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Douglass, Amelia Loguen  

Paul A. Minifee

The second of eight children born to Caroline and Jermain Loguen, Helen Amelia Loguen grew up in Syracuse, New York, where her parents were heavily involved in the abolitionist movement. Educated by her mother and local public schools, Amelia studied chemistry, French, and trigonometry. Her father was a bishop of the American Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church and a prominent abolitionist, who employed their home as a depot for fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad and opened schools for African Americans in Utica and Syracuse. Amelia's mother came from a prosperous family of farmers in Busti, New York. Caroline's father, William Storum was a free black and one of three citizens in Chautauqua County to vote for abolitionists evidencing his politics and prosperity since New York required blacks to own at least $250 of property in order to vote An active abolitionist himself Storum utilized his farm as ...

Article

Douglass, Helen Pitts  

Leigh Fought

Helen Pitts was born in Honeoye, New York, the daughter of the white abolitionists Gideon and Jane Wills Pitts. Her father began working with the renowned abolitionist and escaped slave Frederick Douglass in 1846. Thus, from an early age Helen knew of Douglass and his work. Her parents, wealthy enough to pursue their progressive ideals, ensured that she and her sisters, Eva and Jane, received a better education than most girls of the era. Although few institutions of higher learning accepted women students, Eva attended Cornell and Helen and Jane both attended Mount Holyoke College. Helen graduated in 1859.

Reconstruction offered Helen the opportunity to combine her education with her activism. She moved to Norfolk, Virginia, to teach in a school for freed slaves in 1863 The swampy climate there took its toll on her health and the violent hostility faced by the African American ...

Article

Ferebee, London R.  

Laura Murphy

writer, sailor, soldier, teacher, and minister, was one of ten children born in North Carolina to Abel Ferebee, a slave and minister of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church, and Chloe (maiden name unknown), a slave. When London was young his mother was sold, apparently because of her unwillingness to submit to her master and her ability to beat him in a fight. She was sold to a speculator, who offered to sell her to her husband or his master, who had allowed Ferebee to hire himself out to a local farmer so that they both profited from his labor. When she was subsequently bought by one of the two men—it is unclear which—London and two of his siblings were allowed to move with her, though they all remained enslaved.

Once he was old enough to begin laboring London was immediately set to ...

Article

Green, J. D.  

William L. Andrews

Jacob D. Green was born a slave in Queen Anne's County, Maryland, and during his boyhood served as a house servant on a large plantation owned by Judge Charles Earle. When he was twelve years old his mother was sold; he never saw her again. He began thinking of escape while a teenager but did not attempt it because religious teachings convinced him that running away from his master would be a sinful act. When his wife was sold away from him in 1839, however, Green made the first of three escape attempts, the last of which took him from Kentucky to Toronto, Canada, in 1848 and soon thereafter to England. Working as an antislavery lecturer, Green published his forty-three page Narrative of the Life of J. D. Green, a Runaway Slave in England in 1864. According to its title page, eight thousand copies of Green's Narrative were ...

Article

Lewis, W. Arthur  

Michael E. Latham

economist, development expert, and Nobel Laureate, was born William Arthur Lewis on St. Lucia in the West Indies, the son of George Lewis and Ida Barton teachers When Lewis was only seven his father died and his mother opened a shop to help support her family of five sons Financially assisted by the Anglican Church and inspired by his mother s unrelenting determination the precocious youngster completed the studies required for university admission at fourteen and worked as a government clerk for four years At eighteen Lewis won the St Lucia government scholarship for study in Britain and elected to attend the London School of Economics LSE Although he had wanted to be an engineer Lewis knew that neither local industry nor the British government hired blacks in that field Interested in business and curious about the nature of economics he chose instead to pursue a ...

Article

Said, Mohammed Ali Ben (Nicholas Said)  

David Childs

slave, teacher, world traveler, and Union soldier in the U.S. Civil War, was born in Kouka, the capital of Bornu. Said was his mother's ninth child; all told, he had eighteen siblings. In the early nineteenth century, Bornu (spelled Bornou in Said's narrative) was a kingdom that was home to the Kanuri people of north-central Africa. His father, Barca Gana, born into a prominent Muslim family, was the eldest son of the ruling chief of Molgoy. A military man, he was a highly valued lieutenant of the King of Bornu. Said's mother also came from a prominent family: she was the daughter of a Mandra chief. Said's family owned several slaves.

Nicholas spent much of his childhood studying Islam and in formal schooling He learned to read and write in both his native tongue and Arabic He also had a great passion for hunting and often persuaded his friends ...

Article

Scott, Emmett Jay  

Edgar Allan Toppin

educator and publicist, was born in Houston, Texas, the son of Horace Lacy Scott, a civil servant, and Emma Kyle. Scott attended Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, for three years but left college in 1890 for a career in journalism. Starting as a janitor and messenger for a white daily newspaper, the Houston Post, he worked his way up to reporter. In 1894 he became associate editor of a new black newspaper in Houston, the Texas Freeman. Soon he was named editor and built this newspaper into a leading voice in black journalism in its region. Initially, he tied his fortune to the state's preeminent black politician, Norris Cuney, and was his secretary for a while.

When Cuney retired, Scott turned to Booker T. Washington, the founder of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Scott greatly admired Washington, praising his 1895 Atlanta Compromise ...

Article

Sprague, Rosetta Douglass  

Eric Gardner

activist, was born Rosetta Douglass in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the daughter of Frederick Douglass and Anna Murray Douglass. Both of her parents—the man who would become America's most famous escaped slave and a woman who seems to have been born free—came from Maryland and were building a life in the North after her father's escape. The growing family moved to Lynn, Massachusetts, while Rosetta was still young.

Sprague's childhood must have been difficult. While all extant sources agree that her mother's focus was on her family and domestic circumstances, by 1845 her father still a runaway was an important African American in the abolitionist movement and was lecturing across the North That status led to fears of capture and he fled to England where he stayed until his freedom was purchased Left in Lynn Anna Murray Douglass had to be in essence self sufficient during his long ...

Article

Sprague, Rosetta Douglass  

Leigh Fought

As the first child of Frederick Douglass and Anna Murray Douglass, Rosetta Douglass bore the responsibility of being the daughter of the most famous black man of the nineteenth century and acted as a mediator in her parents' marriage. She was born in the first year of her father's freedom, in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Rosetta spent her early years there and in Lynn, Massachusetts, helping her mother maintain the household as it grew to include three brothers (and later, in New York, a sister), as well as boarders from the abolitionist movement and such long-term guests as the fugitive slave Harriet Bailey whom Frederick Douglass adopted as his sister and whom Rosetta called aunt Rosetta s assistance was invaluable to her mother who attempted to run the household on her husband s small income as a speaker for the American Anti Slavery Society Additionally Frederick Douglass s ...

Article

Washington-Williams, Essie Mae  

Karen E. Sutton

gained fame in 2003 when she revealed that she was the illegitimate, biracial daughter of the late Strom Thurmond, U.S. senator from South Carolina. America knew Thurmond as a staunch segregationist, and he was the longest-serving and oldest senator in U.S. history, dying at age one hundred in June 2003. Her mother was Carrie Butler, who had a love affair with Thurmond when she was fifteen and employed as a domestic servant in his family home. At the time of their relationship, Thurmond was a single, twenty-two-year-old schoolteacher and football coach at Edgefield High School.

Born in Aiken, South Carolina, Washington-Williams was raised by her maternal aunt, Mary Butler Washington, in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. She met her real mother in 1938, when “Aunt” Carrie came to visit and revealed their true relationship. At age sixteen, in 1941 while in Edgefield South Carolina for a family ...