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Charles Johnson

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, on July 21, 1840, Christian Fleetwood was the son of Charles and Anna Maria Fleetwood, who were both free blacks. Fleetwood received his early education in the home of wealthy sugar merchant John C. Brunes and his wife, the latter treating him like her son. He continued his education in the office of the secretary of the Maryland Colonization Society, went briefly to Liberia and Sierra Leone, and graduated in 1860 from Ashmun Institute (later Lincoln University) in Pennsylvania. He and others briefly published, in Baltimore, the Lyceum Observer, which was said to be the first black newspaper in the upper South. After the Civil War (1861–1865) disrupted trade with Liberia, he enlisted in the Union Army.

Fleetwood enlisted as a sergeant in Company G, Fourth Regiment, United States Colored Volunteer Infantry, on August 11, 1863 He ...


Michael Frank Knight

, clerk, editor, Civil War veteran, and recipient of the Medal of Honor, was born to Charles and Anna Marie Fleetwood, free people in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1863 Christian left a lucrative position as a clerk in the Brune shipping and trading empire and joined the Fourth United States Colored Troops as a private. Just over a year later Fleetwood received the Medal of Honor for bravery and coolness under fire at the Battle of New Market Heights (Chaffin's Farm), 29 and 30 September 1864. He was one of only sixteen African American soldiers to receive the Medal of Honor during the Civil War.

Christian Fleetwood's remarkable story begins in the home of the prominent Baltimore businessman John C. Brune Fleetwood s father served for a long time as the majordomo in the Brune household and it was there that Christian received his early education in reading ...


Brian Hallstoos

playwright, musician, and choir director, was born Willa Saunders in Little Rock, Arkansas, the daughter of Ada Anderson and Atlas Saunders, a pastor. Her twin sister and only sibling, Jimmie, died in infancy. As a child Willa learned to play the piano by practicing on an image of a keyboard drawn with charcoal on cardboard. Unable to afford lessons, she sought instruction from a girl who lived next door. In 1920 she graduated from Arkansas Baptist College and married George W. Jones, who later became a pastor. Soon after, they fled to Chicago after George was wrongfully accused of raping a white woman. The couple had two sons and a daughter who died in infancy. Willa's mother, who worked as a maid in Arkansas, traveled to Chicago to help raise her grandsons.

In Chicago Willa Jones joined St John Church Baptist the first of ...