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Eldridge Cleaver Photograph by Marion S. Trikosko, 1968. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (U.S. News and World Report Collection: LC-U9-20018).

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Cleaver, Eldridge (31 August 1935–01 May 1998), social activist and writer, was born Leroy Eldridge Cleaver in Wabbaseka, Arkansas, the son of Leroy Cleaver, a waiter and nightclub piano player, and Thelma Hattie Robinson Cleaver, an elementary school teacher. When Cleaver was ten the family moved to Phoenix, Arizona; three years later, they moved again, this time to Los Angeles, California. Soon after, his parents separated. At this time, Cleaver became involved in criminal activities. In 1949 he was arrested for stealing a bicycle and was sent to reform school. In 1952 he was arrested for selling marijuana and was sent back to reform school. In 1954, a few days after his release, Cleaver was again arrested for marijuana possession and was sent to Soledad State Prison for a term of two and a half years....

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H. L. Mencken Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1932. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-42489).

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Mencken, H. L. (12 September 1880–29 January 1956), author, editor, and journalist, was born Henry Louis Mencken in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of August Mencken, a cigar manufacturer, and Anna Abhau. Having emigrated from Germany during the mid-nineteenth century, the Menckens and Abhaus had quickly adapted to life in the United States, and they provided a home more Victorian than German-American for their four children. Henry Mencken, the eldest, did attend a private German school for his earliest education, but he completed his formal education at Baltimore Polytechnic, a high school primarily responsible for producing engineers and technicians....

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Miller, Kelly (18 July 1863–29 December 1939), educator and essayist, was born in Winnsboro, South Carolina, the son of Kelly Miller, a free black who served in the Confederate army, and Elizabeth Roberts, a slave. The sixth of ten children, Miller received his early education in one of the local primary schools established during Reconstruction and later attended the Fairfield Institute in Winnsboro from 1878 to 1880. Awarded a scholarship to Howard University, he completed the Preparatory Department’s three-year curriculum in Latin, Greek, and mathematics in two years (1880–1882), then attended the College Department at Howard from 1882 to 1886....

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Turnbull, Robert James ( January 1775–15 June 1833), political writer, was born in New Smyrna, Florida, the son of Andrew Turnbull, a physician, and Maria Gracia Dura Bin. After obtaining a grant of land from the British government for the purpose of establishing a colony, Andrew Turnbull led several thousand settlers, primarily from Mediterranean regions, to Florida in 1766. However, the grant was forfeited when Turnbull fought against the British in the revolutionary war, and in 1782 the family moved to South Carolina. Turnbull was educated at a private academy in London and returned to the United States to study law, first in Philadelphia and then in Charleston with John Julius Pringle. After being admitted to the bar in 1794, he opened a law office in Charleston. In January 1797 he married Claudia Butler Gervais, a native of Charleston. Retiring from his practice in 1810, Turnbull moved outside Charleston to a sea-island plantation, although he maintained connections in the city. He held no political office, but through his writings Turnbull became a leading and influential South Carolina citizen, especially prominent in political circles....