Biddy Mason won freedom from slavery, worked as a nurse/midwife and then became a successful entrepreneur and a generous contributor to social causes. She was born August 15, 1818 in Mississippi, U.S.A. as a slave on a plantation owned by Robert Marion Smith and Rebecca (Crosby) Smith. She had three daughters, Ellen, Ann and Harriet, […]

Lenard D. Moore was a writer, educator, and poet. Moore was born in 1958 in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Growing up, he worked with his great-grandmother on a farm. He has lived in South Carolina, Virginia, California, and Germany, where he served in the U.S. Army. Moore earned his M.A. degree in English/African American Literature from […]

Frances Foster was an American actress, best known for appearances in All My Children (1970), Guiding Light (1952) and Malcolm X (1992). Foster was born Frances Helen Brown in Yonkers, New York, the daughter of George H. Brown, a postal worker, and Helen E. Brown. She trained at the American Theatre Wing in Manhattan, 1949-52 […]

George Freeman Bragg was an African-American priest, journalist, social activist, and historian. As the twelfth African American ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church of the United States, Bragg worked tirelessly against racial discrimination and for interracial harmony. Bragg was born into slavery in Warrenton, North Carolina, in 1863, during the American Civil War, […]

Arsenio Hall is an American actor, comedian and former talk show host. In Chicago, he tried out stand-up comedy and was soon “discovered,” later opening for Aretha Franklin and others. He appeared in the 1980s film Coming to America and Harlem Nights, but he is best known as the first black late-night talk show host. […]

Lucy Terry Prince was a renowned 18th-century orator who is also the first known African-American poet. Poet Lucy Terry Prince was born in West Africa in the early half of the 18th century. Captured by slave traders when she was a young girl, she was brought to America and eventually became a part of the […]

Robert Smalls (April 5, 1839 – Feb. 23, 1915) Robert Smalls was an African-American born into slavery in Beaufort, S.C., but during and after the American Civil War, he became a ship’s pilot, sea captain, and politician. He freed himself, his crew and their families from slavery on May 13, 1862, when he led an uprising aboard a Confederate transport […]

Elson S. Floyd was an educator who served as the 10th president of the four-campus Washington State University from May 21, 2007, to June 20, 2015. Floyd also served as president of the University of Missouri System and president of Western Michigan University. Floyd was the Chairman of the Pac-12 CEO Group. Floyd was born […]

Photo credits: The Corporation for Public Broadcasting Tony Brown (pictured) is a Black American activist, television producer, writer, educator, and filmmaker who hosted Tony Brown’s Journal (1968–2008; original name was the Black Journal until 1977). His show was the longest-running Black news media program in U.S. history. He was born William Anthony Brown on April 11, 1933, in Charleston, […]

Photo credits: Tami Chappell / Reuters Classes at what would eventually become Spelman College were first held in the basement of a church in Atlanta on April 11, 1881. Its original name was the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary and it was organized under the sponsorship of the American Baptist Women’s Home Mission Society. Ultimately, Spelman would become […]

Edward Chandler was the second African American man to receive a doctorate in chemistry and later became an industrial chemist. Chandler was born in Ocala, Florida to Henry Wilkins Chandler and Annie Matilda (Onley) Chandler, both originally Northerners. His father was born in 1852 in Maine and was the first African American graduate of Bates […]

Though assertions that Phillis Wheatley was America’s first published African-American poet continue to surface, that assertion has been discredited for many years. In fact, a slave by the name of Jupiter Hammon is credited with that title. Jupiter Hammon’s first published work, an 88-line broadside, came out in Hartford, Connecticut in 1760—when Phillis was only […]

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