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Lewis, Robert Benjamin  

Reginald H. Pitts

inventor, entrepreneur, and historian, was born in what is now Gardiner, Maine, the son of Matthias Lewis, a farm laborer of Mohegan Indian ancestry. Nothing is now known of Lewis's mother. Sometime after 28 July 1800 Lewis's father married Lucy Stockbridge of Pittston, Maine, the daughter of African slaves. It is not known whether this marriage legalized a longstanding relationship or was Matthias's actual second marriage.

Although little is known of Lewis's early life, it appears that he first went to sea in ships that worked the Atlantic rim and the coastal trade down to the Caribbean. It is known that Lewis wanted to become a missionary to Africa; after his death, his neighbors remembered, “it was said … that the Congregational Church in Hallowell [where Lewis moved around 1820 had in consequence of the intelligence he had manifested in youth obtained for him an ...


Nobel Prize  

Liliana Obregón

Generally considered the world's most prestigious awards, Nobel Prizes come from a trust fund established by Swedish chemist, inventor, and philanthropist Alfred Bernhard Nobel. As designated in Nobel's will, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awards prizes for physics and chemistry; the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinksa Institute awards prizes for physiological or medical works; the Swedish Academy awards prizes for literature; and the Norwegian Nobel Committee selects the winner of the peace prize. In 1968 a new prize for economics was established and endowed by the national bank of Sweden.

The first Nobel Prizes were awarded on December 10, 1901, but it was not until 1950 that a black person was a recipient. An American from Detroit, Ralph J. Bunche was the first person of African descent to receive the distinguished prize for his work as a United Nations mediator; his efforts led to the 1949 ...


Robeson, Eslanda Cardozo Goode  

Ann Zeidman-Karpinski

chemist, author, and activist, was born in Washington, D.C., the daughter of John Goode, a clerk in the U.S. War Department, and Eslanda Cardoza Goode, an osteopath and beautician. Eslanda, or Essie as she was known to her friends, attended the integrated public schools in New York and finished high school in just three years, when she was sixteen years old. She won a scholarship to attend the University of Illinois. Originally encouraged to major in domestic science, she was so bored after two years that she considered leaving. An adviser asked her what classes she liked, and when she said that chemistry was her favorite subject, she was encouraged to pursue that instead. For her senior year she attended Columbia University Teachers College.

Through her adviser at Columbia and due to the labor shortages created by World War I Robeson secured employment as a chemist ...