StudyBoss » History » Famous African Americans

Famous African Americans

Throughout his life Ralph Bunche worked to improve race relations and further the cause of civil rights. For 22 years he served on the board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, earning its highest honor, the Spingarn Medal, in 1949. He participated in several civil rights demonstrations, including the 1963 March on Washington.

That same year, U. S. President John F. Kennedy awarded him the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. Sojourner Truth, American abolitionist and advocate of women’s rights, born into slavery in Hurley, Ulster County, New York, and originally named Isabella.

She was freed when New York State emancipated slaves in 1828. ) A mystic who heard voices she believed to be God’s, she arrived in New York City in 1829, where she preached in the streets. In 1843, obeying her voices, she took the name Sojourner Truth and went preaching along the eastern seaboard. That same year she came into contact with the abolitionist movement, which she enthusiastically embraced, and for the next few years she toured the country speaking in its behalf. Encountering the women’s rights movement in 1850, she also added its causes to hers.

During the American Civil War she solicited gifts for black volunteer regiments, and President Abraham Lincoln received her in the White House in 1864; she later advocated a “Negro State” in the West. Sojourner Truth continued to stump the country on speaking tours until 1875. An illiterate all her life, she was nevertheless an effective speaker and was endowed with a charisma that often drew large crowds to her informal lectures. Allen, Richard, American clergyman, born in Philadelphia. The son of a slave, Allen was freed after his master was converted to Methodism.

He was ordained a minister in 1784 at the first conference of the Methodist church in the U. S. During the next two years he was an itinerant preacher. While preaching at Saint George’s Church in Philadelphia in 1786, an incident of racial prejudice occurred, which is believed to have started him working for the establishment of an independent Methodist church for black members. This separate church was formed in 1799. In 1816 the African Methodist Episcopal Church was formed, uniting congregations of blacks in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland.

Allen was appointed its first bishop, a post he held until his death. In 1966 Barbara Jordan became the first black woman to win a seat in the Texas Senate. She authored the state’s first successful minimum-wage bill and pushed for civil rights legislation. In 1972 Jordan was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives. She took a seat on the Judiciary Committee, where she earned national attention for her eloquent speech in favor of impeaching President Richard M. Nixon (1969-74) during the Watergate affair. She also delivered the keynote address at the 1976 Democratic Convention.

In 1978 Jordan left the House to teach public policy at the University of Texas at Austin. In 1982 she was awarded the university’s Lyndon B. Johnson chair of National Policy. During the 1992 Democratic Convention, Jordan earned praise for her powerful speech against racism and intolerance among both whites and blacks. Edward Brooke, American legislator, was born in Washington, D. C. and educated at Howard University. During World War II Brooke served in the infantry, rose to the rank of captain, and was awarded the Bronze Star and Combat Infantryman’s Badge.

After the war he attended Boston University Law School. In 1960 he was appointed chairman of the investigative Boston Finance Commission, and in 1962 he was elected attorney general of Massachusetts; he was returned to this post in 1964. Two years later he was elected to the U. S. Senate as a Republican, the first black to serve in the upper house since the Reconstruction era and the first ever to be elected by popular vote; he was reelected in 1972. Hurt by a widely publicized divorce and accusations of financial misconduct, he was defeated when he ran again in 1978.

Marcus Garvey established the Universal Negro Improvement and Conservation Association and African Communities League, usually called the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Its goals included the promotion of black solidarity, with a special concern for the welfare of African blacks. But the UNIA met apathy from black workers as well as active opposition from the lighter-skinned middle class who did not wish to be identified as blacks. Hoping for support in the United States, Garvey established a branch of the UNIA in New York City in 1917.

He taught that blacks would be respected only when they were economically strong, and to that end he founded a newspaper, Negro World, as well as other black-owned businesses such as the Black Star Line, a steamship company. Garvey pledged to establish in Africa a black-governed nation. Delany, Martin Robinson was an U. S. inventor, author, and physician. He was born in Charles Town, Va. in 1852 invented a device that would assist railroad locomotives in climbing and descending inclined planes, but was denied a patent.

He was also an author of ‘The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States Politically Considered’, said to be the first full-length presentation of Black Nationalism (1852). He also formed National Emigration Convention 1854 to aid black people’s emigration to Africa and was the first black to attain rank of major in U. S. Army during American Civil War Bates, Daisy and the Little Rock Nine were U. S. civil rights figures.

Bates was born in Huttig, Ark. d cofounder of Arkansas State Press in 1941. She was president of Arkansas chapter of NAACP in 1957 during Little Rock school integration crisis and while state guardsmen, at Governor Orville Faubus’s request, she blocked black students from entering high school buildings. Bates stood firm with students and was arrested along with nine black students. She demanded protection of President Eisenhower for returning students. The 10 were awarded Spingarn Medal 1958.

Weaver, Robert Clifton was an U. S. public official, born in Washington, D. C. , secretary of housing and urban development (1966-69) under President Lyndon Johnson and he was the first black American to head a federal department. He got a B. A. in 1929, an M. A. in 1931, and a Ph. D. 1934, all from Harvard University. He became an adviser on black affairs for President F. D. Roosevelt from 1933-37. He was also the administrative assistant, on the U. S. Housing Authority 1937-40, the War Production Board 1940-42. He also taught at Columbia Teacher’s College and New York University School of Education 1947-49; N.

Y. He was a State rent administrator 1955-59, Housing and Home Finance Agency 1961-66, and president, Bernard M. Baruch College 1969-70, professor, Hunter College 1970-78, various committees on New York City and State housing, transportation, and rent issues 1974-84. He was a consultant to Government Accounting Office since 1974. In 1962, he won Spingarn Medal; author of ‘Urban Complex’, ‘Dilemmas of Urban America. Marshall, Thurgood, U. S. lawyer, jurist, and champion of civil rights was born in Baltimore, Md.

In 1933 he graduated first in his class from Howard University law school and 1936-61, was a special counsel for NAACP. Thurgood was also the founder (1939) of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. All of the 32 cases he argued before the Supreme Court, he won 29. His most notable victory came with Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kan. in which the Supreme Court struck down the “separate but equal” policy that was used to justify public school segregation. He also won cases against poll taxes, racial restrictions in housing and whites-only primary elections.

He was the judge of the U. S. court of appeals for second circuit 1962-65, the U. S. solicitor general 1965-67, and the first African American associate justice of U. S. Supreme Court 1967-91. He was known for his attacks on discrimination, opposition to the death penalty, and championing of free speech and civil liberties. Marshall was awarded in 1946 the Spingarn Medal Tubman worked closely with the Underground Railroad. Often she left fugitives in the care of other “conductors” after leading them part of the way herself. She maintained strict discipline during the perilous journeys to the North.

If a runaway lagged behind or lost faith and wished to turn back, she forced him on at gunpoint. Before the Civil War she freed her parents and most of her brothers and sisters as well as hundreds of other slaves. Slaveowners were constantly on the lookout for Tubman and offered large rewards for her capture, but they never succeeded in seizing her or any of the slaves she helped escape during her work for the Underground Railroad. Much later in life she proudly recalled: “I never ran my train off the track, and I never lost a passenger. ”

Tubman supported her parents and worked to raise money for her missions into the South. She spoke at abolitionist meetings and at women’s rights assemblies, often concealing her name for protection from slave hunters. Her forceful leadership led the white abolitionist John Brown to refer to her admiringly as “General” Tubman. She helped Brown plan his October 1859 raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, W. Va. , and promised that many of the slaves she had freed would join him. Only illness prevented her from fighting at Brown’s side during the raid itself.

Douglass, Frederick was an escaped slave, Frederick Douglass became one of the foremost black abolitionists and civil rights leaders in the United States. His powerful speeches, newspaper articles, and books awakened whites to the evils of slavery and inspired blacks in their struggle for freedom and equality. Douglass founded a new antislavery newspaper, The North Star later renamed Frederick Douglass’s Paper in Rochester, N. Y. Unlike Garrison, he had come to believe that political action rather than moral persuasion would bring about the abolition of slavery.

Douglass also resented Garrison’s view that blacks did not have the ability to lead the antislavery movement. By 1853, he had broken with Garrison and become a strong and independent abolitionist. While in Rochester, Douglass directed the city’s branch of the “Underground Railroad,” which smuggled escaped slaves into Canada. For years he worked to end racial segregation in Rochester’s public schools. Douglass hoped that blacks would no longer be employed only as servants and laborers. He proposed that schools be established to train them to become skilled craftsmen.

Douglass fought for passage of the 15th Amendment to the Constitution ratified in 1870, which gave blacks the right to vote. Later he saw that Southern blacks had returned to virtual slavery under a farming system called sharecropping. He urged that the federal government grant land to blacks. Douglass earnestly supported women’s rights as well. In 1848, at the first women’s rights convention in the United States, he had demanded that women be allowed to vote. On the day of his death Feb. 20, 1895, in Washington, D. C.

Douglass attended a convention for women’s suffrage. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. , b. New Haven, Conn. , Nov. 29, 1908, d. Apr. 4, 1972, was a minister, civil rights leader, and controversial Democratic U. S. representative (1945-67, 1969-71) from New York City. A graduate (1930) of Colgate University, Powell entered the ministry and succeeded his father as pastor of Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist church. Using it as a political base, he won election to Congress in 1944. He had numerous legislative successes, especially in equal employment opportunity.

He often angered other members of Congress by his frequent introduction of the “Powell amendment,” a rider designed to make government “color-blind” when dispensing government funds. Powell became chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor in 1961. In 1967 the House of Representatives stripped him of his seat in Congress because of a number of dubious practices, including misuse of public funds and ignoring a court order. The House readmitted him in January 1969 after he won a special 1967 election and the regular 1968 election, but he was stripped of his seniority and chairmanship.

In June 1969 the Supreme Court declared his expulsion unconstitutional. Powell wrote an autobiography, Adam by Adam (1971), and Keep the Faith Baby! (1964) Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback, b. Macon, Ga. , May 10, 1837, d. Dec. 21, 1921, was a black American who achieved political prominence during the Reconstruction era. Pinchback, whose mother was an emancipated slave and whose father was white, attended high school in Ohio. In 1862 he ran a Confederate blockade and reached New Orleans, which was in Union hands during the Civil War.

There he enlisted and raised a company of black volunteers called the Corps d’Afrique. Pinchback, a Republican, was elected to the Louisiana Senate, served (1871) as its president pro tempore, and became lieutenant governor on the death of the incumbent. After supporting desegregation efforts in Saint Augustine, Fla. , in 1964, Martin Luther King concentrated his efforts on the voter-registration drive in Selma, Ala. , leading a harrowing march from Selma to Montgomery in March 1965. Soon after, a tour of the northern cities led him to assail the conditions of economic as well as social discrimination.

This marked a shift in SCLC strategy, one intended to “bring the Negro into the mainstream of American life as quickly as possible. ” Having begun to recognize the deeper relationships of economics and poverty to racism, King now called for a “reconstruction of the entire society, a revolution of values. ” Along with demands for stronger civil and voting rights legislation and for a meaningful poverty budget, he spoke out against the Vietnam War. On Apr. 4, 1967, he told an audience that “The Great Society {President Lyndon Johnson’s antipoverty program} has been shot down on the battlefields of Vietnam.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Leave a Comment