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Eva Clayton was born in Savannah, Georgia. She received a B.A. degree from Johnson C. Smith University in 1955 and a M.A. degree from North Carolina Central University in 1962. Clayton worked as director of a civil rights organization called the Soul City Foundation before she began a four-year tenure as assistant secretary for community development in the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources and Community Development in 1976. She started a management and consulting firm in 1981. In 1982 she also joined the Warren County Board of Commissioners, which she chaired for eight years.

When long-time U.S. representative Walter Jones died in September 1992, Clayton won a close primary contest against Jones's son, Walter Jones, Jr., for the Democratic nomination to fill the seat in North Carolina's First Congressional District. Her victory in the 1992 general election made her the first African ...


Charmaine A. Flemming

As the first black woman elected to U.S. Congress from North Carolina, Eva Clayton continued to achieve “firsts” throughout her eleven years of representing the citizens of her home state. In the 103rd Congress, she became the first woman president of the Democratic Freshman Class, which was the largest such incoming group since 1948. She was also named the Most Influential Newcomer after taking her seats on the agricultural and budget committees. In addition, she was noted for frequently steering activity on both the Congressional Rural and Black Caucuses.

Eva Clayton was born in Savannah, Georgia, to Josephine Martin, who was a teacher, dressmaker, and the superintendent of a children’s home, and Thomas McPherson an insurance agent After moving to Augusta Georgia the McPhersons were very active in the Presbyterian Church which inspired Eva to work as a public servant She remembers dreaming of becoming a doctor ...


Monika R. Alston

first African American woman elected to the U.S. Congress from North Carolina, was born Eva McPherson in Chatham County, Georgia. The daughter of Thomas McPherson, an insurance agent, and Josephine Martin, a teacher, Eva attended Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, and earned her bachelor of science degree in Biology in 1955. In 1956 she married Theaoseus Clayton, also an alumnus of Johnson C. Smith. The Claytons had four children: Joanne, Theaoseus Jr., Martin, and Reuben.

Following their marriage both Eva Clayton and her husband pursued graduate degrees at North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina. Theaoseus received his law degree in 1961, and Eva earned her master's of science in Biology and General Science in 1962 The young couple moved to Warrenton North Carolina where Theaoseus established himself as a lawyer and both became active ...


SaFiya D. Hoskins

U.S.congressman, was born Artur Genestre Davis in Montgomery, Alabama, and raised in a religious home by his grandmother (name unknown) and mother (name unknown), the latter an employee of the Montgomery County school system for thirty years. Davis lived a humble life on the lower-income west side of Montgomery. Upon graduating from Jefferson Davis High School with honors, he left his hometown to attend Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In 1990 he graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in government from Harvard and then began graduate studies at Harvard University Law School. During his tenure at Harvard he made the acquaintance of Barack Obama, the future president of the United States. Obama, then attending Harvard Law School and president of the Harvard Law Review delivered a speech to students that made a lasting impression on Davis the two men soon became friends As a ...


George Derek Musgrove

politician, was born Mervyn Malcolm Dymally in Cedros, Trinidad, to Hamid Dymally, an Indian businessman, and Andreid Richardson, a black Trinidadian. In Trinidad he attended Cedros Government School, St. Benedict School, and Naparima College, from which he graduated in 1944. Upon graduation Dymally took a job as a reporter for the Vanguard Weekly, the newspaper of the local oil workers union.

In 1946 Dymally immigrated to the United States to attend Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, where he planned to study journalism. Unable to adjust to the environment in Missouri, however, he dropped out after one semester and traveled around the United States in search of work and school. After two years of constant travel and countless jobs Dymally settled in Los Angeles, California, and began attending Los Angeles State College, where he received his BA in Education in 1954.

After graduation Dymally ...


Susan Love Brown

journalist, educator, politician, and statesman. Mervyn Malcolm Dymally, born in Cedros, Trinidad, achieved many “firsts” in American politics. His mother, Andreid Richardson, of Trinidadian descent, and his father, Hamid Dymally, of South Asian descent, educated him through high school, at Naparima College in San Fernando, Trinidad, after which he worked as a reporter for the Oilfields Workers Trade Union newspaper, The Vanguard, in Trinidad. This spurred his interest in a journalistic career, which took him to Lincoln University in Missouri at the age of nineteen. Eventually, he moved to Los Angeles State College of Applied Arts and Sciences, where he majored in education, receiving his bachelor's degree in 1954. From then on he combined education, politics, and involvement in international issues as the interests that guided his career.

While working as a science special education teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District ...


SaFiya D. Hoskins

U.S. congresswoman, was born Donna F. Edwards in Yanceyville, North Carolina, one of six children of John Edwards, an officer in the Air Force, and Mary Edwards who cared for the children. Edwards grew up in a military family and moved often; traveling throughout the United States and around the world. When she was a child she had aspirations of becoming president of the United States. Edwards was a teenager when her oldest brother, John, enlisted in the Air Force during the height of the war in Vietnam. When she graduated from high school she was presented with the opportunity to enroll in the first class to admit females at the Air Force Academy; however, she chose instead pursue an undergraduate education at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, where she was one of six African American women in her freshman class. In 1980 Edwards earned a ...


Daniel Donaghy

pastor, civil rights activist, and U.S. congressman. Walter Edward Fauntroy was the fourth of seven children born in Washington, D.C., to William T. Fauntroy Sr., a U.S. Patent Office clerk, and Ethel Fauntroy, a homemaker. As a boy, Fauntroy became an active member of the New Bethel Baptist Church; the church gave Fauntroy sanctuary against the poverty and crime of secular Washington. As a high school student, Fauntroy experienced his first call to the ministry. After Fauntroy graduated second in his class from Dunbar High School in 1952, some of the members of New Bethel Baptist Church presented him with enough money to pay for his first year at Virginia Union University, where he graduated with honors in 1955 before going on to earn a divinity degree from Yale University.

While at Virginia Union, Fauntroy met the future civil rights activist Martin Luther King ...


Raymond Pierre Hylton

legislator, pastor, and civil rights activist, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of William Thomas Fauntroy and Ethel Vines Fauntroy. His father worked in the U.S. Patent Office. Upon graduating from Dunbar High School in 1952, Fauntroy entered Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia. While there he received strong support and encouragement from his pastor, the Reverend Charles David Foster, and he graduated from Virginia Union in 1955 with a BA in History. He received a scholarship to attend Yale University Divinity School, where he earned a bachelor of divinity degree in 1958. In 1959 when his longtime mentor the Reverend Foster died, Fauntroy was named to succeed him as pastor at New Bethel Baptist Church. He married Dorothy Simms on August 3, 1957, and the couple had a son, Marvin Keith, and a daughter, Melissa Alice.

During his ...


Cathy Rodabaugh

Insisting that the Constitution made no provisions for slavery, Giddings consistently demanded that the government disentangle itself from any involvement with the institution. He believed that the “slave power,” wielding undue influence in Washington, withheld important rights from both northerners and bondpeople.

Joshua Reed Giddings was born in Pennsylvania to parents gradually migrating westward from Connecticut. His father, a failed farmer, moved the family again to New York's Burned-Over District, a region aflame with religious excitement, then finally settled amid other transplanted New Englanders in an area known as the Western Reserve, in Ashtabula County, Ohio. Largely self-educated and a diligent student, Giddings began law studies under Elisha Whittlesey, passing the bar exam in 1821 He married a schoolteacher from the area Laura Waters who later became a charter member of one the region s earliest antislavery societies One of their five children Laura Maria became a Garrisonian abolitionist ...


Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, William H. Gray III was the son of William H. Gray Jr., a Baptist minister and president of two Florida colleges, and Hazel Yates Gray, a high school teacher. In 1949 his father became the pastor of the large and powerful Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and moved the family north. In 1963 Gray graduated from Franklin and Marshall College and became an assistant pastor in Montclair, New Jersey. He earned a master of divinity degree from Drew Theological School in 1966, became senior minister at his church the same year, and earned a degree in theology from the Princeton Theological Seminary in 1970 As a minister Gray tried to help his poor parishioners by promoting fair housing programs He also set an important precedent by successfully suing a landlord who refused to rent an apartment to him ...


Amber Moulton-Wiseman

minister, congressman, businessman, philanthropist, was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the son of William H. Gray Jr., a minister and university president, and Hazel Yates Gray, a university dean. During Gray's early childhood, his father was president of both Florida Memorial College and Florida A&M University, and his mother was dean of students at Southern University in Baton Rouge. However, the family then moved to Philadelphia in 1949. There, Gray's father took a position as pastor of the Bright Hope Baptist Church. William H. Gray Jr.'s own father had held that post since 1925.

Gray was educated in the public school system and graduated from Philadelphia's Simon Gratz High School in 1959. Upon graduation, Gray enrolled at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and pursued his joint interest in religion and politics, even taking an internship with Democratic Congressman Robert ...


Kerry Pimblott

politician and trade unionist, was born in Cairo, Illinois, the eldest son of Nevada Bell and Charles Hayes Sr., the latter a farm laborer. Charles Arthur Hayes spent his formative years in Cairo, graduating from that city's Sumner High School in 1935.

After high school, Hayes took a job stacking lumber at E. L. Bruce Company, a leading manufacturer of hardwood flooring. Hayes quickly rose to the more skilled position of machine operator and became active in efforts to organize a union. In 1939, these efforts resulted in the founding of Local 1424 of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. A few months later, Hayes was elected president, marking the beginning of a long career as a labor organizer.

During World War II, Hayes, like thousands of African Americans, migrated north to Chicago in search of better employment opportunities. In 1942 Hayes ...


Richard Sobel

civil rights activist and U.S. congressman, was born to the civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson and Jacqueline Davis Jackson in Greenville, South Carolina. Jackson had an older sister, Santita, and younger siblings, Jonathan, Yusef, and Jacqueline. As a child, he was active, assertive and intelligent.

Believing their sons “needed a more regimented form of discipline” (Chicago Magazine, May 1996, 58), in 1977 the Jacksons sent Jesse Jr. and Jonathan to a military school, LeMans Academy in Indiana, where Jesse Jr. was a student for two years. While traveling with the Reverend Jackson in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe on civil rights missions, the children were introduced to celebrities, including Pope John Paul II and Nelson Mandela, so they were familiar and comfortable with leadership and celebrity from an early age.

Jackson Jr. finished high school in 1984 at ...


Jesse Louis Jackson, Jr., was born in Greenville, South Carolina, to Jacqueline Brown and Jesse Louis Jackson, an African American minister and political activist. He graduated from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University with a bachelor's degree in 1987. He earned a graduate divinity degree from Chicago Theological Seminary in 1990 and a law degree from the University of Illinois in 1993. Jackson had been an activist and political organizer at the local and national levels since he was a teenager. Before his election to Congress, Jackson was active in the Rainbow Coalition. In that role, Jackson created programs to increase voter registration and to educate voters about the political process. Jackson was secretary of the Democratic National Committee's Black Caucus.

The second congressional district seat in Illinois was vacated when former Democratic representative Mel Reynolds resigned in October 1995 Jackson defeated three experienced ...


Carmen V. Harris

U.S. congressman for Illinois's Second Congressional District. The son of the prominent civil rights activist the Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson and his wife, Jacqueline Lavinia Brown, Jesse Louis Jackson Jr. was born in his father's hometown of Greenville, South Carolina. He is married to Sandi Stevens Jackson, who was elected alderwoman for Chicago's Seventh Ward in 2007. They have two children, Jessica and Jesse III.

Jackson's schooling paralleled that of his father. Like his father, Jackson received his undergraduate degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina. He received a master's degree in theology from the Chicago Theological Seminary in 1989 and a law degree from the University of Illinois in 1993. Both were schools that his father had attended. In 1986 Jackson was arrested and jailed in Washington, D.C., for protesting against apartheid at the South African Embassy. From 1993 ...


Michaeljulius Idani

nurse and U.S. Congresswoman, was born in Waco, Texas, the daughter of Edward Johnson, a Navy veteran and civil servant for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and Lillie Mae White Johnson, a homemaker and church organizer. Johnson was one of four children—sisters Ruth and Lee and brother Carl. The Johnsons were a tight-knit Christian family with a large extended family rooted in the Waco community. Johnson's parents instilled in their children a deep appreciation for education. Johnson's mother was an honor's graduate of AJ Moore High School in Waco, where Johnson would later attend and graduate in 1952.

By the early 1950s many segregationist laws had been enacted against African Americans and Hispanics Texas maintained separatist policies related to education and public and residential areas and few opportunities existed for Johnson to pursue higher education locally After graduation from high school she attended St ...


Johnson was born in Waco, Texas. She received a bachelor's degree in 1955 from Saint Mary's at Notre Dame and a nursing degree in 1967 from Texas Christian University. She worked as a nurse until being elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1972. She earned a master's degree in public administration in 1976 from Southern Methodist University. Johnson left the statehouse in 1977 when President Jimmy Carter appointed her regional director of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). She worked at HEW until 1981, then started her own business-consulting firm in Dallas.

In 1986 Johnson was elected to the Texas Senate. As chair of the Texas Senate subcommittee responsible for drawing congressional districts for 1992, she created the new Thirtieth Congressional District, which subsequently elected her to Congress in 1992. In 1994 federal judges ruled the district unconstitutional because it ...


Mona E. Jackson

Named by Ebony magazine in 2001 as one of the ten most powerful black women in America, Eddie Bernice Johnson became the first African American woman to represent the Dallas, Texas, area in the U.S. Congress in 1992. With a passion for justice and the courage to speak her mind, Johnson has been a leader in championing legislation designed to empower low-income communities. As a member of the House of Representatives, Johnson has taken pride in transcending the actions of the average politician: “The average politician, in my judgment, just wants to get along. Getting along is important, but it’s not a number one thing for me. I believe in saying what I mean and meaning what I say.”

Eddie Bernice Johnson was born in Waco, Texas, to Edward Johnson and Lillie Mae White Johnson After finishing high school she attended St Mary s at Notre Dame ...


Peter Brush

Democratic congresswoman. Johnson was born in Waco, Texas, where she graduated from high school in 1952. She earned a nursing certificate from the University of Notre Dame in 1955. She began her nursing career the following year at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Dallas, eventually becoming chief psychiatric nurse. Johnson married Dawrence Kirk and in 1958 had a son, Dawrence Jr. The marriage ended in divorce. In 1967 Johnson earned a BS from Texas Christian University and in 1976 a master's degree in public administration from Southern Methodist University.

During her sixteen years of nursing Johnson stayed active in community affairs. In 1972 she achieved a landside victory in her run for the Texas House of Representatives District Thirty three This was a historic achievement Johnson became the first black woman to win political office in Dallas In the house she was an advocate for health ...