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Mamie E. Locke

abolitionist, poet, and lecturer, was born in Gallipolis, Ohio. His parents' identities are unknown. At age sixteen, in 1842, he moved to Cincinnati. While there, in 1848, he married Louisiana Sanderlin (or Sanderline), with whom he had several children. He also learned the plastering trade from his brother-in-law, George Knight. Bell worked as a plasterer during the day and attended Cincinnati High School for Colored People at night. Founded in 1844 by Reverend Hiram S. Gilmore, the school had a connection to Oberlin College and was said to have given impetus to the sentiment found in Uncle Tom's Cabin and the cause of human freedom. Through his studies Bell was thoroughly indoctrinated into the principles of radical abolitionism.

In 1854 Bell moved his family to Chatham Ontario Canada feeling that he would be freer under the authority of the British government While ...

Article

The son of a Kentucky plantation slave and a state senator, Henry Walton Bibb was born a slave in Kentucky. His repeated attempts to escape bondage were successful in 1842 when he fled to Detroit, Michigan. By then his first wife, whom he married in 1833 and with whom he had a daughter, had been sold again. Bibb turned his energies to abolitionism.

In 1850 Bibb published his autobiography, Narrative of the Life and Adventures of an American Slave. That same year Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Laws, which forced him and his second wife to flee to Canada. A leader of the African American community there, Bibb founded the first black newspaper in Canada, Voice of the Fugitive, in 1851.

See also Abolitionism in the United States; Slave Narratives.

Article

Claire Strom

Brown, Hallie Quinn (10 March 1849–16 September 1949), educator, elocutionist, and entertainer, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Thomas Arthur Brown, a steward and express agent on riverboats, and Frances Jane Scroggins. Both her parents were former slaves. When Hallie was fourteen years old she moved with her parents and five siblings to Chatham, Ontario, where her father earned his living farming, and the children attended the local school. There Brown’s talents as a speaker became evident. Returning to the United States around 1870, the family settled in Wilberforce, Ohio, so that Hallie and her younger brother could attend Wilberforce College, a primarily black African Methodist Episcopal (AME) institution.

In 1873 Brown received her B S from Wilberforce The next year she began her work as a lecturer and reciter for the Lyceum a traveling educational and entertainment program She would continue both of these ...

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Alonford James Robinson

Hallie Brown was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to former slaves Thomas Arthur Brown and Frances Jane Scroggins Brown. She graduated from Wilberforce University in 1873 becoming a prominent educator and activist for civil rights and women s rights She held several positions in institutions of higher learning ...

Article

Lisa E. Rivo

elocutionist, educator, women's and civil rights leader, and writer, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Thomas Arthur Brown, a riverboat steward and express agent, and Frances Jane Scroggins, an educated woman who served as an unofficial adviser to the students of Wilberforce University. Thomas Brown was born into slavery in Frederick County, Maryland, the son of a Scottish woman plantation owner and her black overseer. Brown purchased his freedom and that of his sister, brother, and father. By the time of the Civil War, he had amassed a sizable amount of real estate. Hallie's mother, Frances, was also born a slave, the child of her white owner. She was eventually freed by her white grandfather, a former officer in the American Revolution.

Both of Hallie's parents became active in the Underground Railroad. Around 1864 the Browns and their six children moved to Chatham Ontario where ...

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Vivian Njeri Fisher

Brown proclaimed, “Full citizenship must be given the colored woman because she needs the ballot for her protection and that of her children.” Brown was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the fifth of six children of Thomas Arthur Brown and Frances (Scroggins) Brown. A former slave from Frederick County, Maryland, Thomas Brown had purchased his freedom in 1834. Frances Brown, a native of Winchester County, Virginia, was freed by her white grandfather, who was her owner and an officer in the American Revolution. When Hallie was born, her father was a riverboat steward and express agent, traveling from Pittsburgh, where he owned a considerable amount of real estate prior to the Civil War, and worked actively with the Underground Railroad in assisting fugitive slaves to freedom.

Thomas Brown moved his family to Chatham, Ontario, in 1864 because of his wife s poor health and to begin farming ...

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Alice Knox Eaton

slave narrator, novelist, playwright, historian, and abolitionist leader, was born in Lexington, Kentucky, the son of a slave mother, Elizabeth, and George Higgins, the white half-brother of Brown's first master, Dr. John Young. As a slave, William was spared the hard labor of his master's plantation, unlike his mother and half-siblings, because of his close blood relation to the slave-holding family, but as a house servant he was constantly abused by Mrs. Young. When the family removed to a farm outside St. Louis, Missouri, William was hired out in various capacities, including physician's assistant, servant in a public house, and waiter on a steamship. William's “best master” in slavery was Elijah P. Lovejoy, publisher of the St. Louis Times, where he was hired out in the printing office in 1830 Lovejoy was an antislavery editor who would be murdered seven years later for refusing ...

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Connie Park Rice

newspaper editor and civil rights lawyer, was born in Williamsport, Virginia (later West Virginia), the youngest of three sons born to Isaac Clifford, a farmer, and Mary Satilpa Kent, free blacks living in Hardy County. John Robert joined the Union army on 3 March 1865, rising to the rank of corporal in the 13th U.S. Heavy Artillery. After serving in Kentucky, Tennessee, and eastern Virginia under General Ulysses S. Grant, Clifford volunteered for service at Chicago, Illinois.

After the Civil War, Clifford remained in Chicago, staying from 1865 to 1868 with the Honorable John J. Healy, an acquaintance of his father, and graduating from Chicago High School. Clifford worked as a barber before going to live with an uncle in Zeno, Muskingum County, Ohio, where he attended a school taught by Miss Effie McKnight and received a diploma from a writing school conducted by a Professor ...

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Erica Tempesta

was born into slavery in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The 1880 Census lists a Mary V. Buckner, of Bowling Green, as the daughter of Richard Buckner, a laborer, and Ellen Buckner, a housekeeper. It is not known how Cook came to be known as Mary Cook. A strategic site in the Civil War, at the time of Cook’s birth Bowling Green had only recently been recovered from Confederate control. Though the city had been staunchly pro-Union before the war, sectional struggle, as well as the federal government’s interventions in the aftermath of the war, increased white Kentuckians’ sympathy for the Confederacy.

In this turbulent environment, a young Cook earned recognition for her academic performance, winning citywide competitions for spelling and reading. Her intelligence attracted admirers and patrons, including the Reverend Stumm, who engaged her to teach at the newly founded Bowling Green Academy in 1881; and eventually Dr. William J ...

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Alma Jean Billingslea Brown

civil rights activist, educator, and motivational speaker, was born Dorothy Lee Foreman, one of four girls of Maggie Pelham and Claude Foreman, a laborer, in Goldsboro, North Carolina. After graduating from Dillard High School in Goldsboro, she was encouraged by one of her high school English teachers to enroll at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she began her undergraduate education. Along with several other jobs she took to enable her education at Shaw, Dorothy worked as the housekeeper for the president of the institution, Robert Prentiss Daniel, and his wife, Blanche Daniel. Because the couple had no children and because of Cotton's efficiency as a worker, in 1950 when Robert Daniel became president of Virginia State College in Petersburg, Cotton, who had become part housekeeper and part daughter, accompanied the couple and completed her education at Virginia State.

Cotton earned an AB degree in 1954 ...

Article

Lovalerie King

Born 24 September 1948 in New York City to Richard Hill and Mae De Veaux, Alexis De Veaux received a BA from Empire State College in 1976. She earned both an MA (1989) and a PhD (1992) at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

An internationally recognized author, De Veaux has published her work in English, Spanish, Japanese, Serbo-Croatian, and Dutch. She has lectured and performed across the United States, as well as abroad in Kenya (1985 NGO Forum, Nairobi), Holland (Melkweg International Women's Festival, Amsterdam), Cuba (UNEAC Writers Union, Havana), and Japan (Tokyo Joshi Women's University, Tokyo; Black Studies Association, Osaka). Her published works include six books (Na-Ni, 1973; Spirits in the Street, 1973; Don’t Explain: A Song of Billie Holiday, 1980; Blue Heat: Poems and Drawings, 1985; An Enchanted Hair ...

Article

Frank R. Levstik

Thomas J. Ferguson was born on September 15, 1830, in Essex County, Virginia, the son of freeborn parents of mixed blood. Little is known of his early years, but it is recorded that by the 1850s he resided in Cincinnati, Ohio. There, Ferguson became an active member of the Masonic order, serving as junior warden of the Cincinnati lodge in 1859 and 1860. During 1859 he moved to Albany, in Athens County, Ohio, where he became a landowner and enrolled as a student at the integrated Albany Manual Labor University. Four years later, he was a leader in establishing the Albany Enterprise Academy in Ohio. Ferguson served on the first board of trustees of the school.

The Enterprise Academy opened its doors to students in 1864, following an appropriation from the Freedmen's Bureau and private gifts from individuals such as Union general Otis Oliver Howard ...

Article

Adah Ward Randolph

educator, politician, activist, pastor, author, and Masonic leader, was born in Essex County, Virginia, to free parents of mixed white and black ancestry. In 1831 Virginia outlawed the education of free blacks, and many of them migrated to other states, including Ohio. The Act of 1831 may account for the migration of Ferguson's family to Cincinnati, which Ferguson listed as his home when he attended Albany Manual Labor Academy (AMLA) in Albany, Ohio. While it is unclear how Ferguson attained an elementary education, the Albany Manual Labor University records list T. J. Ferguson of Cincinnati as a student in the collegiate department during the 1857–1859 academic year. James Monroe Trotter, veteran of the Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Regiment and musicologist, also attended AMLA. Incorporated as a university in 1853 Albany Manual Labor University AMLU offered an integrated education which accepted students regardless of color ...

Article

Kelly J. Baker

Abby Kelley was born in Pelham, Massachusetts, to parents of Irish-Quaker descent. She graduated from a Friends' school in Rhode Island in 1829 and became a teacher. In 1836 she moved to Lynn, Massachusetts, for a teaching position. While in Lynn, Kelley became involved with the Lynn Female Society, an antislavery organization for women. She quickly gained positions as secretary and eventually as director of the organization. Kelley became involved in the abolitionist cause, and William Lloyd Garrison's attacks on slavery in particular impressed her. After hearing her speak at an antislavery meeting, Garrison and Theodore Dwight Weld encouraged Kelley to join the antislavery cause as a lecturer; in 1839 she left teaching to join the lecture circuit It is possible that she was the first woman after the Grimké sisters to speak before mixed audiences Kelley was scorned and mocked by many of her audiences ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

educator and nonprofit executive, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of William Foster and Ruth (Alexander) Foster, who were both missionaries in the Bahá’í faith. He was named after Badí’ (1852–1869), an important early Persian Bahá’í martyr whose Arabic name translates as “wonderfulness” in English. That William Foster was African American while Ruth Foster was white would have made their marriage illegal in most American states, though not Illinois, at the time their son was born. The couple met in the 1930s in Chicago through their common interest in radical, left-wing politics and gravitated toward the pluralistic Bahá’í faith, which teaches the unity of humankind and promotes racial and gender equality.

Badi Foster was raised on Chicago's South Side, where he was a Boy Scout patrol leader, enjoyed singing doo-wop, and earned extra money by selling Jet magazine When he was eleven Foster moved with his ...

Article

Tomeiko Ashford Carter

literary critic and Black Arts proponent, was born in Newport News, Virginia, the son of Addison Gayle Sr., a Communist Party spokesperson, and Carrie (Holloman) Gayle. Gayle was born during the Depression, and his parents divorced early in his life. Despite his mother's well-paying job at a nearby military base during World War II, Gayle and his immediate family remained well acquainted with poverty. He grew up in a black enclave and rarely saw whites. Still, he envied the apparent success that he believed all whites had.

In his autobiography Wayward Child: A Personal Odyssey, Gayle maintains that he was penalized by many of his high school teachers for being racially unmixed, poor, and seemingly arrogant. They despised him because he excelled on state exams and because he boasted about reading works by the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky and the African American writer Richard Wright Gayle ...

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Ruth Graham Siegrist

missionary, educator, social worker, and author was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the third child of the Rev. David Andrew Graham, a Methodist minister, and Etta Bell Graham. His father's pastorates took the family from New Orleans to Detroit, Indianapolis, Chicago, Nashville, Colorado Springs, and Spokane. Graham attended the University of Washington and the University of California at Los Angeles.

While a student at UCLA, Graham learned about the need for missionary teachers in Liberia, West Africa, and felt he was called there to serve. He left for Liberia in 1924 to teach at Monrovia College, a Christian boys' school.

Going to Africa changed Graham s life He realized he had gone with a false concept of what African people were like He decried the fact that all he had read or seen had described Africans in stereotypical terms as savages at best stupid and ...

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Anthony A. Lee

Born in Charleston, South Carolina during the era of Reconstruction, Louis Gregory was the son of Ebenezer George and a freed slave who was the daughter of her master. Widowed when her son was five, Gregory's mother was later married George Gregory, whose surname her son adopted. Louis Gregory attended Avery Institute in Charleston, graduating in 1891. He continued his studies at Fisk University, receiving his bachelor's degree in 1896. Gregory returned to Avery Institute as a teacher, but soon left teaching to study law at Howard University, graduating in 1902.

Gregory practiced law in Washington, D.C., until 1906, when he took a position in the U.S. Department of the Treasury. In 1909, he accepted the Baha'i faith as a result of his friendship with a white couple, Joseph and Pauline Hannen who held interracial Baha i meetings in ...

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Angelita D. Reyes

public lecturer, lawyer, and government administrator, was an early-twentieth-century champion or “race amity worker” for racial equality and social justice in America. A direct descendant of slavery, Louis George Gregory was born in Charleston, South Carolina. His mother, Mary Elizabeth, and his grandmother, Mary Bacot, had been enslaved on the George Washington Dargan plantation in Darlington, South Carolina. Louis Gregory stated that “my grandmother, wholly of African blood was without ceremony [Dargan's] slave [mistress] and my mother, his daughter” (Morrison, 12).

At an early age Gregory experienced racial oppression, poverty, and segregation. Gregory's father, Ebenezer George, died of tuberculosis in 1879, leaving Mary Elizabeth and her two sons, Louis and Theodore, in severe poverty. In 1885 Gregory s mother married George Gregory who became a devoted stepfather to Louis and his brother It is because of the older Gregory s support ...

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Mary Anne Boelcskevy

painter and civil rights activist, was born in Charleston, South Carolina. “Teddy,” as he was called, was one of six children of Edwin Gailliard Harleston and Louise Moultre. Harleston's father, born in 1852, was one of eight children of the white plantation owner William Harleston and his slave Kate. Edwin Gailliard Harleston had worked as a rice planter but returned to Charleston and his family's Laurel Street home in search of a better living for his-wife and children. There he ran a produce-transporting business for a few years and then brought his nickname “Captain” along when he left boating in 1896 to set up the Harleston Brothers Funeral Home with his brother Robert Harleston a former tailor The segregated funeral business meant they would have no competition from whites Most of Captain s sons were uninterested in joining the business after their uncle Robert left however ...