Lemuel Haynes was the first black to serve as minister to a white congregation.
Little is known of his early life. He was born in West Hartford, Connecticut, to a reportedly Caucasian mother of some status and a man named Haynes, who was said to be “of some form of African extraction”. According to the African American National Biography, his birth date is 18 July 1753 and he died the 28 September 1833.
At the age of five months, Lemuel Haynes was given over to indentured servitude in Granville, Massachusetts. Although serving as an agricultural worker, part of the agreement required educating him. Through accompanying his masters to church, he became exposed to Calvinistic thought. At about twenty years of age, he saw the Aurora Borealis, and, fearing the approach of the Day of Judgment as a result, he soon accepted Christianity. Continue reading
William Hastie had one of the most distinguished careers as an earlier Black political pioneer but today remains unknown to most Americans. As a politician, an educator and a jurist, Hastie made inroads and left a legacy that is hard to match in history.
William Hastie was born on November 17, 1904 in Knoxville, Tennessee, the son of William, a clerk in the United States Pension Office and Roberta, a school teacher. After the family moved to Washington D.C. in 1916, William attended Paul Lawrence Dunbar high school where he excelled as a student athlete and graduated as the school valedictorian in 1921. He attended Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts where he majored i mathematics. He graduated from the school in 1925 where he finished first in his class and graduated Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude and the valedictorian of his class. After teaching for two years in Brodertown, New Jersey, he attended Harvard Law School where he was a member of the law review and graduated with an LL.B. in 1930. Continue reading
In 1919, Alice Parker of Morristown, New Jersey, invented a new and improved gas heating furnace that provided central heating.
The National Medical Association (NMA) is the largest and oldest national organization representing African American physicians and their patients in the United States. The NMA is a 501 (c) (3) national professional and scientific organization representing the interests of more than 30,000 African American physicians and the patients they serve, with nearly 112 affiliated societies throughout the nation and U.S. territories. The National Medical Association has been firmly established in a leadership role in medicine.
The NMA is committed to improving the quality of health among minorities and disadvantaged people through its membership, professional development, community health education, advocacy, research and partnerships with federal and private agencies. Throughout its history the National Medical Association has focused primarily on health issues related to African Americans and medically underserved populations; however, its principles, goals, initiatives and philosophy encompass all ethnic groups. Continue reading
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. Beard’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. 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. 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 of Richmond, serving until 2008. Continue reading