Howard University

 

Young men prepare to receive their degrees from Howard University in June 1942

Young men prepare to receive their degrees from Howard University in June 1942

On November 20, 1866, 10 members of the First Congregational Society of Washington, D.C., gathered for a missionary meeting. That evening, they decided to establish a seminary for the training of African American preachers. By early 1867, the founders had broadened their mission to include a liberal arts college and university. They decided to name the university for Major General Oliver O. Howard, a Civil War hero and Commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau, a U.S. government agency established in 1865 to aid freed blacks. Howard was also one of the early founders of the institution in Washington.   (more…)

Harriet Ann Jacobs aka Linda Brent

Harriet Ann Jacobs a.k.a. Linda Brent

Harriet Ann Jacobs a.k.a. Linda Brent

Harriet Ann Jacobs (February 11, 1813 – March 7, 1897) was an African-American writer who escaped from slavery and became an abolitionist speaker and reformer. Jacobs’ single work, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, published in 1861 under the pseudonym Linda Brent, was one of the first autobiographical narratives about the struggle for freedom by female slaves and an account of the sexual harassment and abuse they endured.

Harriet Jacobs, daughter of Delilah, the slave of Margaret Horniblow, and Daniel Jacobs, the slave of Andrew Knox, was born in Edenton, North Carolina, in the fall of 1813. Until she was six years old Harriet was unaware that she was the property of Margaret Horniblow. Before her death in 1825, Harriet’s relatively kind mistress taught her slave to read and sew.

In her will, Margaret Horniblow bequeathed eleven-year-old Harriet to a niece, Mary Matilda Norcom. Since Mary Norcom was only three years old when Harriet Jacobs became her slave, Mary’s father, Dr. James Norcom, an Edenton physician, became Jacobs’s de facto master. Under the regime of James and Maria Norcom, Jacobs was introduced to the harsh realities of slavery. Though barely a teenager, Jacobs soon realized that her master was a sexual threat.  (more…)

Hazel Scott

Hazel Scott

Hazel Scott

1920-1981 – Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, Hazel Scott mastered the piano and other instruments at an early age. In 1924 her family moved to the United States, where Scott’s talents were rewarded with a six-year scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music.

Her critically acclaimed debut at New York’s Town Hall and her trumpet and piano performance in her mother’s All Woman Orchestra paved the way for her role as saxophonist with Louis Armstrong’s All Girl Band. In 1945, Scott married Adam Clayton Powell Jr., firebrand preacher, congressman, and civil rights revolutionary.

Acutely aware of the injustice facing African American entertainers, Scott refused to perform for segregated audiences in any of her venues. Her premier nightclub acts, noteworthy Broadway shows, and successful films led in 1950 to the first nationally syndicated musical variety television program hosted by an African American woman, The Hazel Scott Show.

Paul Robeson

Paul Robeson

Paul Robeson was one of the most gifted men in the history of the world. He was an athlete, actor, author, attorney, a scholar and concert singer. Born in Princeton, New Jersey on April 9, 1898, Paul Robeson showed that he was a man of many talents. He gave 296 performances as Othello on Broadway.

He was subsequently recognized as an internationally famous singer and performed on concert stages throughout the world. Robeson spoke and performed in over twenty languages and dialects, and became a spokesman throughout the world against exploitation, injustice, and racism. His attacks on injustice and racism in the United States became a severe international embarrassment to the United States government.  (more…)

Marcus Garvey

Marcus Garvey

Marcus Garvey

Marcus Garvey (August 17, 1887 – June 10, 1940) and the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) form a critical link in black America’s centuries-long struggle for freedom, justice, and equality. As the leader of the largest organized mass movement in black history and progenitor of the modern “black is beautiful” ideal, Garvey is now best remembered as a champion of the back-to-Africa movement. In his own time he was hailed as a redeemer, a “Black Moses.” Though he failed to realize all his objectives, his movement still represents a liberation from the psychological bondage of racial inferiority. (more…)