Manilla Corrine and Walter Green Daniel.

Daniel's father was descended from Lucy Langston, a woman of African and Native American descent, for thirty years the common‐law wife of Ralph Quarles, a landowner who freed Langston before the birth of their children. One of those children was Daniel's great‐grandmother Maria, who married a man enslaved to her father, and received title as a wedding present; another was John Mercer Langston ...


David Borsvold

architect, teacher. and education administrator, was born in Belvoir, Chatham County, North Carolina, one of six children of William Gaston Snipes, a white farmer, and Mary Foushee Edwards, a black homemaker and farm worker. Some uncertainty exists as to Edwards's precise year of birth, with contradictory U.S. Census records allowing for a birth date sometime between 1874 and 1879. Census records show that his parents were legally registered as living side by side on different land parcels, because interracial marriage was illegal in North Carolina during this time. Edwards's earliest education was given at home and at local schools, and he worked during the evenings as a barber and a farmhand to help support the family.

Edwards earned enough money to attend Agricultural & Mechanical College for the Colored Race (now known as North Carolina A&T State University) at Greensboro in 1896 After amassing sufficient ...


Jerry Gershenhorn

educator, was born in Sandersville, Georgia, the son of Thomas J. Elder, an educator, and Lillian Phinizy. Thomas Elder founded and served as principal of Sandersville Industrial School (later Thomas J. Elder High and Industrial School) for fifty-three years; his wife served as his assistant. Alfonso's early education was at his father's school.

Elder earned an AB from Atlanta University in 1921, from which he graduated magna cum laude. A fellowship from the General Education Board helped him earn his MS from Teachers College at Columbia University in 1924, and he went on to graduate work at the University of Chicago in the summers of 1930 and 1931 and studied at Cambridge University in England. Elder earned an EdD from Teachers College in 1938.

Elder began his teaching career at Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he taught mathematics from 1921 to 1922 ...


Raymond Pierre Hylton

minister, author, and educator, was born near Burgess in Northumberland County, Virginia, to Robert, a fisherman, and Maggie Ellison, a homemaker. Coming from an impoverished background, he received a rudimentary education and had to work at age fourteen as a farm laborer earning seven dollars per month. His first stroke of good fortune occurred in 1906 when he entered the Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute (later Virginia State College and still later Virginia State University) in Ettrick, Virginia. Getting into Virginia Union University in Richmond was not so easy; there was initial skepticism on the part of its president, Dr. George Rice Hovey, who saw no academic promise in the young man. In 1909 Hovey reluctantly admitted Ellison to the Wayland Academy (as Virginia Union's high school program was then called), and he then went on to the collegiate undergraduate program, graduating in 1917 ...


Twinette L. Ackerson

educator, activist, and lawyer, was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, one of five children. Francis's father, Joseph A. Francis, a barber who owned his own business, was known around town as “Mr. Joe the Barber.” Though his father and mother, a homemaker, provided the necessities for their children, they were considered poor for the times. In what could be considered a foreshadowing of Francis's lifelong career path, his parents believed strongly in the benefits and importance of education for their children. They expressed that belief by sending their children to Catholic schools and making sure they kept up with their studies.

Francis attended Saint Paul Catholic High School in Lafayette, Louisiana. He was the class president and valedictorian. After graduating from Saint Paul in 1948, Francis entered Xavier University of New Orleans. In 1952 he earned his BA degree from Xavier and enrolled in Loyola ...


Thomas D. Pawley

Born October 31, 1870, on a farm in Oktibbeha County, Mississippi, 10 km (6 mi) south of Starkville, Gandy was the fifth of thirteen children born to Horace and Mary (Goodwin) Gandy, freed slaves and tenant farmers. His paternal grandfather, Ed Gandy, had come to the United States from Ireland following the potato famine of the 1830s, settling first in South Carolina, later in Alabama, and finally in Mississippi. His maternal grandmother was of mixed French, Native American, and black origin. Given the middle name Mumphis, which he disliked, he later changed it to Manuel. His mother, whose gentle nature contrasted with his father's, exerted a great influence on him.

Like so many other blacks during this period Horace and Mary Gandy were trapped by the economic servitude imposed on them by the tenant farmer system In an effort to escape the unending cycle of debt ...


Crystal A. deGregory

president of Morehouse College, was born in the small West Tennessee community of Brownsville, the eldest of four children born to John R. and Dora Gloster. Both parents were teachers by profession, and his father attended Roger Williams University, one of four Nashville colleges established for the education of freedmen after the Civil War. However, the family found life in Brownsville plagued by intolerable lynching and relocated to Memphis in 1915. While the age difference between Gloster and his siblings made his childhood experiences akin to that of an only child, his parents stressed the value of education for all their children. After studying at the Howe Institute, Gloster received a junior diploma from LeMoyne College (later LeMoyne-Owen College), also in Memphis. As had his older brothers, Gloster attended Morehouse College, where he received a BA in 1931 in English Two years later he was awarded an ...