tennis player, author, and political activist, was born Arthur Robert Ashe Jr. in Richmond, Virginia, the son of Arthur Ashe Sr., a police officer, and Mattie Cunningham. Tall and slim as a young boy, Ashe was forbidden by his father to play football; he took up tennis instead on the segregated playground courts at Brookfield Park, near his home. By the time he was ten years old he came under the tutelage of a local tennis fan and physician from Lynchburg, R. Walter Johnson. Johnson had previously nurtured the talents of Althea Gibson, who became the first African American to win Wimbledon, in 1957 and 1958, and his second protégé would prove no less successful. Johnson was an exacting coach he had his charges practice hitting tennis balls with broom handles to develop their hand eye coordination But his lessons extended beyond tennis he also ...
Michelle S. Hite
tennis player, activist, broadcast journalist, and humanitarian. Born in Richmond, Virginia, Arthur Robert Ashe Jr. was the son of Arthur and Mattie Ashe. Arthur experienced a traumatic loss at age six when his mother died suddenly. He turned inward and toward books and learning. An excellent student, he graduated first in his high school class. Given his appetite for books, success as a student was likely; however, given his physical stature, his success as a tennis player was a surprise. Though physically small, the skills he honed on the public recreational courts, maintained by his father, helped mold him into a top player.
Coming of age in segregated Richmond Virginia shaped Ashe s early tennis experiences and informed his political consciousness He was not allowed to compete on the city s best courts or in the city s top tournaments To improve his game he ...
Alonford James Robinson
Arthur Ashe was born July 10, 1943, in Richmond, Virginia, to Mattie and Arthur Robert Ashe Sr. He began playing Tennis at the age of ten under the guidance of Dr. Walter Johnson, a prominent coach of African American youth from Lynchburg, Virginia. With Johnson's coaching, Ashe won three American Tennis Association (ATA) boy's championships, becoming the first African American junior to be ranked by the United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA).
Between 1960 and 1963 Ashe won three ATA men's singles titles, became the first African American on the U.S. Junior Davis Cup team, and the first African American to win a USLTA national title in the South. His achievements earned him a full scholarship to the University of California at Los Angeles, where he attended from 1961 to 1966 earning a bachelor s degree in business administration While in college Ashe won the U ...
Maria Lucia Cacciato
was born on 18 December 1962 in Retén Magdalena (Colombia), the son of a family of humble fishermen. He attended school until the fifth grade, and as an adolescent he worked selling fish in a market plaza in order to earn a living and support himself as a boxer. After working hard to succeed in boxing and finding success on various stages in the Americas, he was crowned world champion in the flyweight division on 13 February 1987, after defeating the Panamanian boxer Hilario Zapata. Two months later he defended his title against the Irish boxer Dave McAuley. Bassa retained the world title only until 1989, when he was defeated by the Venezuelan boxer Jesús Rojas. Critics said he was a disciplined and brave boxer, although he had little technique.
After retiring from his athletic career Bassa worked selling books and he became a successful publishing entrepreneur The ...
politician, journalist, and Negro League professional baseball pitcher, was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, one of four children. His father was a Baptist minister and his mother was a nurse. His mother wanted him to pursue medicine, but Brown was interested in sports and studying social problems. After preparing at Howard Academy in Washington, D.C., Brown went to Harvard.
Brown majored in economics but also played baseball, lettering as a left-handed pitcher. He worked his way through Harvard as a janitor and waiter. During summer breaks he was a Red Cap at Grand Central Station in New York, and also played in the Negro Leagues. In 1923 and 1924 he pitched for the New York Lincoln Giants Interestingly Harvard usually aggressive about enforcing early NCAA rules barring athletes from playing professional sports apparently did not punish Brown when he played in the professional ranks before returning to the Harvard baseball ...
James S. Hirsch
boxer who was wrongfully convicted of triple homicide in two racially charged trials, was born in Delawanna, New Jersey, the son of Bertha, a homemaker, and Lloyd Carter, an entrepreneur and church deacon who stressed to his seven children the importance of family pride and unity.
The Carters moved to nearby Paterson when Rubin was six years old, and the youngster soon developed a reputation for brawling, rebelling against authority, and committing petty crimes. At seventeen he escaped from Jamesburg State Home for Boys, where he had been sentenced for cutting a man with a bottle, and joined the army. As a member of the Eleventh Airborne, he was sent to Germany, where he learned to box and won the European Light Welterweight Championship.
Discharged from the army in 1956 Carter returned to Paterson but was soon in trouble again The following year he pled guilty to robbing ...
Adam R. Hornbuckle
was born in East Orange, New Jersey, the eldest of the two children of Jetta Clark and Dr. Joe Louis Clark. The Clarks lived in Newark, a short distance from her birthplace, until moving to South Orange after the 1967 riots. Her father, who served as the principal of Eastside High School, in Paterson, New Jersey, gained national attention for enforcing discipline and improving academic achievement at Eastside, one of the state’s toughest inner-city schools, and became the subject of the 1989 film Lean on Me, in which the award-winning actor
Clark performed with the Alvin Ailey Junior Dance Company until the age of fourteen, when she began to participate in track, concentrating on the half-mile (880 yards), the distance at which her father excelled at William Patterson University (then known as the Paterson State Teachers College) in Wayne, New Jersey. Interviewed for the Best ...
Cricketer, politician, and broadcaster born into a middle‐class family in Trinidad. When he left school, he became a clerk in a local company, a post he held for the next ten years until 1927, the year he married Norma Cox. His father was a good cricketer and Constantine also became an excellent fielder. He played for his school and as a member of the Trinidad team in inter‐colonial matches; he was selected for the West Indies team to tour England in 1923, and again in 1928. During that tour Constantine's distinguishing moment came in the match against Middlesex in June 1928 when his skills as bowler, fielder, and scorer enabled the West Indies to defeat their opponents by three wickets. C. L. R. James wrote of him he took 100 wickets made 1 000 runs and laid claim to being the finest fieldsman ever ...
Donna L. Halper
was the son of Green Cowans, a farmer, and his wife Ollie (Sharp). The 1900 census indicates he was born in Alabama in 1895 and he spent his first four years in Cherokee County, before his family moved to Chicago, where he was raised. Cowans’s father died in 1907, when Russ was still a boy, and his mother subsequently remarried; otherwise, there is little information about his childhood. According to colleagues, he attended Wendell Phillips High School in Chicago, where he played for the basketball, football, and baseball teams. He then studied for a year at the Detroit Institute of Technology. Some sources claim he graduated from the University of Michigan, but archivists there have found no record of this.
After serving in the army during World War I Cowans began his journalism career in Detroit in the early 1920s He worked for several small black newspapers including the ...
Donna L. Halper
was born Thelma Louise Simmons, in Eatonton, Georgia, one of eight children of Sidney (Sid) Simmons, a grocer, and his wife Carrie (Mathis). Her family moved to Detroit in 1922, and she attended Northwestern High School, where she participated in swimming, as well as track and field. In 1927, when she was fifteen, she married Charles Lorenzo McTyre; they went on to have two children, a son and a daughter, before divorcing in 1936.
Thelma began to play golf around 1940 She had been diagnosed with anemia and her doctor told her that fresh air and exercise would help her to regain her health Her sister Theresa Howell also became a golf fan around the same time and they soon became competitors as well as teammates The two were attending Morris Brown College in Atlanta and they started a golf team on campus they also organized ...
Donna L. Halper
was born in Minneapolis Minnesota, the only child of Walter Timothy Dodson and his wife, Carrie (Combs). Carrie died when Nell was ten, and she was raised by her father, a hotel waiter and later an announcer at the bus depot. She graduated from Central High School in Minneapolis in 1931 and enrolled at the University of Minnesota, studying English and Spanish in what is today the College of Liberal Arts. She also wrote for several of the school’s publications; in one article, she used humor to critique racial stereotypes (“Co-Ed Uses,” p. 5). Dodson attended off and on during the period from 1931 to 1938, leaving to work for a while, and then returning. In July 1938, when she was hired as a full-time reporter by the Baltimore Afro-American (“Nellie Dodson,” p. 1), she left school for good.
Although the University of Minnesota did admit black students ...
Sharon L. Barnes
actress and writer, was born in Jacksonville, Florida, the daughter of Daniel Marshall Gilbert, the owner of a furniture business, and Edna Earl Knott, the owner of a dressmaking business. In an unfinished autobiographical manuscript Gilbert wrote that because of her parents' jobs, she was cared for and educated by a nurse. She enrolled in the Boylan Home, a seminary for girls in Jacksonville, when she was in the fourth grade. After her family moved to Tampa, Florida, Gilbert attended a Catholic school and the Orange Park Normal and Industrial School. She went to Edward Waters College in Jacksonville and after graduation taught school in southern Florida before deciding that she wanted a different profession. She then entered the Brewster Hospital Nurses Training School and graduated three years later, staying on the staff for two more years as the assistant superintendent.
After moving to New York City ...
H. H. Price
journalist and sports writer, was born Robert Everett Greene, in Portland, Maine. He was the elder of two children born to Ruth Madeline Fisher, a federal government administrator, and Robert “Rob” Leo Lake Greene, a U.S. Postal Service employee. Reading maps from throughout the world and planning trips for the family was one of his hobbies. Greene's sister Sheryll Lee “Shery” Greene was born in Quindaro, Kansas, where the family moved when he was young.
Young Greene grew up between Maine and Kansas where his family lived in the Quindaro section of Kansas City Quindaro s history as a black settlement began in the mid 1800s when runaways from slavery crossed the Missouri River to seek freedom in the West By the 1940s when Greene was a student of Kansas City s racially segregated schools Quindaro had Western University WU and Douglass Hospital Greene s mother was ...
Michelle K. Massie
photojournalist, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the youngest of three sons of William A. and Ella Mae (Taliaferro) Harris. His parents operated the Masio Hotel on Wylie Avenue in Pittsburgh's famed Hill District neighborhood. During the early twentieth century, the Hill District was the mecca of African American life in Pittsburgh. The neighborhood attracted poor and working-class blacks as well as the elites of the sports and entertainment worlds, for it was an area where blacks freely socialized, shopped, worshipped, owned businesses, and lived without having to confront many of the harsh realities of the segregated city. It was this exposure to the richness of black life that influenced Harris's forty-year career as a photojournalist and portrait photographer.
Harris got his nickname at the age of two from a female relative who called him Teenie Little Lover It was later shortened to Teenie Harris came of age during ...
athlete, photographer, and poet, was born Gilbert Heron in Kingstown, Jamaica. Though he was a talented photographer, particularly of sporting events, and a notable poet, publishing a collection entitled I Shall Wish Just for You as late as 1992, Heron's fame derives from neither. He remains best known as a pioneering nonwhite sportsman in the United Kingdom in the 1950s and as father to the eclectic, prolific, and hugely influential jazz musician and wordsmith Gil Scott-Heron.
Heron came to attention as an association football or soccer player for the Detroit Corinthians although he had previously turned out for the Canadian Air Force Detroit Wolverines and Chicago Sting Standing just below five feet ten inches and weighing just under 178 pounds Heron had the speed and agility that gave him the perfect characteristics for football s target man and goal scorer the center forward In the ...
poet, boxer, policeman, and journalist, was born Arthur Winslow MacAlpine in Birmingham, Alabama, the third of five children of Francis P. MacAlpine, an Alabamian born in slavery four years before Emancipation, and Mary Winslow, a music teacher from Canada and the first black woman to graduate from the University of New Brunswick. Having met and married in Springfield, Massachusetts, the MacAlpines had moved to Birmingham so that Mary, unable to find employment in the mostly white schools of New England, could teach in a segregated one. In 1919 the promise of a better education for their children persuaded them to return to Springfield, where Francis kept a small convenience store and Mary gave piano and violin lessons.
Poetry and music were paramount in the household Mary who knew countless poems by heart would recite Longfellow Frost and the English romantics sometimes to young Arthur ...
sports writer, news reporter, and editor, was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the son of Harry and Maggie Cox Ratcliffe. Both parents were born in Mississippi, and one paternal grandparent was born in Virginia. The family home in 1930 was located at 1391 Adelaide Street, where every family was designated in that year's census as “Negro,” while on nearby Florida Street, every family was designated as “White.” His father worked for the post office, while his mother, who initially did not work outside the home, later became a public school teacher.
Although the exact date is not known, Ratcliffe earned a bachelor's degree from LeMoyne College in Memphis, Tennessee. He began a long career in journalism writing sports copy for the Memphis Commercial Appeal (the city's largest newspaper owned by whites), then edited the Memphis World an African American owned paper before moving to Georgia as ...
South African short story writer, novelist, literary critic, track-and-field athlete, and educator, was born 1 March 1931 in Cape Town to Nancy Ward Rive. His paternity is uncertain, as his father died soon after his birth and was seldom discussed in his home, though Rive speculated in his autobiography that his father may have been an African American. Rive was raised in the mixed-race inner-city area of Cape Town known as District Six, which his writing helped to transform into an emblem of apartheid oppression and dispossession. The district was condemned as a slum in 1966 and was declared “whites only” under the Group Areas Act; subsequently the entire neighborhood was razed and left undeveloped for decades. Rive said in a 1988 interview I always feel when I am here in District 6 that I am standing over a vast cemetery of people who have been moved away against ...
football player, was born in Wichita, Kansas, one of three children of Roger Winfield Sayers, a car polisher and mechanic for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, and Bernice Ross. In 1951 the family moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where Roger Sayers's brother lived. But financial difficulties forced the family to move within the city nine times in eight years. By the time Gale entered high school, his parents were suffering from depression and alcohol abuse, and the family lived in poverty. Because they often had no coal for their furnace, Gale and his two brothers would turn on the kitchen's gas oven for nighttime heat, which often caused them to wake up feeling sick.Despite such adversity Sayers thrived while in Omaha because the city gave him opportunities to compete in sports At the Howard Kennedy grade school Sayers led his teams to city titles in baseball ...
Vincent A. Shivers
football Hall of Famer, author, and business executive. Gale Eugene Sayers was born in Wichita, Kansas. In 1951, after the death of Gale's grandfather, the family moved to Nebraska. In Nebraska, Sayers began his career as an athlete, joining the Midget Football League and becoming a standout. At Omaha's Central High School he was an exceptional track-and-field athlete, receiving three gold medals. As a senior he set a statewide record in the long jump. Sayers was named to the All-Midwestern and All-American high school football teams. He signed several letters of intent for football scholarships. Institutions such as Iowa State and Notre Dame were interested in Sayers, but he decided on the University of Kansas at Lawrence.
Sayers earned the nickname the Kansas Comet because of his remarkable skills as a running back While a freshman Sayers struggled with his classes fortunately that same year he ...