Wilcie Elfe

Wilcie Elfe is the earliest known pharmacist.  He graduated from the Avery Normal Institute in Charleston.  Elfe worked at People’s Pharmacy, and his prescription logbook dates back to 1853.

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth fought for the desegregation of public transportation in Washington, DC during the Civil War. She refused to face the indignities of Jim Crow segregation on street cars and had the Jim Crow car removed from the Washington D. C. system. Sojourner Truth brought a local street to a standstill when a driver refused her passage.

With the support of the crowd she forced the driver to carry her. During her legendary life, she challenged injustice wherever she saw it. She was an ab litionist, women’s rights activist and preacher. Born into slavery (as Isabella Baumfree) in upstate New York, Sojourner Truth obtained her freedom and moved to New York City. There she began to work with organizations designed to assist women. She later became a traveling preacher and quickly developed a reputation as a powerful speaker. Continue reading

Negro History Week

Carter G. Woodson Launched Negro History Week in 1926.

Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month, is an annual observance in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom for remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. It is celebrated annually in the United States and Canada in February and the United Kingdom in October.Black History Month had its beginnings in 1926 in the United States, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week”. Continue reading

Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston

Though during her life Zora Neale Hurston claimed her birth date as January 7, 1901 and her birth place as Eatonville, Florida, she was actually born on that date in the year 1891 in Notasulga, Alabama. Within the first year or two of her life her family moved to all-black Eatonville, however, and this community shaped her life and her writing to a significant degree.

ohn Hurston, the author’s father, was a carpenter and a preacher and was several times elected mayor of their town. Her mother, Lucy, died in 1904. The young Zora didn’t take very well to her new stepmother and left home to work for a traveling theatre company, then in 1917 attended Morgan Academy in Baltimore to finish high school.  Continue reading

Legal Defense and Education Fund

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) is the country’s first and foremost civil and human rights law firm.  Founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, who subsequently became the first African-American U.S. Supreme Court Justice, LDF was launched at a time when the nation’s aspirations for equality and due process of law were stifled by widespread state-sponsored racial inequality.  From that era to the present, LDF’s mission has always been transformative: to achieve racial justice, equality, and an inclusive society.

As the legal arm of the civil rights movement, LDF has a tradition of expert legal advocacy in the Supreme Court and other courts across the nation.  LDF’s victories established the foundations for the civil rights that all Americans enjoy today.  In its first two decades, LDF undertook a coordinated legal assault against officially enforced public school segregation.  Continue reading

Elijah McCoy

Elijah McCoy

Elijah McCoy (1843-1929) was a Black inventor who was awarded over 57 patents. The son of run-away slaves from Kentucky, he was born in Canada and lived there as a youth.

As a boy, the young Elijah was fascinated with machines and tools, learning by watching and constantly asking questions. He came to the United States after the Civil War and settled near Ypsilanti, Michigan, where he worked in a machine shop, further increasing his mechanical knowledge and skills.  Continue reading

Wilberforce University

Wilberforce University is a private, coed, liberal arts historically black university (HBCU) located in Wilberforce, Ohio. Affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, it was the first college to be owned and operated by African Americans. It participates in the United Negro College Fund.

The founding of the college was unique as a collaboration in 1856 by the Cincinnati, Ohio Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church and the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME).   Continue reading

Mississippi Valley State

Mississippi Valley State University (commonly referred to as MVSU or “The Valley”) is a historically black university located in unincorporated Leflore County, Mississippi, in the Mississippi Delta, near Itta Bena. MVSU is a member- school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

The institution, which opened in 1950, was created by the Mississippi Legislature as Mississippi Vocational College. The legislature anticipated that legal segregation of public education was in danger (and would in four years be declared unconstitutional in the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education the institution, hoping that its existence would draw African-American applicants who might have otherwise applied to attend Mississippi’s premier whites-only institutions—the University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, and the University of Southern Mississippi.

Creating separate institutions of higher learning for Mississippi’s black population, the state’s political leaders hoped, would help ease the pressure to integrate the state’s premier universities. To attract the support of those who opposed any government action to provide higher education to blacks, those proposing creation of M.V.C. used the term “vocational” to imply that the institution’s main purpose would be to train blacks to take on blue-collar jobs.
The original legislative proposal would have located M.V.C. in Greenwood, but the white leadership of that city did not like the idea of hosting an institution that would attract young blacks to the area. Thus, the proposed site was moved to Itta Bena. Even that town, however, objected to too close a proximity of a black institution, so the final site was chosen to place the college away from the downtown area, on cheap, uncultivatable land.

In 1964, Mississippi Vocational College was renamed Mississippi Valley State College.
In 1970, a student boycott was organized to protest President White’s administration of the institution. Half the enrolled students of the institution—about 900—were arrested. However, White was ousted as president soon afterward.

In the early 1970s, civil rights leaders continued to protest the inequalities in higher education opportunities offered to whites and blacks in Mississippi. In an effort to defuse some of the criticism, Gov. [William Waller] proposed changing the names of three black institutions from “colleges” to “universities.” Thus, in 1974, the institution was renamed again, as Mississippi Valley State University.
In 1998, the university renamed many of the buildings on campus, except for the ones named after Sillers, Wright, and J. H. White.

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