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Born in Sanford, Florida, Claude Barnett was sent at a very young age to live with his grandparents and other relatives in suburban Chicago, Illinois. He returned to the South to study engineering at Alabama's Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University), from which he graduated in 1906. Back in Chicago, he worked as a postal clerk and, exposed to a wide range of advertising journals, decided to make a career in advertising. In 1913 he produced a series of photographs of famous blacks, which he sold through the mail, furthering his interest in business.

Five years later Barnett and several other entrepreneurs formed the Kashmir Chemical Company which sold cosmetics Barnett left the post office took the job of advertising manager at Kashmir and toured the country selling cosmetics as well as his photographs In each town he visited the local black newspaper hoping to bargain for ...

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Robert L. Harris

entrepreneur, journalist, and government adviser, was born in Sanford, Florida, the son of William Barnett, a hotel worker, and Celena Anderson. His father worked part of the year in Chicago and the rest of the time in Florida. Barnett's parents separated when he was young, and he lived with his mother's family in Oak Park, Illinois, where he attended school. His maternal ancestors were free blacks who migrated from Wake County, North Carolina, to the black settlement of Lost Creek, near Terre Haute, Indiana, during the 1830s. They then moved to Mattoon, Illinois, where Barnett's maternal grandfather was a teacher and later a barbershop owner, and finally to Oak Park. While attending high school in Oak Park, Barnett worked as a houseboy for Richard W. Sears cofounder of Sears Roebuck and Company Sears offered him a job with the company after he graduated from high school but ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

in the U.S. Department of Health Education and Welfare, was born in Bogue Township, Columbus County, North Carolina, the third child of Jett and Cassy Brice. He had an older brother, James, and an older sister, Laura. Their father worked in a lumber mill.

Brice graduated in 1938 with a bachelor’s degree from Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, then completed an M.A. and Ph.D. in Education at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1940, at the age of twenty-four, Brice accepted the position of president at Clinton Normal and Industrial College, Catawba Township, near Rock Hill, South Carolina. There he met his future wife, Creola M. Lindsay, an elementary school teacher in Rock Hill. In 1942, announcing that Brice would deliver the keynote address before the Social Science Group of the Palmetto State Teachers Association, the Carolina Times described him as An untiring worker for a better standard of ...

Article

An economist deeply involved in public policy and administration, Andrew Brimmer was appointed in 1966 as a governor of the Federal Reserve Board, where he served until 1974. He worked to alleviate unemployment, the national deficit, and racial discrimination. In 1969, when small businesses were suffering, Brimmer urged African Americans to forsake “black capitalist” ventures and pursue work in large mainstream companies instead. He proposed an income-tax reduction plan to President Gerald L. Ford in 1974; the following year, it became the basis of congressional legislation. In 1984, when black unemployment was double that of whites, Brimmer supported strategies that combined Affirmative Action with self-help.

Brimmer, the son of a sharecropper who struggled to make ends meet during the Great Depression, was born in Newellton, Louisiana After high school he joined the army where he became a staff sergeant Brimmer received a B A ...

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Darius V. Echeverría

economist and educator. Some individuals are important because they exemplify the historical past, while others are important because they embody generational change toward social progress. As the first African American governor of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board (1966–1974), Andrew Felton Brimmer is both the former and the latter.

The life story of this extraordinary leader began on 13 September 1926 in Newellton, Louisiana. The son of Andrew Brimmer Sr., a sharecropper, and Vellar Davis Brimmer, a warehouse worker, Brimmer picked cotton as a child in rural northeastern Louisiana while attending segregated public schools. Rather than allowing the hardships of poverty and racial injustice to discourage him, Brimmer used these experiences as a motivating force. Early on he was determined to earn a college degree so that he could serve in positions where he could help others.

Brimmer graduated from high school in 1944 and ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

Walter Carrington, the eldest child of Walter R. and Marjorie Hayes Carrington, was born in New York City. He graduated from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1952 and Harvard Law School in 1955. Carrington was the first student elected to the National Board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). After serving in the U.S. Army, he was appointed to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. At age twenty-seven, he was the youngest person ever appointed a commissioner in that state.

In 1961 Carrington joined the Peace Corps, serving for ten years in Sierra Leone, Senegal, Tunisia, and eventually as the Regional Director for Africa. In 1971 he became the vice president of the African-American Institute (AAI), an organization dedicated to developing human resources in Africa and to fostering better dialogue between Africans and Americans.

In 1980 accepting an ...

Article

Richard A. Bradshaw

first president of the Central African Republic (CAR), was born on 24 March 1930 at Bouchia, Lobaye, then in the territory of Ubangi-Shari in French Equatorial Africa. His father, Joseph Iniabodé, and mother, Marie Okolania, belonged to the same ethnic group, the Mbaka (Ngbaka), as future CAR presidents Jean-Bédel Bokassa and Barthélemy Boganda. The grandfathers of Iniabodé and Boganda were “brothers” of the same clan, and Okolania was also a relative of Bokassa’s father and a “sister” of Bokassa’s mother.

Soon after Dacko’s birth his family moved to Boda, where his father worked in a store belonging to a European coffee planter at Bonini named Tancret. In 1937 his father became a Catholic, after which he kept one wife and sent the others away, including Dacko’s mother. In 1938 Dacko was sent to live with his uncle Jêrome Gaza in Mbaïki where he attended the École Regionale ...

Article

Eric Young

During his first presidency of the Central African Republic, David Dacko relied on the support of a narrow elite backed by French troops; he repeated this pattern during his brief return to power fourteen years later. The son of a night watchman in Bouchia, Oubangui-Chari (present-day Central African Republic), Dacko attended local primary and secondary schools and went on to attend classes in neighboring Moyen-Congo, (present-day Republic of the Congo). After his graduation he taught school until he was named a school director in 1955. He became friends with the Central African politician Barthélemy Boganda and was elected to the territorial assembly In the self governing period prior to independence Boganda named Dacko minister of agriculture and later minister of interior and administrative affairs When Boganda was killed in an airplane crash Dacko succeeded him by claiming kin ties to Boganda despite the constitutional claim of ...

Article

Shantel Agnew

attorney and U.S. congressman. Harold Eugene Ford Jr. was born in Memphis, Tennessee, to Harold E. Ford Sr., a U.S. representative, and Dorothy Ford. He got his start in politics at the age of four, when he made a radio commercial for his father's 1974 campaign for Congress demanding better schools, better housing, and lower cookie prices. Ford attended Saint Albans School for Boys in Washington, D.C. In 1992 he earned a bachelor's degree in American history from the University of Pennsylvania and a JD with honors from the University of Michigan Law School in 1996. In 1992 Ford worked as a special assistant for the Bill Clinton and Al Gore Transition Team and in 1993 for the Economic Development Administration under the leadership of U S secretary of commerce Ronald Brown Ford also was an aide to the Senate Budget Committee under U S ...

Article

Robert Fay

Shirley Jackson grew up in Washington, D.C., where her parents, Beatrice and George Jackson, encouraged her interest in science by helping her to prepare school science projects. After graduating first in her class at Roosevelt High School, Jackson was one of only thirty women to enter the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1964. She earned a B.S. degree in 1968 and a Ph.D. in 1973 from MIT, making her the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in physics and the first black woman to earn a doctorate in any subject from MIT.

After graduating from MIT, Jackson joined the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, as a research associate (1973–1974, 1975–1976), and was a visiting scientist at the European Center for Nuclear Research in Geneva, Switzerland (1974–1975). From 1976 to 1991 Jackson researched theoretical physics ...

Article

Sowande' Mustakeem

At the young age of twenty-six, Shirley Ann Jackson became not only the first African American woman to receive a PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), but also one of the first two women to receive a degree in theoretical physics from any university in the United States. In 1995, Jackson became both the first African American and first woman appointed to head the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which oversees nuclear power plants in the United States. Additionally, in 1999, Jackson became the first African American president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in New York, the oldest university in the United States dedicated to research in science and engineering.

The second daughter of George and Beatrice Jackson, Jackson was born in Washington, DC She benefited greatly from the strong foundation her parents provided Her mother Beatrice a social worker regularly read to her often choosing the ...

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Daniel Donaghy

American physicist and president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Shirley Ann Jackson was born in Washington, D.C., to Beatrice and George Jackson, who instilled in her, as well as in her sister, Alicia, a strong interest in school, especially the study of science. Her parents encouraged Jackson to think for herself from an early age. As a result, she excelled academically throughout elementary and middle school and at Roosevelt High School, where she participated in accelerated math and science programs and from which she graduated in 1964 as valedictorian. She moved on that fall to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she was one of the few African American students and the only one pursuing a career in theoretical physics. She graduated in 1968 after completing her senior thesis on solid state physics and was accepted into many of the nation s most prestigious graduate programs ...

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Jewel LaFontant-Mankarious expanded the parameters of tokenism to produce tangible effects for women and African Americans. Often the first woman or African American to hold leadership positions in several arenas, LaFontant-Mankarious challenged discrimination as an activist and lawyer and used her legal acumen and negotiating skills to broker deals in corporate America and the world of Republican politics, all while balancing the often difficult responsibilities of career and family.

Born in Chicago, Illinois, to Cornelius Francis and Aida Carter Stradford, Jewel Carter Stradford was the daughter of an attorney father and artist mother who raised their daughter to believe that unlimited possibilities were available to her. Both her grandfather and her father graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio and entered the legal profession. In 1943 Stradford continued the family tradition when she received a BA from Oberlin, and in 1946 she became the first black woman to ...

Article

Theodore W. Eversole

business executive. The son of janitors, Franklin Delano Raines was born and raised in Seattle, Washington, and attended Harvard University, where he received a BA in government, magna cum laude, in 1971. He then studied at Magdalen College, Oxford, as a Rhodes Scholar. Following his Oxford studies Raines went to Harvard Law School, where he received his JD in 1976.

After leaving Harvard his career advancement was meteoric: in short order he achieved important public offices within the Jimmy Carter administration, initially serving as associate director for economics and government in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and then serving from 1977 to 1979 as assistant director of White House domestic policy staff.

At the end of his White House tenure Raines joined the investment firm of Lazard, Freres, and Company, where he stayed for eleven years and became a partner. In 1991 he left the ...

Article

Helen R. Houston

Willis Richardson's interest in the theater was encouraged when he viewed a production of Angelina Weld Grimké's Rachel and by his belief that African American life was richer in theme and character than was being portrayed on the stage in musicals, comedies, and “serious” plays by whites. These were limited to stereotypical roles and one-dimensional representations. Added to this, theatrical groups were without plays by African American writers. With Richardson, all of this changed.

He began to write one-act plays; his early plays presented heroes such as Crispus Attacks, Antonio Maceo, and Simon the Cyrenian for children's edification and were published in The Brownie's Book. In 1920, he published his first adult play, The Deacon's Awakening, in the Crisis. In 1923, he became the first African American playwright to have a nonmusical production on Broadway: The Chip Woman's Fortune; and in 1924 ...

Article

Frank A. Salamone

journalist, diplomat, civil rights advocate, and philanthropist. Carl Thomas Rowan was born in Ravenscroft, Tennessee, but was raised in McMinnville. Rowan attended Tennessee State University and Washburn University in the 1940s and then became one of the first African American commissioned officers in the U.S. Navy. In 1943 the navy sent him to Northwestern for summer training as an officer, but Northwestern refused him residence because he was black. So the navy transferred him to Oberlin. After the war he returned to Oberlin because, according to his autobiography, Breaking Barriers (1991), “Oberlin would permit me to study in a special oasis, sheltered from the hurts, the anger, the rage, that all victims of racism experience.” He graduated from Oberlin in 1947 and from the University of Minnesota—with a master's degree in journalism—in 1948.

Rowan's journalism career began in 1948 at the Minneapolis Tribune ...

Article

Marian Aguiar

Carl Thomas Rowan was born in Ravenscroft, Tennessee. After serving as an officer in the U.S. Navy, which was segregated at the time, Rowan began a career as a newspaper journalist at the white-owned Minneapolis Tribune. One of the first African American reporters for a large urban daily newspaper, Rowan captured the racial struggles of the 1950s with a series on discrimination in the South and an article on the landmark segregation case before the U.S. Supreme Court—Brown v. Board of Education.

In 1961 Rowan entered government service as deputy assistant secretary of state to President John F. Kennedy. Appointed ambassador to Finland in 1963 he was one of the first African Americans diplomats to serve in a predominantly white nation That same year he became head of the United States Information Agency USIA the highest post in the government s executive branch that ...

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Johannes Steffens

attorney and White House official, was born in Texarkana, Texas, the only child of Charlotte Wallace and Hobart Taylor Sr., a prominent Texas businessman who financed numerous civil rights causes and developed close ties to many powerful Texan politicians including Lyndon Johnson. Johnson considered both Taylors to be “warm friends who can be trusted” (Johnson to Taylor Sr., 4 August 1960, box 183, Senate Papers, Johnson Library).

Taylor grew up in Wharton, Texas and Houston. From 1935 to 1939 he attended Prairie View State Normal & Industrial College, graduating with a BA in economics in 1939. After earning an MA in economics from Howard University in 1941, he attended the University of Michigan Law School, where he became the first black editor of the Michigan Law Review. He received a JD in 1943, was admitted to the Michigan bar in 1944 and then ...

Article

Cary D. Wintz

economist, political administrator, and educator. Robert Clifton Weaver was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Mortimer Grover Weaver, a postal clerk, and Florence Freeman Weaver. Weaver grew up in an educated family in an integrated middle-class neighborhood. He attended segregated schools, graduating from the prestigious Dunbar High School in 1925. He then enrolled at Harvard as a scholarship student and as one of only two African Americans in the class of 1929. He graduated cum laude with a BS in economics, then stayed at Harvard to earn his MS (1931) and PhD (1934) in that field.

While at Harvard, Weaver developed lifelong friendships with the small group of black students studying there, including John Preston Davis and William Hastie—fellow Dunbar High School alumni who were attending the law school—and Rayford W. Logan and Ralph Johnson Bunche who like ...

Article

Robert Fay

Born in Washington, D.C., the son of Mortimer and Florence Weaver, Robert Clifton Weaver grew up attending segregated schools. After graduating from high school, he attended Harvard University, where his older brother, Mortimer, was pursuing graduate studies in English. Weaver was refused dormitory accommodations because he was black, so he lived off campus with his brother. Robert Weaver graduated cum laude with a degree in economics in 1929, the same year Mortimer died unexpectedly. Weaver remained at Harvard, earning an M.A. in 1931 and a Ph.D. in economics in 1934.

Weaver began his government career in 1933 when Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes hired him as a race-relations adviser in the housing division. By 1937 he had become special assistant to the administrator of the U.S. Housing Authority, a post he held until 1940. As a high-ranking African American in President Franklin D Roosevelt ...