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Eric Gardner

author and educator, was born in Buffalo, New York, to abolitionist and author William Wells Brown and Elizabeth Schooner. The small family moved to Farmington, New York, in 1845. Her father, soon-to-be famous as the author of a successful slave narrative and an abolitionist lecturer, separated from her mother soon after, and moved to Boston with Josephine and her older sister Clarissa. Elizabeth Brown reportedly died in January 1851. During the years surrounding the 1847 publication of Brown's Narrative and his 1849 journey to Europe (after refusing to have his freedom purchased), the sisters stayed in New Bedford with the family of local activist Nathan Johnson (a friend of Frederick Douglass) and attended school.

Josephine and Clarissa went to London to join their father in June 1851 aboard the steamer America under the care of Reverend Charles Spear a journey they shared with ...

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Richard Alperin

teacher, coroner, scrivener, selectman, and justice of the peace, was born in New Market (now Newmarket), New Hampshire, the only child of Hopestill, a Portsmouth, New Hampshire, housewright, and Catherine Cheswell. The name is sometimes spelled “Cheswill.” Wentworth's grandfather, Richard Cheswell, a black slave in Exeter, New Hampshire, purchased twenty acres of land from the Hilton Grant after he gained his freedom. The deed, dated 18 October 1716/17 (the discrepancy arises from the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar) is the earliest known deed in the state of New Hampshire showing land ownership by a black man. The land was located in what was to become the town of Newmarket. Richard's only child, Hopestill (1712–? became a housewright and worked mostly in Portsmouth He took part in building the John Paul Jones House as well as other important houses Hopestill was active in local affairs and ...

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Yusuf Nuruddin

Harold Cruse (8 March 1916–20 March 2005), an iconoclastic social critic and a largely self-educated cultural historian, achieved distinction as the preeminent African American dissident public intellectual of the 1960s. Although he authored several books, his reputation rests largely on his monumental work The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual (1967), a flawed yet brilliant, imaginative, sweeping, and provocative polemic. A thematically united collection of essays, Crisis presents a withering assessment of the black intelligentsia for its self-defeating embrace of both liberal and radical integrationist politics, especially its involvement in the Communist Party, of which Cruse was once a member.

Within the Communist Party and other leftist organizations black political interests according to Cruse historically have been subordinated to white political interests including Jewish and white ethnic nationalisms As a remedy Cruse calls upon the black intelligentsia to abandon its bankrupt integrationist strategies and embrace its ...

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William E. Burns

, educator and philanthropist, was born Catherine Williams as her mother, Katy Williams, a slave, was in transit from Virginia to New York City. Nothing is known of her father. When she was only eight years old Katy was separated forever from her mother, who was sold by their master. She later credited her own compassion for children to the pain she suffered at the loss. Katy underwent a conversion experience at the age of fourteen or fifteen and shortly afterward, in 1789, joined New York's Scotch Presbyterian Church (later the Second Presbyterian Church), possibly causing some controversy among the white members of the church, which spatially separated white and black worshippers.

When Katy was sixteen or seventeen she was purchased by a New York woman for $200 The woman s plan was to allow Katy her freedom after six years work in compensation for the payment However ...

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David Bradford

guitarist, teacher, composer, arranger, and civil rights advocate, was born in Norfolk County, Virginia, to Exum Holland a farmer. His mother's name is not recorded.

Justin Holland recognized at an early age that rural Virginia offered few opportunities for an ambitious young African American. Born on a farm in Norfolk County to free parents in 1819, Holland was only fourteen when he set out for Boston. Massachusetts was the first state to abolish slavery (in 1783 and Boston had a small but comparatively thriving black population Holland found work that provided in his words a good living in nearby Chelsea and became immersed in the energetic cultural life of the city He had shown a knack for music from a young age but farm life provided little opportunity to develop musical talent Now inspired by the performances of Mariano Perez one of the ...

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Andy Gensler

bandleader, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and teacher, was probably born in Philadelphia to parents whose names are unknown. Early scholarship suggested he was born in Martinique in the West Indies. By 1812 he was known to be a professional musician in Philadelphia. While there is little historical record of Francis “Frank” Johnson's early life, it is known that three key figures helped young Francis hone his prodigious music skills: Matt Black, an African American bandleader from Philadelphia; P. S. Gilmore, “the father of the American band”; and Richard Willis, the director of the West Point military band.

That Johnson played many instruments is clear from a student's observations of his studio, which housed “instruments of all kinds…. Bass drum, bass viol, bugles and trombones” (A Gentleman of Much Promise: The Diary of Isaac Mickle, 1837–1845 196 While Johnson was an accomplished French horn ...

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Allan D. Austin

Muslim teacher who is variously known as Kibbe, Lamen Abd al-Amin, and Paul. Beyond two short notices in the African [Colonization Society's] Repository (1835) and a mention in a list of Liberian colonists, all that is known about Kebe was recorded by Theodore Dwight Jr., African Colonizationist and a founder and secretary of the American Ethnological Society.

Lamine Kebe was born into a prominent family of the influential Kaba, or Kebe, of the Jakhanke clan of the Soninke or Serahule people. These were the founders of ancient Ghana, according to some accounts, and, more conclusively, twelfth-century converts to Islam from an area near the bend of the Niger River in present-day Mali. A short history of his people by Kebe accurately but sketchily describes the migration of a pragmatic, dedicated Qāadirīya brotherhood of teachers of Islam toward Kebe's Futa Jallon (home of Bilali ...

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Leandi Venter, Hannah Heile, and Micaela Ginnerty

a former slave who helped facilitate the establishment of the first African American school in Virginia, which allowed for the formation of a thriving African American community bearing his name. Odrick was born into slavery and owned by the Coleman family of Dranesville, a district of Fairfax County located in northern Virginia. Little was documented about his life as a slave. However, it is known that immediately following his post–Civil War emancipation, Odrick moved to Chicago, Illinois. While in Chicago, Odrick employed his abilities as a carpenter, a trade he mastered during his enslavement. After his time in Chicago, Odrick returned to Virginia.

Once in Virginia, Odrick married “Maria” Annie Marie Riddle, who had also been born into slavery and had belonged to the Todd family of Difficult Run in northern Virginia. With Maria, Odrick started a family beginning with John, his eldest son, followed by Frank, Thadeus ...

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Barbara Bennett Peterson

educator and missionary, was born in slavery of unrecorded parentage. As a child Betsey was given by her owner, Robert Stockton, as a wedding gift to his daughter when she married the Reverend Ashbel Green, the president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). Most of Betsey Stockton's early life was passed as a slave domestic in the Green home at Princeton, except for four years that she spent with Green's nephew Nathaniel Todd when she was an adolescent. At Todd's she underwent a period of training intended to instill more piety in her demeanor, which had not been developed in the affectionate, indulgent Green household. Stockton returned to the Green home in 1816 and was baptized in the Presbyterian church at Princeton in 1817 or 1818 having given evidence through speech and deportment of her conversion to Christian ways At the time of ...

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Sholomo B. Levy

educator, minister, and legislator, was born in Corinth, Vermont, the son of Ichabod Twilight, a free African American farmer who served with the Second New Hampshire Regiment during the Revolutionary War, and Mary Twilight (whose maiden name is now unknown). Some historians believe that the name “Twilight” might have been chosen as an apt description of Ichabod Twilight's racial identity, which was somewhere between white and black—although legally he was black. Mary was probably also of mixed race, but she could have been a white woman who was described as “colored” in Corinth town records because she was married to a black man. Ichabod and Mary had started their family in Plattsburgh, New York, before moving first to Bradford, Vermont, in 1792 and then to Corinth in 1795 where they became the first black settlers in the township Alexander was the third of their six ...

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R. Iset Anuakan

preacher, teacher, and ex-slave, was born in Africa. Kidnapped and brought to America at age seven, the man later referred to alternately as “Uncle Jack” and “the African Preacher” was sold into slavery and resided in Nottoway County, Virginia. Very little is known of his early life, family, and exact place of origin before 1753 when he was purchased on the docks of the James River by a man named Stewart. He grew into manhood in Nottoway County, performing various plantation labors. At the age of forty, he encountered several missionaries who traveled throughout Virginia. They introduced him to tenets of the Bible, coaxing him in what would become his greatest vocation and earn him the title of “African Preacher.” Christianity's essential ideas of grace, salvation, and the resurrected life inspired him out of the despair and bleak condition of slavery.

Jack hungered to learn more and ...

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Eric Gardner

writer and educator, was born Frank Johnson Webb in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He may have been the son of Frank Webb, a china packer and community activist; his mother's name is not known. Little is known of Webb's life prior to his marriage to Mary Webb, whose maiden name is unknown, in 1845. Webb apparently lived on the fringes of Philadelphia's black elite, and he seems to have been related to the Forten family by marriage.

Webb and his wife worked in clothing-related trades, and he participated in the Banneker Institute, an African American literary and debating society. When their business failed around 1854, the Webbs attempted to move to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Webb was denied passage because of his race, and this event was reported in several abolitionist newspapers.

In the meantime Mary Webb began giving dramatic readings. Harriet Beecher Stowe noticed her and wrote ...

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Valerie Cunningham

teacher, was born Dinah Chase to an enslaved mother in the household of the Congregationalist minister in the tiny fishing village of New Castle, New Hampshire. Chase was emancipated upon reaching her twenty-first birthday. She moved to the adjacent shipbuilding and mercantile center of Portsmouth, and on 22 February 1781 she married an enslaved man of that city, known as Prince Whipple. At the time of Prince's death in 1797, they had seven children. By 1804 the young widow had established a school in her home for the education of Portsmouth's black children.

Dinah Whipple, as the child of an enslaved mother, had been born into slavery. She had later worked as a house servant, and in that capacity she acquired a variety of those skills required to maintain an efficient and gracious household. Her knowledge was useful in later years, when she married Prince Whipple ...