Jackie Robinson, Big Man on Any Campus

Posted by Paul Rawlins on May 9, 2013 in Website

How good was Jackie Robinson? So good that in high school, he even got written up in opponents’ yearbooks—after beating them:     At Pasadena Junior College, he wowed folks in track,   baseball,   basketball,   and football,   the sport that led to his being dubbed the greatest individual athlete on the greatest Read More

Mollie Williams—Little Miss Mollie

Posted by Paul Rawlins on February 28, 2013 in Website

Mollie Williams was born a slave in Utica, Mississippi. But that’s not all she talks about when she reminisces about her childhood in her autobiographical interview with a Federal Writers’ Project staff member in the 1930s. She tells about what she wore, what she ate, what mischief she and the other kids (black and white) Read More

Brawley Gilmore—John Good’s Gumption

Posted by Paul Rawlins on February 22, 2013 in Website

Say you’re a blacksmith and some of your customers just might be members of the Ku Klux Klan. It takes some guts to mark their horseshoes so you can look at the tracks after a raid and finger the riders. The way Brawley Gilmore tells it—or told it in 1937—John Good had the guts.   Read More

Henry Flipper—Clearing His Name

Posted by Paul Rawlins on February 10, 2013 in Collections, Website

Sometimes the scales of justice balance slowly. Henry O. Flipper, the first black graduate of West Point, was charged with embezzlement while serving as a buffalo soldier. The image is from the monthly return that notes his arrest in 1881.     He was found not guilty but was still dismissed from the Army for Read More

John Glover—Holy Rolling

Posted by Paul Rawlins on February 8, 2013 in Website

To hear John Glover tell it, there’s nothing like a good earthquake to improve public morals. He explained in his interview with Federal Writers Project members how the earth thundered and rolled until folks thought the Judgment had come. People were praying, and the cows and chickens were making a racket. He said the world Read More

Jack Peterson—Patriot

Posted by Paul Rawlins on February 8, 2013 in Website

You’ve heard of Benedict Arnold, but what about Jack Peterson?     According to the October 9, 1859, Weekly Anglo-African, if Jack Peterson and Moses Sherwood hadn’t decided to take on a landing party from the British sloop of war Vulture by themselves, thereby frustrating Major Andre’s escape, Arnold might have given away West Point Read More

William Christy—First Casualty

Posted by Paul Rawlins on February 8, 2013 in Collections, Website

In June 1867, William Christy, a farmer from Pennsylvania, enlisted in the 10th Cavalry. The 10th was a black regiment whose men would soon be referred to as “buffalo soldiers” after they were sent to take part in the Indian Wars of the latter 19th century. Christy’s tenure with the unit was short. The 10th Read More

John and Vada Sommerville—Civil Rights Dynamic Duo

Posted by Paul Rawlins on February 1, 2013 in Website

Born in Jamaica, John Somerville got his first taste of Jim Crowe-era discrimination the day he got off a ship in San Francisco in 1902 and couldn’t find a decent room or meal. He didn’t like it.   This Who’s Who bio explains how John and his wife, Vada, spent the rest of their lives Read More