Andrew Jackson Beard was born a slave in Jefferson County, Alabama. He was emancipated at the age of 15, and married at 16. Beard was a farmer near Birmingham, Alabama for some five years, but recalled visiting Montgomery in 1872 with 50 bushels of apples drawn by oxen. He said, “It took me three weeks to make the trip. I quit farming after that.” Instead he built and operated a flourmill in Hardwicks, Alabama. He began pondering the mechanics of his subsequent plow invention. Beardâ€™s idea grew and, in 1881, he patented one of his plows and sold it, in 1884, for $4,000.
On December 15, 1887, Beard invented another plow and sold it for $5,200. With this money he went into the real estate business and made about $30,000. In 1889, Beard invented a rotary steam engine, patented on July 5,1892. He claimed that his steam engine was cheaper to build and operate than steam engines and it would not explode.Â Continue reading
James H. Meredith, who in 1962 became the first African American to attend the University of Mississippi, is shot by a sniper shortly after beginning a lone civil rights march through the South. Known as the “March Against Fear,” Meredith had been walking from Memphis, Tennessee, to Jackson, Mississippi, in an attempt to encourage voter registration by African Americans in the South.
A former serviceman in the U.S. Air Force, Meredith applied and was accepted to the University of Mississippi in 1962, but his admission was revoked when the registrar learned of his race. A federal court ordered “Ole Miss” to admit him, but when he tried to register on September 20, 1962, he found the entrance to the office blocked by Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett. On September 28, the governor was found guilty of civil contempt and was ordered to cease his interference with desegregation at the university or face arrest and a fine of $10,000 a day. Two days later, Meredith was escorted onto the Ole Miss campus by U.S. Marshals, setting off riots that resulted in the deaths of two students. He returned the next day and began classes. In 1963, Meredith, who was a transfer student from all-black Jackson State College, graduated with a degree in political science.Â Continue reading
L. Douglas Wilder was (the first Black) governor of Virginia from 1990 until 1994. His was a political career of many firsts: the grandson of slaves, he was the first African American elected governor of any state in America.
He was the first black member of the Virginia Senate in the twentieth century. And he was the first African American to win statewide office in Virginia when he was elected lieutenant governor in 1985. A Democrat, he ran briefly for United States president in 1991 and in 2004 was elected mayor ofÂ Richmond, serving until 2008.Â Continue reading
On August 28, 1963, more than 200,000 Americans gathered in Washington, D.C., for a political rally known as the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Organized by a number of civil rights and religious groups, the event was designed to shed light on the political and social challenges African Americans continued to face across the country.
The march, which became a key moment in the growing struggle for civil rights in the United States, culminated in Martin Luther King Jr.â€™s “I Have a Dream” speech, a spirited call for racial justice and equality.
The Montgomery Bus Boycott, in which African Americans refused to ride city buses in Montgomery, Alabama, to protest segregated seating, took place from December 5, 1955, to December 20, 1956, and is regarded as the first large-scale demonstration against segregation in the U.S. On December 1, 1955, four days before the boycott began, Rosa Parks, an African-American woman, refused to yield her seat to a white man on a Montgomery bus.
She was arrested and fined. The boycott of public buses by blacks in Montgomery began on the day of Parks’ court hearing and lasted 381 days. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ordered Montgomery to integrate its bus system, and one of the leaders of the boycott, a young pastor named Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-68), emerged as a prominent national leader of the American civil rights movement in the wake of the action.
Reuben V. Anderson was the 1stÂ Black appointed to MississippiÂ Supreme Court.
African American civil rights lawyer, Anderson attended Tougaloo College and graduated from Ole Miss law school in 1967. Upon his graduation, he began working as the Mississippi associate counsel with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. until 1975. From 1981 to 1985, he served as judge in Hinds County Circuit Court.
Next, he was appointed to the Mississippi Supreme Court, a position he held until 1991.
Major LawrenceÂ was born on October 2, 1935, in Chicago, Illinois.Â Â At the age of 16, he was a graduate in the top 10% ofÂ Englewood High School.Â Â At the age of 20, he became a graduate of Bradley University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry.Â Â In addition, while a student at Bradley University, he distinguished himself as Cadet Commander of the Bradley Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps and, upon graduation, received the commission of Second Lieutenant in the Air Force Reserve Program.Â
At the age of 21 he had become an Air Force pilot after completing flight training at Malden Air Force Base.Â
At the age of 22, he married the former Ms. Barbara Cress, the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Henry Cress of Chicago.Â Â As he approached the age of 26, he had completed an Air Force assignment as an instructor pilot in the T-33 training aircraft for members of the German Air Force.Â Continue reading