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Archer, John Richard  

Ana Raquel Fernandes

Pan‐Africanist and the first black person to hold civic office in Britain. He was born in Liverpool, the son of a Barbadian, Richard Archer, and an Irishwoman, Mary Theresa Burns, but little is known of his early life, though he is believed to have lived in North America and the West Indies. Around 1898 he and his African‐Canadian wife, Bertha, moved to Battersea, south London, where Archer established a photographic studio. His concern to eradicate social and racial injustices led to a lifelong career in local government and national and global politics. In 1906 he was elected as a Progressive (Liberal) councillor for the Latchmere ward, and in 1913 Archer became Mayor of Battersea, Britain's first black mayor. His interest in colonial politics led to his involvement in Pan‐Africanism. In 1900 he joined the Pan African Association and he was a significant presence at the ...

Article

Barry, Marion Shepilov, Jr.  

Caryn E. Neumann

four-time mayor of Washington, D.C., was born on a cotton plantation near the Delta hamlet of Itta Bena in northwestern Mississippi to sharecroppers Marion Barry Sr. and Mattie Barry. In 1940 Barry Sr. died, and in 1944 Barry, his mother, and his sister moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where Mattie worked as a maid and married Dave Cummings a butcher The combined family which eventually included nine members lived in a narrow wooden shotgun house in South Memphis one of four black enclaves in the city Barry slept on the couch and rose early each morning to chop wood for the stove He stuffed cardboard in his shoes to fill the holes and sold his sandwiches to other kids at school for pocket money A bright industrious child he eventually became one of the first African American Eagle Scouts in Memphis In the summer he traveled with his mother ...

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Belton, Sharon Sayles  

Theresa W. Bennett-Wilkes

politician and human relations advocate. In November 1993 Sayles Belton made history as the first African American and first female elected mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota. A native of Minneapolis, she was born Sharon Sayles, the daughter of Bill Sayles, the city's first African American car salesman, and Marian Sayles. After her parents divorced, Sayles Belton lived briefly with her mother. Marian Sayles moved to Cleveland, and Sayles Belton then lived with her father and stepmother. During her high school years she volunteered as a candy striper, that is, a nurse's assistant, an experience that exposed her to human suffering.

Sayles Belton attended Macalester College in Saint Paul Minnesota She continued to do volunteer work registering African Americans to vote in Jackson Mississippi She became pregnant during her senior year and her daughter was born with brain damage Unmarried and unemployed Sayles Belton dropped out of school and was ...

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Berry, Theodore M.  

Charles F. Casey-Leninger

first black mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio, was born in Maysville, Kentucky, to a white farmer whom he never knew and Cora Berry. When he was a toddler, Berry's mother brought him to Cincinnati, where they settled in the emerging African American community in the city's West End. Severely hearing impaired and with difficulty speaking, his mother earned little as a domestic, and Berry's sister Anna, fifteen years his senior, eventually assembled the family in her own household.

Berry attended the segregated Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School and graduated from the racially mixed Woodward High School in 1924 as valedictorian, the first black student in Cincinnati to achieve that honor in an integrated high school. Berry received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1928 and his juris doctorate from the UC College of Law in 1931 He worked his way through school by selling ...

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Blackwell, Unita  

Robert Fay

Unita Blackwell, the daughter of sharecroppers, was born in Lula, Mississippi. Although she never attended high school, Blackwell eventually earned a master's degree in regional planning from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She began working in the Civil Rights Movement in Mayersville, Mississippi in the early 1960s. At that time, she supported herself by chopping cotton for three dollars a day. When civil rights workers came to Mayersville encouraging voter registration among African Americans, Blackwell was one of the first to register. Shortly thereafter she was fired from her job for urging others to register.

Blackwell then went to work for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), registering voters, leading boycotts and protests, and initiating civil proceedings to stop discriminatory practices in the state. The most notable case was the landmark Blackwell v. Board of Education in 1965 and 1966 a case that furthered school desegregation Blackwell was ...

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Blackwell, Unita  

Vicki Crawford

Blackwell is one of the courageous, yet unsung heroines of the modern civil rights movement. Born to sharecroppers near Lula, Coahoma County in the Mississippi Delta Blackwell rose from poverty to become a national leader and outspoken critic of racial and economic inequality After her father had an argument with the bossman about whether Unita should be required to do work in the cotton field when he believed she was too young he left Mississippi to find work in Tennessee From that time Blackwell and her mother and siblings moved from one relative s home to another As a child she worked in the cotton fields and in order to get a decent education she had to go across the state line to West Helena Arkansas She would live for eight months at a time with her aunt in that city in effect hiding out from the man who ...

Article

Booker, Cory A.  

Daryl A. Carter

mayor of Newark, New Jersey, was born Cory Anthony Booker in Washington, D.C., the younger of two sons of Carolyn and Cary Booker, executives at IBM. Booker graduated from North Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan, after which he entered Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. At Stanford Booker studied political science and was active in student politics, serving in student government as senior class president. He played football and was awarded for his talent. Upon graduating with a B.A. in 1991, Booker decided to stay at Stanford for another year. In 1992, Booker received his M.A. in Sociology and was awarded one of the highly coveted Rhodes Scholarships. In Great Britain, he continued his studies at The Queen's College of Oxford University. In 1994 Booker received a degree in modern history with honors After completing his studies in England Booker enrolled at Yale Law ...

Article

Bussey, Charles  

Bret A. Weber

law enforcement officer, community organizer, and mayor, was born in Stamps, Lafayette County, Arkansas, but lived most of his life and built his career in the state capital, Little Rock. His mother, Annie Bussey, lived in Stamps, with his father Charlie Bussey, who worked at the local sawmill. A childhood friend of Maya Angelou's, Bussey and his sister, Delvira Bussey, who became a schoolteacher, shared a deep concern for the welfare and future of children. He moved to Little Rock in the 1940s and opened an appliance shop and on 11 October 1945 married Maggie Clark. Though unsuccessful in the appliance business, by 1950 he had become the state s first black deputy sheriff and was later assigned to the prosecuting attorney s office as an investigator As deputy sheriff he founded the Junior Deputy Baseball program and many of those ...

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Congo, Francisco  

As with other maroon settlements (communities of runaway slaves) in the Americas, few records exist that explore the history and culture of the Peruvian settlement called Huachipa (1712–1713). Even scarcer is the information on the settlement's most notable leader, Francisco Congo. Also called Chavelilla, Congo had escaped from servitude in Pisco, near the capital city of Lima, and arrived in Huachipa in early 1713, shortly after its establishment. He was welcomed into the community by its leader, Martín Terranovo.

Named mayor and captain of the community Congo handled both administrative and military duties A struggle for leadership began among members of different African tribal groups in the community which eventually became a fight between Martín and Francisco Congo During the fight Congo was severely injured and left for dead He mysteriously recovered and killed Martín His amazing recovery led to a belief that his triumph was ...

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Guèye, Lamine  

Born to Senegalese parents in present-day Mali, Guèye fought in France during World War I and remained to study law. Guèye returned to Senegal in 1922. The first black lawyer in French-speaking Africa, he was elected mayor of Saint-Louis in 1925. From 1931 to 1934 he served as a magistrate on the island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean. In 1935 Guèye, an opponent of French colonialism, assumed leadership of the Parti Socialiste Sénégalais (PSS). He focused on recruiting the educated elite and made the PSS into the first modern political party in French-speaking Africa. In 1936 he affiliated the PSS with the French Socialist Party (SFIO). Guèye promoted Léopold Senghor’s career, and both men won seats representing Senegal in the French Constituent Assembly in 1945 and 1946 As a member of the Assembly Guèye helped secure eligibility for French citizenship for all colonial subjects ...

Article

Hayes, Charles A.  

Kerry Pimblott

politician and trade unionist, was born in Cairo, Illinois, the eldest son of Nevada Bell and Charles Hayes Sr., the latter a farm laborer. Charles Arthur Hayes spent his formative years in Cairo, graduating from that city's Sumner High School in 1935.

After high school, Hayes took a job stacking lumber at E. L. Bruce Company, a leading manufacturer of hardwood flooring. Hayes quickly rose to the more skilled position of machine operator and became active in efforts to organize a union. In 1939, these efforts resulted in the founding of Local 1424 of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. A few months later, Hayes was elected president, marking the beginning of a long career as a labor organizer.

During World War II, Hayes, like thousands of African Americans, migrated north to Chicago in search of better employment opportunities. In 1942 Hayes ...

Article

Lewis, Sir Samuel  

Christopher Fyfe

Lawyer and leading public figure among the Krio (then called ‘Creole’) people of Sierra Leone. His father was a wealthy businessman who sent him to London to study law. Called to the Bar in 1871, on his return home he built up a substantial legal practice. Quiet‐mannered, a dedicated Methodist, unobtrusive in appearance, he owed his success to his well‐grounded legal knowledge, not to histrionic display. Although he occasionally acted for the government, he preferred the independence and financial rewards of private practice.

From 1882 Lewis was a member of the Legislative Council. There, though he was ready to oppose the government, sometimes with great tenacity, in general he supported its measures, even to earning widespread hostility when he went against public feeling. When Freetown became a municipality in 1895 he was elected Mayor, and in 1896 was awarded the first African knighthood.

When the Protectorate was proclaimed in ...

Article

Onyango, Grace Monica Akech  

Hannington Ochwada

Kenyan politician and first Kenyan woman elected as mayor and Member of Parliament (MP), was born at Gobei, Sakwa District, in Kenya’s Nyanza Province. She was educated at primary schools in Sakwa before enrolling in Ngiya Girls Secondary School. She later graduated as a teacher from Vihiga Teachers Training College in 1954. She married Onyango Baridi, with whom she had six children, and worked as a primary school teacher before being appointed principal of Ng’iya Women’s Teachers’ Training College. She also served as an assistant commissioner of the Girl Guide movement and chaired the Kisumu Branch of the Child Welfare Society in Kisumu District.

Onyango was drawn to community service even before she entered the realm of electoral politics. When she was elected to the Kisumu Municipal Council in 1963 she found it not only composed of European and Asian entrepreneurs but also dominated by men This led ...

Article

Schmoke, Kurt  

Jessica Christina Harris

lawyer, mayor, and law school dean, was born Kurt Lidell Schmoke in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Murray A. Schmoke Sr., a civilian chemist in the U.S. Army, and Irene Bennett Reid, a social worker. Schmoke had two half siblings, a sister, Karla Reid Young, and a brother, Murray A. Schmoke Jr., who died tragically in a traffic accident in South Africa in 1994. Coming of age in the Deep South during the Jim Crow era, Schmoke's parents experienced the viciousness of racism firsthand. Their pursuit and successful completion of college degrees at that time exhibited to their son that, with steadfast faith, courage, and self-assurance, opportunity and success would be plentiful to him.

Schmoke received his early education in Baltimore's public school system. A beneficiary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education (1954 Supreme Court decision Schmoke attended ...

Article

Smith, Eddie Lee, Jr.  

Carlton Elliott Smith

mayor, was born in Fayette County, Tennessee, to Eddie Lee Smith Sr., a farmer, and Lucy Sales Smith, a homemaker. He was educated in rural schools for black children. In the early 1930s his parents moved the family to Marshall County in northwest Mississippi, eventually settling on eleven acres that became part of the town of Holly Springs. The Smiths were founding members of the town's black Pentecostal church, now known as Christ Temple, and they instilled in their twelve children, including Eddie Jr., a sense of personal piety and pride.

Smith attended high school in Holly Springs at Rust College in the 1950s and he also served in a medical unit when he enlisted as a conscientious objector during the Korean War When he returned for undergraduate classes at Rust College he was deeply impressed by the distinguished black men he saw running the campus ...

Article

Wilson, Dorotea Louise  

Miguel Gonzalez Perez

was born on 15 September 1948 in Bilwi along the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua to a working class family Bilwi also known as Puerto Cabezas is the capital city of Nicaragua s North Atlantic Autonomous Region home to a multiethnic population of which around 25 percent are of African descent Her father Sidney Marcus Wilson was employed for more than forty years in the gold mines operated by US multinationals in the northern region of the coast also known as the Mines subregion Dorotea s mother Ambrozine Tathum Forbes was an active church member and made a living by selling pastries to workers in the export led timber industry of Bilwi Dorotea received a religious education in various Catholic schools including the Santa Inés and Maryknoll colleges The decision to pursue a Catholic religious education represented a significant personal challenge since she had been born into a Protestant Moravian ...

Article

Wilson, Lionel  

Charles Rosenberg

the first mayor of Oakland, California (and the first Alameda Superior Court judge) of African descent, and an active member of the East Bay Democratic Club, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Jules and Louise Wilson. His father was a carpenter and plasterer.

The family moved to Oakland in 1918 when Wilson was three years old, at the urging of a maternal uncle, Ponce Barrios, who had found work in the shipyards. Living first with Barrios, the family settled in the northern end of West Oakland between 28th and 32nd streets, near Myrtle, Chestnut, and Linden. The Wilsons had five more children in Oakland. Wilson later recalled that schools in the neighborhood were predominantly attended by children of Portuguese, Italian, and Irish ethnic families, with 10 to 15 percent African Americans.

In 1932 Wilson graduated from McClymonds High School and entered the University of California ...

Article

Young, Andrew  

Elizabeth Heath

Born and raised in an affluent African American family in New Orleans, Louisiana, Andrew Young had opportunities as a child that were available to few blacks in the South, including an exceptional education. He attended Howard University and Hartford Theological Seminary. Ordained a Congregational minister in 1955, he soon after accepted a pastorate in Thomasville, Georgia. This experience made him keenly aware of the poverty African Americans suffered in the rural South and inspired his work as a civil rights activist.

In 1959 Young moved to New York to become assistant director of the National Council of Churches and to raise financial support for activities related to the Civil Rights Movement in the South. He returned to Georgia two years later and joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference SCLC His energetic work as funding coordinator and administrator of the SCLC Citizenship Education Programs soon won him the ...

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Young, Andrew Jackson, Jr.  

Alton Hornsby

civil rights leader, United Nations ambassador, U.S. congressman, and mayor, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Andrew Jackson Young, a dentist, and Daisy Fuller, a teacher. Young received a BS degree in Biology from Howard University in 1951 and a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Hartford Theological Seminary in Connecticut in 1955. In the same year he was ordained as a minister in the United Church of Christ. As a pastor he was sent to such places as Marion, Alabama, and Thomasville and Beachton, Georgia. During this time the civil rights movement was reaching its height under the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr. and others who followed the nonviolent resistance tactics of Mohandas Gandhi, the pacifist who had led Indian opposition to British colonial rule. By the time of the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott in 1955 Young ...

Article

Young, Coleman  

Joseph Wilson

mayor of Detroit. Coleman Alexander Young was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and raised in Detroit. He became an autoworker for the Ford Motor Company until he was banned from employment in retaliation for his labor and civil rights organizing. During his time as an organizer, he suffered head injuries when company thugs attacked union organizers at the plant.

Young also served with the heralded Tuskegee Airmen during World War II as a navigator and the first black U.S. bombardier, rising to the rank of lieutenant. In 1945 he helped organize the Freeman Field mutiny, in which 162 African American officers were arrested for staging a sit-in at an all-white officers club to protest segregation at an Indiana military base. Ironically, although Nazi German prisoners of war moved freely about the base, the black officers were threatened with court-martial and execution.

As a civilian Young was involved with the American ...