Poet and author Paul Lawrence Dunbar was so talented and versatile that he succeeded in two worlds. He was so adept at writing verse in Black dialect that he became known as the “poet of his people,” while also cultivating a white audience that appreciated the brilliance and value of his work.
Majors and Minors (1895), Dunbar’s second collection of verse, financed by several white friends, was a remarkable work containing some of his best poems in both Black dialect and standard English.Â Melodic and rhythmical, his lines in this and other works often sing and swing along gloriously.Â Continue reading →
Marjorie Stewart Joyner had a strong message that she carried throughout her life. Be proud of who you are and treat yourself as if you care. This strong belief in pride led her to being an avid supporter of young men and women throughout her life. It also led her to an invention to help the women who came to see her feel better about themselves.
Born in 1896 in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Marjorie did not stay long in the state. She moved early in her life to Chicago where in her teens she studied cosmetology. She quickly became associated with the famous beauty expert Madam C.J. Walker who had been made famous by Josephine Baker’s adoption of her products.Â Continue reading →
Author of ‘Roots’. Journalist, writer. Alexander Murray Palmer Haley was born in Ithaca, New York, on August 11, 1921. He grew up in Henning, Tennessee, and graduated from high school at age 15. Haley studied at State Teachers College in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, for two years, and joined the Coast Guard in 1939.
He started out as a mess attendant, Third Class, and in 1952 became the first to hold the title of Coast Guard Journalist. Haley’s friends quickly discovered his writing talent and began requesting his help when writing their own love letters. Haley also used his talents to recount the old tales of sea captains, which turned into his first published story.Â Continue reading →
(b. May 10, 1837, Macon, Ga., U.S.–d. Dec. 21, 1921, Washington, D.C.), freeborn black who was a Union officer in the American Civil War and a leader in Louisiana politics during Reconstruction (1865-77).
Pinchback was one of 10 children born to a white Mississippi planter and a former slave–whom the father had freed before the boy’s birth. When the father died in 1848, the family fled to Ohio, fearing that white relatives might attempt to re-enslave them.
Pinchback found work as a cabin boy on a canal boat and worked his way up to steward on the steamboats plying the Mississippi, Missouri, and Red rivers. After war broke out between the states in 1861, he ran the Confederate blockade on the Mississippi to reach Federal-held New Orleans; there he raised a company of black volunteers for the North, called the Corps d’Afrique. When he encountered racial discrimination in the service, however, he resigned his captain’s commission.Â Continue reading →
Born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1924, Vaughan was immediately surrounded by music: her carpenter father was an amateur guitarist and her laundress mother was a church vocalist. Young Sarah studied piano from the age of seven, and before entering her teens had become an organist and choir soloist at the Mount Zion Baptist Church.
When she was eighteen, friends dared her to enter the famed Wednesday Night Amateur Contest at Harlemâ€™s Apollo Theater. She gave a sizzling rendition of â€œBody and Soul,â€� and won first prize. In the audience that night was the singer Billy Eckstine. Six months later, she had joined Eckstine in Earl Hinesâ€™s big band along with jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker.Â Continue reading →