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Michele Valerie Ronnick

professor of ancient Greek, philologist, ordained Methodist minister in the Colored Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church, and missionary to the Congo, was born in Hephzibah, Georgia, not far from Augusta, to Gabriel and Sarah Gilbert. His parents were field hands, and scholars are not certain whether John was born free or enslaved. Some sources give his birth date as 6 July 1864. As a child he was eager to learn, but he had to mix long hours of farm work with brief periods of school. At last overwhelmed by poverty he was forced to withdraw from the Baptist Seminary in Augusta. After a three-year hiatus from schooling he resumed his work when Dr. George Williams Walker, a Methodist pastor who had come to Augusta to teach in 1884, and Warren A. Candler pastor of Augusta s St John Church offered him assistance With the help ...


Donna Tyler Hollie

educator, author, editor, and first professional African American classical scholar, was born in Macon, Georgia, the only survivor of three children of Jeremiah Scarborough, a railroad employee, and Frances Gwynn, a slave. His enslaved mother was permitted by her owner, Colonel William de Graffenreid, to live with her emancipated husband. Jeremiah Scarborough was given funds to migrate to the North by his emancipator, who left $3,000 in trust for him should he decide to move to the North. Not wanting to leave his enslaved wife and son, he chose to remain in Macon. According to the Bibb County, Georgia, census of 1870, he had accumulated $3,500 in real property and $300 in personal property.

The Scarboroughs were literate and encouraged their son s academic development They provided a variety of learning experiences for him they apprenticed him to a shoemaker and ...


Mathias Hanses

educator and first black university classicist in the state of Virginia, was born in Richmond, Virginia, apparently to a single mother. In April 1865, when Williams was three years old, Richmond fell to Union troops under Ulysses S. Grant, mere days before the South's ultimate surrender at Appomattox. Retreating Confederates set fire to their capital, but the two-day blaze presented Richmond's black population with some unprecedented prospects. Williams was among the first generation of Southern blacks to gain legal access to public schools, and his mother put enough trust in his talent to enroll him early on. Upon his graduation from Richmond Normal School in 1877, Williams was awarded a gold medal for his superior scholarship and conduct, as well as a silver medal for excellence in orthography. These early successes prefigured the steep rise to prominence of a life cut short in its prime.

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