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Pamela Lee Gray

wood carver, sculptor, and folk artist, was born Jesse James Aaron in Lake City, Florida, to descendants of slaves and Seminole Indians. Aaron attended school for less than one year before he was sent to work as a contract laborer for local farms. Trained as a baker when he was twenty-one years old, he found he enjoyed the creativity it required. He opened several bakeries, worked as a cook at Gainesville's Hotel Thomas from 1933 to 1937, and then cooked for a variety of fraternities and hospitals in Florida. Aaron also worked as a cook aboard the Seaboard Air Line Railroad during this time.

Aaron married Leeanna Jenkins, and when the family settled in northwest Gainesville in the 1930s they opened a nursery. From this point until 1968 when Aaron became a folk artist at the age of eighty one it is difficult to determine what is ...

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Steven J. Niven

slave, wagon driver, steamboat laborer, and sawmill worker, was born in Petersburg, Virginia, the son of Aaron and Louisa. Aarons had two siblings, but neither their names nor the surnames of his parents have been recorded. Considering that Charlie's father's first name was Aaron, Charlie probably adopted his father's first name as his own surname upon emancipation. The historian Eugene D. Genovese has argued that after the Civil War many former slaves rejected the surnames assigned to them when they were in bondage and adopted new ones often choosing surnames entitles the slaves called them that connected them to their fathers or to other relatives Some celebrated their newfound liberty by creating new surnames such as Freedman or Justice Genovese notes that in the first decade of emancipation freedmen and freedwomen changed their surnames frequently so that as one freedwoman put it if the white folks get together ...

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Betti Carol VanEpps-Taylor

Tuskegee athletic coach, was born in Yankton, South Dakota, to Elbert B. Abbott, a stonemason, and Mollie (Brown) Abbott. Abbott grew up in Watertown, South Dakota, attending Watertown public schools, where he was a superior student and athlete. He graduated from high school in 1912 with an unheard-of sixteen Arrow letters in athletics.

Abbott entered South Dakota State College in Brookings, South Dakota, in the fall of 1912, selecting a dairy science major and joining the athletic program. His outstanding athletic and academic performance attracted the attention of the college president Ellwood Perisho, an acquaintance of Booker T. Washington Washington promised Abbott a job at Tuskegee contingent on his continued scholastic excellence Abbott did not disappoint maintaining his high marks and earning fourteen athletic letters in four years in track football baseball and basketball In this last he played center captained the team and was named All ...

Article

Mark Clague and John H. Zimmerman

flutist, composer, bandmaster, music educator, journalist, and hotelier, was born in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Danish West Indies (later U.S. Virgin Islands) and is remembered as the U.S. Navy's first African American bandmaster. Adams was the son of Jacob Henry Adams, a carpenter, and Petrina Evangeline Dinzey, a tailor; both his parents were members of the black artisan class centered around St. Thomas's port. This culture celebrated music and literature and instilled the young Adams with values of hard work and self-education. Although professional musicians were unknown in the Virgin Islands in his youth, Adams dreamt of a musical career inspired by his deeply held belief that music was not just entertainment, but vital to community health.

Adams attended elementary school and apprenticed as a carpenter and then a shoemaker choosing his trade based on the musical abilities of his master ...

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Steven J. Niven

militia leader, was born in Georgia to parents whose names have not been recorded. Some sources list his name as Doc Adams. He was probably born a slave, as were the vast majority of African Americans in Augusta's cotton-rich hinterlands in the late 1830s; the 1840 U.S. census lists fewer than two hundred free blacks in Richmond County. As a carpenter Adams, like other slave artisans, may have been able to hire out his time, and he may have saved enough money to purchase his freedom. In any case Adams joined the Union army during the Civil War, and he acquired enough money to purchase five hundred acres of land—worth three thousand dollars—near Nashville, Georgia, where he lived for a time after hostilities ended in 1865. By 1872 he had returned to Augusta where he earned good wages working as a boss carpenter Adams was also involved ...

Article

André Willis

Clifford L. Alexander Jr. was born in New York, New York. He graduated from Harvard University in 1955 and Yale Law School in 1958. Alexander worked on a number of community development initiatives in Harlem, New York, before being appointed to a series of political positions in Washington, D.C., in the 1960s and 1970s.

Alexander served as a National Security Council foreign affairs officer under President John F. Kennedy in 1963. He was appointed to three high-ranking advisory positions between 1964 and 1967, including deputy special counsel to the president, by President Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1967 Johnson named Alexander chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), a position he filled until Richard Nixon took office in 1969.

After a brief return to private practice in Washington D C Alexander resumed a role in public life as host and producer of ...

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John F. Marzalek

Alexander was born in Helena, Arkansas, the son of slave parents. Details of his early life are unknown, but in 1882 he enrolled as a freshman at Ohio's Oberlin College. He did well academically and was described by one of his professors as having “very rare ability as a student.” In May 1883 he was offered an appointment as alternate to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, from the 14th Congressional District of Ohio. He made the highest score on the academic part of the examination but was made an alternate because another candidate—the son of Chief Justice Morrison Waite scored better on the physical Friends who were skeptical of the military medical evaluation felt that Alexander was pigeon breasted they held parties in Oberlin and Cleveland raising enough money to send him to West Point anyway When the young Waite failed his entrance examination ...

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Richard S. Newman

churchwomen and reformers, were, respectively, the second and first wives of Richard Allen, a bishop and founder of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Although little is known of Flora Allen, she had probably met Richard Allen while attending Methodist class meetings and services at St. George's Methodist Church in Philadelphia. Known as a pious and respectable woman, Flora Allen helped her husband purchase a home at 150 Spruce Street in 1791 (as well as other properties, including those used by Allen's new church) and inaugurate the Bethel AME church in July 1794. White as well as black preachers celebrated her dedication to charity and hospitality. She died in Philadelphia after a long illness but is remembered as an early advocate of the independent black church. Sarah Allen was born Sarah Bass a slave in Isle of Wight County Virginia She probably remained in bondage until ...

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Espousing views of Enlightenment thinkers who argued that every person had an inherent right to life, liberty, and property, thirteen British colonies along the eastern seaboard of North America rebelled against their mother country and fought for their freedom and liberty. By 1770 one-fifth of the population in these colonies was of African ancestry, and almost 95 percent of the African descendants were slaves. The black population was militarily vital to both sides and African Americans were involved in every aspect of the American Revolution. The ideology of freedom championed during the revolution became the rallying cry for those who would fight for the abolition of slavery.

In the 1760s the conflict between Britain and the colonies was escalating as Parliament passed laws that the colonists declared unjust and refused to obey. This happened with the Stamp Act (1765) and the Townshend Acts (1767 As the ...

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Douglas R. Egerton

The historiographical debate over how radical the American Revolution was is an old one, but the belief that the war with Britain marked a social revolution in black life was first advanced not by an apologist for the founding fathers but by Benjamin Quarles, in his magisterial Negro in the American Revolution. First published in 1961, Quarles's pioneering study has never been out of print; in 1996 a second edition was released to celebrate its thirty-fifth year. Written at a time when many white Americans, not all of them in the southern states, were determined to deny black Americans their basic rights, Quarles was anxious to demonstrate the black contribution to American victory in 1781. The contribution of African Americans, his argument implicitly suggests, established their right to American citizenship, both in 1776 and in 1961 Far from being absent during the struggle with Britain ...

Article

The history of United States is one of a constantly shifting frontier. The first outsiders to explore (and later settle) the land formerly occupied only by Native Americans traveled mostly on the coasts, gradually moving inland. From the thirteen original colonies, white settlers in the seventeenth century looked to the West and saw unknown territory in what is now America's Midwest. With the Louisiana Purchase and acquisition of previously Spanish land, the frontier again edged west, to the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains and beyond. Even more than its practical meaning as the edge of European settlement, the frontier has had symbolic importance in American popular culture, peopled by mythical figures such as trailblazers, cowboys, and pioneers. Often overlooked or omitted from this legend, though, are the African Americans who lived and worked on the Western frontier.

From its earliest nonindigenous history the American West was traveled by people of ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

sailor, was one of eight African American seamen to earn the Medal of Honor during the Civil War. Likely in his early twenties when he enlisted as a landsman (for which he was tasked with the simplest sail-handling and duties like manning the yardarm) in the Union navy from Pennsylvania, Anderson was probably born a free black and, because he was rated a landsman, had little or no prior seafaring experience.

Though few details of Aaron Anderson's military service are known, and virtually nothing of his private life, his exemplary service nonetheless serves to highlight the importance of the African American contribution to the Union navy in what was, up to that time, the nation's bloodiest war. Along with such men as Joachim Pease, Robert Smalls, and John Lawson, Aaron Anderson was one of approximately eighteen thousand African Americans eleven of them women to serve ...

Article

aviator and instructor of the Tuskegee Airmen, was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, to Janie and Iverson Anderson, of whom little else is known. During his early childhood, he lived with his grandmother in Staunton, Virginia. There Anderson longed for an airplane so he could fly to see what was on the other side of the mountains that surrounded Staunton and the Shenandoah Valley. He frequently left home in search of airplanes that were rumored to have crashed in the valley. His constant disappearances frustrated his grandmother, and she sent him back to his parents. Once back in Pennsylvania, however, he continued leaving home in search of airplanes.

At the age of thirteen Anderson applied to aviation school, but was denied admission because he was African American. In 1926 at the age of nineteen he used his savings and borrowed money from friends and relatives to purchase a ...

Article

Charles Edward Wiles

U.S. Marine and Medal of Honor Recipient, was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Mr. and Mrs. James Anderson Sr. Anderson attended and graduated from Carver Elementary School, located in Los Angeles, in 1958. After moving to Compton, he graduated from Willowbrook Junior and Centennial Senior High School. Anderson went on to attend Los Angeles Harbor College for approximately a year and a half.

Anderson left college and enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corps on 17 February 1966. He participated in recruit training with the First Recruit Training Battalion at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California. After graduating from recruit training, Anderson was promoted to Private First Class in August 1966. Transferring to Camp Pendleton, California, Anderson attended infantry training with the Second Battalion of the Second Infantry Training Regiment.

Private Anderson arrived in Vietnam in December of 1966 There ...

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Onita Estes-Hicks

librarian, Harlem Renaissance cultural worker, and playwright, was born Regina Anderson in Chicago, the daughter of Margaret (Simons) Anderson, an artist, and William Grant Anderson, a prominent criminal attorney. She was reared in a black Victorian household in Chicago's Hyde Park district, amply provided for by a father who counted W. E. B. Du Bois, Theodore Roosevelt, and Adlai Stevenson among his friends and clients. Regina attended normal school and high school in Hyde Park, studying later at Wilberforce University and the University of Chicago, and eventually receiving a degree in Library Science from Columbia University's School of Library Science.

The Chicago of her youth and early adulthood struck her as provincial, yet it was flavored by migrants from the deep South and enlivened by the voice of Ida B. Wells whose writings on lynching gave Anderson an understanding of the link between race and violence ...

Article

Sherrow O. Pinder

clergyman, army chaplain, and physician, was born a slave in Seguin, Texas. Little is known about his parents except that his mother was a slave, and during the Civil War she and William fled to Galveston, Texas. As a young boy, he joined the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, which took on both local and national responsibility for the religious, intellectual, and social uplift of African Americans, often taking a leading role in promoting both secular and religious education. The AME Church, in fact, sponsored Anderson's education for three years at Wilberforce University in Ohio. The remainder of Anderson's education was financed by an Ohio sponsor, Stephen Watson, who was then the vice president of the London Exchange Bank of Madison County. In 1886 Anderson received a theology certificate from Howard University and two years later graduated from the Homeopathic Medical College of Cleveland Much ...

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Zachary Margolis

was born a slave in Connecticut, according to his military records. Andrew's birth year is unclear; his military records state that he was born in 1750, but his death records indicate a birth year of 1743. Nothing is known about his parents or early years.

Andrew was enslaved in Wethersfield, Connecticut until 20 May 1777. He was then released by John Wright and Luke Fortune, on the condition that he serve in the Continental Army; he served during the Revolutionary War, in the Connecticut Line as a corporal in the company of Francis Bernard (1740–1828) in the 18th Connecticut Regiment, fighting in and around New York City.

After three years of service Andrew was discharged from the army in 1780. On 1 June 1780 he received a total of £11 0 1 ¾ for his service On note number 652 issued to Andrew ...

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Sarah Wolozin

artist, was born in Madison, Georgia, the second of ten children of Viola Perryman and George Andrews, sharecroppers. Benny Andrews grew up in a household where creativity was encouraged. With what little money they had, his parents bought pens and paper for their children and encouraged them to draw and tell stories. Although not formally trained as an artist, George Andrews painted throughout his life and received considerable recognition in his later years. As a teenager Benny Andrews attended Burney Street High School only sporadically, when weather conditions excused him from his work picking cotton in the fields. In 1948 he became the first member of his family to graduate from high school.

In 1948Andrews moved to Atlanta and was awarded a 4 H club scholarship to attend one of Georgia s three black colleges He entered Fort Valley State College in Fort Valley Georgia but dropped ...

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Linda M. Carter

writer, was born in Plainview, Georgia, in Morgan County, the fourth of ten children of George Cleveland Andrews, a sharecropper and self‐taught folk artist, and Viola (Perryman) Andrews, also a sharecropper and, later, a newspaper columnist and the author of published short stories and an unpublished autobiography. Raymond's older brother, Benny Andrews, would become an internationally known painter and printmaker. Raymond Andrews's paternal grandmother, Jessie Rose Lee Wildcat Tennessee, was the daughter of an African American mother and a Native American father. Although she married Eddie Andrews, an African American who died in 1917, Raymond Andrews's paternal grandfather was James Orr, a plantation owner's son.

In 1935 Andrews and his family moved to a small house near his grandmother's home on land owned by Orr. Then in 1943 the Andrews family moved to the nearby Barnett Farm to work as sharecroppers ...

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Heather Marie Stur

The Vietnam War coincided with struggles for civil rights and economic equality in the United States. Many African Americans who spoke out against the war did so because they believed that it diverted funds and attention from domestic social programs. Others considered it a racist war, both because of the disproportionate number of black soldiers placed in combat units and because the war consisted of an attack on an Asian nation by the powerful, white-controlled United States. Black servicemen and servicewomen united to speak out against racism and sexism in the military, viewing the Vietnam War as an extension of civil rights injustices that African Americans endured at home. Throughout the course of the war, prominent African American leaders and organizations, including Martin Luther King Jr. and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), publicly opposed the war and encouraged other African Americans to join them.

In the early years of ...