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Dreck Spurlock Wilson

architect, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the eighth of eleven children of Charles Sylvester Abele and Mary Jones, a washerwoman and milliner. Charles Able changed the spelling, although not the pronunciation, of his surname to Abele after mustering out of the Union army following the end of the Civil War. Charles, who worked as a carpenter and laborer at the U.S. Treasury Customs House, a sought-after patronage job, and as a porter, died when Julian was twelve. Mary Jones Able was a descendant of Absalom Jones, the first African American Protestant Episcopal priest. Julian and his siblings were fourth generation Philadelphians and were expected by their parents to achieve recognition, marry well, and assume their rightful place in Olde Philadelphia society. Julian's oldest brother, Robert, was one of the first African American graduates of Hahnemann Medical College and a cofounder in 1907 of Mercy Hospital the only ...

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M. Kelly Beauchamp

soldier, served in the militia and Continental army during the American Revolution. Blackman also went by the name of Pompey Fortune, and after the Revolution he used the name Pompey Freeman and often shortened his name to Pomp. Blackman enlisted at Concord, Massachusetts, in 1775 in a regiment commanded by Colonel Samuel Gerrish. His place of origin and civil status are unknown, but given the later change of his name to Freeman it seems probable that he had been a slave. His enlistment therefore may have been illegal, because the Massachusetts Committee of Safety had passed a resolution on 20 May 1775 that forbade slave enlistments. Later acts forbade service by any African American, but clearly Massachusetts continued to violate its own laws on this issue, because African American troops were found in numerous Massachusetts regiments in significant numbers. On 27 January 1777 Massachusetts legislators finally came ...

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Roberta Washington

the second African American female licensed architect, worked in both architecture and structural engineering firms in Chicago, before relocating to Sao Paulo, Brazil, where her career spanned another thirty-nine years.

Brown was born in Topeka, Kansas as the middle of five children of Carl Collins and Georgia Louise Watkins Harris. Her father was a shipping clerk in a downtown department store. Her mother, a former schoolteacher, was an accomplished classical pianist. The children attended an integrated elementary school and Seaman High School. As a child Brown loved sketching and the opportunity to work with her older brother Bryant on machinery on their semi-rural farm. One day Bryant, who had met some architecture students at Kansas State University where he studied electrical engineering, sat at the kitchen table talking with Brown about architecture as they looked up the word “architect” in the dictionary.

From 1936 to 1938 Brown attended ...

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Richard A. Bradshaw and Juan Fandos-Rius

construction engineer in the Central African Republic (CAR), was born 17 December 1931 in Boali, a town north of Bangui known for its waterfalls and hydoelectric plants, in what is now the CAR’s Ombella Mpoko prefecture. His mother was a Banda from central Ubangi-Shari, and his father was a Gbanu, an ethnic group classified with the Gbaya-speaking peoples who constitute about one-half of the population of the CAR. Béfio is a common Gbaya name, but Béfio’s father died when he was very young and so he was raised for the most part by Banda members of his family.

After attending primary school in Boali from 1939 to 1943 and in Bangui from 1943 to 1946 and secondary school in Bangui in 1946, Dallot-Béfio became the first Central African student granted a scholarship to study in France, where he attended the Lycée de garçons in Nice from 1947 to 1952 ...

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LaVerne Gyant

actress, activist, and elocutionist, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Mansfield Vinton Davis, a musician, and Mary Ann (Johnson) Davis. Davis's talents as an actress and elocutionist were apparently inherited from her father, while her inclination toward activism came from her stepfather, George A. Hackett, who was a recognized leader within the African American community in Baltimore. Both Mansfield Davis and George Hackett died while she was still young After her stepfather s death Davis and her mother moved to Washington D C where she had the advantage of attending the best schools and with her fondness for books made rapid progress in her studies At the age of fifteen she passed the necessary exams to become a teacher and began teaching in the Maryland school district During this time she was recruited by the Louisiana State Board of Education who tendered her ...

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JoAnna Wool

dancer and vaudevillian was born in Covington, Kentucky, in 1872. According to her husband, Charles E. Johnson, Dean was born Dora Babbige, and her brother, Clarence Babbige, served as a judge in Kentucky during the Reconstruction period. By the mid-1880s her family moved to Indiana, and Dean found employment as a nursemaid in nearby Ohio.

Dean entered show business as a “statue girl” in The Creole Show, a popular touring production staged by Sam T. Jack. Dean possessed a striking figure, a pleasing smile, and a quality of warmth and personal charm that she was able to project from the stage; billed as “The Black Venus,” she struck dramatic poses during musical numbers and made a hit with the audience. Paired with talented soft-shoe dancer Charles E. Johnson Dean also became known for her performance of the cakewalk a dance developed by blacks ...

Article

De Witt S. Dykes

minister and registered architect, was born in Gadsden, Alabama, the second male and the fifth of six children born to Mary Anna Wade, a homemaker, and the Reverend Henry Sanford Roland Dykes, a lay minister in the Methodist Church (later the United Methodist Church), a brick mason, and construction contractor.

In the early 1900s the family moved to Newport, Tennessee, which was a racially segregated small town with a semirural atmosphere. Henry Dykes served as a circuit riding minister, conducting services on alternate Sundays at Methodist churches in three communities, including one at Newport, but earned enough to support his family as the head of a construction firm on weekdays until his death in 1945 Henry Dykes taught brick masonry and construction skills to not only his sons but also others By age fourteen Dykes had become a master mason by age seventeen he was a ...

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Stephanie Y. Evans

advertising executive, magazine publisher, and radio network founder, was born in Louisville Kentucky, to W. Leonard Evans Sr., an executive with the Urban League, and Beatrice, an executive with an insurance company. Shortly after his birth, his family moved to suburban Chicago, where he was raised. Evans attended the Chicago public schools, after which he graduated from Wilberforce Academy in Ohio in 1931. It was a family tradition to go to college at Fisk in Nashville, which he did for several years, studying sociology and learning to do research. He then transferred to the University of Illinois, where he received a degree in business in 1935. He also studied law at Chicago's Kent College of Law.

In 1943 Evans married Maudelle and the couple would go on to have two sons Evans became interested in researching the black consumer and after working for such ...

Article

Denise Burrell-Stinson

writer and professor, was born Percival Leonard Everett II, the elder of the two children of Percival Leonard Everett, a dentist, and Dorothy (Stinson) Everett, who assisted her husband in his practice for thirty years. The younger Percival was born on a U.S. Army base in Fort Gordon, Georgia, while his father was assigned a post as a sergeant and communications specialist. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to Columbia, South Carolina, where he spent his childhood, eventually graduating from A. C. Flora High School in 1974.

The climate of Everett s youth was stimulating nurturing a strong intellect The senior Everett was part of a long family legacy in the field of medicine his own father and two brothers were all doctors and he was also a voracious reader filling the family home with books The younger Everett inherited his father s literary ...

Article

Robin Brabham

architect, politician, and community leader, was born Harvey Bernard Gantt in Charleston, South Carolina, the first of five children of Wilhelmenia Gordon and Christopher C. Gantt. His father was a skilled mechanic at the Charleston Naval Shipyard and an active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and he encouraged his son to speak out against the segregated society in which they lived. Gantt graduated in 1960 from Burke High School, where he was salutatorian of his class and captain of the football team. Only a month before graduation, he helped twenty-two other student leaders from the all-black school stage a sit-in demonstration at the S. H. Kress lunch counter. In Gantt's later assessment, the action “started a change in the minds of the whole [city]” and “ultimately ended up in a movement that spread throughout all of Charleston” (Haessly, 47).

Gantt ...

Article

John Hanson Mitchell

photographer and naturalist, was born in Natural Bridge, Virginia. His parents' names and occupations are unknown. In 1881, after attending primary schools in Lexington, Virginia, Gilbert was taken by his family to Lynchburg, Virginia, to complete his education. In 1886 he followed his brother William north to Boston, where he found employment as a porter on the Portland Boston steamship line. He would work various odd jobs until 1896, when psychologist James Chadbourne hired him to help with laboratory rats. Gilbert, as he was generally known in the Boston white community, also took a temporary job setting up a bird museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with the renowned nineteenth-century ornithologist William Brewster. Brewster subsequently hired Gilbert as a full-time manservant, field assistant, factotum, and, as some of the early private journal records state, “friend,” to the well-respected Brewster.

Under Brewster s tutelage Gilbert learned how to develop ...

Article

Eric Gardner

activist and educator, was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Nothing is known of his parentage or youth. He was probably the James Gilliard listed in the 1860 Federal Census of Stockton, California; if this is the case, he was a barber, his wife was named Charlotte (c. 1835– ?), and had a step-daughter, Mary E. Jones (c. 1848– ?). In the late 1860s Gilliard worked as a teacher and sometime-minister in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and spent time in both Los Angeles and San Francisco. He wrote several short pieces for the San Francisco Elevator—sometimes under his full name and sometimes using simply “J. E. M.”—and was noted by the editor Philip Bell as one of the weekly's best contributors (along with Thomas Detter and Jennie Carter). Gilliard was even occasionally noted as the paper's “associate editor.”

Gilliard lectured throughout California in 1870 ...

Article

Sylvia M. DeSantis

librarian and educator, was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Gleason earned an AB degree from Fisk University in 1926 and a bachelor of science in 1931 from the University of Chicago Library School. Gleason began her library employment that same year as an assistant librarian at the Louisville Municipal College for Negroes in Kentucky. In 1932 Gleason became head librarian and taught library classes in the new library department she had created. The department, in conjunction with the Louisville Western Colored Branch Library, offered the only available library classes for African Americans in Kentucky between 1932 and 1951. In 1936 Gleason left Kentucky, earned a master's of arts degree in Library Science from the University of California, Berkeley, and taught at Fisk University in Tennessee as an assistant professor through 1937.

Gleason's impressive academic career reached a zenith in 1940 when she became the first African ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Austin, Texas, the son of slaves Jack and Emily Holland. Milton had three known brothers, Toby, William, and James, all part of “the third generation of African-Americans born as slaves” on the Holland Family Plantation run by Bird Holland later the Texas secretary of state Arlington National Cemetery Perhaps because of his light complexion and the fact that he was later freed and sent to school in the North Bird Holland may have been the real father of Milton as well as his brothers William and James a fact speculated upon by some historians Bird Holland would later free Milton William and James and send them north to Ohio in the late 1850s Here Milton Holland attended the Albany Manual Labor Academy an educational institution that accepted blacks and women This school was ...

Article

Lawana Holland-Moore

artist, was born in Los Angeles, California, the younger of two daughters of Lovie Honeywood; information about her father is unavailable. Her regular visits to relatives in rural Progress, Mississippi, and Louisiana would provide a foundation for her artwork, as would the teachers and her close-knit family who encouraged her artistic talent. Her sense of identity was honed in her youth as her family experienced prejudice upon their move into a mixed Los Angeles neighborhood. In the 1960s, she became active in civil rights protest demonstrations and rallies.

Originally aspiring to become a history teacher, Honeywood was a history major at Spelman College before switching to art. Her years at Spelman were influential to her development as a painter. Spelman's all-female atmosphere was nurturing and had a long-standing reputation for producing African American scholars and artists. While there she networked with artist-professors such as Kofi Bailey and Samella ...

Article

Y. Jamal Ali

trained architect, urban designer, artist, author, musician, and educator, was born Renee Ersell Kemp in Washington, D.C., the only daughter of Reverend Arthur E. Kemp and Ruby E. Dunham. After her parents divorced, she was raised by her mother and her maternal grandparents, who encouraged her early artistic talents through childhood study of piano, violin, and cello. Ruby E. Dunham later married Mohammed Id, a Lebanese neurosurgeon, whose influence provided Reneé with a broad international perspective.

Graduating Theodore Roosevelt High School, Washington, D.C., in 1970, Kemp-Rotan studied architecture at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York. The recipient of an American Institute of Architects (AIA)/Ford Foundation Minority Scholarship, she became the first black female to earn a degree in architecture at Syracuse, graduating cum laude in 1975. Syracuse exposed her to European design masters, and immersed her in the German Bauhaus ...

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Roberta Washington

architect, builder, businessman, and teacher, was born to Phillip Anderson Lankford and Nancy Ella Johnson Lankford, farmers in Potosi, Missouri. He attended public schools in Potosi and worked as a young apprentice to a German mechanic for four years. From 1889 to 1895 Lankford attended Lincoln Institute (Lincoln University) in Jefferson City, Missouri, where he studied mechanical engineering and blacksmithing. He worked at several jobs to cover school costs, including at a blacksmith shop in St. Louis where he became part owner.

From 1895 to 1896 Lankford studied at Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama, graduating with a certificate in steam fitting while also taking courses in chemistry and physics and working. It may have been while Lankford was at Tuskegee that he became aware of the possibility of architecture as a profession for African Americans. During 1897 Lankford and his younger brother Arthur Edward Lankford ...

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Boyd Childress

architect and educator, was born in Cumberland County, Virginia, to Julia Trent and William Henry Moses Sr., a Baptist minister who moved the family of six children several times, living in Virginia; Washington, DC; South Carolina,; Tennessee; Texas; New York City; and finally Philadelphia. Moses Jr. attended public school in Philadelphia and graduated from Central High School in 1922, showing an inclination for drawing. After two years at Penn State, Moses withdrew when the family could not afford the costs. For the next seven years he worked in a variety of jobs in architecture, first for the noted African American architect Vertner Woodson Tandy and later as a draftsman for Louis E. Jallade.

In 1931 Moses returned to Penn State and graduated in 1933 with a bachelors of science in Architecture He worked briefly for the Public Works Administration in New York before joining the ...

Article

Angela R. Sidman

architect, was born in Washington, D.C., to parents whose names and professions are unknown. As a child, he spent time with his grandfather, a bootblack who worked near the U.S. capitol building. Robinson would listen to the congressmen exchange banter while they had their shoes shined. In 1916 Robinson graduated from the M Street High School and began studying at the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Design in Philadelphia. One year later, as the United States was entering World War I, Robinson left school to enlist in the U.S. Army Field Artillery Corps, 167th Brigade. He served in France and was in Paris for the Armistice in 1918. The city's grand buildings and expert urban planning made such an impression on Robinson that he decided to pursue the study of architecture upon his return to the United States.

In 1919 Robinson returned to Philadelphia and entered ...

Article

James Jankowski

Egyptian engineer, administrator, and thrice prime minister, was born in Cairo on 12 December 1892. He was the son of Ismaʿil Sirri, a prominent engineer and a minister in several Egyptian governments from World War I into the 1920s. Husayn Sirri was educated at the Saʿidiyya School in Cairo, graduating in 1910. He then studied engineering at Cooper’s Hill in London, receiving his degree in civil engineering in 1915. An Anglophile as a consequence of his upbringing and of his education in England, Sirri at one point held the post of Chairman of the Anglo-Egyptian Union.

Upon his return to Egypt in 1915, Sirri worked in the Irrigation Department of the Public Works Administration where by 1925 he became under-secretary of Public Works. He was shifted to become director-general of the Survey Department in 1926 but returned to assume the post of under secretary of ...