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Jason Philip Miller

broadcaster and civil rights leader, was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, one of a pair of twins (her sister was Xenobia) to James Brewster, a Baptist minister, and Lillie Elliott Brewster. In addition to helping her husband run the church, Lillie Brewster administered Indian Affairs in the Muskogee area. For her part, Brady began to play piano in the church but one Sunday chose to skip services (and playing) to instead socialize with friends. She would later credit the resulting lecture from her father for fostering in her a respect for the importance of honoring whatever role she was playing and the faith that others would place in her. Brady attended local schools, and planned for a career in education. She matriculated at Tennessee State Agricultural and Industrial College (later Tennessee State University) and graduated with honors in 1952 She then relocated to Chicago Illinois and the ...


Samuel A. Hay

actress and writer, was born Ruby Ann Wallace in Cleveland, Ohio, the third of four children of teenage parents, Gladys Hightower and Edward Nathaniel Wallace, a Pullman car porter. After Gladys ran off to follow a preacher, the couple divorced in 1924, and Edward married Emma Amelia Benson, a former schoolteacher, who lived in New York City. Emma, whom Ruby called “Mother,” reared the Wallace children in Harlem, New York, where family lessons included picketing white-owned Harlem businesses that refused to hire African Americans.

Ruby graduated from Hunter College High School in 1939 and entered Hunter College, in New York City. Her professional theater career began in 1940 during her sophomore year, when the writer and director Abram Hill cast her in his social satire, On Strivers Row (1940) at the American Negro Theater (ANT), which he had cofounded with Frederick Douglass O'Neal ...


Larvester Gaither

civil rights activist and television news analyst, was born to the carpenter and builder Lawrence Guyot Sr. and the domestic worker Margaret Piernas in Pass Christian, Mississippi, on 17 July 1939. Widely known for the important part he played in organizing voter registration drives in Mississippi during the period of the civil rights movement, Guyot extended his activism beyond the sixties into the twenty-first century, as he became a stalwart public figure on the District of Columbia political landscape. Guyot's part in the civil rights movement is less recognized than that of celebrated figures like Fannie Lou Hamer, Bob Moses, Charles E. Cobb Jr., Stokely Carmichael, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X, yet he was intricately involved in numerous important historical developments within the movement, and sometimes worked side-by-side with the aforementioned.

Guyot s immersion into the civil ...


Devra Hall Levy

composer, arranger, orchestrator, conductor, and pianist, was born Luther Lincoln Henderson Jr. in Kansas City, the second child and only son of Florence Black, a public school teacher, and Luther Lincoln Henderson Sr., a professor of education, both of whom had musical aspirations.

In 1923 the family moved to New York City. Living first on Strivers Row and then in Sugar Hill, Henderson found himself surrounded by the rhythms and sounds of 1920s Harlem. His love of music embraced both jazz and classical. After hearing Ignace Paderewski at Carnegie Hall, his passion for the piano increased and the neighborhood children nicknamed him Paddy.

Luther also loved to read, and even at a young age he was a moralist, a philosopher, and a seeker of commonality and acceptance. He attended Evander Childs High School, along with his best friend Mercer Ellington son of ...


Karen Beasley Young

philanthropist, entrepreneur, syndicated radio and television talk show host, and activist was born Thomas Joyner in Tuskegee, Alabama, the second son of H. L. Joyner, an accountant, and Buddy Joyner, a secretary. He attended Tuskegee Institute and graduated with a degree in sociology in 1970. At Tuskegee he met and married Dora Chatmon in 1970 while both were in their senior year of college. The couple had two sons, Thomas Jr. and Oscar, and divorced in 1996.

During his time as a student at Tuskegee, Joyner developed both a social consciousness, born of his involvement in the civil rights movement, and a passionate sense of social responsibility, born of the mission and vision of historically black colleges and universities. These elements, when combined with his love for music, were instrumental in shaping his life into one of altruism and advocacy.

While growing ...


Michaeljulius Idani

conservative activist, diplomat, and radio personality, was born in Long Island, New York, the youngest of the five children of Allison L. Keyes, a U.S. Army sergeant, and Gerthina Quick Keyes, a homemaker. Keyes spent the majority of his childhood on various military bases. He developed a close relationship with his mother, whom he admired greatly for raising a family under difficult circumstances. Both parents instilled in Keyes a strong sense of faith, which would underpin his later political activism.

From an early age Keyes displayed a talent for public speaking viewing it as an effective means of influencing others particularly in regards to moral issues While attending Robert G Cole High School in San Antonio Texas Keyes became active in debating clubs and civic organizations He competed in numerous speech contests winning the majority of them His oratorical skills aided in his elections to ...


Wesley Borucki

diplomat, political commentator, and Republican presidential and U.S. Senate candidate. Alan Keyes was born in the U.S. Naval Hospital in Long Island, New York. His father, Allison Keyes, was a U.S. Army sergeant major who served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Young Alan moved often, completing his high school education at Robert G. Cole High School in San Antonio, Texas. At age sixteen he was the first African American president of the American Legion Boys Nation. In a 2001 interview on C-SPAN, Keyes stated that the civil rights movement's “deep questions of justice” moved him toward public service.

Keyes attended Cornell in 1969. While at Cornell, he developed a relationship with the conservative philosopher Allan Bloom. Bloom described Keyes (though not by name) in his book The Closing of the American Mind in an anecdote about an African American student who received death threats from ...


Prudence D. Cumberbatch

television and radio host, U.S. congressman, and president and chief executive officer of the NAACP, was born Frizzell Gray, the first of four children of Mary Elizabeth Willis in Turners Station, Maryland. His mother worked at several occupations, including as an elevator operator and as a domestic, while Clifton Gray his stepfather was employed as a truck driver Gray was raised believing that he shared the father of his three sisters only later did he learn that he was not Clifton Gray s biological son Gray spent his early childhood in Turners Station a small rural black community thirteen miles south of Baltimore City wedged between predominantly white Dundalk and Sparrows Point home to Bethlehem Steel the largest employer in the area Founded in the late 1880s by an African American doctor Turners Station was isolated on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay In ...


Samantha Crowell

civil rights activist and film producer, was born in Tarrytown, in suburban Westchester County, New York, the daughter of William “Billy” Richardson, an auto worker and union activist, and Mae Louise Tucker Richardson, who was at that time a homemaker. When Judy was seven her father died at work, forcing her mother to reenter the workforce as a civil servant. Despite efforts to place Judy on a business track at her high school, Mae Louise Richardson encouraged her daughter to take college preparatory courses, in which she was the only black student.

In 1962 Richardson entered Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, on a full scholarship. She was one of eight African American freshmen, the largest group of black students at the college to that date. During her first year at Swarthmore, Richardson began working with the Cambridge Movement in Cambridge, Maryland. Led by the activist Gloria Richardson ...


Arthur C. Verge

minister and political activist, was born in Los Angeles, California. The names of his parents are unknown. Primarily educated in Los Angeles–area schools, Russell also studied theology in Copenhagen, Denmark, in the early 1930s at the nation's International College. Russell later remarked that his experiences studying abroad profoundly influenced his thinking about the plight of fellow African Americans in the United States. Foremost among his overseas memories was a visit to Weimar Germany, where the Los Angeles cleric witnessed firsthand the rise of Adolph Hitler's Nationalist Socialist (Nazi) Party and its racist ideology.

In 1936 Russell took over the pastorate of Los Angeles's People's Independent Church. This church, which had emanated in 1915 from the black community s more conservative and powerful First African Methodist Episcopal AME Church became known for its outreach programs for poor and disenfranchised blacks Within a year into Russell s tenure the People ...


Anna Christian

actress, activist, and organizer, was born Frances Elizabeth Jones in East Orange, New Jersey, the youngest of three children of William Henry Jones, who drove a delivery wagon for a grocery store, and Elizabeth (Nelson) Jones, a laundress. In 1907 the Jones family moved from New Jersey to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Shortly after arriving there, her father died. A year later Elizabeth Jones remarried Ben Williams, and the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where Williams worked as footman for a department store.

When she was only five years old Williams got her first job babysitting In junior high she worked weekends with her mother catering While in high school she was employed at Sherbundy s an exclusive restaurant on Euclid Avenue making enough money to help out the family At Saint Andrews the family church Williams was a member of the choir Sunday school superintendent ...