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Jim McWilliams

was born in Noblesville, Indiana, the eldest of two children in a middle-class family. His father, James Alexander Colter, an insurance salesman, was active in the NAACP and was also an amateur actor and musician. His mother, Ethel Marietta Bassett Colter, died when he was six, and the family soon moved to Youngstown, Ohio, where Colter’s maternal grandparents helped to raise him and his sister.

Colter attended a private school in Youngstown and then matriculated into Youngstown University. He soon transferred to Ohio State University, from which he graduated in 1936. Colter then attended Chicago-Kent College of Law, from which he graduated in 1940, and soon married Imogene MacKay, and, after serving in World War II, began a distinguished career as an attorney in Chicago.

After reading deeply in Russian literature, Colter, aged fifty, published his first story, “A Chance Meeting,” in the Irish magazine Threshold in 1960 ...


James Robert Payne

After careers in government service, law, the Army, and academia, Cyrus Colter began writing at fifty. Colter placed his first short story, “A Chance Meeting,” in Threshold in 1960. He went on to place stories in such little magazines as New Letters, Chicago Review, and Prairie Schooner. Fourteen of his stories are collected in his first book, The Beach Umbrella (1970). In 1990 Colter published a second collection of short fiction, The Amoralists and Other Tales.

Colter's first novel, The Rivers of Eros (1972) relates the efforts of Clotilda Pilgrim to raise her grandchildren to lives of respectability When Clotilda discovers that her sixteen year old grandaughter is involved with a married man the grandmother becomes obsessed with the idea that the girl is repeating her grandmother s own youthful mistakes Clotilda eventually kills the girl in order to stop what ...


Antje Daub

athlete, scholar, soldier, and judge, was born in Jacksonville, Florida, one of nine children of Walter Holmes Gourdin, a meat cutter and part Seminole Indian, and Felicia Nee, an African American woman who was a housekeeper. Little is known about his early school career, other than that he was valedictorian of his high school class in 1916. Although poor, Gourdin's parents recognized their son's talents and educational potential and, following his high school graduation, moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to further his career. There, Gourdin attended Cambridge High and Latin, which helped prepare him for the high academic demands of an Ivy League education.

By the time he enrolled in his freshman year at Harvard in 1917 Gourdin appears to have been a conscientious and responsible student To pay tuition he supported himself by working as a postal clerk He also became a ...


Edward Morrow

Edward Orval Gourdin was born on August 10, 1897, in Jacksonville, Florida, the son of Walter Holmes and Felicia Garvin Gourdin. As a child, Gourdin demonstrated such athletic and scholarly excellence that his family sacrificed and took him to Massachusetts to realize his potential. He prepared at Stanton and Cambridge Latin high schools for Harvard College and graduated in 1921 with a B.A. degree; he completed Harvard Law School in 1924 with an LL.B. degree. On May 10, 1923, he married Amalia Ponce of Cambridge, Massachusetts, who became the mother of their four children: Elizabeth, Ann Robinson, Amalia Lindal, and Edward O., Jr.

Gourdin gained fame as an athlete during his college and university career, passed the bar, practiced law in Boston, Massachusetts, and joined the National Guard in 1925. During World War II he served as lieutenant colonel and later ...


Flint Whitlock

the first African American commercial passenger airline pilot, was born in El Dorado, Arkansas, the son of McKinley Green, a domestic servant for a wealthy El Dorado dentist and oilman, and Lucy Longmyre. In 1944, due to the influence of a charismatic priest, the five Green siblings, with the exception of one brother, converted from Baptism to Roman Catholicism. Green later earned a scholarship to complete his senior year of high school at the Xavier Preparatory School, affiliated with Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana.

At Xavier Prep Green did well academically graduating at the top of his class His goal was to attend Epiphany Apostolic College a Josephite seminary in Newburgh on the Hudson New York and study for the priesthood However during his first semester he was wrongly diagnosed with a medical condition and was dismissed from the school Seeking a new direction for his ...


Christopher Phelps

outspoken Philadelphia civil rights leader, attorney, and city councilman, was born in Yukon, West Virginia, to Alexander Moore, a physician, and Beulah Moore, a teacher whose maiden name is now unknown. A student during the Great Depression, he attended West Virginia State College from 1933 to 1934 and Bluefield State College from 1935 to 1939. He failed the final literature class needed to graduate from Bluefield State, but considered himself its alumnus ever after and took part in its alumni association.

After working in Athens, Georgia, as an insurance salesman, Moore enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1942. He saw combat against the Japanese during World War II in the Pacific. His time in the Marines imbued Moore with discipline, toughness, and command experience, emboldening him to insist on his rights.

In 1946 Moore married Theresa Wyche Lee a Howard University graduate ...


Glenn Allen Knoblock

Coast Guard veteran and agent in the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Thomas, an auto mechanic, and Zerline (Cook) Sanders, a schoolteacher. Following World War II, Sanders and two friends joined the military. He joined the Naval Reserve in 1947 as a seaman, and in 1948 joined the Coast Guard While he did not want to be a steward he was told that there were no vacancies in the service for seamen so instead he had no choice but to enlist in the rating traditionally held by blacks in both the Navy and Coast Guard that of steward Sanders later recalled that I bought that idea and naively accepted the assurance that a rate change could be made in boot camp This of course proved not to be true and Sanders completed his training ...


Mou Chakraborty

civil rights lawyer and New York state jurist, was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, the sixth of nine children of Netti and Charles Sandifer. His father died when Sandifer was four, and Nettie raised all the kids with some help from her oldest child, Herbert, a hotel baker. In Greensboro, he was known as “John” but he thought that name was too common so he changed the spelling to Jawn while at Johnson C Smith University Growing up within a short walk from North Carolina A T State University Sandifer wanted out of Greensboro after finishing in the first class to graduate from Dudley High School in the early 1930s He was disillusioned with the racial discrimination he faced regularly in his boyhood in Greensboro A caddy master from one of the country clubs stood outside the black school Sandifer attended and urged students to skip ...


Rayford W. Logan

Frank Rudolph Steward was born in Wilmington, Delaware, one of eight children of Theophilus Gould Steward and Elizabeth (Gadsden) Steward. His father was a prominent clergyman, chaplain, author, and educator. Steward prepared for college at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, and received his B.A. degree from Harvard College in 1896. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1899. In the same year he was appointed captain, Forty-ninth Infantry, U.S. Volunteers, and served from 1899 to 1901 with the regiment in the Philippines, where his father also served as government superintendent of schools for the province of Luzon. According to an article in the Colored American Magazine (1901), Steward was provost judge in San Pablo, a city near Manila.

Steward was admitted to the bar in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and practiced law there until his death A general practitioner he believed that he ...


Lisa M. Bratton

Tuskegee Airman who was court-martialed at Freeman Field, was born Roger Cecil Terry in Los Angeles, California, the son of Edith Frances (Ross) Terry and Joseph Roger Terry, a driller for Standard Oil. In 1920 Joseph Terry had secured employment in the oil fields in Venezuela, but before departing for Venezuela, he worked in the California oil fields where a drilling accident took the life of his partner. Fearing for her husband's life, Roger's mother decided that her husband should not continue as an oil driller and the family remained in California.

Terry attended elementary and high school in Compton, California, attended Compton Junior College, and graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) at the age of nineteen. At UCLA Terry played basketball, and he and Jackie Robinson the first African American to play in major league baseball were the only two African Americans ...


Paul Stillwell

pioneer black naval officer, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the only child of William S. White Sr. and Marie Houston White His father was a chemist and pharmacist and his mother was a public school teacher They were graduates of Fisk University in Nashville a traditionally black school Both had postgraduate degrees and emphasized to their son the importance of education In an oral history interview White recalled I knew that the opportunity to go to school was a precious opportunity which should not be wasted My father used to tell me that his mother told him that almost anything you get the white folks can take away from you except learning Stillwell 243 White attended public schools including Hyde Park High School in Chicago Small in physical stature he ran track and played soccer in high school He earned a bachelor s degree from the University of ...