Great Black Leaders

Great Black Republicans

Gary Conner

Party of


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Frederick DouglasJ.C. Watts JrMartin Luther King JrMichael S. Steele
George Washington CarverJ Kenneth BlackwellHerman CainMary McLeod Bethune
Ida B. WellsDenzel WashingtonDon KingSojourner Truth
Carter G WoodsonClarence ThomasClarence ThomasJackie Robinson
Edward William Brooke, IIILynn SwannAlveda C. KingSammy Davis Jr
Hiram Rhodes RevelsRod PaigeWilliam Thaddeus ColemanBooker T. Washington
Blanche BruceMichael L WilliamsAlphonso JacksonMary Terrell
Richard AllenA. Philip RandolphJoe CelestinHarriet Tubman  


Martin Luther King, Jr.


Martin Luther King, Jr. was born at noon on Tuesday, January 15, 1929 at the family home in Atlanta, Georgia. He was the first son and second child born to the Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King. His father was the pastor of Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church and his grandfather was a Baptist preacher, too. King skipped both the ninth and twelfth grades and entered Morehouse College at 15 years of age. In 1948, King graduated with a B.A. degree in Sociology from Morehouse College at age 19. He then earned his Bachelor of Divinity degree from Crozier Theological Seminary in 1951 and earned his Doctor of Philosophy from Boston University in 1955. King became a Baptist Minister and was an eloquent civil rights movement leader from the mid-1950's until his death by assassination on April 3, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee where he was there to support striking sanitation workers. King registered as a Republican in 1956, the same year that he had been a speaker for the platform committee of that other party.

As pastor of a Baptist church in Montgomery, Alabama, King lead a black bus boycott for 381 days ending in 1956. He and ninety others were arrested and indicted under the provisions of a law making it illegal to conspire to obstruct the operation of a business. King and several others were found guilty, but appealed their case. A Supreme Court decision in 1956 ended Alabama's segregation laws enacted by Democrats. After this success, King was made president of the newly established Southern Christian Leadership Conference. King led the 1963 March on Washington where he delivered his most famous 'I Have a Dream' speech. King became a national hero as he promoted non-violent means to achieve civil rights reform. He was awarded the 1964 Noble Peace Prize for his efforts, and President Ronald Reagan made King's birthday a national holiday.

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Carter G. Woodson

(1875 - 1950)

"Switch parties if you are not being represented."

These are the words of Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson, distinguished Black author, editor, publisher, and historian. Carter G. Woodson believed that Blacks should know their past in order to participate intelligently in the affairs in our country. He strongly believed that Black history - which others have tried so diligently to erase - is a firm foundation for young Black Americans to build on in order to become productive citizens of our society.

Known as the father of Black history, Dr. Woodson at the peak of the Harlem Renaissance established "Negro History Week" in 1926 during the second week of February to commemorate the birthday of abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln. Woodson sought to create a forum that later became Black History Month. He was also instrumental in the founding of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915.

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Frederick Douglass

(1817 - 1895)

Frederick Douglass was one of the foremost leaders of the abolitionist movement which fought to end slavery within the United States in the decades prior to the Civil War. He eagerly attended the founding meeting of the republican party in 1854 and campaigned for its nominees.

A brilliant speaker, Douglass was asked by the American Anti-Slavery Society to engage in a tour of lectures, and so became recognized as one of America's first great black speakers. He won world fame when his autobiography The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, in which he gave specific details of his bondage, was publicized in 1845. Two years later, he began publishing an anti-slavery paper called the North Star. He was appointed Minister Resident and Consul General to Haiti by President Benjamin Harrison on July 1, 1889, the first black citizen to hold high rank in the U.S. government.

Douglass served as an adviser to President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and fought for the adoption of constitutional amendments that guaranteed voting rights and other civil liberties for blacks. After the Civil War, Douglass realized that the war for citizenship had just begun when Democrat President Andrew Johnson proved to be a determined opponent of land redistribution and civil and political rights for former slaves. Douglass began the postwar era relying on the same themes that he preached in the antebellum years: economic self-reliance, political agitation, and coalition building. Douglass provided a powerful voice for human rights during this period of American history and is still revered today for his contributions against racial injustice.

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Mary McLeod Bethune

(1875 - 1955)

Mary McLeod Bethune was an educator, presidential advisor, civil rights advocate, and one of America's most influential African American leaders. As former slaves, Bethune's parents were determined that she accept an offer from a Quaker woman to attend school when few educational opportunities were available to African Americans.

Bethune founded a school for African-American girls in Daytona, Florida, which in 1923 became the co-educational Bethune-Cookman College. As college president until 1942, her efforts gained tremendous recognition. Bethune became a national leader and united all major black women's organizations across the nation into one powerful group, the National Council of Negro Women. As its president for 14 years, Bethune led campaigns against segregation and discrimination. Presidents Coolidge, Hoover, Roosevelt and Truman sought her advice on issues concerning black Americans, and Franklin Roosevelt appointed her director of the Division of Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration. She was the first black woman to ever head a federal agency

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Alphonso Jackson

Secretary Alphonso Jackson is guiding the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in its mission of providing affordable housing and promoting economic development, an assignment to which he brings more than 25 years of direct experience in both the private and public sectors. Jackson holds a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's degree in education administration from Truman State University. He received his law degree from Washington University School of Law.

In nominating Jackson, President George W. Bush chose a leader with a strong background in housing and community development, expertise in finance and management, and a deep commitment to improving the lives of all Americans. The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Jackson as the nation's 13th Secretary of HUD on March 31, 2004. Jackson first joined the Bush Administration in June of 2001 as HUD's Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer. As Deputy Secretary, Jackson managed the day-to-day operations of the $32 billion agency and instilled a new commitment to ethics and accountability within HUD's programs and among its workforce and grant partners.

From January 1989 until July 1996, Jackson was President and CEO of the Housing Authority of the City of Dallas, Texas, which consistently ranked as one of the best-managed large-city housing agencies in the country during his tenure. Prior to that, Jackson was Director of the Department of Public and Assisted Housing in Washington, D.C., and also served as Chairperson for the District of Columbia Redevelopment Land Agency Board.

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Rod Paige

Former Secretary of Education Rod Paige was the first school superintendent ever to serve in that position. He was appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the United States Senate on January 21, 2001. His vast experience as a practitioner, from the blackboard to the boardroom, paid off during the long hours of work needed to pass President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The driving force behind his work was his shared belief with President Bush that education is a civil right, just as are the rights to vote and be treated equally.

Born in 1933 in segregated Monticello, Mississippi, Paige's accomplishments speak of his commitment to education. He earned both a master's and a doctoral degree from Indiana University. Paige was elected in 1989 as a trustee and an officer of the Board of Education of the Houston Independent School District where he served until 1994. Inside Houston Magazine named Paige one of "Houston's 25 most powerful people" in guiding the city's growth and prosperity. In 2001, he was named National Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators.

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Clarence Thomas

Justice of the United States Supreme Court Clarence Thomas was born in Savannah, Georgia. He attended Conception Seminary from 1967 to 1968 and received an A.B., cum laude, from Holy Cross College in 1971 and a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1974. He was admitted to law practice in Missouri in 1974, and served as an Assistant Attorney General of Missouri from 1974 to 1977. In President Ronald Reagan's administration, he served as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the United States Department of Education from 1981 to 1982 and Chairman of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from 1982 to 1990. He served as a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1990 to 1991. President George W. Bush nominated Thomas, a brilliant jurist, as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat on October 23, 1991.

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Michael S. Steele

In January 2003, Michael Steele made history when he became the first African American elected to a Maryland statewide office and the first ever Republican Lieutenant Governor in Maryland. After earning a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 1991, he attended the Augustinian Friars Seminary at Villanova University in Villanova, Pennsylvania, in preparation for the priesthood.

As Lieutenant Governor, Steele's top priorities include improving the quality of Maryland's public education system, where he currently chairs the Governor's Commission on Quality Education; reforming the state's Minority Business Enterprise program; expanding economic development and international trade; and fostering cooperation between government and community-based organizations to help those in need. In 2002, President George W. Bush appointed Steele to serve on the Board of Visitors of the United States Naval Academy.

He is a member of the Prince George's County Chapter of the NAACP and serves on the NAACP's 2001 Blue Ribbon Panel on Election Reform. Steele became Maryland's first African American County Republican Party chairman, and in 1995 he was selected Maryland State Republican Man of the Year. In December 2000, Steele became the first ever African American to be elected as chairman of a state Republican Party and served as a member of the Executive Committee of the Republican National Committee

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Michael L. Williams

The son of public school teachers, Michael L. Williams earned a master's and law degree from the University of Southern California. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush appointed Williams to be Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education.

He was initially appointed to the Texas Railroad Commission by former Governor George W. Bush in December 1998. He was elected by his fellow commissioners in September 1999 to chair the commission and elected by the people of Texas in November 2002 to serve a six-year term. Williams is the first African American in Texas history to hold a statewide executive post and is the highest ranking African American in the Texas state government.

He volunteered as the general counsel of the Republican Party of Texas and the chairman of the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission. He served on the Board of Directors of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Our Mother of Mercy Catholic School. He also served as Special Assistant to Attorney General Richard Thornburgh at the U.S. Department of Justice from 1988 to 1989 and was awarded the Attorney General's "Special Achievement Award" in 1988 by former U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese for the conviction of six Ku Klux Klan members on federal weapons charges.

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Alveda C. King

Dr. Alveda C. King is the daughter of the late civil rights activist, Rev. A. D. King and the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She founded King for America, Inc. "to assist people in enriching their lives spiritually, personally, mentally and economically." She is a former college professor, holding the M.B.A. degree from Central Michigan University and a law degree from Anslem College. She is the author of two books Sons of Thunder: The King Family Legacy and I Don't Want Your Man, I Want My Own.

During the years of the Civil Rights Movement, led by her Uncle, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Alveda's family home was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama, and her father's church office was bombed in Louisville, Kentucky. She was also jailed during the open housing movement and has continued her long-term work as a civil rights activist. She believes that School Choice is a pressing civil rights issue and that the most compelling issue of all is the life of the unborn. The message that she carries to the world is that the key to positive action to have faith in God and commitment to fulfill His will for our lives, not faith in government.

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J. Kenneth Blackwell

Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell has a distinguished record of achievement as an educator, diplomat and finance executive. He is the state's constitutional officer chiefly responsible for elections, the management of business records, and the protection of intellectual property and corporate identities.

Blackwell's public service includes terms as mayor of Cincinnati, an undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. In 1994, he became the first African American elected to a statewide executive office in Ohio when he was elected treasurer of state. Blackwell has twice received the U.S. Department of State's Superior Honor Award from the administrations of Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton for his work in the field of human rights.

In 1994, the Blackwells were honored as one of the National Council of Negro Women's Families of the Year, and, in 1996, they received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Dreamkeeper Award. In 2004, Blackwell received the John M. Ashbrook Award given jointly by the American Conservative Union and the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs. Past recipients of this award include President Ronald Reagan, Ambassador Jean Kirkpatrick and Charlton Heston.

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J.C. Watts Jr

Congressman JC Watts was born the fifth of six children to Buddy and Helen Watts on November 18, 1957 in Eufaula, Oklahoma . He attended the University of Oklahoma and earned a B.A. in journalism in 1981. While at the University of Oklahoma, Watts was quarterback for the Sooners, leading them to two consecutive Big Eight championships and Orange Bowl victories. He was voted the Most Valuable Player in 1980 and 1981 and inducted into the Orange Bowl Hall of Honor in 1992.

He was first elected to represent the fourth district of Oklahoma in the U.S. House of Representatives in November 1994 and won re-election in 1996, 1988 and 2000. Fellow congressmen quickly recognized his leadership qualities and elected him chairman of the House Republican Conference, the fourth-highest position in the House, in 1998 and again in 2000. Watts earned a solid reputation in Oklahoma and throughout the nation as a perceptive and passionate spokesman for redeveloping communities, exercising fiscal discipline, strengthening education, restoring values, and bolstering national defense.

Watts was commended for his efforts in Congress with numerous community awards, including the 1996 Junior Chamber of Commerce's Ten Outstanding Young Americans Award, the Jefferson Award for promoting economic prosperity and free enterprise, the Christian Coalition's Friend of the Family Award, the YMCA's Strong Kids, Strong Families, Strong Communities plaque, the 60 Plus Association's Guardian and Benjamin Franklin awards, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Spirit of Enterprise Award.

In 1996, he delivered a powerful, inspiring speech at the Republican National Convention. Soon thereafter, he was selected to give the Republican response to President Clinton's 1997 State of the Union Address. Watts also served as an honorary co-chairman at the 2000 Republican National Convention. After an outstanding career in public service, he became chairman of GOPAC in March 2003, the premier training organization for Republican candidates across America. He also serves on the board of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Oklahoma.

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Don King

"Only in America" boxing promoter extraordinaire Don King has been involved in well over a billion dollars in fight purses. He coined the phrase, "Only in America" because he believes that only in America can a Don King happen. King says that he loves American because America is the greatest country in the world and what he has accomplished could not have been done anywhere else. He came from the hard-core Cleveland ghetto and beat the system to become the world's greatest promoter. He was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1997 and was the only boxing promoter named to Sports Illustrated's list of the "40 Most Influential Sports Figures of the Past 40 Years."

King is one of the world's leading philanthropists and established the Don King Foundation, which has donated millions of dollars to worthy causes and organizations. He is also an influential civil rights activist and a longtime supporter of the NAACP, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), and the Martin Luther King Jr. Foundation. The NAACP recognized King with its highest honor, the President's Award, and he received the Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1987. All three major boxing organizations, the IBF, WBA and WBC, have proclaimed Don King the "Greatest Promoter in History."

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Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington is an Oscar winner and is thought to be one of the finest actors of our generation. His diverse range of roles has shown him to be one of Hollywood's most highly talented leading men. He was born in 1954 in Mount Vernon, New York and was the middle child of the three children of a Pentecostal minister father and a beautician mother. After graduating from high school, Denzel enrolled at Fordham University intent on a career in journalism. However, he caught the acting bug while appearing in student drama productions and upon graduation he moved to San Francisco and enrolled at the American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.). He left A.C.T. after only one year to seek work as an actor. With his acting versatility and handsome features, he had no difficulty finding work in numerous television productions.

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Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson is a hall of famer Brooklyn Dodger who in 1947 broke baseball's "color barrier," becoming the first African American in the major league baseball. He played for the Dodgers from 1947 to 1956. His impact on the game was legendary, and he was chosen for his cool intelligence and high level of skill. He was also a pioneer in the nation's civil rights movement and exemplified the utmost courage, determination, character and competitiveness. On March 2, 2005, Robinson was recognized posthumously with the Congressional Gold Medal by President George W. Bush.

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Lynn Swann

Wide Receiver - 5-11, 180

(Southern California)

1974-1982 Pittsburgh Steelers

Born in Alcoa, Tennessee, on March 7, 1952, this hall of famer joined the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1974 pick just as they were embarking on a winning binge that produced six straight AFC Central Division titles and four Super Bowls in six years. A former USC All-American, Swann was the Steelers' No. 1 draft pick in the 1974 NFL Draft . Blessed with gazelle-like speed, fluid movements and a tremendous leaping ability, Swann became a regular at wide receiver in his second year. Immediately he demonstrated that he was a complete player with phenomenal natural abilities. He was a three-time pro bowler and most valuable player in Super Bowl X.

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Sammy Davis Jr


A veteran of Vaudeville, Broadway, motion pictures, Las Vegas shows and television, Sammy Davis is considered to have been the world's greatest entertainer. He thrilled millions of fans worldwide for over 50 years with his dancing, singing and acting.

Davis was a member of the famed Rat Pack and was among the very first African-American talents to find favor with audiences on both sides of the color barrier He remains a perennial icon of cool. Born in Harlem on December 8, 1925, Davis made his stage debut at the age of three performing with Billie Holiday in Dixieland, a black vaudeville troupe featuring his father and helped by his de facto uncle, Will Mastin. Dubbed "Silent Sam, the Dancing Midget," Davis proved phenomenally popular with audiences and the act was soon renamed Will Mastin's Gang Featuring Little Sammy. At the age of seven Davis made his film debut in the legendary musical short Rufus Jones for President, and later received tap-dancing lessons courtesy of the great Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. In 1941, the Mastin Gang opened for Tommy Dorsey at Detroit's Michigan Theater where Davis first met Dorsey vocalist Frank Sinatra, the beginning of a lifelong friendship.

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Edward William Brooke, III

In 1966, Edward William Brooke was elected as a Republican to the United States Senate and re-elected in 1972. He was the first African American Senator born in Washington, DC and the first African American Senator to serve since the Reconstruction era. He graduated from Howard University in 1941 and from Boston University Law School in 1948. Brooke moved to Massachusetts and became the first African American to win a statewide office in Massachusetts when he was elected attorney general in 1962. He was re-elected in 1964. Brooke was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on June 23, 2004 by President George W. Bush

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William Thaddeus Coleman, Jr.

In 1959 President Dwight D. Eisenhower asked William T. Coleman, a longtime Republican, to serve on the President's Commission on Employment Policy, which dealt with increasing minority hiring in the government. In addition to service as secretary of transportation in the Ford Administration, Coleman held a number of other public service and national community positions.

An ardent civil rights activist and public servant, Coleman was co-author of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund's (LDF) brief on Brown vs. Topeka, Kansas Board of Education (1954) and helped to defend freedom riders and other civil rights workers. He successfully argued cases that compelled the admission of blacks to previously segregated universities and established the constitutionality of interracial marriages. Coleman began his law career in 1947, and in 1948 served as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Felix Frankfurter, becoming the first black to serve in that capacity for the nation's highest court.

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Joe Celestin

The mayor of North Miami Beach, Florida is Haitian born Joe Celestin, the first black American to be elected mayor of a large city in the state of Florida. He is a certified land engineering contractor and a state-certified general builder, a project manager, as well as state-certified in business and finance. He has held several political appointments and memberships in a variety of organizations, including the North Miami Board of Adjustment; the North Miami Planning Commission , the City of Miami Finance and Budget Review Committee and the United States Presidential Meritorious Rank Review Board. He was also a nominee for the Florida State Senate for District 3.

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Herman Cain

In 1986, Herman Cain was appointed president of the then financially troubled Godfather's Pizza, Inc. In 14 months, the chain regained profitability, and in 1988, Cain led his executive team in a buyout of the company from Pillsbury. Cain was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Restaurant Association in 1988. In 1996, Cain was elected CEO and president of the National Restaurant Association. He was also a former chairman and member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City from 1992 to 1996.

Cain now hosts a syndicated radio talk show and is an accomplished speaker and writer on the subjects of leadership, motivation, national and economic policy, politics, and achieving one's American Dream. He's done it. He grew up in Georgia with wonderful parents and little else. He rose up to earn a master's degree and succeed at the highest levels of corporate America. For his efforts, Cain was hailed by The Wall Street Journal and Business Week as a visionary leader.

In 2003, Cain announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for United States Senate from Georgia. Cain campaigned on replacing the federal income tax code with a national retail sales tax, restructuring the Social Security system, reducing the influence of government and the courts in the health care system, and inspiring people to pursue excellence in their personal and professional lives. Cain's most recent book is They Think You're Stupid: Why Democrats Lost Your Vote and What Republicans Must Do to Keep It. He's also the author of Leadership is Common Sense and CEO of Self.

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Booker T. Washington

(1856 - 1915)

Rising up from slavery and illiteracy, Booker T. Washington became the foremost educator and leader of African Americans at the turn of the century. Born into slavery, Washington was the most prominent spokesperson for African Americans after the death of Frederick Douglass. After graduation from the Hampton Institute in 1875, he first taught in West Virginia and then studied at the Wayland Seminary before returning to teach at Hampton.

In 1881 he left Hampton to begin the single most important undertaking of his life: founding the Tuskegee Normal School in Alabama. Washington, his small staff, and their students worked as carpenters to build Tuskegee. In its first year of operation Tuskegee had 37 students and a faculty of three. When Washington died in 1915, Tuskegee had 1,500 students, a faculty of 180, and an endowment of $2,000,000.

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A. Philip Randolph

(1889 - 1979)

Asa Philip Randolph became one of America's foremost labor leader and civil rights pioneer. He was born in Crescent City, Florida in 1889. In 1925 he organized and served as the first President of the Black International Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Randolph was the first African American to serve as an International Vice-President of the AFL-CIO in 1957, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

He organized two major marches on Washington, D.C. in 1941 and 1963, which resulted in important advances in black civil rights. The 1963 march made Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. into a national figure. About the 1963 March Randolph once said:

"By fighting for their rights now, American Negroes are helping to make America a moral and spiritual arsenal of democracy. Their fight against the poll tax, against lynch law, segregation, and Jim Crow, their fight for economic, political, and social equality, thus becomes part of the global war for freedom.'

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Harriet Tubman

(1821 - 1913)

Harriet Tubman was heralded as the "Moses" of black people, leading approximately 300 slaves to freedom during nineteen trips. Her work became even more dangerous with the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law and the offer of awards by slave owners for her capture. She learned about the Underground Railroad which was a secret network of abolitionists, freed blacks, sympathetic whites and Quakers who helped runaway slaves. Tubman became the most influential of the black conductors. After the outbreak of the Civil War, she served with distinction as a soldier, spy, and a nurse, spending time at Fort Monroe, where Jefferson Davis was later imprisoned.

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Sojourner Truth

(1797 - 1883)

Sojourner Truth was born as a slave in Hurley, New York and became a nationally known speaker on human rights for slaves and women. At the time of her birth, New York and New Jersey were the only northern states that still permitted slavery. After gaining her freedom, she took the name Sojourner Truth to signify her role as a traveler telling the truth about slavery. She set out on June 1, 1843, walking for miles and gaining fame. Truth's popularity was enhanced by her biography The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave written by the abolitionist Olive Gilbert, with a preface written by William Lloyd Garrison. She was the first prominent African American woman to become directly involved with the white women's suffrage movement. She gave her famous speech, 'Ain't I a Woman?'in the 1851 Convention on Women's Rights in Akron, Ohio in response to a clergyman's remarks ridiculing women as too weak and helpless to entrust with the vote.

In 1864, she was invited to the White House, where President Abraham Lincoln personally received her. Later she served as a counselor for the National Freedman's Relief Association, retiring in 1875 to Battle Creek, Michigan.

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George Washington Carver

(1860 - 1943)

One of the best known agricultural scientists of his generation, Carver was born into slavery near Diamond Grove, Missouri. Although Carver had to work and live on his own while still a boy, he managed to finish high school and became the first African American student to enroll at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. Later earned a Master of Science from the Iowa Agricultural College. In 1896, Carver joined Booker T. Washington at the Tuskegee Institute.

Carver encouraged Southern farmers to diversify from cotton only and also plant sweet potatoes and peas to end leaching the soil of nutrients. In order to make these crops more profitable, Carver did extensive research, producing more than 300 derivative products from the peanut and 118 from the sweet potato. In 1923 Carver won the Springham award, the highest annual prize given by the National Association for Colored People. In 1938 he took $30,000, virtually his entire life's savings, and founded the George Washington Carver Foundation to continue his work after his death.

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Hiram Rhodes Revels

(1822 - 1901)

Hiram Rhodes Revels of Mississippi was the first black United States senator serving from 1870-1871 as a Republican. The only other African American to serve as United States Senators in the nineteenth century was Blanche K. Bruce also a Republicans from Mississippi. Revels completed the unfinished term of Jefferson Davis who was the former president of the confederacy. In the Senate, Revels supported civil rights for blacks. Born in Fayetteville, North Carolina attending Knox College, he became a minister of the African Methodist Episcope Church. After completing his term in the United States Senate, Revels was named president of Alcorn University (now known as Alcorn State University).

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Blanche Bruce

(1841 - 1898)

Blanche Bruce was elected as a Republican to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1875 to March 3, 1881. He was the first African American to serve a full term in the United States Senate. He was born in slavery near Farmville, Virginia . At the beginning of the Civil War, he taught school in Hannibal, Missouri and later attended Oberlin College in Ohio. After the Civil War, he became a member of the Mississippi Levee Board, a sheriff and tax collector of Bolivar County from 1872 to1875. He was appointed register of the treasury by President James Garfield in 1881 and was appointed to that position again in 1897. He served as the recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia from 1891to1893.

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Ida B. Wells

(1862 - 1931)

Ida B. Wells was a journalist, advocate for civil rights and an anti-lynching crusader. She was born in Springfield, Mississippi and helped to found the National Association of Colored Women in 1896 and the Negro Fellowship League. She worked with the white Republicans who started the National Association for the Advancement for Colored People on February 12, 1909.

She was forced off of a train for refusing to sit in the Jim Crow car designated for blacks and was awarded $500 by a circuit court. That decision was overruled by the Tennessee Supreme Court in 1887, a rejection that ultimately strengthened her resolve to devote her life to upholding justice. She reported in two black newspapers, the New York Age and the Chicago Conservator, about the violence and injustices being perpetrated by Democrats against African Americans. In honor of her legacy, a low-income housing project in Chicago was named after her in 1941, and in 1990, the U.S. Postal Service issued an Ida B. Wells stamp.

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Mary Terrell

(1863 - 1954)

Mary Terrell was a civil rights pioneer and lifelong political activist who fought for equal rights for African American women. Terrell was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1863. Both her parents were former slaves, but her father became very successful in real estate, making it possible for her to have a privileged childhood. In 1884 she graduated from Oberlin College and in 1886 began teaching in Washington's M Street High School (later known as Dunbar High School). She her husband, Robert Terrell, Washington's first black judge, were the second black family to move into LeDroit Park in 1894.

In 1896 she began president of the National Association of Colored Women . She was active in the National American Suffrage Organization, and later she became actively involved in the NAACP. At the age of 90 she was still an activist, playing an instrumental role in the boycott of Washington, DC restaurants that refused to serve blacks. She carried that fight to the Supreme Court in 1953, which upheld the right of blacks to equal service in DC restaurants. The decision set in motion the desegregation of the capital. Terrell's autobiography, A Colored Woman in a White World, is the first full length published autobiography by an American black woman.

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Richard Allen

(1760 - 1831)

Richard Allen was the founder of the first African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Allen and his three siblings were born into slavery in Pennsylvania. After teaching himself to read and write, he joined the Methodist Society of preachers, and soon began to lead their meetings. His activity impressed his owner who allowed Richard and his brothers to purchase their freedom. Allen then moved to Philadelphia where he established himself as a minister and attended the first organizing conference of American Methodism. It was during this time that Allen met his future associate, Absalom Jones who also wanted to establish a place of worship for newly freed blacks.

In 1787, while kneeling in prayer at St. George's Methodist Episcopal Church, Allen, Jones and other black worshipers were pulled from the church by St. George's church officials. This caused Allen and Jones on April 12, 1787 to organize the independent Free African Society that was dedicated to serving all humanity and denounced slavery. Allen was a Methodist, and Jones was an Episcopalian. On April 9, 1816, Allen unified the two factions by forming the first African Methodist Episcopal Church.

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