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Albrier, Frances Mary (1898-1987), civil rights activist and community leader  

Malca Chall

Albrier, Frances Mary (21 September 1898–21 August 1987), civil rights activist and community leader, was born in Mount Vernon, New York, the daughter of Lewis Redgrey, a supervisor in a factory, and Laura (maiden name unknown), a cook. Following the death of her mother when Frances was three, she and her baby sister were reared by her paternal grandparents, Lewis Redgrey, a Blackfoot Indian, and Johanna Bowen, a freed slave, on their 55-acre farm in Tuskegee, Alabama....

Article

Burlingham, Charles Culp (1858-1959), attorney, civic leader, and social and political reformer  

Paul Brickner

Burlingham, Charles Culp (31 August 1858–06 June 1959), attorney, civic leader, and social and political reformer, was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, the son of the Reverend Aaron Hale Burlingham, a Baptist minister, and Emma Starr. Reverend Burlingham was a minister in New York City. C. C. B., as he was known by friends, lived in France for a time, after his father became minister of the American Chapel in Paris in 1863. In 1866 the family returned to the United States, and Charles’s father accepted a position as a pastor in St. Louis, Missouri, where Charles lived until he enrolled in Harvard University in 1875. He graduated in 1879 with an A.B. He then entered Columbia Law School, from which he received an LL.B. in 1881, the same year he was admitted to the New York bar. Two years later he married Louisa W. Lawrence; they had two sons and a daughter....

Article

Butler, Selena Sloan (04 January 1872?–07 October 1964), community leader and child-welfare activist  

Michelle M. Strazer

Butler, Selena Sloan (04 January 1872?–07 October 1964), community leader and child-welfare activist, was born in Thomasville, Georgia, the daughter of Winnie Williams, a woman of African- and Native-American descent, and William Sloan, a Caucasian man who reportedly supported her and her older sister but lived apart from the family. Even after her mother died, presumably at a fairly young age, she kept quiet about her father’s identity. Communication between them was minimal. At age ten, having been schooled by missionaries in Thomas County, she was admitted, on scholarship, to the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary (now Spelman College) in Atlanta and received her high school diploma in 1888 as a member of the school’s second graduating class. After graduation she taught English and elocution in the public schools in Atlanta until around 1891, when she took a position at the State Normal School in Tallahassee, Florida (now Florida Agricultural and Mechanical State University)....

Article

Cass, Melnea Agnes Jones (1896-1978), civic leader and civil rights activist  

Patricia Miller King

Cass, Melnea Agnes Jones (16 June 1896–16 December 1978), civic leader and civil rights activist, was born in Richmond, Virginia, the daughter of Albert Jones, a janitor, and Mary Drew, a domestic worker. Seeking broader employment and educational opportunities, the Jones family moved to Boston, Massachusetts, when Melnea was five years old. Her mother died when she was eight, and she and her two sisters were entrusted to the care of an aunt, Ella Drew. After one year at Girls’ High School in Boston, she was sent to St. Francis de Sales Convent School, a Roman Catholic school for black and Indian girls in Rock Castle, Virginia. There household management was taught in addition to the academic curriculum; she graduated as valedictorian of her class in 1914....

Article

Hope, Lugenia D. Burns (1871-1947), community organizer and educator  

Thea Gallo Becker

Hope, Lugenia D. Burns (19 February 1871–14 August 1947), community organizer and educator, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Ferdinand Burns, a well-to-do carpenter, and Louisa M. Bertha. Lugenia was raised in a Grace Presbyterian, middle-class family. Her father’s sudden death forced her mother to move the family to Chicago to maintain their class standing and provide Lugenia, or “Genie” as she was called, with educational opportunities lacking in St. Louis. From 1890 to 1893, while her older siblings worked to support the family, Lugenia attended high school and special classes, the Chicago School of Design, the Chicago Business College, and the Chicago Art Institute....

Article

Jennings, May Elizabeth Mann (1872-1963), civic leader and social activist  

Linda D. Vance

Jennings, May Elizabeth Mann (25 April 1872–24 April 1963), civic leader and social activist, was born in Centerville, New Jersey, the daughter of Austin Shuey Mann and Rachel Kline. In 1873 the Mann family moved to Hernando County, Florida, where Austin Mann pursued business and political interests, serving three terms as a state senator and as a leader of the national Farmer’s Alliance. After the death of her mother in 1882, May was enrolled as a year-round boarder at St. Joseph’s Academy in St. Augustine. She graduated as valedictorian of her class in 1889 and spent the next two years managing her father’s offices in Brooksville and Tallahassee....

Article

White, Eartha Mary Magdalene (1876-1974), social welfare and community leader and businesswoman  

Marilyn Elizabeth Perry

White, Eartha Mary Magdalene (08 November 1876–18 January 1974), social welfare and community leader and businesswoman, was born in Jacksonville, Florida, the daughter of Mollie Chapman, a former slave, and an unnamed prominent white man. She was adopted shortly after birth by freed slaves Lafayette White, a drayman and Civil War veteran, and Clara English, a domestic and cook. Lafayette White died when Eartha was five. Throughout her childhood Clara made Eartha feel as though God had chosen her for a special mission. Listening to stories of hardships that Clara endured as a slave and watching her mother’s humanitarian contributions to Jacksonville’s “Black Bottom” community convinced Eartha White that she too would someday make a difference in the African-American community....

Article

Wilson, J. Finley (1881-1952), journalist and civic leader  

Bruce Guy Chabot

Wilson, J. Finley (28 August 1881–18 February 1952), journalist and civic leader, was born James Finley Wilson in Dickson, Tennessee, the son of James L. Wilson, a preacher, and Nancy Wiley. He attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, although he did not graduate; afterward, he traveled the United States, living in Missouri, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and Alaska, and worked in various jobs including miner, porter, waiter, and cowboy....