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Bernard Demczuk

Ben's Chili Bowl (1213 U Street, NW) is a family-owned and -operated restaurant in the historically African American community of Shaw/Cardozo, Washington, DC. The restaurant sits on the former, yet famous, “Black Broadway,” so named by Pearl Bailey in the 1940s as the premier African American entertainment strip in America. During the Jim Crow Era of segregation, Black Broadways appear in urban centers across the United States but the U Street corridor, just blocks from Howard University, cultivated a sense of its own blackness with hundreds of African American businesses, churches, social clubs, banks, hotels, barbershops, beauty salons, and entertainment venues, including one of the premier African American performing arts venue in America—The Howard Theatre—established in 1910 Ben s Chili Bowl sits at the epicenter of the Black Broadway strip close to the theater that rocked with blues jazz gospel R B doo wop soul funk go go ...

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Shennette Garrett-Scott

carnival performer, snake handler, and blues musician was born in Augusta Georgia Her parents names and occupations are not recorded Her mother passed away when she was eleven years old By age fourteen she had run away from home and was performing in the chorus lines of traveling minstrel shows and carnivals She changed her last name to Brown to escape notice by her family and went on to do other types of entertainment in carnivals from lying on beds of nails to swallowing swords At age twenty one she learned to play the piano she took up the guitar in her mid thirties After singing and playing the piano in a band at carnivals she sometimes performed striptease dances in after hours racially segregated shows on Fridays and Saturdays known as the Midnight Ramble because they took place after midnight in the show tent long after ...

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A historic patent, Sarah E. Goode's Patent No. 322,177 for the Cabinet Bed, was granted 14 July 1885 and is one of the first two patents issued to African American women. According to the U.S. Patent Office, Judy W. Reed's patent no. 305,474 for a dough roller and kneader was granted 23 September 1884 and is considered the first.

There is little verifiable information on Sarah Goode s birth and early life although several sources indicate that she was born into slavery in the 1850s She ended up in Chicago Illinois and opened a furniture store that was fairly successful Many customers probably complained about the cramped rooms in their small urban apartments there was very little room for full size beds and other furniture Responding to the need to utilize space efficiently Goode designed and constructed a type of folding bed which doubled as a working desk cabinet When ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

best known as the reputed inventor of the potato chip, who established his own restaurant in the resort community of Saratoga Springs, New York. His ancestry and ethnicity are a matter of speculation; he may have been best described in Saratoga Springs, New York: A Brief History as “of thoroughly mixed American blood.” He is generally reported in census data from 1850 to 1880 as mulatto and in later censuses as black. It is commonly said that his mother was of Native American descent and that he “looked Indian.”

Crum was born in Malta, New York, to Abraham (or Abram) Speck and his wife Catherine. Although oral accounts suggest Speck was from Kentucky and possibly had been enslaved there, the 1820 Federal Census shows a “Free Colored Person” male, age twenty-six to forty-five, of that name, living in New York, and the 1840 Census shows a free ...

Article

Douglas Fleming Roosa

parachutist and pilot, was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Nothing is known about her parents, childhood, or education. She was attracted to flying by the career of Bessie Coleman, aviation's first African American female licensed pilot and an inspiration to many blacks and women who dreamed of pursuing a career in aviation, even after her untimely death in 1926. Darby, along with Willie “Suicide” Jones, was one of the few blacks to make a living as a barnstorming daredevil. In 1932 Darby took flying lessons at the Curtiss-Wright Aeronautical University in Chicago, a flight school and aeronautical engineering training ground named after American aviation pioneers, Glenn Curtiss and the Wright brothers. She made her first parachute jump in the summer of 1932 and quickly embraced the activity, performing exhibition jumps. One such jump in October of 1932 in St Louis Missouri ended badly when she broke both ...

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Due to unscrupulous landlords and discrimination-fueled scarcity, rents in Harlem were often double those of white New York City neighborhoods. The majority of residents—many fresh arrivals from the South—were poor and forced to devise ways to make rent. One popular scheme was the “rent party”: a nighttime gathering where for a small fee revelers could dance, drink, and socialize in a cash-strapped tenant’s apartment. Parties were most frequent on Saturdays, the day workers were paid. Rent parties were enormously popular in the 1920s; there could be “as many as twelve parties in a single block and five in an apartment building” (Drowne, Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance).

As the below interview with a former rent party host named Bernice makes clear practical motivations often gave way to more commercial ones and thus the buffet flat was born A buffet flat was a makeshift brothel set up in much the ...

Article

Andrew W. Kahrl

real estate developer, general contractor, philanthropist, and shipping and excursion steamboat owner, was born in Orange, Virginia.

Jefferson spent his youth in Washington, D.C. In 1881, at the age of fifteen, Jefferson enlisted in the Navy after falsifying his age. He traveled around the world working as a coal heaver. During his service, Jefferson secured connections with wealthy, influential whites, including Canadian shipping magnate Sir Hugh Allen, from whom Jefferson received a significant bequest after his death in 1882 Following his service Jefferson returned to Washington and started a small business that furnished manure and other fertilizers to city lawns and gardens and collected and shipped it out of town His wealth grew as a result of real estate investments Partnerships and friendships with influential whites in the city s business community helped to mitigate the effects of discrimination and protect him from ...

Article

Cara Grace Pacifico

actor and film producer, was born Noble Mark Johnson in Marshall, Missouri, to Perry Johnson, a nationally renowned horse trainer, and Georgia Reed. Their first child, Virgel, was born in Indiana in 1879. They had relocated to Missouri before Noble Mark was born, however they soon moved permanently to Ivywild, a suburb of Colorado Springs, Colorado, where Perry built his own facilities to train the horses of gold mining millionaires. Colorado Springs is often mistakenly listed as Johnson's birthplace but is, rather, the birthplace of his siblings Iris Hazel (1883) and George Perry (1885). Georgia Johnson died two days after George's birth. As a result the infant George was turned over to Mrs. Nancy Turner a servant in the home of the Johnson s neighbors Virgel largely took responsibility for Noble and Iris The Johnson children attended public schools in Colorado ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

best known for her many years as society columnist and women's editor for the nationally distributed Pittsburgh Courier, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Theodore O. Schalk and Mary Wilkerson Schalk, both of whom worked as waiters at a local hotel. Her father was a native of either North or South Carolina, and her mother born in Massachusetts to parents from Virginia.

Literary critics have inferred that Gertrude Schalk and her sister, Lillian, were the same person, using two different names, but census records show that they were members of the same family, born two years apart. Family life was a bit unstable. In 1910 their parents were lodgers in the home of in-laws Charles and Nora Harris at 240 West Canton Street, the children perhaps living elsewhere, or simply overlooked by the census. In 1920 the family was reunited in one of three flats at ...

Article

Erin D. Somerville

Annual two‐day street festival in London's Notting Hill celebrating Britain's West Indian community. The Notting Hill Carnival takes place on the Sunday and Monday of the August Bank Holiday weekend and is the biggest street festival in Europe, with audiences numbering over 2 million.

The five disciplines of the Carnival include: mass bands, or costumed processions and floats; calypso, political commentary set to music originating from Trinidad; soca, a fusion of soul music and calypso; steelpan, a traditional Trinidadian instrument; and static sound systems, originally from Jamaica and most often playing reggae music. The Notting Hill Carnival is greatly influenced by Trinidadian carnivals, which originated when slaves were permitted to dance, play musical instruments, and wear costumes impersonating their masters during traditional European carnivals held on Caribbean plantations.

Debate surrounds the founder of the Notting Hill Carnival. The local community leader Rhaune Laslett was long credited with creating the ...

Article

Joel Gordon

Egyptian movie star and bridge master, was born Michel Dimitry Chalhoub in Alexandria on 10 April 1932 to parents of Lebanese Catholic origin. Joseph Chalhoub, his father, a successful lumber merchant, moved the family to Cairo when Michel was four. During World War II his business expanded. The family moved into an upscale apartment in the exclusive Garden City neighborhood. As a teen, Michel attended the Cairo branch of the prestigious English-language Victoria College. His parents frequented the fashionable clubs and casinos with the glitterati of Egyptian society. His mother, Claire, became a frequent gambling partner—Sharif has called her a “mascot”—of the notorious King Faruq, who would summon her at all hours to play by his side and who regularly visited the family flat.

Young Michel showed little aptitude for academics He was drawn to sports Via an uncle he developed an attraction to French culture and language He also ...

Article

Mary Krane Derr

a singer, was born Levi Stubbles II in the north end of Detroit, Michigan, one of eight children born to foundry worker Levi Stubbles and his homemaker wife, Daisy. For a time, the family resided in a short-lived, ill-constructed development at Dequindre and Six Mile, nicknamed “Cardboard Valley.” Brother Joe Stubbs, a member of the Falcons, Contours, and Originals singing groups, and cousin Jackie Wilson paved Levi's way into music.

At Pershing High School in Detroit, Levi befriended and sang with Abdul “Duke” Fakir. At a mutual friend's birthday party in 1954, the two young men harmonized in an impromptu quartet with Northern High students Lawrence Peyton and Renaldo “Obie” Benson. They launched a group together, the Four Aims. By 1956 Levi changed his surname to Stubbs The group renamed themselves the Four Tops to avoid confusion with the Ames Brothers The Tops declined ...

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Granted 24 December 1991. Many of Lonnie Johnson's patents are held on imposing-sounding contraptions such as the Thermo-Electrochemical Converter, but the nuclear engineer's most famous invention is decidedly uncomplicated. Originally named the Power Drencher, Johnson's "Pinch Trigger Pump Water Gun," patent No. 5,074,437, added a separate pressurized air chamber to the water gun, traditionally a simple hand-propelled device. In 1991 toy manufacturer Larami Corporation launched the far-shooting gun—now branded Super Soaker—which would become one of the bestselling toys of all time.

Article

Roberta Washington

New York State's first registered African American architect and the most celebrated black architect in New York City during the Harlem Renaissance, was born Vertner Woodson Tandy in Lexington, Kentucky, the son of Emma Brice and Henry A. Tandy. Although his father was a very successful contractor, the young Tandy was more interested in the design of buildings.

In 1902, Tandy attended Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where he studied architecture. Tuskegee first offered architectural courses in its mechanical industries department in 1892 following Booker T. Washington's recruitment of black MIT graduate Robert R. Taylor. Tandy received his certificate in architecture in 1905. He also served on the faculty before leaving. Tandy then relocated from Alabama to Ithaca, New York, where he attended Cornell University in the architecture program. In 1906 he and six friends known today as the Seven Jewels started the first black ...

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Even though he died at age thirty-two, Wallace Thurman left an incontrovertible mark on black literature. In 1926, at age twenty-four, Thurman founded and edited Fire!! A Quarterly Devoted to the Younger Negro Artists, cultivating the likes of Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Bruce Nugent, and several other stars of the Harlem Renaissance. Envisioned as a radical counterpart to the works of Alain Locke and W. E. B. Du Bois—which many younger black writers viewed as too refined and lacking in authenticity—Fire!! referenced drug use, homosexuality, and various other themes sure to offend the middle-class sensibilities of Locke and Du Bois. Thurman also contributed to Fire!! including the play Cordelia the Crude A Harlem Sketch which was adapted for Broadway three years later In 1928 Thurman authored an edition of the Little Blue Book enormously popular staple bound tomes on a range of topics for Haldeman Julius ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

educator and mathematician, was born in McKamie, Arkansas, the eldest child of Charles W. and Elnora Berry White, who were born and married in Louisiana and moved to Washington, D.C., around 1910. Reed's younger brother Percy was also born in Arkansas in 1909 or 1910, while another son, Melvin, was born around 1914 in Washington, and youngest child Lucille in Washington in 1918.

Initially, his parents moved into a boarding house in the northwest of the city, to be joined later by their two sons. Charles White found work as a messenger and then as a clerk in a government office. Clarence White graduated the District's Dunbar High School and obtained a scholarship to Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he enrolled in 1924. Graduating in 1928 with a bachelor s degree in mathematics and Latin he returned to Washington and resumed living ...

Article

Kenyatta D. Berry

laborer, entrepreneur, and celebrity procurer was born in Valdosta, Georgia, the son of Reverend Arthur Zanders and Ethel Smith Zanders. His family relocated to Youngstown, Ohio, where he attended public school. In 1930, Zanders was employed as a locker room attendant at the Mahoning Valley Country Club. He roomed with Pink and Irene Ward, who also worked at the club as a steward and cook, respectively. In 1943, Zanders was working as a construction engineer on the Alcan Highway in Alaska when he developed the concept of offering combined limousine and concierge services. This idea was inspired by his difficulty in obtaining simple things that were not readily available.

Zanders moved to New York in 1935 More than a chauffeur Zanders ran a highly regarded concierge service that catered to local and visiting celebrities in New York City He started Zanders Auto Rental Service in ...