Icon Profiles

Rep. Joseph H. Rainey, a prominent Reconstruction leader

America’s simmering discord, its factions of democracy and intolerance ever at odds, exploded last week in mob violence at the Capitol Building.
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Zelia Page Breaux: A music teacher who mentored Ralph Ellison

One of the longest entries in “The Achieving Black Woman in Oklahoma, Past and Present” edited by Etta Perkins, Christine Pappas and R. Darcy is on Zelia Page Breaux (1880-1956).
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Dr. Oliver Cromwell Cox, a cogent arbiter of class, race and caste

If nothing else, Isabel Wilkerson’s bestseller Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, has resurrected a longstanding debate among scholars about the relevance of the term, particularly when caste was defined by the sociologist Oliver Cromwell Cox.
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Aileen Cole Stewart, a Black nurse during WW I and the 1918 pandemic

A little more than a century ago in 1918, the same year the U.S. entered World War II, the Spanish influenza swept across the nation like it’s doing today.
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Elizabeth Carter Brooks, architect and women’s club leader

In recent columns male African American architects such as Vertner Handy and George Washington Foster have been featured.
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Black architectural forerunner, George Washington Foster, Jr.

Several years ago after featuring the famed architect Vertner Tandy in this column, we promised to profile his partner one day.
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Virginia Proctor Powell Florence, her degree in library science a first for a Black woman

There are hundreds of notable African American women librarians in the nation’s history, including Jean Blackwell Hutson, Regina Anderson Andrews, Dorothy Porter Wesley and Clara Stanton Jones, all of whom have been featured in this column.
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Harun Kofi Wangara (Harold G. Lawrence), a gifted teacher and historian

A week or so ago, while researching the life and times of the late poet Naomi Long Madgett, I came across the name of Harold Lawrence
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James P. Ball, a Black pacesetter in photography

Many years before Gordon Parks, and even James Van Der Zee set their cameras and focused their lens on Black life, James Presley Ball had already captured treasured moments in his daguerreotype photography.
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Josephine Ruffin, Women’s Club Pioneer

Few books chronicling African American history are without at least a mention of Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin.
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Clement Morgan, a Harvard first, attorney and activist

There is a classic photograph of 12 men, seemingly all Black, posing in front of what appears to be either Niagara Falls or a replicated background.
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Frederick C. Tillis, master musician, teacher and college administrator

Last week at the University of Massachusetts Fine Arts Center a centenary tribute for Dr. Yusef Lateef (1920-2013) was a multidimensional event, including musical performances, reflections, videos, and other artistic presentations in keeping with Lateef’s enormously creative life.
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Patrick Henry Reason, noted engraver and lithographer

Patrick Henry Reason was one of America’s earliest engravers and lithographers who was also a devout abolitionist and a leader of a fraternal order.
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Lois Mailou Jones: Visionary artist with a global perspective

When acclaim is dispensed for African American artists, Lois Mailou Jones, for the more perceptive chroniclers, is usually included, and more than just a footnot
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Lt. Colonel Charity Adams Earley, a distinguished WAC commander

When the man in the Oval Office impugned the war dead, calling them “suckers” and “losers,” it’s easy to recall the countless number of brave men and women who sacrificed their lives in the fight against an enemy.
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