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Henry O. Flipper

Henry O. Flipper

1856-1940 - Henry Flipper was the first black to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point (1877) and was the first black to be assigned to a command position in a black unit following the Civil War. However, Flipper became the victim of a controversial court-martial proceedinghe was charged with “conduct unbecoming to an officer and a gentleman” and received a dishonorable discharge.

Despite repeated attempts to vindicate himself, at the time of his death he still had not cleared his record. Years later, however, the sentence was reversed. He was awarded an honorable discharge posthumously, and his remains were reburied with full honors at Arlington Cemetery.  Continue reading

Josh Gibson

Josh Gibson

Elected to Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.

Among the biggest draws in the Negro Leagues, popular Josh Gibson is generally considered one of the most prodigious power hitters in the history of professional baseball. Josh led the Negro National League in home runs for 10 consecutive years; credited with 75 home runs in 1931.

Belting home runs of more than 500 feet was not unusual for Gibson. One homer in Monessen, Pa., reportedly was measured at 575 feet. The Sporting News of June 3, 1967 credits Gibson with a home run in a Negro League game at Yankee Stadium that struck two feet from the top of the wall circling the center field bleachers, about 580 feet from home plate.

Although it has never been conclusively proven, Chicago American Giants infielder Jack Marshall said Gibson slugged one over the third deck next to the left field bullpen in 1934 for the only fair ball hit out of the House That Ruth Built.  Continue reading

Jean-Baptist-Point Du Sable

Jean-Baptist-Point Du Sable

(b. 1750?, St. Marc, Sainte-Domingue [now Haiti]–d. Aug. 28, 1818, St. Charles, Mo., U.S.), black pioneer trader and founder of the settlement that later became the city of Chicago.

Du Sable, whose French father had moved to Haiti and married a black woman there, is believed to have been a freeborn. At some time in the 1770s he went to the Great Lakes area of North America, settling on the shore of Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Chicago River, with his Potawatomi wife, Kittihawa (Catherine).

His loyalty to the French and the Americans led to his arrest in 1779 by the British, who took him to Fort Mackinac. From 1780 to 1783 or 1784 he managed for his captors a trading post called the Pinery on the St. Clair River in present-day Michigan, after which he returned to the site of Chicago. By 1790 Du Sable’s establishment there had become an important link in the region’s fur and grain trade.

In 1800 he sold out and moved to Missouri, where he continued as a farmer and trader until his death. But his 20-year residence on the shores of Lake Michigan had established his title as Father of Chicago.

Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm attended Brooklyn College on a scholarship and then earned a master’s degree in education from Columbia University. After becoming an expert on early childhood education, she worked as a consultant to New York City’s Bureau of Child Welfare, from 1959 to 1964.

In 1968 Chisholm became the first black woman to win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1972 Chisholm declared her candidacy for the office of president of the United States. She was the first black and the first woman to make this bidan effort described in her book The Good Fight. She later published an autobiography, Unbought and Unbossed.

Chisholm retired from Congress in 1983 and taught at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. She spoke out against the Vietnam War until it ended, and she has continued to speak out for the interests of the urban poor.

Henry Ossawa Tanner

Henry Ossawa Tanner

The son of a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Henry Ossawa Tanner was raised in an affluent, well educated African-American family. Although reluctant at first, Tanner’s parents eventually responded to their son’s unflagging desire to pursue an artistic career and encouraged his ambitions. In 1879, Tanner enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where he joined Thomas Eakins’s coterie.

Tanner moved to Atlanta in 1889 in an unsuccessful attempt to support himself as an artist and instructor among prosperous middle class African-Americans. Bishop and Mrs. Joseph C. Hartzell arranged for Tanner’s first solo exhibition, the proceeds from which enabled the struggling artist to move to Paris in 1891. Illness brought him back to the United States in 1893, and it was at this point in his career that Tanner turned his attention to genre subjects of his own race.  Continue reading

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