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Ana Raquel Fernandes

Pan‐Africanist and the first black person to hold civic office in Britain. He was born in Liverpool, the son of a Barbadian, Richard Archer, and an Irishwoman, Mary Theresa Burns, but little is known of his early life, though he is believed to have lived in North America and the West Indies. Around 1898 he and his African‐Canadian wife, Bertha, moved to Battersea, south London, where Archer established a photographic studio. His concern to eradicate social and racial injustices led to a lifelong career in local government and national and global politics. In 1906 he was elected as a Progressive (Liberal) councillor for the Latchmere ward, and in 1913 Archer became Mayor of Battersea, Britain's first black mayor. His interest in colonial politics led to his involvement in Pan‐Africanism. In 1900 he joined the Pan African Association and he was a significant presence at the ...


Robert Fikes

mayor and educator, was born in rural Livingston, Alabama, to Richard Arrington Sr. and Ernestine Bell, sharecroppers. In 1940, when his father found work in a steel mill, the family moved to Fairfield, a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama. At Fairfield Industrial High School, Arrington took an interest in the study of history and also learned dry cleaning, a practical skill that he later used to finance his college education. In 1952, during his sophomore year at Miles College in Birmingham, he married his high school sweetheart, the former Barbara Jean Watts. Two influential professors persuaded him to major in biology, and he graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1955. He went on to earn his master's degree in Biology in 1957 at the University of Detroit and in 1966 completed his PhD dissertation Comparative Morphology of Some Dryopoid Beetles at the University of Oklahoma ...


Caryn E. Neumann

four-time mayor of Washington, D.C., was born on a cotton plantation near the Delta hamlet of Itta Bena in northwestern Mississippi to sharecroppers Marion Barry Sr. and Mattie Barry. In 1940 Barry Sr. died, and in 1944 Barry, his mother, and his sister moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where Mattie worked as a maid and married Dave Cummings a butcher The combined family which eventually included nine members lived in a narrow wooden shotgun house in South Memphis one of four black enclaves in the city Barry slept on the couch and rose early each morning to chop wood for the stove He stuffed cardboard in his shoes to fill the holes and sold his sandwiches to other kids at school for pocket money A bright industrious child he eventually became one of the first African American Eagle Scouts in Memphis In the summer he traveled with his mother ...


Charles F. Casey-Leninger

first black mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio, was born in Maysville, Kentucky, to a white farmer whom he never knew and Cora Berry. When he was a toddler, Berry's mother brought him to Cincinnati, where they settled in the emerging African American community in the city's West End. Severely hearing impaired and with difficulty speaking, his mother earned little as a domestic, and Berry's sister Anna, fifteen years his senior, eventually assembled the family in her own household.

Berry attended the segregated Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School and graduated from the racially mixed Woodward High School in 1924 as valedictorian, the first black student in Cincinnati to achieve that honor in an integrated high school. Berry received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1928 and his juris doctorate from the UC College of Law in 1931 He worked his way through school by selling ...


Arthur Matthew Holst

politician, was born Willie Lewis Brown Jr. in Mineola, Texas, to Lewis Brown, a part-time waiter, and Minnie Collins, a maid. From the age of four he was raised by his mother and his grandmother, Anna Lee Collins, after his father abandoned the family. What Brown lacked in wealth was more than made up for by the caring and love given to him by these two women and his three siblings. Driven by his desire to make his mother and grandmother proud, he tackled any task given to him with determination. Later in life he said of his family, “They believed in me, taught me the value of hard work and the importance of education, and nurtured my sense of dignity of self worth.”

Willie Brown s childhood was plagued by segregation racism and hatred In a society where Jim Crow laws were the norm Brown excelled ...


politician, was one of six children born to Clarence Henry Burns, Sr., a laborer for an oil company, and Selena Burns, a house cleaner, in Baltimore, Maryland. Despite little formal education, Burns built upon his grassroots involvement in politics to enter elected office, rise through the City Council, and become the city's first black mayor in 1987.

Born and raised in Baltimore's Eastside neighborhood, Burns became enticed by the city's ward political life by his father, who volunteered as a precinct worker in local elections, and promised each of his children a dollar for distributing election pamphlets on the streets. As a youth, Burns held down a number of odd jobs, selling newspapers and vegetables, and carting home shoppers’ groceries from the market in a wagon.

Burns graduated in 1936 from Frederick Douglass High School, one of the oldest integrated schools in the nation. In 1943 he ...


Bret A. Weber

law enforcement officer, community organizer, and mayor, was born in Stamps, Lafayette County, Arkansas, but lived most of his life and built his career in the state capital, Little Rock. His mother, Annie Bussey, lived in Stamps, with his father Charlie Bussey, who worked at the local sawmill. A childhood friend of Maya Angelou's, Bussey and his sister, Delvira Bussey, who became a schoolteacher, shared a deep concern for the welfare and future of children. He moved to Little Rock in the 1940s and opened an appliance shop and on 11 October 1945 married Maggie Clark. Though unsuccessful in the appliance business, by 1950 he had become the state s first black deputy sheriff and was later assigned to the prosecuting attorney s office as an investigator As deputy sheriff he founded the Junior Deputy Baseball program and many of those ...


Roger Biles

mayor of New York City, was born David Norman Dinkins in Trenton, New Jersey, the first of two children of William H. Dinkins, a barbershop owner and real estate agent, and Sally (maiden name unknown), a domestic worker and manicurist. David's parents divorced when he was six years old, and he lived briefly with his mother after she moved to Harlem, New York, although he soon returned to Trenton to live with his father and stepmother, Lottie Dinkins (maiden name Hartgell), a high school English teacher.

After graduating from high school in Trenton, Dinkins became one of the first African Americans to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps, and he graduated magna cum laude in 1950 from Howard University, where he majored in mathematics. He graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 1956 and practiced law in New York City until 1975. Dinkins and his wife, Joyce Burroughs ...


David Michel

activist and politician, was born James Charles Evers to James Evers, a farmer, and Jessie Wright Evers, a maid, in Decatur, Newton County, Mississippi. In addition to James and his three siblings, Jessie Evers had three children from a previous marriage. The family was poor, like most of their neighbors during the Depression, but was strengthened by a powerful Christian belief in the dignity of every human being. The Evers subscribed to the Chicago Defender, a publication that kept the young Evers informed about life outside the segregated South. Charles developed a strong bond with his younger brother, Medgar Evers, and they each vowed to carry on the other's work if something happened to one of them. Charles attended local schools but would complete high school only later in life.

In 1940 Charles Evers enlisted in the U S Army and during World War ...


Arthur Matthew Holst

mayor of Philadelphia, was born Woodrow Wilson Goode near Seaboard, Northampton County, North Carolina, the second youngest of seven children of Albert Goode and Rozelar sharecroppers His family moved every year to work for different landlords which made for a lonely childhood for Goode who was not able to establish long term friendships The whole family worked in the cotton and peanut fields from the early hours in the morning until the late hours of the evening Goode dreamed of living in the city residing in a big house and working for himself where he would be in control of his own destiny He dreamed of becoming famous and having the power to change things for the better Goode learned from his parents especially his mother that with faith in God everything in life is possible He saw education as his only way out of poverty and also ...


Frank N. Schubert

William Jefferson Hardin was born in Russellville, Logan County, Kentucky, of unknown parents. He was raised and educated by Shakers in South Union, Kentucky, until he was able to teach school to free African American children. Hardin migrated to California during the Gold Rush of 1849 and remained there for four years. He then lived for brief periods in Canada, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska before moving to Colorado in 1863. Hardin operated a barbershop in Denver for ten years and established a reputation as a Republican politician and public speaker. During his years in Denver he was a close associate and friend of African American political activist Barney Ford in the struggle for political rights for African Americans in Colorado. He also served as a delegate at several Republican conventions in Colorado Territory. Hardin left Denver in 1873 after a short stint as gold weigher and clerk ...


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 ...


Stacy Braukman

attorney and mayor of Atlanta, was born in Dallas, Texas, the third of six children of Irene Dobbs, a university professor, and Maynard Jackson Sr., a Baptist minister. His mother came from a prominent Atlanta family; she was the daughter of John Wesley Dobbs, an early-twentieth-century African American civic leader who coined the name Sweet Auburn for Atlanta's historic black business district and a founder of the Atlanta Negro Voters League in the 1940s. In 1945 the Jackson family moved to Atlanta, where Maynard Jackson Sr. became the pastor of the Friendship Baptist Church. A precocious student, Maynard Jackson Jr. was eighteen years old in 1956, when he graduated from Morehouse College with a BA in Political Science and History. He worked for a short time in Ohio and then returned to school, earning a law degree in 1964 from North Carolina Central University ...


Patrice D. Johnson

politician, was born in Jacksonville, Florida, the son of Beulah Sharpe, a domestic worker, and Louis James, who died of pneumonia three months before his son's birth. In 1944 after a violent argument with her second husband, Willie Holmes, Beulah moved north with Sharpe and his older brother, Joseph. They stayed with relatives in Philadelphia for a short time before finally settling in Newark, New Jersey.

Every day Beulah James, a working mother rearing two sons on her own, would drop Sharpe off at school early in the morning on her way to work and pick him up afterward on her way home. Spending long hours in school and on the school's playground, Sharpe developed a special rapport with his teachers and a love for athletics. James played on the baseball team and ran track at South Side High School.

After graduating from high school ...


Leila Kamali

Newspaper editor, statesman, and Mayor of Kingston, Jamaica. Jordon was born a freeman on 6 December 1800. He founded the Watchman and Jamaica Free Press in Kingston, which printed an editorial in 1832 calling to ‘knock off the fetters, and let the oppressed go free’. Jordon was tried for sedition—a crime that carried the death penalty—but was eventually acquitted.

He campaigned vigorously against slavery and, having won the Kingston seat in the House of Assembly in 1835, saw complete abolition in Jamaica in August 1838. He then founded the Morning Journal, became manager of Kingston Savings Bank, and director of the Planters' Bank.

Jordon was the first appointment to the Executive Committee under Sir Henry Barkly's governorship, and in 1854 the first man to be appointed both Mayor of Kingston and Custos. In 1860Queen Victoria made him a Companion of the Bath the first ...


Christopher Fyfe

Lawyer and leading public figure among the Krio (then called ‘Creole’) people of Sierra Leone. His father was a wealthy businessman who sent him to London to study law. Called to the Bar in 1871, on his return home he built up a substantial legal practice. Quiet‐mannered, a dedicated Methodist, unobtrusive in appearance, he owed his success to his well‐grounded legal knowledge, not to histrionic display. Although he occasionally acted for the government, he preferred the independence and financial rewards of private practice.

From 1882 Lewis was a member of the Legislative Council. There, though he was ready to oppose the government, sometimes with great tenacity, in general he supported its measures, even to earning widespread hostility when he went against public feeling. When Freetown became a municipality in 1895 he was elected Mayor, and in 1896 was awarded the first African knighthood.

When the Protectorate was proclaimed in ...


Carlton Elliott Smith

mayor, was born in Fayette County, Tennessee, to Eddie Lee Smith Sr., a farmer, and Lucy Sales Smith, a homemaker. He was educated in rural schools for black children. In the early 1930s his parents moved the family to Marshall County in northwest Mississippi, eventually settling on eleven acres that became part of the town of Holly Springs. The Smiths were founding members of the town's black Pentecostal church, now known as Christ Temple, and they instilled in their twelve children, including Eddie Jr., a sense of personal piety and pride.

Smith attended high school in Holly Springs at Rust College in the 1950s and he also served in a medical unit when he enlisted as a conscientious objector during the Korean War When he returned for undergraduate classes at Rust College he was deeply impressed by the distinguished black men he saw running the campus ...


Edward L. Lach

mayor, was born Carl Burton Stokes in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Charles Stokes, a laundry worker, and Louise Stone Stokes, a domestic. Stokes's father died when he was a toddler, and he grew up in poverty as his mother struggled to provide for him and his older brother Louis Stokes. He attended local public schools before dropping out of East Technical High School in 1944. After a year spent as a street hustler, Stokes joined the U.S. Army, serving in post-World War II occupied Germany and rising to the rank of corporal. Following his 1946 discharge, he returned to Cleveland and finished his high school education in 1947. He was briefly enrolled at West Virginia State College (now University) before he went back home to attend Western Reserve University (now Case Western Reserve).

Still unsure of his future Stokes dropped out of college ...


Melissa Nicole Stuckey

pharmacist, bank owner, and mayor of an African American community, was born David Johnson Turner, the fifth of twelve children, to Moses and Lucy (Lulu) Turner in Cass County, Texas. During his teen years, the Turners joined the steady stream of African Americans who left Texas and other Southern states for the Oklahoma and Indian Territories. Many black migrants were attracted to Indian Territory, which was divided up among the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole Indians, known as the Five Civilized Tribes. Moses and Lulu Turner rented a farm in the Seminole Nation, Indian Territory, where David Turner and his younger siblings came of age.

In 1895, Turner wed Minnie also a child of Texas migrants and the young couple began raising their own family on a rented farm near Turner s parents Within a few years however Turner moved his family to ...


Thaddeus Russell

politician and mayor of Chicago, was born on the South Side of Chicago, the son of Roy Lee Washington, a stockyard worker, and Bertha Jones, a domestic worker. Harold Washington attended a Benedictine boarding school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, until the age of six. He was then enrolled in Chicago public schools but dropped out of high school after his junior year to take a job in a meatpacking plant. His father, who had become an attorney and a precinct captain for the Democratic Party in Chicago's largely African American Third Ward, secured a job for Washington at the Chicago office of the U.S. Treasury Department. In 1941 he married Dorothy Finch. They had no children and divorced in 1950.

Following U.S. entry into World War II in December 1941 Washington was drafted into the U S Army He was stationed in the South Pacific with ...