Caterina Jarboro

Caterina Jarboro

Caterina Jarboro

Caterina Jarboro (1903-1986) was a pioneering African American opera singer. In 1933 — twenty-two full years before Marian Anderson’s début at the Metropolitan Opera — impresario Alfredo Salmaggi hired Jarboro to sing with his opera company at the Hippodrome.

She was thus the first black opera singer ever to sing on an opera stage in America. (This milestone earned Salmaggi special recognition from First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.  (more…)

George H. White

George H. White

George H. White

George Henry White (18 Dec. 1852-28 Dec. 1918), lawyer, legislator, congressman, and racial spokesman, was born near Rosindale in Bladen County, the son of Wiley F. and Mary White. It is possible that he was born into slavery, although the evidence on this is contradictory. He did attend public schools in North Carolina and received training under D. P. Allen, president of the Whitten Normal School in Lumberton.

In 1876 he was an assistant in charge of the exhibition mounted by the U.S. Coast Survey at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. After graduation from Howard University in 1877, he was principal of the Colored Grade School, the Presbyterian parochial school, and the State Normal School in New Bern. He studied law under Judge William J. Clarke and received a license to practice in North Carolina in 1879.  (more…)

Nannie Helen Burroughs

Nannie Helen Burroughs

Nannie Helen Burroughs

Nannie Helen Burroughs

Among the most outstanding African-American educators of the post-reconstruction era of the late nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century were Dr. Anna Julia Cooper and Ms. Nannie Helen Burroughs. During this extremely difficult and rocky period for African-Americans these dedicated sisters were confronted with the arduous tasks of struggling for racial uplift, economic justice and social equality.

Nannie Helen Burroughs became a school founder, educator and civil rights activist. She identified African-American teachers such as Anna Julia Cooper as important role models. She attended public schools in Washington, D.C., graduated with honors in 1896, studied business in 1902, and received an honorary M.A. degree from Eckstein-Norton University in Kentucky in 1907.  (more…)

Ambrose Caliver

Ambrose Caliver

Ambrose Caliver

Ambrose Caliver

A major contributor to the field of adult education, Dr. Ambrose Caliver devoted much of his professional life to adult literacy. While this area continued to occupy his interest and best efforts, he also took an active role in such matters as displaced persons, human rights, public affairs, aging, and professional development of adult educators.

Born in 1894, Caliver began his career as a high school principal in Tennessee. Before his death in 1962 he served in the following capacities: faculty member at Fisk University; specialist in the education of Negroes, United States Office of Education; organizer of the National Advisory Committee on the Education on Negroes.  (more…)

Arna Wendell Bontemps

Arna Wendell Bontemps

Arna Wendell Bontemp

Arna Wendell Bontemp

Arna Wendell Bontemps was an important writer in the Harlem Renaissance. He was born on October 13, 1902 in Alexandria, Louisiana. The family home is now the Arna Bontemps African American Museum and Cultural Arts Center.

From the age of three, Arna lived with his family in the Watts section of Los Angeles. His family moved to Los Angeles just three days before the San Francisco earthquake! His was a loving family. His parents always encouraged him in his education. He attended public schools and graduated in 1916 at the age of 17 from Pacific Union College [U.C.L.A.], having completed his degree in three years.  (more…)

Elmer Simms Campbell

Elmer Simms Campbell

Elmer Simms Campbell

Elmer Simms Campbell  (b. Jan. 2, 1906, St. Louis, Mo., U.S.–d. Jan. 27, 1971, White Plains, N.Y.), first black American cartoonist to publish his work in general-circulation magazines on a regular basis.

Campbell won a nationwide contest in cartooning while still attending high school. He later studied at the University of Chicago and the Art Institute of Chicago. He then worked as a railroad dining-car waiter, amusing himself by drawing caricatures of the passengers, one of whom liked his work and gave him a job in a commercial-art studio in St. Louis.  (more…)