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Daniel Donaghy

was born into slavery in Roane County, East Tennessee. In his autobiography, My Own Life Story, Brown writes that his father was “at least seven-eighths Caucasian and possibly one-eighth Negro. His family record was never known by him or the general public.” His father worked as a carpenter, blacksmith, and utility man whose competence earned him the nickname “Handy.” He married Brown’s mother when she was seventeen. Brown noted that while she spoke little of religion in their home, she was a member of the Methodist church and believed that Jesus Christ was her personal savior. From an early age people called her “Aunt Clara” because her caring nature and service to those around her. Brown’s 1929 record of death lists his mother as Clarisa and his father as Handy Brown Clarisa gave birth to thirteen children only three of whom all boys were alive when Sterling Brown ...


Brandi Hughes

nurse, foreign missionary, and school founder, was born to Anna L. Delaney and Daniel Sharpe Delaney in Fernandina Beach, Florida. Emma Beard Delaney came of age in the postbellum generation that witnessed the collapse of Reconstruction and the fading of the early promise of African American emancipation. Against the rising tide of segregation and racial violence, however, Delaney's family managed to sustain a measure of economic security and educational advancement. Her father, Daniel, held the distinction of being the only African American helmsman commissioned for service on the Revenue Cutter Boutwell, a federal ship that patrolled the ports of Savannah, Georgia; Jacksonville, Florida; and Charleston, South Carolina, as a forerunner of the U.S. Coast Guard. The unique benefits of her father's government employment enabled the Delaney family to support an expansive education for Emma and her sister, Annie. In 1889 shortly after completing secondary classes ...


L. Diane Barnes

novelist, playwright, and Baptist minister. Dixon was born near the close of the Civil War near Shelby, North Carolina. The Dixon family, once a prominent southern family, was left penniless in the physical and economic devastation of the South after the war. Dixon's father, a Baptist minister, joined the Ku Klux Klan during Dixon's youth. Images of the riders in white sheets coming to save the white South had a lasting impression on Dixon. His belief that the Reconstruction era was one of history's supreme tragedies was a common theme in several of his novels and plays.

Dixon earned bachelor's and master's degrees in history from Wake Forest University, then pursued graduate work at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. There he befriended the future president Woodrow Wilson who was a few years ahead in his own graduate studies After a brief attempt at an acting career ...


Michele Valerie Ronnick

He was the son of David Henry Ferris (c. 1847–?) and Sara Jefferson Alexander Ferris (11 October 1847– May 1923) and the brother of Mabel Irene Ferris Williams (?–6 October 1924). His father was a Civil War veteran having joined Company E of the 20th Regiment of the US Colored Troops on 20 March 1865 when he was eighteen years old in New York. After studying at the Dixwell Avenue Grammar School, the Shelton Avenue and Gregory Street schools in New Haven, the thirteen-year-old Ferris entered the oldest public school in New Haven, the James Hillhouse School, and while there organized the De Yancey Guards, a colored boys’ militia group, which marched in New Haven’s Memorial Day Parade on 30 May 1888. After graduating from Hillhouse, he matriculated at Yale University in 1891 and earned his B.A. in 1895 having studied philosophy English ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


Steve Strimer

Methodist minister, abolitionist lecturer, and self-emancipated slave, was born to slave parents, Grace and Tony Kirkwood, at the Hawes plantation in Hanover county near Wilmington, North Carolina. About 1815 he was sold to a storekeeper from whom he took his surname. After his escape to Massachusetts, Jones became a tireless speaker on the antislavery circuit in New England. The principal source of information for his early life is his widely circulated slave narrative, The Experience of Thomas H. Jones, Who Was a Slave for Forty-Three Years. First published in 1850, his book went through at least nine printings.

Thomas succeeded in learning to read despite the disapproval of Mr. Jones, the storekeeper. Thomas was converted to Christianity around 1824. He attended services at a neighboring plantation against the objections of his irreligious owner. Upon Mr. Jones's death in 1829 Thomas began to ...


Yolanda L. Watson Spiva

educator and college president, was born Shirley Ann Redd in a coal mining camp in Winding Gulf, West Virginia, and largely reared by her father, Robert F. Redd, a high school teacher at Byrd Prilliman High School in the segregated school system, her grandmother Lottie Bell Redd, her great grandmother Eliza Yates, her paternal uncle “Uncle Bud” and another uncle, “Uncle Bruss.” She did not learn that Uncle Bruss was not really related to her by kinship, but instead by friendship and boarding ties, until she was an adult. All of these relatives resided together in Shirley's grandmother's home, a “company house” that she had acquired following the work-related death of her husband. Shirley's mother, Thelma Biggers Redd was born in Talcott West Virginia and worked as a housekeeper in the New York New Jersey area Shirley s parents divorced when she was ...


Louis J. Parascandola

poet and lecturer, was born in Rossmoyne, Ohio, the daughter of John Henry Thompson and Clara Jane Gray, former slaves. Other Thompson children included the poets Priscilla Jane Thompson and Aaron Belford Thompson. Thompson attended the Amity School and received private tutoring in Rossmoyne, near Cincinnati. A member of the Baptist church, the NAACP, and the YWCA, she taught briefly but devoted most of her time to her literary work. Thompson gave readings from her poetry, and she has been described as being a “fine elocutionist.” Although in her second book of poetry, A Garland of Poems (1926 she remarks that her wish had been to be a novelist Thompson s literary output consisted of two volumes of poetry Thompson states that the writing of poetry has been thrust upon me I write it because I must Never marrying she lived with her sister and ...