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John Gilmore

Politician, born in Jamaica into a family of wealthy plantation owners. Sent to England in 1723, he was educated at Westminster School and Oxford. He later studied medicine at Leiden in Holland, but broke off his course there when the death of his father obliged him to return to Jamaica in 1735. When his elder brother died in 1737, he inherited most of the family properties and continued to add to them by inheritance and purchase over the next 30 years. At the time of his death he was sole owner of thirteen sugar plantations in Jamaica, together with other real estate and about 3,000 slaves.

In 1737William Beckford became a member of the Jamaican House of Assembly, but by 1744 he had left Jamaica for Britain where he settled in London as a West India merchant selling the produce of his own estates ...


Robin Brabham

architect, politician, and community leader, was born Harvey Bernard Gantt in Charleston, South Carolina, the first of five children of Wilhelmenia Gordon and Christopher C. Gantt. His father was a skilled mechanic at the Charleston Naval Shipyard and an active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and he encouraged his son to speak out against the segregated society in which they lived. Gantt graduated in 1960 from Burke High School, where he was salutatorian of his class and captain of the football team. Only a month before graduation, he helped twenty-two other student leaders from the all-black school stage a sit-in demonstration at the S. H. Kress lunch counter. In Gantt's later assessment, the action “started a change in the minds of the whole [city]” and “ultimately ended up in a movement that spread throughout all of Charleston” (Haessly, 47).

Gantt ...


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 ...


Greta Koehler

politician and mayor of New Orleans, was born Marc Haydel Morial in New Orleans, Louisiana, as the second of five children to Sybil Haydel Morial, a teacher, and Ernest N. “Dutch” Morial, a lawyer and New Orleans's first African American mayor. Morial graduated from New Orleans's all-male Jesuit High School in 1976 and went on to complete a Bachelor's degree in Economics and African American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania in 1980. During this time he served as coordinator for his father's mayoral campaign. After receiving a Juris Doctor from Georgetown University in 1983, Morial worked for two years in a law firm in New Orleans before opening his own in 1985. During this time he served as board member for the Louisiana American Civil Liberties Union and received the Louisiana State Bar Association's Pro Bono Publico Award in 1988 for his ...


Alexander J. Chenault

businessman, politician, mayor of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina (2005), was born Clarence Ray Nagin in New Orleans's Charity Hospital to Clarence Ray Nagin Sr., who worked as a fabric cutter by day, and a janitor at New Orleans City Hall at night, and Theresa, who worked at the lunch counter in a local New Orleans Kmart store. Clarence Ray Jr. and his two sisters grew up in the historic Seventh Ward section of New Orleans, home to many Creole, Roman Catholic families. He attended O. Perry Walker High School in New Orleans, where he excelled in baseball and basketball. In 1978, after having played on a baseball scholarship, Nagin graduated from Tuskegee University in Alabama with a degree in accounting. In 1982 Nagin married Seletha Smith, with whom he had three children, Jeremy, Jarin, and Tianna.

After short stints with General Motors ...


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 ...


Cyril Daddieh

Ivorian teacher, trade unionist, war veteran, deputy, mayor, spiritual leader, senator, cabinet minister, and wealthy planter/businessman, was born on 23 January 1920 in Jacqueville, not far from Abidjan. His father had served as a customs official in Abidjan. He attended primary school in Grand Bassam and then the École Normale Supérieur William Ponty in Senegal from 1937 to 1940. He taught for two years before joining the French war effort in 1942. He was deployed in North Africa, Italy, France, and Germany and was awarded the Croix de Guerre for bravery. After his military service in the French army ended in 1946 he returned home to teach in Aboisso As an ethnic Alladian Yacé was widely recognized as the spiritual leader as well as the titular political representative of the 3A Alladian Aïzi Akouri located in the area around Abidjan between the lagoon and the sea Yet teachers ...


Joseph Wilson

mayor of Detroit. Coleman Alexander Young was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and raised in Detroit. He became an autoworker for the Ford Motor Company until he was banned from employment in retaliation for his labor and civil rights organizing. During his time as an organizer, he suffered head injuries when company thugs attacked union organizers at the plant.

Young also served with the heralded Tuskegee Airmen during World War II as a navigator and the first black U.S. bombardier, rising to the rank of lieutenant. In 1945 he helped organize the Freeman Field mutiny, in which 162 African American officers were arrested for staging a sit-in at an all-white officers club to protest segregation at an Indiana military base. Ironically, although Nazi German prisoners of war moved freely about the base, the black officers were threatened with court-martial and execution.

As a civilian Young was involved with the American ...


Kate Tuttle

Coleman Alexander Young, Detroit's first black mayor, presided for nearly twenty years over America's eighth-largest city—and one of its most troubled. By 1973, when Young first ran for mayor, the auto industry that had been Detroit's economic base was in serious decline. Most whites fled to the nearby suburbs, leaving the city with a population that was approximately 70 percent African American. Poverty sent the crime rate soaring, and the city's infrastructure fell into a state of decay. Young, a state senator at the time, received 92 percent of the black vote when he defeated police chief John Nicholls in the mayoral election.

During his twenty years in office Young launched a series of revitalization projects including a new rail system and General Motors automobile plant as well as construction of the Joe Louis Arena and multi use Renaissance Center on Detroit s waterfront He worked to integrate ...