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Charles Rosenberg

journalist, war correspondent, railway mail clerk, and postal worker union activist, whose career rebounded repeatedly from the impact of his abrasive style on supervisors and fellow workers, was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, the son of Trezzvant E. Anderson and Amanda (Dixon) Anderson. In 1930 he and his sister, Roberta Anderson, were living in Charlotte with a stepfather, Robert Alexander, who was born in Virginia.

Trezzvant Anderson enrolled at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte in 1921, where he edited the campus paper, the University Student. He left in 1927, a year short of graduation, and worked as a railway mail clerk in Charlotte and in Washington, D.C., until 1941, while also taking on a variety of writing assignments. He was contributing editor of the Charlotte Post (1928–1929), special feature writer for the Norfolk, Virginia, Journal and Guide ...

Article

Barry Kernfeld

jazz tenor saxophonist, was born Booker Telleferro Ervin Jr. in Denison, Texas, the son of Booker Ervin, a trombonist who played with the tenor saxophonist Buddy Tate; his mother's name is unknown. Booker played his father's instrument from ages eight to thirteen and then abandoned music. In 1950 he borrowed a tenor saxophone to play in an Army Air Force band, but was discharged in 1952 or 1953 and spent another period away from playing before studying in Boston at the Berklee School of Music in 1953–1954. He returned to Texas and again dropped out of music. From 1955 to 1956 he played with rhythm and blues bands in the Southwest and in Chicago, including a period with Ernie Fields's group. In 1956 he traveled to Dallas and then to Denver where he played his first jazz jobs but once again became dissatisfied with his playing ...

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Dominic J. Capeci

civil rights advocate and trade unionist, was born in Newberry County near Chappells, South Carolina, the son of Fred Grigsby and Kitty (maiden name unknown), farmers. Named for the unusual snowfall that occurred on the day of his birth, he was known throughout his life as Snow Grigsby. He learned the lesson of fending for oneself in a family of twelve children raised by religious, education-minded, politically active parents. He embraced individualism but benefited from philanthropy and endorsed government activism. Grigsby left home to receive his high school diploma in 1923 at Harbison Junior College in Irmo, South Carolina, courtesy of the Presbyterian Church. Heading north to look for what he called “rosy opportunities,” he worked menial jobs by night and attended the Detroit Institute of Technology by day. He graduated in 1927 but failed to find employment as a pharmacist Like his father a onetime federal mail ...

Article

James R. Grossman

politician, was born in Malta, Illinois, the son of William Jackson and Sarah Cooper. He spent most of his childhood in Chicago. At age nine he began selling newspapers and shining shoes in Chicago's central business district; he left school in the eighth grade to work full-time. By age eighteen Robert had garnered an appointment as a clerk in the post office, a position coveted by African Americans in this era because of its security compared to that of most other occupations open to them. He left the postal service as an assistant superintendent in 1909 to devote himself full-time to his printing and publishing business, the Fraternal Press. In partnership with Beauregard F. Mosely, in 1910 he cofounded the Leland Giants, Chicago's first African American baseball team. In 1912 Jackson won election as a Republican to the state legislature From there he moved to the ...

Article

Adam R. Hornbuckle

track-and-field athlete, was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Shadreak Johnson, a plasterer; his mother's name and occupation are not known. Shadreak Johnson had moved from Raleigh, North Carolina, to California in 1893 for better economic and social opportunities. Cornelius first competed in organized track-and-field events at Berendo Junior High School in Los Angeles. He achieved greater athletic success as a student at Los Angeles High School, competing statewide in the sprints and the high jump. His skill as a high jumper earned him a position on the 1932 U.S. Olympic team. While only a junior in high school, Johnson tied the veteran performers Robert van Osdel and George Spitz for first place at a height of 6 feet 65⁄8 inches at the 1932 Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Championship, which also served as the Olympic trials.

One of four African Americans representing the United States in ...

Article

Johnanna L. Grimes-Williams

Theophilus Lewis was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1891, attended public schools, and moved to New York City. He became a manual laborer and later a postal worker, a position that he retained until his retirement. It provided his livelihood during the Harlem Renaissance when he wrote the theater reviews in the Messenger, since he received no remuneration for his writing.

Lewis's theater columns, which appeared from 1923 to 1927, chronicled primarily African American stage productions presented in different venues from Harlem to Broadway at a critical stage in African American history. They also championed development of an African American little theater movement. In referring to such groups as the Ethiopian Art Theater, the Tri-Arts Club, the Krigwa Players (founded by W. E. B. Du Bois and the Aldridge Players Lewis reveals his understanding of their importance to the evolution of African American theater and drama ...

Article

Lisa M. Bratton

instructor pilot for the Tuskegee Airmen, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Adolph J. Moret Sr., a printer, and Georgianna Perez. Moret grew up in an integrated neighborhood in the Creole community in New Orleans's Seventh Ward, but he attended segregated schools and used segregated public transportation. He attended Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and Xavier Prep Catholic schools in New Orleans. As a pole vaulter in high school, Moret won a bronze medal at the Tuskegee Ninth Relays at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in 1935.

From 1935 to 1937 Moret attended Xavier University in New Orleans After completing nearly two years of college Moret found employment as a spotter at the Pinkerton Detective Agency the leading agency at that time His primary responsibility was to observe bus drivers to ensure that they placed fares in the designated receptacle This was an uncommon position for ...

Article

Gregory Travis Bond

athlete, classical scholar, singer, postal worker, and teacher, was born in Hannibal, Missouri, to James Poage, a tanner, and Annie Coleman Poage, a domestic worker. Both parents were Missouri-born, and Annie claimed to have “freedom papers,” issued either before the outbreak of the Civil War or before the 13th Amendment in 1865. Poage’s siblings were Lulu Belle Poage and Nellie Poage, the future mother of attorney Howard Jenkins, Jr. The Poages moved to La Crosse, Wisconsin, in 1884, where James was employed as coachman and Anna as cook and domestic servant at the estate of Albert Pettibone, a wealthy lumber mill owner. After the deaths of Lulu Belle in 1887 and James of tuberculosis in 1888 Anna and her two surviving children moved to the Albert Clark Easton and Lucian Frederick Easton estate where Anna was stewardess in charge of domestic ...

Article

Carl A. Wade

poet and U.S. Army veteran, was born Henry Bertram Wilkinson in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the second of five surviving children of the Barbadians Mary Elizabeth Clarke, a seamstress, and William Lawrence Wilkinson, a carpenter, himself the son of a “colored” slave manumitted in the parish of St. Philip, Barbados, in 1834.

When Henry was four, the family departed Philadelphia's black ghetto, a district hostile to the social and economic advancement of its black citizenry (as W. E. B. Du Bois documented in 1899 in The Philadelphia Negro), and returned to Barbados. There Wilkinson received his elementary and only formal education, leaving school at age twelve to become a pupil-teacher (trainee).

In 1909 Panama beckoned Wilkinson, as it did thousands of other West Indians in search of economic opportunity. Two years later, on 24 August 1911 he left the canal zone with its deadly and debilitating tropical ...