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Sibyl Collins Wilson

lawyer, State Supreme Court Justice, mayor of Detroit, Michigan, and president of the American Bar Association, was born in Detroit to Ernest and Frances Archer, and was raised in Cassopolis, Michigan. Determined to raise himself from poverty, and encouraged by his parents to value education, Archer was steadfast in his studies. He graduated from Cassopolis High School in 1959 and entered Western Michigan University that fall. While attending Western Michigan he pledged Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the first black collegiate fraternal organization. He graduated in 1965.

Archer had a desire to teach, so he relocated to Detroit and took a position in the Detroit schools teaching and assisting emotionally disturbed students. He met Trudy Duncombe, another young teacher, during this tenure, and they married on 17 June 1967 Although dedicated to education Archer began to prepare himself for another level of public service when he entered ...


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 ...


Steven J. Niven

mayor of Los Angeles, was born in a log cabin on a cotton plantation near Calvert, in Robertson County, Texas, the son of Lee Thomas Bradley and Crenner Hawkins sharecroppers Calvert had thrived in the late nineteenth century buoyed by the cottonseed industry and the Southern Pacific Railroad but its economy had declined by the time of Thomas s birth Life for sharecroppers like the Bradleys was precarious little better in fact than it had been for Lee s father a slave in the Carolinas They knew the certainty of picking cotton for eighteen hours a day and the annual uncertainty of the price of that cotton Heavily indebted to white landlords Lee and Crenner struggled to provide their family with vital necessities such as food and health care five of their children died in infancy Like many southern blacks in the 1920s the Bradley family saw only one ...


Kate Tuttle

The first black mayor of Los Angeles, California, Tom Bradley served for twenty years, longer than any previous mayor of that city. Bradley's quiet, self-effacing manner attracted less national attention than other African American big-city mayors such as New York's David Dinkins or Washington's Marion Barry, but his national reputation was so strong that in 1988 he was on Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale's shortlist for vice-presidential candidates. The late Ron Brown, then chairman of the Democratic National Committee, praised Bradley for his ability “to hold a very complex and diverse city together.”

One of seven children born to his sharecropper parents on a cotton plantation in Calvert, Texas, Bradley moved with his family to Los Angeles when he was seven. In high school he excelled academically and athletically, winning a track scholarship to the University of California at Los Angeles, which he entered in 1937 ...


Jamal Donaldson Briggs

lawyer, activist, and first African American mayor of Los Angeles. Thomas J. Bradley was born to Lee and Crenner Bradley in Calvert, Texas. The Bradleys moved to Los Angeles in 1924; there his father worked as a porter on the railroad and his mother worked as a maid. His father abandoned the family shortly after they all moved out West.

Bradley excelled in athletics at Polytechnic High School in Los Angeles, serving as captain of the track team and making the all-city football team. Bradley graduated in 1937 and attended the University of California at Los Angeles on a track scholarship. He dropped out during his junior year to join the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in 1940 as a lieutenant; at the time he was the highest-ranking African American police officer in Los Angeles. In 1941 he married his childhood sweetheart, Ethel Mae Arnold The ...


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 ...


Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born on 9 October 1900 in Cavaillon, Haiti. His name is sometimes recorded as Sylvio. Information about his family and early life is not known, but by the early 1920s he was one of the country’s leading soccer players, appearing for Trivoli Athletic Club and Racing Club Haitian, as well as the Haitian national team.

Cator excelled, however, in track and field, especially the long jump, in which he represented Haiti three times at the Olympic Games. At the 1924 Games in Paris France he competed in both the high jump and the long jump In the high jump Cator cleared 1 75 meters 5 feet 9 inches in the qualifying round but failed to advance to the finals finishing in a tie for fifteenth in the overall standings Entering the long jump competition with a personal best of 7 43 meters 24 feet 4½ inches the Haitian ...


LaRay Denzer

first woman mayor of the Sierra Leonean capital of Freetown, was born into a prominent old Krio (then spelled Creole) family on 7 January 1918 in Freetown. Young Constance grew up in a household deeply involved in local politics and culture. Her parents were Johnnie William Horton, sometime city treasurer, and Regina Elizabeth (Awoonor-Wilson) Horton, a granddaughter of a recaptive from Keta, Gold Coast (now Ghana). Constance was the youngest of their three children, all girls, but she also had two half brothers, one of whom was Asadata Dafora, who won acclaim in the 1930s for introducing African dance drama to the New York theater. Her paternal family traced its ancestry back to James Beale Horton (1835–1883), better known as Africanus Horton, the son of an Igbo recaptive who was influential in the British colonial service and the outspoken author of West African Countries and Peoples (1868 ...


Monika R. Alston

the first black woman mayor in the United States, was born Lelia Kasenia Smith in Taft, Oklahoma, the youngest daughter of Willie Smith, a sharecropper, and Canzaty Smith, a midwife. The Smiths were a large family and although very poor, they were generous at heart. Canzaty Smith often accepted food in the place of her $15 fee for delivering a baby, and she and her husband once took in a homeless family, which impressed upon her daughter the importance of caring for community and having respect for all people.

Lelia Smith, a graduate of Moton High School, became a single mother at the age of twenty. By 1967 she had five children and was receiving public assistance to support herself and her children. She later married, becoming Lelia Foley, but she was soon divorced. In a candid 1973 interview with Essence magazine, Foley discussed the ...


Wayne Dawkins

mayor of New York City from 1990 to 1994. David Norman Dinkins was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of William Dinkins, a factory worker and barber, and Sally Dinkins. When his parents separated, six-year-old David moved to Harlem with his mother, but he returned to Trenton at age fourteen to live with his father. During World War II, Dinkins served in the Marine Corps. After the war he enrolled at Howard University, where he majored in math and graduated in 1950. Dinkins married Joyce Burrows in 1953. He graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 1956.

Dinkins became active in a political club and was mentored by J. Raymond “Harlem Fox” Jones. Dinkins was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1965 and served one term. In 1972 he was elected the first black president of the city Board of ...


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 ...


Quito Swan

was born in that city, the son of Albert Dismont and his wife Ivy; they were a well-known and much-respected couple. Albert Dismont was the first black man to own property and a business in Hamilton city, the bastion of Bermuda’s white oligarchy. Cecil Dismont would also challenge the dominance of that ruling elite, and his remarkable and full life was, in many ways, a microcosm of the racial, class, and social tensions that marked twentieth-century Bermuda.

Dismont attended the Berkeley Preparatory and Excelsior Secondary Schools. He subsequently studied at the Ontario Business College in Canada and assisted in the family business, the Dismont Cycle Shop, upon his return to Bermuda.

Dismont was raised in a political family His father had unsuccessfully run for mayor and his older brother Russell studied law at the University of London s School of Economics While there he rubbed shoulders with actors Earl Cameron ...


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 ...


Daniel Donaghy

civil rights activist. Evers was born in Decatur, Mississippi, to James Evers, a sawmill laborer, and Jessie Wright Evers, a domestic worker. The second of four children, Evers was especially close to his brother Medgar Evers. He learned courage and tenacity from his father and spirituality from his mother, who was a devout Christian. Those combined attributes served him well later in life when he decided to make a stand against racism on the grounds that it was both unacceptable and un-Christian.

Evers served in the U S Army during World War II While in the Philippines he fell in love with a Filipino woman but he did not ask her to marry him or come live with him in Mississippi because of the state s intolerant attitude toward interracial relationships After leaving the service he became an active member of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership ...


Robert Fay

Evers is the older of two sons born in Decatur, Mississippi, to James and Jessie Evers, impoverished farmers. After serving in the Army in World War II (1939–1945), Evers attended Alcorn A&M College (later Alcorn State University) in Mississippi. In 1963 a white supremacist, Byron De La Beckwith, shot and killed Evers's brother Medgar Evers, who was the Mississippi field secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). James Evers returned to Mississippi from Chicago, Illinois, replaced his brother as field secretary, and continued Medgar's struggle in the Civil Rights Movement. As NAACP field secretary, Evers led several successful boycotts and voter registration drives. He became a leading civil rights figure not only in Mississippi but throughout the United States.

In 1969 Evers was elected mayor of the town of Fayette Mississippi most of whose residents were African ...