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Annie Onieta Plummer

The Dictionary Lady

In 1992, noticed that children on their way to school in her Savannah, Georgia, neighborhood were not carrying books. With $50, she bought thirty dictionaries and handed them out to children on the street corner. In each book, she wrote the motto of the United Negro College Fund, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

When others heard of her idea, they began sending her money so she could expand the project. She also sold t-shirts to raise more money. By 1996, she had given dictionaries to more than 17,000 children, by 1999, nearly 35,000. Annie Plummer was one of 12 children. She dropped out of school to have a baby and her first job was as a maid. She managed to find time to become involved in community affairs and is an example to us all of how anybody can have a good idea to help people.

Lily Ann Granderson (aka Milla Granson)

Soon after Union troops had captured and occupied the southern city of Natchez, Mississippi, in the summer of 1863, northern missionaries set about establishing the region’s first schools for freedpeople. But they were surprised to learn that at least one school already existed, and it had been in operation for many years.

Even more astounding, the students at this school were slaves and so was their teacher, Lily Ann Granderson. (Other sources identify her as Milla Granson and Lila Grandison.) Although a small number of slaves learned to read and write in the antebellum South, schools for slaves and slave teachers were extraordinarily uncommon.  Continue reading

Benjamin Griffith Brawley

Benjamin Griffith Brawley

Benjamin Griffith Brawley

Benjamin Brawley (1882-1939) was a prominent African American author and educator. He studied at Atlanta Baptist College, University of Chicago, and Harvard, and he taught at Atlanta Baptist College, Howard University, and Shaw University. Women of Achievement (c1919) is one of Brawley’s numerous books and articles on African American culture. Brawley also published widely in literary studies.

Several of his books were considered standard college texts, including The Negro in Literature and Art in the United States (1918) and New Survey of English Literature (1925).

Born in 1882 in Columbia, South Carolina, Brawley was the second son of Edward McKnight Brawley and Margaret Dickerson Brawley. He studied at Atlanta Baptist College (renamed Morehouse College), graduating in 1901, earned his second BA in 1906 from the University of Chicago, and received his Master’s degree from Harvard University in 1908. Brawley taught in the English departments at Atlanta Baptist College, Howard University, and Shaw University.  Continue reading

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania

Founded in 1837 as the Institute for Colored Youth, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania is known as the first institution for higher learning for African Americans.   The founding of Cheyney University was made possible by Richard Humphreys, a Quaker philanthropist who bequeathed $10,000, one tenth of his estate, to design and establish a school to educate the descendents of the African race.

Born on a plantation in the West Indies, Richard Humphreys came to Philadelphia in 1764. Having witnessed the struggles of African Americans competing unsuccessfully for jobs due to the influx of immigrants, he became interested in their plight. In 1829, race riots heightened and it was that year Richard Humphreys wrote his will and charged thirteen fellow Quakers to design an institution: “…to instruct the descendents of the African Race in school learning, in the various branches of the mechanic Arts, trades and Agriculture, in order to prepare and fit and qualify them to act as teachers….”  Continue reading

Spelman college

Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia

Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia

Founded in 1881, Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, historically Black, four-year liberal arts college for African American women. For more than 118 years, the College has focused on professional development and leadership both inside and outside the classroom and Spelman has a long-standing tradition of cultivating leaders and providing activities that complement the classroom experience. The college repeatedly appears on “Best Of” lists for academic excellence and value.

With 1,900-plus students, Spelman is a predominately residential college with 12 on campus residence halls which house approximately 1,200 students. Other structures encompass Bessie Strong Hall, Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby, Ph.D. Academic Center, John D. Rockefeller Jr. Fine Arts Building, Sisters Chapel, Albert E. Manley College Center, and the Sally Sage McAlpin, Manley, and Howard-Harreld Halls, among many others on this 33-acre campus.  Continue reading

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