Shirley Graham

Shirley Graham DuBois and  her Husband, W.E.B. DuBois

Shirley Graham DuBois and her Husband, W.E.B. DuBois

was born November 11, 1896 in Indianapolis, Indiana on a farm which had been part of the underground railroad and had served as a stopping point for runaway slaves on their way to Canada. It belonged to her grandfather, a former slave who had been freed prior to the Civil War.

Over the years she studied at the Sorbonne, Oberlin, and attended Yale on a Rosenwald Fellowship in Creative Writing. She received both her bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in music from Oberlin. After receiving her MA degree, she was appointed Head of the Fine Arts Department at Tennessee State College.  Continue reading

Anna Ella Carroll

Anna Ella Carroll

Anna Ella Carroll

More than a century following her death, after being ignored, oppressed, and–literally–erased from history, Anna Ella Carroll is finally getting the last word. Carroll was an intriguing and atypical 19th century woman who emerged from the male-dominated realm of war, politics, and diplomacy.

As a key military strategist, Presidential advisor, and “unofficial” member of Abraham Lincoln’s Cabinet, Carroll was probably the most powerful woman in American during the Civil War. Biographers note that she could “scheme, connive, and maneuver as well as any man.”  Continue reading

Prudence Crandall

Prudence Crandall

Prudence Crandall

(1803-1890) opened an academy on the Canterbury Green in 1831 to educate daughters of wealthy local families. The school was extremely successful until the following fall when she admitted Sarah Harris, a 20-year-old black woman. Sarah had hoped to become a teacher with the help of the education the academy could provide. Reflecting the attitudes of the times, Sarah’s admittance to the academy led parents to withdraw their daughters.

Miss Crandall made contacts throughout the northeast’s free black communities to attract young black women students. They came from as far away as Boston, New York City and Philadelphia. The state responded by passing the “Black Law” which made it illegal for Crandall to operate her school.  Continue reading

The Pittsburgh Courier

Four boys outside Courier

Four boys outside Courier

The Pittsburgh Courier was established in 1907 by Edwin Harleston, a security guard and writer. The newspaper gained fame after Robert Lee Vann took over the paper in 1910 and eventually became the nations most widely circulated black newspaper at almost 200,000.

The Courier was always an organ for the wellbeing of the average African-American. It would call for housing improvements and the opening of black hospitals. The Pittsburgh Courier also sought to improve the black peoples’ financial and political skills.  Continue reading

Anna Maria Weems

Maria Weems escaping in male attire.

Weems escaping in male attire

According to Underground Rail Road records, Anna Maria Weems disguised her gender and used several male aliases in order to escape her plight and acquire freedom. At the time of her escape, she was a “bright mulatto, well-grown, smart and good-looking” fifteen year old girl. Her family members, including her mother, have been sold before she turned thirteen. Because her owners feared that she would escape, they made her sleep in their chamber in order to prevent her from doing so. Finally she had the means to escape with the help of the Underground Railroad. William Still describes her escape in “The Underground Railroad” (1870):  Continue reading

John James Neimore

In 1879, John James Neimore established The California Owl as a means to help ease the black settlers’ transition to the western way of life. The Eagle provided many disparaged settlers with job, housing, and information on local charities.

When The California Eagle shut down its presses in 1964, it was one of the oldest black-owned and operated papers in the United States. John James Neimore had established it in Los Angeles as The California Owl in 1879, to ease black settlers’ transition to the West. The paper provided them with housing and job information, and other information essential to surviving in a new environment.  Continue reading

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.

John Brown

John Brown

John Brown

John Brown was a man of action — a man who would not be deterred from his mission of abolishing slavery. On October 16, 1859, he led 21 men on a raid of the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. His plan to arm slaves with the weapons he and his men seized from the arsenal was thwarted, however, by local farmers, militiamen, and Marines led by Robert E. Lee. Within 36 hours of the attack, most of Brown’s men had been killed or captured.

John Brown was born into a deeply religious family in Torrington, Connecticut, in 1800. Led by a father who was vehemently opposed to slavery, the family moved to northern Ohio when John was five, to a district that would become known for its antislavery views.  Continue reading

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