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Day, Albert (06 October 1812–26 April 1894), physician, temperance advocate, legislator, and leader in the treatment of inebriety, was born in Wells, Maine, the son of Nahum Day and Persis Weeks. Little is known about Day’s family or his youth; his father died early, forcing Day to earn a living and save his studying for the evening....

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Fauset, Crystal Bird (27 June 1893–28 March 1965), African-American legislator, was born Crystal Dreda Bird in Princess Anne, Maryland, the daughter of Benjamin Bird, a high school principal, and Portia E. Lovett. Crystal’s father died when she was only four, and her mother took over his principalship of the all-black Princess Anne Academy until her own death in 1900. An orphan by age seven, Crystal remained true to her parents’ commitment to education. Ironically, her early loss probably improved the educational opportunities of a child born to Maryland’s segregated Eastern Shore. Reared by an aunt in Boston, she attended public school, graduated from the city’s Normal School in 1914, and taught for three years. She later earned a B.S. from Columbia University Teacher’s College in 1931....

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Aaron Henry. Speaking before the Credentials Committee at the Democratic National Convention, Atlantic City, NJ. Photograph by Warren K. Leffler, 1964. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-U9- 12470E-28).

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Henry, Aaron E. (02 July 1922–19 May 1997), civil rights activist, politician, and pharmacist, was born in Dublin, in the Mississippi Delta. His sharecropping parents, Ed and Mattie Henry, strove to educate Aaron and his sister and shield them from the hardships of farm and manual labor. They moved to neighboring Coahoma County so that Henry could attend the segregated Coahoma Agricultural High School. Indeed his political awakening began in high school, where a few earnest teachers bravely schooled their students on civics and civil rights. With the coaxing of one young educator, Aaron and his classmates joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as at-large members in 1941....

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Ickes, Anna Wilmarth Thompson (27 January 1873–31 August 1935), Illinois state legislator and reformer, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Henry Martin Wilmarth, a businessman and banker, and Mary Jane Hawes. Anna grew up comfortably in North Chicago, finishing high school and then attending Miss Hersey’s School in Boston for two years....

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Jackson, Robert R. (01 September 1870–12 June 1942), politician, was born in Malta, Illinois, the son of William Jackson and Sarah Cooper. He spent most of his childhood in Chicago. At age nine he began selling newspapers and shining shoes in Chicago’s central business district; he left school in the eighth grade to work full time. By age eighteen he had garnered an appointment as a clerk in the post office, a position coveted by African Americans in this era because of its security relative to most other occupations open to them. He left the postal service as an assistant superintendent in 1909 to devote himself full time to his printing and publishing business, the Fraternal Press. In partnership with Beauregard F. Mosely in 1910 he cofounded the Leland Giants, Chicago’s first African-American baseball team. In 1912 Jackson won election as a Republican to the state legislature. From there he moved to the Chicago City Council, where he served as an alderman from 1918 through 1939. After leaving politics, Jackson returned to baseball, where he served a two-year stint as commissioner of the Negro American League....

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Kearney, Belle (06 March 1863–27 February 1939), temperance advocate, suffragist, and legislator, was born Carrie Belle Kearney in Madison County, Mississippi, the daughter of Walter Gunston Kearney, a planter, lawyer, and politician, and Susannah Owens. Kearney was educated consecutively by a governess, public school, and the Canton Young Ladies’ Academy until the family could no longer afford the tuition. Between the ages of sixteen and nineteen, she led the life of an impoverished “belle”: her autobiographical account describes taking in sewing for former slaves as well as dancing at the governor’s inaugural ball....

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Laughlin, Gail (07 May 1868–13 March 1952), feminist, lawyer, and state legislator, was born Abbie Hill “Gail” Laughlin in Robbinston, Maine, the daughter of Robert Clark Laughlin, an ironworker, and Elizabeth Porter Stuart. After the death of her father, Laughlin’s indigent family moved to Saint Stephen, New Brunswick, where her mother’s family resided. In 1880 the family settled in Portland, Maine, where Laughlin graduated from Portland High School in 1886, receiving a medal for the highest marks....

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Randolph, Benjamin Franklin (1820?– October 1868), African-American political leader in Reconstruction South Carolina, was born free in Kentucky, the child of mixed-race parents whose names are unknown. As a child, Randolph’s family moved to Ohio where he was educated in local schools. In 1854 he entered Oberlin College’s preparatory department, before attending the college from 1857 to 1862. At Oberlin, Randolph received instruction both in the liberal arts and at the college’s theological seminary. Soon after graduation he was ordained as a Methodist Episcopal minister. During the Civil War Randolph served as a chaplain in the Twenty-sixth Colored Infantry, which was dispatched to Hilton Head, South Carolina, in 1864....