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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...