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Barber, Jesse Max (05 July 1878–23 September 1949), African-American journalist, dentist, and civil rights activist, was born in Blackstock, South Carolina, the son of Jesse Max Barber and Susan Crawford, former slaves. Barber studied in public schools for African-American students and at Friendship Institute in Rock Hill, South Carolina, where he graduated as valedictorian. In 1901 he completed the normal school course for teachers at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, and afterward entered Virginia Union University in Richmond. There Barber was president of the literary society and edited the ...

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Bayne, Thomas (1824–1889), dentist and politician, was born into slavery in North Carolina and was known as Samuel Nixon before his escape from bondage in 1855. He was sold several times before being purchased by C. F. Martin, a dentist in Norfolk, Virginia. As the slave of Martin, Bayne learned sufficient dentistry to serve as the doctor’s assistant and to make dental house calls. Bayne also developed bookkeeping skills and monitored the doctor’s accounts....

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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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Lattimore, John Aaron Cicero (23 June 1876?–31 December 1959), physician and civil rights activist, was born near Shelby, Cleveland County, North Carolina, the son of John Carpenter Lattimore and Marcella Hambrick, former slaves and farmers. Lattimore graduated from Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, with an A.B. in 1897. He then attended Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, receiving his M.D. in 1901. With a fellow classmate, H. B. Beck, as a partner, he began the general practice of medicine in Louisville, Kentucky; after considerable effort, his practice grew. In 1928 he married Naomi Anthony of Louisville; they had no children....

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Majors, Monroe Alpheus (12 October 1864–10 December 1960), physician, civil rights activist, and writer, was born in Waco, Texas, the son of Andrew Jackson Majors and Jane Barringer. In 1869 his family moved to Austin, Texas. After attending public schools in Austin, Majors studied at West Texas College, Tillotson Normal and Collegiate Institute, Central Tennessee College, and finally Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, from which he graduated in 1886....

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McClendon, James Julius (16 March 1898–20 April 1982), physician and civil rights activist, was born in Rome, Georgia, the son of Benjamin McClendon, who died when James was very young, and Louisa Buckner. With the assistance of siblings, he graduated from Atlanta University (1921) and by his own efforts earned an M.D. at Meharry Medical College (1926). He then moved to Detroit, interned at black-owned Dunbar Hospital, and served as a staff member of Hutzel Hospital for nearly fifty years. Assisting patients of all classes, “Doc Mac” never refused treatment to the poor. He cofounded the Fairview Sanatorium and served on several black and white staffs, including those of Parkside and Woman’s Hospital. In 1932 he married college graduate Irene Hunter Scruggs; the couple had two daughters. McClendon actively participated in the Second Street Baptist Church and St. Antoine Street Young Men’s Christian Association....

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Montezuma, Carlos (1866?–31 January 1923), American Indian activist and medical doctor, was born in central Arizona, the son of a Yavapai mother and Yavapai father, both of whom died in his early childhood. At the time of Montezuma’s birth, the Yavapais had not yet been confined to reservations. But their world, an area of perhaps 20,000 square miles, was becoming rapidly enclosed and invaded by Anglo-Americans and other Indian communities. The Yavapai territory in which they gathered the foods of the region and hunted also possessed gold, which attracted miners to the area during this decade....

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Betty Shabazz wife of the late Nation of Islam leader Malcolm X, shown in 1972. Associated Press

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Shabazz, Betty (28 May 1936?–23 June 1997), civil rights activist, educator, nurse, mother, was born Betty Dean Sanders, the daughter of Shelman Sandlin, a construction worker, and the teenager Ollie Mae Sanders from Pinehurst, Michigan. (Because her birth certificate is lost, scholars are uncertain about her place of birth.) Her young parents were unmarried—this was a social stigma in 1930s America—and her relationship with her mother was stormy. When she was eleven years old, she was adopted by Helen and Lorenzo Malloy, affluent, middle-class African American Methodists from Detroit, Michigan. Providing Shabazz with many social and material advantages, the Malloys also valued educational attainment, and they pushed her to excel in her classes and study hard. After graduating from high school, Shabazz enrolled in Alabama's Tuskegee University, then known as Tuskegee Institute, one of the nation's most distinguished places of higher education for African Americans. However, she was not happy there. Unaccustomed to the blatant racism of Jim Crow laws, she quickly decamped to New York City in 1956 to continue her studies....

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Wright, Louis Tompkins (22 July 1891–08 October 1952), surgeon, hospital administrator, and civil rights leader, was born in La Grange, Georgia, the son of Ceah Ketcham Wright, a physician and clergyman, and Lula Tompkins. After his father’s death in 1895, his mother married William Fletcher Penn, a physician who was the first African American to graduate from Yale University Medical School. Raised and educated in Atlanta, Wright received his elementary, secondary, and college education at Clark University in Atlanta, graduating in 1911 as valedictorian of his class. His stepfather was one of the guiding influences that led to his choice of medicine as a career....