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Article

Christopher Phelps

a Philadelphia radio journalist who became an international icon in debates over race and the death penalty after he was convicted for the murder of a police officer, was born Wesley Cook to Edith and William Cook, migrants from the South. The family subsisted on welfare in the housing projects of North Philadelphia. As a boy Cook read avidly and sought enlightenment, attending services with his Baptist mother and Episcopalian father, then dabbling in Judaism, Catholicism, and the Nation of Islam. When he was about ten years old his father died of a heart attack, prompting him to assume a protective role toward his twin brother, Wayne, and younger brother, William.

The black liberation movement shaped Cook's coming of age. In a 1967 school class in Swahili, a Kenyan teacher assigned him the first name Mumia. In 1968 at age fourteen he and some friends protested ...

Article

Todd Steven Burroughs

radical prison journalist and author. Mumia Abu-Jamal was born Wesley Cook in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a teenager in the 1960s he was attracted to the Black Panther Party (BPP). Cook—christened “Mumia” by one of his high school teachers—helped form the BPP's Philadelphia chapter in spring 1969 and became the chapter's lieutenant of information. He wrote articles for the Black Panther, the party's national newspaper, and traveled to several cities to perform BPP work. He left the party in the fall of 1970 because of the split between Eldridge Cleaver and Huey Newton.

After attending Goddard College in Plainfield Vermont Cook now calling himself Mumia Abu Jamal the surname is Arabic for father of Jamal Jamal being his firstborn returned to Philadelphia and began a radio broadcasting career in the early 1970s Abu Jamal was part of the first generation of black journalists to become professional newscasters for ...

Primary Source

The assassination of civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King Jr triggered a wave of rioting and protests in over one hundred American towns and cities The violence in Baltimore dragged on for two weeks as protestors clashed with police and burned down businesses and properties It took thousands of National Guard and regular army troops to finally restore order In the midst of the chaos Governor Spiro T Agnew delivered a speech aimed at the leaders of the city s black community Until then Agnew had a reputation for being more moderate than most governors in the South His administration had repealed the state s antimiscegenation law and had succeeded in passing a fair housing act He took a decidedly different tone in his speech accusing black leaders of not doing enough to stop the violence Agnew even suggested that the leaders held a secret meeting in which they ...

Article

David A. Spatz

attorney and journalist. Ferdinand Lee Barnett was born in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1859. His father, born a slave, purchased his freedom and worked much of his life as a blacksmith. The family moved to Canada soon after Ferdinand was born and then to Chicago in 1869. Barnett was educated in Chicago schools, graduating from high school in 1874 with high honors. After teaching in the South for two years, he returned to Chicago and attended Chicago College of Law, later affiliated with Northwestern Law School.

Barnett graduated from law school and was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1878. Rather than immediately practicing law, he founded the Conservator, Chicago's first African American newspaper. The Conservator was a radical voice for justice and racial solidarity as means to equal rights for African Americans. The Conservator also drew national attention to Barnett He served as Chicago ...

Article

R. J. M. Blackett

lawyer and Civil War correspondent, was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the son of George Chester and Jane Maria (maiden name unknown), restaurateurs. When, as a young man of eighteen, Chester decided to emigrate to Liberia, he wrote Martin H. Freeman, his former teacher at the Avery Institute in Pittsburgh, that his passion for liberty could no longer “submit to the insolent indignities and contemptuous conduct to which it has almost become natural for the colored people dishonorably to submit themselves.” It was a bold assertion of independence for one who had come of age in a household long associated with the anticolonization sentiments of radical abolitionism. But the country's willingness to appease southern interests, symbolized by the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850, persuaded Chester, sometime before his 1853 graduation, to emigrate.

Anxious to recruit the son of such a prominent black family leaders of the ...

Article

Brian Purnell

David Simon, a reporter with the Baltimore Sun, author of the book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, and creator of the hit television series The Wire, also wrote The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood (1997). Simon partnered with coauthor Edward Burns, a retired Baltimore Police Department detective, to write this book. While a work of eyewitness journalism, The Corner fits into a genre of urban sociology and anthropology that examines urban crime, violence, poverty, untaxed work, family structures, policing, and imprisonment effects.

The Corner takes place during 1993 Burns and Simon spent over a year hanging out in neighborhoods of West Baltimore and gaining the confidence of local residents in order to write a book on how the trade of illegal narcotics shaped everyday urban life in America The book is divided into four sections winter ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

civil rights activist and Communist member of the city council of New York City from 1943 to 1949. Davis represented Harlem and was reelected in 1945 with 75 percent of first-choice votes in Harlem, 56,540 from the rest of Manhattan. During his first run, Davis later reminisced, voters said to him, “Your father was a Lincoln Republican. You must be a Lincoln Communist. I᾽m going to vote for you.” In 1949, appealing his conviction as one of the so-called Communist Party Eleven for violating the Alien Registration Act of 1940 (also known as the Smith Act), he lost his seat to the conservative African American columnist Earl Brown The Smith Act prescribed criminal penalties for advocating the overthrow of the federal or state government including the printing publishing circulating or selling of printed matter teaching or organizing any attempt to do so by force and violence The ...

Article

Giovanni R. Ruffini

Egyptian lawyer and poet, was the son of Apollos, son of Psimanobet. Flavius Dioscorus is the best-documented figure from Byzantine Aphrodito (modern Egypt’s Kom Ishqaw) and consequently one of the best-documented representatives of village life in Egypt in the entire Greco-Roman period. The Aphrodito papyri—largely the business and personal papers of Dioskoros and his extended family—comprise an archive of hundreds of texts detailing the economic and social connections between thousands of Aphrodito villagers in the sixth century CE. Dioscorus, an Aphrodito village headman and in turn the son of another village headman, was one of the leading figures in the politics of his village in that period, and was involved in the political and economic affairs of the landowning and officeholding Roman imperial elite at the higher provincial level.

The bulk of the evidence for Dioscorus concerns either his private economic transactions or his career in village politics In the ...

Article

John Garst

bootblack, barber, porter, actor, singer, and politician, was born William Henry Harrison Duncan in Columbia, Missouri, to former slaves. A close friend, Henry Massey, persuaded him to come to St. Louis, where he was a “sport, a jolly fellow, a swell dresser, a ladies' favorite, but, above all, he was a magnificent singer.” As a member of Massey's Climax Quartet Duncan gained fame for his low, smooth, rich, sure, bass voice. He was also an actor and performed regularly at the London Theatre in St. Louis.

In Clayton, Missouri, west of St. Louis, Duncan was hanged for the murder of an Irish American policeman named James Brady in Charles Starkes's saloon at 715 N. 11th Street. A popular ballad complex (“Duncan and Brady,” “Brady and Duncan,” “Brady,” “King Brady”) arose after the murder.

At about 8:30 p.m. on 6 October 1890 ...

Article

Thomas M. Leonard

diplomat, lawyer, and journalist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Samuel Durham and Elizabeth Stephens. Two of his uncles, Clayton Durham and Jeremiah Durham, were noted clergymen who helped Bishop Richard Allen establish the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Durham, who could almost pass for white, studied in the Philadelphia public schools and graduated from the Institute for Colored Youth in 1876.

For five years after leaving high school Durham taught in Delaware and Pennsylvania. In 1881 he entered Towne Scientific School, a branch of the University of Pennsylvania, from which he earned a bachelor's degree in 1886 and a civil engineering degree in 1888. He held several positions during his college career, including reporter for the Philadelphia Times. He excelled as a newspaperman, and his unique abilities eventually led him to the assistant editorship of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin ...

Article

Michael L. Krenn

boxer, was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Little is known of Foster's life before he began boxing. Foster himself admitted that he got into numerous fights as a child and a high school student and was once taken to court for fracturing the skull of another young man with one punch. With few options open to him and a close scrape with the law motivating him, Foster signed up for the U.S. Air Force in 1957, shortly after graduating from high school.

Foster's tremendous punching power soon became evident to his air force commanders during informal inter- and intra-unit boxing matches, and they put him on the service's boxing team. For four years Foster traveled with the team all over the United States and the world. He engaged in well over one hundred fights, losing only three. In 1960 he won the light heavyweight title at the ...

Article

Damon L. Fordham

lawyer, entrepreneur, educator, and journalist, was born near Orangeburg, South Carolina, the son of the former slaves Benjamin Frederick and Henrietta Baxter. A Renaissance man among African Americans in South Carolina, Frederick earned a bachelor of arts degree from Orangeburg's Claflin College in 1889 and degrees in history and Latin from the University of Wisconsin in 1901. Shortly after graduating from the latter institution, Frederick moved to Columbia, South Carolina, where he began an eighteen-year career as the principal of the Howard School, one of the first public schools for blacks in that city. He rose to early prominence as an educator and served as president of the South Carolina State Teacher's Association, an organization of that state's black teachers, from 1906 to 1908. He married Corrine Carroll in 1904; they would have four children.

By 1913 Frederick was searching for ...

Article

Blake Wintory

photographer, politician, sheriff, assayer, barber, and lawyer, was born a slave in Carroll County, Kentucky. William Hines Furbush became a member of the Arkansas General Assembly as well as the first sheriff of Lee County, Arkansas. His Arkansas political career began in the Republican Party at the close of Reconstruction and ended in the Democratic Party just as political disfranchisement began.

Little is known about Furbush's early life, though his literacy suggests a formal childhood education. Around 1860 he operated a photography studio in Delaware, Ohio. In March 1862 he traveled to Union-controlled Helena in Phillips County, Arkansas, on Kate Adams and continued to work as a photographer. In Franklin County, Ohio, that December he married Susan Dickey. A few years later, in February 1865 he joined the Forty second Colored Infantry at Columbus Ohio He received an honorable discharge at the ...

Article

Claranne Perkins

journalist, healer, philosopher, motivational speaker, and activist, was born in New Bern, North Carolina, the oldest of seven children of Bill Gaines, a career U.S. Marine, and Eleanor Murrell, a housewife. A military child of the civil rights era, Gaines lived an insulated life as a “colored queen” in Quantico, Virginia (Gaines, p. 7). Living on a military base with everything a community needed including an integrated school, Gaines watched all the drama of school integration on television failing at ten-years-old to fully understand racism or the fact it wasn't limited to the “south,” which she considered nowhere close to Quantico. This would help to foster an identity crisis and feelings of low self-esteem for much of her life.

When she was thirteen her father received orders for Albany Georgia Her parents deciding Albany might be dangerous bought a house in a new ...

Article

Antje Daub

athlete, scholar, soldier, and judge, was born in Jacksonville, Florida, one of nine children of Walter Holmes Gourdin, a meat cutter and part Seminole Indian, and Felicia Nee, an African American woman who was a housekeeper. Little is known about his early school career, other than that he was valedictorian of his high school class in 1916. Although poor, Gourdin's parents recognized their son's talents and educational potential and, following his high school graduation, moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to further his career. There, Gourdin attended Cambridge High and Latin, which helped prepare him for the high academic demands of an Ivy League education.

By the time he enrolled in his freshman year at Harvard in 1917 Gourdin appears to have been a conscientious and responsible student To pay tuition he supported himself by working as a postal clerk He also became a ...

Primary Source

Enforcing the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was sometimes impossible for federal officials operating in non slaveholding states thanks in part to vocal networks of abolitionists who used newspapers and word of mouth to warn free blacks of patrols and slave catchers In a celebrated case a laborer named Joshua Glover was seized by U S Marshals in Racine Wisconsin in 1854 Glover had run away from his owner in Missouri and as such did not have the right to a trial In response to this situation a mob of abolitionists raided the jail cell where Glover was imprisoned and freed him While Glover fled to Canada the legal battle over this incident continued for several years as the Wisconsin legislature and court system challenged the legality of the Fugitive Slave Law On the eve of the Civil War the United States Supreme Court ruled against Wisconsin thereby upholding the ...

Article

John Herschel Barnhill

Hate speech is bigoted expression that abuses, insults, harasses, or intimidates a group or a member of a group based solely on membership in the group. Hate speech promotes discrimination and hatred and may cause killing or other violence. Laws against hate speech generally deal with protection of the individual victim. Some would have the laws broadened to protect groups. To the contrary, others contend, protection is restriction, and limits should be imposed with caution if at all, because the government should never impose restrictions on speech; the community should set what standard it requires. Limits are in place in Germany, France, and elsewhere. European restrictions include bans on Holocaust denial and incitements to race hatred. Anti-Semitism and advocacy of genocide are also banned subjects in Asia and the Americas.

The United States tends to maximize expression Consistently the U S Supreme Court has ruled that words and conduct even ...

Article

Regina N. Barnett

hip-hop and DJ pioneer, was born Jason William Mizell, the youngest of Connie and Jessie Mizell's three children. The family lived in Brooklyn, New York, where his mother Connie was a teacher and his father Jessie was a social worker. Moving to the Hollis neighborhood of Queens from Brooklyn in 1975, Mizell quickly became a respected and powerful force in that small neighborhood. While Mizell was a student at Andrew Jackson High School, teachers and students alike would ask him to stop altercations between students because of his dominating presence and amiable nature. Mizell dropped out of high school but eventually obtained his equivalency diploma. Drumming, playing the guitar, and socializing with friends took up most of Mizell's free time. Mizell credited a desire to be “part of the hottest thing” as one of the main reasons for becoming a DJ in an interview with DJ Times ...

Article

John Garst

an African American criminal whose fame lives in the ballad John Hardy, was hanged on the order of Judge T. L. Henritze in Welch, West Virginia, for the murder in January 1893 of Thomas Drews, also African American, at a camp of the Shawnee Coal Company near Eckman, McDowell County. He was convicted in Welch on 12 October 1893.

According to a 1925 statement by 67-year-old Lee Holley, a lifelong resident of Tazewell, Virginia, who claimed to have known Hardy well, he “was 27 or 8 when he was hung” (Chappell, 25). He may have been the John Hardy who was born in Virginia, was thirteen years old in 1880, and lived then in Glade Springs, Washington County, Virginia, with his parents, Miles and Malinda Hardy (U.S. Census, 1880 According to Holley he was one of a gang of gamblers about a half dozen ...

Article

Elliott J. Gorn

John Arthur Johnson was born to former slaves in Galveston, Texas, just as Reconstruction ended and he came of age in the Jim Crow Era of rigid racial segregation. In boxing, the color line was firmly drawn. Although Johnson had established himself as an accomplished boxer by 1902, white heavyweight champions Jim Jeffries, Robert Fitzsimmons, and Tommy Burns refused to fight him. But Johnson persisted, allegedly following Burns all over the world until Burns in 1908 agreed to fight in Sydney, Australia. In the fourteenth round, with Burns defenseless, police stopped the fight.

Johnson s championship sparked a wave of antiblack hostility For the next several years he flaunted his wealth and fame Not only was Johnson the heavyweight champion and defiantly so but he violated the ultimate racial taboo by conducting relationships with white women eventually marrying two The search for the great white hope ...