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Joseph S. Mella

painter, graphic artist, printmaker, and publisher, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Ned Adams, an electrician and occasional sign painter, and Laura. Adams first explored art making by mimicking his father, who, according to Adams, enjoyed drawing. After the divorce of his parents around 1944, Adams lived with his aunt and uncle, Claudia and Caleb Spivey. Although he sought to attend a program for gifted children at the Detroit Institute of Arts, his uncle vehemently prohibited it, preferring that Adams spend his free time working jobs such as delivering newspapers. Adams attended Northwestern High School in Detroit while continuing to live with the Spiveys until age fifteen, when he moved to his father's home.

After graduating from high school in 1951 Adams moved to Romeo Michigan a then rural town forty one miles north of Detroit There Adams worked at ...

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Jerry C. Waters

an interdisciplinary artist and musician, was born Terry Roger Adkins in Washington, D.C., the eldest of five children of Robert Hamilton Adkins, a teacher and a musician, and Doris Jackson Adkins, a homemaker and musician. Adkins was raised in Alexandria, Virginia.

The artistic and musical achievements of Terry Adkins are linked to his formative years. Born in the racially segregated South, he attended a predominantly black primary school in Alexandria, Virginia, and graduated in 1971 from Ascension Academy a mostly white Catholic high school Adkins s parents encouraged his artistic talents and academic pursuits because education was valued within the extended Adkins family His father Robert Hamilton Adkins was a chemistry and science teacher at Parker Gray High School a predominantly black school in Alexandria and performed within the community as an organist and vocalist Adkins s grandfather the Reverend Andrew Warren Adkins pastored Alfred Street Baptist ...

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Kyra E. Hicks

quilt historian and researcher, was born in Cincinnati to Walter Ray Sr., a dining car steward for the Southern Railway Company, and Marie Jones, a seamstress and homemaker. After age six, following her mother's death, Benberry and her older brother, Walter Jr., lived in Saint Louis with their maternal grandmother, Letha Jennings.

After earning a BA in 1945 from Stowe Teachers College (later Harris-Stowe State University) in Saint Louis, she married George L. Benberry in 1951. The couple had one son, George Jr., born in 1953. Benberry spent about forty years as a teacher, reading specialist, and librarian for the Saint Louis public school system. She went on to get a certificate of Library Science, also from Stowe, in 1967, and a masters of Education in 1973 from the University of Missouri, Saint Louis.

Benberry s interest in quilting began during a trip ...

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Pamela Lee Gray

musician, activist, author, painter, and sculptor, was born Richard Pierce Havens in Brooklyn, New York, the oldest of nine children. He grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. His father, Richard Havens, worked as a metal plater and dreamed of becoming a professional pianist, eventually learning to play a number of instruments. Richie's mother Mildred a bookbinder and casual singer at home encouraged her young son when he started singing background vocals at the age of twelve for local groups All kinds of music were played in the Havens home Richie s grandmother listened to Yiddish gospel and big band music his mother enjoyed country music and his father loved jazz He joined the doo wop singing group the Five Chances at age fifteen and performed the next year with the Brooklyn McCrea Gospel Singers a group that sang hymns for neighborhood churches Havens ...

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Jerry C. Waters

artist and musician, was born Lonnie Bradley Holley in Birmingham, Alabama, and was, according to Holley in a personal interview, the seventh child of twenty-seven children born to his mother, Dorothy May Holley Crawford, and to his father, Arthur James Bradley.

Holley s childhood and adolescence were extremely difficult in that he experienced intense poverty physical abuse and homelessness Following his birth Holley s mother placed him with a woman who moved to Ohio Four years later she returned to Birmingham and gave him to another woman known as Big Mama and her husband Big Daddy in exchange for a bottle of bootleg whiskey Holley ran away from them because of continual corporeal punishment he received from Big Daddy As a result of this decision Holley lived with several foster families was incarcerated in the Alabama Industrial School for Boys and Girls in Mount Meigs and spent time ...

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Jennifer Drake

poet, visual artist, performer, and bohemian citizen of the world, was born Theodore Jones in Cairo, Illinois, to parents who worked on Mississippi riverboats. While little is known about Joans's childhood, two stories circulate widely. The first is that he was born on a riverboat; the second is that his father, a riverboat entertainer, gave the twelve-year-old Joans a trumpet and dropped him off in Memphis, Tennessee, to make his own way in the world. It has been documented that Joans's father was murdered in the 1943 Detroit race riots, and various autobiographical writings indicate that Joans spent some of his childhood in Indiana and Kentucky.

After earning his BFA in painting from Indiana University in 1951, Joans moved to New York's Greenwich Village and became a central figure in the Beat scene. He associated with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg who would first ...

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Kathryne V. Lindberg

Ted Joans was born in Cairo, Illinois, on 4 July 1928, to African American entertainers working on Mississippi riverboats. He says that by the age of thirteen, he had learned to play the trumpet as well as the crowd and otherwise to fend for himself after his father's death in the Detroit Riot of 1943. Upon earning a bachelor's degree in painting at Indiana University (1951 he headed for New York where his studio apartment soon became a famous salon and party site With other New York bohemians he attended the New School for Social Research but the extracurricular activities of Greenwich Village and increasingly of Harlem s Black Arts movement were his preferred teaching and learning venues After marrying and fathering four children three of them sons bio blurbs remind with heroic African surnames he departed conventional life entirely in order experientially and textually to ...

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J. Vern Cromartie

visual artist, musician, author, and political activist, was born Joan Angela Lewis in Oakland, California, to John Henry Lewis and Florence (Reid) Lewis. She is also known as J. Tarika Lewis, Tarika Lewis, Joan Lewis, and Matilaba. At the time of her birth, her father was a salesman for G&W Refrigeration. He was the first black man to become the light heavyweight champion of the world, a title he held from 1935 to 1939. After retiring as a prize fighter, John Henry Lewis and his father Edward Lewis operated a boxing gym in Oakland.

While attending Oakland Technical High School Lewis was active in the journalism music and athletic programs She wrote for the school newspaper and played violin in the school orchestra Lewis was also a member of the swim team and a sprinter on the track team From the 10th to ...

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Evan Mwangi

is a Kenyan writer, publisher, painter, graphic designer, musician, philosopher, numerologist, and politician. With an extensive canon of over sixty books, David Maillu is undoubtedly East Africa’s most prolific writer, but his works have not been taken seriously by academia, because of the sexual explicitness of the pocket-size, he published himself in the 1970s.

Although the unrecorded date of his birth remains uncertain to him, Maillu has made 19 October 1939 his birthday based on numerological estimation and interviews with his mother Born as what he has described as an extra ordinarily dark child to Mulwa Kioko and Esther Kavuli his father s fifth wife the writer was given the name Maillu which is a derivative of the Kikamba word for black or dark His biological father died when Maillu was very young and Esther Kavuli returned to her parents home before marrying Joseph Mulandi an orphan with ...

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Ann Wilde

photographer, poet, writer, composer, and filmmaker. Born the fifteenth and final child of a farming family in Fort Scott, Kansas, Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks was born on 30 November 1912 Parks attended a segregated school where he was often stoned beaten and called derogatory names Three of his close friends had been killed because of racial violence and he was distinctly aware of the constant threat that faced him simply because he was African American and lived in the United States Parks s mother died when he was sixteen after which complying with his mother s wishes Parks moved to Minneapolis to live with his sister and brother in law Unwelcome in his brother in law s home Parks spent the winter homeless but managed to finish high school by working odd jobs He believed above all that the difficulty of his experiences ...

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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

guitarist, songwriter, producer, and photographer, was born in London, England, the oldest of three children, to James Reid, a postal worker, and Mary Elizabeth, a hospital worker. His parents had emigrated from the Caribbean island of Montserrat, but anti-immigrant sentiments prompted them to leave London for New York when Reid was two years old. Living in Brooklyn, Reid attended St. Gregory's Catholic School, where he demonstrated an interest in art and drawing. He also seemed fascinated with music, and his parents exposed him to a broad spectrum of their favorites—from calypso, to James Brown, to the Beatles, and the Dave Clark Five By the time he reached Brooklyn Technical High School focusing on industrial design Reid enjoyed an eclectic musical mix of rock blues jazz and R B An after school jazz workshop intensified his interest in music and he began ...

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Barbara A. Seals Nevergold

minister, musician, and photographer, was born in Bayou Rapides, Louisiana, to Irene Lair and Giuseppe “Joe” Nasello. Nasello, who immigrated to the United States from his native Sicily in 1901, owned a dry goods store in Alexandria, Louisiana, that Willie remembered visiting with his mother from time to time. However, Joe Nasello had another family, and given the mores of the time, “Papa” Joe never acknowledged the two children he fathered with Irene. (A daughter, Alice, was born in 1912.) Although Joe Nasello lived until 1958, it appears that father and son never met face to face nor openly acknowledged their relationship. Seals talked freely yet sparingly of his paternity, and he jokingly noted to his children that he was an “Italian.”

According to Willie, “Seals” was a made-up name that he took from Lucille Ceil a favorite grade school teacher ...

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Christopher Tiné

The only survivor in a line of seven sets of twins, Twins Seven-Seven, who was born Taiwo Olaniyi Salan in Ogidi, Nigeria, named himself to honor this unusual lineage. He began his career as a musician and dancer, and has several records and tours to his credit. Twins Seven-Seven first discovered painting and the graphic arts when he encountered the Mbari Mbayo Club by chance in 1964. The group eventually evolved into the Oshobgo School, a well-known community of Nigerian artists. Ulli Beier, a member of the group, and Seven-Seven wrote a book about Twins’s work called A Dreaming Life.

Initially Twins Seven Seven focused on drawing His early work demonstrates an attention to fine detail he would fill the entire visual field with lines and patterns When Twins Seven Seven began to paint he worked on flat sheets of plywood that he pieced together and layered to ...

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Charles Rosenberg

the fifth of the seven children of Marion and Jennie Simpson. His father was a porter for a railroad, and later read water meters for a living; there is no record of his mother working outside the home.

Simpson was kept out of school until 5th grade by repeated bouts with diphtheria and rheumatic fever. He was tutored by his sisters and brothers, and when physically able, spent a good deal of time at the Diamond Jenkins orphanage. He still had his family, but Jenkins was a center of music, particularly jazz, where many residents developing their skills turned out to be future professionals, including Cat Anderson Pinkett and Freddie Green Basie In high school he played tenor saxophone clarinet and flute Spending a good deal of time drawing cartoons and painting Simpson was taught from the age of 13 by local art gallery owner William Halsey who ...

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Theresa Leininger-Miller

painter, printmaker, and jazz musician, was born in New York City, the only child of immigrants from Bermuda Albert Renforth Smith, lifelong chauffeur to newspaper publisher Ralph Pulitzer, and Elizabeth A. Smith, a homemaker. After graduating from Public School No. 70 in 1911, Smith attended the DeWitt Clinton High School for two years. He began studying art under Irene Weir in 1913 and was the first African American to receive a Wolfe scholarship at the Ethical Culture Art High School. In 1915 Smith became the first African American student at the National Academy of Design, where he studied painting under Douglas Volk, etching with William Auerbach-Levy, and mural painting with Kenyon Cox. There he won honorable mention and the Suydam Bronze Medal in his first- and second-year classes (1915, 1916 two prizes from the academy poster competition and ...

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Albert Smith was born in New York, New York He was trained in piano and guitar at the Ethical Culture High School in New York and later studied at the National Academy of Design in Belgium where he twice won the Suyden Bronze Medal After serving in a military ...

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Richard Pankhurst

Ethiopian Minister of Posts, Telephones and Telegraphs, musician, singer, poet, and wit, was born in Minjar in eastern Ethiopia in 1876. He was the son of Ato Eshete Gobe, a servant of Ras Mekonnen, Emperor Menilek II’s governor of Harar, and Weyzero Woleteyes Habtu. Young Tesemma spent his early childhood in Harar, where he learned reading and writing in a church school, but upon his father’s death he moved to Addis Ababa. Later in 1908, at the age of thirty-one, he was chosen by Menilek to go to Germany with two other Ethiopians. They accompanied a departing German visitor, Arnold Holz, who in the previous year had driven to Addis Ababa in a Nache motor car, the second car to reach the Ethiopian capital—the first, a Wolseley driven by Bede Bentley, had arrived in the Ethiopian capital only a few months earlier.

While in Germany where he spent ...