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Black History: Special Delivery!!


Black History Blog

Roy L. Clay: The Godfather of Silicon Valley

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Known as the “Godfather of Silicon Valley”, Roy Clay, Sr. (1929 -) was born in Kinloch, Missouri. He graduated from St. Louis University, majoring in mathematics. One of the first jobs he sought after graduation was at McDonnell Aircraft. His resume did not reveal that he was black. He was called for an interview. When he arrived, he was told that there were no jobs for “professional negroes”.

He learned to do computer coding in 1956. Bill Gates was just a baby. There were no college level computer programming or computer science classes. At that time, computers were highly unstable and most could not even be counted on to function for a full day without failing. Clay joined Hewlett-Packard Computers (HP) in 1965 to help build its first computer by its co-founder David Packard. Clay’s professional profile had garnered his attention due to his work on the Manhattan Project.

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Lift Every Voice and Sing: The Black National Anthem

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james weldon johnson
James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) wrote “Lift Every Voice and Sing” in 1900 as a poem. It was later set to music by his brother Rosamond Johnson.

In 1900, “Lift Every Voice And Sing”, was written by James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), a high school principal in Jacksonville, FL. Johnson was an educator, lawyer, diplomat, writer, and civil rights activist. He was a major contributor to the Harlem Renaissance. Johnson attended Atlanta University. Upon graduation, he was the first African American to pass the Florida Bar Exam. Johnson eventually became a grammar school principal.
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Dr. Harold Freeman: Fighting Cancer Related Healthcare Disparities

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harold freeman
Dr. Harold P. Freeman


Dr. Harold Freeman (1933 – ) is a national expert when it comes to poverty and cancer. Born in Washington DC, Freeman attended Catholic University and then went to medical school at Howard University. Freeman began his medical career at Harlem Hospital in 1967. He was alarmed to discover that many of his patients suffered with advanced stages of cancer. Freeman made it his mission to determine why his primarily African American patients experienced such a high mortality rate. His goal was to reduce the health disparities for cancer patients that were associated with race and income. Continue reading “Dr. Harold Freeman: Fighting Cancer Related Healthcare Disparities”

Rev. Daniel J. Jenkins: Founder of Jenkins Orphanage & Jenkins Orphanage Band

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Daniel Jenkins
Daniel Jenkins, Founder of Jenkins Orphanage (now Jenkins Institute)

Jenkins Institute, originally chartered as, “Jenkins Orphanage” was founded on December 16, 1891 by Pastor Daniel J. Jenkins. It received its official charter from the State of South Carolina in 1892. Its mission was to provide, “a safe, secure, loving home environment for orphans and destitute boys and girls in need”. Jenkins was pastor of a small African American church. He also worked as a labourer. On a cold December day in 1891, Rev. Jenkins was working, hauling timber, when he encountered 4 young boys. They were huddled in a railroad car and had been abandoned by their parents. All of the boys were under the age of 12. The plight of the boys touched Jenkins, as he was also orphaned as a child. Born a slave, he too, was orphaned at a young age and turned off his plantation and left to fend for himself. He then went from farm to farm working for room and board. Jenkins brought the boys home to his wife, Lena, and provided them with food and beds. Though Jenkins and his wife had children of their own and not much money; they did not hesitate to help the young boys who were in need. Their act of kindness to these 4 boys would start a life long journey of helping children. Continue reading “Rev. Daniel J. Jenkins: Founder of Jenkins Orphanage & Jenkins Orphanage Band”

106 Year Old Virginia McLaurin Visits President Obama At The White House

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106 Year old Virginia McLaurin never thought she would live to see a black president…..Let alone get a chance to meet him.  This White House video says it all.  Virginia was dancing with pride and joy. She was born less than 50 years after the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War. She has lived through segregation, wars, and many other triumphs and tragedies!  Check out this White House video!

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Betrayed By Pharaoh: Gabriel Prosser’s Slave Revolt

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gabriel prosser

Born in 1776, Gabriel Prosser was enslaved on the Prosser Plantation near Richmond, VA. He was one of 53 slaves on the plantation. Gabriel was a skilled blacksmith. Unlike many of the other slaves on the Prosser Plantation, Gabriel could read and write. At that time, only 5% of slaves could read and write. He devised a plot to liberate himself and other slaves from the oppression they were subjected to by Virginia’s white merchant class. Continue reading “Betrayed By Pharaoh: Gabriel Prosser’s Slave Revolt”

John Francis: An African American Environmentalist and “Planet Walker”

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John Francis, Planetwalker, Wood RIver Valley, Idaho
John Francis

John Francis (1946 – ) is known as the Planet Walker. Francis witnessed a massive oil spill in the San Francisco Bay in 1971. He was deeply impacted the event. It caused him to reflect on how as a society, we are so dependent on oil for transportation Francis decided that he would no longer use any sort of motorized transportation. For 22 years, he walked everywhere. His travels would take him across the United States and most of South America. He hoped that his efforts would highlight American dependence on oil and petroleum.
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Edward Davis: 1st African American To Own A “Big Three” Auto Franchise

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Edward Davis (1911 – 1999) was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. He came to Detroit at the age of 16 and moved in with his aunt and uncle; seeking a better life. He was the oldest of 10 children. As a child, he became fascinated with his father’s Model T Ford. This sparked his interest in cars. He would make history by becoming Detroit’s first African American to open a “Big Three” auto franchise as well as the first African American to open a used car dealership. He would also make history in the public sector when he was appointed by Detroit Mayor, Roman Gribbs to be the general manager of the City of Detroit’s Department of Street Railways (DSR) . Continue reading “Edward Davis: 1st African American To Own A “Big Three” Auto Franchise”

Mary E. McCoy: Philanthropist & Community Leader

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mary e mccoy
Mary E. McCoy (Wife of Black Inventor Elijah McCoy)



The child of escaped slaves, Mary E. McCoy was born in 1846 at an Underground Railroad station Mary E. McCoy became a philanthropist, and advocate for women’s rights. While her husband, black inventor, Elijah McCoy is more well known for obtaining patents on over 50 inventions, Mary E. McCoy also deserves recognition.

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