The Zodiac

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Duke Ellington

Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was the most prolific composer of the twentieth century in terms of both number of compositions and variety of forms. His development was one of the most spectacular in the history of music, underscored by more than fifty years of sustained achievement as an artist and an entertainer. He is considered …

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Crispus Attucks

In 1770, Crispus Attucks, a black man, became the first casualty of the American Revolution when he was shot and killed in what became known as the Boston Massacre. Although Attucks was credited as the leader and instigator of the event, debate raged for over as century as to whether he was a hero and …

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Bessie Coleman

Bessie Coleman, the first African American female pilot, grew up in a cruel world of poverty and discrimination. The year after her birth in Atlanta, Texas, an African American man was tortured and then burned to death in nearby Paris for allegedly raping a five-year-old girl. The incident was not unusual; lynchings were endemic throughout …

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Paul Robeson

Paul Robeson was a famous African-American athlete, singer, actor, and advocate for the civil rights of people around the world. He rose to prominence in a time when segregation was legal in the United States, and Black people were being lynched by racist mobs, especially in the South. Born on April 9, 1898 in Princeton, …

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Assata Shakur

On May 2, 2013, the FBI placed Assata Shakur, now living in Cuba, on its Most Wanted Terrorists list, which has included the likes of Osama Bin Laden and other Al Quaeda figures, some of whom were executed by drones. This was the day after the State Department was due to release its list of …

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Lewis Latimer

1848-1928¬¨‚Ć Lewis H. Latimer was a leading engineer in the formative years of the electric power industry at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. He was a key member of the legendary group of inventors led by Thomas Edison. Latimer was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, on September 4, 1848, …

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Jan Matzeliger

Jan Ernst Matzeliger was born on September 15, 1852 in Surinam (South America), the child of a biracial marriage. His father was a white engineer from Holland and his mother was a black woman in the Dutch colony.¬¨‚Ć By his third birthday Matzeliger was sent to live with his father‚Äö√Ñ√¥s sister.¬¨‚Ć By the time he …

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Dick Gregory

A renown comedian, Dick Gregory (born 1932) used his wit and humor to advance his deep interest in civil rights and world peace. Dick Gregory was born Richard Claxton Gregory on October 12, 1932, into poverty and deprivation in St. Louis, Missouri. In some ways his humble beginnings fueled the topical racial comedy which catapulted …

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James Baldwin

Although he spent a great deal of his life abroad, James Baldwin always remained a quintessentially American writer. Whether he was working in Paris or Istanbul, he never ceased to reflect on his experience as a black man in white America. In numerous essays, novels, plays and public speeches, the eloquent voice of James Baldwin …

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Eunice Hunton Carter

The 1920s and 30s were a time when organized crime was an unseen hand playing a significant part in urban life across the country. In no city was that more evident than New York. At the time, law enforcement hadn’t made the connection between racketeering and petty crime. Then Eunice Hunton Carter came along. Born …

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