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Charles Edward Wiles

U.S. Marine and Medal of Honor Recipient, was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Mr. and Mrs. James Anderson Sr. Anderson attended and graduated from Carver Elementary School, located in Los Angeles, in 1958. After moving to Compton, he graduated from Willowbrook Junior and Centennial Senior High School. Anderson went on to attend Los Angeles Harbor College for approximately a year and a half.

Anderson left college and enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corps on 17 February 1966. He participated in recruit training with the First Recruit Training Battalion at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California. After graduating from recruit training, Anderson was promoted to Private First Class in August 1966. Transferring to Camp Pendleton, California, Anderson attended infantry training with the Second Battalion of the Second Infantry Training Regiment.

Private Anderson arrived in Vietnam in December of 1966 There ...


Linda Spencer

lawyer, diplomat, and activist, was born Helen Elsie Austin in Cincinnati, Ohio, the daughter of George J. Austin and Mary Louise Dotson Austin. Elsie Austin grew up in a family with a history of standing up for justice and equality. Her role model was her great‐grandmother, the wife of one of the first black U.S. congressional representatives elected after the Civil War, who, when she was taunted by racist terror and threat of death by the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama because of her husband's role in politics, defied the Klan.

Austin expressed this courage and spirit as a child in Cincinnati s public schools when she was eight years old and one of only two African American children in her class she pointed out textbook errors that degraded the role of Africans in world history and she listed many of the contributions made by Africans After she spoke ...


Adam R. Hornbuckle

the son of Arthur and Mamie Bradley; his father worked as a barber for the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. Bradley, who grew up in the Chicago south side neighborhood of Woodlawn, attended Englewood High School. As a guard on the football team, he earned all-state honors. After graduating high school, Bradley entered the University of Iowa, in Iowa City. He played guard on the Hawkeyes’ football team from 1926 to 1928. Bradley, who became the second African American to play football at Iowa after Duke Slater, left the university before graduation, having received an offer to work as a carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. His, as well as Slater’s, athletic participation at Iowa, established the institution as a “safe haven” for black athletes.

Bradley s football skills caught the attention of Slater who was playing professional football for the Chicago Cardinals of the National Football ...


James W. Riddlesperger

disability advocate and cabinet secretary, was born in Detroit, Michigan, but grew up in Chicago. He attended Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and Roosevelt College in Chicago. He graduated from Chicago City College and subsequently enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1963, serving in the Vietnam War. There he was seriously wounded when an enemy bullet shattered his right arm while he was on patrol in Da Nang, leaving him partially paralyzed. In a real sense, that injury defined the rest of Brown's career.

Upon leaving the Marine Corps in 1966 Brown joined the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), an advocacy group supporting the cause of veterans injured while in military service. The organization had been founded in 1920 and given a congressional charter in 1932 and was the official voice of America s service connected disabled veterans representing all of America s disabled veterans their families and ...


Zachary J. Lechner

musician, was born Johnnie Clyde Johnson in Fairmont, West Virginia, to Priscilla Banks Johnson and Johnnie “Buddy” Johnson, a coalminer. After Priscilla's death, Buddy's sister Cora and her husband Ernest Williams took in the infant Johnnie. Cora later purchased an upright piano, and a young Johnnie took to the instrument immediately. He quickly learned big band, R&B, and country tunes by listening to late-night radio broadcasts. One of Johnson's favorite artists was Meade “Lux” Lewis. Lewis's boogie-woogie style, in which the left hand plays a heavy, steady rhythm, would influence Johnson's piano technique. Johnson moved to Detroit at seventeen and there found work on a Ford Motor Company assembly line. Johnson served in the Marines in the South Pacific in World War II. He joined the Barracudas, a twenty-two piece orchestra that included servicemen from such bands as Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey, and Glenn Miller ...


Glenn Allen Knoblock

U.S.Marine Corps soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Rebecca Johnson. He attended local public schools in Charleston and soon after reaching the age of eighteen enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve at Oakland, California, on 23 March 1967. Though Johnson's military career lasted less than a year, he would nonetheless gain a place in the Marine Corps pantheon of heroes.

On 2 July 1967Ralph Johnson was discharged from the Marine Reserve so that he could enlist in the regular Marine Corps, doing so immediately. He was assigned to Company A, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, of the 1st Marine Division and completed further infantry and combat training at Camp Pendleton, California. Promoted to private first class in November 1967, Johnson subsequently was transferred for overseas duty, arriving in Vietnam in January 1968 Just two months later ...


football player, was born in Detroit, Michigan. The names of his parents are unknown. He never knew his father, who reportedly died in a Civilian Conservation Corps camp when Gene was very young; his mother was stabbed to death by a male acquaintance while she waited for a bus in Detroit in 1942 Raised by his maternal grandfather Lipscomb recalled that his grandfather did the best he knew how But for some reason it was always hard for us to talk together Instead of telling me what I was doing wrong and how to correct it my grandfather would holler and whip me As a youth Gene held a variety of odd jobs to support himself including a midnight to eight shift at a steel mill in Detroit which he worked before attending classes at Miller High School He quit school at age sixteen and joined the U ...


Adrian Fraser

was born on 26 March 1886 on Union Island, one of the Grenadine Islands that are dependencies of St. Vincent. Union Island was at that time a single private plantation and his grandfather Charles Mulzac, of Scottish descent, the sole plantation owner. His mother’s parents were of African descent. Hugh’s father Richard took control of the plantation on the death of his father, before finally selling it. He then focused his attention on the sea, as the owner of whaling boats and shipbuilding and repair facilities.

The sea was the gateway from St. Vincent to the rest of the world and Hugh at a very early age developed a fascination for life on the ocean. After gaining early experience sailing on a boat manned by his brother in the waters of the Grenadines and Barbados, Mulzac seized an opportunity in 1907 that allowed him to take up a job ...


Trevor Hall

was a ship owner and discoverer, colonizer, and governor of the Portuguese Cape Verde Islands off the Guinea coast (now known as Senegal). Born into a prominent family of cartographers in Genoa, de Noli played an important role in the fifteenth-century slave trade when he sailed to West Africa and transported Africans to Portugal as slaves. There is no information about his marriage; however, he had a daughter, the Portuguese noblewoman Branca de Aguiar. She inherited his Cape Verde governorship in 1497, when she married the Portuguese nobleman Jorge Correa de Sousa. Other relatives were his younger brother Bartholomeu and nephew Raphael de Noli, who like Antonio were ship captains.

Just before 1460 the three de Noli captains sailed their ships from the Mediterranean to Portugal where Prince Henry the Navigator hired Antonio to deliver horses to West Africa The Christian Prince Henry had formed a military alliance ...


professional boxer and actor, was born in Jacksonville, Illinois, to George Florence, a World War II veteran, and Ruth Norton, an activities director at a hospital, who would later marry John Norton a fireman and police dispatcher From an early age Norton excelled in sports which he claimed protected him from much of the racism that pervaded his hometown In high school Norton became a star in football baseball and track and field Although gifted intellectually Norton did only the work required of him and as a result did not do well in school However his athletic achievements led to scholarship offers from over ninety institutions Fearful of venturing too far from home Norton accepted a football scholarship from Northeast Missouri State University later Truman State University a teacher s college where he played basketball and football During his sophomore year Norton got into an argument ...


Jason Philip Miller

boxer, was born in the rough-and-tumble Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis, Missouri, to Leon and Kay Spinks. He was the oldest of seven children. It was not an easy upbringing. Violence in Spinks's neighborhood was endemic and after being mugged and bullied, he was given the nickname “Mess Over,” in reference to the opinion that he was an easy target. Home was little better. His father, an absentee who finally vanished when Spinks was ten, was often physically abusive to his children, once hanging Spinks from a nail and beating him. Spinks's mother taught Bible classes out of the family home. When he was fourteen Leon developed an interest in boxing—in no small part as a means of self-defense—and, along with his brother Michael, became a frequenter of the local gym.

Spinks dropped out of school in the tenth grade and joined the U S Marines with ...


George Baca

anthropologist, was born Council Samuel Taylor in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Walter Knight Taylor and Odelle Grace Robinson Taylor. “Count,” as his intimates called him, was dynamic, tall, a stylish dresser, and a great storyteller, using his deep voice for dramatic effect. Colleagues, students, and teachers remembered him adorned with a French beret, ascot, and an ornate walking stick.

Taylor passed as a white man during the 1940s. From 1942 to 1946 he served in the marines—well before President Harry Truman issued Executive Order 9981 to desegregate the U S Armed Forces where he saw combat duty with the Air Delivery Squadron and Aviation Supply during World War II A most striking feature of his biography is that as a gay black man Taylor served as a platoon sergeant in aviation supply in several locations in the South Pacific and near China during the war ...


Brenna Sanchez

photographer and Pulitzer Prize–winning photojournalist, was born in Lexington, North Carolina, one of six children of an African Methodist Episcopal Zion minister, whose name is now unknown, and Ruby Mae Leverett White. White proved a slow student and was once told by a teacher that he would grow up to be nothing more than a garbageman. His father reportedly answered that remark by telling his son that what he did mattered less than wanting to be the best at whatever goal he had set for himself. White purchased his first camera at age thirteen for fifty cents and ten bubblegum wrappers. When he began studying commercial art at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina, he decided to become a professional photographer.

A turn in the U S Marine Corps gave White his first professional photography experience When he returned to civilian life he had a difficult time ...


Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born in Fresno, California, the son of Idel McGee Williams. His father’s name is unrecorded. Randy Lavelle Williams played football and competed in the 100-yard and 220-yard dashes, 4 × 110-yard relay, long jump, and triple jump at Edison High School in Fresno. At the California Interscholastic Federation State Championships, he finished third in the long jump in 1969, second in 1970, and first in 1971. At the 1971 Golden West Invitational, Williams won the long jump in 25 feet 2½ inches (7.68 meters) and finished third in the triple jump at 49 feet 8½ inches (15.15 meters).

After graduating from Edison in 1971 Williams accepted an athletic scholarship to the University of Southern California in Los Angeles As a member of the track team he won the long jump at the Pacific Athletic Conference PAC 10 Championships the National Collegiate Athletic Association NCAA Championships ...


Wallace D. Best

pastor, community activist, and author, was born in the racially mixed Germantown section of Philadelphia to Jeremiah Alvesta Wright Sr. and Dr. Mary Elizabeth Henderson Wright. Wright Sr. served as pastor of Grace Baptist Church of Germantown from 1938 until his retirement in 1980. Dr. Mary Wright was a schoolteacher and the first vice principal at Germantown High and Girls Schools. Both parents profoundly influenced their son, instilling in him values that shaped his intellectual pursuits, spiritual life, and political activism.

Wright attended historic Central High School in Philadelphia, graduating in 1959. Central was an all-boys school and 90 percent white at the time of his attendance. Founded in 1838 the school had established a tradition of excellence in education and fellow classmates considered Wright a model student among the 211th graduating class Following in his father s footsteps Wright enrolled in Virginia ...