Timeline of Humanity
in focus: Descendants of Africans
Timeline: Descendants of Africans | BeingBlackToday.com
Olaudah Equiano "Gustavus Vassa"
1745 - 1797
1st African-Descended Individual to Write About Slave Experience
Olaudah Equiano  was a prominent African in London, a freed slave, who wrote the autobiographical book,  “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano”, that told of the horrors of slavery. 

His book,  published in 1789, attracted wide attention, going through nine editions, and ultimately playing a pivotal role in turning public opinion in Britain against slavery, and in the passage of the Slave Trade Act of 1807, which ended the African trade for Britain and its colonies.

He was sold many times, but his last master was Robert King, an American Quaker merchant who allowed Equiano to trade on his own account and purchase his freedom in 1766.
Equiano settled in England in 1767 and worked and traveled for another 20 years as a seafarer, merchant, and explorer in the Caribbean, the Arctic, theAmerican colonies, South and Central America, and the United Kingdom.
Another portrait that some
claim to be Equiano 
As a free man, Equiano had a stressful life; he had suffered suicidal thoughts before he became a born-again Christian and found peace in his faith.
After settling in London, in 1792 Equiano married an English woman named Susannah Cullen, 20 years younger than he,  and they had two mixed-race daughters. 
A Partial Telling of His Story
According to his own account, Olaudah Equiano was born in 1745 to the Igbo people in the region now known as Nigeria.
His name, Olaudah, means "one who has a loud voice and is well spoken", and signifies good fortune. He was the youngest son, with six brothers and sisters.
His father was a man of dignity, given the title "Embrenché" (modern Igbo: mgburichi), a man whom he remembers bearing scarifications on his forehead, which signified his father's status. Equiano expected to receive such scarification when he came of age among the males of his community.
Equiano recollects his mother teaching him self-defence, and he witnessed her taking part in communal wars. His mother particularly impressed on him the religious rites of his community. She often carried him along to an ancestral shrine in the wild where his maternal grandmother was buried; she would give offerings to the shrine and weep by its side.
Equiano said his early life was filled with what his people considered good omens or mysterious signs; for instance, he was on a path in his village when he accidentally stood on a large snake but was left unharmed.
Equiano recounted an incident when an attempted kidnapping of children was thwarted by adults in his villages.
When he was around the age of eleven, he and his sister were left alone to look after their family's compound, as was common when adults went out of the house for work. They were both kidnapped and taken far away from their hometown, separated, and sold to slave traders. After changing hands several times, Equiano met his sister again, but they were separated and he was taken over a large river to the coast, where he was held by European slave traders.
He was transported with 244 other enslaved Africans across the Atlantic Ocean to Barbados in the West Indies. He and a few other slaves were sent on to the British colony of Virginia. 


Liberia Africa
AmericanColonization Society: "Back to Africa" Plan Financed by Slaveholders
1812:  Advocate of the
Back to African Plan
Paul Cufee
Quaker Businessman, Sea Captain
Abolitionist, Patriot
1759 - 1817
Paul Cuffee was a mixed-race, successful Quaker ship owner and activist, descended from Ashanti and Wampanoag parents.  In his 50s, he began advocated settling freed African American slaves in Africa and gained support from the British government, free black leaders in the United States, and members of Congress to take immigrants to the British colony of Sierra Leone.

In 1815, he financed a personal sight-seeing trip to Africa,  and in 1816, returned to Freetown Sierra Leone, with 38 African Americans, on a ship that he owned.  Cuffee spent the remainder of his life transporting free blacks on his ships, at his expense, to Africa, laying the groundwork for the American Colonization Society.

1816:  American Colonization Society
The American Colonization Society: The Society for the Colonization of Free People of Color of America, was founded in 1816 by Robert Finley of New Jersey.  All of early organizers of the Society were slaveholders, and the membership consisted of groups of slaveholders, all of whom were otherwise opposed to each other on the issue of slavery.  However, they were united on one thing – the protection of the institution of slavery.  

Slave Owners Establish Colony 
for Free Blacks in West Africa
Members of the society believed that the presence of free African Americans had a negative impact on enslaved blacks, by filling them with excitement and false expectations,  which threatened the slave societies of the South.  The nobelist of them believed that blacks would face better chances for full lives in Africa than in the United States, the others just wanted them gone.  Nevertheless, the slaveholders  joined together in support of a plan to colonize free African Americans in Africa, and then financed the creation of a colony on the coast of West Africa in 1821, calling it Liberia. 
Starting in 1821, thousands of free African Americans, through the assistance of the Society, had migrated to the Liberian colony, and it continued to grow over the course of years, able to establish some economic stability. 

1846: 1st Black Governor of Liberia
(and Eventual 1st Black President)
Joseph Jenkins Roberts
1st Governor/President of Liberia
1809 - 1876
Joseph Roberts was born free in Norfolk, Virginia, to a white Welsh father and a mulatto slave woman, who was eventually granted freedom.  In 1926, Liberian historian, Abayomi Karnga, reported that Roberts “was not really black… and could have easily passed for a white man”.

Once free, Roberts’ mother married a free black, James Robers, who gave her seven children his name and raised them as his own.  Roberts owned a boating busines on the James River, and acquired substantial wealth for an African-American of his time.  

At the age of 20, Roberts migrated to Liberia.  In Liberia, he and his brothers opened a trading store, exporting palm products, camwood, and ivory to the United States, and selling imported goods at the company store in Monrovia.
Jane Rose Waring
A few years after his first wife and child died (soon after their arrival in Liberia), Roberts married Jane Rose Waring, whose parents had also migrated to the colony.
Tax Collector and
Enforcer of Colonial Rule
In 1833, at the age of 24, Joseph Roberts became high sheriff of the colony. One of his responsibilities was to organize militias to travel to the interior to collect taxes from the indigenous peoples and put down their rebellions against colonial rule.  In 1839, the American Colonization Society appointed Roberts vice governor.  
Roberts Appointed 
1st Black Governor
Two years later, after the death of governor Thomas Buchanan, Roberts was appointed as the first black governor of Liberia.

1847:  The Liberian Colony
Declares its Independence
In 1846, Roberts asked the legislature to declare the independence of Liberia, but also to maintain cooperation with the American Colonization Society.   Voters chose independence, and on July 26, 1847, Roberts declared Liberia independent.
After nearly 25 years, and an influx of over 13,000 free black Americans, the legislature of Liberia was an independent nation, even though the Society had closely controlled the development up to that point.
Roberts Elected 1st President
of Liberia
He won the first presidential election on October 5, 1847, and was sworn into office on January 3, 1848, with Nathaniel Brander as vice president.

In 1919, the Society discontinued publication of its African Repository and Colonial Journal, and essentially ended its operation  -- but it did not formally dissolve until 1964, when it transferred its papers to the Library of Congress.

Black Slave Drivers: Plantation Owners Create Caste System Among African Slaves
By the time of the American Civil War, there would be nearly 50,000 plantations in Southern states.  Despite popular conception, the vast majority of thee plantations did not have grand mansions centered on huge acreage.  Although these large estates existed, they represented only a small percentage of plantations.  For the majority of these farmers, owning slaves was the standard, but most owned no more than five and tended to work the fields alongside their slaves.  
Only the top 5% of large plantations had a workforce of 100 or more, while medium plantations, making up nearly 50% of all plantation, owned 20 to 50 slaves.  The remaining small plantation usually topped of at a dozen slaves.
Plantation Owners Recruit
Slaves for Specialized Jobs
Prominent White Family
Posing with their "Mammy"
Before the American Civil War, the medium and large plantation owners commonly recruited ambitious and talented slaves, or their mixed, illegitimate offspring,  for holding positions of trust and responsibility. The men and women selected would work as house servants, companions for their children, craftsman, or as the all important plantation foreman, or slave driver.
Relative to the lives of the other slaves, having access to their master’s private world and public dealings gave these slaves considerable power,  and in some sense, they stood as  middle men and women between master and slaves.

Plantation Foremen: Black Slave Drivers
The plantation foremen, or “slave driver”, was responsible for policing the fields and the slave quarters.  Their job was to enforce discipline and guarantee performance in the fields.  On large plantations, they assisted white overseers; on smaller farms, they worked directly under their master's supervision and instructions.  To establish their authority, these black foreman were provided whips, high leather boots, and long coats, to create an appearance of superiority when in the presence of the other slaves.  All slaves with special work assignments were provided more resources by their master, in general.
The Good and the Bad:
Slave Drivers Breed Resentment
"Good Slave Drivers" showed their primary intent to be to save the slave population from harsh persecution, by using diplomacy and flattery in encouraging them produce more work, with violence only being the last resort.  
A good slave driver served to ensure the master wishes, while being a buffer, friend and protector of the slave population, from both master and overseer.  He would not "tattle" his people, in the course of his duties,  and he kept white folks out of the slaves’ private lives as much as possible. Only severe fighting and crimes, nearly impossible to conceal were reported.
On the other hand, the "Bad Slave Driver" would found no trouble in applying the whip regularly, in an attempt to make slaves work harder and produce more.  And this type of slave driver was despised by his fellow African slaves.  On his own, or under the direct supervision of a white overseer, this sort of slave driver regularly took part in the cruel and brutal acts of  mutilations, stabbings, and burning of slaves.

Master and Slave forge Bond
As a matter of course, slave masters often sought out and relied upon the advice of their black foremen, in regard to the social arrangement in the quarters, as well as on matters of farming.  And as the slave driver matured and became more knowledgeable, his relationship the master tended to develop into a mutually trusted bond.  

Disgruntled White Overseers
White overseers were openly appalled by and resentful  about the type of relationship maintained between black slave drivers and their masters.   As a group, vocally expressed complaints about how white plantation owners trusted the opinions and wishes of black slave drivers over their own position on matters.  These white overseers were not generally long-term fixtures on a single plantation, but were short-term contractors, moving from plantation to plantation.

Loyal Slave Drivers Under Full
Direction and Control of Masters
Slave drivers proved useful for plantation owners, they would explain their goals and requirements to the plantation form who would use his discretion, good or bad, to ensure that his master goals were met, in matters of farming and how the slaves must conduct themselves.  
Their discretion was not independent but was exercised under the watchful eye of the overseer, or directly by his master.
Special Compensation for Slave Drivers
Plantation owners compensated slave drivers with extra privileges, material rewards, and even offers of freedom.  Some were allowed to marry women off the plantation, and a few were allowed more than one wife.  More generous master up part of their land holding for personal use by slaves, including allowing them to draft other slaves to tend to their gardens or cotton patch, and then sell their produce in town for cash.  The were often given gifts and page wages.

Impact of the American Civil War
The slave driver’s loyalty was tested by the occurrence of the Civil War.  Generally, the slave foreman and other servants were left behind to faithfully assist the plantation owner's wife, or white overseer, in keeping the plantation going.    However, without direct white authority, several groups of plantation slaves did not cooperate to this end, allowing plantations to fall into disrepair and ruin.  
And as time went on,  the slave foremen became more concerned about their own interests, with some choosing the time to escape from slavery.
Upon arrival of Federal troops in some southern territories, some slaves became involved in an uprisings, killing their masters, his family, other white people and plantation livestock.  However, a number of foreman and slaves remained loyal to their masters, and later bargained for their freedom.

Disruption of Slave Masters Authority
Faced with emancipation, plantation owners attempted to lock their former slaves into long-term labor contracts, and looked to the slave drivers to help in encouraging them to stay on the farms.  But neither slave drivers nor slave wanted to stay under such conditions and fled.

Alternately, some some owners divided their land into tenant parcels and installed a black family on each, to participate in share cropping, where most of the crops produced when to the owner, but they were allowed the land a portion of the crops.  This new practice rendered the need for slave drivers obsolete.

Slave Drivers Post-Emancipation
The slave drivers (and other slave staff) who had received gifts of cash and land during service in slavery, and were able to build their own estates in freedom.  And because slave drivers knew every aspect of farm management and had also developed a special skill of dealing with whites, they were able to carve out successful lives for themselves..

James Varick
1750 - 1827
Founder and 1st Bishop A.M.E. Zion Church and Publisher of 1st Black U.S. Newspaper
Early Life
James Varick was born to a slave mother and a free black man, Richard Varick.  He grew up with his parents in New York, where it is supposed that he attended the Free School for Negroes.  Varick served an apprentice shoemaker and for many years worked as a shoemaker and tobacco cutter to support himself and his family.

Later Years
By 1766, Varick lived as a free man.  And, it was at this time that he joined the Methodist church, although he was baptized in the Dutch Church by his father.  He was one of the first Black men licensed to preach at John Street Church, however, but his eventual appointment to the pulpit, as the Church’s first black preacher, caused considerable racial tension and calls for racial segregation of the congregation.

In 1790, he married Aurelia Jones.  The couple had seven children, four boys and three girls, only four of whom survived into adulthood.

1820 A.M.E. Zion Church
Official Separates from
the White Church
Although the A.M.E. Zion Church received its charter in 1801, led by Varick, they did not officially separate from the church until 1820.

[ Please see the 1852 North America article on James Jamison for a more detailed history of the church prior to the founding of the A.M.E. Zion Church]

1827 Establishes 1st
Black U.S. Newspaper
Varick, a life-long activist, petioned the New York State Constitutional Convention, along with other black New York City leaders, to grant blacks the right to vote.  Six years later, Varick helped establish Freedom’s Journal, the first Black newspaper in the United States.

Thomas L. Jennings
Abolitionist, Tailor, Entrepreneur
1791 – 1856
1st African-American to be Granted a Patent with Invention of Dry Cleaning
Early Life: Born Free
Thomas L. Jennings was born free to a black family in New York City.   As a youth, Jennings  learned a trade as a tailor, which included dry-cleaning.  

Marriage and Family
Jennings married a woman named Elizabeth, who  was born into slavery, but under New York’s gradual abolition law of 1799, was converted to the status of an indentured servant, obligated to work for free until her 30th birthday. He and his wife had three children. 

1821:  Jennings built a business as a tailor and dry cleaner, and was well-respected in the community. He developed a process called "dry scouring" for cleaning clothes, for which he applied and received a patent from the state of New York on March 3, 1821. 

His success in gaining a patent resulted in considerable controversy, as the standing U.S. patent laws stated that “the master is owner of the fruits of the labor of the slave both manual and intellectual”  -- slaves cound not patent their own inventions, but Thomas Jennings was free, so retained exclusive rights to his process.

He spent his early earnings on legal fees to purchase his wife and children out of slavery.  Their last child was born free.

Civil Rights Activism
1854:  Arranged legal defense for his daughter, when she challenged a private streetcar company’s segregation of seating and was forcibly removed from a “whites only” streetcar and arrested in New York City.   She was defended by a young Chester Arthur (21st President of the United States), and won her case the next year.

1855:  With James McCune Smith and Rev. James W.C. Pennington, he organized the Legal Rights Association of New York, which raised challenges to discrimination and organized legal defense for court cases.

Ira Aldridge
Stage Actor, Playwright
1807 - 1867
Shakespeare Memorial Theater Honors 1st and Only African-Descended Person
Ira Aldridge was an American, and then British, stage actor and playwright.  At the age of 17, he began his lifetime stage career in London and on the stages of Europe, primarily in Shakespearean roles.  He was popular in Prussia and Russia, where he received top honors for heads of state. In his lifetime, he married two white women, one English and one Swedish, and raised his family in England. Two of his daughters became professional opera singers.
Early Life
Aldrige was born free in New York city.  At the age of 13, he went to the African Free School, a school for children of free black people and slaves.

Interest in Acting Develops
His first professional acting experience was in the early 1820s with the African Company.  In 1821, the group built the first resident African American theater in the United States – the African Grove Theater.

Career Move
He, and another actor left New York and migrated to Liverpool, England, when he was only 17, to flee from the persistent discrimination against black actors.

In England, Aldrige claimed that he was a descendant from the Fulani people of Africa and went by the name of "Keene".  It was common for theatrical people to take on a assumed names, usually a name  very similar to well-known individuals.

Aldrige went on to play both black and white characters all over Europe, growing in fame.  As his roles increased, Alridge would customarily use the closing night of his performances as a public service announcement, by directly addressing the audience to speak against the injustice of slavery and his passionate desire for freedom of those held in bondage.

Later Years
Aldrige with first born son, born outside of his marriage, but raised by his first wife.
After the death of his wife of 40 years, he married his Swedish mistress a year later, migrating to Australia with her.  They had four children,  who all displayed musical talents.  Two of his daughters went on to performs and as professional opera singers.

Isabella "Bell" Baumfree
"Sojourner Truth"
Women's Rights Activist, Abolitionist
1797 - 1883
1st Black Woman to Take White Man to Court for Freedom and Win
Early Years
Home of Slave Owner
Colonel Hardenbergh
Sojourner Truth, was born into slavery as Isabella Baumfree, one of twelve children, of James and Elizabeth Baumfree, both slaves. The entire family was purchased by Colonel Hardenbergh, a Dutchman, who kept them in hilly area inhabited by other Dutchman.   Belle spent the first nine years of her life speaking only Dutch.  Upon his death, his son continued to enslave them as part of his inheritance.

When the second Hardenbergh died, nine-year old “Belle” was sold at auction to John Neely.  At about the age of 11, Neely sold her to Martinus Schryver, a tavern owner.  At the age 13, Schryver sold her to John Dumont.

1815 – 1826  Rape, Love
Marriage and Children
At the age of 18, Sojourner fell in love with a slave on another farm.  And when that slaves master caught him at the Dumont’s without permission, he was savagely beaten, later dying from his injuries.  Soon after her love was killed, Sojorner gave birth to a daughter fathered by either his master, or her own master.  After some time, she married one of the older slaves and bore three more children.
1826:  Escape to Freedom
Late in 1826, Sojourner escaped to freedom with her infant daughter, forced to leave her other children behind, because they were required to serve as bound servants until their twenties, by law.

1828:  Sojourner Goes to Court Against
White Man to Get Her Son Back
Sojourner learned that her son Peter, then 5 years old, had been illegally sold by Dumont to an owner in Alabama.  With the help of the people who housed her and her baby, the Van Wagenens, she took the issue to court in 1828.  After several months of legal proceedings, she got her son back, who had been abused by those who were enslaving him.

1829:  Sojourner and Children
Move to New York City
After her escape, Sojourner and her children are taken in my the Van Wagenen family.  While living with the Van Wagenens, Sojourner became a devout Christian.  From that point forward, her life and associations revolved around other devout people, including those for whom she worked.  After 10 years in New York City, her son Peter, at the age of 18, took a job on a whaling ship, and after a few letters, she never heard from him again.

1843:  Isabella “Bell” Baumfree
Changes her Name to Sojourner Truth
After changing her name, she told friends: “The Spirit call me, and I must go”, and she left traveling and preaching about the abolition of slavery.  

1844: Sojourner joined the Northampton Association of Education and Industry, founded by abolitionists.  The organization supported women's rights and religious tolerance as well as pacifism. They lived on 470 acres raising livestock, running a sawmill, a gristmill, and a silk factory. While there, Truth met William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, and David Ruggles.  In 1846, the group disbanded, unable to support itself

1850:  Book Published and
and Purchases Own Home
William Lloyd Garrison privately funded the publishing of her book, The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave, a book of her memoirs dictated to her friend Olive Gilbert.  That same year, she purchased a home for $300, and spoke at the first National Women’s Rights Convention.  In 1854, she paid off the mortgage with the proceeds from the sale of her book.

1851:  Begins Lecture Tour Through
Central and Western New York State
At the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in May, she delivered her famous, unrehearsed speech, later known as “Ain’t I a Woman”, because that question was repeated four times.  Her speech demanded equal human rights for all women and all blacks.   Sojourner’s was raised in New York and her first language was Dutch, and she did not have a Southern speech pattern.  Yet, each report, except for the original report, had embellished her words with the speech patterns of Southern slaves.

Over the next 10 years, she spoke before hundreds of audiences, delivering many notable speeches.

1856:  Sells Home and Possessions
Sojourner sold all of her possessions and moved to Michigan, where she rejoined former members of the Millerite Movement, who had formed the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

1870:  Meets with President
Ulysses S. Grant in White House
She tried to secure land grants from the federal government to former enslaved people, a project she pursued for seven years, without success.  While in Washington, D.C., she had a meeting with President Ulysses S. Grant in the White House.  In 1872, when she tried to vote in the presidential election, she was turned away.

Sojourner Truth died of natural causes at the age of 92.

David Walker
Anti-Slavery Activist, Abolitionist
1796 - 1830
Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World: By Any Means Necessary
In 1829, David Walker published “An Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World, a call for black unity and self-help in the fight against oppression and injustice.  The pamphet  brought attention to the abuses and inequities of slavery and the role of individuals to act responsibly for racial equality.  Many abolitionist thought that his views were extreme, and many others were outraged and fearful of the reaction it might have.

Early Life and Education
Walker was born in North Carolina to a free mother and enslaved father, and according to the standards of the day, he inherited his mother’s free status. Although free, Walker was intolerant of slavery and the cruel lives inflicted upon slaves, and he despised the racist insults that he endured.

Eventually, Walker moved from the more oppressive North Carolina to Charleston, South Carolina, a mecca of upwardly mobile free blacks.  There, he became affiliated with a strong African Methodist Episcopal Church community of activists.

1825:  By the age of 30, he had moved to Boston, where slavery had been abolished after the American Revolutionary War.  In Boston, he opened a clothing store, and soon married a woman thought to be a fugitive slave.  He opened another clothing store, in another location, and devoted his time to aiding runaway slaves and helping the “poor and needy”.

He joined a variety of civic and religious organization, including the Prince Hall Freemasonry, organized to stand up against discrimination of Blacks.  He later founded the Massachusetts General Colored Association, to oppose colonization of free American Blacks to Africa.  He also spoke publicly against slavery and racism, and wrote for the first newspaper owned and operated by African American in the United States --- the Freedom’s Journal.  

1828:  Walker and two other used clothing merchants were taken to trial for selling stolen property, but there is no record of the specific details of the outcome.

1829: Appeal to Black People Published
Walker’s publications were written with the intent to encourage readers to take an active role in fighting their oppression, regardless of the risk, and to press white Americans to realize the moral and religious failure of slavery.

He challenged the American Colonization Society, that actively deported all free and freed black slaves from the United States to a colony in Africa, as racist.  He spoke against President Thomas Jefferson’s assertion that blacks were inherently inferior.  He believed that all lies, errors and misstatements should be refuted, or suffer the risk of having them established as truth.  He disputed that dark skin was a sign of inferiority or a lesser humanity. He insisted that blacks were equally apart of the human family.

He was also astute in describing the harmful effects of slavery, subservience, and discrimination against free blacks.  He believed that those outside of the institution of slavery should be regulated someone, as they were incapable of regulating themselves from overstepping boundaries of human and civil rights.

Walker’s Call to Action:
Rise Up, Seek Freedom
By Any Means Necessary
Walker was certain that rather than “waiting” for equality, that blacks should actively seek equality.  He thought that they should stop praying for relief, and appealed to them to immediately assume fulll responsibility for themselves, by committing their lives to individual moral improvement, obtaining an education, developing regular work habits, exercising self-control, and engaging in moderate behaviors.  

Walker asserted that an educated and knowledgable Black people would not only undermine the assertion that blacks were inherently inferior, but would terrify whites.  He believed that those who were already educated, had a special obligation to teach other blacks, and that literate blacks should deliver literacy and knowledge to the illiterate.

Black Nationalism
Walker believe that free blacks should not be so quick to shower adoration on “good white people”, for granting them liberation.  He believed, instead, that although gratitude is a virtue, that slaveholders, in setting Africans free, were only giving back to them what had been stolen.

Walkers vision for African Americans was self-rule, that upon acquisition of all knowledge and development of all talents, that blacks should govern themselves.

Abolitionist and Free Blacks
Reject Walker's Appeal 
The mainstream of black leaders felt that Walker’s message was too radical, and rejected his promotion of violence.  And there were attempts from many quarters, both black and white, to prevent distribution of his Appeal pamphlets.

Coupled with the fears prompted by publication of the Appeal and the Virginia slave rebellion led by Nat Turner a year later, whites organized and armed themselves and went on a mob frenzy of killing slaves and inflicting cruel punishments to suppress the potential for future rebellions, which was followed up by state governments passing laws restricting free blacks and slaves.

Upon Walker’s death, it was suspected that he had been poisoned, but historians attribute his death to tuberculosis, as his only daughter had died of it a week prior.
Edward G. Walker, Son
1st Black Elected to State Legislature
of Massachusetts.

James McCune Smith
Physician, Pharmacist
Abolitionist, Author
1813 - 1865
1st African American to Hold a Medical Degree But Passes as White
Even though James Smith eventually passed for white to position himself within society, he was the first African American to earn a medical degree from a university, and graduated at the top of his class.  He was a prolific write and contributed to several medical journals.  He also used his training in medicine and statistics to refute misconceptions about race, intelligence, medicine, and society in general.  

Smith was also a member of the American Anti-Slavery Society, and assisted Frederick Douglass in starting the National Council of Colored People, the first national organization for blacks.  Frederick Douglass praised Smith as “the single most important influence on his life.”

Early Life and Education
James Smith was born free in New York City, to a merchant slave owner and former mulatto slave, and was raised only by his mother.

He attended the African Free School in Manhattan, where is was described as “exceptionally bright”.  Upon graduation, he applied to Columbia University and Geneva Medical College in New York State, but was denied due to his race.  But, he was encouraged his tutor, and former student of the African Free School, to attend the University of Glasgow in Scotland. Abolitionist benefactors of the African Free School provided him with money for travel overseas and his education.

In his journals, he reported that he felt a great since of freedom during those years, as both Scotland and England had a more advanced level of racial tolerance, than the United States.

In 1835, at the age of 22, Smith earned his bachelor’s degree, his master’s degree and year later, and his medical degree two years following.  He then traveled to Paris for his internship.

Family Life
Smith returned to New York in his late 20s, and after establishing himself, married his wife, Malvina Barnet, who had graduated the Rutger Female Institute.  Both Smith and his wife were mixed-race mulattos, of African and European ancestry.  Each of the eleven children they bore were classified as mulattos in the 1850 census.  Of the eleven children born, only four sons and one daughter survived to adulthood.
Abolitionist Movement
While in Scotland, Smith joined the Glasgow Emancipation Society and met people in the Scottish and English abolitionist movement. In 1833 Great Britain abolished slavery. When Smith returned to New York, he quickly joined the American Anti-Slavery Society and worked for the cause in the United States. He worked effectively with both black and white abolitionists, and made life-long friendships with some whites in high places.

Publishing articles quickly brought him to the attention of the national abolitionist movement. His "Destiny of the People of Color", "Freedom and Slavery for Africans", established him as a new force in the field.
Frederick Douglass
During the mid-1850s, Smith worked with Frederick Douglass to establish the National Council of Colored People.  At the inaugural convention, he and Frederick Douglass emphasized the importance of education for their race and urged the founding of more schools for black youth. Smith wanted choices available for both industrial and classical education.

Opposition to the Deportation
Of Free Blacks by the
 American Colonization Society
Smith believed that native-born American had the right to live in the United States.  He gathered supports to go to the state legislature to speak the plans to support the American Colonization Society, who advocated sending free blacks to an African colony.

1860:  Passing for White in New Life
After nearly 20 years of a successful medical practice, Smith built a  house in an upscale neighborhood, where he and his family were classified as white in the 1860 census.  The Smith family only lived there for three years, as he moved his practice and family  to Brooklyn for safety, soon after a white mob killed over 100 blacks in draft riots.  
His children worked as teachers, lawyers, and business people, all passing for white to escape racism.  
Descendants of James McCune Smith holding family Bible with his name
Each of his sons married white women (his daughter never married), and the legacy of their African heritage was generally forgotten.

Charles Lenox Remond
Abolitionist, Orator
Activist Lecturer
1810 - 1873
1st African to Address the Massachusetts State Legislature to Protest Racial Discrimination
Charles Lenox Remond was one of the earliest black abolitionist speakers.  He was the first born of eight children of his free black parents, John and Nancy Remond. His parents were from the Caribbean, and both hairdressers and caterers.  He was from a large family of African entrepreneurs, including a sister, Caroline, who owned the largest wig factory in the state.

At the age of 17, he began his career as a public speaker on behalf of the antislavery movement, and was later joined by his sister, Sarah Parker Remond.

1838 Anti-Slavery Society
In 1838, he joined the Anti-Slavery Society, ran by William Lloyd Garrison and became its first African lecturer.  He was an outstanding orator and spoke a public meetings across the Northeast.  He also toured as an anti-slavery lecturer with Frederick Douglass.

1840 Acclaim and
Applause in Europe
In 1840, Remond traveled with William Lloyd Garrison to the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London.  Instead of returning immediately to the United States, he went on a lecture tour throughout England, Scotland and Ireland delivering antislavery messages and drumming up financial support for abolitionist publications. 

1841 Jim Crow Laws in
Force in the United States
Upon Redmond’s return to the United States, Remond suffered discriminatory Jim Crow practices.  In 1842, he was the first African American to address the Massachusetts state legislature to protest racial discrimination on railroads and steamboats.

Family Life
1850: Marries Matilda (Williams) Cassey, the widow of wealthy Philadelphia barber Joseph Cassey, with whom she had eight children.  She died in 1856.

During this period, Remond and his sister, Sarah Parker Remond, joined forces on the lecture circuit.

1858: Marries Elizabeth Magee, with whom he had four children: Amy Matilda, Charles Lenox Jr, Wendell Phillips, and Ablert Ernest Remond.  Elizabeth died in 1871, followed by Remond in 1873.

1861: Civil War: Recruits for
All-Black Infantry

During the Civil War, Remond joined other black abolitionist men, including Frederick Douglass, in the recruitment Black soldiers for the all-black Masschusetts infantry of the Union Army.

1865: After the Civil War
After the war, Remond continued to deliver public lectures protesting racism. A staunch opponent of segregation of any kind, Remond joined the American Equal Rights Association in 1867.  He also worked as a Boston street light inspector and a clerk in the Boston Customs House.

During the period, after the civil war, he consistently pushed for civil rights for Africans, despite the fact that he suffered ill health until his death in 1873.

Henry Highland Garnet
Abolitionist, Minister, Orator
Black Nationalist, Educator
1815 - 1882
By Any Means Necessary: Call Upon Slaves to Kill their Masters
Born into Slavery
Escapes to Freedom with Family
Henry Garnet was born into slavery.  In 1824, at the age of nine, 11 family members, including himself, were given permission to attend a funeral, and from there, they all escaped, finally settling in New York City.
In New York City, Garnet attended the African Free School and Phoenix High School for Color Youth.  
At about the age of 18, while still in high school, he began his career in abolitionism, joining with schoolmates to establish the Garrison Literary and Benevolent Association,  a membership of young African American males dedicated to promoting the abolition of slavery and reforming society.  Although this group had mass support among whites, it could not overcome the pressure of strong racist attacks, and so disbanded.

In 1835, at the age of 20, he began attending Noyes Academy in New Hampshire, an interracial school founded by New England abolitionists.  Garnet met and married his wife, Julia Williams, a fellow student at the Noyes Academy.  The Noyes school was very unpopular with man local residents, who opposed having blacks in the town.  After some months, several hundred white men demolished the academy, eventually replacing it with the all-white Canaan Union Academy.
Begins Teaching Career 
and Theological Studies
In 1839, Garnet and family move to Troy, New York where he began teaching school and studying theology.  He became a pastor in 1842, holding a position at the Liberty Street Presbyterian church for six years.

1843: "Call to Rebellion"
Garnet Delivers His Most 
Famous Speech
During this time, Garnet published many papers with both religious and abolitionist themes.  Upon a visit to New York City, he joined the American Anti-Slavery Society and frequently spoke at abolitionist conferences.  One his most famous speeches, “Call to Rebellion”, was delivered August 1843 to the National Negro Convention in Buffalo, New York.  Garnet believed that slaves should act for themselves to achieve total emancipation, and called for slaves to “murder their masters”, if need be.  Other black leaders, such as Frederik Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison, along with white abolitionists thought that Garnet’s ideas were too radical and would damage the cause, by arousing too much fear and resistance among whites.
Frederick Douglas
Abolitionist, Orator
Writer, Statesman
Because of differing ideologies, Frederick Douglass and Henry Garnet parted ways and ceased to be on speaking terms.
1849: Garnet Endorses the Migration
and Black Nationalism
Garnet began to support immigration of blacks to Mexico, Liberia, or the West Indies, where he thought they would have more opportunities.  To this end, he founded the African Civilization Society, organized to help establish a West African colony in Yoruba (present-day Nigeria).  Garnet also advocated blacks establishing separate sections of the nation as black colonies.
1850: Lecture Circuit in Great Britain
In 1850, Garnet was invited to Great Britain by the Free Labor Movement, who opposed slavery by boycotting products made by slave labor.  He was a popular lecturer and spent almost three years lecturing.  He then traveled to Kingston, Jamaica as a missionary, spending three years there, until his health forced him back to the United States.
1881: Life Ends in Liberia
Although the American Civil War dashed his hopes of immigration as a solution for American blacks, Garnet’s last wish was to go to Liberia to live, if only for a few weeks.  He was appointed as the U.S. Minister to Liberia in late 1881, and died in Africa two months later.

Legal Slavery Ends in Pennsylvania
The 1840 U.S. Census listed just over 47,000 of the Pennsylvania African American population as free, and 64 (or 0.13%) and enslaved.  Legal slavery ended in Pennsylvania in 1847, when several dozen remaining slaves (the youngest, aged 67) were freed.
1780: Act for the Gradual 
Abolition of Slavery Passes into Law
The state of Pennsylvania initiated one of the first attempts by a non-European government to begin an abolition of slavery.

Some of the Act’s prohibitions were as follows:
  • No slaves could be imported into the state
  • Pennsylvania slaveholders were required to register their slaves annually, and failure to comply would forfeit their rights to the slave(s), who would then be freed
  • All  children born in Pennsylvania were born free persons, regardless of the condition or race of their parents.  
  • Any person enslaved, prior to the law entering effect, were required to remain enslaved for life
  • Any non-resident slaveholder, visiting Pennsylvania, was allowed to hold slaves in the state for up to six months before being bound by the provisions of the act
  • Members of Congress were exempt and were allowed to own personal slaves
  • No provisions of the law would be applied to fugitive slaves from other states or their children
1788: Amendment to the Act for
Gradual Abolition of Slavery
The amendment was created to clarify provisions and to close loopholes.  The Amendment added the following provisions:
  • Slaveholders could not take pregnant slaves out-of-state so that the children would be born enslaved
  • Husbands could not be separated from wives
  • Children could not be separated from parents
  • Slaveholders were required to register within 6 months of the birth of a child to an enslaved mother
  • All Pennsylvanians were prohibited from participating in any acts that supported the slave trade, including the building or equipping ships
1847:  All Slaves Freed
By law, those enslaved in Pennsylvania before the 1780 Act remained lifelong slaves, unless the slaveholder freed them voluntarily.  However, in 1847, this category of slavery was abolished and the captives set free.

Fugitive Slave Law Passed by U.S. Congress
After the Mexican-Americar War (1846-1848), members of the United States Congress, from Southern slave states and the anti-slavery North, began a long political battle over the new territories acquired during the war.  And, after four years, in 1850, the U.S. Congress passed a package of five separate bills, referred to as the Compromise of 1850, in an attempt to resolve the conflict, as well as the issue of slavery.
Fugitive Slave Law of 1793:
Required by Federal Law
Ignored by Northern States
By 1843, hundred of slaves were escaping to the North every year,making slavery very unstable in states bordering the North.  A Federal law was passed, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, to force authorities in free states to return fugitive slaves to their masters.

Some Northern states passed “personal liberty laws”, requiring a jury trial before alleged fugitives could be moved; others disallowed the use of local jails or the assistance of state officials in the arrest or return.  And, in some cases, juries refused to convict individuals who had been indicted under the Federal Law.  Further, if a slave owner moved his household to a free state, along with slaves, his slaves were regarded as free within that state.

Fugitive Slave Law of 1850:
the 4th Law of Passed
The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was a revision of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, in response to the weakening of the original law.  Its intent was to force compliance, by the inclusion of fines and the penalty of prison, for failure to comply.  
A summary of the provisions follow:
  • Law-enforcement officials of all states in the United Sates have the duty to arrest anyone suspected of being a fugitive slave
  • Any officer or official of the federal government, whether in a free or slave state, must actively assist with the return of escaped slaves to their masters, if the state from which the slave escaped permits slavery  -- and each will be paid a fee for their work
  • Any officer or official of the federal government who does not arrest an alleged runaway slave is liable to a fine of $1,000 ($28,000 present-day value)
  • If any person claims ownership of a man, woman, or child, and submits a sworn testimony, the officials and officers must ensure that the fugitive slave is returned to the person making the claim
  • All citizens, including those in free states, have a patriotic duty to join a posse to assist in the capture and/or custody and/or transportation of any alleged escaped slave
  • Any person aiding a runaway slave by providing food or shelter is subject to six months in prision and a $1,000 fine.  All officers capturing a fugitive slave would be paid a fee for their work.
  • A suspected or alleged slaved may not request or be provided a jury trial, or testify on their own behalf 
Under bogus claims, free African Americans were often claimed and returned to slavery under the Fugitive Slave Law.
Abolitionist nicknamed it the “Bloodhound Law” for the dogs that were used to track down runaway slaves, and they also resented being forced to participate and uphold the institution of slavery.  
Abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe depicted the reality of slavery and stressed the horrors of recapturing escaped slaves in her book Uncle Tom’s Cabin,  to the outrage of Southerners.  Some opinion that this novel “helped to lay the groundwork for the Civil War”.  
However, on the flip side, the book and the plays it inspired helped to popularize a number of stereotypes about black people  -- dark-skinned “mammy”; the “pickaninny”, and the dutiful “Uncle Tom”, for instance.

Special Note:
5th Law Passed
The fifth law of the compromise prohibited the slave trade (but not slavery) in the District of Columbia, and while supported by Northerners, Southerners in Congress were unanimous in opposing it.

Peter Lester
Abolitionist, Businessman
1814 – 1891
Bootblack Becomes Wealthy Businessman
1850 Moves Family
From Philadelphia to
San Francisco
In 1850, he moved with his wife Nancy and five children from Philadelphia to San Francisco.  He was appalled to find that slavery was still a fact of life in the free state of California.  In an attempt to do something about this, he made his home a safe place for African slaves and domestic workers to learn about their rights and to learn antislavery songs.

1851 Meets Mifflin W. Gibbs
and Forms the Lester & Gibbs Business Partnership
Mifflin Gibbs
Lester's Business Partner in
Lester & Gibbs
Allowing Each to
Become Wealthy Men

In 1851, Mr. Lester, who was making his living as a bootblack and boot maker, met Mifflin W. Gibbs in the early California gold rush days.  They became partners in the firm Lester & Gibbs, and opened up a successful store in 1851, bearing the name “Emporium for Fine Boots and Shoes, imported from Philadelphia, London and Paris.” This business saw wide success in both wholesale and retail, and the pair became very wealthy.

1858 California Legislates Discrimination and Lester Emigrates to Victoria Canada
Despite this success, Africans were still treated poorly in California. Lester was involved in a personal incident when two white men assaulted him in his store with a cane and stole a pair of shoes.  Because the courts did not allow Africans to testify against whites, he could not press charges against the men.

Also, in 1858, Lester’s 15-year-old daughter, Sarah Lester, became part of a local uproar when the pro-slavery San Francisco Herald printed an anonymous letter demanding her removal from an otherwise all-white school. After several weeks of active debate on the matter, Peter removed his daughter from the school.

In response to these events, as well as a newly introduced measure by the California state legislature to ban any further immigration Africans to California, the Lesters participated in a mass emigration of Africans, led by his business partner, Mifflin Gibbs, from San Francisco to Victoria in Canada, where he resided until his death sometime after 1891.

John Jamison Moore
1818 - 1893
Established 1st A.M.E. Zion Church in San Francisco, CA
Early Life
John Jamison Moore was born a slave in the 1800s, in what is now West Virginia.  His mother, was born free, but was kidnapped at the age of 15 in Maryland and sold into slavery in West Virginia, where she married a man name Hodge.  A change of owners caused the family to adopt the surname of Moore. Before slaves were emancipated, his mother ran away from her master, carrying her child with her, to escape to freedom.

As a young man and member of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Moore began traveling by day and preaching at night.  Traveling on foot, at about 30 miles per day, he preached the Gospel at night in the most remote areas.

1796 African Americans
Begin Holding Their Own Separate Meetings
African Americans had been a part of the John Street congregation since its founding in 1768, drawn by their dramatic preaching and their antislavery beliefs.  And, by 1793, Blacks constituted 40% of the church membership, a previously non-existent race prejudice began to manifest among New York Methodists, as Blacks increased in the congregation.   

Racism Arises in the Church
They began to tell Blacks where to sit, when to come to the Communion table (after the whites were finished), and which church positions they could hold.  The church also had licensed a number of Black men to preach, but prohibited them from preaching, except occasionally, only among Blacks and never among whites.  In addition, these “colored” preachers were prohibited from joining the annual M.E. conference, as their white counterparts. 

Forced Separation
In 1796, under such restrictions, the African American preachers and congregation began holding their own meetings.  Initially, they retained strong ties to the city’s Methodist Episcopal hierarchy, but their charter specified that only African Americans could be trustees or voting members of the Zion church.

1801 African Methodist
Episcopal Zion Church
Receives its Official Charter
The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church received its official charter on February 16, 1801.

1828 African American Leaders
Separate from White Methodist
to form AME Zion Church
James Varick
Founder and 1st Bishop
of the African Methodist
Episcopal Zion Church
Publisher of 1st Black
U.S. Newspaper
1750 - 1827

In the years after the initial charter, Methodist Episcopal connections weakened.  Real conflict arose in 1820, when the white Methodist hierarchy in New York attempted to centralize control of church properties through legal action.   

The Zion church's white pastoral overseer resigned in protest, leaving the African American congregation without a direct link to the city's other Methodists.  Zion church leaders, led by James Varick, responded by forming their own denomination, separate from the white Methodist Episcopal Church.  The new denomination held its first general conference in 1828. 

1834 The “Freedom Church”
Attacked by Anti-Blacks
The A.M.E. Zion conference was referred to nationally as the "Freedom Church" for its vital role in the United States abolitionist movement, and was an "Underground Railway" refuge.  Sojourner Truth was a member of the congregation, and spoke out from the pulpit against slavery. Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass were members of the A.M.E. Zion conference at other congregations. Identification with the abolitionist movement led to attacks by an anti-black mob during a three-day riot in 1834. Church windows were smashed and several black and white churches were set ablaze.

The Zion church also became an important cultural center for the city's African-American community. Paul Robeson, brother of Pastor Dr. Benjamin C. Robeson, spoke from the pulpit. Dr. Robeson's activism for civil rights led him to work with prominent Harlem Renaissance members such as Langston Hughes and W. E. B. Du Bois.

1852 Establishes 1st African
Methodist Episcopal Zion
Church in San Francisco
In August 1852, Moore established the First African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, on Stockton Street, between Broadway and Vallejo Streets, in San Francisco.  He also traveled throughout the Bay Area cities of Napa, San Jose, and Watsonville, ministering to African Americans.

Moore was a prominent citizen of San Francisco, who always took an active part in contending for the rights of his people.

1855 Organizes San Francisco’s
Colored School
In 1855, Moore organized San Francisco’s colored school, located in the basement of St. Cyprian’s Church on Jackson and Virginia Streets.  He was its first principal and teacher.

In addition, Moore was made chaplain at the first Colored Convention of California.

1862 Publishes the First
Black Periodical
In 1862, Moore published the first black, short-lived periodical, the Lunar Visitor.

1868 Appointed Bishop
In the spring of 1868, Moore left San Francisco for Washington, DC, to accept an appointment as bishop.

1884 Growth of the AME Zion Church
By 1884, the AME Zion Church had grown to a membership of over 300,000.

1893 Death
Rev. Moore was married to Mrs. Frances Moore of Salisbury, North Carolina.  He died on December 9, 1893, on the train on his way home to Salisbury after closing the Western North Carolina Conference in Greensboro, having preached to within a few days of his death.

Growth of Church Today
Today, the AME Zion church boasts a membership of 1.2 million.
* The full text of Bishop Moore's History of the A.M.E. Zion Church in America is available at http://docsouth.unc.edu/ church/moorej/moore.html.

Jane Johnson
1827 - 1872
Escaped Slave
Prompted Challenge of Slave Law
1st Legal Challenge of theFugitive Slave Law of 1850
In 1855, when Jane Johnson, and her two young boys, traveled to Philadelphia with her master and his family.  Whenever her master had to leave her unattended, he’d lock her and her children in a room at his hotel.  Johnson passed word to a black porter that he wanted to escape her master’s custody, and Johnson and her children were aided by abolitionists of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society in gaining her freedom.  
Passmore Williamson, in Prison
Abolitionist, Businessman
1822 - 1895

And as a result, a Federal judge applied the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, in a controversial way, sentencing abolitionist Passmore Williamson to 90 days for contempt of court for failing to produce Johnson and her sons, or tell their location.

The jailing of Williamson attracted publicity with increased new coverage, and generated debate about the extension of “Slave Power” over state law, as Pennsylvania did not recognize slavery.  They held the belief that any slave owner who willingly brings their slaves to a free state, gives up property rights to their slaves.  They argued that Johnson was not literally a fugitive, because she had gained her freedom in the state according to state law.

In August of 1855, Johnson, who had fled to New York, returned to Philadelphia to testify in the trial of William Still and five dockworkers, who had actually aided her escape, and who had been charged by her master John Hill Wheeler with riot and assault.

She testified that he had planned her escape and then left with Still, and his associates, voluntarily, and that she would not return to slavery.  He testimony freed the men of their charges.

Federal marshals pursued Johnson, but state and local officials protected her until she completed her move to Boston and her children, where she remained living free.

Dredd Scott
1799 - 1858
Dred Scott v. Sandford
U.S. Supreme Court Decides Lawsuit Filed by Slave to Secure Freedom
In 1847, Dred Scott, an American slave, attempted to buy his family’s freedom for $300 ($8,000 current value), but his widowed owner refused.  

Once Free, Always Free
Scott and his wife had resided for four years in free states and free territories.  This put Scott on solid legal ground for filing a lawsuit, because of a Missouri precedent, dating back to 1924, that held that slaves freed through prolonged residence in a free state, would remain free --- a doctrine known as “Once fee, always free”.
Dred Scottt and Harriet Robinson Scott
Failing to purchase his freedom, Dred Scott sued his owner, Irene Emerson, in 1847 -- Scott v. Emerson, and due to a technicality, lost the case.  However, upon filing a second time, he won.  
Irene Emerson appealed the win of his lawsuit, resulting in the  Missouri Supreme Court striking down the lower court ruling.  
In 1853, Scott followed with another lawsuit, this time under federal law, but lost his case.  He then filed an appeal with the United States Supreme Court in Dred Scott v. Sandford, but lost the case by unanimous decision. 

U.S. Supreme Court Decision:
African Descendants Have No 
Claim to U.S. Citizenship
On March 6, 1857, the United States Supreme Court delivered the majority opinion,  finding that neither he nor any other person of African ancestry could claim citizenship in the United States, and that he therefore could not bring a lawsuit to federal court under diversity of citizenship rules.  Furthermore, they determined that his temporary residence granted him no right to freedom and that freeing him would “improperly deprive Scott’s owner of her legal property”.

It was reported that the Chief Justice, Roger B. Taney, had hoped that the Supreme Court’s decision would finally settle all issues related to slavery and Congressional authority.

Dred Scott’s Legal Fees
Dred Scotts fight for freedom was financed by the children of Peter Blow,  his original owner.  The Blow family had come to abhor and turn against slavery.  Members of the family, therefore, signed as security for Scott’s legal fees and secured the servcies of local lawyers.

In 1850, Dred Scott’s owner, Irene Emerson married a man, Calvin C. Chaffee, who was also an abolitionist, as the Blow family.  And soon after his marriage to the Scott's owner, Irene Emerson, he wrote a letter on her behalf, inquiring about her rights to the Scott family.  Upon confirmation of full rights and power, the Chaffees deeded the Scott family to a member of the Blow family, who then freed them.

Dred Scott died of tuberculosis, one year after securing his freedom.

Manhattan New York: 1st Community Founded by Former Slaves Destroyed by City Government
In the early 1800s, most of Manhattan, in New York State, was unsettled.  Most New Yorkers lived below 14th Street, where conditions were often crowded and unsanitary, especially for the city’s poor.  The land of uptown was open, rural, inexpensive, and available to people of any race or ethnicity.

Seneca Village and
The Five Points in
Manhattan New York
During this period, there were two significant neighborhoods, primarily occupied by freed African-descended slaves and Irish immigrants fleeing the Great “Potato” Famine of the 1940s – Seneca Village, a sparsely settled and rural area above 59th Street, founded by former slaves, and The Five Points neighborhood, which grew to be the first urban slum in the United States, located in lower Manhattan.  Both neighborhoods owed their existence to the influx of freed slaves and poor Irish immigrants, along with a few German immigrants.  Seneca Village, founded by free Black people, was destroyed in 1857 in order to begin construction of Central Park, while The Five Points neighborhood simply descended into nothingness.

1825 Sale of Land to
Freed Slaves Begins
Levn J. Smith
2nd Paster AME Zion
An Original Property Owner
in Seneca Village

In 1824, white deliveryman, John Whitehead, and his wife, Elizabeth, purchased farmland on what is now Manhattan’s Upper West Side.  They soon subdivided the land into smaller lots to sell.  In September 1825, a young man of African heritage, Andrew Williams, purchased three lots from the Whiteheads for $125.  The same day, trustees for the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church purchased six lots near 86th Street for use as a cemetery for “colored” people.  Among the trustees was Epiphany Davis, an African store clerk, who purchased twelve lots for $578. 

1827 Slavery Officially
Ends in New York
On July 4, 1827 slavery officially ended in New York. While the city’s approximately 12,000 African Americans (nearly all of them already free) welcomed this event, most saw little immediate improvement in their difficult lives. Racism and employment discrimination confined most of them to poorly paid work as day laborers, chimney sweeps, and hucksters (for men); and domestic servants, launderers, and rag pickers (for women). While a small number of African Americans earned decent livings as skilled artisans, most lived in poverty.

1830s 1st Significant Community Built by Blacks
in Manhattan Emerges
Between 1825 and 1832, real estate records show, the Whiteheads sold at least 24 land parcels to Black families.  And with New York State ending slavery on July 4, 1827, Seneca Village eventually spread across over five acres, becoming the first significant community of African-descended property owners on Manhattan.
Samuel Cornish
Abolitionist, Newspaper Editor, Presbyterian Minister
Established 1st Black
Presbyterian Church
1795 - 1858

African Americans also faced intensifying racism as the number of European immigrants (most from Ireland and Germany) in the city surged and the national debate over slavery intensified.  In the 1830s, incidents of violence against African Americans rose, including an 1834 attack against the congregation of a Black church by a white mob. 

Despite these types of incidents, the city’s African American community developed a wide range of institutions to strengthen their communities, including newspapers, schools, charitable societies, libraries, and churches.  In the rural area of Manhattan, Seneca Village develop into a thriving community, with several homes, three churches, two schools, and two cemeteries.

Social Activism
In addition, many also were active in the struggle against slavery, hiding fugitive slaves, raising funds for the abolitionist movement, and establishing antislavery newspapers like Frederick Douglass’s North Star (1847). On more than one occasion crowds of African Americans gathered at City Hall to protest the seizure of escaped slaves by civil authorities.

1840s European Immigrants Create Surge in Seneca Village Population
Along with African property owners, Seneca Village came to be inhabited by several minorities, including poorer white citizens displaced by government-enforced evictions, and Irish and German immigrants.  The Great “Potato” Famine in Ireland, in the 1840s, brought swelling numbers to the United States, and those that came to live in Seneca Village, increased its population by 30%.  Both African-descended former slaves and the majority Irish immigrants faced discrimination throughout the city.

1849 Wealthy New Yorkers
Debate the Future of the
Rural Seneca Village
Lower Manhattan, where most New Yorkers lived, had become overcrowded and unsanitary, and many affluent and civic-minded New Yorkers were concerned that commerce and industry were taking over the island. They were also displeased that communities of poor immigrants were changing the character of downtown.

From 1849 through 1853, inspired by the publication of Andrew Downing’s “A Talk about Public Parks and Gardens”, wealthy New Yorkers debated issues concerning the creation of a “grand”, centralized park.  Downing was a horticulturalist and landscape designer, who believed that creating public space would advance urban environments, and that Manhattan was the ideal location for a public park.   In the summer of 1853, the city government, despite public outcry and petition, authorized taking the land between 59th and 106th Streets, between Fifth and Eighth Avenues, to lay grounds for a public park, in upper Manhattan, where new neighborhoods for the wealthy could be created.

1855 New York State Census
Christopher Rush
Bishop of 1st African
Methodist Episcopal Church
n the U.S.
Author, Social Reformer
1777 - 1873

At the time of the 1855 New York State Census, most of the city’s population lived below 14th Street, in Lower Manhattan,, and most African American in the lower west side of Manhattan, Five Points, and Greenwhich Village. The region above 59th Street, where Seneca Village was located, was more rural and sparsely inhabited, with the population reported to be 264 by the 1855 census, 2/3 African American and 1/3 European immigrants, mostly Irish.

Believed to be the original All Angel's Church founded in Seneca Village

1856 All Residents Forced
to Vacate Seneca Village Razed
The city claimed the right of “eminent domain,” which permitted the state to take the private lands for public use.  Although landed owners were given some compensation, renters were not.  All residents of Seneca Village were forced to vacate beginning in 1856. Approximately 1,600 people, spread over 7,500 lots of land, were directly affected, with nearly 300 of them in Seneca Village.

Residents Slandered
in the Media Reports

Many residents fought for the right to keep their land and their community intact through the legal system.  For two years, residents resisted police as they petitioned the courts and filed objections to their forced removal and requesting higher compensation for their land.  In response, they were slandered in newspapers and magazines as “squatters”, “bloodsuckers,” and “insects” living in a “wasteland” of “shanties”.

1857 Seneca Village Destroyed: Central Park Opens
The last Seneca Village holdouts were removed on October 1st, 1857.  The community of Seneca Village, with its deep spiritual and family ties, developed over 30 years, vanished without leaving much evidence of its past, and Central Park opened. There are few records of where residents went after their eviction.

Slave States Break from United States of America forming Confederate States of America Leading to Civil War
In 1861, seven slave states in the Lower South region of the United States, led by South Carolina, united to withdraw from the union of the United States of America to form their own government --- the Confederate States of America (or Confederacy). This was brought about in response to the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln, who campaigned on a platform opposed to slavery, as President.

Outraged by Lincoln’s election, South Carolina left he Union in December 20, 1860. And, because the economy of the Lower South region was fully dependent upon the plantation system and slave labor, six other states (Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas ) joined South Carolina in succeeding from the Union, a month prior to Lincoln’s March inauguration.

Confederate Flag

Prior to other states joining the Confederacy, in January 1861, while James Buchanan was still in office, South Carolina embarked upon a major, armed campaign against the United States, Their victories allowed South Carolina authorities to seize all Federal property in Charleston South Carolina, except for the heavily fortified Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston. However, by March, the complete control over Charleston Harbor by the Confederacy, severely limited the supply of food, men, and arms to Fort Sumter. The resupply of Fort Sumter then became the first crisis of the administration of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.

Beginning of Civil War

When Lincoln notified the Governor of South Carolina that he was sending supply ships to Fort Sumter, the Confederate government issued a “surrender or die” ultimatum. Because there was no surrender, on April 12, the Confederates, surrounding the harbor, bombarded the fort, outgunning the Union stronghold. After which, the Union army chose to evacuate the fort, in surrender, without any loss of life.

In response, Lincoln immediately called for 75,000 volunteers to suppress the rebellion. And in response to this, the slave states of Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina joined the Confederacy.

Order of Succession

South Carolina
North Carolina

1861 - 1865
aka Union vs Confederacy
aka North vs South
American Civil War Begins United States vs Confederate States
The American Civil War was fought to determine if the Union would survive, or an independent Confederacy would emerge.

In January of 1861, seven Southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America.  This Confederacy (of called the South) was eventually joined by four other states.  Diplomatically, the Confederate was not recognized by any foreign country.  The states that remained loyal and did not declare secession were known as the Union or the North.
The issue of slavery was the primary dispute that fueled the war, especially the extension of slavery into the western territories.  And after four years of combat, slavery was abolished, 750,000 Americans had died, and much of the infrastructure in the South had destroyed.

The Reconstruction Period followed the end of the war, with efforts to restore national unity and guarantee the civil rights to the freed slaves.
History Leading to War
Southern states viewed the banning of slavery as a violation of their constitutional rights.  And, before Abraham Lincoln, who supported abolishing slavery, was inaugurated, seven slave states with cotton-based economies formed the Confederacy.  The first six to secede had the highest slave populations.   And common thought among the Confederates was that European countries would eventually intervene on their behalf, because of their dependence on cotton – but no European country recognized the new Confederate States of America.

In response to the acts of secession by the Southern states, which were actually considered illegal, the newly inaugurated President, Abraham Lincoln declared:
"I have no purpose, directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the United States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so."
The Confederacy, however, could not be dssuaded and the Confederate forces set out to seize numerious federal forts, located in the terrtories that they claimed.  Continuing efforts to strike a compromise failed, and both side began preparation for war.

On April 12, 1861, the first shots of the Civil War were fired by Confederates, in an attack against Union troops stationed at Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, forcing their surrender after one day of battle.

Robert Smalls
1839 - 1915
Former Slave, Seaman, Politician
1st Black U.S. Military Sea Pilot Escapes to Freedom by Sea
In 1861, the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina.  The Confederates positioned themselves there, along the coast within numerous forts, in defense against the Union.  Meanwhile, the Union Navy set up a blockage around much of the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts to contain them.
The "Planter" - Gun-boat Sailed by
Robert Smalls to Freedom
Escape to Freedom
In May of 1862, in the middle of the Civil War, Robert Smalls stole an armed Confederate ship, used for military transport, and sailed himself and family members to freedom.  Mimicking his white counterparts, while donning a wide-brimmed captain’s hat, captain’s uniform and flashing the correct Naval signals, he passed two Confederate checkpoints, including Fort Sumter and other points of defense.  Making it to the open seas, outside of Confederate territory, where he and his crew raised a white flag in surrender to the blockage of Union ships.
Early Life: Son of Slave Master
Robert Smalls was a mulatto slave, born of African slave woman brought from the fields to the house, Lydia Polite, and her master, John McKee, or his son, Henry McKee, or the plantation manager, Patrick Smalls.  As a young child, he was raised under the influence of the Lowcountry Gullah (Geechee) culture and language of his mother.  It has been reported that the McKee family favored Robert Smalls over the other slave children, but his mother made sure that he understood the horrors of slavery to which he was born.
Sent to Work in City at Age 12
At his mother’s request, her master John McKee sent Robert Smalls, at the age of 12, to Charleston to be rented out to work.  He started first in a hotel, then became a street lamplighter. He then became a dockworker, a rigger, a sail maker, and eventually worked his way up to being a wheelman (or the title used for whites only, a pilot).  By the time Smalls turned 19, he had tried his hand at a number of city jobs and was allowed to keep one dollar of his wages a week.  It was during this time that he became a skilled sea captain.
Family Life
At the age of 17, while working as a sea pilot, in an around Charleston harbor, he met a 22-year-old slave woman working at a Charleston hotel, called Hanna Jones.  At the age of 19, Robert and Hannah received permission from their masters to move into an apartment together – along with new baby daughter, Elizabeth.   Together, Robert and Hannah had two more children, Sarah and Robert Jr.  However, Robert Jr. died two years after his birth.
Hannah Jones Small (Top), Elizabeth Smalls (Left), and Sarah Smalls (Right)
Small made an attempt to purchase his family from the Kingman family, who owned his wife.  They agreed on a price, but it was for 8Xs more than the amount that Smalls had managed to save.  This fact resulted in his daring escape to freedom.
2nd Anne Wigg Smalls, Teacher
and Son, William Robert Smalls
After over thirty years together, at about the age of 52, Hannah Smalls died. Seven years later, in 1890, Robert Smalls married Charleston schoolteacher, Annie E. Wigg, with whom he had one son, William Robert Smalls.   However Annie Wigg dies only five years after her marriage.

Life After Freedom: Serving the Union
Smalls proved to be very valuable to the Union Navy, since he gave detailed information about Charleston's defenses.  He quickly became well known in the North. Newspapers described his actions, and Congress passed a bill, signed by President Abraham Lincoln, that awarded Smalls and his crewmen the prize money for the Planter. Smalls' share was $1,500 (about $34,000 adjusted for inflation in 2012 dollars), a huge amount for the time. He met President Lincoln two weeks later and gave a firsthand account of his adventure.

Smalls' bravery became a major argument for allowing African Americans to serve in the Union Army. 

Purchases Former Master’s
Home After Civil War
Immediately following the war, Smalls returned to his native Beaufort, where he purchased his former master's house. His mother Lydia lived with him for the remainder of her life. He also allowed his former master's elderly wife (Jane Bond McKee) to move back in the home prior to her death.

In 1866 Smalls went into business in Beaufort with Richard Howell Gleaves, opening a store for freedmen.

Due to the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, Smalls identified with the Republican Party.  He was a delegate at several Republican National Conventions and participated in the South Carolina Republican State conventions.  He was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives, the South Carolina Senate, the U.S. House of Representative, the South Carolina 5th congressional district, and served as the commander of the South Carolina Militia with the rank of major general.  Smalls was also appointed U.S. Collector of Customs in Beaufort, serving over a decade from 1889 to 1911.

Immigrant Family in Front of Home Made of Sod
Homestead Acts 1862: Union Loyalist, Immigrants and Freed Slaves Receive Federal Land for Private Ownership
On May 20, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Acts into law.  This legislation consisted of several United States federal laws that gave an applicant ownership of 160 acres of land, typically called a “homestead”, at little or no cost.   Most of the land offered was flat and treeless prairie land. 

People came from all over the world to take advantage of this opportunity.  The settlers and immigrants experienced extremely hot summers, long and cold winters. They were challenged by droughts, blizzards, rainstorms, tornadoes, grasshopper swarms, and strong winds. 

Expansion of Slavery into the
Western U.S. Territories Opposed
The Homestead Acts was an outgrowth of the short-lived Free Soil Party, a political party formed by anti-slavery advocates, and whose main purpose was to oppose the expansion of slavery into the western territories.  In addition to opposing slavery in the new territories, they sometimes worked to remove existing laws that discriminated against freed African Americans in states such as Ohio.  The party membership was largely absorbed by the Republican Party between 1854 and 1856.
Southern Sharecropper Family
The Free Soil Party believed that it was a better policy for individual farmers to own and operate their own farms, as opposed to Southern slave-owners who wanted to buy up large tracts of land and use slave labor, thereby shutting out free white men.  Prior to the Civil War, they proposed land-grants similar to the Homestead Acts, but their proposals were blocked in Congress by southern Democrats who feared that the free land would attract European immigrants and poor Southern whites to the west. They instead hoped to develop the land with the use of slaves.
1862: Land Grant Bills Pass Congress
After Slave States Secede from Union
Once the slave states seceded from the Union in 1861, their representatives left Congress and the previously proposed land grant bill passed and was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on May 20, 1862.  
1800s History of Federal Land Transfer to
Private Ownership
As colonial power spread throughout the U.S. and territories subdued, federal lands were granted to settlers at little or no cost.

1841:  The Preemption Act of 1841 
Norwegian settlers in front of their homestead, a sod hut
This act permitted squatters who were living on federal government owned land to purchase up to 160 acres at a very low price, before the land was offered for sale to the general public, with a provision to pay 10% of the proceeds from such sales to states that were admitted to the union.  To qualify under the law, the squatter had to be: (1) a head of household (2) single man over 21, or a widow (3) a citizen of the United States (or an immigrant intending to become naturalized) and (4) a resident of the claimed land for a minimum of 14 months.  To legitimize the claim, they must consistently work to improve the land (for a minimum of five years).  And the government would confiscate any land left idle for 6 moths.  The Kansas and Nebraska Territories were largely settled by claims brought under the act.

Most of the first homes were made of sod, or simply shelters dug out of the side of hills. Without trees or stone to build with, homesteaders had to rely on the only available building material. Sod is the top layer of earth that includes grass, its roots, and the dirt clinging to the roots. Building a sod house was a lot of work and often took many weeks. Many people built a sod house right in front of the dugout and then used the dugout as another room. 

1850: Donation Land Claim Act
Under the Donation Land Claim Act, the U.S. government allowed settlers to claim land in the Oregon Territory, then including the modern states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and parts of Wyoming.  Settlers were able to claim from 320 to 640 acres of land for free, between 1850 and 1854, and then at a cost of $1.25 per acres until the law expired in 1855.

Homestead Act of 1862

As homesteaders became more successful, they built and moved into new frame houses.

The intent of this act was to liberalize the homesteading requirements of the Preemption Act of 1841, such that any US citizen willing to settle on and farm land for at least five years would be granted an 160 acre homestead from public land in the West.  This deal was available to anyone who had never taken up arms against the U.S. government (including freed slaves).  The law required a three-step procedure: (1) file an application (2) reside on the land for five years and show evidence of having made improvements and (3) file for deed of title.

Southern Homestead Act of 1866
This act allowed poor tenant farmers and sharecroppers in the south the opportunity to become land owners during reconstruction.  It was not very successful, as even low prices and fees were often too much for applicants to afford.

Timber Culture Act of 1873
Dugout home from homestead
This act granted 160 of land to homesteaders who dedicated at least 40 acres to trees, over a period of several years.  Settlers who already had claimed 160 acres could double their acreage through this act.

Bridget "Biddy" Mason
1818 - 1891
From Slavery to Wealthy Entrepreneur Founder of 1st African Church in Los Angeles, California
Early Life
Bridget Mason, known to everyone as “Biddy”, was born a slave in Mississippi in 1818.  As a child, she was separated from her parents and sold several times, working on plantations in Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina.   She spent most of her childhood working on John Smithson’s plantation in South Carolina, where she assisted the house servants and midwives.

1836 Given to a
New Slave Owner
As a Wedding Gift
In 1836, Smithson gave the 18-year old Biddy to his cousins Robert Marion Smith and Rebecca Crosby Smith, as a wedding present and sent her to live in Logtown, Mississippi.  While working for the Smiths, Biddy gave birth to three daughters: Ellen, Ann and Harriet, all supposedly fathered by Smith.

In 1847, Robert Smith became a Mormon convert, and followed the call of church leaders to settle in the West, where Brigham Young was starting a Mormon community.

1848 Walks From
Mississippi to Utah
in Seven Months
Wagon train of the 1800s

Biddy and her three young daughters, the youngest on her back, joined other slaves on Smith’s religious pilgrimage to establish a new Mormon community, in what would become Salt Lake City, Utah.  At the time, Utah was still part of Mexico.

This trek required the 30-year-old Biddy to walk 1,700 miles, for seven months, behind a 300-wagon caravan to the Salt Lake Valley. Along the route west her responsibilities included setting up and breaking camp, cooking the meals, herding the cattle, and serving as a midwife as well as taking care of her three young daughters aged ten, four, and an infant.

1851 Walks from
Utah to California
with Her Mormon Master
In 1851, Robert Mario Smith and his family and slaves set out in a 150-wagon caravan for San Bernardino, California to establish yet another Mormon community, despite the fact that slavery was illegal in California at this time.

Biddy Encouraged to
Obtain Freedom Legally
On this journey, Biddy met Charles H. and Elizabeth Flake Rowan, free blacks, who urged her to legally contest her slave status once she reached California, a free state.  She received additional encouragement by free black friends whom she met in California, Robert and Minnie Owens. 

1855 Slave Master Decides
To Leave California for the
Slave State of Texas
By 1855, anti-slavery sentiment was growing stronger in California, and Robert Smith feared losing his slaves and decided to move with them to Texas, a slave state.  However, the free black, Robert Owens reported to the L.A. County Sheriff that slaves were being illegally held, and Smith’s wagon train was apprehended in Cajon Pass, California, and he was prevented from leaving the state.  It just so happened that the Owens family had a vested interest in Biddy’s family, as one of their sons was romantically involved with her 17-year-old daughter. 

1856 Biddy Sues Her
Master for Freedom
On January 19, 1856, after five years of living in the free state of California, and with help from Robert Owens, Biddy initiated her landmark case by petitioning the court for freedom for herself and her extended family of 13 women and children.  Los Angeles District Judge Benjamin Hayes took three days before handing down his ruling in favor Biddy and her extended family, citing California’s 1850 constitution which prohibited slavery.   

Biddy had no legal last name as a slave, and after being freed, she chose to be known as Biddy Mason, because Mason was the middle name of Amasa Lyman, Mormon Apostle and mayor of San Bernardino. She had spent many years in the company of the Amasa Lyman household.

Biddy and her family moved to Los Angeles, where her daughter married the son of Robert and Minnie Owens.  She found employment as a nurse and midwife.  Hard work and her nursing skills allowed her to become economically independent. She became a domestic to Dr. John S. Griffin, a Los Angeles physician who served most of the Los Angeles area, and who had become interested in her court case.  She quickly became well regarded as a nurse and midwife, assisting in hundreds of births to mothers of all races and social classes. She also gained a reputation for her herbal remedies. 

1866 Biddy Becomes
A Real Estate Investor
Biddy Mason's Home (1870s)

Biddy earned $2.50 a day, a good wage for an African woman at that time. In addition, she was very frugal and saved a great deal of her earnings.  And, only after ten years of having gained her freedom, she began investing in real estate by buying  a site located in the heart of what is now downtown Los Angeles (Spring Street) for $250,  becoming one of the first black women to own land in Los Angeles.

On one parcel of her property she built a clapboard house, which she occupied until her death. 

1884 Biddy Becomes
A Real Estate Developer
And Shrewd Businesswoman
In 1884, she sold a parcel of the land for $1500 and built a commercial building with spaces for rental on the remaining land.  

Over the ensuing years, she acquired several more lots in Los Angeles. As the town developed, most of her early investments became prime urban real estate and formed the basis of her considerable wealth.

Her financial fortunes continued to increase until she accumulated a fortune of almost $300,000. 

Her neighborhood developed quickly, and by the early 1890s the main financial district of Los Angeles was one block from Mason's property. Due to her shrewd investments, Mason was the wealthiest African woman in Los Angeles by the late 1800s. She spoke fluent Spanish and was a well-known figure downtown, and dined on occasion at the home of Pio Pico, a wealthy Los Angeles land owner.

Her grandson, Robert Curry Owens, a real estate developer and politician, was the richest African in Los Angeles at one time.

Prison Inmates (1870s)

With her wealth, Biddy educated her children and became a well-known philanthropist to the entire Los Angeles community, making generous contributions to various charities and providing food and shelter for the poor of all races, and she never forgot the jail inmates whom she visited often.

She and her son-in-law, Charles Owens, founded and financed the Los Angeles branch of the First African Methodist Episcopal church, L. A.'s first black church, built upon land that she donated.

Jonathan Clark Gibbs
1821 - 1874
Minister, Missionary, Politician
1st Secretary of State of African-Descent and Superintendant of Public Instruction of Florida
Jonathan Gibbs was a Presbyterian minister and a prominent African officeholder during Reconstruction. He served as the first black Secretary of State and Superintendent of Public Instruction of Florida, and along with Josiah Thomas Walls, US Congressman from Florida, was among the most powerful black officeholders in the state during Reconstruction.

Early Life
Mifflin W. Gibbs, Younger Brother
Businessman, Attorney
Judge, Diplomat, Banker
1st African Elected Judge in U.S.
1823 - 1915

Gibbs was born free in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1821. His father was Reverend Jonathan Gibbs I, a Methodist minister, and his mother was Maria Jackson. Jonathan C. Gibbs II was the oldest of four children born to the couple. He grew up in Philadelphia during of strong anti-black sentiment and discrimination by whites who thought themselves superior, and a series of anti-black riots.  Gibbs and his brother, Mifflin, attended the local Free School in Philadelphia.

After his father dies in 1831, Gibbs and his brother left school to support the family, at which time he became a carpenter’s apprentice.  As a new convert and member, he impressed his Presbyterian congregation so much that they provided financial backing for him to attend Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire.  Gibbs graduated from Kimball Union in 1848.

Gibbs went on to become the 3rd African to graduate from Dartmouth College, and the 2nd black man in the nation to deliver a commencement address at a college.

From 1853 to 1854, he studied at Princeton Theological Seminary, but did not graduate because of financial constraints, but became an ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1856.

Family Life
Thomas Van Renssalaer Gibbs
Only Son of Jonathan Gibbs
Politician, Congressman
Co-founder of Florida A&M College
1855 - 1898

As a young minister, Gibbs married Anna Amelia Harris, the daughter of a well-to-do black New York merchant and his wife.  Together, they had three children: Thomas Van Renssalaer Gibbs, Julia Pennington Gibbs, and Josephine Haywood Gibbs.

Because of his growing involvement in the abolitionist movement, low income, and frequent separations from his wife, his marriage ended in a lengthy and bitter divorce, where Gibbs considered leaving the United States to work in Africa as a missionary.

Several years later, while doing missionary work in the South, Gibbs met and married his second wife, Elizabeth.  They had at least one child, who died in infancy.

Gibbs became active in the abolitionist movement.  He attended a series of black conventions where he worked with Frederick Douglass and served on committees. He gradually became known nationally for his work in the movement. Gibbs was featured in anti-slavery publications including The Liberator and the The National Anti-Slavery Standard. His rising fame was indicative of Gibbs' own ambitions as well his skills as an orator and rising abolitionist minister.

After his divorce, he served as pastor of the First African Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, from 1859 – 1865.  He also continued in abolitionist work and became a key figure in the local underground railroad and writing articles for the Anglo-African Magazine.  He also fought for equal accommodations and transportation in city rail cars.

After the Civil War, he went south to work as a missionary in North Carolina, to help rebuild the former Confederate states and to educate the ex-slaves and poor whites who were left destitute after the war.

The Politician
At the age of 46, in 1867, Gibbs move to Florida and started a private school I Jacksonville.  He, however, rapidly shifted from missionary work to political involvement.  He was elected to the State Constitutional Convention of 1868.  He was appointed Florida’s Secretary of State by Republican governor, Harrison Reed, serving from 1868 to 1872.  He proved to be a powerful man in office.

During Reconstruction more blacks served in the essentially ceremonial office of secretary of state than any other post, and by and large, the most important political decisions in every state were made by whites.

He was appointed Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1873.  He was responsible for introducing legislation creating the State Normal College for Colored Students, the forerunner of Florida A&M University.

He died of a stroke in 1874.

Ulysess S. Grant
1822 - 1885
18th President of the United States
Ku Klux Klan Act U.S. Congressional Legislation
The Ku Klux Klan Act is formerly known as the  “Enforcement Act of 1871”, a law passed by the 42nd United States Congress, and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant.  It is also referred to by several other names:
  • Civil Rights Act of 1871
  • Force Act of 1871
  • Third Enforcement Act
  • Third Ku Klux Klan Act
President Grant initiated the legislation after receiving reports of widespread racial threats and the commission of human atrocities, in the Deep South, particularly in South Carolina.  
Benjamin Franklin Butler, Congressman
Seeking to enforce the 14th Amendment
and Civil Rights Act of 1866
Introduced anti-Klan bill that failed 
Samuel Shellbarger, Ohio Senator
Introduced an anti-Klan bill that
was signed into law,
after passing the Senate

Both bills submitted were designed to combat the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and other white supremacy organizations, and their attacks on the voting rights of Black Americans.  The law that passed was the last of three Enforcement Acts passed by the US Congress from 1870 to 1871.  
The federal government was granted  the authority to review the case of anyone in the detained or imprisoned, and then release and expunge charges if found to be falsely imprisoned or held.  
With the legislation providing additional powers to the President to intervene, Grant did not hesitate to use this authority on numerous occasions.  
Federal troops were used to enforce the law, and Klansman were prosecuted in federal court, where juries were often predominantly black.
These efforts were so successful that the Klan was destroyed in South Carolina and dismantled throughout the rest of the former Confederacy, where it had already been in decline for several years.
The Klan was not to exist again until its recreation in 1915.

George F. Grant
1846 - 1910
Dentist, Academic, Inventor
1st African Descended Professor at Harvard University and Inventor of the Golf Tee
After graduating from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine in 1870, George Grant accepted a teaching position in the department of mechanical dentistry in 1871, making him Harvard University’s first African American faculty member.
In 1899, George Grant was granted a patent for his invention of a wooden golf tee.  Prior to his invention, golfers would carry around buckets of sand and build a pile of sand before each shot.

Calle de los Negroes
"Nigger Alley"
Mob of Ku Klux Klan Slaughters Chinese Laborers Over Competition for Jobs
Importance of Sanborn Maps
Maps made by the Sanborn Company were originally created solely for insurance assessment purposes.  

Insurance companies and their agents relied upon them for determining the liability of a particular building.  They included a large amount of information, including building material, proximity to other buildings and fire departments, the location of gas lines et cetera. 

The very decision as to how much, if any insurance was to be offered to a customer was often determined solely through the use of a Sanborn map. The maps also allowed insurance companies to visualize their entire coverage areas; when an agent sold a policy he could color in the corresponding building on the map and thus visualize the companies’ coverage of an area.

Sanborn maps are commonly available online through local library access.  And the above image is from a page (sheet 14B) found in the 1894 Sanborn map book, that shows NIGGER ALLEY, the common name used by Americans for the 500 feet stretch of street, more formerly known as Calle de los Negroes, named during the Mexican period of Los Angeles.
Calle de los Negros 1850 - 1856
During the booming gold mining days, Calle de los Negroes was lined with saloons, gambling dens, dance houses, and brothels.  Many races of people, from different nations, swarmed to this place that was full of vice and murder.  Calle de los Negros was the center of this type of activity, where the murder rate of 5 per day, exceeded the then norm in Los Angeles of 1 per day.
1860: 1st First Transcontinental Railroad Built by 1000s of Chinese Immigrants
In the early 1860s, thousands of Chinese men, most of them originating from Guangdong province in southern China, were hired by Central Pacific Railroad Co. to work on the western portion of the first transcontinental railroad. Many of them settled in Los Angeles.
In April 1869 the San Jose Patriot reported that an “open Ku Klux proclamation” that threatened the destruction of “all the crops of persons employing even a single Chinaman.”
1860 Ku Klux Klan Mobs Violently Seek
a Monopoly of Jobs by Whites
Western vigilantes, some acting under the banner of the Ku Klux Klan, were especially active in California during the late 1860s and early 1870s. These vigilantes assaulted mostly Chinese workers and their white employers.

The western KKK raged against Chinese immigrants, hoping to scare them out of the labor force and secure a monopoly on jobs for white workers.  They descended on several ranches to beat and rob Chinese laborers, and burned their temples, churches and schools.  Mobs of white laborers would drive Chinese contract workers from their jobs on the railways.
1871 Chinese Massacre by KKK
On the evening of October 24, 1871, a riot and mayhem erupted on Calle de los Negros, with a mob of over 500 white men (and some Latinos) roaming the streets, firing their guns and looting what they could.  In the morning following, the bullet ridden bodies of eighteen Chinese men and boys, along with the local sheriff, were found mangled and disfigured, some stripped of their clothes, in the courtyard of the city jail. 


Elija J. McCoy
1844 - 1929
Mechanical Engineer and Inventor
Elijah McCoy was born to George McCoy and Mildred (Goins) McCoy, fugitive slaves, who escaped from Kentucky through the Underground Railroad, settling in Ontario, Canada.  Born a free Canadian citizen, Mr. McCoy was one of twelve children.  At the age of 3 years, his family returned to the United States, settling in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
Edinburgh, Scotland 1865
At an early age, Elijah showed a mechanical interest, and his parents, recognizing his abilities, saved enough money to send him to Edinburgh, Scotland for an apprenticeship and the study of mechanical engineering.  At the age of 15, he made his journey, and after about six to seven years, he was certified as a master mechanic and engineer.  After becoming certified, and sometime after the end of the Civil War in 1867, McCoy returned to the United States to rejoin his family.
Due to racial bias, McCoy was unable to find work as an engineer and was forced to work as a fireman-oilman for the Michigan Central railroad, instead.  His job was to shovel coal for the steam powered engines and to keep the train well lubricated.
Invention and Patents (1872)
After hours, McCoy tinkered in his home-based machine shop.  There he focused on McCoy improving the efficiency of his work.  As an oilman, McCoy was responsible for walking alongside stopped trains and applying oil to the axles and bearings.  Steam engines of the day were forced to stop every few miles for this sort of lubrication.
First Page of US Patent 129,843
For Improvement in Lubricators
for Steam-Engines
To eliminate the frequent stopping, McCoy, at the age of 28, invented an automatic lubricating cup that would drip oil when and where needed.  He received a patent for the device that same year.  Similar automatic oilers had been patented previously; one is the displacement lubricator, which had already attained widespread use and whose technological descendants continued to be widely used into the 20th century. Lubricators were a boon for railroads, as they enabled trains to run faster and more profitably with less need to stop for lubrication and maintenance.

More Patents than Any
Other Black Inventor
McCoy continued to refine his devices and design new ones; 50 of his patents dealt with lubricating systems. After the turn of the century, he attracted notice among his black contemporaries. Booker T. Washington in Story of the Negro (1909) recognized him as having produced more patents than any other black inventor up to that time.
Portable Ironing Board and
Lawn Sprinkler
Elijah McCoy at 72
In 1916, at the age of 72, McCoy created a graphite lubricator which allowed new super heater trains and devices to be oiled. In 1920, at the age of 76, Elijah completed the selling of a percentage of interest in his patents, to establish the “Elijah McCoy Manufacturing Company”, for direct production of his inventions.  With his new company, he improved and sold the graphite lubricator as well as other inventions. Notably, he developed and patented a portable ironing board and created and patented the lawn sprinkler.

Career Recognition
Elijah McCoy is not commonly acknowledged for his contribution to the field of lubrication.  Some historians acknowledge his contribution as revolutionizing the railroad and machine industries, while 20th century lubrication literature barely mentions him; for example, his name is absent from E. L. Ahrons' Lubrication of Locomotives (1922), which does identify several other early pioneers and companies of the field.
The Phrase “The Real McCoy”
Even though the phrase “The Real McCoy” was popularized during Elijah McCoy’s time period, when he was in his late thirties, and about ten years after he first patented his steam engine lubricator, I could find no definitive factual detail regarding its origin of this slogan.  It, however, has been popularly attributed to Elijah McCoy and his inventions, where buyers wanted to ensure that they were buying an authentic McCoy product, rather than knock-offs. 

Mifflin W. Gibbs
1823 - 1915
Businessman, Attorney
Judge, Diplomat, Banker
1st African-Descended Judge in the United States Founder of 1st African Newspaper in California
1823 Early Life
Philadelphia had long been a free black community, even before slavery was abolished, with free blacks finding work there and flourishing.  And, in 1823, Mifflin Wistar Gibbs was born in this free state, as the second of four siblings, the eldest being brother Jonathan Clarkson Gibbs, who would become the first black Secretary of State. Their father was a Methodist minister.

As a young adult, Gibbs became active in the abolitionist movement in Philadelphia and performed some work for Frederick Douglass.

Business Life
Like tens of thousands of other men, Gibbs moved to California during the Gold Rush years.  There, he started work as a bootblack (shoeshine boy), but soon became a successful merchant.
Peter Lester, Mifflin's Business Partner

In 1851, Gibbs met Peter Lester, who was making his living as a bootblack and boot maker. They became partners in the firm Lester & Gibbs, and opened up a successful store bearing the name “Emporium for Fine Boots and Shoes, imported from Philadelphia, London and Paris.” This business saw wide success in both wholesale and retail, and the pair became very wealthy.

Mifflin then went on to become founder of the Mirror of the Times, the state’s first and only African newspaper.

1858 California Enacts
Discriminatory Laws to
Discourage Blacks in State
In 1858, the California legislature passed discriminatory laws intended to discourage blacks from entering or staying in the state: they were deprived of the right to own property and were disqualified from giving evidence against a white person in court. In addition, all black people in California were required to wear distinctive badges.

1858 Gibbs Leads Emigration
Of Blacks from California
to Victoria, British Columbia
Victoria, Vancouver Island
(British Columbia, Canada) 1860

Gibbs and many other Africans were angered by the discriminatory laws of California, and he and two other African men went to British Columbia to meet with Sir James Douglas, governor of the province, to learn about how blacks were treated and regarded in Canada.  Douglas assured them that they would be treated like other residents in this frontier area.

Following this visit, Gibbs led an estimated 600 to 800 Africans, many with families, from California to the Victoria area, were some settled on Vancouver Island.

Gibbs became a naturalized British citizen in 1861, along with 52 other Africans from the emigrant group.  He worked first as a merchant, then property developer and contractor, and eventually became involved in politics.  He was elected to Victoria City Council in 1867, five years after his failed, first attempt to win a seat.

Family Life
Harriet Gibbs Marshall
2nd Daughter of Mifflin Gibbs
1868 - 1941

1st African to Complete
Music Program
At Oberlin College
Founded Washington
Conservatory of Music

While living in Victoria, British Columbia, Gibbs married his wife, Maria Ann (Alexander), whom he met and courted during a brief return to the United States in 1859. Maria Ann was a schoolteacher and graduate of Oberlin College in Ohio. Together, they had two daughters.  After their separation in the late 1860s, Maria Ann moved back to Ohio with her daughters, Ida Alexander Gibbs (1862-1957) earned both a bachelor’s and master’s in English from Oberlin College, and her sister, Harriet Gibbs (1868-1941) who went to the Oberlin Music Conservatory to earn a bachelor’s in music in 1889, becoming an accomplished musician and teacher, and eventual founder and director of the Washington Conservatory of Music

1868 Gibbs Returns to
the United States and
Becomes an Attorney
After about 10 years in Canada, Gibbs returned to the United States to settle in Little Rock, Arkansas.  He read the law to become an attorney, passing the bar in 1870.  He was appointed to a number of judicial and government positions, as a member of the Republican Party.

1873 Elected 1st Black
Judge in the United States
In 1873 Gibbs was elected to the Office of the City Judge as a Republican, the first black judge elected in the United States.

Wealthy Businessman
Mifflin W. Gibbs (left),
P.B.S. Pinchback and
James Lewis (1900)

In 1901, after serving as American consul to Madagascar, under President William McKinley, Gibbs returned to the United States, where he proceeded to become wealthy from his law practice and his real estate investments.   

He was selected president of a largely African-American Capital City Savings Bank, founded in Little Rock.  He also became partner in the Little Rock Electric Light Company.  He grew his wealth in real estate by gaining control of several pieces of local real estate.

In 1902, Gibbs purchased a property at 902 T Street, NW in Washington, D.C. for his daughter, Mrs. Harriet Gibbs Marshall. She ran the Washington Conservatory of Music there, which was one of the most successful women-owned businesses in the United States at the turn of the century.

Joseph E. Lee
1849 - 1920
Educator, Lawyer, Politician, Senator
1st African-Descended Lawyer and Judge Elected in Jacksonville, Florida
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Joseph E. Lee was one of the most influential African men and the most prominent black Republican in Florida.  For over four decades, he worked as a public servant, acting as a state legislator, lawyer, federal customs collector and educator.

Early Life, Education
and Career
Lee was born in Philadelphia in 1849, and graduated from Howard University with a law degree in 1873.  He moved to Florida that same year and was admitted to the bar, making him the first African-American lawyer in Jacksonville, and one of the first in the state.

1875 Political Life Begins
He served in the Florida House of Representatives from 1875 to 1879, and in the State Senate from 1881 to 1882. In April 1888, Lee was elected Municipal Judge of Jacksonville, the first African-American to have this honor.

Edward Waters College, formed in Jacksonville, Florida in 1866 to educate freed former slaves, and of which Joseph Lee served as Dean of  the law department.

Around this time he also served as the dean of the law department of Edward Waters College, an African-American institute of higher learning formed in 1866 to educate freed former slaves. Lee would remain a trustee of the college for over thirty years.

Although in his era, legal restrictions kept many Africans from voting, Joseph Lee also participated in state and local politics, serving as Chairman of the Duval County Republican Party and secretary of the party’s statewide organization for nearly forty years.

1890s drawn portrait of Joseph E. Lee

Joseph E. Lee died March 25, 1920.  Civil rights leaders James Weldon Johnson and A. Phillip Randolph both remembered Lee as having been a memorable influence on their lives, and to this day a Joseph E. Lee Republican Club still operates in Jacksonville.

Edward Bouchet
1852 - 1918
Physicist, Educator
1st African-Descended to Earn Ph.D. from any American University
Edward Bouchet was one of the first African Americans to graduate from Yale College, and the first to earn a Ph.D. from any American university, completing his  dissertation in phyics. Bouchet was also among the first 20 Americans (of any race) to receive a Ph.D. in physics and the sixth to earn a Ph.D. in Physics from Yale.

Early Life
During Bouchet’s childhood, there were only three schools open in New Haven, Connecticut, where he was born.  He attended all three, from primary school to high school, where he graduated first in his class and was named valedictorian.  He ranked 6th in his graduation class from Yale.
Personal Life
Edward Bouchet never married or had children.

Professional Life
Bouchet was unable find employment or integrate into white society after graduation.  He, instead, moved to Philadelphia and took a position at the Philadelphia’s Institute for Colore Youth, where he taught physics and chemistry for 26 years.  He resigned in 1902, at the height of the W.E.B. Du Bois vs. Booker T. Washington controversy over the need for industrial vs. collegiate education for blacks.
Final Years
He spent the next 14 years holding a variety of academic-related jobs around the country, before his death in 1918.

Lewis Howard Latimer
1848 - 1928
Inventor and Draftsman
Invented Process to Increase the Life of Lightbulbs Allowing for Mass Production
In 1881, Lewis Latimer received a patent for his work done on improving the viablity and usefulness of lightbulbs, and was issued a patent for the “Process of Manufacturing Carbons”, an improved method for the production of carbon filaments used in lightbulbs.  
In 1883, he demonstrated a prototype lightbulb using his technique,  producing the first truly practical lightbulb.  His process represented an improvement on the carbon filament used in 1802, by Sir Humphry Davy in producing the Electric Arch lamp.
Thomas Edison, who was using a paper filament, adopted his patented process to improve the product line of his newly invented lightbulb.  
Lewis Latimer's Lightbulb
In fact, one year after he demonstrated the a lightbulb using his filament, Thomas Edison hired him to work on improving his methods and to work as his draftsman in drawing design of his inventions for patent.
Early Life
Lewis Howard Latimer was the youngest of four children, born to two runaway slaves.  When his parents were recaptured by his father’s slave owner, funds were raised to pay him $400 for their freedom.

At the age of 15, Latimer joined the U.S. Navy.  After an honorable discharge, he became an office boy in a law firm, at $3.00 per week.  He had a natural talent for technical drawing, in patent cases, which his boss noticed.  At the age of 24 years, Latimer was promoted to head draftsman, earning $20 a week.  A year later he married Mary Wilson Louis, eventually having two daughters.

Early Life
Lewis Howard Latimer was the youngest of four children, born to two runaway slaves.  When his parents were recaptured by his father’s slave owner, funds were raised to pay him $400 for their freedom.

At the age of 15, Latimer joined the U.S. Navy.  After an honorable discharge, he became an office boy in a law firm, at $3.00 per week.  He had a natural talent for technical drawing, in patent cases, which his boss noticed.  At the age of 24 years, Latimer was promoted to head draftsman, earning $20 a week.  A year later he married Mary Wilson Louis, eventually having two daughters.
Career Life
Latimer co-patented (with Charles W.Brown) an improved toilet system for railroad cars called the Water Closet for Railroad Cars.  

He was employed as a draftsman at Alexandar Graham Bell’s law firm, to draft the drawings required to receive a patent for Bell’s telephone.

He worked as assistant manager and draftsman for the U.S. Electric Lighting Company, a company owned by Hiram Maxim, a rival of Thomas A. Edison.

Marriage and Sex BetweenBlacks and Whites Made Criminal by Supreme Court
In reviewing Pace v. Alabama, the United States Supreme Court affirmed that Alabama's anti-miscegenation statute was constitutional.

Tony Pace, a Black man, and Mary Cox, a white woman, living in Alabama. They were arrested and sentenced to two years in state prison for maintaining an (misdemeanor) interracial relationship. Marriage between races was a felony in Alabama, while sex was a misdemeanor.

The couple first appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court, and on further appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Granville Tailer Woods, Inventor
1856 - 1910
1st African-Descended Mechanical and Electrical Engineer After the Civil War
Granville Woods was a self-taught mechanical and electrical engineer, who concentrated most of his work on trains and streetcars.  He held more than 50 patents.  His most notable invention was the Multiplex Telegraph, a device that sent messages between train stations and moving trains.  He developed several improvements to the railroad system, resulting in a safer and better public transportation system in the United States.

Early Life
Woods was born to an African American father and a Native American mother. From a poor family, at the age of 10, Woods was forced to leave school and go to work.  Throughout most of his youth, he served as an apprentice in a machine shop and also trained as a blacksmith.

At the age of 16, Woods became a fireman for the railroads, stoking and tending to the fire to power the steam engines, however, within a short time he moved up to engineer.  At the age of 20, he moved from Missouri to Illinois and worked in foundry of Springfield Iron Works.  It was at this time that enrolled in college and bean studies in mechanical and electrical engineering. Upon completion of his studies, he worked as Chief Engineer of  a large steamer ship.

1880:  In 1880, Woods moved to Ohio and established his business as an electrical engineer and inventor.  After receiving a patent for the multiplex telegraph, he reorganized his company as the Woods Electric Co.  After a decade, or so, he moved his business to New York City, where he was joined by his brother, Lyates Woods, who was also an inventor.

Most Noted Inventions
In 1885, Woods patented an apparatus which was a combination of a telephone and a telegraph. The device, which he called "telegraphony", would allow a telegraph station to send voice and telegraph messages over a single wire. He sold the rights to this device to the American Bell Telephone Company. In 1887, he patented the Synchronous Multiplex Railway Telegraph which allowed communications between train stations from moving trains, a technology pioneered by Lucius Phelps in 1884.

Attempted Theft of Ideas
Inventor Thomas Edison, who may have made it a practice of doing so, attempted to steal Woods patent rights
Granville Woods often had difficulties in enjoying his success, as other inventors attempted to claim his devices.  Thomas Edison made one of these claims, stating that he had first created a similar telegraph as that he was entitled to the patent for the device.  
Wins Against Edison for
Rights to Patents
Woods was forced to defend himself against Edison and was able to prove that the device originated from his own unique ideas and process.  Following that victory, he was also able to prove his earlier rights to inventions claimed by Edison.   After Thomas Edison’s second defeat, he decided to offer Granville Woods a position with the Edison Company, but Granville declined.

Rev. J.P. Robinson
Teacher, Orator, Pastor
Humorist, Businessman
Banker, Author
Pastor of Largest Church in State of Arkansas
One of the best known, most influential ministers in the State of Arkansas, and the pastor of its largest church, First Baptist Church of Little Rock, Arkansas.  He emerged as one of the leading ministers in the Baptist denomination.

Early Life and Education
In the late 1850s, J.P. Robinson was born on a farm in Mississippi, and remained on the farm, performing hard labor, until he was about twenty-five years of age, although he was never made certain of the exact date of his birth. 

Although he was anxious to learn, he had only a primitive, hit-and-miss educational opportunities.  He, however, took every opportunity to strengthen his mental powers.   He was always studious and determined to master his books, and excelled farther than many others with far better opportunities.

1881 Emigrates from
Mississippi to Arkansas
In 1881, Robinson left Mississippi and emigrated to the State of Arkansas, settling near Alexander.  In 1881, thousands of people emigrated from Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and other Southern States to the State of Arkansas, where the vast acres of government land were made available for settlement at a very nominal cost, to those who were willing to comply with the requirements of the government.

School Teaching Career Begins
The very year that Robinson moved to Arkansas, he passed the required examination to teach in public schools, and began teaching in Pulaski County, Arkansas for the next several years, normally six months out of the year.

1884 Ministry Career Begins
Robinson did not formally train as a minister, and wasn’t licensed as such.  However, by vote of his church of attendance, he was permitted to preach the Word, which started his career in the ministry.  His first sermon, “You must be born again”, was delivered in a log cabin at a prayer meeting.

In 1884, he was ordained to the ministry, while still teaching school as a profession.

1886 Invited to Pastor
1st Baptist Church in
Little Rock, Arkansas
While teaching school in Pulaski County, he received a letter from the board of deacons of the First Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas.  In October 1886 began serving as pastor there.  And, after three months as trial pastor, the church called for him to take the position as their pastor, permanently, in January 1887.  He had proved to be wise, insightful, logical, adaptable, convincing, and humorous – he was known for making his congregation convulse with laughter.

When he took charge of the First Baptist Church, the church was heavily in debt, and there were only about 300 members of the church, with very few young people.  Under his pastorate the membership of the church increased by leaps and bounds, until it reached about 1,800, debt was dissolved, and a church constructed and valued at $75,000.  It had one of the largest Sunday Schools in the South, with 400 pupils and 32 teachers.  In addition, he attracted a great number of intelligent and aggressive young people.

Spiritual Philosopher
and Leader of His People
in  Quest to “Inheriting
the Whole World”
Rev. J.P. Robinson in later years

It has been said that J.P. Robinson was able to do with his congregation what few other ministers could do, that he  “knew both the weakness and the strong points of Africans, and that he was able to take advantage of every opportunity to put members in the direction of progress, prosperity and happiness”.

He exhorted them along the lines that would best promote their interest as Africans, creating incentives for them to buy homes, patronize each other in business life, respect themselves and their families, educate their children, be law-abiding, be truly religious, and inherit the whole earth and the fullness thereof.

1899 In Constant
Pursuit of Knowledge
and Higher Education
Although ministering to a large flock, Robinson successfully pursued studies to cultivate his mind, and in 1899 graduated from Arkansas Baptist College with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

In 1902, State University in Louisville, Kentucky, all white university, conferred an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree upon him.

In 1909, his alma mater, Arkansas Baptist College, conferred an honorary Master of Arts degree upon him.

J.P. Robinson, Author
Robinson was the author of several books, but began to gain a name and fame for himself after writing the book “Sermons and Sermonettes”, which became very popular and soared in sales.  It was widely circulated and entered its third edition by 1907.

J.P. Robinson, Businessman
In addition to being Vice-President of Capital City Savings Bank, Robinson practiced the very doctrine that he preached to his congregation to build wealth and become self-reliant, and entered ventures to generate income and gain property throughout Arkansas.

Wife, Amanda Robinson,
Makes her Mark as  a
Successful Businesswoman

His wife, Amanda (Talley), whom he married in 1893, was also a business woman.  She was a graduate of Spellman Seminary and Roger Williams University.  She was a capable musician and a leading music teacher in Little Rock, Arkansas.

She was also known to be an expert specialist of hair and skin.  She developed and sold preparations for the improvement of the skin, hair, and female body.  She manufactured hair dressings, face lotions, and skin preparations.

Alexander Miles, Inventor
1838 -1918
Awarded Patent for Automatic Opening and Closing Elevator Doors
Alexander Miles an inventor, best known for designing automatic opening and closing elevator doors.

Miles initially earned his living as a barber.  He later married a older woman with two children and worked as a laborer.  He and his wife later had a daughter together.

"Separate but Equal" Jim Crow Laws 1890 to 1965
Between 1890 and 1910, to enforce racial segregation,  ten of the eleven former Confederate states, starting with Mississippi, passed new constitutions or amendments to disenfranchise (or deprive the right to vote to) most blacks and tens of thousands of poor whites through a combination of poll taxes, literacy and comprehension tests, and residency and record-keeping requirements. 

The  mandated de jure (legal) racial segregation in all public facilities in states of the former Confederate States of America, starting in 1890 with a "separate but equal" status for Black Americans.
The laws mandated the segregation of public schools, public places, and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms, restaurants, and drinking fountains for whites and blacks.  Conditions for Black Americans were consistently inferior and underfunded compared to those available to white Americans. 
This institutionalized, legal (de jure) type of segregation, applied mainly in the Southern United States, brought economic, education, and social disadvantages upon Black Americans.  
Thomas Woodrow Wilson
28th President of the United States
(1913 - 1921)

The U.S. military was also segregated, as were federal workplaces, initiated in 1913 under President Woodrow Wilson, who required candidates to submit photos when applying for positions.
Northern States Deception
Northern states practiced the more covert, hands-off,  de facto (by fact) brand of segregation – by making private covenants in regard to restrictions against Blacks in housing, bank lending practices, job discrimination, and discriminatory labor practices.

Halle Tanner Dillon Johnson, MD
1864 -1901
1st Black Female Doctor in Alabama
Halle Johnson was born Halle Tanner in Pennsylvania, the oldest daughter of nine children.  She was well educated and worked with her father on “The Christian Recorder”, a publication of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, where he ministered.

At about the age of 22 years, she married Charles Dillon and they had one child before he died suddenly.    The young widow returned to her family home and entered medical school, earning her M.D. from Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, in 1891, graduating with honors.

Professor at Tuskegee Institute
Soon after her graduation, and after facing a 10-day licensing examination to practice medicine in Alabama, she started a teaching job at Tuskegee Institute, founded by Booker T. Washington, a decade earlier.
Road to Nashville
After spending about three years at Tuskegee, she married a fellow Tuskegee professor   --- Reverend John Quincy Johnson, an African Methodist Episcopal minister and math instructor.  Following their marriage, she followed her husband to South Carolina, where he became president of Allen University, a private school for black students.  After a couple of moves, they finally settled in Nashville Tennessee, where Reverend John became pastor of Saint Paul A.M.E. Church.  Johnson died in Nashville, at the age of 36, from complications during the birth of her fourth child.

"Stagecoach" Mary Fields
1832 -1914
1st African-Descended U.S. Mail Carrier
Mary Fields was born a slave in Tennessee and following the Civil War, she moved to the pioneer community of Cascade, Montana.

In 1895, when she was around 60 years old, Fields became the second woman and first African American carrier for the US Postal Service. Despite her age, she never missed a day of work in the ten years she carried the mail and earned the nickname “Stagecoach” for her reliability.

W.E.B. Du Bois
1868 - 1963
Integrationist, Sociologist, Historian
Civil Rights Activist, Pan-Africanist
Author, Editor
1st African-Descended to Receive Doctorate from Harvard University
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born just three years after the end of the Civil War, in Massachusetts.  His great-grandfather was a white man of French ancestory, who fathered several children with multiple black slaves.  His grandfather and father were both men who abandoned their families, leaving them to be raised by their mothers.

Du Bois was the first African American to Graduate from Harvard with a Doctorate degree.  Initialy, his tuition, to attend Fisk University, was paid by donations from the members of his childhood church of attendance.  He paid his own way through three years at Harvard with money from summer jobs, scholarships, and loans from friends.  Afer graduation, he eventually became a professor of history, sociology and economics at the historically black Atlanta University in Georgia.
From the age of 30 to 46 years he published 16 papers, strongly protesting against the disenfranchisement, segregation, discrimination in education and employment, and the lynching of African Americans, and Jim Crow laws.  Ultimately, he came to the conclusion that change would only come through protest.  

He was a proponent of Pan-Africanism and helped organize several Pan-African Congresses to fight for independence of African colonies from European powers, making several trips to Europe, Africa and Asia.

1899: 1st Scientifc Study
of African Americans
At the age of 31, while a professor at Atlanta University, Du Bois’ first major academic work was published – The Philadelphia Negro.  This book was a detailed and comprehensive sociological study of the African American people of Philadelphia.  It was the first scientific study of African Americans and a major contribution to early scientific sociology in the U.S.

In this book, he coined the terms Talented Tenth (African American intellectual, social elite) and Submerged Tenth (the black underclass).  Du Bois tended to dismiss the black underclass as having been made “lazy” or “unreliable” due to the history of slavery, but felt that educated blacks were of the elite who would fuel cultural progress.

1900: Attends First Pan-African Conference in London
Du Bois attended the First Pan-African Conference, organized by men from the Caribbean, and held in London from July 23 to 25.  Du Bois played a leading role by drafting a letter (“Address to the Nations of the World”) to European leaders, appealing to them to struggle against racism, to grant colonies in Africa and the West Indies the right to self-government and to demand political and other rights for African Americans.

1905: Niagara Movement Founded
Booker T. Washington vs Du Bois
Founders of Niagara Movement
(Du Bois sits at center)
At the age of 37 years, Du Bois founded the Niagara Movement, an African American activist group focused on lobbying lawmakers in the nation’s capital for equal rights,  and rose to national prominence.
Booker T. Washington
Civil Rights Leader, Educator, Author
1856 -1915
Du Bois and supporters  stood in conflict with Booker T. Washington, a prominent African American leader of the time.  Booker T. Washington thought the way for African Americans to succeed was to educate themselves and work hard, accepting discrimination in the meantime.  In fact, Booker T. Washington crafted an agreement called the Atlanta Compromise, which provided that Southern blacks would work and submit to whie political rule, while Southern whites guaranteed that blacks would receive basic educational and economic opportunites.  Du Bois believed that Washington’s plan would keep blacks subjugated and insisted on full civil rights and increased political representation.

Du Bois felt that the African American intellectual elite, which he termed the Talented Tenth, would lead the way, believing that African Americans needed advanced education to develop its leadership.
1906:  Du Bois Chosen Over
Booker T. Washington by Blacks
- Withdrawal from Republican Party
After two events in 1906, African American support lend more toward Du Bois, rather than Booker T. Washington and his “accomodating” views.
Theodore Roosevelt
28th President of the United States
1858 - 1919
In 1906, republican President Teddy Roosevelt dishonorably discharged 167 black Buffalo Soliders,  who had been accused of violent crimes, that they couldn't have committed, as their commanders testified that the soldiers were in the barracks all night.  Many of the discharged had served for 20 years and were near retirement.
25th Infantry Regiment
of Buffalo Soldiers (1890)
Secondly, black men were accused of assaulting white women in Atlanta.  Whites, 10,000 in number, rioted and rampaged through Atlanta, beating every black person they could find, resulting in 25 deaths.  In the aftermath, Du Bois urged blacks to withdraw from the Republican Party, as most African Americans were loyal to the Republican Party since the time of Abraham Lincoln.

1909:  Co-founds NAACP
Du Bois co-founded the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and  became editor of The Crisis: A Record of the Darker Races, a monthly magazine published by the newly formed organization.  Although he was a staunch integrationist, during this time, Du Bois urged African Americans to work together for freedom and to focus on developing their own art and literature
1912: Becomes and Marxist
and Joins Socialist Party
Karl Marx, German Philosopher,
Sociologist, Economist, Journalist, Revolutionary Socialist
1818 - 1883
At the age of 44, while still a member of the NAACP, Du Bois became a Marxist.  He believed that capitalism was a primary cause of racism.  Although his membership in the party was brief, he remained committed to socialist beliefs throughout the remainder of his life.

1918:  Documents Experiences
Of African American Soldiers
After the end of World War I, Du Bois traveled to France where he interviewed American black soliders and documented the widespread bigotry that they experienced in the United States military.

1934: After 25 Years of Service
Du Bois Leaves the NAACP
In 1934,  after 25 years, Du Bois left his involvement with the NAACP, and at the age of 66 years he returned to his academic career.

1961: Moves to Ghana
After Renouncing U.S. Citizenship
At the age of 93, W.E.B Du Bois joined the communist party, moved to Ghana and renounced his American citizenship.  He died two years later in Ghana, at the age of 95.

Earnest Hogan
1865 - 1909
Ragtime Pioneer, Traveling Minstrel
Dancer, Muscian, Comedian
Ragtime: African Americans Create 1st Truly American Musical Genre
Ragtime originated in African American communities, produced by non-reading musicians, years before being published as popular sheet music for piano. It descended from the jigs and march music played by African American bands.  Ragtime uses syncopated, or “ragged”, rhythms, a style of placing rhythm accents, or emphasis, in music where they wouldn’t normally occur.

Earnest Hogan was a pioneer of ragtime music, and in 1895, he was the first to publish several popular songs in the new musical genre, which he coined “ragtime”.   Hogan never claimed to have exclusively created ragtime, and in regard to that, he said,  “Ragtime was the rhythm played in backrooms and café and such places.  The ragtime players were the boys who played by ear their own creations of music, which would have been lost to the world if I had not put it on paper.”
One of the songs that Hogan publish, “All Coons Look Alike to Me”, was highly controversial because it used a racial slur in the title.  The song infuriated many African Americans, especially due to the fact that it spawned many imitations that used extremely racist stereotypes and images of blacks.  In later years, Hogan stated that he felt shame and a sense of “race betrayal” for having produced the song.
Scott Joplin
"King of Ragtime Writers"
Composer, Pianist
1867 - 1917
Scott Joplin was born the 2nd of six children, to former slave Giles Joplin and Florence Givens, a freeborn African American woman. His parents worked were both railroad workers, his father a laborer and his mother a cleaner.  In addition, his father played the violin for plantation parties in North Carolina, and his mother sang and played banjo.  Taught by his parents, Scott played piano and other string instruments as a child.  He received additional training throughout the years, most notably from Julius Weiss, a German born, professional music professor, who taught him for free. Weiss also helped his mother acquire a used piano, for Scott, in appreciation of his talent. Weiss tutored Scott from the age of 11 to 16.  Within these years of training, his father abandoned the family for another woman.

Joplin began performing various events as a teenager, but after giving up his job as a railroad laborer to become a traveling musician, he soon found that there were few opportunities for black pianists.  Churches and brothels were the main options for steady work.  In the various red-light districts he specialized in playing pre-ragtime and “jig piano”.

A turning point came in 1893 when he played in saloons, cafes and brothels lining the outside of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, which was attended by 27 million Americans.  Although on the fringe, Joplin’s music, and that of other black performers, was popular with visitors, such that it spread in popularity, and by 1897 it had become a national craze in American cities.
Although Joplin’s first published and most famous ragtime song, the “Maple Leaf Rag” was published in 1899, it was written in 1897.  After spending several months attempting to get it published,  Joplin signed a contract with John Stillwell Start, a retailer of musical instruments, who later became his most important publisher.  The contract stipulated that Joplin would receive a 1% royalty on sales, with a minimum sales price of 25 cents.  It was reported that several thousand copies were sold, of which Joplin received minimum profit.

Scott Joplin was annointed the “King of Ragtime Writers” because of his ragtime compositions.  He wrote 44 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas. One of his first pieces, the “Maple Leaf Rage”, became ragtime’s first and most influential hit.

Paul Laurence Dunbar
1872 - 1906
Poet, Novelist, Playwright
1st Nationally Recognized African American Poet
Dunbar’s essays and poems were published widely in leading journals, including Harper’s Weekly, the Saturday Evening Post, the Denver Post, Current Literature and others. Dunbar was also distinguished by the fact that he appeared to be purely black African, at a time when many leading members of the African American community were of mixed race, with considerable European ancestry.
Early Life
Paul Laurence Dunbar was born in Ohio to Joshua, an escaped slave and Matilda, a freed slave.  His father volunteered and served for the 55th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, one of the first two black units to serve in the American Civil War.

Dunbar began writing stories and poems at the age of six, and gave his first public recital at the age of nine.  His mother, Matilda,  mother of four, learned to read just to assist her children with their schooling.  In addition, she often read the Bible to them, and thought that some day,  Dunbar might become a minister.  

Dunbar was the only African American student during his years at Central High School in Dayton, Ohio; Orville Wright was a classmate.  He wa elected president of the school’s literary society, and became editor of the school newspaper and member of the debate club.
1888: At the age of 16, Dunbar published “Our Martyred Soldiers” and “On the River”, in The Herald” newspaper of Dayton, Ohio.

1890:  Dunbar wrote and edited The Tattler, Dayton’s first weekly African-American newspaper, printed by the struggling printing company of high-school acquaintances Wilbur and Orville Wright. The paper only lasted all of six weeks.

1891:  Dunbar worked as an elevator operation for $4 a week, with no hope of attending law school as he desired.

1893: 1st Collection of Poetry Published  
After the printing of Paul Dunbar’s first collection of poetry, “Oak and Ivy” he worked very hard to publicize and sell his work, with most being sold  to passengers on his elevator.  The larger section of the book, the “Oak” section was written in standard English traditional verse, whereas the smaller section, the “Ivy”, featured light poems written in African American dialect.

1894 – 1896: Benefactors Come Forth
Henry A. Tobey, Psychiatrist
1st Superintendent of
Toledo State Mental Hospital
Recognizing his gifts, several older men reached out to help him.  Notably, attorney Charles A. Thatcher offered to help him with college, but at Dunbar's preference, help to promote his works instead,  by arranging for his work to be read in the larger city of Toledo at libraries and literary gatherings. In addition, well-known psychiatrist, Henry A. Talbot, helped him distribute his first book in Toledo and provided him with financial aid.  Both men supported the publication of his second verse collection, Majors and Minors.
Despite the generosity of the support and the frequent publishing of poems and arranged public readings, many of Dunbar's efforts were unpaid, making it difficult for him to support himself and his mother, and eventually forcing him into debt.
1896: Dunbar Gains National Attention
At the age of 24, on June 27, 1896, the novelist, editor, and critic William Dean Howells published a favorable review of Dunbar’s second book, Majors and Minors in Harper’s Weekly.  Howell’s influence brought national attention to the poet’s writing, and particularly to his dialect poems written in African American dialect. The new literary fame enabled Dunbar to publish his first two books as the collected volume, Lyrics of Lowly Life, which included an introduction by Howells.
1897:  Literary Tour in England
In 1897, Dunbar traveled to England for a literary tour, reciting his works on the London circuit.  During this time, he met black composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, who set some of Dunbar’s poems to music. 
1898: Marriage
Alice Ruth Moore
Teacher, Poet, Journalist
Political Activist
1875 - 1935
Upon his return from England, Dunbar married Alice Ruth Moore, a Creole woman born free of a white seaman and her seamstress, former slave mother.  Alice Moore lived a middle-class life, as part of a larger mulatto community.  Moore was one the 1% of African Americans who attended college, graduating from Straight University, a historically black college.  She was a public school teacher, poet, journalist and political activist.

The Dunbars moved to Washington D.C., where they lived comfortably in the LeDroit Park neighborhood, supported by Dunbar who worked for the Library of Congress and his wife’s school teacher wages.  

However, at the encouragement of his wife, Dunbar left his employment to focus exclusively on his wiriting.

1898:  First  Collection of Short Stories
Dunbar began to explore the short story and novel forms.  His first collection of short stories, Folks From Dixie, examined racial prejudice, and was received favorably.  Also living in London at the time, African-American playwright Henry Francis Downing arranged a joint recital for Dunbar and Coleridge-Taylor, under the patronage of John Hay, the American ambassador to Britain

His first novel, The Uncalled , about the life of a white minister, raised by an alcoholic father and virtuous mother, was criticized as “dull and unconvincing”.  However, the novel is historic because it was the first time a black author had written about white society.  Dunbar followed this premiere novel with two more novels that explored the lives and issues of white culture, which were also panned by critics.

Friends in High Places
Frederick Douglass
Dunbar maintained a lifelong friendship with the Wright brothers. Through his work, Paul met and became associated with black leaders Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington and was close to his contemporary, African American poet James D. Corrothers. Dunbar also became a friend of Brand Whitlock, a journalist in Toledo who went on to work in Chicago, then became part of state government and had a political and diplomatic career.
1906:  Death
Dunbar died of tuberculosis, at the very early age of 33 years, only able to enjoy his professional career for a short time.

William Saunders Crowdy
1847 - 1908
Hebrew Israelite, Theologian
Preacher, Soldier, Entrepreneur
Establishes Black Hebrew Church of God and Saints of Christ
Black Hebrew Israelites are groups of African Americans who believe they are descendants of the ancient Israelites.  In varying degrees, they adhere to the religious beliefs and practices of both Christianity and Judaism.  Many Black Hebrew groups were founded in the United States during the late 1800s and early 1900s, from Kansas to New York City, by both African Americans and West Indian immigrants.  William Saunders Crowdy was one the earliest Black Hebrew leaders in the United States.

Early Years
William Saunders Crowdy was born into slavery, on a plantation in Charlotte Hall, Maryland.   His father was Basil Crowdy, a deeply religious man who oversaw the drying of clay for the plantation's brick kiln. His mother, Sarah Ann, was a cook, which often got her access to the "big house" despite her status as a slave.

Runaway Slave
Crowdy, originally called “Wilson” by the overseer, lived his early life in bondage, working first by milking cows and tending to the plantation’s melon patch when he became older.  Nearing adulthood, he began work as a stable boy and tobacco drier.

Despite it being illegal for slaves to read, he read and learned the books of the Hebrew prophets, especially Elijah.  Crowdy escaped from the cruelties of the plantation at the age of 16, after getting into a fight with a white man.  

Joins Union Army 
Becoming a Buffalo Soldier
He changed his name from “Wilson” to “William”, and enlisted in the Union army, where he became a quartermaster’s cook.  During the Civil War, he and his half-brother, Daniel, joined the United States Colored Troops 19th Regiment of Maryland, and remained in the army after the war to become a Buffalo Soldier.  

Railroad Cook
After his army years, where he was promoted to quartermaster sergeant, he became a cook on the Santa Fe railroad.

Receives Vision from God
Upon his retirement from the railroad, Crowdy owned one of the largest African American owned farms in the United States, at about 100 acres in Guthrie, Oklahoma.  

Crowdy reported that he had a vision from God on September 13, 1892, calling him to lead his people to the true religion.  However, he resisted until he had anoter vision, while chopping wood, in 1895.

Begins Preaching Career
and Becomes Successful,
Multi-Business Entrepreneur
In 1896, Crowdy started preaching in Guthrie and setting up temporary churches in various states – including New York, Chicago, and Missouri, establishing an “Elder-in-Charge” in each city before moving on to the next.   In these early days he was arrested 22 times.

Resettles in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
In 1899, Crowdy moved his life to Pennsylvania and organized his headquarters.  By 1901 he had a congregation of more than 1300.  He also became a successful entrepreneur, owning a general store, barber shop, restaurant, and print shop.

In Pennsylvania he was accused of preaching false doctrine and anarchy, and other ministers called for him to be stopped, after a mass meeting of ministers.

Headquarters, Canaan Land
Established in Virgina
In 1903, he bought 40 acres of land in Virginia, calling it “Canaan Land”.  More land was purchased and it eventually became the site of the international hequarters of the denomination.

In 1905, he sent missionaries to South Africa.

Pan-African Flag
Pan-Africanism Founded
Henry Sylvester-Williams
Trinidadian Lawyer, Activist
1869 - 1911
Pan-Africanism was originally conceived by Henry Sylvester-Williams, a Trinidadian lawyer, as there being a link between all peoples of African descent, across all continents.  He believed that if all such people joined in solidarity, to unify and cooperate with one another, that imperialism and colonialism could be overcome.   He believed that the fate of all of African heritage shared a common history, and a single fate, stressing a return to traditional African concepts of cultue, society, and values.  The ultimate goal was to consolidate the power of all black African people in Africa.
Basic Principles of Pan-Africanism
Pan-Africanism stresses the need for collective self-reliance.  Marcus Garvey, W.E.B Du Bois, and Malcolm X are examples of grassroots organizers.  All attempted solidarity between people of African descent, believing that self-reliance would realize the potential of a people to independently provide for itself and empower Africans globally.   The hope was to unleash a fierce psychological energy among black people, allowing them to assert themselves politically in the global world, a compete on the world stage with all races of men.

SPECIAL NOTE:  The modern-day Kwanzaa holiday and celebration is an embodiment of Pan-African principles.
Dr. Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa Creator
Professor of African Studies,
Activist, Author,
1941 - Present

Although Henry Sylvester-Williams brought Pan-Africanism to the forefront, it represents the whole sum of historical, cultural, spiritual, artistic, scientific, and philosophical legacy of African life over all time, and can actually be traced to ancient times  -- it is the product of civilizations and the struggles against slavery, racism, colonialism, and neo-colonialism.

Bob Cole, Producer and Composer
1868 - 1911
1st New York Musical by Black Entertainers

The collaboration of Bob Cole and Billy Johnson produced "A Trip to Coontown", the first full length New York musical written, produced, and performed by black entertainers in America. 

Both Johnson and Cole played starring roles. The performance was peppered with expressions like "Coon" and "Darkey". The show ran three years, after which Cole and Johnson parted ways, but continued to write, perform, and produce.

Bob Cole and J. Rosamond Johnson


Cole later partnered with brothers J. Rosamond Johnson, pianist and singer, and James Weldon Johnson, pianist, guitarist and lawyer, which resulted in over 200 songs.

Cole committed suicide after a nervous breakdown and period of clinical depression.

Charles Henry Turner
1867 - 1923
Research Biologist, Educator
Comparative Psychologist
Zoologist, Civil Rights Activist
1st Researcher to Prove that Insects Can Hear
After graduating as valedictorian of his high school, Charles Turner achieved serveral firsts in his lifetime.  He was the first African American to receive a graduate degree at the University of Cincinnati in 1892, and in 1907, the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

Despite his doctorate and having published more than 20 research papers, Turner found it difficult to find acceptable employment in any major university.  

Turner was an early pioneer in the field of insect behavior, and the first person to prove that insects can hear and can distinguish pitch.  In addition, was the first to discover that cockroaches can learn by trial and error and that honeybees can see color.

He published more than 70 research papers on invertebrates. He pioneered research techniques in the study of animal behavior and made several important discoveries that advanced our understanding of the natural world.

George Henry White
Lawyer, Congressman, Banker
Co-founder of All African-Descended Town
Last African-Descended Congressman of the Jim Crow Era
In a period of increasing disenfranchisement of blacks in the South, George White was the last of five African Americans who were elected and served in Congress during the Jim Crow era of the late 1800s.  After them, no African would be elected from the South until 1972, after federal civil rights legislation was passed in 1965 to enforce constitutional voting and civil rights for citizens. No Africans were elected to Congress from North Carolina until 1992.

Early Life
George White was born in North Carolina, to a slave mother and a free, mixed-race father, Wiley Franklin White, who worked as a laborer in a turpentine camp.  He had one older brother, John.

In 1857, with his two sons in tows, George White’s father married Mary Anna Spaulding, a woman of mixed race.  Mary Spaulding’s grandfather, Benjamin Spaulding, was born into slavery, of a white plantation owner and African slave woman, however, his father freed him when he became a young man.  At the time George married his granddaughter, Benjamin Spaulding had acquired more than 2300 acres of pine woods land.  George and Mary White had produced several children.

Education: 1874 - 1879
In 1874, White entered Howard University, a historically black college, in Washington, DC, and became certified as a schoolteacher.  After college, he was hired as a principal at a North Carolina school.  And, as a legal apprentice under former Superior Court Judge William J. Clarke, he began to read and study the law.  In 1879, at the age of 27, White was admitted to the North Carolina bar.

Marriage and Family
1879: Married Fannie B. Randolph who died in 1880 soon after giving birth to their daughter Della.
1882: Married Nancy J. Scott, who died that same year.
1886: Married Cora Lena Cherry, with whom he had three children, Mary Adelyne, Beatrice Odessa (who died young), and George Henry White Jr.  Cora Lena died in 1905.
1915: Married Ellen Avant MacDonald of North Carolina, who survived him.

All of his children died (including Della) died before reaching adulthood, except for Mary Adelyne, who died in 1974.

Political Career
1880: Elected to a single term in the North Carolina House of Representatives, where he helped to pass a law creating four state schools for Africans, in order to train more teachers, and then went on to develop one of the schools in its early years, acting as principal and encouraging students to go into teaching.

1884: Won election to the North Carolina Senate.
1886: Elected prosecuting attorney for the 2nd judicial district of North Carolina.
1896: Elected to the U.S. Congress, representing the predominantly black 2nd District
1898: Re-elected to Congress

White used the power of his office to appoint several African postmasters across his district.  He also worked for African civil rights, consistently highlighting issues of justice, and relating discussions on the economy, foreign policy and colonization to the treatment of black in the South. 

1900: Introduced the First
In Congress to Make Lynching a Federal Crime
On January 20, 1900, White introduced the first bill in Congress to make lynching a federal crime to be prosecuted by federal courts; it died in committee, opposed by southern white Democrats.  A month later, as the House was debating issues of territorial expansion internationally, White defended his bill by giving examples of crimes in the South. He said that conditions in the region had to "provoke questions about ...national and international policy.  He said,

"Should not a nation be just to all her citizens, protect them alike in all their rights, on every foot of her soil, in a word, show herself capable of governing all within her domain before she undertakes to exercise sovereign authority over those of a foreign land—with foreign notions and habits not at all in harmony with our American system of government? Or, to be more explicit, should not charity first begin at home?"

1901: Declined to Seek 3rd Term If Not Treated as a Man
White chose not to seek a third term, telling the Chicago Tribute, “I cannot live in North Carolina and be a man and be treated as a man.”  He delivered his final speech in the House on January 29, 1901:

"This is perhaps the Negroes' temporary farewell to the American Congress, but let me say,Phoenix-like he will rise up some day and come again. These parting words are in behalf of an outraged, heart-broken, bruised and bleeding, but God-fearing people; faithful, industrious, loyal, rising people – full of potential force.

On September 26, 2009, President Barack Obama referred to White's farewell speech in his remarks at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Awards Dinner in Washington, DC.

1901: Town of Whitesboro,
New Jersey Founded Exclusively for Blacks
George went on to become primary investor in the purchase of over 2,000 acres for building a town exclusively for Blacks, without the pressures of racism.  Shares were sold and the town of Whitesboro, named in his honor, was built and developed by the African community.

Whitesboro, New Jersey
Town Founded by Black Investors Exclusively for African-Descended People
Whitesboro was founded about 1901 by a prominent group of black American investors, known as the African-American Equitable Industrial Association, founded by Rev. J.W. Fishburn and four other members of the Cape May City’s AME Zion Church.   During this period, there was a “Black Town” movement, where black Americans in the South and North attempted to carve out a place in American where they could live on their own terms, in a world in which they were surrounded by racism and a push for racial separation.  Most of those early settlements survive only in memories.

Self-Help in Response
to White Resistance of Blacks
In Their Communities
Booker T. Washington
Inspires Purchase

White people in Cape May City were creating havoc for Blacks within the city, including introducing some KKK activity.  Inspired by the self-help philosophy of Booker T. Washington, an investment group was formed to purchase 2,000 acres of land approximately ten miles north of Cape May City, exclusively for Blacks, at a cost of $14,000. 

George Henry White
Principal Investor
Town's Namesake

The group investors included Paul Laurence Dunbar, Booker T. Washington, and George Henry White, the town’s namesake and principle investor. 
Shares Sold by
Investment Group
to Colonize the Land
George White and the other investors wanted to create a self-reliant community for blacks, without the discrimination faced the southern states. Four months after the purchase was finalized, they began selling shares to the planned community to African Americans from North and South Carolina and Virginia.

Prospective colonists had to be of good character, and in the spirit of Washington needed to possess steady and industrious habits. Once approved, a colonist would receive a number of lots, each 50 feet by 150 feet (about a sixth of an acre) for a down payment of $5 per lot and a promise to till the land.

Continued Investment
Made in the Community
In addition to purchasing the initial land for the town, the George H. White Land Improvement Company reinvested its profits back into the community. Although most of the town’s residents were preoccupied with farming the land, many residents were employed by the Improvement Company to construct the first buildings and roads in the community.

Growth of Whitesboro
Whitesboro's population grew steadily, reaching 100 residents by 1906. By 1909 Whitesboro boasted two churches, an industrial school for children, a railroad station, a post office and a hotel, all built by residents.  The town was also on three railroad lines including one that went east to the Atlantic Coast. The slow steady growth in population continued until the Great Depression. Nonetheless, the town survived and continues to exist today with approximately 1,000 residents.

Niagara Civil Rights Movement Founded

William Joseph Seymour
1870 - 1922
Pentecostal Movement Begins with Baptism in the Holy Spirit and Speaking in Tongues
William J. Seymour was one of the most influential individuals in the revival movement that grew into the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, along with other figures such as Charles Parham, Howard A. Goss, and Frank Bartleman.

Seymour emphasized racial equality, which drew many historically disenfranchised people to the movement, and due to his influence the revival grew very quickly.

His revivals were characterized by ecstatic spiritual experiences accompanied by amazing physical healing miracles, dramatic worship services, speaking in tongues, and inter-racial mingling. The participants were criticized by the secular media and Christian theologians for behaviors considered to be outrageous and unorthodox, especially at the time. Today, the revival is considered by historians to be the primary catalyst for the spread of Pentecostalism in the 20th century.

Early Life
During a time when Louisiana had the highest lynching rates in the nation, William Seymour was born to former slaves, Simon and Phyllis Salabar Seymour, in Centerville, Louisiana.  He was baptized as Catholic, while his family attended a Baptist church throughout his early life.

Adult Life
At the age of 20 years, Seymour left the South to travel around states in the north, escaping the horrific violence aimed at Africans in the south during this period.  He continued to face racial prejudice in the north, but it was not as violent as faced in the South.

1895:  At the age of 25 years, Seymour became a born-again Christian, while attending the Simpson Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church in Indianapolis, where he had moved.
David Sidney “D.S.” Warner
Theologian, Initiator of Church Movements
A Founder of the Church of God
1842 - 1895

During his travels, Seymour was influenced by D.S. Warner’s holiness group dedicated to racial equality.  His views about the equality of all mankind influenced Seymour’s entire theology.

1901: At the age of 31 years, Seymour moved to Cincinnati, where his views on holiness and racial integration continued to be shaped by attending a Bible college.  During this time, he contracted smallpox and subsequently went blind in his left eye.

After overcoming smallpox, Seymour traveled to Jackson, Mississippi, where he visited Charles Price Jones, the founder of the Church of Christ (Holiness) U.S.A.  – faith healing and speaking in tongues. Seymour left the South with a very firm commitment to his beliefs.

1906: At the age of 36 years, Seymour attended a newly formed Bible school founded by Charles Parham in Houston, Texas.  Parham’s teachings on the baptism of the Holy Spirit stuck with Seymour and influenced his later doctrine and theology.  However, Seymour did not agree with Parham’s more radical views.

He developed a belief in speaking in tongues as confirmation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  He believed that this proved that the person was born-again and could go to Heaven.

After only six weeks at Parham’s school, Seymour left, against Parham’s wishes, to accept an offer to pastor a church in Los Angeles.

Azusa Street Revival
Pentecostal Movement Begins
Apostolic Faith Mission on Azusa Street

Seymour arrived in Los Angeles and began preaching at Julia Hutchins’ Holiness Church, in late February.  Within two weeks, Julia Hutchins threw him out of her church and padlocked the church door, outraged over Seymour’s claims on tongue-speech.

Leaders of Apostolic Faith Mission.  Seymour in front row, second from the right; Jennie in back row, third from left

After a short while, Seymour began holding prayer group meetings at the home where he stayed.  The group quickly grew too large for his friend’s home, and was moved to another friend’s home. 

During the course of one of the prayer meetings, Seymour laid hands on the friend in whose house his was staying and the friend began speaking in tongues.  Seymour received the Holy Spirt baptism three days later.  Soon the group grew too large for the second house as well, and the Azusa Street Revival was born, after the group moved to an old African Methodist Episcopal church building on Azusa Street.

Racial Equality
In the beginning, Africans and whites worshipped together at the same alter, against the normal segregations of the day.  Seymour rejected existing racial barriers in favor of unity in Christ, as well as barriers to women in church leadership.  Soon the membership included Africans, whites, and Latinos.

Troubles Brewing
L.A. Times article criticizing the behavior of the revivalists at Azusa Street

From Azusa Street, Seymour began preaching his doctrinal beliefs, which from 1906 to 1909 became known as the Azusa Street Revival.

Seymour fell under intense scrutiny of mainstream Protestants, some felt that his views were heresy, or violated standard religious teachings, while others accepted his teachings and preached them to their own congregations.  Seymour’s revival came to be widely known as “Pentecostalism”.  Charles Harrison Mason, founder of the Church of God in Christ, received the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the revival.

Charles Parham Denounces
The Azusa Revival as False
Charles Parham came to Los Angeles and preached at the Azusa revival several times, but became disgusted with the ecstatic practices and racial mixing in worship.  He then began to preach that God was disgusted with the state of the revival, and was eventually removed by force.

Parham followed up by attacking Seymour and Azusa as being from the devil.  He claimed that speaking in tongues had to be a recognizable human language, and that Seymour had corrupted the teaching by allowing for a “divine” language that could not be understood by human ears.  Parham denounced Seymour’s doctrine as unscriptural and the racial mixing as an abomination.

1908: Seymour’s Authority
and Influence Gradually Undermined
Africans Claim Favoritism Shown White Pastors. By 1908, race issues started to become divisive.  Seymour often chose white pastors instead of black pastors in charge whenever he left Los Angeles, causing black members to fear the mission was in danger of being taken over.  Racial segregation became continually came into focus and became a larger issue as time went on.

Charges of Embezzlement.  Although eventually unfounded, Seymour was accused of embezzling funds from the Azusa Revival mission.

Rival Ministers.  Ministers formally affiliated with Azusa began to open their own missions and drew people away from the main revival.

Worshippers Do Not
Approve of His Marriage
William and Jennie Seymour

In May 1908, Seymour married Jennie Moore Evans, but the church saw it as a violation of sanctification, which resulted in a loss of membership. 

Newsletter: Apostolic Faith
Can No Longer be Published
The coeditor of his newsletter, Apostolic Faith, used for spreading his ideas, abruptly left with the newsletter and mailing lists, and moved to Portland, and refused to give control of the paper back to Seymour.

Close Friend Turns Against Him.  William Durham was a close friend and fellow Pentecostal preacher of Seymour.  While on a revival tour, Seymour asked Durham to serve as visiting preacher.  Durham’s views on sanctification were so extreme and shocking, that Seymour’s wife felt forced to padlock him out of the church, until Seymour returned.

Durham began to attack Seymour publicly, claiming Seymour was no longer following the will of God and was not fit to be a leader, devastating Seymour and causing a big split in the Pentecostal community.  Durham’s death within a year did little to heal the split.

1922.September.28 Death
On September 28, 1922, Seymour suffered two heart attacks, and died in his wife Jennie's arms.  Jennie Seymour died on July 2, 1936, and was buried next to him.

Troops posted after the riot
Atlanta Georgia: Racial Cleansing Leads to Three-Day Race Riot
On September 22, 1906, whites began rampaging through Atlanta’s downtown streets and continued for three days.  When it was over, as many as 40 Africans were dead, while only two whites died, one of whom was a woman who died of a heart attack after seeing the mob outside her home.  This incident made national and international headlines, and impacted the course of civil and human rights in the United States.

Whites Resentful of
Success of Africans
Racial tensions had been building in Atlanta for some time, as whites began to develop a strong resentment for the wealth of industrious African citizens working and running their businesses in and near the business district.  Competition for jobs between white wage-workers and Africans was also a source of troubles for whites.

Media Used as Propaganda
Tool to Create Fear and
Anti-African Sentiment

Meanwhile, rival white newspapers, working as operatives of the two primary candidates for governor of the state, entered into competition to see which of them could print the most sensational accusation of alleged assaults of white women by African males, and report other sensationalized accounts of the vices of Africans, coined with the term “negrophobia”. 

Because sensationalized accounts sold newspapers, Atlanta newspapers had been publishing lurid and dramatic accounts of Africans attacking white women for over two months, prior to the riots, suggesting that eleven assaults of white women being attacked in their homes occurred within the two month period.   

The Evening News” newspaper went so far as to send out an emotional call , "Men of Fulton, what will you do to stop these outrages against the women? ... Shall these black devils be permitted to assault and almost kill our women, and go unpunished?"

Rev. Thomas Dixon, Jr.
Minister, Novelist, Segregationist
Regarded KKK as Heroic

In addition, there was a popular anti-black play, “The Clansman”, produced by Rev. Thomas Dixon Jr., a segregationist, and supporter of the KKK, that served to further increase fears and tension.

Too Much Mingling
Among Africans and
Whites Becomes Concerning
Saloons that lined downtown’s
Decatur Street where Africans
and whites mingled,
concerned many Atlantans.

There were a number of saloons and bars that lined downtown’s Decatur Street, where Africans and whites mingled, and this concerned many Atlantans.  The whites of Atlanta feared that the city’s segregation and separation of the races was breaking down.

During the course of the election, the gubernatorial candidates of 1906, Hoke Smith and Clark Howell, two of Atlanta’s most prosperous citizens, chose to appeal to racial fears and manipulate racial images, as part of their campaigns.  The two went so far as to jointly propose that over 200,000 African males, of voting age, be removed and entirely disenfranchised from politics, because as reported in the “Journal” newspaper, working in the interest of Hoke Smith, “We are the superior race and do not intend to be ruled by our semi-barbaric inferiors”.  And the “Constitution” newspaper, serving as mouthpiece for Clark Howell, then accused Hoke Smith of appointing Africans to federal positions while a member of Grover Cleveland’s cabinet (which he strongly denied).  Meanwhile, Hoke Smith had one of his supporters, publish the following headlines in the magazine that he owned, “What does Civilization owe to the negro? Nothing! Nothing! NOTHING!

Whites in Atlanta Lose
their Minds and Become
Rabid, Savage Attack
Animals for Three Days
The State Militia was
called to restore order

On September 22, 1906, mobs of whites roamed the city’s downtown streets, destroying the property of Africans, beating and shooting them, pulling them from street cars to murder them.  The first incident recorded was the murder of an African bootblack who was chased down and beaten to death with fists and clubs by a drunken white mob.  And, from that point on, the mobs chased down and killed every African that they saw in the street, yelling “Save our women!”  “Kill the Niggers!”

With the actions by whites, rumors began to spread that Africans were planning an uprising.  Meanwhile, in African communities, horrifying tales were told of widespread lynchings by crazed whites, and seeking strength in number, several hundred Africans stood against the white mobs in silent protest, near Decatur Street.  For their trouble, several thousand white men, armed with iron bars, hatchets, knives and an assortment of other weapon, attacked the group of protesting Africans, who attempted to fight back, but were forced to flee.

Soon, the white mobs ruled the streets of Atlanta, and stalked the streets for Africans after dark.  Policemen did little to stop their violent rampage, and in several instances aided the rioters. 

The cut streetcar lines and pulled several African from the cars and clubbed them to death, including women.  The shattered plate glass windows of African businesses all along Decatur. 

Africans Flee City
Blacks began to flee the city at night.  Presidents of Clark University and the Gammon Theological Seminary sheltered frightened black women and children and gave them refuge on campus.  White families sheltered their African servants.  The Aragon Hotel and Silvermans restaurant locked up their African workers overnight to keep them from harm.

A Defining Moment
for Africans that
Spurred the Founding
of the NAACP
Walter White
Civil Rights Activist, Journalist
Novelist, Essayist
Exec. Secretary of NAACP

Many peoples’ lives were forever changed by witnessing these events, and it became a galvanizing and defining moment in the African community. Most notably, Walter White, who would eventually lead the NAACP for almost 25 years and direct a broad program of legal challenges to racial segregation and disfranchisement., witnessed the riots at the age of 13 years, and W.E.B DuBois was a professor at Atlanta University, both pointed to the riots as being a pivotal point.

What White witnessed, standing in the window of his family’s downtown home, frightened and horrified him. Du Bois secured himself and his wife in their apartment and later did what was completely out of character for him: he purchased a gun that he fully expected to use if his family was threatened. After the riot, Du Bois penned a poem, “The Litany of Atlanta,” a searing and powerful statement.  And Walter White detailed his family’s experience during the riot, in his 1948 memoir, “A Man Called White”.

W.E.B. DuBois
Sociologist, Historian
Educator, Writer, Editor
Civil Rights Activist
1868 - 1963

The riot convinced Du Bois that the best protection for African Americans in the South as well as the North was an organization dedicated to promoting social justice and protection of legal rights. He helped found the NAACP in 1909. Walter White, who did not know Du Bois at the time, later attended Atlanta University and, after graduating, was recruited by the NAACP in 1918 to work in their New York office. Du Bois at the time worked as the founding editor of the NAACP’s magazine, The Crisis.

Outcomes for Average
Citizens of African Community

In the years after the riot, African were most likely to live in settled black communities, which were most likely found to the west of the city near Atlanta University or in eastern downtown. Black businesses were moved to the east, where the thriving black business district Sweet Auburn soon developed.  There was also an increase in the interest in voting.

Some Africans modified their opinions on the necessity of armed self-defense, even though they were often warned and discouraged from considering an armed political struggle.

NAACP Founded
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

Marcus Garvey Jr. Pan-African Political Leader 1887 - 1940
Marcus Garvey was a Jamaican born political leader and civil rights activist, who sought to bring about unity between all people of Black African descent world-wide, and liberate them from the psychological bonds of racial inferiority.  He was a proponent of and orator for the Black Nationalism and Pan-Africanism movements.  He combined the economic nationalist ideas of Booker T. Washington and Pan-Africanists.
1887 - 1907: Early Life
Garvey was the youngest of 11 children, born to a stone mason and farmer father, and a domestic worker mother. His father was known to have a large library, where young Garvey learned to read and self-educate himself.

At the age of 14, he became a printer’s apprentice.  At the age of 16, he traveled to Kingston, Jamaica, and soon became involved in union activities.  At 18 years, he took part in an unsuccessful printer’s strike, at which point his passion for political activism was born.
1908 - 1911: Middle Years
In 1908, at the age of 21 years old, Garvey traveled throughout Central America, working as a newspaper editor and writing about the exploitation of migrant works in the plantations.  He later traveled to London to attend the University of London, while working for the African Times and Orient Review, a Pan-African nationalist news journal.  He returned to Jamaica in 1912.

1912 - 1915: UNIA
Founded in Jamaica
Garvey openly stated that his most influential experience was reading Booker T. Washington’s autobiography Up From Slavery.  Washington believed that African Americans need to improve themselves, showing white America that they deserved equal rights. He repeatedly stressed that African Americans would not benefit from political activism, but from training and knowledge.  Washington then started an industrial training school that embodied his own philosophy of self-help.  

Garvey embraced Washington’s ideas and returned to Jamaica to found the UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association ), with the motto “One God! One Aim! One Destiny!”, with the goal of uniting people of Black African descent, world-wide.  Over the course of corresponding with Booker T. Washington, founder of Tuskegee Institute, he traveled to the United States at the age of 29.

1916-1919: Building Businesses
for a Separate Black Nation
Garvey's intent upon visiting the U.S. was to embark upon a lecture tour to raise funds for establishing a school in Jamaica, modeled after Booker T. Washington's Tuskegee Institute. Upon his arrival, he visited Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee, and then met with a number of black leaders.

He found work as a printer by day, and at night he would speak on street corners, much as he had done in London’s Hyde Park.  Garvey thought there was a leadership vacuum among African Americans, and soon began a 38-state speaking tour.
Garvey launched several businesses to advance a separate black nation.  In August 1918, he began publishing the Negro World newspaper, with the intention of being a unifying force among black communities on three continents.  Negro World was used as a platform for expounding upon his ideas and views about Africa and to encourage growth of the UNIA.   
1919: Black Owned
International Shipping Company
In June 1919, the UNIA set up its first business, incorporating the Black Star Line of Delaware, an international shipping company for establishing trade and commerce between African Americans, the Caribbean, South and Central America, Canada and Africa.  At the same time, he launched the Negros Factory Association, a series of manufacturing companies, located in every big industrial center in the Western hemisphere and Africa.
1920: Black is Beautiful
1st UNIA Convention
The UNIA was the largest organization in African American history, and claimed 4 million members, that included people of the Caribbean and Africa, as well as the United States.  In 1920, it held its first International Convention at Madison Square Gardens in New York City.  With 25,000 in attendance, Marcus Garvey spoke of pride in African history and culture.  

He sought to end imperialist rule and create modern societies in Africa.  He believed that the growing black communities in northern U.S. cities could provide the wealth and unity to end both imperialism in Africa and discrimination in the United States.
Prominent Black Leaders
Despise Marcus Garvey
W.E.B. Du Bois
Pan-Africanist and
Civil Rights Activist
While many of the public found his words inspiring, many established black leader felt that his separatist philosophy was counter productive, and that his ambitions conflicted with their organizations.  
W.E.B. Du Bois, a leader in the NAACP, called Garvey “the most dangerous enemy of the Negro race in America”. Du Bois considered Garvey’s program a complete surrender to white supremacy, an admission that Blacks could never be equal to Whites.  He noted how popular Garvey's separatist idea was with racist thinkers and politicians.  In turn, Garvey felt Du Bois was an agent of the white elite.  
After Garvey met with the imperial giant of the KKK and declared, “I regard the Klan … as better friends of the race than all other groups of hypocritical whites”, African American leaders appealed to the U.S. Attorney General to have Garvey incarcerated.  In addition, years earlier, his beliefs were attacked by prominent Jamaican-Americans in the Daily Gleaner Jamaican newspaper for damaging the reputation of the Jamaican people.

1922:  Marcus Garvey Imprisoned
After Charge of Mail Fraud
and Deported Upon Release
Charges of impropriety began circulating regarding Garvey’s management of his business ventures. And in 1922 he was tried for mail fraud by the U.S. Government.  The Black Star line shipping was a powerful recruiting tool for the UNIA, and its flagship was used in its brochures, but the government found the image used on the brochure to be fraudulent and brought legal action.  (see 1927 Time Capsule).
Final Years
After Garvey’s deportation, he never returned to the United States.  He reconstituted the UNIA in Jamaica and wrote many papers.  In 1935, he made his final move to London.  His public criticisms of Haile Selassie, after Ethiopia was invaded by Facist Italy, alienated many of his remaining followers.  
In his last years, he slid into obscurity. Legend reports that he suffered the indignity of reading his own obituary one month before his June 10th 1940 death.


Africans-Descendants Terrorized and Driven From Homes in Largest U.S. Expulsion
In the 1910 census, Forsyth County was recorded as having more than 10,000 whites, 858 blacks and 440 mulattoes (or mixed race), until the largest racial cleansing event in American history.

White Woman Accuses
Two African Men of
Attempted Rape
A 22-year old white woman, Ellen Grice, married to a highly respected farmer accused two African men, Toney Howell and Isaiah Pirkle, of attempting to rape her, until they were interrupted and frightened away by her mother.

Within days, the Sheriff of Forsyth County, William Reid, had arrested and jailed the two men accused, as well as three other African men – Fate Chester, Johnny Bates, and Joe Rodgers.

As the news spread, an African preacher of a local church was overheard to say that the 22-year old woman probably lied about what happened, after she was caught in a consensual act with an African man.  Upon his words spreading to the white community, they took the preacher and nearly horse-whipped him to death in front of the courthouse, before the sheriff rescued him and locked him inside of large courthouse vault, saving his life.

One of the accused men, Toney Howell had an alibi and the charges were dropped for lack of evidence, but they were all still detained in jail.

Tensions Rise and
Martial Law Declared
Rumors began to flow that blacks were planning to dynamite the town, and armed white men patrolled the town to prevent such action.  Fearing a race riot, Governor Joseph Mackey Brown declared martial law, activating the National Guard as peace keepers.

With the five original suspects still under arrest, the sheriff moved the men from Cummings, Georgia to Marietta, Georgia for safety.  However, the Governor intervened and moved the men to the Fulton County jail in Atlanta, for greater protection, but the men were held for trial.

All White Jury
Convicts the Two Men
Accused of Rape
Although it was recorded that Howell had a solid alibi on the day that he was accused of rape, the police reported that Toney Howell eventually confessed to assaulting and raping Ellen Grice.  They also said that he implicated Isaiah Pirkle as his accomplice.  After his confession, he was convicted by an all white jury.

Another White Woman
Claims Rape, by 16-Year Old
An 18-year old white woman, Sleety Mae Crow, accused 16-year old Earnest Cox of rape.  Cox was accused of attacking her from behind, dragging her into bushes, raping her, and beating her head in with a stone, crushing her skull.

Apparently, Earnest Cox had indeed committed this crime, because he brought his older sister and two neighborhood friends to the spot where Crow lay.  Together, they discussed taking her body to the Chattahoochee River, but decided that was too risky, and left her in the woods.

However, the young woman was found the next morning, lying half naked, face down in a pool of dry blood. 

Arrests and Lynching
In Rape & Beating of
18-Year Old Woman
Earnest Cox was immediately arrested and taken to Gainesville, Georgia county jail to avoid white mobs, and then further away to Atlanta.  Police reported Cox freely confessed to the attack. 

Earnest Cox’s sister, Jane, and the two men who reportedly accompanied her with Earnest back to the injured girl, were also arrested.

A crowd of 2,000 whites formed at the county jail in Cumming, where they were held.  Later that day, a lynch mob of about 4,000 whites attacked the jail, shot and killed one of the men in his cell, then dragged his body through the streets and hung his completely mutilated body from a telephone pole.  The other two were hidden from the mob.

Because Cox’s sister entered a plea bargain and testified against her brother and Earnest Knox, both Knox and Oscar Daniel were convicted of rape and murder at trial.  A crowd between 5,000 and 8,000 gather to watch the public hanging of the two young African men.

African Residents Terrorized
And Driven From their Homes
With Property Seized by Whites
In the following months, a small group of men called “Night Riders” terrorized black citizens of Forsyth County Georgia, threatening them to leave in 24 hours or be killed. Those who resisted were subjected to further harassment, including shots fired into their homes, or livestock killed. Some white residents tried to stop the Night Riders, but were unsuccessful. An estimated 98% of black residents of Forsyth County left. 

The Africans owned over 1,900 acres of farmland, and some property owners were able to sell, likely at a loss. The renters and sharecroppers left to seek safer places. Those who abandoned property, and failed to continue paying property tax, eventually lost it, and whites took it over. Many black properties ended up in white hands without a sale and without a legal transfer of title. The anti-black campaign or racial cleansing spread across Northern Georgia, engulfing a half dozen surrounding counties with similar results of whites terrorizing and expelling blacks.

Racial Cleansing in Corbin, Kentucky
A mob of 125 gun-toating mob of white men stormed through Corbin, Kentucky announcing their mission to run the blacks out of town. They proceded to round up all the Africans in town and march them to the railroad depot.

Oral histories of the event were collected in Corbin during the 1970s as part of the country's bicentennial celebration. These interviews were supplemented by an unusually large number of documents at the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives. For example, after Steve Rogers, one of the ringleaders of the mob, went to prison, he twice petitioned the governor -- once for a pardon and once to have his sentence commuted. In his petition for a pardon, which is now in the sate archives, he explains what he did and tries to justify his role. File with it are the petitions of others who supported or opposed Rogers; the petitioners also describe what they saw the night of the cleansing.

Hundreds of Africans
Workers Enter Town to
Perform Contract Work
The railroad was Corbin's lifeblood, and the railroad brought Africans to Corbin. Although Corbin had some sixty long-time African residents according to the 1910 census, in 1919 the railroad had brought in a black work crew estimated at between 200 and 400 men. For a town of 2,800 peple, this was a substantial increase. These laborers ate and slept on trains parked in the rail yard only a short distance from where they were building new facilities. In addition a paving contractor, hired to upgrade the town's dirt streets, had imported his own black work crew.

Townspeople Unnerved
by the Appearance of 
100s in African Work Crews
The townspeople were unnerved by the sudden appearance of so many Africans in town, and began to complain that they were responsible for a crime wave. As one of the town's lawyers describe it, the African population "was a menancing and floating one, very gregarious in habits, and lawless in acts." Oscar Little said that the expulsion occurred because "colored folks were trying to force themselves on the white people here and they just wouldn't stand for it."

Multiple, Colorful Accounts 
on What Parcipitated the
Mob Action, All Themed on
Ill Actions of African Workers
After this, there are a multitude of story variations, usually focused on some waywardness of the African workers, as to what actually occurred to parcipitate the start of the mob riot.

White Mob Goes
on City-wide Rampage
The white mob proceeded to throw rocks at houses and kick in the front doors of African residents who had established themselves in Corbin, their homes were ransacked, and they were led at gunpoint to the Colored Waiting Rom of the train station and ordered to leave town. They went from home to home, until all African residents were corralled into the train station. They hunted down blacks throughout the town, until they felt that they had discovered all of them.

Africans Shipped out
of Town on Trains
The white surrounded the ever growing crowd of black in the Colored Waiting Room, until the blacks were finally loaded on to a least two different trains, one group headed for Knoville and the other to Louisville.

Population of Africans
Down to Three, with
one Nicknamed "Nigger"
In the first few weeks after the cleansing, a few blacks tried to return, and attempted to return to their work. However, none stayed longer that the day they arrived, out of fear for their safety.
By 1920, there were only three blacks living in Corbin: Emma Woods and her sixty-five-year old boarder, Steve Stansbury and the affectionately nicknamed "Nigger", Dennis.

Ann Cole Lowe
1898 - 1981
1st Nationally Acclaimed Black Fashion Designer
The one-of-a-kind designs made by Ann Cole Lowe were very popular among high society for about 40 years.  In 1953, she designed Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress and gowns for her bridal party. Her designs are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Jackie Kennedy Wearing Gown
Designed by Ann Cole Lowe
Lowe’s great grandparents were a slave women and an Alabama plantation owner. She gained an interest in sewing from her grandmother and mother, who were both seamstresses for the first families of Montgomery and other members of high society.

After a failed marriage, Lowe and her son move to New York City, where she attended S.T. Taylor Design School. The school was segregated and Lowe was required to attend classes in a room alone. After graduating in 1919, she moved to Tampa, Florida t open her first dress salon. Later returning to New York, she work for many of the high-end department stores.

Earl "Fatha" Hines
Jazz Musician and Bandleader
1st African American to Perform on Radio and Most Influential in Jazz Piano
Earl Hines was one of the most influential figures in the development of jazz piano.  He was noted as a trailblazer, his unique style, and credited with changing the style of modern piano.   Many famed musicians sung praises to him, including Dizzy Gillespie (a member of his big-band), Charlie Parker, Herbie Hancock, Horace Silver, Erroll Garner, Art Tatum, with Count Basie saying that he was “The greatest piano player in the world”.

Earl Hines grew up surrounded by music, with his father playing cornet and leading the Pittsburgh Eureka Brass Band, and his stepmother a church organist.  He began playing organ for a local Baptist church at the age of 11.  Over the course of time, he became known for having a good ear and good memory, able to replay songs that he heard in theaters and park concerts.  Earl spent the majority of his youth playing piano all around Pittsburgh.

At the age of 17, with his father’s approval, he moved away from home and took a job playing piano in a nightclub, where in return he got boarding, two meals a day, and $15 a week.  Earl also worked for and traveled with Lois Deppe, a well-known baritone concert artist, as his concert accompanist.  In 1921 Hines (age 18) and Depp became the first African Americans to perform on radio.  And while still in the very early days of recordings, Hines and Depp recorded several records, most of which were published.
Earl Hines and Lois Depp
In the early 1920s, Chicago, Illinois was the jazz capital of the world, and in 1925, Hines moved to there and began playing in clubs.  He eventually joined the Carroll Dickerson band, with whom he toured the Pantages Theater Circuit to Los Angeles and back.  

Upon his return, within the same year, Hines met a 24 year old Louis Armstrong at the Chicago Black Musicians’ Union, and the two began playing clubs together and developing a fast friendship.  Starting with this period, Hines’ unique style of play, his departure from what other pianists were playing received first early notoriety.  

Louis Armstrong and Hines became a performing duo, playing the same clubs, and joining the same bands.  Eventually, Louis Armstrong managed his own band, with Hines as his pianist.  Armstrong and Hines then recorded some of the most important jazz records ever made.
At the age of 25, in December 1928, Hines reached the pinnacle of jazz ambition --- leading his own big band, at the Grand Terrace Café of Chicago.  Notorious gangster, Al Capone controlled the Grand Terrace.  And for the next 12 years and through the worst of the Great Depression and Prohibition, his band was “The Orchestra” at the Grand Terrace, with 28 musicians, doing 3 to 4 shows a night.  It was common for soon to be jazz revolutionaries, including Charlie Parker and Billy Eckstine, to work in his band.  And all band members were personally instructed by Mr. Al Capone to never speak a word about anything seen or overhead at the club, at the risk of death.

The Birth of Bebop
From the Grand Terrace, His and his band broadcast on live, open mikes, for serveral years.  Each summer, he toured his whole band for three months, including through the South – the first black big-band to do so.  They were the very first Black band to travel extensively through the South, having to deal with Jim Crow laws, bombs, death threats, and the ordeal of finding places to eat or stay overnight.  In 1940, the Grand Terrace Café suddenly closed, and Hines took his band on the road full-time for the next 8 years, touring coast-to-coast across America.

During the early 1940s, and particularly during the 1942-44 musician’s strike, members of the Hines late-night jam-sessions laid the seeds for the emerging new style in jazz --- bebop.  Ellington later said that, “the seeds of bop were in Earl Hines’ piano style”.

Earl "Fatha" Hines from Mark Bunker on Vimeo.

Marcus Garvey Jr.
Pan-African Political Leader
U.S. Concocts Charges to Justify Deporting Marcus Garvey
Marcus Garvey was a Jamaican born political leader who sought unity between all people of Black African descent.  Evidence shows that the U.S. government sought to deport Marcus Garvey, as a radical, eight years prior to his actual deportation.  In 1919, J. Edgar Hoover, then head of the General Intelligence Division, wrote a memo regarding Garvey, stating "Unfortunately, however, he has not yet violated any federal law whereby he could be proceeded against on the grounds of being an undesirable alien, from the point of view of deportation".  He then followed up the memo by opening an investigation in the the activities of Garvey and the UNIA, to find grounds upon which to deport him.

Accused of Mail Fraud
Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison
A charge of mail fraud was brought against Garvey in connection with stock sales of the Black Star Line, based on the fact that the corporation had not yet purchased the ship that appeared in the company's brochure.  The prosecution accused the company of misrepresentation and fraud, by suggesting that it owned the ship in the brochure.  In defense, it was stated that the brochure had been produced in anticipation of completing the purchase of the ship, as they were approaching the final signing phase of the sale.  Garvey in defending himself alienated the  jury in his 3-hour long closing address, where he portrayed as having a "belligerent" manner.  He was the only one of the co-defendents who was found guilty of using the mail service to defraud, and sentenced to the maxium penalty of 5 years in prison.

First Message to the Negroes
Of the World
From Atlanta Prison
Two days after Garvey began his sentence at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, in February 1925, he penned his well known “First Message to the Negroes of the World from Atlanta Prision”.

Pardon and Deportation
Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States commuted Garvey’s sentence, and upon his release in November 1927, he was deported back to Jamaica.

Garvey died in London on June 10, 1940 at the age of 52.

The "Black Metropolis" and the Regal Theater of
South Side Chicago Illinois
The "Black Metropolis" is Born
In the early 1900s, the Bronzeville neighborhood -- of the Douglas community, on the South Side Chicago Illinois--- was known as the “Black Metropolis”, after developing into one of the most significant areas of African American.

Within the first three decades of the 1900s, after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, thousands of African Americans, escaping from the oppression of the South, emigrated to major cities like New York City, Detroit, and Chicago.  In the midst of these waves of migration, the Bronzeville neighborhood in the South Side became home to many African Americans, including many well-noted and highly esteemed black Americans of the time.

The  $1.5 Million Regal Theater
Opens in South Side Chicago
In 1928, it also became home to the Regal Theater, built in the heart of Bronzeville. The $1.5 million structure opened new doors for African Americans in the entertainment business, and hired black managers, ushers, dancers (light-skinned only), and coat checkers, which at the time was unheard of.

It was lavishly and elegantly decorated with large pillars, plush carpeting, velvet drapes, and plush seating for  3,000, making it the first large-scale theater hall built specifically for the African American community.  It created a new nightlife and perfect atmosphere for African American families to go out and have a good time in the city, as  not only music performers, but motion pictures and stage plays were featured there.

Some of the most celebrated Black entertainers in America performed there frequently, including Nat "King" Cole, Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Lena Horne, Dinah Washington,Miles Davis, Sammy Davis Jr., Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, The Jackson 5, and Gladys Knight & The Pips.  In addition, several artists recorded live performances there, including B.B. King and Motown artists Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Mary Wells, Smokey Robinson.

1968: The Regal Theater Closes its Doors
Eventually, with developments in technology, business began to decline.  Another factor that affected the Regals high unemployment and suffering during the long lasting Great Depression of 1929 to 1939.  Losing more and more business, the owner was eventually forced to file bankruptcy and close down the theater in 1968.  The building was later demolished in 1973.

Racial Slur Featured in
Mainstream Hit Recording
That's Why Darkies Were Born
Nearly 100 years after the upcropping of free states  in the United States, African-descended people were still primarily persona non grata, held under ridicule and regarded as unwelcomed

In 1931, the popular song writing team of Ray Henderson and Lew Brown (Louis Brownstein), wrote “That’s Why Darkies Were Born”.  Based upon all accounts, the song was not written as an expression of racism, but was intended as conciliatory satire.  It was a mainstream effort, which became a “number one” hit for Kate Smith, one of the most popular singers of the time.  And later, it was also recorded by Paul Robeson, a notoriously popular ‘Black’ singer, actor, and social activist.

Kate Smith, Singer
1907 – 1986

Someone had to pick the cotton,
Someone had to pick the corn,
Someone had to slave and be able to sing,
That's why darkies were born;

Someone had to laugh at trouble,
Though he was tired and worn,
Had to be contented with any old thing,
That's why darkies were born;

Sing, sing, sing when you're weary and
Sing when you're blue,
Sing, sing, that's what you taught
All the white folks to do;

Someone had to fight the Devil,
Shout about Gabriel's Horn,
Someone had to stoke the train
That would bring God's children to green pastures,
That's why darkies were born.

Paul Robeson Rendition:

Paul Robeson, Singer, Actor
Social Activist, Lawyer, Athlete
1898 - 1976

The Writers:

Ray Henderson
1896 - 1970
Ray Henderson
1896 - 1970
Ray Henderson was a popular composer in Tin Pan Alley, an area Manhattan, New York where music publishers and songwriters gravitated and set up business. Working with many lyricists, and primarily with Lew Brown and Buddy De Sylva, he compiled a long list of popular hits.

Lew Brown (Louis Brownstein) wrote songs for many of the top artists of the day and wrote or co-wrote several Broadway shows.

Together, some of their most popular songs include: Bye Bye Blackbird, It All Depends on You, The Best Things in Life Are Free, You're The Cream in my Coffee, Button Up Your Overcoat, You Are My Lucky Star, Keep Your Sunny Side Up, If I Had A Talking Picture of You

Jesse B. Blayton, Sr.
1st Black CPA in Georgia 1st Black Radio Station Owner
Jesse B. Blayton was an Atlanta businessman, accountant, and professor at Morehouse College.   In 1925, he was one of a group of 15 Black businessmen who founded the Mutual Federal Savings and Loan Association, of which later he would become president.  This organization made millions of dollars in loans to Black businesses over the years.

In 1928, he became the first Certified Public Accountant in Georgia.  He started his own accounting firm, which later evolved into a business college.  And in 1949, he overcame decades of obstacles faced by Black Americans throughout the period of segregation and purchased a white owned radio station losing money ---WERD.  He installed his son, Jesse Jr. as manager

WERD had only 1000 watts and was a “daytimer,” on the air only from sunrise to sunset.  But it became the home of some of black radio’s most famous radio announcers, most notably “Jockey Jack” Gibson.  Not only did WERD serve a 14 county area, providing news, music, and community service to Atlanta’s black population, but as Blayton had thought it would, the station made money

WERD played a mix of the popular black music of that era:  some jazz, rhythm-and-blues, and gospel. When black recording artists came to town, they would stop by the station to say hello and do an interview.  WERD also offered public service programs, educational shows, church services for shut-ins, radio plays, and news the black audience couldn’t get anywhere else.  The public admired the station’s announcers and regarded them as friends.

The WERD venture was so successful that in June of 1954, the Blaytons purchased a second AM radio station, KREL in Baytown TX, part of the Houston market.  During the turbulent times of the Civil Rights era, black radio stations like the Blaytons kept the community informed in a way that southern white stations often did not.  In fact, during the 60s, WERD’s offices were in the same building as the Southern Christian Leadership Council, and speakers from that group were able to communicate with a very large audience thanks to the Blaytons’ on-going commitment to racial equality.

In 1995, Jesse B. Blayton Sr., the first African-American to own a radio station, was posthumously inducted into Museum of Broadcasting’s Radio Hall of Fame.

Hazel Scott, Jazz Singer
1920 - 198
1st Black Woman with Own TV Show
Hazel Scott was a singer and a jazz and classical pianist. She was very prominent in the 1930s and 1940s. She often played herself in films. In 1950, she became the first Black woman to have her own TV show --- The Hazel Scott Show, which featured a variety of entertainment.

In 1949, she brought a lawsuit against the owners of Pasco, a Washington restaurant, when a waitress refused to serve her and a companion because “they were Negroes.” She publicly opposed racial segregation throughout her career.

To evade oppression in the United States, Scott moved to Paris in the late 1950s, and did not return to the United States until 1967.

James Baldwin, Author
James Baldwin was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic.

1953 marked the 1st Published

Novel by James Baldwin

T.J. (Theodore Judson) Jemison
Minister / Civil Rights Leader
August 1, 1918 - November 15, 2013
Bus Boycott Baton Rouge 1953
Black-Owned Buses Illegal
On June 15, 1950, the city council of Scotlandville, the largest of many neighborhoods in the state capitol of Baton Rouge, Lousiana, outlawed the operation of all independent Black-owned public bus services. Instead, all routes which they serviced became the monopoly of the white-owned Baton Rouge Bus Company.

Racial Segregation on Buses
By 1953, Black Americans made up 70%-80% of the ridership of the Baton Rouge Bus Co, but were restricted to a limited numbers of seats in the designated "colored" section of the buses. Seats reserved for white passengers were required to remain unoccupied, even if no white passengers boarded the buses. On the other hand, if a white passenger chose to sit in the "colored" section, it was required that all Black passengers stand in honor.

Theodore Judson (T.J.) Jemison
T.J. Jemison was a minister of a large Baptist church in Baton Rouge. He came from a family of prominent ministers and church going women. He was born in Alabama and attended segregated schools there. He earned a bachelor's degree from Alabama State University, a historically black college in the state capital of Montgomery.

In 1945, at the age of 27, T.J. Jemison married Celestine Catlett of Virginia, his wife of 61 years. Celestine received her degree from Virginia Union University and was a high school English teacher for many years. Together, they had three children, (1) Diane Jemison Pollard, (2) Bettye Wagner and (3) Ted Jemison.

Celestine Catlett Jemison
Wife of T.J. Jemison
1919 - 2006

Civil Rights and City Ordinance 222
In February of 1953, at the age of 35, T.J. Jemison went before the Baton Rouge City Council to make an appeal on behalf of Black bus riders, who were forced to stand on buses filled with empty seats.

Within a couple of weeks of his appeal, the city council issued Ordinance 222, which established a first come- first served service policy for the bus system.

The provisions of Oridnance 222 state that whites were to board buses from the front, and Blacks at the back, and each were to take any empty seats available. However, there was no change, as bus drivers refused to comply with the ordinance.

In June of 1953, T.J. Jemison decided to push the issue, and bus drivers went on strike after two drivers were suspended for not complying with the ordinance.

During this time, the bus company was also making its appeals, and by the end of the strike, state Attorney General, Fred S. LeBlanc declared city Ordinance 222 unconstitutional, on the grounds that it violated the state's compulsory segregation laws.

Baton Rouge Bus Boycott
In response to the revocation of Ordinance 222, in June of 1953, Jemison and a group of churches formed the United Defense League, and by holding several mass meetings, organized a bus boycott. To support the boycott, they established a free-ride network to transport Blacks to and from their destinations. The official boycott lasted only two weeks, but the Black community was inspired to continue the boycott under their own efforts and refusal to ride buses.

Meanwhile, Jemison and other black leaders negotiated with the city council to eventually reinstate Ordinance 222.

A Civil Rights Legacy
T.J. Jemison was diligent in documenting the Baton Rouge experience, and his records and insight proved invaluable to the civil rights leaders that would follow.

T.J. Jemison and Martin Luther King

Linda Brown Smith, Age 9
Brown v. Board of Education
Racial Segregation Banned In Public Schools By U.S. Supreme Court
In 1951, Linda Brown Smith was a 9 years old, 3rd grade student when her father started a class-action suit against the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. She had been denied admission to her local elementary school because she was Black. Combined with several other cases, her suit reached the Supreme Court.

Oliver Leon Brown
Welder, Minister, Civil Rights Leader
1903 – 1961

Oliver Brown, father of Linda Brown, was convinced by a childhood friend to join a lawsuit against the Board of Education. He was a welder by trade, and minister by profession. His daughter had to walk six blocks to catch a school bus to ride to her school, one mile away, because she was prohibited from attending an all white school seven blocks from her home.

Thurgood Marshall
1st Black Member of Supreme Court
(as Associate Justice)
1908 – 1993

The Supreme Court broke with long tradition and unanimously overrule the “separate but equal” doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson. The recently appointed Chief Justice Earl Warrant wrote an opinion that de jure (upheld by law) segregation in public schools violated the principle of equal protection under the law guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. And in response to arguments presented by NAACP lawyers led by Thurgood Marshall, the Supreme Court further stressed that the “badge of inferiority” stamped on minority children by segregation hindered their full development no matter how “equal” physical facilities might be.

The decision by the Supreme Court, however, did not succeed in fully desegregating public schools, but placed the law on the side of racial equality.

George Shirley, Tenor Opera Singer
Detroit Schools Music Teacher
1st African American Lead: U.S. Army Chorus Metropolitan Opera
George Shirley began music lessons at the age of 6 and was vocalist at area churches in Detroit, Michigan.  He was also a baritone-horn player in a local band.  He received a bachelor degree from Wayne State University, in 1955.  He then spent a year in Wayne State’s graduate program, and taught school.

In 1956 Shirley was drafted into the military, after which he married his high school sweetheart, Gladys Lee Ishop.   Also while in the military, he auditioned for the U.S. Army Chorus, and became the first black member of the famed touring and performing ensemble.  He spent three years with Army Chorus, until his discharge.  

In 1960, at 26, he won a National Arts Club scholarship competition, and the following April, 1961, he became the first Black tenor to win the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions scholarship competition, for a $2,000 scholarship.  Shirley is also the first Black tenor and the second Black male to sing leading roles for the Metropolitan Opera.   He had a long professional career with the Metropolitan Opera, singing with them for 11 seasons.  
Throughout his career, he performed in the world’s most prestigious opera houses and has He spent a year in Wayne State’s graduate program, and taught schoolbeen accompanied by the most distinguishes orchestras in the world

In 1968, he received a Grammy Award for singing the role of “Ferrando” in the RCA recording of Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte.

Shirley currently serves as Director of the Vocal Arts Division and the University of Michigan.

Althea Gibson
1927 - 2003
1st Black Professional Tennis Champion

Maulana Karenga
Professor, Activist, Author
Creator of Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa: 1st Pan-African Holiday Created
Maulana Karenga was a major figure in the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and in 1965 co-founded US, a black nationalist organization, with Hakim Jamal.

Early Life
Karenga was born in Parsonsburg, Maryland, the 14th child and 7th son in his family.  His father was a tenant farmer and Baptist minister, who hired out his family to work as sharecroppers.

College Years
At the age of 18 years, he moved to Los Angeles to live with his older brother, who was a teacher, and immediately enrolled in Los Angeles City College.  As a young man, he became active with the civil rights organizations CORE and SNCC, and developed an interest in African studies.  He became the first African student elected president of Los Angeles City College.

Earns BA and MA Degrees
and Changes Name
After earning his associate degree, he earned BA and MA degrees, from UCLA, in political science.  During the course of his education, he studied Swahili, Arabic, and other African-related subjects.  During this period, he took the name Karenga (Swahili for “keeper of tradition”) and the title Maulani (Swahili-Arabic for “master teacher”).

While pursuing his PhD. at UCLA, he taught African culture classes for local African community members and joined a study group called the Circle of Seven.

1960s Activism
After the Watts Riots, Karenga and the Circle of Seven established a community organization called US (meaning “Us black people”).  Karenga cited Malcom X’s Afro-American Unity program as an influence on the US organization’s work.  The US organization joined in several community revival programs.

Community Self-Defense
As racial disturbances spread across the country, Karenga appeared at a series of Black Power Conferences, joining other groups in urging establishment of a separate political structure for Africans.  US developed a youth component with para-military aspects called the Simba Wachanga, which advocated and practiced community self-defense and service to the masses.

1966 Kwanzaa Created
Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966 to be the first Pan-African holiday.  He said Kwanzaa was created to “give [Africans] an opportunity to celebrate themselves and their history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society.”

Nguzo Saba:
Seven Principles of
African Heritage
The rituals of the holiday promote African traditions and Nguzo Saba, the seven principles of African Heritage.

Strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

Define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.

Collective Work & Responsibility
Build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and solve them together.

Cooperative Economics
Build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and profit from them together.

Make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Always do as much as we can, in the way that we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

Believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.


1st President of Botswana
Prince Seretse and Ruth Williams Khama
U.S. Supreme Court: Interracial Marriage a Legal Right
The United States Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, invalidates laws prohibiting interracial marriage as unconstitutional, overturning Pace v Alabama (1883).

Della Reese
1931 - 2017
Gospel, Jazz, R&B Singer
Actress, TV Host, Minister
1st Black Woman to Host Syndicated Talk Show in the U.S.
In 1969, Della Reese began hosting a syndicated talk show, The Della Reese Show, to become the first African American woman to host a TV show in America.  Her show lasted on air for one year.

She was born in 1931, as Delloreese Early, to a Cherokee mother and a black father.  At the age of 13 years, she began touring with famed gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson.  After leaving the gospel tour, five years later, at the age of 18, she began an independent career as a gospel, jazz, and R&B artist.

Della Reese had a big, boisterous personality and was a natural conversationalist.  In 1969, while nearing the age of 40 years, and after over two decades in the entertainment filed, she was offered the opportunity to host her own syndicated talk show.  She enjoyed successful ratings for several months, even in the most racist southern states, but based upon her own account, she was terminated because her "gums were too dark", instead of pink, and America could not adjust to her wide smile.

In 1979, surviving an aneurysm that burst in her brain while appearing on the Tonight Show, Della began studying spirtuality and eventually became an ordained minister, to found the nondemoninational Christian church called "Understanding Principles for Better Living" (or UP), where she preached every Sunday.  During the course of her ministry, she also authored several books on spirituality, including  "Metaphysically Speaking" and "Angels Along the Way".

In her senior years, Della Reese became more famously known for her role as Tess, the wise angel, on the long-running TV show, "Touched by an Angel".

Della Reese remained active and involved throughout her long life.  She died at the age of 86 in November 2017.

Oprah Gail Winfrey
The Oprah Winfrey Show 1986
1st Black Woman to Host Nationally Syndicated Talk Show and North America's Only Black Billionaire
Oprah Winfrey's talk show, "The Oprah Winfrey Show", was the highest-rated program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011.

Mae Carol Jemison
1st Black Woman to Travel in Outer Space
After the flight of Sally Ride in 1983, Jemison felt the astronaut program had opened up, so she applied.  
Jemison was turned down on her first application to NASA, but in 1987 she was accepted on her second application. "I got a call saying 'Are you still interested?' and I said 'Yeah'," recalls Jemison.
Jemison flew her only space mission from September 12 to 20, 1992, as a Mission Specialist on STS-47. "… It was such a significant moment because since I was a little girl I had always assumed I would go into space," Jemison added.

Mae Jemison was born in Decatur, Alabama, the youngest child of Charlie Jemison and Dorothy Green. Her father was a maintenance supervisor for a charity organization, and her mother worked most of her career as an elementary school teacher of English and math at the Beethoven School in Chicago.  
According to a DNA analysis, she descended from people of Cameroon, Nigeria, Sierra Leone,Ghana, Senegal, and East Asia.
The family moved to Chicago, Illinois, when Jemison was three years old, to take advantage of better educational opportunities there. 
Jemison would not let anyone dissuade her from pursuing a career in science. "In kindergarten, my teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I told her a scientist," Jemison says. "She said, 'Don't you mean a nurse?' Now, there's nothing wrong with being a nurse, but that's not what I wanted to be.
Jemison says she was inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.; "… when I think of Martin Luther King, I think of attitude, audacity, and bravery.”  Jemison thinks the civil rights movement was all about breaking down the barriers to human potential. "The best way to make dreams come true is to wake up."
Jemison loved science growing up but she also loved dancing.   "I love dancing! I took all kinds of dance — African dancing, ballet, jazz, modern — even Japanese dancing. I wanted to become a professional dancer," said Jemison.  "I think that people sometimes limit themselves and so rob themselves of the opportunity to realize their dreams. For me, I love the sciences and I also love the arts," says Jemison."
Later during her senior year in college, she was trying to decide whether to go to New York to medical school or become a professional dancer. Her mother told her, "You can always dance if you're a doctor, but you can't doctor if you're a dancer."
Jemison graduated from Chicago's Morgan Park High School in 1973[8] and entered Stanford University at the age of 16. Jemison graduated from Stanford in 1977, receiving a B.S. in chemical engineering and fulfilling the requirements for a B.A. in African and Afro-American Studies.  
Jemison said that majoring in engineering as a black woman was difficult because race was always an issue in the United States.   "Some professors would just pretend I wasn't there. I would ask a question and a professor would act as if it was just so dumb, the dumbest question he had ever heard. Then, when a white guy would ask the same question, the professor would say, 'That's a very astute observation.'”
Jemison obtained her Doctor of Medicine degree in 1981 from Cornell Medical College (now Weill Cornell Medical College) at Cornell University. She interned at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center and later worked as a general practitioner.
During medical school Jemison traveled to Cuba, Kenya and Thailand, to provide primary medical care to people living there. During her years at Cornell Medical College, Jemison took lessons in modern dance at the Alvin Ailey school. Jemison later built a dance studio in her home and has choreographed and produced several shows of modern jazz and African dance.
Mae Jemison 2009
In the spring of 1996, Jemison filed a complaint against a Texas police officer, accusing him of police brutality during a traffic stop that ended in her arrest.   She was pulled over by Nassau Bay, Texas officer for allegedly making an illegal U-turn and arrested after Hughes learned of a warrant on Jemison for a speeding charge. In her complaint, Jemison said the officer physically and emotionally mistreated her. Jemison's attorney said she was forced to the ground and handcuffed. Jemison said in a televised interview that the incident has altered her feelings about police there. "I always felt safe and comfortable [around the police]. I don't feel that way anymore," she said.