Portraits of African American Life since 1865 is an intimate study of the lives of 14 African Americans since the end of the Civil War. Written by established and rising scholars, these diverse biographies offer a rich portrayal of the African American experience over the last 150 years. Unlike many other books in the field which celebrate the contributions of African American leaders, this volume explores the lives of ordinary individuals who pursued a variety of endeavors from politics, labor reform, religion, medicine, sports, business, and, importantly, civil rights. Through the lives of these men and women who struggled to defy great odds, this text demonstrates the major themes in African American history. Editor Nina Mjagkij includes the largely untold stories of the Highgate sisters, two northern black teachers whose lives exemplify the African American thirst for education and penchant for racial uplift through schooling; Father of the Kansas Exodus, Benjamin "Pap" Singleton; Pan-African Congress member and international peace movement activist Addie Waites Hunton; and Lester A. Walton, a journalist, foreign minister, and political activist who fought tirelessly for the birthright of citizenship for African Americans in a country that systematically denied that claim. In these engaging passages, students will meet Edgar Daniel Nixon, a forgotten Father of the Civil Rights Movement; Sgt. Allen Thomas, Jr., who served in the Vietnam War; civil servant and civil rights activist, Elmer Henderson; and educator and feminist, Anna Julia Cooper. They will become acquainted with fraternal society leader William Washington Browne, who fostered life insurance among African Americans and advocated black owned banks; Richard Henry Boyd, who established the National Baptist Publishing Board, the largest publishing house owned and controlled by black Americans; and Timothy Drew, "Noble Drew Ali," founder of the Moorish Science Temple of America, who fused religion with black nationalism, paving the
Portraits of African American Life since 1865 offers what many essay collections do not—a shared approach by its fourteen contributors to captivatingly provide little-known histories of African American women and men from the end of slavery to the present. Perhaps most impressive is the volume's readability: each chapter begins with a concise abstract of the contributor's essay and then goes on to present straightforward historical accounts of the lives of often overshadowed and unsung heroes of racial uplift. Indeed, the useful ways in which each contributor ties the individual life stories of the book to well-known historical events and figures makes the collection a rare resource for expanding one's knowledge of African American history and culture.
Darlene Clark Hine
Nina Mjagkij has assembled an excellent collection of wide-ranging, engagingly written essays that illuminate the lives of both well-known and obscure African Americans across the long decaades since slavery's end. Portraits of African American Life since 1865 is a treasure trove of fresh insights and exciting biographical details about provocative African Americans who command our attention.
Wilson J. Moses
Professor Mjagkij and her colleagues have produced a set of sharp interpretations and much more. Each of these essays provides a wealth of information for scholars at every stage of development. The general reader will find intellectual stimulation; the bright undergraduate will get a crash course historical methods; the dissertation student will be brought rapidly up to speed; the senior scholar will find a convenient refresher in matters adjacent to his or her own specialty. Everyone will find something original and useful in these exciting articles—I certainly did.
Dr. Henry Louis Taylor
This remarkable collection of essays shows that the struggles of African Americans were not only led by prominent national leaders but also by courageous men and women who worked in their shadows. Using the biography as a lens through which to view and interpret black life and culture, Nina Mjagkij and her collaborators extend the boundaries of African American history.
Darlene Clark Hine
This is a treasure trove of fresh insights and exciting biographical details about provocative African Americans who command our attention.
—author of Black Victory: The Rise and Fall of the White Primary in Texas
Dr. Henry Louis Taylor Jr.
Mjagkij and her collaborators extend the boundaries of African American history.
—University of Buffalo
Chapter 1 Edmonia G. and Carolina v. Highgate: Black Teachers, Freed Slaves, and the Betrayal of Black Hearts Chapter 2 Benjamin "Pap" Singleton: Father of the Kansas Exodus Chapter 3 William Washington Browne: Fraternal Society Leader Chapter 4 Richard Henry Boyd: Black Business and Religion in the Jim Crow South Chapter 5 Anna Julia Cooper: Educator, Clubwoman, and Feminist Chapter 6 Noble Drew Ali: Popular Religion in the Promised Land Chapter 7 Ma Rainey: Mother of the Blues Chapter 8 Addie W. Hunton: Crusader for Pan-Africanism and Peace Chapter 9 Lester A. Walton: A Life Between Culture and Politics Chapter 10 Willard Townsend: Black Workers, Civil Rights, and the Labor Movement Chapter 11 Elmer Henderson: Civil Servant and Civil Rights Activist Chapter 12 Roberta Church: Race and the Republican Party in the 1950s Chapter 13 Edgar Daniel Nixon: Founding Father of the Civil Rights Movement Chapter 14 Sgt. Allen Thomas, Jr.: A Black Soldier in Vietnam