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LaVerne Gyant

actress, activist, and elocutionist, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Mansfield Vinton Davis, a musician, and Mary Ann (Johnson) Davis. Davis's talents as an actress and elocutionist were apparently inherited from her father, while her inclination toward activism came from her stepfather, George A. Hackett, who was a recognized leader within the African American community in Baltimore. Both Mansfield Davis and George Hackett died while she was still young After her stepfather s death Davis and her mother moved to Washington D C where she had the advantage of attending the best schools and with her fondness for books made rapid progress in her studies At the age of fifteen she passed the necessary exams to become a teacher and began teaching in the Maryland school district During this time she was recruited by the Louisiana State Board of Education who tendered her ...


crystal am nelson

community leader and musician, was born Occramer Marycoo in West Africa. Although his country of origin is unknown, a 1757 ship manifest shows that he was brought to America at the age of fourteen. He was on one of that year's seven slaving voyages that brought a total of 831 African slaves to Rhode Island. Gardner was one of the 106,544 slaves brought to Newport, Rhode Island, between 1709 and 1807. Caleb Gardner, a white merchant and member of the principal slave-trading team Briggs & Gardner, bought the teenage Marycoo and baptized him into the Congregational faith as Newport Gardner.

The forced exposure to Christianity aided Gardner s rise to a leadership position in the New World He quickly learned English from daily Bible studies with his master who freed Gardner after overhearing him pray for emancipation Upon gaining his freedom Gardner combined his new religious fervor with ...


Charles L. Hughes

singer and songwriter, was born Joseph Arrington Jr. in Rogers, Texas. Arrington, a gifted singer from his youth, performed around his hometown for tips, and, as a high-school junior, he won amateur talent shows in Houston and at New York City's legendary Apollo Theater. After graduating from high school in 1951, Arrington, whose stage surname honored his home state and the white singing cowboy Tex Ritter, moved to New York, where he began touring the theater circuit that included the Apollo and Washington, D.C.'s Howard Theatre. He signed to King in 1954 Records, then riding the early success of Tex's idol, James Brown. (Tex's and Brown's respective stage shows bore an energetic similarity.) While Tex scored a few minor hits during his King tenure (including Coasters-style novelties like “Charlie Brown Got Expelled”), he achieved his first real success in 1961, after meeting Buddy Killen ...